Throughout the twentieth century history of Palestine, none of the numerous proposals for “partition” of the country have ever been accepted by any significant group of Palestinian Arabs in spite of the many proposals to that end prior to and following the forced dismemberment of the country in 1948. [1] Palestinian and Arab resistance on this point has been unequivocal and effective — at least until recently.

The US-sponsored Camp David accords have changed the course of history in the Middle East. On the basis of the Accords, the most powerful and populous Arab country, Egypt, has concluded a “peace” agreement with Israel which, above all else, bestows upon Israel the recognition and legitimacy it has sought since its creation. The unilateral actions of President Anwar al-Sadat have taken place in a period when the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has embarked upon a new strategic course of political “moderation.” Rather than facilitate the PLO’s moderation, the Camp David accords have confronted the PLO with a new set of challenges. Today, the PLO stands at the crossroads between continuing its moderation or developing an alternative strategy.

The perception that the PLO has altered its course in the aftermath of the October war of 1973 is itself significant and raises a number of questions. First, to what extent has the PLO moderated and shifted its political objectives? Second, what are the forces which have compelled the PLO to alter its course? And, finally, what are the prospects of the PLO achieving its stated goals in light of the Camp David accords?

The PLO on the Road to “Moderation”

The October war altered the previously static conditions dominating the post 1967 “no war, no peace” situation. In its place a new political dynamic was set into motion, both locally and internationally, the ultimate consequences of which are yet to be fully realized. Prior to the October war, no sector of the PLO was willing to consider seriously anything less than the “total liberation of all occcupied Palestine” and the creation of a “democratic non-sectarian state.” The various proposals to meet Palestinian national aspirations through the establishment of some sort of truncated Palestinian entity tied to Israel, Jordan or both countries were usually condemned outright and vehemently opposed. [2] Since the October war, however, an important shift in Palestinian thinking and objectives has taken place. The formerly uncompromising PLO has clearly indicated its willingness, insistence even, to 1) participate in any forums or negotiations dealing with the Palestinian problem; 2) accept authority and control over the evacuation (or “liberation”) of any Palestinian territory presently occupied by Israel; and 3) exercise its right to establish a “national authority” or “independent” Palestinian state on any such territories. In order to achieve these aims, the PLO would, at the minimum, have to recognize the de facto existence of Israel and peacefully coexist in a West Bank-Gaza state. Moreover, assuming the present constellation of power relationships locally and internationally remain relatively constant, this means PLO acceptance of the permanent partition of Palestine. These changes indicate that the PLO leadership has been cautiously bringing its policies and practices into harmony with the changing political topography.

In its “ten point political program” of June 1974, the Palestine National Council (PNC), the “parliament in exile” of the PLO, set the groundwork for the pursuit of an independent state. The program stated:

The [Palestine] Liberation Organization will employ all means, and first and foremost armed struggle, to liberate Palestinian territory and to establish the independent combatant national authority for the people over every part of Palestinian territory that is liberated. [3]

Although in its entirety the program was militant, the inclusion of the above passage along with other provisions led to internal debates and later to a split between the so-called “moderates” and “rejectionists” in the PLO. The rejectionists contended that the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would inevitably lead to disbanding the armed struggle, recognizing and coexisting with Israel, and being dominated by the Arab regimes in a “puppet” Palestinian entity.

With the PNC resolution in place, the PLO immediately moved to win the explicit recognition and support of the Arab regimes. At the October 1974 Rabat summit, the Arab world officially proclaimed the PLO “the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in any Palestinian territory that is liberated,” and reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people under the PLO’s command to establish an “independent national authority.” [4] The strategic importance of this political victory on the part of the PLO cannot be overestimated. For one, it committed the Arab regimes to support the PLO in their continued liberation struggle at a time when the “confrontation” states were moving toward a negotiated settlement. Secondly, it allowed the PLO to dismiss the claimed legitimacy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to represent the Palestinians of the West Bank in any negotiations. Finally, any future peace negotiations, presumably the Geneva conference, would have to include the PLO. The PLO vigorously pursued its ten point program not so much on the battlefield, as its program stated, but rather in the diplomatic arena. Even prior to the meeting of the Palestine National Council in June, the PLO had already received the recognition and support of the Conference of Islamic Nations and the Conference of Non-Aligned Nations. [5] (This would seem to indicate the PLO political strategy was charted directly after the October War and did not wait for the Palestine National Council meeting of June 1974.) Later that year, the United Nations General Assembly invited the PLO to participate in the Assembly debate on Palestine by a resounding vote. [6] The debate ended in the adoption of two resolutions. Resolution 3236 reaffirmed that the Palestinian people are “indispensable for the solution of the question of Palestine” and supported their right to “national independence and sovereignty.” [7] Resolution 3237 confirmed “observer” status on the PLO. In 1975, the General Assembly invited the PLO to participate on an “equal footing” in any negotiations held under United Nations auspices, presumably meaning the Geneva Conference. It is not at all coincidental that the PLO has widely publicized these UN resolutions, especially Resolution 3236 In fact, the thirteenth session of the Palestine National Council (March, 1977), explicitly authorized the PLO to participate in any forums “with the aim of achieving our national rights as recognized by the UN General Assembly in 1974, in particular Resolution 3236.” [8] By including this resolution in its political program, the PNC has sought to create an acceptable alternative to UN Resolution 242. This provision has given the PLO Executive a mandate to enter the Geneva Conference and pursue not a “national authority” as specified in the PNC program of 1974 but rather an “independent national state.” [9] The flurry of political activity on the part of the PLO has been more than a simple exercise in international diplomacy. From the outset, the PLO objective has been to 1) win world-wide attention and legitimacy for its cause; 2) confirm itself as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian Arabs, thereby dislodging any “pretenders” (i.e., Jordan); and 3) secure its rightful place in what it views as the inevitable movement toward a negotiated settlement of the “Arab-Israeli” conflict. The closer each step of the political process moved toward arriving at a negotiated settlement between the Arab states and Israel, the greater the amount of PLO activity and the more pronounced their moderation has become.

PLO Diplomacy in Action

In keeping with the spirit of the PNC’s ten point political program, the PLO leadership undertook a series of parallel diplomatic maneuvers on other fronts. As early as September 1974, the PLO was reported to have conveyed to the United States its desire for a meeting between Kissinger and Arafat. [10] During 1975, additional messages were carried to the Ford administration by President Sadat on behalf of the PLO. [11] In 1976, two high-ranking members of the PLO entered the US with the explicit aim of opening a PLO information office in Washington and beginning a dialogue with government officials. [12] The Ford administration promptly rebuffed the initiative, ignominiously expelled the PLO representatives on a visa technicality and immediately reaffirmed US policy rejecting contacts and negotiations with the PLO. Other exchanges, some direct, others indirect, have followed. [13] These contacts continue to the present and indicate that a low-level PLO-US “dialogue” is a reality. The PLO leadership, much like President Sadat, believes that America maintains a vital position of influence in any Middle East peace negotiations.

