Fifty years after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, the Palestinian national movement seems to be at a crossroads. Repeated efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have faltered, and the traditional instruments of Palestinian nationalism—the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Fatah, and, since 1994, the Palestinian Authority (PA)—face crises of confidence. While the current path is likely to lead to continued occupation, settlement expansion, and further internal division, the strategic alternatives could unravel Palestinian institutional and diplomatic achievements, with no certainty of success. A coherent strategy is needed, along with a new generation of leaders that can stem the political ruptures and inject new life into Palestinian institutions.
- The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace recently conducted a survey of fifty-eight selected Palestinian leaders in various fields. As expected, participants view the Israeli occupation and settlement activity as critical impediments to Palestinian sovereignty. However, they are equally disturbed about internal and social divisions. In particular, the West Bank–Gaza split is seen as a massive barrier to fulfilling Palestinian aspirations.
- A majority of respondents are pessimistic about the future and believe that the two-state solution is no longer viable. Youth are especially inclined to believe the Oslo Accords have not served Palestinian interests, and a significant number view armed resistance as a more effective method for advancing Palestinian nationalism. Carnegie also found a dwindling faith in Palestinian political institutions. Meanwhile, there is a growing focus on the importance of civil society and educational institutions.
In recent decades, most Palestinian national institutions have been organized around the assumption that they would eventually assume control of a sovereign state. But with Palestinians increasingly skeptical of the two-state solution, alternatives have emerged as plausible paths forward. Each has shown signs of percolation among grassroots actors, but none enjoys, nor is likely to enjoy, the full backing of the Ramallah-based leadership.
- Binationalism. Public support for binational proposals, in which Palestinians and Israelis would share a single state, remains relatively low; and advocates have yet to articulate a viable strategy to achieve that vision. However, given the emerging Palestinian demographic majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, binational options may become more appealing in the years ahead.
- Rights-based approaches. There are indications that approaches seeking greater legal protections for Palestinian human and civil rights are gaining traction; they encompass various measures and tactics—from the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement to international legal instruments to nonviolent resistance. But a sustainable civil disobedience campaign would be difficult to organize and could spin out of control without a national consensus, energetic leadership, and strong discipline.
- Armed resistance. Armed resistance, which is seen in Israel as synonymous with terrorism, is the most radical approach. The second intifada left thousands dead and was catastrophic to Palestinian aspirations. However, there is evidence that militancy is gaining traction, and Palestinian political stagnation has created a vacuum for disillusioned individuals or fringe elements to fill with violence.
Toward Institutional Renewal
- Palestinian political and cultural identity and the perceived ideal of Palestinian unity still seem to resonate strongly, but the Palestinian people are dispersed both politically and geographically, complicating institutional renewal efforts.
- While the PLO is weak, Palestinian interlocutors consistently view the entity as vital, and many believe it is key to the rejuvenation of the Palestinian national project. The PA has been atrophying for the last decade and today struggles to provide public services and remain solvent. It has failed to cultivate a new generation of talent, and there are unmistakable signs of brain drain.
- Palestinian factions, too, face daunting challenges. Fatah has lost its historical sense of mission after decades in power and functions as a patronage network rather than a political party. Hamas faces even deeper problems: the absence of strategy, its weakness in the West Bank and inability to govern Gaza, its failure to provide a genuine resistance option, and its status as an international pariah.
- Fatah and Hamas have agreed, with Western support, to a de facto partition of Palestine, which has allowed each to become deeply entrenched in its respective territory. There is a strong view among Palestinians that this rivalry divides the Palestinian people and has contributed to the decline in their institutions.
- While Palestinian factions have lost their ability to appeal to younger generations, the undercurrents that led to their creation remain a powerful presence in society. The formal structures that embody the Palestinian national identity are declining, but the identity itself remains strong.
- Furthermore, there are signs of dynamism at the subnational level. Unions, student groups, and other civil society actors have exhibited vibrant internal politics and engaging younger leaders, who may be able to revitalize Palestinian politics amid a pending generational change in authority.
A half century after Israel’s astonishing 1967 victory established control over East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, the Palestinian national project still faces considerable barriers to statehood. The Palestinian Authority (PA)—created in 1994 as a way station to full sovereignty—has been split in two since Hamas’ 2007 takeover of Gaza.1 The pace of Israeli construction in the West Bank has increased more during the PA’s twenty-three-year lifespan than in the first twenty-seven years of Israeli occupation, with the number of West Bank settlers rising from 116,300 in 1993 to 382,900 in 2015.2
Since the 1993 Oslo Accord, most Palestinian institutions have evolved upon the premise that a sovereign state is achievable through a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But since 2000, successive efforts to negotiate a final status agreement have failed. With the pathways to statehood increasingly in doubt, the end goal no longer seems to guide political calculations. As a result, Palestinian political legitimacy continues to erode, and Palestinians increasingly view their national leadership as incapable of articulating a coherent strategic vision.
Hence, Palestinian nationalism seems to be at a critical juncture, with no clear way forward. The current trajectory likely leads to continued occupation, settlement expansion, social division, and institutional decay. And while grassroots discussions of new approaches have begun to percolate, no consensus has emerged. These approaches, which mostly involve increased confrontation with Israel, would likely bring socioeconomic turbulence and the possible unraveling of some of the organizational, moral, and diplomatic achievements of Palestinian nationalism to date—and with no certainty of success. Based in part on an informal survey of fifty-eight Palestinian leaders in various fields and featuring a collection of commentaries on subjects including civil society engagement, youth political participation, reconciliation, and international law and Palestinian rights, this report attempts to explore the prospects for national renewal.
In Their Own Words
Earlier this year, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace conducted a survey of fifty-eight Palestinians on their views on social and political trends. The group included scholars, journalists, human rights lawyers, activists, student leaders, former senior officials, entrepreneurs, and others, representing Palestinian communities in the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, Israel, and the diaspora. They were not randomly selected, so their views should not be seen as representative of Palestinian society as a whole. However, their answers collectively shed light on the shape and future direction of Palestinian nationalism. While the survey results are reflected throughout this report, below are some principal findings. Unless otherwise noted, the respondents were asked to describe the following in their own words; the answers were then categorized as part of the analysis.3
- “What, in your view, are the three most important challenges facing Palestinian society?” (open response). Large majorities of the respondents included both (1) some variant of the Israeli occupation and/or settlement activity and (2) some variant of internal political and/or social divisions in their three responses. About half described some variant of leadership or vision deficiencies, while fewer respondents cited other themes, including economic challenges, democracy and human rights, and final status issues, such as the creation of a Palestinian state or the right of return.
- “What, in your view, are the three most significant challenges facing Palestinian youth?” (open response). A large majority of the respondents cited some variant of unemployment and underemployment as one of their three responses. About half cited the occupation or restrictions on movement, while fewer respondents cited other themes, including social alienation, challenges related to opportunities for political or social engagement, or a lack of political vision.
