Developments and Setbacks in the Palestinian Resistance Movement, 1967-1971

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VOL. 1


No. 3
P. 64
Developments and Setbacks in the Palestinian Resistance Movement, 1967-1971

This paper attempts to describe the re-emergence of a Palestinian Arab national movement, the Palestinian resistance (al-Muqawama al-Filastiniya) during the years following the Arab-Israeli war of June 1967. Perspectives and concepts from comparative politics are employed to facilitate description and evaluation. An effort is made to assess the violence capabilities, structural development, and ideological trends of the movement in light of general theoretical considerations and also in the context of the politics of the Arab world. From the spring of 1968 until the fall of 1970, the guerrillas developed the capacity to carry out serious protracted violence against Israel. The guerrilla organizations themselves became more elaborate structurally and began to develop important political functions of a nation-building character. The movement was becoming more radical ideologically, a development which reinforced its overall cohesion although serious elite rivalries persisted. These developments increased the influence of the movement over Arab governments, but they also increased its threat potential, thus complicating the relationship. As far as the superpowers were concerned, the Palestinians injected an element of instability into the local political-military situation and a consequent additional risk of great-power confrontation. Thus, when Jordan and the United States moved to eliminate guerrilla activities from Jordan the Palestinians found they had no effective outside supporters.


Michael C. Hudson is Associate Professor of Political Science at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He is the author of The Precarious Republic: Political Modernization in Lebanon (New York: Random House, 1968) and has published several articles on Middle Eastern politics. This is a revised version of a paper presented at the Fortyseventh session of the Institute of World Affairs, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, April 8-10, 1970.The support of the Brooklyn College Political Research Centre, the Yale World Data Analysis Program and the American Philosophical Society is gratefully acknowledged by the author. The impressions and judgements are based in part upon interviews conducted in the summers of 1968 and 1969.