Strengthening Palestinian Public Institutions: Report of an Independent Task Force
Edited by Michel Rocard
Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1999, 123 pp.
The Transformation of Palestinian Politics: From Revolution to State-Building
By Barry Rubin
Harvard University Press, 1999, 288 pp.
The Council on Foreign Relations task force on Palestinian public institutions included four Europeans who have served as prime minister and three as foreign minister, as well as former members of Congress Nancy Kassebaum Baker and Lee Hamilton, and other high-ranking Europeans and Americans. They personify a powerful Euro-American concern to make Palestinian institutions work. But not surprisingly, this quasi-official report offers somewhat bland findings, balancing "achievements" with "challenges" and largely ignoring the overall political context surrounding the Palestinian Authority. Fortunately, that missing context is presented in Rubin's book -- a refreshing account that is moderately sanguine without stinting on any of the several dark spots. Rubin also manages a balanced presentation of all the many different players in this ongoing Palestinian drama -- Yasir Arafat, the PLO, Hamas, the many Israeli political groupings, the Arab states, the United States, and the international community. With nine detailed but succinct chapters, this book is an eminently readable achievement.