The causes of Palestinian disunity, 1993-2014

Abu Mustafa, Ziad Attiya (2019). The causes of Palestinian disunity, 1993-2014. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis examines the causes of Palestinian disunity from the 1993 Oslo Accords to the 2014 al-Shati’ Agreement, as it occurred not merely between Fatah and Hamas but also within those organizations and with other groups across Palestine. In doing so it reveals how the drivers of disunity have evolved over time. Through a combination of fifty semi-structured interviews with Palestinian political elites and supplementary documentary analysis of original archival and media sources, the thesis argues that the causes of disunity can be traced to the Oslo era, long before the controversial 2006 Palestinian legislative elections. Initially, intra-Palestinian discord was fuelled by ideological differences driven by Fatah's recognition of Israel, a decision Hamas considered a betrayal of the national cause. The resulting rivalry facilitated the growth of divisions within the respective movements as factions competed over power and economic interests. The thesis identifies how, during the Second Intifada, the weakness of the National Authority shifted the balance of power in favour of Hamas, as the growing relevance of Palestinian tribes and seventeen Fatah factions fragmented domestic politics. Moreover, the outcome of the 2006 elections and the narrative of the 2007 Hamas military takeover led to the creation of two hostile governments over seven years before a national consensus government emerged with the al-Shati’ Agreement. The thesis draws on a wealth of empirical material to demonstrate the importance of international, regional and domestic actors in contributing to the Palestinian discord, beyond the long-standing conflict with Israel. It contributes to ongoing debates in Middle East Studies by providing a framework that could be applied to develop a stronger understanding of internal disunity in other Arab states, including Syria, Libya and Egypt. At the same time, the thesis makes a conceptual contribution through the application of a neorealist international relations approach to internal, rather than merely interstate, conflicts.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: None/not applicable


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