The Search for a Settlement
While Kissinger’s diplomacy had been vigorous and imaginative, critics complained that he had neglected or ignored the central issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict: the future of the Palestinians — in short, that he had succeeded in stabilising Israel’s fronts with Egypt and Syria without addressing the future of Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Curiously, the period when Kissinger was at his most active coincided with a rise and fall in the PLO’s fortunes. The end of the 1973 war produced a general expectation that there would be some progress for the Palestinians. The war had succeeded in restoring Arab pride and the oil weapon, which seemingly gave the Gulf states such leverage over western economies, had ostensibly been mounted on the Palestinians’ behalf. The reality was rather different, for the PLO leadership knew the uncomfortable truth that Sadat had fought the war for limited diplomatic aims, that he was engaged in a diplomatic process aimed at producing a settlement with Israel, and that such an agreement would leave the Israelis invulnerable to military attack.
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