What Happens after the “Deal of the Century” is Tabled?

By Professor Efraim Inbar, Presidnt of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security.



The Arab-Jewish or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over Palestine (the Land of Israel) has evolved over the past hundred years. For the past three decades, most attempts to solve this simmering ethnic conflict revolve around the so-called two-state paradigm (or, the 2SS: the two-state solution). This conventional wisdom recommends the division of the territory of Palestine that was under British rule (1917-1948) into Jewish and Arab states that will coexist peacefully.

US President Donald Trump has announced that he too intends to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace, in what he calls the “Deal of the Century.”  The details of a new American plan are not yet known, but the plan probably does not deviate much from the two-state concept. While this paradigm has a long pedigree and current popularity in contemporary academic and political circles, it has not always been a politically relevant option.

This article traces the confluence of domestic and international factors that put the 2SS paradigm on the agenda. Then it analyzes the current state of affairs in Israeli-Palestinian relations and the Middle East, with an assessment of the viability of the 2SS.

The conclusion of this paper is that a stable and peaceful outcome in accordance with the 2SS paradigm is unlikely to emerge in the near future, for main two reasons: the two national movements, the Palestinian and the Zionist, are not close to a historic compromise; and the Palestinians are not capable of building their own state.

This latter point is particularly important. The Palestinians have been given a chance to build their state since 1994, but have produced only a “failed state” that is corrupt and anarchic. This is true both of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, as well as the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Therefore, the inevitable conclusion is that the two-state option is no longer viable.

The last section of this paper looks at various policy options currently available to policymakers involved in dealing with the conflict. State-building is the preferred option by the international community. Mistakenly, many Israeli and Western leaders still think that they can engage in state-building in order to produce a Palestinian state ready to coexist peacefully with Israel. But political engineering from the outside has its limits, as has been amply demonstrated in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Palestinian society has a long way to go towards political maturity and moderation, and this change must grow naturally from within – which will take decades, if at all.

A second option, a binational state endowed with political mechanisms to allow Arab-Jewish peaceful coexistence has gained some popularity, particularly in anti-Zionist intellectual circles. However, the binational state idea is rejected by both national movements. Moreover, it is very hard to envision a peaceful modus vivendi between the two ethnic communities in one political entity after more than century of violent conflict.

Another option, usually termed “a regional approach” advocates a greater role for Arab states in Palestinian affairs. This approach involves re-linking the Palestinian areas to some form of Egyptian and Jordanian security control and civil administration. This form of partition has a greater chance of stabilizing the situation than the two-state paradigm. While Arab countries initially will resist this step, wise diplomacy and long-term conflict management could move them in this direction. Indeed, in the absence of a solution, the most realistic policy option appears to be conflict management.

A History of Two-State Idea

In the first stage of the Arab-Israeli conflict (1917-1948) the struggle was inter-communal, pitting two distinct ethnic communities against each other over a single piece of land. Each group was striving to establish their own political structures and to expand the area under their control. During this period, the Arab states showed little involvement. Inter-communal conflicts are characterized by low-intensity conflict. Nevertheless, the political reverberations of the inter-communal struggle became less bearable for the United Kingdom. In August 1936, the British government noted the deterioration in Palestine and convened a Royal Commission, headed by William Robert Peel, to investigate the situation and to devise policy recommendations. In July 1937, the Peel Commission recommended partition of the land between the Jews and Arabs into two unequal states, followed by a population transfer. The rationale was that if the two ethnic communities could not live together, separation was the best option. This was the same recommendation the British government made in the case of India several years later, in the hope of limiting turmoil in the subcontinent.

The Arabs in Palestine, however, rejected the Peel Commission’s proposal because they denied the Jews’ right to reestablish a Jewish commonwealth. A decade later in 1947, another partition plan was suggested, this time by a UN-nominated commission. The Arabs of Palestine, as well as the leaders of the surrounding Arab states, again rejected the proposal because they could not countenance the emergence of a Jewish state. This time, however, the British government decided to end its presence, creating a political vacuum. In May 1948, the Jewish community declared statehood, ending the stage of inter-communal ethnic conflict.

The conflict’s second stage was primarily inter-state. It began with the establishment of Israel and the subsequent attacks by the armies of the surrounding Arab countries on the new entity. The War of 1948 resulted in a de-facto partition of Palestine, which reflected the power differential between the two sides. Israel held 78 percent of the territory and the invading Arab armies took the rest; the Jordanians governed the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), the Egyptians controlled Gaza, and the Syrians held slices of territory in the north. Egypt and Jordan, which ruled the Palestinians from 1948 until 1967, made no attempt to establish a Palestinian state and no domestic or international pressure was applied on them to do so. Palestinian nationalism was weak in the 1940s and a Palestinian state never existed.1 When Jordan annexed the West Bank in 1949, its inhabitants became Jordanian citizens. In contrast, Egypt kept Gaza under military rule.

During the inter-state conflict period from 1948-67, the Palestinians played a limited role. The two-state paradigm was conspicuously absent from the international agenda. Rather, the conflict was between the Arab states and the “illegitimate” Jewish state. Relations between Israel and its neighbors were punctuated with violence, including two large scale inter-state wars (October 1956 and June 1967). The UN Security Council Resolution 242, adopted in November 1967, dealing with the 1967 War’s outcome which became the reference document for peace-making thereafter, did not mention “Palestinians” at all. Rather, it urged the solution of the refugee problem. The Palestinian issue was seen as a humanitarian problem; not as the political cause of an ethnic group entitled to collective political rights and deserving of a separate state. During this stage of the conflict and onward, the Palestinian issue, always a pawn in inter-Arab politics, has been subordinated to the interests of the Arab states.

During the third stage, between the June 1967 War and the September 1993 Oslo Agreement, the conflict took on both interstate and inter-communal dimensions. During this period, several interstate military encounters occurred, including the War of Attrition along the Suez Canal (1969-70) and the October 1973 War on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts. During the 1982 Lebanese War, the fighting, while primarily involving Israeli and Syrian troops, also involved Palestinian militias, underscoring the ethnic dimension of the conflict. In 1979, the intensity of the inter-state dimension declined after Egypt, the strongest and most important Arab state, signed a peace treaty with Israel in March of that year. Egypt’s defection from the Arab military coalition in the mid-1970s also brought about also a general decline in the use of major force. After 1982, there were no large-scale wars between Israel and its neighboring states. During the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq launched missile attacks against Israel, but the Israelis did not respond.

