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Palestinian Politics after the Oslo Accords: Resuming Arab Palestine

NATHAN J. BROWN
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: 1
Pages: 334
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pnxh2
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  • Book Info
    Palestinian Politics after the Oslo Accords
    Book Description:

    This timely and critically important work does what hostilities in the Middle East have made nearly impossible: it offers a measured, internal perspective on Palestinian politics, viewing emerging political patterns from the Palestinian point of view rather than through the prism of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Based on groundbreaking fieldwork, interviews with Palestinian leaders, and an extensive survey of Arabic-language writings and documents,Palestinian Politics after the Oslo Accordspresents the meaning of state building and self-reliance as Palestinians themselves have understood them in the years between 1993 and 2002. Nathan J. Brown focuses his work on five areas: legal development, constitution drafting, the Palestinian Legislative Council, civil society, and the effort to write a new curriculum. His book shows how Palestinians have understood efforts at building institutions as acts of resumption rather than creation-with activists and leaders seeing themselves as recovering from an interrupted past, Palestinians seeking to rejoin the Arab world by building their new institutions on Arab models, and many Palestinian reformers taking the Oslo Accords as an occasion to resume normal political life. Providing a clear and urgently needed vantage point on most of the issues of Palestinian reform and governance that have emerged in recent policy debates-issues such as corruption, constitutionalism, democracy, and rule of law-Brown's book helps to put Palestinian aspirations and accomplishments in their proper context within a long and complex history and within the larger Arab world.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93778-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 Resuming Arab Palestine
    (pp. 1-17)

    In June 1999, an independent task force on Palestinian governance announced its final report in a press conference in Gaza. Sponsored by Henry Seigman of the American Council on Foreign Relations and chaired by Michel Rocard, the former French prime minister, the task force commanded the respectful attention of senior Palestinian officials. Yet the report consisted of page after page of criticism of the operation of Palestinian political institutions and recommendations for sounder practices—couched in diplomatic terms, to be sure, but amounting to a powerful indictment of current Palestinian practice. While the task force report was timed to coincide...

  5. 2 The Legal Framework: Disputing in, over, and outside Courts
    (pp. 18-58)

    The PNA moved immediately in the legal realm to reaffirm its continuity with the past and resume the construction of a legal framework along lines similar to those in neighboring Arab countries. Its strong (though not unlimited) success in this effort has now brought Palestinians to face a new set of choices about the role of law in Palestinian society and governance.

    The argument presented in this chapter stands in partial contrast to most writings on Palestinian legal developments since 1993. Only those constrained by diplomatic concerns have withheld the sharpest of judgments. For most observers, Palestinian officials inherited an...

  6. 3 Constituting and Reconstituting Palestine
    (pp. 59-93)

    Those who speak in Palestine’s name have declared it to be an independent state twice (1948 and 1988). They have declared their firm intention to do so many more times and declared their fervent wish to do so more times still. On four occasions (1948, 1988, 1996, and 1999) their efforts have actually progressed to the stage of beginning to draft constitutional documents for the new state. Yet Palestine remains without a recognized constitutional framework, and its leadership has exhibited ambivalence about pursuing efforts further.

    Constitutions in the Arab world have been written to serve several different purposes.¹ First, they...

  7. 4 Inventing a Parliament
    (pp. 94-137)

    On January 26, 2000, the PLC met in Ramallah for the presentation of the PNA’s budget for the year. The budget that the cabinet had forwarded to the PLC marked a departure from past practice in two very significant ways. First, unlike any previous budget, it had been submitted before the beginning of the fiscal year. Second, the budget was balanced for the first time in PNA history. Yet the session seemed likely to be highly charged. No deputy could forget the session held just two months earlier.

    In that earlier session, some members of the PLC had attempted to...

  8. 5 Civil Society in Theory and Practice
    (pp. 138-190)

    For many Palestinians and non-Palestinians, associational life offered the greatest possibilities for a new kind of politics in the Arab world. The PNA, while striving to create a state, was not operating in a vacuum; it was imposing itself on a society that had learned to organize many of its own affairs under occupation. According to more optimistic views, the prior existence of a vital and energetic civil society would constrain the development of state institutions, leading to a far more liberal and democratic political order than was the norm for Arab countries. More pessimistic observers focused instead on the...

  9. 6 Democracy, Nationalism, and Contesting the Palestinian Curriculum
    (pp. 191-243)

    Modern Arab states are widely known—both inside and outside their boundaries—for their highly developed (and overlapping) security services, extensive bureaucracies, and closed decision-making structures. The Palestinian Authority quickly obtained a reputation for following this pattern in most respects.

    One feature of Arab states has generally received far less attention: their concentration on education. In the twentieth century, all Arab states have built extensive networks of schools at all levels, required education for both boys and girls, and supervised the content of classroom instruction extremely closely. As will be seen, Arab educational systems have unsparing critics, but none question...

  10. 7 Conclusion
    (pp. 244-254)

    In September 2000, the Palestinian Bar Association approved its bylaws. The process of unifying preexisting organizations had been tortuous, but the step finally allowed lawyers to prepare for elections and the construction of a unified and professionalized body. Palestinian journalists were preparing to hold a meeting to found a new professional association at the end of the same month. Engineers, dentists, and others worked on drafting laws to unite their long-divided professions. Various bodies representing Palestinian teachers agreed to stop their rivalry and consolidate their activities. Accountants held a brief strike in protest of an incident in which security forces...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 255-302)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 303-316)
  13. Index
    (pp. 317-323)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 324-324)