Articles by Brian Whitaker

Below is a collection of my articles about the Middle East, mostly written for The Guardian newspaper and its website. The articles are grouped chronologically and according to country.

Articles in chronological order:
2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998

Articles listed by country:
Algeria | Bahrain | Egypt | Iran | Iraq | Kuwait | Lebanon | Libya | Oman | Palestine/Israel | Qatar | Saudi Arabia | Syria | Tunisia | United Arab Emirates | Yemen

Archive: Israel/Palestine

Guardian Focus podcast: What will UN recognition of a Palestinian state mean?
The Guardian, Audio (30min 27sec), 19 Sep 2011

We discuss the implications of Palestinians asking for UN recognition of statehood, with views from the Middle East, the US and Britain

Lebanon and Israel need a proper border agreement
Comment Is Free, 4 Aug 2010

Focusing on a pact to calm border tensions is far better than arguing over who fired the first shot in this week's confrontation

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh's murky world
Comment Is Free, 17 Feb 2010

Details of the Hamas official's murder resemble a movie script, but there's unlikely to be a neat Hollywood ending

History according to Bibi
Comment Is Free, 22 Dec 2008

Israel's possible future PM has been warning again of the danger posed by Iran. But has he indulged in a touch of hyperbole?

Hamas is a fact of life
Comment Is Free, July 23, 2007

Tony Blair begins his job as the Quartet's Middle East envoy today. But if he can't talk to Hamas, what's the point?

Arabic under fire
Comment Is Free, May 15, 2007

A child on Hamas TV talked of annihilating the Jews ... or did she?

Peace in our time?
Comment Is Free, April 2, 2007

While there are grounds to be sceptical about Ehud Olmert's offer to meet with all Arab heads of state, there are also a few reasons to be hopeful.

The unholy city
Comment Is Free, July 10, 2006

Arabs trying to move to one area of Jerusalem are reportedly running up against a campaign to keep them out.

The puzzle of Gaza
Comment Is Free, June 28, 2006

Can someone please explain the difference between a) abducting an Israeli soldier and holding him in Gaza, and b) abducting "enemy combatants" from Afghanistan and holding them in Guantánamo?

European states offer Middle East peace plan without UK
Guardian, November 17 2006

In a sign of growing frustration at diplomatic inaction as Israeli-Palestinian violence escalates, Spain, France and Italy yesterday unveiled a five-point peace initiative, taking Britain by surprise.

Israel's nuclear ambitions
Comment Is Free, April 24, 2006

It's a pity that Israel appears not to have considered trying to make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone.

Jericho: an election stunt?
Comment Is Free, March 15 2006

Whatever anyone else thinks about the Israeli army's Hollywood-style raid on the Jericho jail, public opinion in Israel seems largely in favour. Commentators also have little doubt that it will bring electoral benefits for Ehud Olmert and his Kadima party.

Googling for Israel
Comment Is Free, March 14 2006

More grumbles about Google from the blogosphere. Last week, very quietly, and with no advance fanfare, the world's leading search engine launched 'Google News Israel' - a compilation of headlines from Hebrew websites.

Few tears - and precious little joy
The Guardian, January 06 2006

Few Palestinian tears were shed yesterday at the news of the illness of Ariel Sharon yet, at the same time, there was no great expectation that his demise would work in their favour.

Hospital drama casts huge shadow over Sharon's drive to Israel's centre ground
The Guardian, January 05 2006

Just a few weeks ago there was a feeling that Ariel Sharon, the master tactician, had finally broken the mould of Israeli politics. With his plans held hostage by the right wing of the Likud party, he decided to call their bluff by breaking away and form

Home of al-Jazeera donates football stadium in Israel
The Guardian, October 12 2005

Qatar, the Gulf state that is home to al-Jazeera television, has made a multimillion-pound donation towards building a sports complex in Israel, it emerged yesterday. The gift - unprecedented for an Arab country - will provide a football stadium

Core of the conflict
The Guardian, April 12 2004

For more than a generation, one issue has dominated political discourse in the Middle East. It has spawned militant and terrorist groups of almost every hue, from nationalist to Islamist. It has impeded peaceful change and modernisation in the region ...

A regional peace forecast
The Guardian, December 17 2003

Which will end first ... the occupation of Iraq or the occupation of Palestine? It is a question that has been niggling me for a while, and last week I put it to an eminent professor of international relations.

Across the divide
The Guardian, September 15 2003

Journalists from across the Israeli-Palestinian divide eagerly swapped business cards and email addresses last week when they met for the Middle East Editors' Dialogue, organised by the Guardian, in London.

Road to nowhere
The Guardian, May 06 2003

It's going to be a busy three-and-a-bit weeks for the Israelis and the Palestinians. During the next 25 days, if all goes according to plan, the following will happen: ...

