Rather than diplomacy, the pronouncents of politicians, or incidents of terrorism, this examination of the challenges facing Palestinians focuses on grass-roots developments from within the new "self-rule" areas, particularly Gaza, to assess the impact of "peace" on the future of socio-economic and political development. The author argues that the interim order has led to a greater fragmentation of Palestinian society and marginalized the Palestinian street; and that, threatening to consolidate the goals of Israel's occupation, it has left Palestinians less able to present a co-ordinated challenge to Israeli power, while international aid and Palestinian "security functions" have been used to isolate the peace process from grass-roots demands. Faced with economic hardship and the pressure to comply, Parker contends, Palestinian society has been left torn between resignation and revolt, with little basis upon which to build an effective polity.
Christopher Parker is a political analyst who has lived and worked in the Middle East.
Problems, parameters and the political economy of meaning; the dynamics of factionalism; defining Palestine - the spatial and demographic contradictions of self-rule; the economic quicksand of autonomy; institutions, rituals and power - PA consolidation "from above"; the crisis of authority - the spectre of "superfluous man"; sustaining the polity - towards autonomy on the street?