Countdown to Statehood

Palestinian State Formation in the West Bank and Gaza

By Hillel Frisch

Subjects: Middle East Politics
Series: SUNY series in Israeli Studies
Paperback : 9780791437124, 221 pages, July 1998
Hardcover : 9780791437117, 221 pages, July 1998

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Table of contents



Chapter 1. Territorialization and State Formation: The Palestinian Experience in Comparative Perspective>

Chapter 2. The PLO, Territorialization, and Palestinian State Formation

Chapter 3. Territorializing the PLO: The PLO and Mass Mobilization

Chapter 4. Education and State Building

Chapter 5. The Intifada and State Building>

Chapter 6. The Madrid Peace Process and the Challenge of the Inside

Chapter 7. Countdown to Statehood

Conclusion:  Palestinian State Building and the Postcolonial State




A study of Palestinian state formation in comparison to Zionist experiences.


Countdown to Statehood, based on Arabic, English, and Hebrew language sources, analyzes the form that the Palestinian state is likely to take. The book looks at past institution-building patterns in the West Bank and Gaza, the relationship between the PLO and the local Palestinians, and the nature of the conflict with Israel from 1967 through the first year of the Palestinian Authority under Arafat's leadership.

A major reference point in this analysis is the Zionist experience of state-building in Israel's own pre-independence era. Not only did the Zionist experience serve as a model of a successful protagonist that Palestinians wished to emulate, but both also began as diaspora-based. These similarities and, even more so, the dissimilarities between these two struggles for national determination allow the reader to assess the potential likenesses and disparities of the future Palestinian state compared to its Israeli counterpart. The concluding chapter analyzes the findings in the broader context of third-world state-building by arguing, contrary to the common wisdom that "war makes the state," that more peaceful routes to statehood lead to better states in the post-independence era.

Hillel Frisch is Lecturer in the Department of Political Science, The Hebrew University, Israel. He has previously published (with Shmuel Sandler) Israel, the Palestinians and the West Bank: A Study in Intercommunal Conflict.


"It is a well-researched, highly-detailed study of one of the central problems of Palestinian politics for the past twenty-five years: the relationship between the 'inside' and the 'outside.' As such, it helps promote understanding of often puzzling political behavior on both sides. The comparison with the Israeli experience is both appropriate and illuminating, notwithstanding the contextual differences." — Mark A. Heller, Tel-Aviv University