The Palestinian Liberation Organization: Is Reform Possible?

Date of Graduation

Spring 2003


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Ulrike Schumacher


For more than thirty-five years the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) has internationalized its agenda by acts of terrorism worldwide. The hijacking of an Israeli passenger airline flying from Rome to Tel Aviv took place in July of 1968 and marked the beginning of a systematic campaign using terrorism to bring public attention to the Palestinian cause. Terrorist attacks like the Munich massacre of 1972, the hijacking of a Lufthansa Boeing 737 in 1977, the attack on the U.S. embassy and U.S. military compound in Beirut in 1983, as well as the long series of suicide killings in Israel have legitimized the PLO in the eyes of the United Nationa, the European Union, the Vatican and many Protestant churches. The PLO and the many splinter and subgroups it is composed of have shown themselves to be a highly militant and at the same time rigidly structured and hierarchically composed organization. The goal of this thesis is to determine whether or not the structure of the PLO and its use of terrorism as the primary tool to reach its ultimate goal has led to an inherent inability to make the transition into a purely political organization.

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Dannie L Wright