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The Dec 1987 uprising ('intifadeh') of the Palestinians is described in its military and economic aspects. It has disabused the Israelis of the idea of a liberal or enlightened occupation, but "Israel holds overwhelming military and economic advantages" and is not willing to accept a Palestinian state. For the Palestinians, it may be a long haul, in which the events of Dec 1987 may be compared to those in Dublin, in Easter 1916.
Because many Palestine Arabs are stateless under inter national law, their importance has frequently been overlooked in the numerous parleys and in the skein of complex international negotiations over the Middle East crisis. The Palestine dispute, as it is euphemistically labeled in the United Nations, has appeared on the annual agenda of the U. N. General Assembly for over twenty years, generally under the guise of assistance to refugees. Neither the principal antagonists nor the major powers officially acknowledge existence of the Palestinians as a nation-party to the dispute.
Israel's decisive victory in the Six Day War of June 1967 radically altered the dimensions of the Arab refugee dilemma. It is no longer the same dilemma which has confronted the Middle East, the United Nations and the United States for some twenty years. Almost overnight Israel became the principal refugee host country, with approximately half the total number of registered refugees under its control. This is an ironic turn in the history of the problem, since Israel had always insisted that the refugees be resettled beyond its frontiers in the neighboring Arab territories of Jordan, Egypt and Syria. Now that it controls parts of those countries, it is directly confronted with responsibility for more than one million Arabs- about half of them refugees of 1947-48. Any settlement of the Palestine conflict which Israel would find acceptable will bring many of these territories and a substantial number of their Arab inhabitants under its permanent jurisdiction.
The Arab refugee problem is no longer the principal obstacle to peace between Israel and the Arab states. This was indicated in the recent United Nations Palestine debate. Concern of most Arab speakers about the refugees was secondary to their fear of the Zionist enclave in the Arab "heartland."