Concessions of a dangerous mind
The Guardian, March 17 2003

While Tony Blair may believe he has transformed President Bush's thinking on the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, Ariel Sharon can remain confident that nothing has really changed ...

Right takes centre stage
The Guardian, March 04 2003

At the annual dinner of the American Enterprise Institute last Wednesday, the US president, George Bush, gave a speech outlining his political visions for Iraq and Palestine, and what he sees as the link between them.

Nothing doing
The Guardian, September 24 2002

A new Palestinian report on UN resolutions exposes the double standards at the heart of Bush's rationale for action against Iraq ...

Peace is possible in Israel
The Guardian, July 29 2002

There's a simple one-word question about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that hardly anyone bothers to ask. The question is: why? By that, I don't mean 'why did it happen?'...

Bound in by red tape
The Guardian, May 20 2002

CRACK! A noise like a distant rifle shot echoed around the stone walls of Arab east Jerusalem.

An opportunity not to be missed
The Guardian, May 17 2002

There is an old quip that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Suddenly, in what is surely the Palestinians' bleakest hour since 1967, a new opportunity has come along.

Battle for truth in Jenin
April 23 2002

Most people would know a massacre if they saw one. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "massacre" is a noun meaning "general slaughter, carnage; utter defeat and destruction" or a verb meaning to "murder cruelly or violently a number of persons".

Drastic times call for drastic measures
The Guardian, April 08 2002

George Bush and Ariel Sharon have placed themselves in positions from which they cannot easily retreat, and the only outcome is that one or other will be humiliated ...

High hopes for unseen peace plan
The Guardian, February 27 2002

It may be a measure of the desperation in the Middle East that world leaders are swarming around an unseen peace initiative which remains in the drawer of a Saudi prince's desk.

The enemy within
The Guardian, January 28 2002

Over the last half-century many people have tried to destroy Israel and all have failed. What nobody seriously considered until now is that Israel might be destroyed without even trying, by its own prime minister.

The strange affair of Karine A
The Guardian, January 21 2002

At a select gathering in London last week, Israeli intelligence officers briefed journalists on the strange affair of Karine A, the ship seized by Israeli commandos with 50 tonnes of weapons on board.

Voyage of the arms ship
The Guardian, January 14 2002

It is surely only a matter of time before someone makes a film about the raid on Karine A, the arms ship seized by Israeli commandos in the Red sea.

Iraqi revealed as owner of weapons ship
The Guardian, January 10 2002

Registration documents have confirmed that the weapons ship seized by Israel in the Red Sea last week is owned by an Iraqi based in Yemen, and not by the Palestinian Authority as Israel has claimed.

Skipper says arms were for Arafat aide
The Guardian, January 08 2002

The Palestinian captain of the ship which Israel seized last week said yesterday that its cargo of illicit weapons was intended for the Palestinians and that his smuggling instructions came from a Palestinian Authority official.

Middle East peace holds key to America's war
The Guardian, September 17 2001

"Everyone has his Bin Laden," Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, said last week. "Arafat is our Bin Laden."

This is how the world's most security aware airline checks you in
The Guardian, September 15, 2001

There is no airline in the world that is more security conscious than El Al. Here our Middle East editor Brian Whitaker describes a scene that may become familiar to us all

The summit of Middle East tension
The Guardian, September 03 2001

Colonel Ilan Paz stands on a rooftop looking down onto the streets of Ramallah.

These are the worst days of our lives
The Guardian, August 20 2001

Two very different generations of the Palestinian resistance came together in Ramallah on Saturday for a double funeral.

Israel 'faces existential crisis'
The Guardian, July 23 2001

Israel is facing an "existential crisis" and could "collapse" in less than 20 years, a university professor claimed last week.

Fight or flight?
The Guardian, June 25 2001

Last week I flew from Jordan to Britain, via Tel Aviv. Changing planes in Tel Aviv is not, as you might expect, a simple matter of getting off one plane and on to another.

Jerusalem cafe provides food for thought
The Guardian, June 18 2001

Open Sesame was once a flourishing snack bar in old Jerusalem. It opened many years ago and a photograph of its founder, Fayyad abu Rmeleih's father, greets you from the opposite wall as you enter.

Israel drives hard bargain for peace
The Guardian, June 11 2001

It is now nine days since Yasser Arafat, facing the threat of Israeli reprisals for the Tel Aviv disco bombing, was forced to declare a ceasefire.

Pimps charge 'transfer fees' for women
The Guardian, June 10 2001

Israeli brothel keepers have the right to buy and sell prostitutes in the same way that football clubs transfer players, a lawyer claimed last week. 'There is no difference between trading football players, hi-tech programmers, or surgeons, and selling women for purposes of prostitution,' Yaacov Shklar, who specialises in defending pimps, told a Knesset committee.

