Liberation and Democratization: The South African and Palestinian National Movements

Liberation and Democratization: The South African and Palestinian National Movements

Liberation and Democratization: The South African and Palestinian National Movements

Liberation and Democratization: The South African and Palestinian National Movements

Synopsis

This study traces the evolution of these two national liberation movements, showing how they have xhibited parallels over the course of their development, but have arrived at such dissimilar outcomes.

Excerpt

The 1990s witnessed two of the oldest national liberation movements governing after nearly a century of organized resistance: the liberation movement in South Africa led by the African National Congress (ANC) and the Palestinian liberation movement led by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). the preceding decade was decisive: in the 1980s, mass uprisings shifted the momentum of what had been exile-based liberation movements back into South Africa and Palestine, carrying both the anc and the plo into negotiations with their opponents. With these massive uprisings both movements had achieved more than at any time in the decades since their emergence in the 1910s. in 1990, the South African government reversed the nearly 40-year ban on the anc, signaling its readiness to negotiate with movement leaders. in 1991, Israeli negotiators met with PLO-approved Palestinian representatives from the occupied territories, and began negotiating directly with the plo in secret parallel meetings the following year.

Although the uprisings strengthened both movements’ positions vis-à-vis their opponents, the national movement in South Africa has proven more successful than the Palestinian national movement. in 1994, black South Africans achieved their goal of a nonracial, democratic state in a unitary South Africa. in contrast, the PLO-led movement has not only failed to achieve the original goal of a nonsectarian, democratic state in all of Palestine, but even the less ambitious goal of such a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip remains elusive. in 1993, Palestinians achieved partial self-rule in the form of a Palestinian National Authority over an as yet undetermined entity . . .

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