On another diplomatic front, the PLO has opened various levels of dialogue with influential Israelis and Zionists of various political persuasions. These exchanges have included conferences in London and Paris between PLO representatives and well-placed Israelis; exchanges between PLO members and American Jewish leaders in New York, Washington and Chicago; and various exchanges with the Israeli “peace” movement and Rakah party members. [14] The most highly publicized contacts have been those between retired Maj. Gen. Mattityahu Peled’s Israel-Palestine Peace Council and PLO members and leaders in Europe. These contacts received the official acknowledgement and approval of the PNC when during its thirteenth session they were openly discussed and encouraged to continue. [15] The dialogue has encouraged some individuals to ponder the manner in which a Palestinian state with the PLO at its head might be established. In a recent article, New York University law professor Gideon Gottlieb argued that Israel and the PLO could reach an accord like the one worked out between the French and the Algerian FLN. Such was the optimism of both sides. [16]

Of course, contacts and open exchanges with Israelis are not new to the PLO or Palestine Resistance leadership. The Resistance has had a long-standing strategy aimed at winning the support and cooperation of progressive Israelis. What is significant about these recent exchanges are three things: 1) the topics and objectives of the exchange; 2) the personalities involved; and 3) their timing. Unlike past exchanges with Israeli socialists and radicals (e.g., Matzpen, Red Front), groups who are staunchly anti-Zionist and in complete support of the Palestine Resistance, these latest exchanges have been carried out with groups and individuals who explicitly state their commitment to a Jewish state and their continued adherence to Zionism, but who simultaneously seek a solution to the Palestinian dilemma through the establishment of a West Bank-Gaza state. The individuals involved on both sides are well known and influential personalities, who would not have undertaken such risky ventures had they not received at least a positive signal from their respective political circles. [17] Regardless of their personal views, these individuals have acted somewhat like a barometer, gauging the political atmosphere in unknown areas so that others might know how to proceed. Finally, these exchanges have taken place at a time when the Palestinian issue and the PLO have received wide attention and there was clear movement toward reconvening the Geneva Conference with Palestinian participation. At the minimum, both sides seem to have viewed a frank exchange of positions as a way of clarifying issues, objectives and how common objectives might best be achieved to the satisfaction of both parties.

The Dual Political Tactic

In its post-October war diplomatic maneuvering, the PLO has pursued a dual political tactic. On the one hand, it continues to officially reject UN Resolution 242 as a basis of negotiation and seeks to exercise its right to national self-determination in all of occupied Palestine. On the other hand, the PLO leadership has engaged in a wide range of political actions which tend to indicate a commitment to negotiate with Israel even if that means recognizing at least the de facto existence of Israel and coexisting in a state next to it. This dual tactic is not new to the PLO, but has been a consistent feature of PLO behavior for some time. Such behavior appears to be dictated by the operating constraints surrounding PLO existence. It seems to be one way in which the PLO leadership can ensure the support of a broad coalition of forces within its ranks while minimizing the risks involved in undertaking drastic shifts in policy without a guarantee of success. In other words, the PLO leadership is intent on venturing outside its official position in the hope of receiving the needed incentive to change official policy. The issue here is not whether such a tactic is employed, but whether such a tactic achieves its aim.

Because of the use of this tactic, it not has been unusual to hear PLO leaders like Farouq Qaddoumi, head of the Political Department, advocate altering the PNC Charter by committing the PLO to the principle of partition and dropping armed struggle once a West Bank-Gaza state is established. [18] Sa‘id Hammami and Sabri Jiryis have expressed similar views. [19] In fact, the latter has gone so far as to suggest that the PLO suspend guerrilla activity from now, leaving the PLO to rely solely on political means for achieving its aims. [20] PLO chairman Yasser Arafat has also demonstrated a degree of moderation on various occasions, even though his statements remain somewhat evasive. [21]

These and other statements by lesser known officials constitute a clear decision by the PLO leadership to signal a shift in PLO strategy and objectives. As these signals were being communicated, the PLO leadership searched for favorable responses from Washington; all it received for its efforts were contradictory, if not highly unfavorable, answers. Despite the PLO’s change in policy, the US government continued to adhere to a rigid set of preconditions for dealing with the PLO and for approving its participation in any political settlement.

Countering American and Israeli Objections: The PLO “Peace Plan”

The closest the PLO has come to officially conforming to American demands that it amend its charter, suspend its “terrorism,” and accept United Nations resolution 242 as a basis of negotiation was in the PLO “peace plan” submitted to the United States in 1977 via the good offices of Syria. [22] Although the proposals of the plan appear sometimes vague and continue to explicitly reject UN Resolution 242, the plan clearly implies that once the Palestinian right to national self-determination is achieved through the creation of an independent state, nearly all that the US had demanded would be conceded. The key section of the plan states:

It is to be assumed that a commitment would be made that, after the Palestinians secured the primary rights they are demanding, the means of achieving the aims of the (Palestine National) charter would become subject to change — such change in the nature of the struggle that these aims would be achieved by peaceful means. If a state came into being the body representing the Palestinian people would issue a constitution for the state, taking into account existing realities and agreements. 

There is much of importance to be extrapolated from this passage and the plan as a whole. The key points of immediate concern can be briefly summarized and include the following: 1) that once Palestinian national rights are secured through the establishment of a West Bank-Gaza Strip state; 2) the new state will recognize Israel (i.e., the “existing realities”) and coexist side by side with it according to the “agreements” entered into at the peace talks; 3) that the Palestine National Charter will be amended so that “revolutionary armed struggle” is replaced with only “peaceful,” that is, political, struggle. Although the second point commits the PLO and the newly established Palestine state to constitutionally recognizing Israel’s existence, it does not in any way abrogate the Palestinian people’s historic right to the entirety of Palestine. This is a crucial point which needs to be emphasized. The PLO leadership views a West Bank-Gaza state not as a “historical compromise,” as some argue, but as a partial fulfillment of the Palestinian people’s national claims. The liberation of all Palestine, however it may be achieved, and in it, the creation of a “democratic, non-sectarian state,” remains a “vision” or even a “dream” to be pursued at a later date. Therefore, the PLO leadership does not believe it is compromising the rights of the Palestinian people through the creation of such a state nor by the recognition of Israel. The right to all of Palestine is to be pursued through “peaceful” means. Finally, the plan states that the PLO is willing to drop its demand for “equal” participation in the peace talks and participate as part of a “unified Arab delegation” so long as it is recognized as the sole arbiter of the Palestinians. The plan so radically transforms the earlier “ten-point program” of the PLO that “in tone and substance it represents another landmark in the growth of Palestinian moderation.” [23] Even the recently approved Camp David accords do not seem to have been able to reverse this trend. [24]

