The West Bank and Gaza: Toward the Making of a Palestinian State

The West Bank and Gaza: Toward the Making of a Palestinian State

The West Bank and Gaza: Toward the Making of a Palestinian State

The West Bank and Gaza: Toward the Making of a Palestinian State

Excerpt

This study by Emile A. Nakhleh will raise new questions in the Middle East debate. Paradoxically, though there is considerable public comment and controversy about the West Bank and Gaza Strip, there is also a persistent lack of public knowledge about the area. It is now occupied territory, under Israel's military control, but the vast majority of its inhabitants are Arabs, many of whom have lived there for centuries. They have their own structure of public and private institutions, and, in more academic terms, it may be said that an indigenous "political system" already functions there, though there continues to be substantial ignorance of that fact. Professor Nakhleh provides us with new knowledge about it.

The Arab institutions on the West Bank and in Gaza, which still operate under outmoded Jordanian and British mandate laws as well as the exigencies of the current military occupation, are not functioning as well as they could. Professor Nakhleh presents abundant interviews with key West Bank and Gaza leaders about the present state of these institutions and their potential for selfgovernment in the future as part of a peace settlement. These interviews were conducted before the Camp David accords of September 1978, but a quick trip by Professor Nakhleh to the West Bank in October revealed no changes in basic attitudes. Those who read this study may find some of it disquieting. I hope this is the case. In international affairs, we gain nothing by ignoring those with whom we must negotiate on key issues affecting our own survival, no matter how alien their perceptions might be to our policy preferences.

This study is part of a projected series on Arab and Israeli views of the West Bank and Gaza. Though not technically part of this series a relevant volume will be published in Jerusalem, by the . . .

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