Palestine as a Failed State

It is easy to blame the current Palestinian crisis on individuals – be it Arafat or Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas – and even easier to blame the Israeli occupation or American policies. But the Palestinians must overcome their own tragic heritage of repeated failures to create a coherent body politic.

Every week, it seems, brings another backward step for Palestine. President Mahmoud Abbas’s failure to convene the Palestinian Legislative Assembly, due to a Hamas boycott, may lead inexorably to the final breakdown of the political structures created under the Oslo Accords. Sadly, this is only the latest chapter in the Palestinians’ tragic history of failed attempts to create a nation-state.

Palestinians see their history as one of struggle against Zionism and Israel. But the reality is more complicated, and marked by repeated failures to create a coherent body politic, even when historical opportunities beckoned.

Perhaps the first failure occurred in the 1920’s, when the British Mandatory government in Palestine encouraged the two national communities – Jewish and Arab – to establish communal institutions of self-government to look after education, welfare, housing, and local administration.

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