Jonathan Kuttab, a leading human rights lawyer in Israel and Palestine, was born in West Jerusalem and raised there and in Bethlehem. After the Six Day War, Kuttab's family moved to the United States, where he graduated from Messiah College and earned his law degree from the University of Virginia. After practicing with a Wall Street law firm for several years, in 1980 Kuttab returned to his homeland where he continues to handle cases that have both Israeli and Palestinian officials squirming.
Kuttab co-founded the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence; the West Bank affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, Al-Haq; and the Mandela Institute for Political Prisoners. He was interviewed earlier this year in Jerusalem by Sojourners editor Jim Wallis.
Jim Wallis: People who support the Palestinian cause have also supported the Oslo peace process. Now it has fallen apart and there's a second intifada-this one more wild than the first. What are we to make of this?
Jonathan Kuttab: Everyone thought that the Oslo process, despite its goblins, would lead to a Palestinian state-a two-state solution. The reality, however, was the opposite. The Oslo process created an alternative to international law, to the mechanisms of the United Nations, to international solidarity, and to a genuine struggle for justice. It created a crazy partnership between the Palestinian leadership and the Israeli occupation forces, whereby the Palestinian leadership was given the task of maintaining peace and order for the Israeli settlers and the state of Israel in return for privileges that were doled out a little at a time. In the end, Israel had all the power on the ground. The Palestinians either had to accept the Israeli structure or simply suffer with no recourse.