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The Transformation of Palestinian Politics

The Transformation of Palestinian Politics

From Revolution to State-Building

Barry Rubin

ISBN 9780674007178

Publication date: 11/30/2001

This book is a comprehensive overview and analysis of the Palestinians’ travail as they move from revolutionary movement to state. Barry Rubin outlines the difficulties in the transition now underway arising from Palestinian history, society, and diplomatic agreements. He writes about the search for a national identity, the choice of an economic system, and the structure of government.

Rubin finds the political system interestingly distinctive—it appears to be a pluralist dictatorship. There are free elections, multiple parties, and some latitude in civil liberties. Yet there is a relatively unrestrained chief executive and arbitrariness in applying the law because of restraints on freedom. The new ruling elite is a complex mixture of veteran revolutionaries, heirs to large and wealthy families, professional soldiers, technocrats, and Islamic clerics. Beyond explaining how the executive and legislative branches work, Rubin factors in the role of public opinion in the peace process, the place of nongovernmental institutions, opposition movements, and the Palestinian Authority’s foreign relations—including Palestinian views and interactions with the Arab world, Israel, and the United States.

This book is drawn from documents in Arabic, Hebrew, and English, as well as interviews and direct observations. Rubin finds that, overall, the positive aspects of the Palestinian Authority outweigh the negative, and he foresees the establishment of a Palestinian state. His charting of the triumphs and difficulties of this state-in-the-making helps predict and explain future dramatic developments in the Middle East.


  • Barry Rubin’s timely Transformation of Palestinian Politics provides a superb and weighty account of the complexities of the Palestinian problem and the significant impediments to state-building… As deputy director of the Begin–Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Rubin is well acquainted with Palestinian political life, having written several notable books on the subject. In his most recent effort, he carefully delineates the path of transition or pre-statehood for the current PA—complete will all its bumps and turns… Rubin covers in rich and penetrating detail the deleterious effects of the fledgling Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) on the Arafat-led government-in-training, the rising expectations of a long-suffering and dispossessed people and the controversial issues of democratic development and respect for human rights.

    —Peter McKenna, Washington Post Book World


  • Barry Rubin was Deputy Director of the Begin–Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and Executive Editor of MERIA: The Middle East Review of International Affairs.

Book Details

  • 304 pages
  • 5-11/16 x 8-13/16 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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