As the inter-state dimension of the Arab-Israeli conflict declined, and with the Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza living under Israeli rule, the ethnic dimensions now took center stage. Immediately after 1967, Israel tried to pursue a Palestinian option by entering into dialogue with the leadership of the Palestinian Arabs. For various reasons, the Palestinian leaders refused to take responsibility for trying to reach a deal with Israel. Significantly, they were Jordanian citizens and the Hashemites continued to exert influence in the West Bank. Subsequently, Israel adopted a “Jordanian orientation,” which attempted to reach a new partition with the Hashemite Kingdom that shared a common enemy – the Palestinian national movement.

Yet, the growing institutionalization of the Palestinian national movement gradually eroded the Jordanian claim to represent the Palestinians, as well as the credibility of the Israeli Jordanian orientation. This led to the “Palestinization” of the conflict, which meant that the Palestinians became now a political issue with a higher public profile and a growing political threat for Israel. Subsequently, the 2SS paradigm reemerged. The sources for this change were multifold.

First, there was a crystallization of Palestinian identity, resulting from the fact that the Palestinians were no longer under Arab rule, but under the governance of Jews, a people religiously and ethnically different. During this period, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) received international recognition. In 1974, the PLO was recognized at the Cairo Arab Summit as the “sole” representative of the Palestinians and was also awarded UN observer status. Moreover, the Camp David Accords of 1978 between Israel and Egypt recognized the Palestinians’ “legitimate rights,” and suggested self-rule (autonomy) for the Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza, linking the two areas into a single political unit, despite their spatial and cultural separation. The autonomy offered to the Palestinians by the Likud-led government was intended to prevent a Palestinian state; but it was seen in most quarters (even in Israel) as leading to an embryonic Palestinian entity. Indeed, the two-state paradigm gained currency as the international community started viewing the PLO as a liberation movement entitled to establish a state. However, the Palestinians rejected autonomy, still opposing the existence of a Jewish state. In retrospect, this constituted a grave political error, since the territories contained only 20,000 Jewish settlers at that time.

Second, the Palestinians’ struggle gained further international support after the outbreak of the Intifada, the Palestinian uprising in the Israeli-governed territories, in December 1987. The Intifada helped solidify the perception that the Palestinians were under occupation – an increasingly unpopular political arrangement. It also signaled that the Arab-Israeli conflict was no longer a large-scale military conflict, but rather a “low-intensity” conflict, in which the arsenals of states are of less utility.

Third, the Intifada brought a new leadership to the Palestinian national movement – Palestinians who fought Israeli occupation inside the territories. Although nominally deferential to the PLO, the “insiders” believed that their intimate knowledge of the Israeli enemy placed them in a better position to formulate the Palestinian national strategy. They infused a greater sense of realism into the Palestinian national movement, in terms of understanding what could be achieved in a struggle against the strong Israeli state, and a certain sense of urgency in dealing with Palestinian problems. The influx of Israeli settlers into the territories after 1977 led to a realization that time was not necessarily on the Palestinian side. The “insiders” advocated accepting Israel’s 1967 lines and negotiating for a withdrawal from the occupied territories. They were instrumental in pushing the PLO away from its original platform, which denied Israel’s right to exist, into adopting a two-state formula. In November 1988, the PLO accepted the 1947 UN General Assembly Resolution 181 (UN partition plan). This new stand signaled that the Palestinian national movement could potentially become a partner for partition and peace with the Israelis.

Paralleling those developments on the Arab side, Israeli attitudes towards the Palestinians changed, reflecting a greater appreciation of Palestinian political aspirations, as well as a greater willingness to accommodate them. Opposition in the Israeli political elite toward the establishment of a Palestinian state eroded and a “Palestinian Option” gradually supplanted the Jordanian option – a deal with Hashemite Kingdom. The Jordanian declaration of July 1988, relinquishing all claims to the West Bank, signaled official Jordanian reluctance to speak on behalf of the Palestinian issue, and further undermined the Israeli preference for a Jordanian partner.

More Israelis recognized the appeal of the Palestinian national movement under the leadership of the PLO. Eventually, Yitzhak Rabin, a supporter of the Jordanian option, was convinced that the PLO was ripe for a deal. The change in Rabin’s convictions led to the September 1993 Oslo Accord that seemingly conformed to his general outlook on dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.2 Signed on the White House lawn, the agreement embodied an incremental step-by-step approach, leaving the nature of the Palestinian entity and its borders to be decided at a second stage. In the meantime, overall security was left to Israel. In addition, Jerusalem was outside the area of Palestinian jurisdiction.

This agreement heralded the fourth stage of the conflict (1993-2000). For Rabin and most Israelis, the Oslo agreement amounted to the beginning of a process of separating from the Palestinians, a process that eventually would lead to a negotiated partition.

The new positions of the PLO seemed to resolve the perennial problem of finding a partner for pursuing partition. Rabin’s concept of tradeoff primarily involved exchanging territories for security, while the architects of the Oslo process, Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin, espoused ideas of peaceful interactions and integration in the region. Although Rabin was reluctant to commit Israel to accept a Palestinian state, the 2SS emerged again as a panacea, and attempts were made to implement this paradigm. Transforming the PLO from a liberation movement to an entity with a statist rationale was believed to have a stabilizing effect because states behave more rationally that sub-state organizations. They are susceptible to domestic and international pressures that have a moderating effect on their behavior. Egypt, an Arab state, made peace with Israel. Noteworthy, the interstate dimension of the Arab-Israeli conflict was further diluted after the 1994 peace treaty with Jordan, with whom Israel shared the longest border.

Although dominated by “outsiders,” the 1994 established Palestinian Authority (PA), was supposed to take over the territories that the Israeli military evacuated. The function of the new proto-state was to fulfill the national aspirations of the Palestinians, to provide law and order, and to prevent terrorism against Israel. To these ends, the PA was allowed to have a strong police force. Indeed, many of the Palestinian military units deployed in Arab countries were allowed to enter the PA, which received arms from Israel. Finally, the PA was expected to negotiate a permanent settlement with Israel, bringing about a historical compromise between the two national movements.

This envisioned peace process was fraught with problems, however. The final attempt to salvage the process was made at the Camp David Summit in July 2000. At the prodding of President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat unprecedented territorial concessions, including the partition of Jerusalem, and agreed to the establishment of a Palestinian state. However, Israel’s proposals were rejected, followed in September by a campaign of Palestinian terror.

