Palestinian State: Relevancy Gaps in Israeli Policy

The establishment of a Palestinian state is moving from an Israeli 'give' and Palestinian 'take' to a 'favor' the Palestinians are 'granting' Israel. Thus, Israel's positions and policies regarding the status of the Palestinian Authority and security arrangements are gradually becoming irrelevant.

One of the main working assumptions during the Oslo process in the 1990's was that the goal of the Palestinian National Movement was to establish an independent Palestinian state. The establishment of such a state was thus considered an Israeli 'card' in negotiations.

Unfortunately, this working assumption was never been updated despite the changing reality: An increasing number of Palestinians now oppose an independent Palestinian state in favor of establishing one bi-national state in all of 'historic Palestine'. Proponents of this position not only come from radical streams of Palestinian society who have always strived to create a Palestinian-Islamic state in place of Israel, but also from those considered more 'moderate' who no longer see any benefit in the political process or consider the 'Two State Solution' unviable. (See: Palestinian State - Inversion of Positions and Inversion towards the Occupation).

Thus if the current political process fails, as many suspect, the rest of the Palestinian 'peace camp' is also likely to doubt the viability of the 'Two State Solution'. The Palestinians may then call for the dissolution of the PA in order to return the full burden of 'occupation' onto Israel. (See: Failure of the Political Process: The Danger of Dissolution of the Palestinian Authority).

The Reut Institute for Policy Planning recently published two papers in which it demonstrated the 'relevancy gap' between Israel's current mindset and the changing reality. Reut claimed that this gap renders Israel's policy irrelevant and is dangerous for the country.

Reut's first paper discussed last week's legal opinion from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs determining that the PA is not a state under international law. Reut suggested that this position contradicts Israel's political interest of strengthening the PA. (See: Who determines whether the PA is a State: Israel's Lawyers or Politicians??).

The second paper concluded that Israel's security demands in negotiations (which entail undermining the sovereignty of a Palestinian state) narrow the chances for reaching an agreement. Reut argued that that Israel's demands reflected old assumptions from the Oslo period - that the Palestinian desire for an independent state may lead them to compromise its sovereign authority - an assumption that has since lost its relevancy. Under such circumstances, the challenge to the State of Israel is to balance between the need to end its control over the Palestinian population in the West Bank and the importance of security arrangements. (See:Can a Shelf Agreement Anchor Israel's Security Demands).