The New Israel: Peacemaking and Liberalization

The New Israel: Peacemaking and Liberalization

The New Israel: Peacemaking and Liberalization

The New Israel: Peacemaking and Liberalization


The New Israel: Peacemaking and Liberalization argues that the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace process will be expedited by increased economic liberalization. Israel has undergone dramatic economic change in the 1990s, shifting from a strongly protectionist, state-centered economy to a more international, "neoliberal" one. The book maintains that these fundamental changes have in turn transformed Israeli society as a whole, resulting in a significant moderation of attitudes toward the Palestinian people and Palestinian nationalism. The New Israel contains contributions from both established Israeli sociologists and promising young scholars. The New Israel: Peacemaking and Liberalization is an insightful commentary on one of the most crucial international issues of our time.


Gershon Shafir and Yoav Peled

In September 1993 Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization stunned the world by signing the Oslo Accords that stipulated mutual recognition between the two contracting parties and the beginning of Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories that had been occupied since 1967. Thus, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which had been on everyone's short list of the world's most intransigent international feuds, took a decisive step toward peaceful resolution.

On the Israeli side, the Oslo Accords signaled the maturation of a long and painful process of political change. Parallel to this political change, an equally profound, though less well-known economic transformation was also taking place. Between 1975 and 1995 Israel's gdp grew sevenfold and its "dollar product" increased by about 600 percent. At the end of 1996 this growth rate placed the per capita income of Israelis at $16,690 and in the twenty-first place internationally, ahead of some member countries of the European Union, such as Spain. in April 1997, in recognition of its rapid growth, Israel was added by the imf, together with the East Asian "tigers"--Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan--to its list of developed countries.

The thesis we wish to advance in this volume is that the two processes--peacemaking and economic growth--are closely related. For this purpose, the various chapters in the volume examine the forces that have shaped the Israeli economy and society in the past 100 years, since the onset of Zionist settlement in Palestine, and try to account for their contemporary transformation and decipher their relation to the peace process. Our claim, it should be emphasized at the outset, is not that the growth and liberalization of the Israeli economy can, by themselves, account for Israel's decision to explore the option of peace. Other factors, such as the collapse of the Soviet Union and the 1991 Gulf War, have played their part in this decision, as . . .

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