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Blind Spot


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Table of Contents


Preface and Acknowledgments

Introduction: Power and Politics

Part I: Origins of the Blind Spot: 1917–67

1. The Balfour Lens

2. From Deferral to Denial

Part II: Evolution of the Blind Spot: 1967–93

3. Missed Opportunities

4. Abnormal Normalization

Part III: Consequences of the Blind Spot: 1993–2018

5. The Oslo Trade-Off

6. The Price of Failure

7. Less of the Same

8. The End of the Peace Process




About the Author

Khaled Elgindy is a nonresident fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, where he was also a resident fellow from 2010 through 2018. He previously served as an advisor to the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah on permanent status negotiations with Israel from 2004 to 2009, and was a key participant in the Annapolis negotiations held throughout 2008.


“Elgindy, a former adviser to the Palestinian leadership on negotiations with Israel, presents a balanced and thorough interpretation of more than a century of U.S. policy on Palestinian issues.”—John Waterbury, Foreign Affairs

“The book is rich in perfectly coined phrases deftly encapsulating a particular time period. . . Blind Spot offers a remarkable approach to the Palestinian search for historical agency, a fundamental quest of any colonized people. It examines in painstaking detail how Palestinians as the far weaker party have lacked agency and have been shortchanged at every step of the conflict.”—José S. Vericat, Journal of Palestine Studies

“Unquestionably the best book ever on US relations with the Palestinians.”—Bruce Riedel, director of the Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institution and a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Studies

“Khaled Elgindy shines a bright light on the complicated and often dysfunctional power dynamics that have to a great extent shaped the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The persistent failure of Washington policymakers to take seriously Palestinian internal politics played a key role in the failures of that peace process. Elgindy’s book offers a powerful corrective and should be required reading for anyone who aspires to engage in genuine Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking in the future.”—Lara Friedman, president, Foundation for Middle East Peace

“Blind Spot is an important contribution to our understanding of American policy and the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. Khaled Elgindy, a serious scholar and analyst, documents what he calls the pervasive blindness of American policymakers to the power disparities between Israel and the Palestinians, and American ignorance of and inattentiveness to Palestinian politics. This book is a timely corrective to the prevailing focus of American policy solely on Israeli politics, views, and requirements.”—Daniel Kurtzer, S. Daniel Abraham Professor of Middle East Policy Studies, Princeton University

“American diplomats dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict have always paid close attention to domestic politics within Israel. But, as Khaled Elgindy shows us in his deeply researched book, the same is hardly the case when it comes to the Palestinians. Indeed, it is as if the weaker party has so few real choices to make that its concerns hardly matter. The Trump administration has taken this to the extreme of acting as if Israeli-Palestinian peace couldbe achieved without even dealing with the Palestinians at all. Such willful ignorance assures that Trump will be unable to clinch the so-called ‘deal of the century.’ He and his advisers would be well advised to read this book and then to pay attention to the intricate politics that influence the moves of all parties to this conflict: our own.”—William B. Quandt, professor emeritus, University of Virginia

“Surprisingly, there has not been a book detailing the history of American-Palestinian relations over the years, and certainly not one sensitive to Palestinian interests. Thanks to Khaled Elgindy, now there is. Reviewing U.S. policy over the past century, Elgindy concludes that, despite some variation across administrations, a constant ‘Blind Spot’ has undermined American efforts to mediate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The book is very much worth reading.”—Shibley Telhami, professor of government and politics, University of Maryland; nonresident senior fellow, the Brookings Institution

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