- “What do you think is the mostly likely situation in Palestine in 10 years’ time?” (open response). More than half of the responses were pessimistic in nature. About 20 percent were optimistic, and less than 10 percent were neither pessimistic nor optimistic.
- “Do you believe a two-state outcome between Palestine and Israel is possible?” (multiple choice). Thirty out of fifty-four respondents said “no,” while twenty-four said “yes.”
- “What is your preferred political outcome for Palestine within 10 years?” (open response). This question elicited a wide range of responses, with slightly more respondents describing some variant of a two-state solution than a one-state solution. (Most of the one-state variants were binational, democratic outcomes, though one West Bank student leader directly advocated the violent removal of Israelis.) However, more than half of the responses declined to outline a specific political end-state, focusing instead on a variety of tangible objectives such as settlement removal, liberation, or the right of return.
- “In your opinion, what is the most important Palestinian institution?” (open response). The fifty-six respondents named twenty different entities, with the Palestine Liberation Organization being the most cited (nine responses). More respondents named either a civil society or educational institution (six responses total) than named the PA (four responses). Seven respondents explicitly stated that there are no capable Palestinian institutions.
- “Which of the following would you consider the most important component of your personal identity?” (multiple choice). Thirty-two of fifty-six respondents cited nationality as the most important, followed by locality of origin (nine), religion (five), gender (two), and ethnicity (one). Seven respondents cited more than one answer; none cited family or clan.
- “Who are the three most inspiring current Palestinian leaders?” (open response). Thirty different names were offered by fifty-four respondents. After Abbas (twenty-two), other top vote-getters were Mohammed Dahlan (fourteen), Khaled Mishal (thirteen), Ismael Haniyah (thirteen), and Marwan Barghouti (eleven). Eight respondents explicitly stated that there were no inspiring Palestinian leaders.
- “Which foreign country is the most important to the future of Palestine?” (open response). Fourteen of fifty respondents chose the United States, followed by Egypt (eight), Israel (six), and Jordan (four). Two respondents identified both Egypt and Jordan, while six named some other assortment of multiple countries and four said that no particular country is influential. One respondent each chose Iran, Norway, Palestine, Qatar, Syria, and Turkey.
In the early years after the Naksa (or Setback, the Palestinian and Arab description for what Israelis call the Six Day War), the vitality of Palestinian nationalism was far from assured. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was created in 1964 by the Arab League—then dominated by Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser—at least in part to contain Palestinian nationalism. After a generation in which the Palestinian national movement had been circumscribed by Arab nationalism, Egyptian control of Gaza, and Jordanian control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Palestinians in these areas found themselves in June 1967 suddenly under Israeli occupation.
Yet, after Yasser Arafat and an independent Fatah leadership emerged after 1967, Palestinians gained significant international support and made strides toward statehood and liberation. Their initial audacious guerilla action—often targeting not just military but also Israeli (and even non-Israeli) civilian targets—garnered international attention, while also associating the national movement’s reputation indelibly with terrorism. However, Palestinians’ willingness to use such violence did not preclude diplomacy—aimed first at the regional and then at the global level—nor did it prevent an eventual move toward political pragmatism, especially from the 1980s on.4
As Palestinian views were evolving toward the endorsement of a two-state solution in the 1970s and 1980s, international actors were defining the framework, in successive iterations, through which Palestinians aspirations would be fulfilled. Three examples are U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 242 in November 1967, the 1978 Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt, and the 2003 Quartet Roadmap for Peace—none of which Palestinians played a role in drafting.5 UNSCR 242 first articulated the concept of “land for peace,” which became the foundation for Israel’s treaties with Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994) and the Oslo Accords. The Camp David Accords contained an outline of an autonomous authority in the West Bank and Gaza, rejected by the PLO and never implemented but which became a model for the Oslo Accords fifteen years later. The Quartet Roadmap, drafted under former U.S. president George W. Bush and released by the Quartet on the Middle East (United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations) in April 2003, was a performance-based plan to end the conflict and became the basis for subsequent negotiations efforts.
“Settlement expansion forms the very core of the occupation. Unless this is addressed, the rest is meaningless.”
—Mouin Rabbani, analyst and researcher
A primary objective of the PLO, particularly in the precarious pre-Oslo period, was preserving the “independence of the Palestinian decision.”6 While Palestinians have always defended their decisionmaking freedom, they also generally attempted to avoid estrangement from the Arab states. Periods of progress in the Palestinian project have generally corresponded with periods of independence, whereas periods of stagnation or decline have created openings for external interference.
Meanwhile, the United States and other international actors have resisted unilateral Palestinian efforts that operate outside the framework of bilateral negotiations, such as joining international organizations and working toward a reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.7 Notwithstanding this resistance, the state of Palestine, though lacking borders or sovereignty, has received symbolic diplomatic recognition from more than 130 countries, representing about 80 percent of the world’s population; as well as observer status at the United Nations and other international organizations.8 But diplomatic recognition, in itself, carries little tangible benefit.
While the Ramallah-based leadership still operates within the contours of the Oslo two-state paradigm, outside this circle, faith in the possibility of a negotiated settlement has receded. Extensive public polling in the West Bank and Gaza going back two decades has found consistent support for a negotiated two-state solution9—at least in the abstract. But large majorities no longer see such a result as achievable: recent polls found that 65 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza do not consider the two-state solution to be viable; only 3 percent in the West Bank and Gaza believe that President Mahmoud Abbas should prioritize peace negotiations; and only 16 percent of youth ages fifteen to twenty-nine believe that the Oslo Accords have served Palestinian interests.10 A majority of Carnegie survey respondents answered “no” when asked whether a two-state solution is still possible (see Figure 1).
With two-state solutions at a road block, what are the alternatives and how viable are they? Palestinians have long debated this question, with the most plausible being binationalism, rights-based approaches, and armed resistance. The first represents an alternative outcome, incompatible with traditional two-state diplomacy, and the latter two are alternative approaches not necessarily wedded to a particular end-state. Each has shown signs of percolation among grassroots Palestinian actors, but often at the fringes and none enjoys, nor is likely to enjoy, the full backing of the Ramallah-based leadership.
Binational proposals, in which Palestinians and Israelis would share a single state, are not new. In the 1920s, the Jewish Brit Shalom organization—never amounting to more than perhaps a hundred or so members—promoted Arab-Jewish coexistence and a binational state in Mandatory Palestine at a time of intercommunal tensions.11 In the late 1960s, before endorsing two-state outcomes and moving away from violence, the PLO proposed the establishment of a single “democratic secular state,” with equal protections for Palestinians and Jews.12 In recent decades, certain segments of Palestinian society, such as intelligentsia and civil society activists, took a stand against the Oslo framework for failing to curtail settlement expansion and for compromising on Palestinian demands and thus began arguing for binational solutions.
