As Palestinians mark seventy years since the Nakba, as well as the fortieth anniversary of the Camp David Accords, how can historians explain the persistence of their statelessness? Based on newly declassified international sources, Preventing Palestine charts the emergence of the US-led “peace process” and examines how events in the 1970s and 1980s have contributed to the prevention of Palestinian sovereignty today. Well before the start of the Oslo process, Egyptian-Israeli peace came at the expense of Palestinians, whose aspirations for a homeland alongside Israel faced crippling challenges. With the introduction of Menachem Begin’s idea of restrictive autonomy, Israeli settlement expansion, the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, and ongoing marginalization of the PLO, the chances for Palestinian statehood narrowed even further. The first Intifada in 1987 and the end of the Cold War brought new opportunities for a Palestinian state, but many players, refusing to see Palestinians as a nation or a people, continued to steer international diplomacy away from their cause. By revisiting the crucial period between Camp David and Oslo, this lecture will explore the legacy of political, diplomatic, and military efforts to prevent Palestinian sovereignty, and the revival of earlier ideas in the current Israeli and American efforts to sideline the Palestinian struggle for self-determination.
Seth Anziska is the Mohamed S. Farsi-Polonsky Lecturer in Jewish-Muslim Relations at University College London. His research and teaching focuses on Palestinian and Israeli society and culture, modern Middle Eastern history, and contemporary Arab and Jewish politics. He is the author of Preventing Palestine: A Political History from Camp David to Oslo (Princeton University Press, September 2018). His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Policy, The New York Review of Books, and the Pavilion of Lebanon in the 2013 Venice Biennale. Seth is a Visiting Fellow at the U.S./Middle East Project and a 2019 Fulbright Scholar at the Norwegian Nobel Institute, and he has held fellowships at New York University, the London School of Economics, and the American University of Beirut. He received his PhD in International and Global History from Columbia University, his M. Phil. in Modern Middle Eastern Studies from St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and his BA in History from Columbia University.