Much nonsense has been written about whether the Palestinians do or do not constitute a "people." This study starts with the sensible view that the formation of national consciousness is a result of specific historical and sociological processes. What made the Palestinians distinct from their cousins in Jordan and Syria was their interaction with the growing Jewish presence in their midst, from the early decades of this century onward. That experience has been unique to Palestinians and has shaped their sense of national identity. The authors provide a historical and analytical framework that helps in understanding the current intricate moves toward Israeli-Palestinian accommodation.