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​ACRPS Researcher

ACRPS Researcher Dana El-Kurd was the invited speaker for the weekly seminar held on 13 December, 2017, and in which El-Kurd presented a paper on how the existence of the Palestinian National Authority shaped the Palestinian protest movement and political participation. The speaker relied on her own original fieldwork to investigate the extent to which the PNA has helped to suppress political activism amongst the Palestinian people.

El-Kurd offered a presentation which described how the emergence of the Palestinian National Authority as a result of the Oslo Peace Process limited the scope for Palestinian political protests throughout the occupied West Bank. El-Kurd suggested that this was a historical divergence from the traditionally robust tradition of political protest in Palestinian society.
El-Kurd contrasted this seemingly docile state of Palestinian protests in the Occupied Territories today with the situation in the 1980s. Despite the fact that Israel did not formally recognize the Palestinian political leadership during that period, the Palestinians of the West Bank were able to organize large-scale, “diffuse” and non-violent protests to Israeli rule. While the Oslo Accords did not change the material conditions of the Palestinians, who continued to live under Israeli military—even if indirect—the Palestinian National Authority served as an apparatus of coercion which was more successful than the Israeli military occupation in strangling Palestinian capacity for political self-expression.
El-Kurd argued that this was an intended consequence of the Oslo Accords, and that the piecemeal division of the West Bank into regions of varying Israeli control—Area A, heavily populated urban centers under complete Palestinian control, Area B which included suburbs and outlying districts with Israeli security control and Palestinian administrative oversight, and Area C, the largest and the only areas with territorial contiguity in which Israel controls all aspects of life—makes a clear understanding of the influence of the PNA possible. The author proposes to arrive at a better understanding of the causal link between the authoritarianism of the PNA and its impact on the ability of the Palestinian people to organize politically.
Specifically, El-Kurd measured the incidence of political protests within a given territory by examining how many protests were held in a given district in relation to the size of its population and its proximity to Israeli settlements, and then compared these across time, with the aid of media reports. Her findings, which were shared with the audience at the seminar before expected publication in an upcoming book, indicate expectedly that the ability of Palestinian Authority to impose its will on the population—most clearly marked in Area A—was directly correlated with suppression of political activity. In other words, that the PNA was an authoritarian body acting to subdue the will of its own people.