In my last post on the topic of Israel/Palestine, I laid out a number of possible scenarios. It was not an exhaustive list. The purpose of this post is to suggest what I think will happen. But I need to make a disclaimer first. It is extremely hard to predict what will happen in this part of the world. While there are clear forces at work, there is also a lot of random events that can shape the future. Never the less, I am going to give it a try. I could also not deal with each and every issue.
There will be a Palestinian State…
I have recently written about a number of possible scenarios about how the Israeli/Palestine conflict might be resolved/evolved. Now I am going to write about what I think will actually happen.
First, I should say that the majority of Israeli’s believe that the current situation will continue for the next ten to twenty years. I do not. I believe that there will be a Palestinian State sometime in the next five years, maybe as soon as two years.
…but, no Peace Agreement
The Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority will never be able to reach an agreement. Both understand that the Peace Process will not result in anything. John Kerry was the only person that thought there would be an actual peace agreement and he has probably given up.
There is no agreement that would be acceptable to both sides. Maybe the two leaders could agree but they could never get the support from the other members of their cabinets. In the case of Abbas, he would probably be assassinated if he ever agreed to terms acceptable to Israel.
So, to get around the lack of an agreement, Palestine will try to apply for recognition at the UN. Only the USA can prevent this from happening and if they get a green light from Israel, they will no longer stand in the way. Abbas desperately wants to be the first Palestinian Head of State. He is old and does not have much time to accomplish this. Netanyahu understands that the time is now to have an independent Palestinian State which will allow him to focus Israel on Iran.
However, before the Palestinian Authority can really declare its Statehood and get it accepted, Israel will preempt this act by declaring its borders, which by default, will become the borders of Palestine. Here is where it gets really interesting.
Israel defines the borders
Israel, having had enough of the negotiations, defines the Two State Solution and implements it. They redraw the borders. Five or so major Israeli settlements are included as part of Israel. The rest of them are not and the Israeli government offers the residents of those Settlements financial compensation and provides new land in Israel proper to relocate those residents. In exchange for the land that Israel appropriates, land inside of Israel is made part of Palestine. This includes some major Arab cities now located on the Israeli side of the border. This includes such cities as Umm al-Fahm in the Galilee area. It has a population of 50,000. Right now the people who live there are Israeli Citizens and have all the benefits of that. While they basically consider themselves Palestinians, I would doubt that they would rejoice at becoming part of Palestine. Israel will offer to relocate them to other areas that will be in Israel proper and the ability to maintain Israeli Citizenship if they move. If they do not, they will lose their Israeli Citizenship. Israel will of course build a separation barrier around these newly incorporated Palestinian cities.
Jordan and Israel will set up a Military Zone in the Jordan Valley
The last thing Jordan wants is a border with Palestine that relies on Palestinian security. Don’t forget, the Palestinians already tried to overthrow the Hashemite King of Jordan. So Israel and Jordan will set up a military zone between the border of Palestine and Jordan. Jordan will say they are only participating because otherwise, it would be just the Israeli’s and this way they can help protect the interests of the Palestinians. Israel will still control the borders but will agree to turn that over to Palestinians in ten years provided that Palestine does an adequate job in preventing terrorist attacks in Israel.
Israel allows for the immigration of Palestinian refugees into Palestine. Israel will allow Palestinians who live in Gaza and are not known members of terrorist organization to move to the West Bank through Israel. But until the population of Gaza is reduced to less than 500,000, this will be a one way trip.
Israel will agree to any reasonable commercial relationship with Palestine for the supply of such things as energy and water. Palestinians will be given permits to work in Israel provided they are not considered security risks.
Effect on World Opinion
There will be a lot of outrage about some of Israel’s actions in defining the borders, but once Palestine has its own state and is no longer occupied, the world will slowly lose interest in the plight of the Palestinians.
What about the Palestinian Refugees?
Israel will agree to allow Palestinian refugees from Jordan, Syria and Lebanon to enter into Palestine but will limit the number per year and will ban certain people.
It will be hard to prevent terrorism from taking place, but to the extent the missiles are sent from Palestine into Israel, Israel will have the ability to take defensive actions under international law. Palestinians will have to decide if they want to have a modern and progressive country that seeks peace with its neighbor, Israel, or to become like Gaza, dysfunctional.
Is this stable and what will come after?
I do not believe that Palestine is economically viable as a stand alone state unless it can forge strong ties with Israel and with Jordan. In that case, it could become a fully functioning country. If, on the other hand, it becomes a terrorist state, Israel will probably have to reoccupy it once more.