A Palestinian woman gestures during a protest in Gaza City, Oct. 28, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)
When you mention the phrase “Palestinian state” to Israelis, in the best case many imagine another failing and resource-poor Arab country. In the worst case, they expect that the day after the declaration of independence the West Bank will turn into another Gaza and that Tel Aviv residents also will have to become accustomed to the “red light” siren warning of rockets falling.
For many years, especially in the recent years of right-wing rule, the words “Palestinians,” “Palestinian state” and “Palestinian authority” have been synonymous in Israeli consciousness with “terrorists,” “boycott” and “incitement.” Although more than four years have passed since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his support for a two-state solution in a speech at Bar-Ilan University in June 2009, surprisingly (or maybe not), the government has not held even one discussion about the ramifications of the establishment of a Palestinian state. No official research institute has closely examined models of relations between Israel and Palestine or comprehensively evaluated the expected regional effects of the change on the future diplomatic, economic and security balance of power. As far as we know, there is no plan of action for the day after the establishment of the new state.
A team of Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian researchers has picked up the orphaned gauntlet. It came together under the joint sponsorship of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Strategic Dialogue at the Netanya Academic College (headed by Reuven Pedatzur), the Data Studies and Consultations company from Ramallah (headed by Samir Hazboun) and the Center for Peace and Development in Amman (headed by retired Gen. Mansour Abu Rashid). The project was funded by the European Union and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. For two years, the three of them coordinated five research groups of 15 researchers from the three countries. Together, each of these groups examined data from different sources, analyzed it and formulated recommendations. The joint work demanded that they confront gaps in worldviews and bridge between different narratives. The working assumption was that the Palestinian state would be established in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (with territorial exchanges), and that East Jerusalem would be its capital.
One of the most interesting findings was a high likelihood of the natural formation of a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation. Another central finding points to a change in the view of the status of Palestinian refugees — the establishment of a nation-state would enable them to change their self-definition from “exiles” to members of the Palestinian nation living in the “diaspora.” The researchers found that contrary to the common understanding, which sees the refugee question as one of the main stumbling blocks for peace and reconciliation between the two peoples, the creation of a Palestinian state could actually resolve it.
The research shows that the creation of the new state would have a positive effect on all the areas that were studied: the strengthening of Jordan, the stability of whose regime has been undermined by the Arab Spring and the waves of refugees from the civil war in Syria; the weakening of the “anti-normalization” movements, which derive their strength from the lack of a solution to the Palestinian problem; the formation of an anti-radical Islam axis with the participation of most countries of the region; the increase of regional stability through bilateral and multilateral security agreements; an improvement in the quality of life and economic prosperity in all three countries and an opening of markets with additional countries, for example with Gulf states; the flourishing of tourism; a change in the positions of Palestinian citizens of Israel and their political integration.
A detailed summary of the teams’ work, titled “The Regional Implications of the Establishment of a Palestinian State,” includes a plan formulated by retired general Udi Dekel for the creation of a regional security organization (RMEC, or Regional Middle East Cooperation). Dekel, who was the head of the Strategic Planning Division of the IDF and headed the professional negotiations team that was formed following the Annapolis Conference [November 2007], suggests a framework similar to NATO for operational and intelligence cooperation. Its aims would be the prevention of terror and arms smuggling, monitoring the spread of weapons of mass destruction, early warning of ballistic missile attack and joint planning to combat potential “spoilers” of regional peace. The RMEC would strive for coordination and cooperation with the United States, the European Union and NATO.
Dekel argues that the greater security in the Middle East resulting from the window of opportunity afforded by a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine is a necessary condition for the improvement of the social and economic situation in the entire region. A document authored by the economist Avichai Snir of Netanya College and Amjad Qasas, director of Pal Professionals Consulting and Investment Services in Ramallah, details the potential for growth of central market sectors in the Israel-Palestine-Jordan triangle.
The two authors recall that the number of tourists who visited Israel in 1993, following the Oslo Accords, doubled in comparison with 1991. According to them, the main explanation for this growth was the improvement of security in the region, as well as greater access and ease of travel between the countries. The researchers estimate that a replication of the same trend can be expected to encourage business activity in Israel and double tourism traffic. The doubling of Israel’s income in this field would raise the share of its profit from this sector from 1.5% of GDP to 3%, or in dollars, $3.435 billion. These findings would make its situation comparable to similarly sized member states of the OECD, like Switzerland and Denmark, and would bring about the creation of new jobs for Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians.
The researchers estimate that at least half of the visitors who visit Israel for Christian religious reasons (about 65% of all tourists have described themselves as pilgrims) would add the holy sites in Jordan and Palestine to their itinerary. This is expected to increase the number of tourists in Jordan by 50% (compared to 2011) and to triple their number in the Palestinian Authority. These are minimalist projections, which do not take into account possible cooperation with other states in the region, such as the Gulf states.
Other fields in which all sides are bound to profit from the conversion of the Israeli occupation of the territories to regional cooperation are communications and high-tech. Instead of importing engineers from distant India, Israel could offer desirable jobs for thousands of unemployed and frustrated graduates of computer science departments in Jordan and Palestine (35% of all graduates in Jordan and 24% among Palestinians). In 2011, the average salary of Jordanian and Palestinian ICT employees was $600-$800, less than a fifth of the salary of their colleagues in Israel. Such outsourcing would decrease expenses for Israeli companies and develop local economies. In addition, Israel could replace about 24,000 foreign workers in agriculture with Jordanians and Palestinians, and thus diminish employers’ expenses in importing and housing foreign workers. Cooperation between the three countries would also allow Israeli farmers to sell their produce to new markets in the region.
