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Title: Palestinian NGOs since Oslo: from NGO politics to social movements?
Authors: Hammami, Rima 
Keywords: Non-governmental organizations - Social aspects - Palestine;Palestinian Arabs - Civil rights;Social movements
Issue Date: 2000
Publisher: JSTOR
Abstract: The post-Oslo debate on Palestinian NGOs in the West Bank and Gaza recently came full circle in two respects: An earlier debate that had envisioned NGOs as possible democratic alternatives to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) was largely laid to rest by the NGO movement itself. At the same time, Palestinian NGOs have been accused of some of the same charges usually leveled at the PNA. Specifically, in a campaign waged by PNA loyalists in the local press, NGOs were vilified as "fat cats" exploiting donor funds for their own enrichment and at the cost of an increasingly destitute population. Despite the contending political projects represented by the two debates, there is much that connects them. While the PA's attempts to defame NGOs was clearly opportunistic, the accusations touched on a growing and uneasy realization within the NGO community that they have come to be perceived as the employment sector of the economically privileged. This is one outcome of their integration into a global NGO ethic and culture, largely shepherded by the presence of a huge number of international donor aid agencies brought in to buttress the peace process. More fundamentally, it is rooted in an ongoing process of NGO retrenchment from a popular constituency that predated Oslo but which has sharpened with continuing de-politicization of the society that has marked the formation of PA rule. Activist sectors of the NGO community, aware of these processes, have finally acknowledged that their own institutional transformation has contributed to the ongoing political crisis in Palestinian society. And in a few cases, they have attempted to find a route back to the grassroots. Yet, within the possibilities of NGO politics there have been some notable achievements since Oslo. The formation of a well-organized NGO lobby under the umbrella of the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) and the President's recent signing into law of a relatively benign NGO law are quite significant, given the quiescence of popular political resistance to PA rule.
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