Palestinians never stop conceding, for nothing in return [Book Review]

Sam Bahour
10 min readJun 30, 2022

Unilateral action by all may be the only way forward.

The Olive Branch from Palestine: The Palestinian Declaration of Independence and the Path Out of the Current Impasse, By Jerome Segal, 316 pp., University of California Press (2022), $29.95

Some say: “Forget international law. Forget non-violent resistance. Forget BDS. Forget diplomacy. Forget negotiations. Forget state-building. Forget economic development. The only remaining way to liberate Palestine is to revoke acceptance of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 (the Partition Plan), revoke the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence, and once and for all, and decisively exit the Oslo Accords framework, then pick up arms (THINK: Ukraine) and levy a cost that the occupier and their global enablers will no longer be willing to pay….”

That’s not what author Jerome M. Segal would say. Nor would I.

In the book I review here, Dr. Segal shares the English-language text of a highly quotable comment he made at the end of an essay he published on April 27, 1988, in the leading Arabic newspaper in Palestine, Al-Quds. This personal note is a perfect place to start: “If it seems odd that a Jew should offer his thoughts on how Palestinians can be successful in their struggle, let me only add that the struggle for an independent Palestinian state is also the struggle for a humane and safe Israel, and that there can be no Judaism without a commitment to Justice.” I could not agree more and congratulate him on such clear thoughts.

Dr. Jerome M. Segal is a Research Scholar at the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, University of Maryland. He is a founder of the Jewish Committee for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, based in Washington, D.C. He states that his writings in 1988 were a catalyst for the Palestinian Declaration of Independence. He is also the author of Creating the Palestinian State and coauthor of Negotiating Jerusalem.

A unique moment lost by all

This book has one main goal, which is to highlight the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence as a lost inflection point: a rare, pivotal moment that the US, Israel, and even the Palestinian leadership who issued it, could have seized (but did not) to advance Palestinian statehood and peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

The book is full of speculation about what might have been: an annotated tableau of lingering…

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