Though the US claims to recognize the “Palestinian problem” as the “core” of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the Palestinians as having “legitimate interests,” deserving of a “homeland,” [25] it has used the issue of PLO “recognition” of Israel and acceptance of UN Resolution 242 as a pretext to exclude the PLO from any part of the peace negotiations. If the United States were serious about recognition, it should demand a mutual commitment from Israel to recognize the PLO. No such suggestion was ever made. Rather, the demand for concessions has been conspicuously one-sided. Furthermore, in order to break the negotiating deadlock, the US might have suggested that the two parties negotiate within a framework of “mutual non-recognition.” None of these policies or diplomatic alternatives was ever suggested, let alone pursued, by the US.

It is doubtful that Israel would negotiate with the PLO even if the latter recognized its existence and agreed to accept UN Resolution 242. For Israel has stated emphatically that it would have “no dealings” with the PLO under any circumstances and never agree to an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank-Gaza, especially a state dominated by the PLO. Israeli intransigence on this point has been borne out in repeated statements by the Israeli government and by their attempt to find or create a suitable alternative to the PLO. [26] In parallel fashion, the US position has, in practice, also remained consistent with Israeli policy on this issue.

The impasse involved in reaching a “comprehensive settlement” prior to the Camp David accords was therefore not a result of PLO intransigence as many have claimed. The formerly militant and uncompromising attitude of the PLO had undergone dramatic change in the five years following the October war. There is now a well defined trend indicating movement toward moderation and a commitment to come to terms with Israel. That is one side of the Middle East equation. On the other side, the US and Israel have committed themselves to a policy of obstructing and excluding the PLO from participation in a negotiated settlement.

The Forces of Encirclement

In the aftermath of the October war the PLO was faced with a set of drastically altered political and military conditions, both regionally and internationally, that not even the destructive results of the Jordanian civil war (1970-1971) was able to bring about. It was primarily this set of externally derived conditions which, in its interaction with the nationalist character of the PLO leadership, has opened the way for a slow but certain movement toward moderation. That is not to say that the process currently underway is either inevitable or unalterable — for it is not. The fluidity of events in the Middle East suggests that a new set of conditions could emerge to force the PLO into another direction. The current balance of forces, however, indicates that the PLO is locked into its present course with little alternative in sight.

The movement of the Arab regimes to the right in the 1970s, and their determination to reach a negotiated settlement with Israel, placed the Arab states on a collision course with the Palestine Resistance, its guerrilla strategy and goal of total liberation. As the dust was still settling on the October battlefield, the options facing the PLO became clear. Either it would work within a unified Arab framework and accept what it could attain from a negotiated settlement or it would have to suffer the myriad consequences entailed in acting alone and in opposition to this diktat. By acting alone the PLO would lose the support of the regimes intent on achieving a settlement. Isolation would also mean that a pliable Jordan would serve as a replacement to receive the anticipated “fruits of victory.” Finally, the PLO would become an open target of Arab repression should it attempt to oppose and unravel a negotiated settlement.

Rather than challenge a near-unified Arab world, the PLO chose to work within their common strategy with the acknowledged proviso that it would attempt to achieve its own ends. But as the political process got underway, at first with the celebrated Kissinger “disengagement agreements,” it was clear that the original and “unrealistic” demands of the PLO would not be realized. The various attempts to reconvene the Geneva conference, with which all but the “rejectionists” were agreed, forced even greater moderation on the PLO. The relationship of the PLO to the Arab regimes is now dictated by the common strategy which is being pursued by all. This is part of the emerging reality that the PLO finds itself caught within. The Arab states seized the military initiative in the October war and the political initiative immediately following it. The set of working assumptions which formerly guided the revolutionary activity of the Palestine Resistance in the post-1967 period has now been brought into question and challenged as the Arab regimes were able to prove, if only in part, that they had within their grasp full victory through conventional, negotiated means. By accepting the political framework, the Arab states were able to squeeze certain concessions from the PLO which have helped to facilitate the realization of their goals. Behind the emerging political realities stands the precarious military situation in Lebanon, squeezing the Palestine Resistance from still another direction.

The Lebanese “civil war,” which was ignited in April 1975 and continues intermittently to this day, tended to coincide directly with the political process already in motion to reach a negotiated settlement between the Arab regimes and Israel. It is doubtful that the Lebanese right would have undertaken so desperate an adventure unless their plight and the conditions in the Arab world were ripe for it. With the political strategy of the Arab regimes posed on one side, and the Lebanese right on the other, the Palestine Resistance has found itself caught between the hammer and the anvil. The task of the right-wing militias has been literally to pound the Palestine Resistance into political submission if not annihilation.

Since the advent of the civil war, the Resistance has been confronted with a diminished ability to strike militarily at Israel. The Resistance has found itself having to turn its attention away from its primary enemy and to the defensive role of fighting a rearguard action. The guerrilla strategy upon which the Palestine Resistance based its initial successes, and with which it captured the sympathy and imagination of the Palestine and Arab masses, has been shifted from a purely offensive weapon to a primarily defensive one.

The Palestine Resistance has not only had to contend with a right-wing frontal assault, whose vehemence and persistence it did not expect to last so long, but it has also had to face its erstwhile protector and ally, Syria, on the Lebanese battlefield. The intervention of Syria into the war precisely at a time when the Palestine Resistance and Lebanese National Movement were making significant military gains clearly indicated that the Arab regimes would not tolerate a radical change in the Lebanese status quo, particularly if such a change meant reopening military hostilities with Israel. Acting with the outward approval of the US and the Arab states (and with the cautious approval of a threatening Israel), Syria launched its military campaign with the explicit aim of protecting the Lebanese right, reestablishing the rule of a delegitimized Lebanese state, and defending its own western flank from a threatened Israeli invasion of Lebanon. [27]

The real threat confronting the Palestine Resistance in the stalemated civil war in Lebanon stems most importantly from the political isolation it would face were a negotiated settlement between the remaining confrontation states and Israel concluded to their exclusion. Political abandonment would necessarily mean tightening the military noose in Lebanon. The lack of a secure base in Lebanon, and its proneness to attack on its rear flank, has placed the Resistance in a situation in which it has expended a great deal more of its manpower and material resources protecting itself from Arab annihilation than fighting the Israeli enemy. Since its total defeat in Jordan, coupled with its military encirclement in Lebanon, and loss of political initiative to the Arab regimes, the Palestine Resistance has suffered a series of crucial setbacks. Although the Resistance is far from having been vanquished militarily, it has been transformed from a growing and developing offensive movement to one almost solely preoccupied with the defensive act of survival.