However, public support for one-state outcomes, at least in the West Bank and Gaza, remains relatively low. One recent poll found that only 18 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza support a binational state, while another found that 43 percent of Palestinians disagree with remaining committed to a two-state solution.13 But large numbers of Palestinian youth—perhaps having less appreciation for the benefits of the limited self-determination of the PA—have declared the Oslo paradigm dead more forcefully than their older contemporaries.14 In fact, some have argued that there is significant latent public support for one-state outcomes, which lack only advocacy by a dynamic leader to become legitimate and viable.15
“Achieving Palestinian statehood is necessary for full basic rights, unless a one-state solution is possible.”
—Hanan Hammoudeh, human rights advocate
Of course, many Palestinians consider movement toward one-state approaches to be disastrous to Palestinian nationalism, since Israelis would retain their institutional advantages.16 Such an approach, the thinking goes, could lead to the legitimization of Israeli settlements and put at risk the broad diplomatic recognition Palestinian nationalism has achieved.
The gradual turn of Palestinians toward binationalism may be correlated to the emerging Palestinian demographic majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. There is a sense among many Palestinians that, political setbacks notwithstanding, time is on their side. According to a December 2015 projection by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the number of Palestinians and Jews living in Mandatory Palestine should reach parity in 2017 at approximately 6.4 million each.17 Another calculation found that Jews have been a minority in “Israel-Palestine” since 2012.18 Whatever the precise timing, the trend is clear: because Palestinian birthrates are significantly higher—4.1 per woman in the West Bank and Gaza compared to 3.1 in Israel19—Palestinians will eventually constitute a substantial majority in the combined area of Israel and Palestine. But if this faith in the power of a Palestinian demographic majority is misguided, it risks producing passivity and thus continued stagnation.
Even if the goal of a single democratic state is accepted as laudable, advocates of binationalism have yet to articulate a path to that vision. Notwithstanding the fear previous generations of Israeli leaders held at the prospects of losing Israel’s Jewish majority,20 Palestinian demographic momentum has not resulted in a sense of urgency within Israel to resolve the conflict. The new Israeli right has apparently concluded that demographics alone are unlikely to force a resolution to the conflict. To leverage this majority, one Palestinian interlocutor told Carnegie, Israel must be forced to decide between one state or two—a choice Israel can avoid, so long as the West Bank and Gaza remain divided.21 Thus, while the weight of demographics is likely to change the contours of the conflict in the decades ahead, possibly by making one-state outcomes appear more appealing, demography alone is unlikely to be determinative, at least in the near future.
Implicit in the Oslo paradigm is the notion that Palestinian rights are best secured through a sovereign state. But in discussions convened by Carnegie, many Palestinians reiterate that their leaders should not accept simply any state conception that might be on offer. In other words, the substance of the state is seen as more significant than its form, thus casting doubt on the viability of an agreement that creates a state lacking attributes such as fixed boundaries, security independence, and border controls.22 There are signs of an evolution in the thinking of Palestinian activists and political theorists, including inside Israel, toward an approach that seeks greater legal protections based on instruments like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“Whether it is one, two, or fifty states, it doesn’t matter if there is a social contract based on principles of freedom, justice, and dignity for all, which Israel’s policies seek to prevent from materializing.”
—Fadi Quran, campaigner and community organizer
Such an approach could encompass a wide variety of measures and tactics both locally and internationally—from the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement to international legal and lawfare instruments to nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience. A rights-based approach has the benefit of ambiguity in that it could be consistent with either a two-state outcome or binationalism—though it does raise the prospect of undermining fidelity to a two-state solution over time. If it is Palestinian civil and human rights that are of primary value, then the state becomes the means to an end rather than the end itself. And, of course, rights-based approaches could be used to demand increased rights from Palestinian governing bodies in the West Bank or Gaza, which could help explain their reluctance in fully embracing such approaches. Two specific applications of rights-based approaches are nonviolent resistance and BDS.
A recent poll found that 62 percent of the population of the West Bank and Gaza would support nonviolent resistance in the absence of final status negotiations.23 The theoretical appeal of such an approach to Palestinians is obvious, given the failure of either negotiations or violence to secure a state and the historical track record of nonviolent resistance movements in other contexts. But to be successful in practice would require a unified leadership, national consensus, and enormous organizational discipline—all of which appear to be lacking.24 A sustainable civil disobedience campaign would be difficult to organize and quite lengthy. And while it may conjure up idealistic images of peaceful marches, in practice, it is likely to be extraordinarily ugly—at least in the eyes of many who would oppose its goals. It would likely entail frequent confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians on the streets and via the media, international fora, and courtrooms. Many Israelis would see the campaign as an attempt to demonize and delegitimize their state, and it would likely result in considerable socioeconomic hardship for Palestinians. Without a national consensus, leadership, and discipline, the likelihood that events would quickly spin out of control is high, creating openings for spoilers, such as Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and other groups to push such confrontations toward violent conflict.
“There is not a single inspiring current Palestinian leader. Yet, the leadership model of the BDS movement is inspiring.”
—Alaa Tartir, researcher and policy analyst
Launched in 2005 and supported by Palestinian civil society, the BDS movement is in some ways the international manifestation of nonviolent resistance. To this point, the accomplishments of BDS, which seeks to pressure Israel through international pressure and economic sanctions, have been more symbolic than real. Nonetheless, some Israeli leaders consider the movement a grave long-term threat, and the movement appears to enjoy widespread approval from Palestinians25—even as many wonder how they can participate. Yet BDS presents its own set of challenges. The Palestinian economy’s deep dependence upon Israel for employment and consumer trade makes it difficult for Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza to boycott Israel without incurring disproportionate economic hardship. Some Palestinian officials express private concern that were the economic damage caused by BDS to Israel to expand, Palestinians would also suffer given their economic vulnerability.26 Although BDS does not take a position on final status issues—anxious to preserve internal unity—its call for a full boycott on Israel (rather than simply on Israeli settlements) and its endorsement of a comprehensive right of return for Palestinian refugees goes beyond the positions of the PLO, contributing to a certain degree of ambivalence from Ramallah-based leaders. Regardless of its success going forward, the BDS movement—as a grassroots initiative that does not rely upon traditional factional structures—constitutes a potentially significant political development.
Armed resistance, which is seen in Israeli as synonymous with terrorism, is, of course, the most radical approach. While Israel maintains complete military dominance over any potential Palestinian adversary, given the three Gaza wars fought between Israel and Hamas in the last decade, the possibility of renewed Palestinian armed resistance cannot be discounted. Having lived through the devastation of the second intifada, which left approximately 960 Israelis and 3,250 Palestinians dead and was catastrophic to Palestinian aspirations,27 elite Palestinians in Ramallah show little desire in moving back toward the renewal of violence.28 Abbas himself does not condone violence and is criticized by Palestinians for being insufficiently supportive of popular resistance.29 In discussions convened by Carnegie in December 2015 in the West Bank and in February 2017 in Amman, Palestinians made almost no reference to armed resistance. Little reference was made in Carnegie’s survey either, with the exception of two students who advocated violence—though this is not necessarily reflective of broader public views.
