Mobilisation of support for the Palestinian cause : a comparative study of political change at the communal, regional and global levels
Those who study world politics are divided between the traditional Realist paradigm, which depicts an international political system dominated by states involved in a 'power struggle' in pursuit of their 'national interest', and an emergent approach that includes in the analysis a wider range of political actors and defines the nature of politics very differently. The latter approach sees the central process of world politics as being the mobilisation of support in respect to the composition of the global political agenda and contest over the various issue positions. This thesis examines the Palestinian Question as a case study of a mobilisation process, that involved a non-state actor playing a crucial role in introducing to the global agenda an issue previously of low salience to other actors. The Palestinian Question throughout the 1950s and 1960s was treated on the global political agenda as a by-product of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It was perceived as a 'refugee problem', the solution of which was envisaged within an overall settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Yet, within less than a decade of the re-appearance of an indigenous Palestinian national movement a significant section of the international political system changed its attitude towards the Palestinian problem. It was not any more perceived simply as a 'refugee problem' but one of 'self-determination'. In this thesis the analysis of the mobilisation process that brought the Palestinian issue to the forefront of the world political agenda is guided by a dynamic model applied to four different levels of analysis. The first level is constituted by the Palestinian community. Then there is the Arab governmental level. The third level is made up of various regional groupings, such as the Non-Aligned, the Latin Americans, the European Community and the East Europeans. The final level is the global one, represented by the United Nations political system. The analysis reveals the dynamic and interactive nature of the mobilisation process across different levels of analysis and the way in which the different positions held on the Palestinian issue have converged towards a relatively common stand.