Moderating Forces From Within: The Palestinian Nation Under Siege

While the external conditions have laid the necessary groundwork for PLO moderation, they alone do not appear sufficient as an explanation for so momentous a turn in direction. For it could be argued that the PLO could seize upon any one of a number of possible alternatives or options: It could, for example, pursue a purely “rejectionist” position. At the ideological level, such alternatives do exist. To uncover the reasons why they are not pursued, however, we must examine the factors intrinsic to the character of the Palestinian national experience, factors which have prompted the PLO to seize upon the existing set of altered conditions in the area and weld itself to a new set of objectives.

Every national liberation movement has utilized violence at one time or another as an instrument for achieving specific political ends. The long history of the Palestinian Arabs dating back to the early days of struggle against Zionist settler-colonialism and British imperialism indicates that violence was only taken up in self-defense or as a last resort when all other avenues of restitution were first exhausted. At a later date, in the 1950s, it was the lack of any effective alternative which turned a group of “successful” middle-class Palestinian businessmen, educators and professionals into the leadership of an armed resistance movement. To the Palestinians armed struggle is a necessary means for achieving national self-determination. Militant and armed action does not, however, make the Palestine Resistance permanently wedded to a strategy of revolutionary violence. If that same end could be achieved through other means, there is no question that those other means would be energetically pursued.

The revolutionary alternative is itself translated through the conditions the Palestinian people have encountered, and continue to encounter, in their twentieth-century history. During the British “mandate” period, the national experience of the Palestinian people was generally unitary in that the entire population confronted a common enemy within a single territory. In the period following the forced dismemberment of Palestine in 1948, the Palestinians became a fragmented nation experientially, but remained unified politically and ideologically. For the communities scattered throughout the Arab world, those under direct colonization, or those engaging the forces of military occupation, the national struggle is now mediated through a set of extremely varied material conditions surrounding Palestinian existence. This fact cannot help but to temper the perceptions, vigor and methods by which the Palestine national movement pursues its objectives.

All anti-colonial national liberation movements tend to share a set of common, formal attributes. The factors which tend to differentiate them have to do with 1) the peculiar set of circumstances within which they must operate during any given historical moment; 2) the specific set of social forces which constitute the main body and leadership of such a movement; and 3) the ideology which guides that leadership. Precisely because it is a “national liberation movement,” with a single overriding purpose and aim, it has been able to bring under its umbrella a vast array of socially differentiated groups who compose the Palestinian people and nation. Included are not only the “classless” refugees, but also the haute bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeoisie, the proletariat, semi- proletariat (or marginal elements) and peasantry. [28] In their totality these classes constitute the Palestinian class structure both as it exists under Israeli colonial rule and in the repressive atmosphere of the Arab states. We cannot detail the dynamics which regulate the relationships between classes or the various functions they perform within each of the respective countries in which they are resident. [29] What is important to note is the unevenness which characterizes the development and growth of the Palestinian class structure as a whole. Within Israel proper, for example, the traditional peasantry has undergone almost complete proletarianization. [30] That which remains of a fragmented Palestinian nation there has been transformed into a class of readily exploitable laborers with a specific economic function within the production process. A similar process is currently underway in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Colonial subjugation has not, however, reduced the entire population to the level of an urban and rural proletariat. There still exists a struggling petty bourgeoisie engaged in services and merchandising, a timid bourgeoisie, and even some remnants of the pre-capitalist era who continue to thrive in rather peculiar ways. In general, Israeli colonialism has sought to advance its subjugation of the fragmented Palestinian nation and relegate all classes to a single economic role within the production process: that of cheap wage labor. [31]

The economic position of the Palestinians in the Arab world contrasts sharply with that of their colonized brethren, although even here a few similarities are detectable. [32] In Lebanon a large sector of the Palestinians are relegated to the role of a cheap and easily exploitable labor force whose marginal status is confirmed by confessional political considerations and profitable economic conditions. [33] In Jordan, the situation is slightly different. Palestinians received full citizenship rights and were able to integrate to a significant extent into varied economic functions. The oil producing Gulf states offered some of the greatest opportunities for the Palestinian population. A large gap in the expanding employment and production needs of the “modernizing” Arab economies, particularly Palestinian children in Lebanon belong to PLO youth organizations. in the areas of oil production, in government, and in the services sector of the economy, required technical, professional and skilled as well as unskilled labor. The result has been the social transformation of a supposedly “classless” Palestinian people into a highly differentiated one.

Economic and educational gains have been unevenly distributed by class as well as country. In some cases the gains have been so significant that an emerging Palestinian bourgeoisie has been able to compete successfully with native Arab and foreign capital. [34] To what extent Palestinian capital and labor represents a direct threat to Arab capital, foreign capital and indigenous labor is difficult to determine. What is clear, however, is that Palestinian capital and labor are precariously situated in an Arab world in which new indigenous classes are taking root and coming into direct competition. Without the security of political-legal rights afforded native capital and invited foreigners, the Palestinian classes face a volatile situation with little form of recourse. Palestinian capital is particularly vulnerable to the economic and political vicissitudes associated with an uncertain future in the Arab world and under Israeli colonial rule. It is, therefore, natural that these classes should gravitate to a territory and polity which can be immediately placed under their direct control.

Given this context it is not difficult to understand why the Palestinian bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie have been such militant supporters of the Resistance. They are the key forces counseling moderation and demanding a national territory in the West Bank and Gaza in order to situate the highly exposed Palestinian productive forces and capital. In such an entity Palestinian capital and labor would be secure, although the former would surely dominate. According to this vision Palestinian capital would be integrally linked to Arab capital. [35]

The economic side of Palestinian existence also has a political dimension to it. Since the early days of Arab state intervention during the Palestine rebellion (1936-1939), the Palestine cause has been elevated to the highest priority on the agendas of the Arab regimes and political parties of the region. During the 1950s and 1960s the Palestinians sought to realize their national aspirations through the anti-imperialist Arab regimes and political parties. Though many Palestinians attained influential party posts and had access to high government circles, their political mobility and influence were always limited and checked whenever any attempt was made to translate words about the liberation of Palestine into deeds. The result has been the creation of a militant and armed Palestinian movement that poses a threat to the Arab regimes in a number of connected ways. First, as an armed and organized movement, whose partisans and support originate from among the ranks of the scattered Palestinian communities, the Resistance possesses a limited capacity to disrupt the political status quo in those same Arab countries in which major Palestinian communities reside. The oil producing states appear to be the most vulnerable targets since their economic installations are more exposed to sabotage. Secondly, and most important, the Palestine Resistance has created a political and organizational alternative, with a corresponding set of social institutions predicated on the concept of peoples’ self-reliance. It is precisely the radicalizing winds of political revolution that the Palestine Resistance casts in the direction of the Arab states, and which is particularly feared by the oil producing states, that stimulates the latter to seek to control if not eradicate the movement.