“Palestinian society is on the brink, internal inflict is brewing in Israel, and the occupation is getting more draconian as it swallows up more land and rights.”
—Rula Jebreal, international relations professor
However, there is evidence that militancy is gaining traction. Several recent polls found that Palestinians are almost evenly split between supporting negotiations and violence.30 Indeed, the general state of political stagnation has created a vacuum for disillusioned individuals or fringe elements to fill with violence. In the fall of 2015, an extended wave of violence wore on for months, beginning with several days of clashes between Israelis and Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, followed by a series of lone-wolf attacks. The series of events, which became known to Palestinians as the habba (outburst),31 initially centered in Jerusalem’s Old City. From there, the bloodshed spread into the West Bank and Gaza, leading to the deaths of approximately thirty-four Israelis and 236 Palestinians through June 2016. The habba encompassed individual attacks perpetrated by unaffiliated but disillusioned Palestinian youth (of an average age of twenty-three),32 including some women, who were killed by Israeli security forces in significant numbers. The main factions—Fatah and Hamas—held back from direct participation. The sharp decline in the attacks in the spring of 2016 seems to demonstrate that the Palestinians inclined toward violence are insufficiently organized to carry out a third intifada.33
But it is an open question as to whether future Palestinian leaders in Ramallah will maintain Abbas’s fidelity to negotiations. Mohammed al-Aloul, Fatah’s new deputy leader, is a veteran military commander who declared in 2012 that “no one has dropped the armed resistance from his dictionary.”34 In a private conversation a year earlier, he opined that uprisings are not decisions made by leaders but events that develop from below.35 Meanwhile, Yahya Sinwar, who was promoted in February 2017 to be the new Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, helped establish Hamas’s counterintelligence organization and spent twenty-two years in Israeli prison for killing Palestinian collaborators.36 For the time being, Hamas appears uninterested in promoting a third public uprising, perhaps in part because such an uprising might jeopardize its own grip on power. But based on Hamas’s behavior in the past decade, it is not difficult to imagine scenarios in which their calculus changes, particularly in response to regional isolation, pressure from even more radical groups, or economic restrictions in Gaza.
“Without national unity, achieving any potential that might exist for national liberation is impossible.”
—Raja Khalidi, development economist
Can any institution speak for Palestinians, develop (or even impose) a consensus on strategic direction, or coordinate their actions? Palestinians have access to numerous structures that were built to serve such purposes, but all are currently faltering. Can they be revived?
The Challenge of Geography
While Palestinian political and cultural identity and the ideal of Palestinian unity resonate strongly in theory, for a national movement at a precarious crossroads, the differing priorities of its constituent parts complicate institutional renewal efforts. The West Bank risks deeper cantonization, with the total Israeli settlement population in East Jerusalem and the West Bank having reached approximately 600,000.37 Ongoing Israeli and Egyptian restrictions on human and economic movement in Gaza has left the territory in a state of deep geographical and socioeconomic isolation.38 East Jerusalem, the epicenter of Palestinian nationalism and cultural life for most of the twentieth century, is increasingly becoming culturally and politically marginalized amid demographic pressures, physical separation by Israel from Ramallah and Bethlehem, and institutional inertia.39
The 1.7 million Palestinians in Israel constitute nearly 21 percent of Israel’s population.40 While possessing greater democratic rights than Palestinian diaspora communities elsewhere in the Middle East, they remain culturally, economically, and politically isolated. Of the roughly 12 million Palestinians worldwide, about half live outside of historical Palestine and many face worsening conditions.41 The Yarmouk refugee camp in the suburbs of the Syrian capital of Damascus is an extreme case. Formerly home to 160,000 Palestinians, it was subjected to a brutal two-year siege that reportedly displaced an estimated 85 percent or more of its inhabitants.42
The diversity of these communities has undoubtedly contributed to Palestinian cultural and social resiliency over the past half century. Their varied political and socioeconomic priorities might have been masked, though not always successfully, in the name of unity in the 1970s and 1980s when Palestinian nationalism was making progress and again after 1995 when statehood seemed within reach. Since then, however, Palestinian institutions have largely lost the ability to speak to the broader Palestinian population or to mediate their differences, and there are few opportunities for personal intercommunal interactions across geographic constituencies. While there are incipient social media efforts to bridge these gaps, such efforts have occurred almost entirely outside traditional Palestinian structures.43 Carnegie survey respondents offered a wide range of responses when asked to name the most important Palestinian institution, including eight who said there was no such institution (see Figure 2).
The PLO, the PA, and the Coming Succession
Palestine Liberation Organization
Founded in 1964 with a mandate to liberate Palestine, the PLO has been the diplomatic face of Palestinian nationalism. After assuming leadership of the PLO in 1969, Arafat gained recognition for the body—first in the Arab world, then from the United Nations General Assembly in 1974,44 and then from the United States and Israel in 199345—as the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. But even when it was a robust organization, the PLO was an umbrella for factions and their politics under Fatah domination.
In recent years, the PLO has been supplanted by the Palestinian Authority and particularly by the patronage that the PA brings. In Palestinian eyes, the Palestine Liberation Organization gave birth to the PA, but the organization survives today as an appendage to its own creation. It no longer has a strong presence among diaspora communities and seems to have lost some capacity to speak for the full range of Palestinian concerns.
“Government corruption is at the heart of the lack of trust between the government and the citizen.”
—Khalil Tafakji, head of maps department
While the PLO is weak, it retains important symbolic capital. Palestinian interlocutors consistently view the entity as vital, if only as a vessel to be reconstituted at a later date. Given the deficiencies of the PA, some Palestinians believe that the PLO is key to the rejuvenation of the Palestinian national project.46 If there is to be a structural reconsideration of the relationship between Palestinian communities and institutions, the PLO is a logical instrument for this to happen. But the deep-rooted fissures between Fatah and Hamas may be, for the time being, an insurmountable obstacle. A revival of the PLO will occur either through the existing factions or around them. If the former, the PLO will remain subordinate to their interests; if the latter, it will be through a grassroots movement that has yet to emerge.
