The Roadmap and the Future of a Palestinian State

This document deals with the establishment of a Palestinian State with Provisional Borders within the second phase of the Roadmap.

Executive Summary

This document was presented to the 6th Herzliya Conference, held in January 2006. The document deals with the establishment of a Palestinian State with Provisional Borders (PSPB) within the second phase of the Roadmap.

The idea of a PSPB is one of the principal innovations of the Roadmap. It inverts the sequence of the political process which was set out in the Oslo process, and calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state prior to the conclusion of a Permanent Status Agreement (PSA).

Nonetheless, the Roadmap does not elaborate on the borders of the PSPB, nor on its powers and authorities. It seems to have been assumed that these issues would be determined in bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Still, the Roadmap implies that the PSPB would have more powers and authorities than the PA, but less than those of the Palestinian state in permanent status.

In principle, the Roadmap is the agreed framework for the Israeli-Palestinian political process. However, its implementation is yet to begin, and Israel and the Palestinians disagree both on the entry point to this process and on each of its phases. Furthermore, Fatah and Abu-Mazen reject the idea of a state with provisional borders, which is the cornerstone of the Roadmap. This rejection signifies an inversion of Israeli and Palestinian positions: in the past, the Palestinians demanded a state, even with provisional borders, and Israel objected. Now, the Palestinians reject the idea of a PSPB; while Israel remains committed to the Roadmap, which calls for establishing a PSPB.

Therefore, unless current trends change, our conclusion is that the Roadmap has entered a deadlock and the establishment of a PSPB will not be achieved through agreement. Moreover, these trends prevent progress towards a PSA along the lines of the Oslo process.

Hamas' electoral victory and its entry into the PA cabinet exacerbate this deadlock. However, for humanitarian reasons, Israel may find itself forced to deal with the PA, even given the fact that Hamas controls the PA.

Israel may still find the idea of a PSPB relevant, despite the deadlock in the Roadmap. Hence, Israel may take unilateral steps, in coordination with third parties – mainly the US – to promote the establishment of a PSPB. The culmination of this effort may be a declarative act of Israeli unilateral recognition of the PA as a state.

Paradoxically, the Hamas, as opposed to the Fatah, may be willing to accept a PSPB. A state, not within a PSA, may be consistent with the ethos of Palestinian struggle and with the Phased Plan of the PLO.

In conclusion, if current trends persist, Israel and the Palestinians will remain in a political deadlock. Hence, Israel may find itself unilaterally recognizing the PA as a state, despite Palestinian objection and Hamas involvement. Establishing a PSPB prior to a PSA would constitute an irreversible and historical change in the structure of the Israeli-Palestinian political process. It may signify the beginning of a new era in which the Permanent Status will be gradually shaped by a series of agreements between the two parties.

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