After ‘Security First’: An analysis of security transition and ‘statebuilding’ in the West Bank 2007-11

Philip Leech

Abstract: The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) imposition of order after the end of the al-Aqsa Intifada has been generally interpreted as a success. Not only did the PA consolidate its power in the West Bank and restore good relations with Israel and the West, it also appeared to obtain popular legitimacy by cracking down on its political opponents. This paper discusses the impact of the PA’s imposition of order in Nablus, a town which had endured lawlessness and disorder under an Israeli siege (2001-7) and had been the focus of the PA’s security agenda. It argues that, though the PA’s security agenda initially enjoyed popular consent, this does not demonstrate public endorsement of the PA’s legitimacy. Rather the consent that such measures produced was superficial and, in the long term, the acceleration of the PA’s shift towards authoritarianism is likely to be profoundly debilitating for Palestinian society in general.

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