During his tenure from 2007 to 2013, former prime minister Salam Fayyad invested significant energy into professionalizing the PA and cultivating a talented cadre of technocrats. Such efforts won plaudits in Western capitals and increased the PA’s governance capacity, but the effort created resentment among Fatah elite—not all of whom were fully appreciative of efforts to increase transparency and accountability—and among those who viewed enhanced security cooperation with Israel as collaboration.47
In the absence of progress toward a sovereign Palestine, technocratic efforts have enjoyed limited public support and proven to be unsustainable. For the last decade, the PA has been atrophying—today, it struggles to provide public services and remain solvent. Even in Ramallah, some Palestinians are beginning to contemplate the end of the PA; a recent poll found that 48 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza support the Palestinian Authority’s dissolution.48 Perhaps most troubling, the PA has failed to cultivate a new generation of talent, and there are unmistakable signs of brain drain.49 Absent a rejuvenation of political leadership or unexpected progress toward statehood, it seems likely that the PA’s slow decline will continue.
“The internal failures of the Palestinian Authority undermined the interests and well-being of the Palestinian people and are the reason why we have Hamas in control of Gaza.”
—Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib, humanitarian activist
As part of the generation responsible for building the instruments of Palestinian nationalism, Abbas serves simultaneously as the president of the PA, chairman of the PLO, and head of the Fatah movement. Yet, a recent poll of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza found that 64 percent want Abbas to resign as the PA’s president.50 Abbas’s successor (or successors) will likely lack his authority—and certainly that of Arafat. Carnegie survey respondents offered thirty different names when asked to name the three most inspiring Palestinian leaders, including eight who said there were no inspiring leaders (see Figure 3).
There are questions about the next generation of Palestinian leaders’ ability to maintain hard-won independence from Arab patrimony. There are already indications of Arab attempts to influence Palestinian succession dynamics, evidenced by, for example, Egyptian and Emirati support for Mohammed Dahlan, a former Gaza security chief and Abbas protégé now in exile in Abu Dhabi after an acrimonious falling out with his one-time mentor. So long as the Palestinian movement remains fractured and adrift, Arab capitals are likely to see openings to exert influence on Palestinian politics. Meanwhile, mediation efforts to regionalize the Arab-Israeli conflict—in seeking to capitalize on the convergence of security interests between Israel and a number of Arab states—could increase the influence of outside actors on Palestinian politics.
Fatah, Hamas, and the Prospect of Reconciliation
Created in 1959, Fatah has dominated Palestinian politics since Yasser Arafat’s emergence as the de facto Palestinian leader after the 1967 war. Today, Fatah’s principal internal division pits Abbas against Dahlan. While Fatah’s seventh general conference in late 2016 was ostensibly an effort to reinvigorate the movement, the end result was to consolidate power around Abbas loyalists and prevent Dahlan’s readmittance.51 Although a recent poll found that only 33 percent of the Palestinian public support the renewal of Abbas’s mandate to lead Fatah for five more years,52 the appointment of Mohammed al-Aloul, an Abbas loyalist, as Fatah’s first-ever deputy leader has been interpreted as evidence that Abbas is not looking to give up power soon.53 But Fatah’s problems go deeper than leadership squabbles, which, in any case, offer little ideological or policy distinction. Functioning as a patronage network rather than a political party, Fatah lacks a clear sense of mission. Like the PLO and PA, it has failed, except in some specific localities, to refresh its ranks with younger voices. It is all but underground in Gaza and has lost much of its diaspora organization.
Founded in 1987 during the first intifada as a branch of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood—and designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, and the European Union—Hamas has generally kept its internal divisions in check. In some ways, Hamas has shown an impressive resiliency in sustaining itself, even as individuals come and go (or are killed). But Hamas faces even deeper problems than does Fatah: the absence of strategy, its weakness in the West Bank and inability to govern Gaza, its failure to provide a genuine resistance option, and its status as an international pariah, exacerbated by the Saudi and Emirati move against Qatar in June 2017.54 In May 2017, the movement released a new document of principles that seemed to offer something for all of its elements. It accepted a state on the 1967 lines but repudiated Israel; it emphasized both national and religious aspects of the conflict.55 Some critics believe the document was designed to fool foreign observers, but it is just as likely that it was written to mask internal differences, strongly hinting at ideological and programmatic evolution but committing to none of it.56
Carnegie’s survey participants collectively identified West Bank-Gaza divisions as the most important challenge facing Palestinian society. This is not surprising, since the Fatah-Hamas rivalry divides the Palestinian nation and contributes to the confidence deficit in Palestinian institutions. Essentially, the two factions have agreed, with Western support, to a de facto partition of Palestine, which has allowed each to become deeply entrenched in its respective territory. Thus, despite the obvious benefits of power sharing to the Palestinian national movement—including the possibility of revitalizing both the PLO and PA—repeated negotiations to reunify Palestine’s two halves have failed, with neither side demonstrating a genuine willingness to compromise.
“All institutions have lost legitimacy in the eyes of most Palestinians.”
—Mohammed Samhouri, economist
It is unlikely that future Fatah and Hamas reconciliation efforts will be more successful, especially if the factions are left to their own devices. Even when domestic pressure has swelled, such as the 2011 public demonstrations in both the West Bank and Gaza demanding PA reunification,57 the parties have consistently managed to channel this discontent into political processes that allow them to reestablish control and placate public opinion. However, there are circumstances in which reconciliation could be wrestled out of the factions’ hands: for example, a sustained national public outcry or an internal crisis for one of the factions. Or it could happen as a result of regional pressure, changing international sentiment, or, more ominously, in the aftermath of another war in Gaza.
Amid this institutional atrophy, there are some signs of dynamism at the subnational level. Unions, student groups, and other civil society actors have exhibited vibrant internal politics, creating linkages between constituencies and engaging younger leaders who are otherwise being generally boxed out from organizations like the PA, the PLO, and Fatah. To the extent that alternative national approaches are being contemplated at all, such as BDS and nonviolent resistance movements, they are percolating from Palestinian civil society, including in Israel, rather than from traditional power centers. Indeed, some Palestinians expect civil society—rather than political party machinery—to be the proving ground for the next generation of leaders.58 Notably, more than 20 percent of Carnegie survey respondents cited an educational or civil society institution as the most important Palestinian institution.
“Beyond the occupation itself, the absence of a representative political leadership that is able to make strategic decisions is the biggest challenge facing the Palestinians.”
—Tareq Baconi, researcher
On the other hand, Palestinian civil society has been unable to transcend the geographic and political divisions between the West Bank and Gaza, let alone among the broader Palestinian population. The social polarization in both the West Bank and Gaza has resulted in a narrowing of space for Palestinian civil society, including for journalists and activists. A recent report by the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms concluded that internal divisions between Hamas and Fatah “continue to be one of the key reasons behind the Palestinian violations against media freedoms” in both the West Bank and Gaza.59
There is a generational divide between West Bank leaders and the rising generation of civil society leaders, but even activists in their twenties and early thirties note the distinctive outlook of their even younger compatriots, representatives of the half of Palestinian society who make up the so-called Oslo generation.60 Too young to have direct memories predating the second intifada and generally lacking affinity to either Hamas or Fatah, polls suggest that youth between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two are the most supportive of an armed intifada and stabbings and the least supportive of the two-state solution, with 70 percent believing that armed resistance would advance Palestinian nationalism.61 Although there is a disconcerting level of nihilism among Palestinian youth under twenty-five in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as evidenced by the habba attacks of 2015–2016, there are also signs of activism among this generation, rooted in social media and opposition to the politics of the status quo.62
“Given the challenges facing Palestinian society, academic institutions are critically important —they work to provide young Palestinians with intellectual freedom and help produce a new generation of educated leaders.”
