Until the Madrid and Oslo agreements in the 1990s, the PLO leadership was exiled from the territory and people of their would-be Palestinian state. The challenge confronting the absent plo leadership was whether to support institution-building in the occupied territories -- for example, through education, social services, and local elections. That approach, however, ran the dual risks of either falling into permanent co-option into the Israeli polity or allowing a local leadership to develop that could replace the absent PLO hierarchy. Frisch shows how the PLO opted instead for tight control from the outside. As a result, he warns, Yasir Arafat and the PLO have brought an authoritarian, "neopatrimonial" system to the territories. Frisch compares the Palestinian experience with other state-building examples, especially the Zionist attempt to establish Israel. This comparison might appear invidious coming from an Israeli scholar, but Frisch aptly demonstrates that the Palestinians have faced more difficult obstacles than did the Zionists.
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