The second Intifada marked the beginning of the fifth stage of the conflict. This stage is characterized by several conflicting trends. On one hand, a pattern of frequent violence in the low-intensity conflict between Israel and the Palestinians emerged. The structure of Palestinian violence gradually became more decentralized as additional organizations participated in the terror campaign against Israel. Israel’s initial limited response was replaced in 2002 by an all-out military effort to put an end to the terrorist campaign by reconquering the West Bank. This offensive restored Israel’s military and, no less important, intelligence control over the West Bank, gradually lowering considerably the level of terror against Jewish targets.

On the other hand, the Israeli governments and the PA, supported by the “international community” continued to adhere formally to the two-state paradigm. This international consensus was buttressed in October 2001, when for the first time a U.S. President (George W. Bush) called for the creation of a democratic Palestinian state. In March 2002, the United States pushed through UN Security Council Resolution 1397 (the first since the original 1947 partition plan), which explicitly called for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The Israeli government, under Ariel Sharon, even withdrew unilaterally from Gaza in 2005 (removing also the Israeli settlers), signaling Israeli willingness to part from territories and desire for separation from the Palestinians.

In tandem, the ruling party in the PA, Fatah, was discredited due to corruption and poor governance, creating a fertile ground for the growing appeal of the radical Islamist Hamas – an organization adamantly opposed to the existence of the Jewish state. The ascendance of Hamas in Palestinian politics undermines, of course, the perennial search for a suitable peace partner. Nonetheless, Hamas succeeded in filling the vacuum left by an inept PA. It developed a system of services for the population and projected an image of an honest leadership dedicated to the people’s needs. Indeed, Hamas won the January 2006 Palestinian elections, and in June 2007 took over Gaza by force, following a political crisis in the PA. The fragmentation of the fledgling Palestinian entity into two political units created an additional obstacle the search for peace and heralded a new stage in the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

The sixth stage, beginning in 2007 and continuing to this day, still displays attempts “to solve” the conflict, but there is growing awareness to the difficulties involved reaching a comprehensive agreement. In November 2007, the U.S. restarted Israeli-Palestinian negotiations over the core issues of dispute (the Annapolis process) hoping to reach a comprehensive treaty to be implemented at an appropriate time in the future (“a shelf agreement”). This diplomatic effort led nowhere.

In 2007, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also put on the table an offer more generous than Barak’s in 2000. Under the proposal, Israel would transfer to the Palestinians 93 percent of the West Bank (plus the entire Gaza Strip). In exchange for West Bank land that Israel would keep. Olmert proposed a 5.5 percent land swap giving the Palestinians territory adjacent to the Gaza Strip. Olmert presented Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president, with the proposal as part of an agreement in principle on borders, refugees and security arrangements between Israel and a future Palestinian state. Abbas, like his predecessor Yasser Arafat, rejected the Israeli concessions and the opportunity to establish a Palestinian state.

President Barack Obama (2009-17), believing in the two-state solution, also invested time and effort in bringing the two sides to negotiate a comprehensive deal. In November 2009, he extracted from Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu an unprecedent concession – an eleven-months freeze in settlement activity – in order to restart peace talks. The negotiations, beginning in July of 2013 and ending nine months later, didn’t produce a peace deal. Toward the end of the negotiations the US decided to present a comprehensive framework toward an agreement on all issues of dispute, including a Palestinian state. While Netanyahu agreed to negotiate the unpalatable American plan, Abbas returned no answer. His behavior only confirmed the rejectionist Palestinian pattern.

The current US President, Donald Trump, also has decided to get involved in peace-making between Israel and the Palestinians. He has promised a “Deal of the Century,” and sent his emissaries to the Middle East to gauge the situation and a come up with new peace plan. It seems that Trump wants an Arab state umbrella for his plan. While Netanyahu has welcomed the American emissaries, the Palestinians – who were upset by Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and by Trump’s cut in funds to the PA and to UNRWA – have stopped talking to the Trump administration. Abbas has even deviated from acceptable diplomatic discourse, repeatedly cursing the American president in the most vulgar way.

At the time of this writing, the contours of “the Deal of the Century” are not public. Yet considering the record of continuous Palestinian rejectionist behavior, any proposal based on the two-state paradigm hardly seems practical.

The Failure of the Two-State Paradigm

As the history detailed above indicates, the 2SS paradigm is based on two main assumptions that have failed to materialize. The first assumption was that an historic compromise between the Palestinian national movement and the Zionist national movement was within reach (and that a Palestinian state would live peacefully next to Israel). The second assumption was that given the opportunity to build a state, the Palestinian national movement would readily act to accomplish this goal. Both assumptions appear divorced from current political reality.

The protagonists’ attitudes on the core issues of Jerusalem, refugees and borders are too far apart and bridging the differences appears impossible. It is not clear that the Israeli government would have survived an attempt to implement the “Clinton Parameters” of 2000 that went beyond Barak’s incredible concessions. What might have been possible then, however, is no longer an option in Israeli politics. Israel’s positions have hardened after the outbreak of the Second Intifada; threat perception increased leading to a noticeable decline in Israeli support for concessions to the Palestinians. After 2000, a majority of Israelis stopped believing that the PA could deliver peace. More than two thirds of the Jews in Israel oppose relinquishing sovereignty over the Temple Mount, the holiest place to the Jews. Over 60 percent of Jews do not believe that concessions in Jerusalem will end Palestinian terrorism or additional Palestinian claims. At such levels of threat perception, partition of urban zones, especially a highly-contentious capital, is unlikely to breed stability.

Ehud Barak, Israel’s Prime Minister that went to great lengths to accommodate Palestinian demands at the 2000 Camp David Summit, coined the term “no partner” for describing Palestinian intransigence. Most Israelis believed this and doubted negotiations could bridge the gap. Therefore, in the absence of a perceived peace partner, unilateralism has become the preferred option. That is why the building of the security barrier and the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 were popular. The promise for additional unilateral withdrawals was the key to the electoral success of the newly-established Kadima party in 2006.

Unilateralism expresses disenchantment with the peace process and a sober realization that there is no Palestinian partner ready for a historical compromise with the Zionist movement, even at the cost of painful Israeli concessions. Because its association with the two-state paradigm, the Israeli left has been largely discredited and the long rule of the conservative Likud party been enabled.

