Mayors in the Middle: Indirect Rule and Local Government in Occupied Palestine by Diana B. Greenwald

$ 35.00

What does local self-government look like in the absence of sovereignty? From the beginning of its occupation of the West Bank in 1967, Israel has experimented with different forms of rule. Since the 1990s, it has delegated certain governing responsibilities to the Palestinian Authority (PA), an organization that, Israel hoped, would act as a buffer between the military occupation and the Palestinian population.


Through a historically informed, empirically nuanced analysis of towns and cities across the West Bank, Diana B. Greenwald offers a new theory of local government under indirect rule--a strategy that is often associated with imperial powers of the past but persists in settings of colonialism and state-building today. Grounded in fine-grained data on municipal governance under occupation as well as interviews with Palestinian mayors, council members, staff, activists, and political elites, this book traces how the Israel-PA regime has influenced the constraints and incentives of Palestinians serving in local government. Mayors in the Middle demonstrates that both the indirect rule system itself--as embodied in local policing arrangements--and the political affiliation of Palestinian mayors shape how politicians will govern. This variation, Greenwald argues, depends in part on whether local Palestinian governments are perceived as intermediaries within or opponents of the regime. Although Palestine is often treated as exceptional, Greenwald draws illustrative parallels with British colonial India and South Africa's apartheid regime. A groundbreaking study of Palestinian local politics, Mayors in the Middle illuminates the broader dilemmas of indigenous self-government under systems of exclusion and domination.

Diana B. Greenwald is an assistant professor of political science at the City College of New York.

Year: 2024


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