Under Siege is Rashid Khalidi's firsthand account of the 1982 Lebanon War and the complex negotiations for the evacuation of the P.L.O. from Beirut. Utilizing unconventional sources and interviews with key officials and diplomats, Khalidi paints a detailed portrait of the siege and ensuing massacres, providing insight into the military pressure experienced by the P.L.O., the war's impact on Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, and diplomatic efforts by the United States. A new preface by Khalidi considers developments across the Middle East in the thirty years since the conflict. The preface also cites recently declassified Israeli documents to offer surprising new revelations about the roles and responsibilities of both Israeli leaders and American diplomats in the tragic coda to the war, the Sabra and Shatila massacres.
Based on documents from PLO archives (Yasser Arafat is claimed to have granted full access) and on interviews with Fateh leaders as well as Western diplomats who were involved, Khalidi presents an objective and closely reasoned analysis of the defeat of the PLO and its allies. The study reveals the effect of battlefield events on the complex quadrilateral diplomacy between the PLO, the Lebanese government, the U.S. and Israel. The author also sheds new light on the loss of U.S. prestige in the Middle East: the U.S., he maintains, is held responsible in the region for, among other things, failing to restrain the Israelis and for not preventing the Sabra and Shatila massacres. He concludes with a concise summary of the transformations wrought by the 1982 war on the politics of Lebanon, the Palestinians and Israel. Khalidi, a Palestinian, is a visiting professor of political science at Georgetown University. December