The Palestinians have not mellowed enough to enable a compromise. Actually, the Palestinian body politic has become more hostile to Israel, as the entrenchment of Hamas in Gaza and its growing popularity in the West Bank indicate. It is almost inconceivable that the Palestinians, backed by the Muslim world, could ever grant the Jews the right to control what is for the Muslims the Haram al Sharif, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. For years, the Palestinians have engaged in an intensive campaign to deny historic Jewish links to the Temple Mount. Similarly, the PA still seems committed to demand the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees into Israel, an issue of extreme importance in the Palestinian ethos, however, a taboo even for very dovish Israelis.

It is unrealistic to expect that “creative diplomacy” can overcome territorial disagreements. Moreover, despite the fact that Israel’s political system has demonstrated its capability to remove settlements from the Sinai, from Gaza and the West Bank, it is similarly unrealistic to expect Israel to return to the 1967 borders that will thereby transfer hundreds of thousands of Jews from Judea and Samaria.

One possibility is for Israel to compensate the PA with territory in the Negev (adjacent to Gaza) for parts of the West Bank that it would annex (the “settlement blocs”). The future of the Jordan rift (about 15 percent of the West Bank that is sparsely populated by Arabs), which is vital to Israel’s security, is also in dispute. Finally, a return to the 1967 borders will give the Palestinians only 22 percent of what they consider their homeland, begging the question whether such a compromise will be acceptable to the Palestinian national movement or simply plant the seeds for the emergence of a revisionist entity.

Would the Palestinians be able to prevent their territory from continuing to serve as a terrorist base and/or a Qassam launching-pad?3 Events in Gaza seem to provide a negative answer to the question, an assessment supported by the fact that close to 80 percent of Palestinians believe that even after the establishment of a Palestinian state, reconciliation is impossible in this generation.4

Again, as Gaza illustrates, partition will not necessarily produce a Palestinian state living peacefully next to Israel. The proposition that statehood inevitably produces responsible behavior is doubtful considering the number of leaders who have led their states into abyss. Palestinian political culture displays extremism, i.e. adhering tenaciously to the ethos of “the right of return” for the refugees. The current Palestinian education system and official media incite against Jews, who are blamed for all Palestinian misfortunes. Any survey of the Palestinian educational system does not indicate great willingness for compromise. Moreover, after 2000, the role model for young Palestinians is the shaheed (martyr) that explodes himself in the midst of Jews. The Palestinians’ level of support for acts of violence against Israeli targets is staggering.

Alas, at this historic juncture, Palestinian society, under the spell of a nationalist and Islamic ethos, is unable to do what is necessary to end the conflict: a historic compromise with the Zionist movement. Palestinian rejectionism has won the day whenever a concrete partition was on the agenda; the 2000 Camp David proposal and Olmert’s 2007 offer being the most famous examples. It is unlikely that the “Deal of the Century” will constitute a better offer.

The tragedy is that with the progression of history, Israel has less territory to offer to the Palestinians, thereby only increasing their bitterness and despair. The hope that history can be rolled back is an illusion. All this will turn a Palestinian entity into an irredentist polity, dissatisfied with its borders and intent on using force to achieve the establishment of a Palestinian state that includes the current state of Israel.

Indeed, the essence of the two-state paradigm – one state for the Jews and one state for the Palestinians – has not been internalized by the PA leadership. Noteworthy, part of the “insiders” reneged on partition, especially after the outbreak of the terror campaign against Israel in September 2000, further eroding support among the Palestinians for coexistence with the Jewish state. Even the “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas rejects the notion that Israel should be a Jewish state. He categorically objected to including any references to Israel as a Jewish state in the concluding statement of the Annapolis Summit in November 2007.5

Finally, the greater political role of Hamas that views the mere existence of Israel as a religious sacrilege undermines the slim chances for reaching a compromise. From Gaza, Hamas has launched thousands of missiles into Israel. The continuous attacks on Israel from Hamas-ruled Gaza seem to indicate that the “end of occupation” and the “removal of settlements” are not sufficient conditions for putting an end to the conflict. As the Gaza affair makes clear, Hamas’ growing influence hardens Palestinian positions against Israel, making an agreement more difficult, if not impossible to reach. There is little reason to believe that empowering radical Islamists will lead to moderation. This pushes the Palestinians further away from a compromise.

The evidence begs the following questions. How much do the Palestinians want a state? Is the continuation of conflict with the goal of destroying the Jewish State a higher priority?

The continuation of conflict is most likely. Most significantly, the two feuding societies still have energy to continue fighting and most importantly to bear pain in order to attain political goals. Nationalism inspires people to endure pain and hardship in the course of national wars. Similarly, religion, religious extremism in particular, is a potent political force. Religious motivated organizations, such as Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad, claim that since the omnipotent God supports their struggle, victory is assured even if occasional setbacks are experienced. Such long-term perspective breeds patience and reinforces willingness to engage in protracted conflict.

Often, societal exhaustion brings an end to protracted ethnic conflict rather than an opportunity for an optimal compromise. If pain is the most influential factor on the learning curve of societies, it seems that Israelis and Palestinians have not suffered enough to reach a compromise. Both societies are ready to continue to fight and absorb losses.

The second problematic assumption of the two-state paradigm is that given the chance to build a state, the Palestinian national movement will be successful in such an endeavor. Unfortunately, state building has not happened. Not every ethnic group has state building capabilities. Given the opportunity for self-rule, Yasser Arafat and the PLO established a corrupt, inefficient, lawless and authoritarian political system. Arafat’s PA was a Byzantine system in which he ruled by divide-and-rule tactics. By allowing competition between leaders, agencies, and even militias, he made himself the ultimate arbiter and dispenser of jobs and remuneration. This decentralized system eventually degenerated into chaos and disorder (fawdah).

The system’s main failure lay in the area most critical to state-building – monopoly over the use of force. The plethora of armed militias defied central authority and preserved a fractured Palestinian community. After the outbreak of the Second Intifada, the political order collapsed, transforming the PA into a “failed state.” This category of states is characterized by absence of monopoly over the use of force; delivery of only partial justice; inability to sustain a legal and regulatory climate conducive to private enterprise, open trade and foreign investment; and difficulty in meeting the basic needs of the population in terms of health, education and other social services.

Mahmoud Abbas, elected in January 2005 to head the PA, could not transcend Arafat’s political legacy. A man with far less political standing among the Palestinians than his predecessor, Abbas shied away from confronting the armed gangs and failed in centralizing the security services.

