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Countdown to Statehood

Palestinian State Formation in the West Bank and Gaza

Hillel Frisch

Publication Year: 1998

A study of Palestinian state formation in comparison to Zionist experiences. Countdown to Statehood, based on Arabic, English, and Hebrew language sources, analyzes the form that the Palestinian state is likely to take. The book looks at past institution-building patterns in the West Bank and Gaza, the relationship between the PLO and the local Palestinians, and the nature of the conflict with Israel from 1967 through the first year of the Palestinian Authority under Arafat’s leadership. A major reference point in this analysis is the Zionist experience of state-building in Israel’s own pre-independence era. Not only did the Zionist experience serve as a model of a successful protagonist that Palestinians wished to emulate, but both also began as diaspora-based. These similarities and, even more so, the dissimilarities between these two struggles for national determination allow the reader to assess the potential likenesses and disparities of the future Palestinian state compared to its Israeli counterpart. The concluding chapter analyzes the findings in the broader context of third-world state-building by arguing, contrary to the common wisdom that “war makes the state,” that more peaceful routes to statehood lead to better states in the post-independence era.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Israeli Studies

Front Matter

Half Title Page

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Dedication Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. ix-x

When so much of the academic's work involves criticism (as well intentioned and constructive as it may be), it is almost a relief to end one's labors with acknowledgments to others who facilitated its execution. A sense of trepidation, however, continues to linger when one realizes that inevitably I will overlook persons worthy of thanks...

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pp. xi-xiv

This essay on Palestinian state fonnation attempts to fill a significant gap in the burgeoning literature on Palestinian nationalism. While aspects of Palestinian nationalism such as national liberation, revolution, and institution building have been extensively researched, and while studies of the intifada emphasize the importance of institution building...


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1. Territorialization and State Formation: The Palestinian Experience in Comparative Perspective

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pp. 1-14

National movements engage in two tasks: nation building, which is the creation of an identity around a common set of symbols, and state building, which is the formation of institutions to govern the polity.1 The first may originate in a people's homeland...

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2. The PLO, Territorialization, and Palestinian State Formation

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pp. 15-34

The Zionist movement successfully forged a state before its formal independence was declared. Such state building, firmly in the hands of territorially based leaders, had a positive effect on subsequent state consolidation. By contrast, Palestinian state building efforts swung in the opposite direction...

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3. Territorializing the PLO: The PLO and Mass Mobilization

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pp. 35-58

The institutionalization of the PLO as a diaspora center had significant effects on potential state building in the West Bank. In the following four chapters I analyze the ramifications of the wedding between the diaspora center and Palestinian politics in the territories as it was reflected in leadership, institution building, and resource-utilization patterns...

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4. Education and State Building

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pp. 59-92

The Palestinians in the territories, living under an occupation rather than a Mandate, were never able to create the quasi-state institutions that characterized the Yishuv. Instead, in order to address pressing social needs, foster national identity, and pave the way for future state building, they had to build legitimate functional institutions that the Israeli authorities would have difficulty opposing...

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5. The Intifada and State Building

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pp. 93-108

"We shall bum the land under the conqueror's feet. Let the whole world know that the volcano of resistance that the Palestinian people ignited will not stop until the Palestinian state-with Jerusalem its capital-is achieved. "I Having linked revolutionary violence to independence so forcefully in its first communique, did the Unified National...

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6. The Madrid Peace Process and the Challenge of the Inside

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pp. 109-124

No other event since 1967 potentially threatened the historic relationship between inside and outside like the 1991 Madrid and Washington peace talks, which convened partly on terms dictated by Israel. For the first time, the PLO was forced to give its assent to a situation in which territorial Palestinians, albeit within a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation...

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7. Countdown to Statehood

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pp. 125-146

In December 1947, the British government first announced its intention to withdraw all its troops from Palestine and terminate the Mandate on May 15, 1948 (later changed to May 14).1 The leaders of the Jewish Yishuv knew they had five months to create effective state institutions that would fill the vacuum the British left behind...

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Conclusion: Palestinian State Building and the Postcolonial State

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pp. 147-154

This book has focused mainly on the relationship between territorialization and modern state formation. What we saw is that national movements, like that of the Palestinians, must challenge territorial states in a politically crowded world. Likely to have to operate from the outside the territory they seek to liberate, nationalists will find it difficult to penetrate into a contested area. But given the territorial focus of the state system...

Back Matter


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pp. 155-194


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pp. 195-212


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pp. 213-237

E-ISBN-13: 9781438403410
E-ISBN-10: 1438403410
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791437117
Print-ISBN-10: 0791437116

Page Count: 221
Publication Year: 1998

Series Title: SUNY series in Israeli Studies