Finally, the continued military activity of the Resistance against Israel — however infrequent that activity might be today — threatens to force the Arab states into a war that none of them seek, none can win and all will lose. (This is particularly the fear of Syria, now that the post-“peace” period has permanently neutralized the Egyptian front.) The idleness of the Arab states — those states which, incidentally, shout the most deafening rhetoric, possess the biggest guns and share the least commitment to fight — and their outright collusion during the repeated Israeli incursions into Lebanon and attacks against the Palestinians cannot but further expose the deep contradictions upon which these parties/ states predicate their existence. For these reasons the Arab states, radical and conservative alike, pursue a resolution to the Palestine problem. In other words, a state in the West Bank and Gaza appears as much an Arab solution as it is a Palestinian one.

The leadership of the PLO senses both the intensifying economic dilemma and the related political pressures bearing down on the fragmented Palestinian nation. Palestinian capital, large and small, as well as the laboring classes, demand a resolution to the daily precariousness in which they find themselves. These are the forces behind the call for a “Palestinian passport.” As a nationalist leadership the PLO is sensitive to, and representative of, the social body which constitutes it. Throughout its short history it has attempted to protect and whenever possible alleviate the most oppressive conditions surrounding Palestinian existence in the diaspora. But so long as the movement attempts to defy a common Arab strategy and solution to the Palestine problem, it exposes itself as well as Palestinian capital and labor to direct assault.

PLO Alternatives: Historical Disconjuncture

The ability of the Palestine Resistance to contain the above pressures, if not transform the present situation into its favor, is directly predicated on its ability to create a viable alternative to the events. Any such possibility is in turn linked to the ideological perspective of the leadership and its willingness to commit itself to establishing a deeper and more organic link to the newly emergent and growing national democratic and progressive forces in the region. But even this alternative contains no measure of certainty that the Palestine Resistance can overcome the dilemma it currently finds itself within.

The dominant faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization leadership has confined itself to a rather narrow nationalist perspective which it claims has allowed it to pursue its singular objective without coming into direct collusion with the Arab states. By attempting to avoid direct confrontation, its policy has allowed it to minimize its contradictions with the regimes and receive from them material and political support. However, as the Jordanian “civil war” and Lebanese “civil war” have amply demonstrated, the policy of “non-interference” into the affairs of the Arab states cannot hope to succeed simply because of its one-sided adherence by the Resistance. The presence of the Palestine Resistance has been crucial to shielding, if not directing, the growth and development of progressive and national democratic forces in the area. In Jordan and Lebanon the consequent realignment in the political status quo, with all its ramifications for regional and global power relationships, is what instigated the attacks against the Palestinians.

However much the Resistance leadership assists the progressive and patriotic forces, it realizes that these movements are still in their embryonic stage of growth and may require many years, if not decades, to reach the necessary maturity that is essential for a genuinely equitable relationship. Even in Lebanon, where the Lebanese National Movement is considered the most sophisticated and best organized of these forces, it remains strategically dependent on the Palestine Resistance. In the other Arab countries all that can be expected from the unorganized Arab masses is short-lived spontaneous outbursts. Where movements exist, no progressive or patriotic force in the area is capable of sustaining independent activity without the Palestine Resistance. And yet it is precisely an independent role, one which can be coordinated with the activities of the Resistance, that is required for the post-“peace” period. The Palestine Resistance can continue to assist its objective allies with the aim of accelerating their growth so that these forces might carry out the historic missions assigned to them. But history cannot be pushed as one chooses; it must develop. The anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist legacies of the “progressive” Arab states is too fresh, the impact of the October war still too unsettled, for these forces to take full root in the Arab world.

The Palestine Resistance is faced with an historical dilemma which is to a great extent beyond its control. There is an alternative to the present predicament, but that alternative exists only in theory and not yet in reality. That is why the “pragmatic” faction of the Palestinian leadership has turned a deaf ear to the “rejectionists” and other leftists in the movement who claim that the Arab masses will rise to foil any plots against the movement. That which exists in theory cannot resolve the dilemma the PLO encounters in reality. The fact is that the Palestine Resistance and Arab progressive and national democratic forces are at a point of historical disconjuncture.

Because of this situation, the PLO leadership has become almost completely dependent on its “alliances” with the Arab states and on the contradictions which divide or unite them. So long as basic differences remain between the “steadfast” confrontation regimes and the conservative Arab states regarding the method and solution by which a Middle East peace is to be achieved, the Palestinians will receive some measure of protection and support for their own aims. Any attempt, however, to arrive at a “comprehensive settlement” which includes Syria, Jordan and a Palestinian role, to the exclusion of the PLO, could be the linchpin which sets the entire Middle East on a new course.

The Egyptian-Israeli “Peace”: Future Prospects

According to the provisions contained in the Camp David accords, the US, Israel and Egypt have committed themselves (and others) to a scheme designed to create a Palestinian “autonomy” in the West Bank and Gaza. The projected scheme closely resembles the one earlier suggested in Begin’s “self-rule” plan. [36] In addition to completely excluding the PLO, the plan divides the Palestinian people, assures continued Israeli political, economic and military dominance, and reopens the way for a Jordanian role. [37] In its totality, the autonomy scheme represents nothing less than a new form of Israeli-Zionist colonialism.

The unilateral actions of President Sadat have polarized the Arab world to such an extent that the conservative supporters of Egypt are now aligned with the radical Arab Front for Steadfastness and Confrontation. These two groups joined together in the Baghdad summit (November 1978) to oppose unanimously the Camp David accords. The summit’s importance is underscored by the fact that the participants secretly agreed to political and economic sanctions against Egypt, some of which have already been put into effect. To give added credibility to the opposition, Iraq and Syria have moved rapidly to mend their differences and unify their countries. Further west, the Iranian revolution has sent shock waves throughout the Middle East, forcing the collapse of the once powerful Cairo-Riyadh-Tehran axis. And inside the Israeli-occupied territories, the Palestinian inhabitants remain militant and unified in their opposition to the Camp David accords. The PLO has gained tremendously from the latest reshuffling of alliances in the area.

