Armed Struggle and State Formation

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VOL. 26


No. 4
P. 17
Armed Struggle and State Formation

Armed struggle for the liberation of Palestine has been a rallying cry of the Palestinian national movement since its emergence in the 1960s, but its results have never been more than marginal. Instead, military groups have served a primarily political function, offering Palestinians in the diaspora organizational structures for political expression and state building. However, the nature of the PLO as an exile entity attempting to unite a disparate diaspora has necessarily resulted in an authoritarian leadership wary of the administrative, civilian, and social organizations needed to form a state. Ultimately, the political patterns that developed during the armed struggle impede as much as aid the realization of an independent Palestinian state.

YEZID SAYIGH is assistant director of studies at the Centre of International Studies, Cambridge University. This article is an abbreviated version of the concluding chapter of his book, Armed Struggle and the Search for State: The Palestinian National Movement, 1949-93, which will be published by Oxford University Press and the Institute for Palestine Studies in fall 1997.