Israeli pimps charge transfer fees for women
The Guardian, June 10 2001

Israeli brothel keepers have the right to buy and sell prostitutes in the same way that football clubs transfer players, a lawyer claimed last week. 'There is no difference between trading football players, hi-tech programmers, or surgeons, and selling women for purposes of prostitution,' Yaacov Shklar, who specialises in defending pimps, told a Knesset committee.

The Mitchell report
The Guardian, May 22 2001

The Mitchell Commission yesterday called for an immediate and unconditional end to violence as a first step towards resuming Middle East peace talks.

Europe irresolute over Israeli trade fraud
The Guardian, April 30 2001

There is no conduct quite so unbecoming as the betrayal of a friend. Israel professes to be a friend of Europe and yet, in its dealings with Europe, Israel has cheated and lied and abused the trust that was placed in its officials. It has done this cynically and systematically - and has been found out.

Europe colludes in Israeli trade scams
The Guardian, April 23 2001

Last Wednesday, a fax arrived at the Guardian - and no doubt, other British newspapers - from the foreign office. It was deemed so important that an official even phoned to check we had received it.

Dispute and denial surround killings of teenagers
The Guardian, April 18 2001

Seventeen-year-old Bassam Zaharan was suspected of wounding an Israeli soldier with a knife. If convicted, he could have been jailed for up to 10 years. But the Palestinian teenager will not be appearing in court or going to prison: Israeli forces shot him dead before he could be put on trial.

Israel wins war of words
The Guardian, April 09 2001

A familiar tale from the Middle East: "Palestinians launched three bombs overnight against the Eile Sinai settlement in the far north of the Gaza Strip. Israeli troops responded with tank shells, destroying a Palestinian border post and hitting two houses."

Israeli website mixes fact and fantasy
The Guardian, April 03 2001

Scanning the news on the internet at the weekend, I was alarmed to see at the top of the list a headline saying: "Talonsoft announces Arab-Israeli Wars".

Sharon has a mountain to climb
The Guardian, February 07 2001

Whatever else Ehud Barak failed to achieve during his beleaguered 21-month stint as Israeli prime minister, he has, through his departure, succeeded in handing Ariel Sharon a poisoned chalice. One can scarcely imagine a more suitable person to drink it.

Rage and hope mix in election of hated enemy
The Guardian, February 07 2001

The Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, is ready to meet Ariel Sharon as Israeli prime minister, the PLO confirmed last night.

'Restraint' strikes fear into Palestinians' hearts
November 21 2000

If there's one word that ought to strike fear into the hearts of Palestinians every time they hear it, it's "restraint".

War games on the net: but this time it's for real
November 30 2000

It's a war where nobody gets killed and almost anyone can join in - the Middle East cyber-war

Unity through intifada and satellite TV
November 17 2000

From London to the Gulf, the intifada has given the Islamic world the sense of belonging they have spent years trying to achieve by other means ...

Looking for justice as Palestinians continue to die
November 10 2000

A few days after the intifada began, an Israeli official explained to me the reasons for using disproportionate force. It was, he said, to make the Palestinians "re-calibrate their calculations".

The politics of identity
October 27 2000

The other night, in Jewish West Jerusalem, I hailed a taxi.

Dear Mr President...
October 19 2000

It is January 2001 and the US presidential inquiry into violence in the Middle East has finally issued its report. What it might say?

War of words in the Middle East
October 05 2000

Covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a challenge for writers as words can cause political offence, and attempts to be fair can lead to inaccuracies ...

Rivals for holy city may have to turn to God
August 22 2000

Today it is the turn of King Abdullah of Jordan to meet Yasser Arafat. Yesterday it was President Mubarak of Egypt's. In the seemingly endless round of meetings, the only thing everyone agrees on is that Jerusalem has become the main stumbling block in the Middle East peace process.

How peace became American pie in the sky
July 20 2000

"God, it's hard!" Bill Clinton said, sounding as if someone had just asked him to multiply 242 by 338 in his head. Well, nobody suggested it would be easy.

Dollars for peace
July 18 2000

As Palestinians and Israelis wrangle at Camp David, Bill Clinton may be reminded of a dispute that wise King Solomon, builder of the temple in Jerusalem, settled 3,000 years ago. Confronted by two women, both of whom claimed the same baby, Solomon suggested cutting the child in half. At that, one of the women offered to let the other take the child, if only the king would spare its life.

Camp David's gates reopen
July 11 2000

Palestinian and Israeli negotiators will gather at the US presidential retreat, Camp David, today for a summit that could end 50 years of conflict in the Middle East. But they arrive more in apprehension than expectation, and time - at least under Bill Clinton's presidency - is running out.

Can Clinton do a Carter at Camp David?
July 11 2000

President Clinton's choice of venue for the Israeli-Palestinian summit deliberately evokes memories of the Camp David meeting 22 years ago when President Jimmy Carter met Israel's prime minister, Menachem Begin, and the Egyptian president, Anwar al-Sadat.