The Impending Israel-Palestine Disaster

Since taking the helm of The New Yorker in 1998, David Remnick has returned the magazine to its profitable glory days. A graduate of Princeton University, he began his journalistic career as a night police reporter at the Washington Post in 1982, becoming the paper's Moscow correspondent in 1988. His coverage of the Soviet Union's collapse led to his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1993 book "Lenin's Tomb." His latest book "The Bridge," is a biography of President Barack Obama. He lives in New York with his wife, Esther Fein, and their three children.

  • Transcript


Big Think: What needs to be done to address the Mideast Conflict?

David Remnick: To my mind, there’s no question of what the end of the Israeli-Palestine situation has to be, must be. And this has been evident to most of the main players for many years. There has to be a viable, contiguous Palestinian state, a connected Gaza and West Bank—connected somehow by bridge, highway, what have you, with it’s capital in East Jerusalem. It is impossible to conceive that the refugee problem can be solved by actual repatriation of refugees into Israel proper. That there’ll be obviously some degree of aid, or money going to the new Palestinian state. And also Israel also has to receive certain kinds of security guarantees, and those areas where big settlement blocks are, there has to be land swaps to make up for that. That’s the end game. And even pretty conservative political actors in Israel know it, and all but the most radical Palestinian leaders know it. The real difficulty has been getting there, and it’s going to get more and more and more difficult. It’s going to get more difficult because of the polarization in Palestinian political society between Hamas and the West Bank government. It’s going to get more difficult in Israel itself because of the growth in population of religious and conservative elements, and the slow diminution of secular, more liberal-leaning populations. You also have a great big Russian population that tends to be conservative. 

So, time is not on the side of a decent resolution there. It’s very, very complex. But the more somebody like Netanyahu is unwilling to make a leap of history and is going to be more obsessed with parochial political interests and coalition politics and all the rest, the more difficult it’s going to get on Israeli side. And there’s no question, by the way, that the Israelis have real concerns about what would happen the day after a Palestinian state is established. 

So, this is a highly complex question, it always was, but the endgame is going to be what the endgame is going to be. Otherwise it’s going to be a disaster.