—Hani Albasoos, policy analyst and associate professor
These emerging civil society leaders have run up against entrenched interests in both the West Bank and Gaza. Given the stagnation at the top, it remains to be seen how these voices can achieve meaningful political influence. But, at some point, there will be a generational change in authority; and an important dynamic in the Palestinian intergenerational transmission will revolve around the extent to which existing institutions can find ways to incorporate the energies, attitudes, and experiences of this next generation.
What is remarkable about the comments of many younger Palestinians is their focus on long-term social and demographic trends rather than national structures, goals, and history, which are more frequently discussed by older Palestinians. The story of the Palestinian national movement—what some Palestinians call their “revolution”—over the second half of the twentieth century has little echo in youth discussions; some veteran Palestinian actors (themselves barely considered an older generation) express doubts as to whether the rising generation knows much of this history.63 But, although youth may not be unified around any authority or narrative, many students and youth activists seem to believe in a different tomorrow, citing the effects of birth rates, strong (if vague) national identity, and the unsustainability of Israeli security practices. In that sense, they seem to place their bets on long-term trends rather than organized decisionmaking.
Meanwhile, there are also signs of political dynamism among Palestinians in Israel, which could impact the direction of Palestinian nationalism in the years to come. Ahead of the 2015 Knesset elections, the Palestinian factions in Israel (some of which include Jewish members) unified for the first time to form a single electoral bloc under the leadership of Ayman Odeh.64 The coalition, known as the Joint List, won thirteen of 120 Knesset seats to become the third-largest bloc in the Knesset. The Joint List still represents disparate and fractious interests, but Odeh has demonstrated some political acumen. It is possible that the bloc could evolve into a more coherent movement, though it faces an uphill climb in a contentious environment. Four Carnegie survey respondents cited Odeh as one of the three most inspiring Palestinian leaders, including one each from the West Bank and Gaza. However, with a growing political maturity may also come a profound dilemma—do the Palestinians in Israel, as their primary objective, seek to unify with the broader Palestinian movement or to consolidate and expand their rights within Israel? While the West Bank is likely to remain the center of gravity for Palestinian politics for the foreseeable future, the relationship between Palestinians in Israel with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza bears watching.
The state of Palestinian politics has appeared static for some time: the West Bank and Gaza were largely bypassed by the Arab Spring and the tumult that has followed; Abbas is in the thirteenth year of what was originally a four-year term as president; and a decade has passed since a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian settlement seemed plausibly within sight. With the Palestinian national movement seemingly unable to achieve its goal of sovereignty—because of Israeli intransigence, most Palestinians would argue—many Palestinians believe that putting their own house in order has become the most urgent priority for their national movement.65 A recent poll found that only 3 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza believe that Abbas should focus on the peace process, compared with 40 percent who want elections and 24 percent who want reconciliation.66
Carnegie survey participants were asked to look beyond the current impasse to describe what they thought the situation in Palestine would be in a decade’s time. Here is a sampling of some of the unfiltered responses:
- “Israel has its political project vis-a-vis the Palestinian land and the Palestinian people. As long as the Palestinians remain fragmented and weak, they will not be able to face it. The world is, and likely to remain for the foreseeable future, too busy and too engaged in other BIG problems to play a meaningful role.”
- “The optimal solution would be through the creation of a Palestinian state, but this solution is not achievable in the foreseeable future and I think it will fade with the passage of time. In the long run, a single democratic state where Israelis and Palestinians live will be the inevitable option.”
- “The demise of PA and the emergence of new movements and structures with a radically different vision than the current leadership and political parties. The annexation of the WB [West Bank] and expanded colonial order. New forms of struggle.”
- “The disintegration of the Palestinian Authority (I hope), the end of the two-state solution, and the thriving of religious extremism—UNLESS major steps are taken to reverse those trends ESPECIALLY in Gaza.”
- “No political solution. Continued occupation. More West Bank colonies. Continued Gaza blockade. Continued internal Palestinian split. Frequent episodes of violence and wars. Aggressive Israeli response.”
Any attempt to project current trends into the future is likely to elicit to pessimism and despair. But these trends may not be as steady going forward as they have been for the past decade. The formal structures that embody the Palestinian national identity are declining, but the identity itself remains strong among Palestinians. While Palestinian factions have lost their sense of mission and their ability to appeal to younger generations, the powerful undercurrents that led to their creation remain a powerful presence in Palestinian society. As the next generation of the Palestinian national movement prepares to take the reins, might new leadership inject vigor and vitality into atrophied institutions? Might an upswell of popular desire for Palestinian unity force factions to address their geographic and political ruptures? Might a political crisis—or, more ominously, renewed conflict with Israel—create possibilities for institutional renewal that hitherto are not apparent? Could an “outside-in” approach to the conflict, in which Arab states are also involved in negotiations, breathe new life into the moribund peace process? Can a new generation of student leaders, civil society activists, and others rejuvenate Palestinian nationalism?
The answers—unknown to both observers and to the people who may ultimately determine them—likely hold the key to the future of the Palestinian national movement.
Carnegie does not take institutional positions on public policy issues and the views represented in the commentaries that follow do not necessarily reflect those of Carnegie, its staff, or its trustees.
1 While the term Palestinian Authority is commonly used to refer to the Fatah-led West Bank only, in a bureaucratic sense, it is more accurate to say that there are two separate Palestinian authorities: one in the West Bank and one in Gaza, each considering itself the legitimate authority.
2 Private dataset based on Hebrew language data from the Central Bureau of Statistics of Israel. See also, “Settlements Population, XLS,” B’tselem, http://www.btselem.org/download/settlement_population.xls. The number of total settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is estimated at approximately 600,000.
3 Not every respondent answered every question, so the number of responses per question varied.
4 In a December 1988 special session of the United Nations in Geneva, Arafat “rejected” and “condemned” terrorism in all forms but did not “renounce” it. William Quandt, Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict Since 1967 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2005), 284. Mamdouh Nofal, “Yasir Arafat, the Political Player: A Mixed Legacy,” Journal of Palestinian Studies 35, no. 2 (Winter 2006): 23–37.