The PA was further weakened and fractured by the ascendance of Hamas in Palestinian politics. As events in Gaza illustrate, the growing strength of Hamas makes it unlikely that it will dismantle its armed wing, which in turn, renders the PA’s quest for monopoly over the use of force in the Palestinians areas a more distant goal. Finally, the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June 2007 was the culmination of the PA’s fragmentation. Noteworthy, even Hama has failed to acquire monopoly over the use of force in Gaza, allowing the existence of armed organizations and clans.

The intermittent “national unity” negotiations between Hamas and the PA are unlikely to result in the establishment of PA control over Gaza. Actually, it is the IDF’s forays into the West Bank which prevent Hamas from taking over cities there as well. The emergence of Gaza as a separate political entity is a fait accompli, which further undermines the two-state paradigm. Moreover, the radical Islamist dimension of Hamas and the emergence of Pan-Islamic groups in Gaza are weakening Palestinian nationalism. Such Islamic movements advocate the emergence of an all-embracing Pan-Islamic political structure, rather than a particular national identity. Indeed, a poll conducted by a UN agency in March 2009, showed that 47 percent of Palestinian youth identify themselves as Muslim rather than Palestinian.6 Secular Palestinian nationalism is in decline, as is the case with secular nationalism in other parts of the region, as well.

The Salam Fayyad episode is instructive in understanding the dysfunctional Palestinian political culture. Fayyad, an able Palestinian economist who worked for the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, was appointed by Yasser Arafat in 2002 to serve as Minister of Finance in the PA. His mission was to build a professional bureaucracy and put an end to the financial disorder. He resigned in November 2005 to run as the leader of the new Third Way party in the legislative elections of 2006. Despite Fayyad’s good performance in the Finance Ministry, the party won only 2.41% of the popular vote, indicative of the popularity of his reforms. Fayyad, who was well appreciated in the West and in Israel, was again appointed Finance Minister in March 2007 by Abbas, and three month later he became Prime Minister, a position he held until April 2013. Then he resigned because of political differences between him and Abbas over economic policy. Fayyad was the best thing that could have happened to the PA – he was a state builder. Yet, he was unpopular among the Palestinians and eventually he had to go.

The understanding that the PA is not a functioning political entity has gradually penetrated the consciousness of the international community. For example, the Foreign Minister of Turkey, Ali Babacan, attending a 2008 donors’ meeting for Palestine in Berlin, identified the main challenge of the PA: “Having their own security forces and legal institutions is very important for the future of the Palestinians.”7 The international media, for the most part pro-Palestinian, is also increasingly questioning the feasibility of the two-state formula. This includes the prestigious London Times and New York Times.8 Even the international diplomatic discourse around the Annapolis negotiations acknowledged the inability of the PA to serve as a peace partner for Israel, by advocating negotiations for a draft peace treaty to be put on the “shelf.” This was a tacit admission that the PA is unable to implement any accord and more time is needed for the PA to develop the capability for playing such a role.

Indeed, well-wishers of the Palestinian cause have also grasped the Palestinian deficiencies in state-building. To remedy this situation, some have suggested an international trusteeship to groom the Palestinians into shape for statehood. For example, Martin Indyk, a former American diplomat involved in peace making, proposed the transfer of governmental responsibility in the West Bank and Gaza to a US-led alliance and the introduction of American and/or international forces to keep the peace.9

In light of what has happened in the Arab world since the “Arab Spring,” the failure of the Palestinian national movement to establish a state should not be a surprise. Libya, Syria and Yemen have disintegrated. Somalia, Lebanon, Iraq and even Egypt are beleaguered by militias. Contemporary Arab political culture seems to have great difficulties in sustaining statist structures.

Policy Options

What can be done about the weak PA and the ascendance of Hamas? Much of the international community currently still subscribes to the two-state paradigm, assuming that such a political arrangement is a recipe for peace and stability. It believes that state-building is needed and that it can be successful. The Trump administration seems to agree with this prognosis, assuming that enough “carrots” will change Palestinian behavior. This option will be critically examined. A second theoretical option for the future is formation of a binational state. A third option is a “regional arrangement” whereby Egypt and Jordan share the burden of dealing with the Palestinian issue. Finally, in the absence of an immediate solution, there is the so-called conflict management strategy. This strategy aims at minimizing the cost of protracted conflict and at buying time for the development of more attractive alternatives in the future. Below, each of the options is examined.

Building a Palestinian State

The literature on the “failed state” phenomenon displays a clear tendency to prescribe an increase in efforts toward state-building and strengthening governability as the preferred means of dealing with the problem. The US took responsibility for training the Palestinian military with mixed results. Other branches of government are beneficiaries of foreign guidance and assistance. Overall, the international efforts to restore Palestinian political order have failed to produce the desired result.

Moreover, Hamas ascendance has further strengthened the centrifugal trends in Palestinian politics. Transition to statehood requires monopoly over the use of force, which cannot be achieved until a civil war or a military showdown resolve the issue. The U.S.-trained Palestinian security units succumbed to the Hamas offensive in Gaza, and when deployed in the West Bank they have refrained from disarming civilians. The Palestinian leader Abbas is weak and lacks legitimacy. He was hardly in a position to play the role of agent for change. Nowadays, he is old and sick, and a succession struggle is on. In the absence of any constitutional mechanism for replacement, the future leader of the PA will be decided by use of force. Further fragmentation of the PA is also a possibility.

The attempt to help the Palestinian economy alleviate the state-building enterprise has been problematic. It is doubtful whether the corrupt Palestinian system can produce widespread economic benefits. Massive foreign aid rendered in the previous decade – per capita one of the highest in the world – has failed to filter down to the masses. Corruption has always been a recognized aspect of development aid. Moreover, the problematic state of law and order is inimical to the creation of a climate that encourages economic activity and growth and is likely to hinder the efforts of the international community to deliver aid to the Palestinians. Often, the goodwill and the good intentions that motivated international aid ignore state capacity. Outside economic aid is “only as good as the ability of a recipient’s economy and government to use it prudently and productively.”10 Furthermore, the rates of economic growth needed to match the fertility rate of the Palestinians are clearly improbable, and actually doom the Palestinians to greater poverty in the near future. Finally, there is no evidence that a rise in the standard of living among the Palestinian Arabs leads to peaceful negotiations. The campaign of terror of year 2000 started after several consecutive years of economic growth and increase in standard of living.

