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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: March 2020

10 - The Palestinians

from Part III - The Middle East


After the Nakba in 1947-49 and the Naksa in 1967, 900,000 Palestinians lived in other Arab states. As a long-term result of the British suppression of the Arab revolt in 1936-39, Palestinians lacked leadership for two decades. The Arab League claimed decision-making in all Palestinian affairs. Independent Palestinian organizations emerged in exile by the late 1950s, though the Arab League ignored them when it created the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1964. The PLO expected that the June War would establish a Palestinian state in Israel’s place. The rapid Arab defeat dashed Palestinian hopes, but liberated the PLO from Arab tutelage. By early 1969, one of the exile organizations, Yassir Arafat’s Fatah, assumed PLO leadership. Under its leadership, the PLO almost took over Jordan in 1970, but was forced to relocate to Lebanon. When Egypt withdrew from Arab leadership in Palestinian affairs around that time, the PLO altered its heavy reliance on revolution and started to eye a negotiated solution with Israel. Even if the PLO obtained observer status at the United Nations in late 1974, the prospect of establishing a state in all of former Mandate Palestine had vanished.