All that these diligent researchers can hope for is that the product of their labors would not rot on the shelves of academy, but would be used by decision-makers, and perhaps even change the feeling of the Israeli public when it comes to the word “Palestine.”
(Photo: Aish.com / YouTube)
Despite advances in modern medicine, China is setting up roadblocks to cope with an outbreak of an ancient plague that once wiped out one-third of the world’s population and may have been one of the plagues that God used to strike Egypt.
Chinese officials installed temperature scanners at airports and checkpoints on main roads in an attempt to stop the spread of Bubonic plague as a fourth case was discovered in less than three weeks. A program to exterminate rats and fleas, which carry the disease, was also launched in Inner Mongolia where the disease seems to be originating.
Demonstrators gather in solidarity with anti-regime protests in Iran outside the Iranian Embassy in Helsinki, Finland. Photo: Reuters / Lehtikuva / Heikki Saukkomaa.
Four human rights lawyers currently imprisoned by the Iranian regime have been awarded with the annual prize of Europe’s most prestigious lawyers’ association.
The Iranian lawyers received the 2019 Human Rights Award from The Council of Bars and Law Societies Of Europe (CCBE) — a body that represents the bars and law societies of 45 countries and through them more than 1 million European lawyers.
The University of Bristol campus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
The University of Bristol in England has adopted “in full” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, the school’s Epigram independent student newspaper reported on Monday.
The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and Bristol’s Jewish Society (J-Soc) welcomed the move, saying, “The University of Bristol has not been free of antisemitic incidents and the adoption of this definition is an important first step in helping the university tackle anti-Jewish racism. We now expect the university to use this definition in outstanding disciplinary cases.”
Pope Francis Meets Thailand’s Buddhist Patriarch in Golden Temple (screenshot)
Pope Francis topped off his three-day visit to Thailand last Saturday with a meeting with Thailand’s supreme Buddhist patriarch Somdej Phra Maha Muneewong at Bangkok’s Ratchabophit Temple. The meeting took place in front of a 150-year-old gold statue of Buddha. The Pope followed Buddhist custom by removing his shoes.
During the meeting, the Pope gave the Buddhist Patriarch the Declaration on Human Brotherhood. The Declaration s a joint statement signed by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, last February in Abu Dhabi. The Pope met with the Imam last month to reinforce the Declaration.
An Israeli company says it is using space travel technology to help solve one of the most pressing problems down on Earth — the reliance on diesel fuel, a major source of pollution.
Israeli startup GenCell has developed an electric generator based on a hydrogen-energy technology used to power some of the most-famous space missions in history.
Feb 02, 2020 0The remarks from the US official came in wake of the Palestinian decision to reject the administration’s peace plan. US PRESIDENT Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrive to...
On January 18, a Shia Muslim rebel group launched a terror attack that claimed the lives of 111 in Yemen.
Days earlier, a Pakistani general captured popular sentiment whenever Muslims kill fellow Muslims by saying “Those who targeted innocents [Muslims] in a mosque can never be true Muslim[s].”
Such is the nature of one of the greatest claims that Islamic terrorism is much more politically than religiously driven. Thus, after another terrorist attack claimed the lives of Muslims in Bangladesh in 2016, it prime minister,
Sheikh Hasina, declared that “Anyone who believes in religion cannot do such act. They do not have any religion, their only religion is terrorism.”
Having predicted last year that a recession would begin in the summer of 2019 and that it would likely start with a major repo crisis, I am now proven wrong by 2019’s fourth-quarter GDP. If the repo crisis that started in the final week of summer had actually been the start of a recession, we would have seen fourth-quarter GDP go negative. Instead, it came in at 2.1% growth.
I find that an interesting number because third-quarter GDP also came in at 2.1% growth, and second-quarter GDP came in at 2.0% growth. Now fourth-quarter GDP came in exactly at 2.1% growth. Coincidence or goal-seeking? Notice the numbers are “seasonally adjusted,” and think about how many assumptions are made in seasonal adjustments.
The effort to impeach and remove President Donald Trump from office has produced many losers and few winners. The drama of the trial in the U.S. Senate is must-see TV for political junkies, but it has also been dispiriting viewing for Americans of all political stripes.
Few issues have divided the country more starkly than the question of whether or not the president should be removed from office. The arguments from both sides of the spectrum and their lawyers, as well as from the talking heads on television, have not worked to change any minds from their original political positions.
Last week, President Donald Trump unveiled his long-awaited Middle East peace plan. Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his electoral opponent Blue and White leader Benny Gantz were at the White House for the announcement. So were a bunch of international diplomats, including three from Arab nations. The Palestinians refused to attend and rejected the plan sight-unseen.
Anyone surveying the history of Israeli-Palestinian relations already knows that the Palestinians’ goal is the eradication of Israel. The difference in the new U.S. plan, however, is that the initial major steps in its implementation can be taken unilaterally by Israel, even with no Palestinian participation
The U.S. “Peace to Prosperity” plan presented by President Donald Trump last week proposes unprecedented criteria for the formation of a Palestinian state. Among them is this one: “The Palestinians shall have ended all programs, including school curricula and textbooks, that serve to incite or promote hatred or antagonism towards its neighbors, or which compensate or incentivize criminal or violent activity.”
The context of this directive cannot be ignored; our 20 years of research show that the PLO has transformed Palestinian schools into a tool of war against Israel.