The Limits of the Land: How the Struggle for the West Bank Shaped the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Avshalom Rubin
Was Israel’s occupation of the West Bank inevitable? From 1949-1967, the West Bank was the center of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Many Israelis hoped to conquer it and widen their narrow borders, while many Arabs hoped that it would serve as the core of a future Palestinian state. In The Limits of the Land, Avshalom Rubin presents a sophisticated new portrait of the Arab-Israeli struggle that goes beyond partisan narratives of the past. Drawing on new evidence from a wide variety of sources, many of them only recently declassified, Rubin argues that Israel’s leaders indeed wanted to conquer the West Bank, but not at any cost. By 1967, they had abandoned hope of widening their borders and adopted an alternative strategy based on nuclear deterrence. In 1967, however, Israel’s new strategy failed to prevent war, convincing its leaders that they needed to keep the territory they conquered. The result was a diplomatic stalemate that endures today.