Palestinian Nationalism


A distinct Palestinian national identity emerging from the Ottoman administrative division of the Palestine district and in reaction to British mandatory rule and the struggle with Zionism. Palestinians generally view Zionism as a continuation of western imperial policies which hark back to the Crusader effort to takeover sacred Muslim lands. Palestinian nationalists historically think of themselves in contrast to unjust western imperialism and Zionism. The genesis of the refugee problem in the 1948 War is viewed as a seminal, decisive moment in the Palestinian struggle, emblematic of constant attempts to expel Palestinians from the land in order to allow for the establishment of a new entity on it. Palestinian nationalists comprise roughly 70 percent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza.

Conflict Resolution Challenges

Core narratives

Palestinians are the defenders of the al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, on behalf of all Muslims. Zionism is a colonial movement, robbing the land from its indigenous, rightful owners. Palestinians will prevail in their pursuit of their national rights, including the UN-recognized right of return for all Palestinian refugees.

Primary Legal System

International law, with an emphasis on anti-colonial tenets and on the primacy of the right for national self-determination.

Desirable Trajectory

The establishment of Palestine would be an important step in a global process of de-colonization. Palestinians should secure self-rule through statehood, thus ending arbitrary Israeli domination over Palestinian daily life.

Prominent Stakeholders

Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), its parties and the Palestinian Authority (PA) ministries.


The PLO acknowledged in 1988 that Israel was established according to international law and therefore a two-state agreement could provide Palestinians with relative justice. As long as such a compromise would deliver Palestinians their rights as per international law, a two-state agreement would be deemed ethically desirable. Former PLO negotiators signaled in the Geneva Accord, an informal agreement prepared by former leaders from both sides, a will to largely waive actual return of refugees in exchange for Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.

Meet Daud: Palestinian Nationalsim Worldview

Daud: on the Conflict