In December of 1988, during the last days of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the United States publicly agreed to an
official dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization. This followed PLO leader Yasser Arafat’s renunciation
of terrorism, acceptance of Israel’s right to exist, and endorsement of UN resolutions 242 and 338, after which the
US accepted the PLO’s legitimacy. In effect, the PLO had conceded that 78 percent of what they considered to be
historic Palestine was now Israel. They accepted that control of the “remaining” 22% — the West Bank and Gaza Strip
— would be determined by negotiations.
The Palestinians had finally assented to the “land for peace” formula that had been adopted by the US, Israel, and
the international community after the 1967 war. Now, almost 30 years later, this formula is being undermined
by a figure who once would have seemed an unlikely culprit: the US ambassador to Israel.