Getting From Annapolis to Permanent Status

Israel may find it beneficial to consider the 2nd Phase of the Roadmap which calls for the establishment of a Palestinian State with Provisional Borders before a Permanent Status Agreement. Israel can already prepare the groundwork for a Palestinian State, in parallel to negotiations.

According to Ha'aretz (11/13/07), the Annapolis meeting will launch a process including negotiations on core issues with the aim of reaching a Permanent Status Agreement (PSA).

The post-Annapolis political process may encounter difficulty in reaching Permanent Status (i.e., resolution of historic issues, establishment of a Palestinian state, and conduct of regular state-to-state relations) via the single comprehensive agreement framework that the Palestinian side prefers, due to the following obstacles:

  • ‘All or Nothing' Dynamic complicates achievement of PSA - The inherent structural weakness of negotiations on a PSA is that they generate an ‘All or Nothing' dynamic, whereby without agreement on all issues, there can be agreement on no issues. Such a ‘Package Approach' significantly raises the risk of no agreement.

  • Hamas complicates ratification and implementation of PSA - The split between Fatah and Hamas complicates ratification of a potential PSA. Hamas may attempt to prevent a referendum from taking place in Gaza or de-legitimize authorization by the PLO. In addition, Hamas' control of Gaza complicates implementation of a PSA.

Israel may want to consider re-examining its strategy for reaching Permanent Status. A political process in which a Palestinian State with Provisional Borders (PSPB) is created before Permanent Status (as proposed in the 2nd Phase of the Roadmap) may (a) be easier for the Israeli political system to ‘stomach'; and (b) provide Israel with the ability to adopt a ‘Fragmentation and Dilution Approach' - i.e., instead of one comprehensive agreement, Israel may seek a series of bilateral state-to-state agreements that consolidate Permanent Status.

However, Abu Mazen has rejected the idea of a PSPB as a trap in the past. Despite this, Israel may find it beneficial to pursue the logic of ‘preparing the groundwork for a Palestinian State' as it serves the logic of ‘two states for two peoples':

  • Israel would benefit from a PA which possesses many attributes of statehood (and even constitutes a de-facto state) as this consolidates the principle of separation and reduces Israeli responsibility;

  • Unilateral Israeli promotion of a Palestinian State may culminate in a declarative act of unilateral recognition of the PA as a state.

Hence, as gestures to the Palestinian interlocutor and in parallel to negotiations, Israel should transfer to the PA attributes of statehood so as to bring it to the threshold of statehood.