5 See, Quandt, Peace Process.
6 Rashid Khalidi, The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood (Boston: Beacon Press, 2006), 168.
7 Nathan Thrall, “Israel & the US: The Delusions of Our Diplomacy,” New York Review of Books,October 9, 2014, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2014/10/09/israel-us-delusions-our-diplomacy/.
8 “Diplomatic Relations,” Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, http://palestineun.org/about-palestine/diplomatic-relations/; “Palestine’s Accession to International Treaties Q&A,” Negotiations Affairs Department, Palestine Liberation Organization, April 2, 2014, https://www.nad.ps/en/publication-resources/faqs/palestine%E2%80%99s-accession-international-treaties-qa.
9 Charmaine Seitz, “Tracking Palestinian Public Support Over 20 Years of the Oslo Agreements,” Jerusalem Media and Communication Center, January 27, 2014, http://www.jmcc.org/documents/Oslo_polls_booklet_112013_FINAL.pdf.
10 “Public Opinion Poll No (62),” Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey, December 28, 2016, http://www.pcpsr.org/sites/default/files/poll%2062%20English%20full%20text.pdf; “Poll No. 88: Youth Poll on Politics, Education & the Future,” Jerusalem Media and Communication Center, October 9, 2016, http://www.jmcc.org/documents/88_Youth_Sept_2016_English_w_charts.docx; and “Online Survey: The Seventh Fatah Congress,” Arab World for Research and Development, January 3, 2017, http://www.awrad.org/files/server/Fatah%20Congress%20%20english%20%20PR%203%201%202017.pdf.
11 Tom Segev, One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate, trans. Haim Watzman (New York: Picador, 2000), 408–11.
12 Mark Tessler, A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Indiana University Press, 2009), vii.
13 “Poll No. 89: Gender, Equality and Politics,” Jerusalem Media and Communication Center, March 1, 2017, http://www.jmcc.org/documentsandmaps.aspx?id=874; “Public Opinion Poll in the West Bank and Gaza Strip Elections, Political Prospects and Relations With Israel,” Arab World for Research and Development, October 31, 2016, http://www.awrad.org/files/media/English%20%20Press%20Release%2031%20October%202016.pdf.
14 Interviews in Ramallah and Nablus, December 2015, and Amman, February 2017, as well as informal communications. See also, “Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (58),” Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey, December 14, 2015, http://www.pcpsr.org/sites/default/files/poll%2058%20full%20English.pdf.
15 Discussion with longtime foreign observer of Palestinian politics, Birzeit University, West Bank, May 2017.
16 Workshop discussion in Amman, February 2017.
17 “Dawla Falasteen Alhijaz Almarkazi Lilahsaa’ Alfalasteeni” [State of Palestine: Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics], Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, December 2015, http://www.pcbs.gov.ps/Downloads/book2176.pdf.
18 Nathan Thrall, The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2017), 255–56. Thrall calculates that there were 5.93 million Jews and 5.95 million non-Jews (not all of them Palestinian) in Israel and Palestine as of mid-2012.
19 “Fertility Rate, Total (Births per Woman): Israel and West Bank and Gaza,” World Bank, 2015, http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.TFRT.IN?locations=IL-PS.
20 Scott Wilson, “Netanyahu Resigns in Protest of Pullout,” Washington Post, August 8, 2005, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/07/AR2005080700308.html.
21 Workshop discussion in Amman, February 2017.
22 Some Israeli leaders have begun to argue that in light of the collapse of Arab states like Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Iraq, more limited conceptions of Palestinian sovereignty must be contemplated. Discussion with Israeli cabinet member, April 2017.
23 “Public Opinion Poll No (62),” Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey, December 28, 2016, http://www.pcpsr.org/sites/default/files/poll%2062%20English%20full%20text.pdf.
24 Wendy Pearlman, Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian National Movement (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011).
25 For example, a 2016 poll found that 58 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza believe that BDS has had a positive impact, while only 14 percent believe the impact has been negative. “Poll on Overall Economic Situation, the PA and the Private Sector, Opportunities for Improvement and Boycott and the Economy,” Arab World for Research and Development, June 8, 2016, http://www.awrad.org/page.php?id=QmPhpeYK0ea10011177AaI1GwclJCO.
26 Interview with Palestinian economist, Ramallah, December 2015.
27 According to author calculations using detailed data compiled by B’tselem, 958 Israelis were killed by Palestinians and 3,250 Palestinians were killed by Israelis between September 28, 2000 (when then Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount) and February 8, 2005 (when Sharon and Abbas announced a ceasefire). “Fatalities Before Operation ‘Cast Lead,’” B’tselem, http://www.btselem.org/statistics/fatalities/before-cast-lead/by-date-of-event.
28 Interviews in Ramallah, December 2015, and Carnegie survey results.
29 Daoud Kuttab, “At Mandela Funeral, Abbas Says He Opposes Boycott of Israel,” Al-Monitor, December 13, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/12/abbas-attacks-bds.html. However, Abbas has been accused of incitement by senior Israeli officials. “Steinitz: Abbas’ Anti-Jewish Incitement Reaches Hitler’s Level,” Jerusalem Post, October 19, 2015.
30 One recent poll found that 37 percent believe armed resistance is the most effective method (compared to 33 percent for negotiations and 24 percent for nonviolent resistance) and that 53 percent would support a return to armed intifada in the absence of two-state negotiations. Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey, “Public Opinion Poll No (62),” December 28, 2016, http://www.pcpsr.org/sites/default/files/poll%2062%20English%20full%20text.pdf. Another recent poll found that 30 percent of Palestinians believe that armed resistance is the best method of securing a state (compared to 38 percent for negotiations and 25 percent for nonviolent resistance). Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre, “Poll No. 89: Gender, Equality and Politics,” March 1, 2017, http://www.jmcc.org/documents/89_February_2017_english.doc.
31 “Israeli Police Storm Al-Aqsa Mosque for a Third Day,” Al Jazeera, September 15, 2015, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/09/clashes-rock-jerusalem-al-aqsa-mosque-compound-150915052506420.html.
32 Chloe Benoist, “Death in Numbers: A Year of Violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel,” Ma’an News Agency, October 4, 2016, http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=773407.
33 Isabel Kershner, “Palestinians Stabbing Less but Shooting More, as Israel Cracks Down,” New York Times, July 8, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/09/world/middleeast/palestinians-stabbing-less-but-shooting-more-as-israel-cracks-down.html?_r=0.
34 Khaled Abu Toameh, “Palestinians Have Not Abandoned Armed Struggle,” Jerusalem Post, October 8, 2012, http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Palestinians-have-not-abandoned-armed-struggle.
35 Interview in Ramallah, June 2011.
36 Grant Rumley, “New Blood for Fatah and Hamas,” Foreign Affairs, March 9, 2017, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/palestinian-authority/2017-03-09/new-blood-fatah-and-hamas; Ben Caspit, “Why Some in Israel Are Wary of Hamas’ New Gaza Boss,” Al-Monitor, February 15, 2017, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/02/israel-gaza-new-hamas-leader-yahya-sinwar-security.html.
