Bridging the gap: Palestinian and Israeli discourses on autonomy and statehood

David Newman, Ghazi Falah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Self-determination and autonomy are only transitional moves towards statehood and independence. A key element in the process of state formation is the crystallization of a territory which serves as the spatial focus for political power. The ability of protagonists to enter into negotiation aimed at conflict resolution is dependent on the extent to which the alternative territorial discourses reflect the ability to compromise and share territory, rather than demanding the whole territory to the exclusion of the 'other'. The nature of power relations is critical to an understanding of this quest for self-determination and autonomy. Top-down' models of autonomy indicate a devolution of power within the existing state structure. 'Bottom-up' models of autonomy reflect a struggle for full self-determination and new state formation. Israeli and Palestinian territorial discourses reflect their respective power orientations in that the former discusses only autonomy while the latter focuses on statehood. These contradictory discourses have moved closer together: from a position in which each side demanded the whole of the territory to the exclusion of the other, to positions in which each has been prepared to compromise over parts of the territory. This is the background to the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the context within which it is pursued.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-129
Number of pages19
JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 1997


  • Autonomy self-determination power relations
  • Israel/palestine
  • State territory
  • West bank

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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