An international trusteeship is also not a promising device for state-building. It is not clear whether the Americans are prepared for an involvement of this kind. Isolationist instincts have become more widespread among Americans, including the White House. Seemingly, the United States will first try to complete their missions in Afghanistan and Syria. Washington’s priorities prior to dealing with Palestinian terror apparently require focusing attention on Iran, a state with nuclear potential and far-reaching consequences for international security. The current American administration does not share the assumption that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is of the utmost urgency for reducing tensions in the Middle East.

Even if it were possible to lure the Americans and/or Europeans into assuming responsibility for ruling the Palestinians, their chances of success would be minimal. An historical survey of the last few decades on the use of foreign forces for peacemaking – as opposed to peacekeeping – is not encouraging. Peacekeeping forces are put in place after an agreement between two sides, generally following exhaustion (Bosnia) or the defeat of one side (the Serbs in Kosovo). Moreover, the relative success in former Yugoslavia and East Timor came after large waves of ethnic cleansing that led to reduced friction between the rival populations.

In the case at hand, the Palestinians, especially the extremists, still have considerable energy. The proposed foreign forces are to come in place of a bilateral agreement. In addition, peacekeeping forces placed in the Arab-Israeli arena routinely have failed to accomplish their goals in the past, e.g. UN forces on the Egyptian border did not fulfill their role in 1967. Ignoring Israel’s concerns, they were evacuated upon Egyptian demand. UNIFIL forces in south Lebanon have also been unsuccessful in providing an efficient buffer. At times they even cooperated with Israel’s enemies.

Nor has the American attempt at peacemaking been promising. Willingness to suffer losses in cases not defined as vital to U.S. security is extremely low. The United States retreated from Lebanon in 1982 and from Somalia in 1992 due to local resistance. The short military involvement of the United States in Haiti in 1994 did not achieve its goal. The U.S. takeover of Afghanistan did not totally eradicate terror centers, nor achieve stability. Similarly, the American experience in Iraq is not encouraging. In general, American imperial capability and determination to bring order to various parts of the world, especially hostile Muslim regions, is still in question.

In any case, the expectations that the Palestinians will build a modern state in the near future, even with Western assistance, are naïve. It took centuries to build nation states in Europe. With the exception of Egypt, an historical entity possessing a level of political coherence, attempts at state-building in the Middle East have met only partial success. Lebanon, Iraq and Somalia are all examples of political entities grappling with the problem of establishing central authority and with modernity.

A Binational State

There is a school of thought that denies the wisdom of partitions. A variety of political schemes have been offered to stabilize multiethnic states such as “consociationalism,” autonomy, or federalism, power sharing arrangements that have not been effective in the face of enduring ethnic rivalries. Despite the past adherence of the Palestinian national movement to a one state solution (“a secular democratic state in Palestine”), and occasional Palestinian threats to revert to this preference, nowadays in Palestine, the two national movements seem intent on creating their own separate political structure. It is difficult to imagine the two cooperate within a unitary state. Absent a modicum of trust and a desire to share a common fate, centrifugal forces might prove too powerful to forestall recurrent political crises and an eventual breakup. The international community is also not inclined to prefer such an arrangement or to impose it.

Yet, accordingly to some dovish circles, the binational state would inevitably arise as a result of continuing the status quo because of demographic trends. Taking into consideration the greater birthrates of Arabs, Jews will be a minority in the area west of the Jordan River. Moreover, the presence of many settlements, coupled with the political power of the settlers, creates a situation where partition is no longer possible. It is argued that these trends would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state and a de facto transformation into a binational state. Such fears explain the sense of urgency and the territorial largesse displayed by these dovish circles in Israel.

Such a view exaggerates the weight of demographic trends. There are less Palestinians in the West Bank than generally believed and their birthrate is decreasing. More importantly, such an outlook underestimates the capability and determination of the Israeli political system to preserve the Jewish and democratic character of the state by disengaging from areas heavily populated by Arabs, and dismantling settlements there. In 1981, Israel removed its settlements in Sinai; in 2005, Israel dismantled all its settlements from Gaza and several from the West Bank. As noted, unilateral withdrawals have had appeal among Israelis and removal of additional isolated settlements is not a far-fetched scenario. Moreover, Israel has built a security barrier that mostly follows the 1967 borders (it encompasses the settlement blocs) signaling the contours of the future line of separation from the Palestinians. In addition, there is no reason why Jewish settlements cannot be tolerated as a minority within a Palestinian state. Despite the existence of settlements in Judea and Samaria, separation remains an option in case Israel faces a real threat of one-state solution.

The Regional Approach

The difficulties in implementing the two-state paradigm have led to Israeli rethinking of the Palestinian issue. Since the Palestinians seem incapable of self-rule and the Israelis do not want to take on this role, who is a responsible actor that suits the job? Based on the colonial record of the United Kingdom and France in the Middle East, an international trusteeship is a problematic proposition. History shows that only Arabs can rule over Arabs by Arab methods. Egypt and Jordan appear candidates for playing a greater role in Palestinian affairs. These states have signed peace treaties with Israel and behave more responsibly than the PA leadership. Moreover, they were relatively successful before 1967 in containing the Palestinian national movement and ruling over the Palestinian Arabs. Additionally, more Israelis tend to identify Egypt and Jordan as the future partners for the partition of Palestine. Currently, both states prefer keeping their distance.

Despite their misgivings, the Egyptians are slowly concluding that they cannot disengage from the Gaza Strip and that containing the radical Islamist regime is in their interest. A “Hamastan” in Gaza threatens domestic stability as it encourages the Muslim Brothers opposition. Egyptian influence was felt in the Strip following Israel’s unilateral withdrawal (August 2005) and increased after the June 2007 Hamas takeover. In January 2008, Hamas orchestrated a mass breeching of the Egyptian border – an ominous signal to the Egyptian leadership. Furthermore, Egypt played a major role in mediating an end to the Israeli incursion in to Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009. Its leverage continues to be exercised to prevent dangerous escalations in the Gaza-Israel violent exchanges.