Even with its strengthened position, the PLO is confronted with a new set of challenges as the US, Israel and Egypt attempt to negotiate Palestinian autonomy. The PLO leadership is aware that it has approached a new and more difficult crossroads. On the one side, the PLO is hopeful that the contradictions embedded in the Camp David accords will explode before Palestinian autonomy is achieved. Contradictions also exist on the side of the opposition. Thus a distinct and real possibility exists that the fragile Arab unity constructed to oppose the accords could be unraveled if the appropriate concessions and pressures are applied by the US to induce Jordan and the West Bank notables — with Saudi backing — to join the “peace” process. Each step toward implementation of the Camp David accords confronts the PLO with the threat of political isolation. Accordingly, the Palestine Resistance can be expected to step up its guerrilla attacks against Israel, and presumably on Arab states who enter into agreement with Israel, at a time when Palestinian rights are denied. In turn, Israeli “reprisals” will most likely be carried out in coordination with Lebanese rightist militias against Palestinian bases and refugee camps in Lebanon. The cycle of assaults and counter-assaults may be the needed spark which reignites the now stalemated Lebanese civil war and returns it to its most devastating proportions. At the minimum, an Egyptian-Israeli “peace” signals a more vigorous Israeli military posture with regard to the Palestinians and Syria.

The fate of the Palestinians and PLO is to a great extent tied to Syria and the policies it adopts. Prior to Camp David, President Assad stated his willingness to recognize Israel and even considered signing a treaty of sorts with it once a final peace agreement is achieved in which Israel would evacuate all territories occupied in 1967 and permit the Palestinians to establish an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza. [38] The ongoing US-initiated peace process has changed all that, however. Should the Syrian position remain “steadfast,” and the Egyptian front permanently neutralized, Syria may have to face a future of half-peace, half-war. To avoid provoking an Israeli attack or invasion threatening to Syria, the latter will have to restrain the military activities of the Palestine Resistance as much as possible. One cannot also rule out the possibility of Syria moving in the direction of Egypt. The fact is that Syria appears willing to come to terms with Israel. The question is whether, when, and under what conditions the US and Israel are willing to come terms with Syria. Although such a possibility appears rather remote today, it cannot be ruled out in the near future.

The options facing the PLO have been narrowed by the Camp David accords. Rejection alone may not prove sufficient to thwart the autonomy plan. The recent statements of PLO leaders indicate that an independent Palestine state continues to be an acceptable objective, so long as a feasible alternative does not exist. [39] But the fact that the Camp David accords were specifically designed to undermine such an alternative suggests that such a state is unachievable given the current balance of forces. The irony of this situation is that no sooner had the October war created the conditions for a change in PLO objectives, and the possibility of their realization, the political map was altered with the Camp David accords. Today, the PLO stands at a new crossroads, infinitely more dangerous than the past.


