Building Arafat's Police

Brynjar Lia:
Building Arafat's Police: The Politics of International Police Assistance in the Palestinian Territories After the Oslo Agreement
(Reading: Ithaca Press, 2007)
This book examines the role of international donors in creating and reforming the Palestinian police and security forces, beginning in the early aftermath of the Oslo Accords to the outbreak of the second Intifada, which brought most police reform efforts to a standstill. The author explores the challenges and dilemmas facing the donor countries when they strived to assist in building a police that was being without the framework of an independent state. Apart from providing unique insight into the problems of providing aid to police forces created by a national liberation organization in a war torn society, this books also offers a far more detailed and accurate account of a much neglected research topic, namely police reform efforts in the Middle East peace process. The book demonstrates how the donor officials struggled to overcome ingrained unwillingness at home against the use of aid funds for police reform purposes, while at the same time maneuvering uneasily between Israeli obstructionism and security concerns, rivalries between Palestinian police generals, as well as a lack of Palestinian preparedness for the technical and practical aspects of police reform. Based on a host of new unpublished sources, spanning from Palestinian Authority documents, internal Palestinian Police publications, a unique access to the archives of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry (which chaired the most important police coordination committees), the present study gives a unique insight into a hitherto uncharted territory in contemporary Palestinian and Middle Eastern history. This book will be of invaluable interest to students, researchers and practitioners in the field of security sector reform and international police assistance. 
Publisher: Ithaca Press (UK) 
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Book reviews
"... a marvelous and rich scholarly work. ... The strength [of the book] lies in the detailed and careful examination of both the social order and policing problems as they have arisen in Palestine and in the problems and processes of donor assistance. Nothing like this ... exists right now on any other police reform and assistance project".
- Professor Otwin Marenin, Washington State University
"... a masterful account of the evolution of security assistance to the Palestinian Authority during the Oslo era".
- Professor Rex Brynen, McGill University

"Brynjar Lia makes extraordinarily meticulous use of archival material in an impressively objective study, and manages to keep track of a wealth of detail that he superbly weaves into a wonderfully coherent account. Whether taken singly or together, his two books A Police Force without a State and Building Arafat's Police not only make an outstanding contribution to our understanding of the construction of the Palestinian police since 1994, but also real insight into the workings of international diplomacy and the interaction of donors and local actors."
- Professor Yezid Sayigh, Kings College, London
"... superb. [...] The quality of writing and analysis notwithstanding, it may be that the real uniqueness of Lia’s contribution rests in his sources... Lia is well placed to make a major scholarly contribution."
- International Affairs (London, RIIA), 84 (6) (2008), pp. 1330-1332, book review by Nigel Parson.

"These are masterful pieces of scholarship that sparkle with practical insights for those wrestling with how to create police and security forces after conflict. Combining wide and in-depth historical research with a light authorial touch, Brynjar Lia’s two volumes will quickly become canonical texts in the literatures on post-conflict peacebuilding and on police studies as well as making an important contribution to scholarship on Israel-Palestine conflict-resolution processes. Lia’s books offer much for policing practitioners. His detailed narratives of practice constitute the most definitive history of a 'police-building' process anywhere in the world. As Lia shows, Palestine's challenges are not unique. There are other cases in which a liberation movement has taken on official policing duties in an atmosphere of flux, in an environment with an absent tradition of official policing, and with a wide range of donors offering assistance. In great detail, he demonstrates the practical, managerial and human challenges that confront reformers in such circumstances. At a time when police reform is increasingly asserted as an important cog in domestic and international efforts to build peace and prevent conflict from spiralling out of control, Lia’s work is a welcome antidote to the current perception that police reform is an easy, sequential, process. [...]"
- International Peacekeeping, 14 (5) (November 2007), pp. 687-690, book review by Dr Gordon Peake.

"This is an impressive account of how foreign assistance affected the creation and growth of the Palestinian police. Lia’s insightful analysis is based on a unique host of unpublished primary sources, making this two-volume research a solid reference work. It is a worthwhile read, not only for Middle East scholars, but for anybody interested in the complexity of security assistance as part of peacebuilding efforts."
- Journal of Peace Research, 45 (2) (March 2008), pp.305-306, book review by Are Hovdenak.

"... A Police Force without a State and Building Arafat’s Police are two well-researched and thoughtful studies. They should be of value to policy-makers, area specialists, and anyone interested in security studies and international aid, especially because of the primary data they contain."
- Journal of Palestine Studies, 31 (3) (Spring 2008), pp.98-99, book review by Sarah Salwen.
"The two volumes are important and comprehensive, but they have their problems. The author's uncritical sympathy for the Palestinian cause at times gets in the way.  [...] To be sure, Lia's works are somber academic publications, but his detached tone is disconcerting. Given continued Palestinian and Israeli suffering—in large part due to the failure of the Palestinian security apparatus—he should have adopted a more critical view of Fatah's role."
- The Middle East Quarterly, 15 (3) (Summer 2008), book review by David Schenker.
[Commenting on a picture of top US diplomats on board a plane with a Dan Brown novel on their desk]:
"No wonder we have no peace in the Middle East. George Mitchell spends all his time with Hillary Clinton discussing the plotlines of Dan Brown novels while Jeff Feltman stares off into the distance, bored and wishing he were back in Lebanon. Shouldn't they instead be reading books like this one? Or this one? Or this one? If you want to read a novel, read this one. Or this one."
- Abu Muqawama Blog, 3 November 2009
Brynjar Lia,
Oct 10, 2013, 5:09 AM