37 According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, there were 382,916 settlers in the West Bank in December 2015 and 205,220 in December 2014. “Statistics on Settlements and Settler Population,” B’tselem, May 11, 2017, http://www.btselem.org/settlements/statistics.
38 “Overview of Access of Palestinians from Gaza in 2016,” United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, February 10, 2017, https://www.ochaopt.org/content/overview-access-palestinians-gaza-2016.
39 Since 2001, Israel has closed more than twenty Palestinian cultural institutions and nongovernmental organizations in East Jerusalem, including Orient House (which housed the PLO in Jerusalem) and the Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Najat Hirbawi and David Helfand, “Palestinian Institutions in Jerusalem,” Palestine-Israel Journal 17, no. 12 (2011): http://www.pij.org/details.php?id=1306.
40 “Table 2.1 Population, by Population Group,” in “Statistical Abstract of Israel 2016,” Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, March 2017, http://www.cbs.gov.il/reader/shnaton/templ_shnaton_e.html?num_tab=st02_01&CYear=2016. Note that Palestinians in Israel are commonly referred to as Israeli Arabs. However, in discussions with Carnegie staff, community representatives requested that they be referred to as Palestinians.
41 “Palestinians at the End of 2015,” Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, December 30, 2015, http://www.pcbs.gov.ps/site/512/default.aspx?tabID=512&lang=en&ItemID=1566&mid=3171&wversion=Staging. Officially, there are approximately 2.2 million registered refugees and other registered persons in Jordan, 500,000 in Lebanon, and 630,000 in Syria, but these figures are open to question, particularly in Syria. “UNRWA in Figures,” United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, January 1, 2016, https://www.unrwa.org/sites/default/files/content/resources/unrwa_in_figures_2016.pdf.
42 Jonathan Steele, “How Yarmouk Refugee Camp Became the Worst Place in Syria,” Guardian, March 5, 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/mar/05/how-yarmouk-refugee-camp-became-worst-place-syria; “The Crisis in Yarmouk Camp,” United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, https://www.unrwa.org/crisis-in-yarmouk.
43 Workshop discussion in Amman, February 2017.
44 United Nations General Assembly, Resolution 3210, “Invitation to the Palestine Liberation Organization,” October 14, 1974, https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/RESOLUTION/GEN/NR0/738/12/IMG/NR073812.pdf?OpenElement.
45 Clyde Haberman, “P.L.O. and Israel Accept Each Other After 3 Decades of Relentless Strife,” New York Times, September 10, 1993, http://www.nytimes.com/1993/09/10/world/mideast-accord-overview-plo-israel-accept-each-other-after-3-decades-relentless.html?pagewanted=all.
46 Workshop discussion in Amman, February 2017 and Carnegie survey results.
47 Robert M. Danin, “A Third Way to Palestine: Fayyadism and Its Discontents,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2011, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/israel/2010-12-16/third-way-palestine.
48 “Public Opinion Poll No (62),” Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey, December 28, 2016, http://www.pcpsr.org/sites/default/files/poll%2062%20English%20full%20text.pdf. However, another poll found that 59 percent of Palestinian youths believe the PA is generally doing a good job. “Poll No. 88: Youth Poll on Politics, Education & the Future,” Jerusalem Media and Communication Center, October 9, 2016, http://www.jmcc.org/documentsandmaps.aspx?id=873.
49 Interviews in Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Nablus, December 2015.
50 “Public Opinion Poll No (62),” Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey, December 28, 2016, http://www.pcpsr.org/sites/default/files/poll%2062%20English%20full%20text.pdf.
51 Ahmed Abu Amer, “Will Fatah’s Upcoming Conference Do More Harm Than Good?,” Al-Monitor, November 16, 2016, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/11/palestine-fatah-conference-division-abbas-dahlan.html; Yezid Sayigh, “The Fateh Conference: From Liberating the Homeland to Institutionalizing Power,” Al-Hayat, December 29, 2016, http://carnegie-mec.org/2016/12/29/fateh-conference-from-liberating-homeland-to-institutionalizing-power-pub-66554.
52 “Public Opinion Poll No (62),” Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey, December 28, 2016, http://www.pcpsr.org/sites/default/files/poll%2062%20English%20full%20text.pdf.
53 Ali Sawafta and Nidal al-Mughrabi, “Palestinian Fatah Faction Picks Deputy Leader to Mahmoud Abbas,” Reuters, Feb 15, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-palestinians-abbas-deputy-idUSKBN15U2U6.
54 Gregg Carlstrom, “The Qatar Crisis Is Pushing Hamas Back to Iran,” Atlantic, June 14, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/06/qatar-crisis-saudi-arabia-hamas-iran-syria-gcc-gaza/530229/.
55 “A Document of General Principles and Policies,” Hamas, May 1, 2017, http://hamas.ps/en/post/678/a-document-of-general-principles-and-policies.
56 Ian Fisher, “In Palestinian Power Struggle, Hamas Moderates Talk on Israel,” New York Times, May 1, 2017, https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/05/01/world/middleeast/hamas-fatah-palestinians-document.html.
57 Joel Greenberg, “Palestinians Rally for Unity in Gaza, West Bank,” Washington Post, March 15, 2011, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/palestinians-rally-for-unity-in-gaza-west-bank/2011/03/15/AB72yFZ_story.html?utm_term=.293aff0217eb.
58 Workshop discussion in Amman, February 2017.
59 “Annual Report 2015: The Violations of Media Freedoms in Palestine,” Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), 2016, http://www.madacenter.org/images/text_editor/annualRepE2015-.pdf. MADA found that the number of violations against press freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza (including from both Israeli and Palestinian authorities) were the highest in 2015 since MADA began tracking violations in 2008.
60 Interviews in Ramallah and Nablus, December 2015, and Amman, February 2017, as well as informal communications.
61 “Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (58),” Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey, December 14, 2015, http://www.pcpsr.org/sites/default/files/poll%2058%20full%20English.pdf.
62 Interviews in Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Nablus, December 2015.
63 Interviews in Ramallah and Nablus, December 2015, and Amman, February 2017, as well as informal communications.
64 Ruth Eglash, “Israel’s Arab Political Parties Have United for the First Time,” Washington Post, March 10, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/israels-sparring-arab-political-parties-have-united-for-the-first-time/2015/03/09/6f6c021a-c660-11e4-bea5-b893e7ac3fb3_story.html?utm_term=.8e64159485b3.
65 Workshop discussion in Amman, February 2017, and Carnegie survey results.
66 “Online Survey: The Seventh Fatah Congress,” Arab World for Research and Development, January 3, 2017, http://www.awrad.org/files/server/Fatah%20Congress%20%20english%20%20PR%203%201%202017.pdf.