[1] During the British Mandate period, small circles of Palestinians engaged in various levels of dialogue with the Zionist leadership. Though these groups were always insignificant in number, and never represented mainstream Palestinian views and aspirations, they did nevertheless seriously consider the possibility of partition as a solution to the Palestine problem. For insight into these exchanges, see Susan Lee Hattis, The Binational Idea in Palestine During Mandatory Times (Tel Aviv: Shikmona, 1970); Avraham Sela, “Conversations and Contacts Between Zionist and Palestinian Arab Leaders, 1933-1939,” Middle East Information Series 28 (Fall 1973), pp. 27-36; Esco Foundation for Palestine, Palestine: A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1947), especially vol. 1, pp. 493-594.
[2] The various proposals for a Palestinian “mini-state” were explicitly rejected in the political resolutions of the eighth and ninth Palestine National Council (1971). The tenth and eleventh Council sessions (1972, 1973) adopted a similar position.
[3] Political Program for the Present Stage of the PLO Drawn up by the PNC,” Journal of Palestine Studies 3/4 (Summer 1974), p. 224.
[4] “The Palestine Resolution of the Seventh Arab Summit Conference,” Journal of Palestine Studies 4/2 (Winter 1975), pp. 177-178.
[5] See al-Nahar (Beirut), February 24, 1974; Wafa (Beirut), March 22, 1974. For excerpts of these two resolutions, see Journal of Palestine Studies 3/4 (Summer 1974), pp. 209-211.
[6] See UN Resolution 3210 of October 14, 1974 in Journal of Palestine Studies 4/3 (Spring 1975), p. 188.
[7] A series of UN resolutions were passed in support of the PLO during 1974 and 1975. See Journal of Palestine Studies 4/3 (Spring 1975), pp. 188-189, and 5/1-2 (Autumn 1975-Winter 1976), pp. 298-300. Of all the UN resolutions passed, Resolution 3379, which defined “Zionism as a form of racism and racial discrimination,” seems to have excited the most vehement protest and denunciation both in the media and among the West’s intelligentsia. Although the resolution passed by a vote of 102 to 29 with 27 abstentions, it was considered as an attempt by Arab nations to revive and spread anti-Semitism. The most virulent academic response to the resolution came from the noted “Arabist” Bernard Lewis. See “The Anti-Zionist Resolution,” Foreign Affairs (October 1976).
[8] ”Palestine National Congress: 15-Point Program,” MERIP Reports 57 (May 1977).
[9] Ibid., p. 15.
[10] New York Times, September 2, 1974.
[11] In his visit to the US, President Sadat addressed a joint session of the Congress, urging contacts between the US and the PLO. While in Jacksonville, Florida, he also suggested to reporters that the moderates in the PLO would agree to a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Arab Report and Record, November 1-15, 1975.
[12] The PLO members were Isam Sartawi and Sabri Jiryis. New York Times, November 23, 1976.
[13] “US Rebuffs Washington PLO Office,” Palestine! (February 1977).
[14] For the London Conference, see P. Mansfield, “Will the PLO Miss the Tide?” and “Peace and the Palestinians,” Middle East International (November 1977). For the Paris meetings, see “For Israeli-Palestinian Direct Talks,” New Outlook (July-August 1975), pp. 51-52; “Israel Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace Manifesto,” New Outlook (February-March 1976); “Israeli-Palestinian Contacts,” Israel and Palestine 53/54 (November-December 1976); “Making Peace with the Enemy: Interview with Mattityahu Peled,” New Outlook (January-February 1977). On the meetings in the US, see Yeshayahu Ben-Porat, “Goldmann and the Palestinians,” New Outlook (September 1978). Peled described the Council’s talks with PLO representatives as “an historic breakthrough” and claimed that the PLO would revise the clause in its covenant which calls for the formation of a “secular state in Palestine” before peace negotiations are completed. Jerusalem Post, January 3, 1977; New York Times, January 2, 1977. The PLO denied it ever participated in the discussions or agreed to the joint statement. New York Times, January 3, 1977. The apparent contradiction is explained by Peled. See “Making Peace with the Enemy,” op cit, p. 14. The meetings with the Israeli Communist Party were held in Prague with ‘Abd al-Qadir Hourani representing the PLO. New York Times, May 5, 1977.
[15] Although the Israeli-Palestinian exchanges have included a number of prominent individuals, it is generally reported that Isam Sartawi led the most important discussions leading up to the “joint statement.” On the thirteenth session, see Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, “PNC Maps Out Palestinian Strategy,” MERIP Reports 57 (May 1977). See also Godfrey Jansen, “The PLO After Cairo,” Middle East International (May 1977).
[16] “Palestine: An Algerian Solution,” Foreign Policy (Winter 1975-76). Other sympathizers also offered concrete solutions to get the stalled Geneva Conference reconvened with Israel and the PLO recognizing each other according to a set of agreed principles. See M. Cherif Bassiouni and Morton A. Kaplan, “A Mideast Proposal,” New Outlook (June-July 1977).
[17] The fact that PLO members and representatives were not reprimanded is itself a strong indication of the leadership’s tacit, if not official, approval.
[18] Although not explicitly stated, one could extract such a meaning from Qaddoumi’s speech before the UN Security Council during its debate on the Middle East (January 1976). See “The PLO and the Security Council,” New Outlook (February-March 1976) and Peled’s articles in New Outlook, the issues of September-October 1976 and January-February 1977); L. Mosher, “Special Relationship Wearing Thin,” Middle East International (March 1976); David Mandel, “For Anyone Who Wants To See: A Reply,” New Outlook (March 1977). For an opposing interpretation, see M. Louvish, “More on Reading Signals,” ibid., pp. 57-59. In an interview at the UN (November 17, 1976), Qaddoumi unambiguously stated that “we accept establishment of a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip” and that “this means that we stop armed struggle when we have the state.” Quoted in Mark Bruzonsky and Judith Kipper, “Washington and the PLO,” Middle East International (February 1977).
[19] In an interview with The Jewish Chronicle, Hammami, the London representative of the PLO, called for peace talks between Israel and the PLO. New York Times, April 5, 1974. See also Sa’id Hammami, “A Palestinian Strategy for Peaceful Coexistence,” New Outlook (March-April 1975), and “The PLO and the Future of Palestine,” Middle East International (May 1974); Extracts from a paper presented at a London seminar of the Parliamentary Association for Euro-Arab Cooperation in September 1977, published as “From Coexistence to Reconciliation: A Palestinian Vision,” Middle East International (February 1978). For Sabri Jiryis’s statements, see David Mandel, “A PLO Moderate Speaks Out: Interview with Sabri Jiryis,” New Outlook (September 1975); Sabri Jiryis, “Towards an Independent Palestinian State — A Palestinian View,” New Outlook (August 1977), and “On Political Settlement in the Middle East: The Palestinian Dimension,” Journal of Palestine Studies 7/1 (Autumn 1977), pp. 3-25; R. Scott Kennedy, “New Hope for Peace in the Middle East: An End to Arab Rejectionism,” New Outlook (April 1979).
[20] Mandel, “A PLO Moderate Speaks Out,” p. 12. The moderate position has been expressed by a variety of PLO personalities. See, for example, Walid Khalidi, “Thinking the Unthinkable: A Sovereign Palestinian State,” Foreign Affairs (July 1978); see also the statements of Mahmoud Labadi, Khalid al-Hasan and Abd al-Muhsin in Kennedy, “New Hope,” op cit; and Abu Iyad (Salah Khalaf), Palestinian Without a Country (Paris: Editions Fayolle, 1978). Abu Iyad’s moderate stand tends to indicate that both the “right” and the “left” in Fatah are in agreement.
[21] The following includes only a limited sampling of Arafat’s statements: In an interview with al-Ahram, printed on January 27, 1977, Arafat declared that the PLO’s participation in the Geneva Conference would constitute def ado recognition of Israel. Soviet Ambassador to the US Anatoly Dobrynin, informed Secretary of State Cyrus Vance that Yasser Arafat was prepared to accept the existence of Israel if Israel would endorse a Palestinian homeland. Facts on File, May 14, 1977. According to New York Times, May 1, 1978, Arafat said that the Soviet-American declaration of October 1, 1977, “could be considered a fundamental basis for a realistic settlement in the Middle East.” The joint US-USSR declaration called on all parties to the Middle East conflict to work out a “comprehensive settlement” within the framework of a Geneva peace conference. The joint declaration also asserts that the settlement should insure the “legitimate rights of the Palestinian people” and establish “normal peaceful relations” in the area. New York Times, October 2, 1977. By accepting this proposal, Arafat implicitly accepted UN Resolution 242 and all that it implies. The most explicit statements of Arafat are contained in a news bulletin issued on December 1, 1978 by US Congressman Paul Findley following his meeting with Arafat. See “An Opening for US-PLO Talks?” Journal of Palestine Studies 8/2 (Winter 1979), pp. 173-175. See also New York Times, December 15, 1976 and Le Monde, December 10, 1978.
