Unsettled States, Disputed Lands: Britain and Ireland, France and Algeria, Israel and the West Bank-Gaza

By Ian S. Lustick | Go to book overview

PART III
State Contraction and the Regime Threshold in Britain and France

In the spring of 1988, several months after the outbreak of the intifada, a Zionist conference was convened to discuss the prospects for Israeli democracy. At the opening session Yaron Ezrahi, a Hebrew University political scientist, described the country as evenly divided between those who thought it "mortally dangerous to the State of Israel" to trade territories for peace and those who thought it mortally dangerous not to do so. The pertinent question, he said, "is how can we as a democratic state survive the kind of decision we have to take in the near future?" 1

What he was describing as at stake in the struggle over the shape of the state was no longer the nature of Israeli political discourse, not the psychological "erasure" of the Green Line, not the possible success of annexationist efforts to instantiate presumptive beliefs that could prevent territorial issues from arising, but the stability of the regime -- the legal order whose rules would otherwise be expected to govern competition over government policy. His concern, in other words, was not with a war of position, but a war of maneuver, not with prospects for state-building associated with establishing a new hegemonic conception of the state, but with prospects for securing the integrity of the regime against the forces liable to be unleashed by state contraction.

Part III of this volume follows Part II in a sequence that corresponds to the sequence of struggles over Israeli rule of the West Bank and Gaza carried on within Israel during the last decade. As in Part II, I analyzed the dynamics of wars of position to explain Britain's and France's failure of hegemonic state-building regarding Ireland and Algeria, so in Part III I focus on the dynamics of wars of maneuver to explain the variable success

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