Reluctantly, Cairo sees its return to the Gaza Strip, albeit indirectly for the time being, as a lesser evil than the emergence of a strong Hamas-led entity there. Egypt is already supplying some electricity and the Rafah crossing between the Strip and Egypt serves as occasionally a safety valve for the Gazans. In the summer of 2008, Cairo has offered to send troops to Gaza as part of an Arab security force with the framework of a larger plan to stabilize the PA. While Hamas opposes Egyptian interference, the PA leadership is willing to consider an Egyptian role. The increasing awareness in Cairo that Gaza under Hamas has become an Iranian proxy will propel Egypt into Gazan affairs. Indeed, Egypt cooperates with Israel in convincing the Hamas leadership to refrain from shooting at Israel. A greater Egyptian involvement in Gaza is likely to secure political support from the moderate Arab states that view with trepidation the ascendance of fundamentalist Iran in regional affairs. Yet, the limited Egyptian involvement in Gaza is unlikely to grow into assuming responsibility for Gaza.

The Jordanians may also decide that a revisionist Palestinian identity nourished in the West Bank is too threatening to their state to be left unattended, owing to their own demographic predicament of a high proportion of Jordanian Palestinians. Deploying Katyushas or Qassams in the West Bank with a range reaching Jordan is a sobering possibility for the Jordanians, leading to a change in attitude. Many Palestinians are ready for a Jordanian role. After all, Jordan looks a far better governed place than the PA. The idea of stationing Jordanian-led Palestinian forces (the Badr Brigade) in the West Bank is being aired once in a while. Resuscitating the idea of a Jordanian-West Bank federation, with the Hashemites at the helm, is not without appeal among Palestinians thirsty for calm and stability. The Jordanians can fill a vacuum within the framework of an Israeli removal of settlements from portions of the West Bank.

One result of the great disappointment by many Palestinians with their national movement could facilitate a transition from a two-state paradigm to an Egyptian-Jordanian regional approach. Clearly many Palestinians are frustrated and disappointed with the performance their political institutions. Some Palestinians suggest dissolving the PA, and many Palestinians believe their “society is heading in the wrong direction.” Moreover, Palestinian national identity is relatively young and fluid, and the acceptance of a different national identity is possible. History provides many examples of changed group identities.

Redirecting Gaza toward Egypt and re-linking the West Bank to Jordan seems to be a more effective way to deal with Palestinian nationalism than granting it statehood. This might be attractive to the Palestinians, but less so to Egypt and Jordan. Why should they burden their states with unruly Palestinians, who are partly radical Muslims?

It might be easier for Jordan and Egypt to become more involved under the cover of diplomacy. Their involvement could be legitimized by claiming they will play an interim role until the Palestinians are ready for self governance. Such a regional approach does not necessarily offer a neat solution that will put an end to all violence. It would not eliminate ambiguity about sovereignty and borders. However, involving responsible states such as Jordan and Egypt, is at least a realistic attempt to deal with what otherwise remains an unrealizable political dream.

Such a radical departure from international conventional wisdom would require an American change of policy. Despite its Middle East setbacks, the United States remains a world power with interests in the region. It shares the goal of limiting regional and international repercussion of the conflict. Moreover, it is the world power best-suited to dispense incentives for responsible behavior, inducing Egypt and Jordan to play a more positive role in Palestinian affairs. Will US diplomatic pressure and massive economic aid change the Egyptian and Jordanian reluctance to assume greater responsibility in the Palestinian arena? The tentative answer to the question posed is negative.

Conflict Management

Conflict management constitutes a fourth option for dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. Unfortunately, not every protracted conflict has an immediately available solution. Similarly, the Israel-Palestinian dispute is not ripe for resolution in the foreseeable future. In the absence of a negotiated agreement, the appropriate strategy for dealing with the Palestinian issue is “conflict management.” The objective of such a strategy is to minimize the cost of armed conflict and preserve freedom of political maneuvering. In operational terms, the goals are to contain terrorism, limit suffering to Israeli and Palestinian societies and prevent escalation. The lack of a clear end-goal is not inspiring; yet, conflict management may be the best way to deal with a complex situation.

While Prime Minister Netanyahu has formally adhered to the two-state formula (with caveats), his government has moved in practice to a conflict management strategy. The goal is to buy time, hoping that the future may bring about better alternatives. At some point in the future we may see the emergence of a more mature and pragmatic Palestinian leadership, or other political developments conducive to conflict resolution.

Conflict management strategy requires a set of well-integrated military and diplomatic measures – to deal with the Palestinians, with the home front and with the international arena. The strategy continues Israel’s military control of the West Bank, which is necessary for keeping Israel safe. The first measure is smart Israeli use of force that distinguishes between terrorists that deserve to die and by-standers who prefer not be embroiled in violent acts. While Israel should show restraint in its use of force, it must keep its deterrent power, which requires occasional display of determination to employ effectively military measures. Obviously, such calibrated use of force is not easy to achieve.

The use of force (“sticks”) toward the Palestinians must be complemented by “carrots.” Israel has no interest in hungry neighbors, and therefore encourages international efforts to support the Palestinian economy. Yet, foreign aid to the Palestinians should be discriminate and focused. Help from organizations that engage in BDS activities or support terrorist infrastructures should be prevented. Similarly, opportunities for corruption are to be minimized. It should be noted that foreign aid to the PA increases its purchasing power of Israeli products.

There is little to expect from the PA. The limited security cooperation with the PA focuses on hunting Hamas activists that try to undermine the PA. Israel and the PA share an interest in preventing a Hamas takeover of the West Bank. Actually, most of the arrests (about 2/3) are by the IDF and to a great extent, Abbas is sitting on Israeli bayonets. Israel has demanded changes in the PA media and education system in order to reduce the hatred propagated hatred toward Jews. While the PA has resisted compliance, Israel should continue to insist on altering the Palestinian messages to the people in order to facilitate the possibility for peaceful coexistence in the next generation.

Restraint in Israel’s settlement policy is needed to keep the separation option alive. Most Israelis are in principle ready for territorial concessions (with the exception of Jerusalem, the settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley) and would like to see some form of partition of the Land of Israel in a viable future scenario. Keeping settlement policy in line with the preferences of the large majority of the Israeli public guarantees social cohesion – a critical element in the ability of the Israeli society to withstand protracted conflict.

Selective building in Judea and Samaria will also keep criticism muted in friendly circles abroad, particularly in the US. Under duress, Israel could consider dismantling some isolated settlements, which could contribute to minimizing friction between Jews and Palestinians Arabs.

Strategic coordination with Washington is extremely important. The US must understand what Israel is doing even if there is not agreement over its policy.