[22] The plan first appeared in the Beirut daily al-Nahar, and although no mention of its origin was noted, it is generally reputed to be the “PLO memorandum” submitted to President Carter by President Asad during their May 9, 1977 meeting. Facts on File, May 14, 1977. A summarized version of the PLO memorandum which appeared in the Guardian Weekly, August 7, 1977 is excerpted in the Journal of Palestine Studies 7/1 (Autumn 1977), pp. 189-190. The proposal was also raised by Saudi Crown Prince Fahd in an interview with eight American correspondents in Jidda. Fahd said he believed that Palentinian leaders would be willing to accept “any peaceful solution” to the Middle East problem if the solution included “the establishment of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” New York Times, May 10, 1977.
[23] In the words of David Hirst, Guardian Weekly, August 7, 1977.
[24] At a PLO Central Council meeting in October 1978, which included the “rejection front” for the first time since 1974, a joint program was agreed on to oppose the Camp David accords, and specifically the “autonomy” plan for the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. In contrast to the Palestine National Council’s political program (March 1977), which explicitly rejects recognition of Israel (see clause 9), the wording of the Central Council program leaves “the door open at a later date for the recognition of Israel.” Helena Cobban, Christian Science Monitor, October 25 and 30, 1978. See also Irwin Silber, Guardian, November 8, 1978.
[25] See House of Representatives, Committee on International Relations, “The Palestine Issue in the Middle East Peace Efforts” (Washington 1976) The hearings included a comprehensive statement on the Palestine question by a State Department official, Harold Saunders. See Marwan R. Buheiry, “The Saunders Document,” Journal of Palestine Studies 8/1 (Autumn 1978). For a brief summary of President Carter’s statements on the Palestine problem, see Middle East International (March 1978).
[26] Immediately following reports in July 1974 that some Israeli officials might be willing to recognize the Palestinians in exchange for mutual recognition, the Israeli cabinet met in special session to withdraw its statement. See Journal of Palestine Studies 4/1 (Autumn 1974), pp. 147-150. Since its “mistake,” the Israeli government has consistently refused to recognize the PLO and does not request any recognition from the PLO. Former Premier Yitzhak Rabin also rejected any participation by the PLO at a Geneva conference, even as part of a Jordanian delegation. New York Times, March 8, 1977. Premier Begin echoes a similar position today: New York Times, July 20, 1977. The Israeli government has maintained throughout that they would only negotiate with Jordan over the fate of the West Bank. To this end, it has been reported that Israeli leaders met at least twice with King Hussein to reach an agreement over the West Bank. New York Times, December 4, 1974. A lack of success with Jordan turned Israel to try a new plan: “administrative autonomy” for the Palestinian population of the occupied territories.” See Davar, October 24, 1975; al-Hamishmar, October 23, 1975. On December 26, 1977, Premier Begin submitted a 26-point peace plan to the Knesset offering limited administrative autonomy for the West Bank and Gaza residents. It was accepted by a vote of 64 to 8 with 40 abstentions. New York Times, December 27, 1977. Following the signing of the Camp David accords, Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan has been searching in vain in the West Bank for Palestinian leaders who would be willing to assume “self-rule” leadership without Jordan. See Christian Science Monitor, September 22, 1978.
[27] ”Why Syria Invaded Lebanon,” MERIP Reports 51 (October 1976).
[28] The use of the term class and the accompanying class designations are somewhat problematical when applied to the Middle East. The problem resides in the fact that even though a capitalist mode of production is dominant, a pre-capitalist mode continues to exist either as a subordinate and/or parallel structure. Therefore, the use of Western-derived class concepts captures on a part of the existing social reality.
[29] For a discussion of this point, see Sheila Ryan, “Israeli Economic Policy in the Occupied Areas: Foundations of a New Imperialism,” MERIP Reports 24 (January 1974), pp. 3-24; Pamela Ann Smith, “Aspects of Class Structure in Palestinian Society,” in Uri Davis et al, eds., Israel and the Palestinians (London: Ithaca Press, 1975), pp. 98-117; Talal Asad, “Class Transformation Under the Mandate” and Jamil Hilal, “Class Transformation in the West Bank and Gaza,” in MERIP Reports 53 (December 1976).
[30] Elia T. Zureik, “Transformation of Class Structure Among the Arabs in Israel: From Peasantry to Proletariat,” Journal of Palestine Studies 6/1 (Autumn 1976), pp. 39-66. See also Henry Rosenfeld, “The Arab Village Proletariat,” New Outlook (March-April 1962), pp. 7-16; “The Arab Labor Force in Israel,” al-Ittihad, April 30, 1973; Sharif Kannana, pp. 3-18; Amal Samed, “The Proletarianization of Palestinian Women in Israel,” MERIP Reports 50 (August 1976).
[31] Sheila Ryan, “Political Consequences of Occupation” and Sarah Graham-Brown, “The Structural Impact of Israeli Colonization,” in MERIP Reports 74 (January 1979).
[32] For a description of the social and economic conditions Palestinians face in Lebanon, see Rosemary Sayigh, “The Struggle for Survival: The Economic Conditions of Palestinian Camp Residents in Lebanan,” Journal of Palestine Studies 7/2 (Winter 1978), pp. 101-119; Fawaz Turki, The Disinherited: Journal of a Palestinian Exile (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1973), passim.
[33] Hasan Sharif, “South Lebanon: Its History and Geopolitics,” Special Report 2 (Detroit: Association of Arab-American University Graduates, Inc., 1978), pp. 9-34.
[34] The outstanding example that comes to mind is the initial successes of Bank Intra, a Palestinian-owned bank with headquarters in Beirut. For other examples, see Smith, op cit, especially pp. 104-115.
[35] Various analyses have been conducted regarding the economic viability of a West Bank-Gaza state. All seem to agree that such a state would require assistance from other countries, particularly the Arab states. See, in particular, Elias H. Tuma, “The Economic Viability of a Palestine State,” Journal of Palestine Studies 7/3 (Spring 1978), pp. 102-124; Haim Darin-Drabkin, “Is a Palestinian State Viable,” New Outlook (May-June 1975).
[36] See “The Begin Plan,” Middle East International (February 1978). For a critique of the plan, see “The Begin Plan: An Analysis,” Palestine/Israel Bulletin (February 1978); Noah Lucas, “The Begin Plan: A Step Backwards?” Middle East International (April 1978).
[37] “Camp David: Where Does It Leave the Palestinians?” Palestine/Israel Bulletin (October 1978). The most comprehensive critique of the accords is provided by Fayez A. Sayegh, “The Camp David Agreement and the Palestine Problem,” Journal of Palestine Studies 8/2 (Winter 1979), pp. 3-39.
[38] According to an interview published “When everything is settled it will have to be formalized with a formal peace treaty” and “this is not a new logic in Syria’s policy (sic)…it is our fundamental position decided by party leaders.” New York Times, February 21, 1975. Although President Asad’s statements were qualified a few days later (New York Times, February 25, 1975), it can safely be assumed that Syria’s position will conform to a similar “logic” once the opportunity arises.
[39] The PLO official, Abu Iyad, stated in Paris that there would be “no Palestinian subversive activities from the day we have a state to run.” Jerusalem Post, January 6, 1979. Both the Baghdad Summit and the fourteenth session of the Palestine National Council (January 1979) maintained previous commitments to seek a negotiated settlement to a Palestine state. See “Statement Issued by the Ninth Arab Summit Conference, Baghdad, November 5, 1978,” Journal of Palestine Studies 8/2 (Winter 1979), pp. 202-204; “Political and Organizational Program Approved by the Palestine National Council at its Fourteenth Session, Held in Damascus, January 15-23, 1979,” Journal of Palestine Studies 7/3 (Spring 1979), pp. 165-169.

How to cite this article:

Sameer Abraham "The PLO at the Crossroads," Middle East Report 80 (September/October 1979).

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