Palestinian Nationalism

Its Political and Military Dimensions

by William B. Quandt

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Analysis of developments within the fedayeen movement from its origin to 1971. Many Palestinians have expressed a distinctive nationalist sentiment, but only the commando groups (the fedayeen) formed after 1965 have succeeded in giving organized expression to these feelings. Although the commandos have a valid claim to represent a substantial part of the Palestinian community, dependence on Arab regimes for arms, funds, and territory in which to organize has kept them divided along the lines of inter-Arab conflict. In spite of organizational weakness, military defeats, and problems of collective leadership, the Palestinians have had a considerable impact in the areas of political and social development. Palestinian activism since 1967 has introduced new ideas into Arab political debates, including the requirement of fundamental social change and the necessity of developing a politically defensible position with respect to Israel. Their military potential, however, continues to depend heavily on the behavior of the regimes in Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.

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