The US may be ripe for a change of paradigm after the “Deal of the Century” goes by the wayside, as have many previous peace plans.  The US and the rest of the international community may come to realize that minimal action is often a virtue. Governments are blunt instruments and should limit their activities in the international arena to prevention of humanitarian disasters. As long as each side in enduring conflicts inflicts tolerable pain, any given dispute will not end.

Israel needs to invest time and effort in changing the prevalent prism toward the conflict in Washington. The Trump administration, which is looking at garnering support from Arab states for new formulations, might be open to a paradigmatic change. Unfortunately, much of American Jewry cannot be mobilized for such a task. Israel should try to find agents for change among other allies within the American political system. Only after Washington is receptive to the need for a new paradigm, an aggressive campaign of public diplomacy can be launched towards other parts of the world.

In the meantime, conflict management strategy is tenable. Most Israelis instinctively support a conflict management strategy. Domestically, there is great consensus over the inescapable conclusion that there is no real Palestinian peace partner. Israel’s limited military presence in the West Bank is widely seen as a security imperative intended to prevent terrorism, and the use of force in this context is viewed as legitimate.

At the international level, urgency to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has dissipated somewhat, allowing for a more relaxed search for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. A more muscular Russian foreign policy under Putin, the more intense competition between China and the US, economic and political troubles within the EU, and refugee waves to Europe – are among the factors which have moved the Palestinian issue to a lower priority on the international agenda.

Similarly, Middle Eastern developments have detracted attention from the Palestinian issue. In the aftermath of the “Arab Spring” it has become clear that the Middle East is in deep socio-political crisis with little connection to what is happening in the Holy Land. Moreover, Arab states that have been champions of the Palestinian cause are seriously busy with other issues, domestic and international. The foremost issue on the agenda of most Arab states is the Iranian threat; a threat that brings them closer to Israel. This trend is reinforced by the fears generated by the withdrawal of the US from the Middle East (in this regard, Trump is not too different from Obama).

Egypt, Jordan and even other Arab states, while paying lip service to a search for a two-state solution, may cooperate with Israel in limiting the reverberations of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute because they face a rising Iran, Islamic radicalism and have an interest in isolating Hamas and in minimizing its influence.

The international and regional trends allow greater freedom of action to Israel in pursuing a conflict management strategy. Grim forecasts about Israel’s international “isolation” unless the Palestinian issue is resolved have not materialize. As a matter of fact, Israeli diplomacy has many successes, with Israel becoming a magnet because of what it has to offer. The Palestinian issue hardly plays a role in Israel’s bilateral relations with most countries of the world.

The conclusion seems to be that Israel has no choice but to wait for better days, and in the meantime not risk unilateral withdrawals or annexations. Conflict management strategy requires patience, moderation and flexibility, and is fraught with uncertainties. It is an open-end trial and error process tuned to the evolving regional and international dynamics; indeed a “muddling through” approach. But it is a rational approach, not a cowardly choice.

The future is always uncertain, but it seems that the time vector favors Israel. Israel has been a success story, and the power differential between Israel and its enemies seems to grow over time.11


It has become increasingly clear that a two-state settlement is in the Holy Land is unlikely. An historic compromise between the two national movements fighting for the same piece of land is not within reach. The Palestinian national movement is apparently incapable of establishing a stable, viable and non-violent state. Deficiencies in the PA are likely to continue for the foreseeable future, as well as the genocidal goals of Hamas. And there is little the international community and/or Israel can do about improving the lot of the Palestinians and/or changing their behavior. Only change from within can attenuate the negative effects of nationalism and Islamic radicalization among the Palestinians.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian national movement has heretofore produced poor leadership. The chances are low that Palestinian leaders capable of dealing successfully with modernization and state-building will soon emerge.

Only the gradual realization that the PA is a failure will allow the emergence of a new paradigm, ending the illusion of the two-state solution. Despite the failure of this paradigm to provide a suitable mechanism for solving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, it is still difficult to overcome the inertia of outdated thinking and to accept a new intellectual paradigm.

The contours of a better arrangement that would replace the PA are visible, although it may take some time for the international community to adopt a new partition plan – the “regional approach.” Egypt and Jordan are better partners for a renewed partition of Palestine, peopled by the Gazans, West Bankers and Israelis. For the time being, Egypt and Jordan are not ready to carry the burden.

In the meantime, conflict management is the best option to minimize the costs of the conflict and to buy time for the emergence of better political options. With no end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in sight, conflict management – a somewhat fuzzy strategy in need of constant reevaluation – is probably the only realistic way to do some good in the Israeli-Palestinian arena.


This paper is a significantly updated version of “The Rise and Demise of the Two State Paradigm,” Orbis, Vol. 53, No. 2 (Spring 2009), pp. 265-83.

[1] To this day, attachment to non-national identities such as families or village is strong, particularly in rural areas. In the 1940s, many nationalist Arabs in Palestine espoused the “Southern Syrian” political identity.

[2] For Rabin’s attitude toward the Oslo agreements, see Efraim Inbar, Yitzhak Rabin and Israel’s National Security (Washington: Wilson Center and Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), pp. 149-56.

[3] See Efraim Inbar and Shmuel Sandler, “The Risks of Palestinian Statehood,” Survival, Vol. 32, No. 2 (Summer 1997), pp. 23-41.

[4] PSR Poll No. 28, June 12, 2008,

[5] A briefing by PA President to the editorial staff of Al-Dustour (Amman), Al-Dustour, 6 March 2008; MEMRI, Special Dispatch, No. 1861, March 6, 2008.

[6] Press Release by United Nations Development Program, Program of Assistance to the Palestinian People, April 1, 2009,

[7] Turkiye, 25 June 2008,, Wednesday, June 25, 2008, 7:32 pm.

[8] “Violence in Gaza Calls into Question Plans for a Palestinian State,” London Times, March 4, 2008; Thomas L. Friedman, “Time for Radical Pragmatism,” New York Times, June 4, 2008.

[9] Martin Indyk, “A Trusteeship for Palestine,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 82, No. 3 (May/June 2003).

[10] Nancy Birdsall, Dani Rodrik, and Arvind Subramanian, “How to Help Poor Countries,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 84, No. 4 (July/August 2005), p. 143. For the World Bank aid policies and the persistence of poverty, see William Easterley, The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001).

[11] Efraim Inbar, “The Future of Israel Looks Good,” April 2018,


Published by The Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security: