From the Editor

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VOL. 42


No. 3
P. 5
From the Editor
From the Editor

THIS ISSUE OF the Journal contains several notable features. One is an in-depth interview with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, architect of his country's new orientation towards the Middle East since the advent to power of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2003. Davutoglu provides a unique and remarkably frank perspective on Turkey's outlook on the region, a topic of growing importance in view of its increasing power, growing economic interests in the Middle East, and its considerably expanded role there over the past decade. In the interview, Davutoglu expounds on his views on the Palestine question, the complex current regional situation, and how the Turkish government perceives its role on these and other fronts.

Two articles, a report, and an essay about aspects of the current situation in Palestine and Israeli politics and policies form the bulk of this issue. A perceptive article by Irene Calis details the largely deleterious impact of external aid on Palestinians living under occupation. She looks in particular at the village of Jayyus in the West Bank, showing how ultimately much of this aid, which helps to sustain the village, paradoxically also serves to sustain and mask the occupation and to rob Palestinians of agency. This is a topic of great importance in view of the ''NGO-ization'' of a large part of the Palestinian public sphere and the dominance of foreign donors and agencies, almost invariably in close coordination with the Israeli military occupation authorities, over much of the development agenda in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967. It is particularly relevant in light of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's recent proposals for a West Bank economic initiative.

George Bisharat contributes a major essay arguing that Israel's practices over approximately the past decade aim to institutionalize and make acceptable its systematic violations of international humanitarian law. Incorporating a number of radical legal innovations, this persistent campaign is directed at broadening the scope of legally acceptable targets for the violence regularly unleashed by the Israeli military, and is meant to shield Israel from international and legal condemnation for its lethal actions against noncombatants. This insidious effort has not received the full attention it deserves, and this trenchant essay will hopefully help remedy that.

An article by Anaıs Antreasyan takes up the interaction of recent gas finds off the eastern Mediterranean coast with regional conflicts. She first looks at how gas discoveries in Palestinian maritime space, as this space was delineated by the Oslo accords, have thus far produced outcomes that are dominated by Israel in the absence of serious Palestinian attention to this potentially valuable resource. The article concludes by analyzing ways in which the international politics of the eastern Mediterranean basin are being transformed by finds in the territorial waters of Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. The scramble for concessions, transit routes for pipelines, and other elements of the search for and exploitation of this valuable resource has already upset relations between, and affected the calculations of, these and other countries.

Also in this issue, Oren Yiftachel contributes a special report on the impact of the January 2013 Israeli elections, focusing on changes in the newly elected Knesset by comparison with previous ones, and on the near-absence of discussion of the issue of Palestine in the campaign. He does so in the context of his analysis of Israel as an ''ethnocracy,'' arguing that this election may produce fissures in this structure.

Finally, this issue contains remembrances of two important Palestinian intellectual figures, Ghassan Kanafani and Elias Shoufani. The former was assassinated by Israeli agents in 1972, while the latter died in Damascus earlier this year, but both had a major impact on the literary, analytical, and political levels. Kanafani was renowned as the author of a number of widely read novels and short stories that brilliantly depicted the Palestinian predicament, most of which have been translated into English and other languages. He was also the editor of the weekly journal of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, al-Hadaf. Shoufani was the foremost analyst of Israel of his generation in the Arab world, and was a long- standing contributor to the research efforts of the Institute for Palestine Studies. He was also a leading opponent of the negotiating strategy adopted by the PLO in the 1970s and 1980s which ultimately led to the Oslo accords. 

—Rashid I. Khalidi