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.
The absolute truth about Palestinians was said by Abba Eden: They have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Your plan good points is that it requires less cooperation from Palestinians than most other plans. It basically sounds like Israel would abandon land that would become a Palestinian state and if that state allowed terrorists to attack Israel, then Israel will have retaliatory raids. Isn’t that pretty much what we have today. What’s the difference? Maybe an airport, they already effectively have UN recognition which is totally useless. The Idea that Israel free of its Palestinian conflict could concentrate its efforts on Iran. I think the idea of a preemptive Israeli strike on Iran is a fantasy> Israel does not have and will never have the military capability of destroying Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Never Never Never. Anyone who talks about a successful Israeli Preemptive strike is complexity ignorant of Israeli military capabilities. Since Obama clearly will not do anything to stop Iran’s development of atomic weapons, then Israel will have to rely on the doctrine of Assured Retaliatory Destruction. This doctrine has less credibility for country that is 8 miles wide (or maybe 13 miles wide after your border adjustments) . They have no nuclear submarine fleet and keeping a large number of airplanes in the air at all times armed with atomic weapons in order to guarantee the assured destruction of Iran is very questionable. They can never have missiles that they trust to be reliable because they are too small to have a missile testing range. And they certainly not put all of there trust in this US Government or an) likely future US government.
Enjoyed your comments as always, Rich. But I don’t think you understand what I mean by Israel concentrating on Iran. The Israeli government/politicians needs an external enemy just like all governments in order to retain power. The Iranian leaders and Israeli leaders actually need each other in order to stay in power. In fact (and I know) there is a lot of communication between the two governments. And in this part of the world, the key focus is “how to get as much out of the americans”.
I do not think you are right about Israel’s ability to harm Iran. If Iran tried to fire rockets on Tel Aviv they would land in Tehran. There military computers systems have already been compromised. And then there are those videos of their leaders in compromising situations.
“The Israeli government/politicians needs an external enemy just like all governments in order to retain power” – excuse me? I think you forgot to add “totalitarian” to “all governments” there. And since Israel’s government is anything but totalitarian (free elections are held, after which governments regularly are changed, remember?), your assertion that Israeli government somehow amplifies the Iranian threat just to remain in power is somehow strange.
Also, if Iranian missiles would fall back into Tehran, why would Israel need to create a Palestinian state? Problem already solved, isn’t it?
I like this solution, it is actually quite hopeful and would provide for an ending to a long-running tragedy on all sides of this. So yes there would be a decade of birthing, but we are already nearly half a century past 1967 where borders changed so much.
The key of course is that the Palestinians are able to keep their own security. I like the idea of depopulating Gaza and hopefully reversing some of its radical insanity with hope, but worry that those who remain would become even more extreme.
Still this seems like the best idea around.
Some interesting ideas. As you said, this part of the world is unpredictable. Only time will tell.
Interesting speculation, unfortunately, I find it rather unprobable scenario. The devis is as usually in the details.
First of all, there are some 400 Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. You predict “Five or so major Israeli settlements are included as part of Israel”. I don’t see that happening. Evacuating thousands of Jews from Gaza was proven nearly impossible. Evicting hundreds of thousands of Jews from the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with the miserable fate of Gaza evictees as an example of what’s ahead – absolutely impossible, politically, economically or physically.
Transferring Israeli Arabs to a Palestinian state – no chance such move will be approved by the Israeli court. I am sure you know Israel is a law-abiding state and the government is obliged to follow court’s orders. Its nice to speculate about such a move, but I don’t see it becoming a reality.
Jordan collaborating with Israel in a security zone – how many hours will Jordan’s king survive such a move? Two? Three? And how long will Jordan survive, even if such a security zone will be established? Jordan has a primary interest in preventing a Palestinian state, since it will become part of it really, really fast. Look at how much trouble Hamas is causing to Egypt even with its minuscule size.
Immigration into Palestine – what in God’s name is the interest of Israel in allowing such immigration? And what are “known members of terrorist organizations”? Not like they keep open-access membership lists online do they?
Right now the world has almost completely lost interest in the Jewish-Arab (or Jewish-Muslim) conflict. The Arab-Arab (Shia-Sunni) conflict has completely overshadowed it. Anything Israel would do would only refocus the attention. Fortunately, the current leaders of Israel seem to understand it. There is no motivation for Israel to do anything, as any move will be met with outrage.
Finally, the Gaza eviction was promoted under the same auspicion – that Israel will be entitled to take action against hostile actions from Gaza. Same was said when Israel withdrew from Lebanon. The effects are well-known. Gaza was almost immediately occupied by Hamas and thousands of missiles are being shot into Israel, with disruption of daily life there. And Hezbollah took control over South Lebanon with a full-blown war as a result just a few years later, despite all the promises.
All in all, I think the scenario in which a Palestinian State is declared and recognized as a UN member is possible. Despite the fact that Jordan, the PA nor Israel want it to happen as all three have a lot to lose and nothing to gain in such case. But as to what will happen after that I disagree with you. I think not much will change, if anything.
I think you are right that settler evacuation is not going to happen. If the Palestinians want a state they will have to agree to share the land with Jews living inside their borders. Just as Israel does with Arabs in its borders. This will also help insure a democratic Palestinian state. If they start treating Jewish citizens in their country as second class citizens it will give Israel the right to intercede to protect them. All in all, I don’t think this is a bad thing. The two people intermingled, living closer together, forced to get to know each other, is the only possible solution to this conflict. Palestinians are not going anywhere. Ethnic cleansing or relocation is never going to happen.(Many of them are ethnically just as jewish as israelis, by the way). The only hope is that a future with more economic and educational opportunities will secularize the next generation.Who knows what Arabic or islamic identity will look like in 30 years.. It seems to me like these things are headed towards a crisis
The two people intermingled, lived close together and knew each other for centuries. That did not prevent the conflict – nor has it prevented conflicts between other people that are even more closely mingled, like Shia and Sunni Muslims.
Arab states have a rich tradition of mistreating their Jewish citizens (and many other minorities). The final outcome was an extensive ethnic cleansing of Jews from almost all Islamic countries, that today is continued with the cleansing and genocide of other minorities. I don’t see any reason to believe an independent Palestinian state will be any different.
Democratic Palestinian state? If that’s your idea of a joke, its not very funny. The only Arab state that has come close to democracy is Tunisia and only very recently. Arab countries are to almost no exception ruled by a brutal dictator. Again – I don’t see why an independent Palestinian state will be any different.
The Arabs of Mandatory Palestine are not “genetically Jewish”. That’s a fairy tale they sometimes are being told. I doubt they like hearing it very much, even if they enjoy telling it to naive Europeans every now and then.
Finally, these Arabs already have not one, but three states – Jordan, Gaza and Israel (as you rightly mentioned, 20% of the Israelis are Arabs). They could have had another one, if they wanted to, long ago. It is obvious they don’t want one, and if they will ever get one, it will be a tragedy for them and for everyone around them, for all the reasons I mentioned above.
I propose reversing the order of the events. Let’s wait until the Arabs settle the madness that possesses them, demonstrate capacity to establish democratic countries that respect the rights of their citizens regardless of their race, religion and so on, and then consider whether an independent Palestinian state is a good idea.
Michael, thanks for reading my post and your comments although I am not sure that some of your comments have much to do with what I wrote. I would also like to note that I wrote that post over two years ago. Many things have happened since so I would have to revise it. It is always risky to make predictions but I think it is important to take that risk in order to have a dialog about the possible. Yes, the Arab world is losing interest in the Palestinian cause, thanks to ISIS and Iran. However, Europe and some elements on the American left continue to be very supportive the Palestinian causes.
I don’t know what you know about genetics. I know a fair amount and disagree with your comment. Check out http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/science/1.681385. Of course, it is from Haaretz so I would not be surprised if you rejected on that basis alone.
My latest comment was in response to jsc802, who wrote a few days ago. I am glad you are brave enough to admit things have changed and not the way you predicted. And yes, you are right, I will not even make the effort to read the things Haaretz publishes. All too many times things written there turned out to be, let’s say, not exactly as they claimed, and the motivations behind the claims of Haaretz are all to clear to everyone.
I do reject the blanket statement that “Europe” supports the Palestinian cause. Some people in Europe do. Some governments even do. There’s no uniform “European opinion” though. And whatever support the “Palestinian cause”, whatever that may be, has left in Europe, its rapidly evaporating since Europe came face to face with the same “cause” Israel has been facing for decades.
Michael, thank you for your thoughtful and detailed comments. I really appreciate them. I guess there is just one thing we can agree on and that is there will be no peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. You views reflect what the majority of Israelis believe, I think. Things will just continue as they are. And that is the most likely outcome for the next 5-10 years but the future has a way of fooling us. I believe that there will be a Palestinians State. I have serious doubts about its ability to survive. I am not going to debate each and every point you made. Clearly, not all the things I predicted will come about. But I do believe that some of the things I said will happen or certainly could happen.
In the mean time, I would ask you to add your thoughts about what will happen. I would be interested in how you think things will unfold in the next ten years.
On the whole, I view your predictions as cautiously optimistic. I really don’t see the source for your optimism. Perhaps you could share more of the reasoning behind your thoughts?
Michael, I think I explain my thought process through the many post I made. If you have a particular question, I will try to answer it. In the mean time, I have invited you to say what you think will happen (and maybe why). Lets make this more a dialog instead of your making criticisms my defending my position. Thanks.
Upon your request I will make my questions very specific. I have selected one to start with, and I would appreciate it if you could provide an specific response.
You estimate that:
“Five or so major Israeli settlements are included as part of Israel.”
Could you explain in more details why 5? Why not 10? Or 50? And why do you think that such mass-transfer of Jewish population by the Jewish state will actually see the light of day, in view of the Gaza (and Lebanon) experience and its aftermath?
Personally, I think it has very little chances of going through and I am being mild. I believe that the Israeli public and government have learned that running away from terror and evicting Jews from their homes has only lead to more terror and more demands on Israel.
Let’s have a dialogue. I would be very happy to hear why you think your scenario is probable – on this specific question to start with.
So far the dialog is your telling me that I am wrong and asking me to explain and/or defend my point of view. I don’t see that as much of a dialog.
I did not say “five” I said “five or so”. What I meant that only the major settlements would be kept. If I said any number, I suspect you would be asking how did I come up with that number. It is meant to illustrate a point and not be something concert.
I think the Gaza experience actually worked out for Israel. Yes, Hamas sends some rockets into Israel but has extracted very little damage. On the other hand, Hamas has been isolated and has proved that they are not capable of governing.
Lebanon is a different matter. It could have been handled much better, I am afraid and I hope Israel has learned some lessons.
I know you don’t agree. And frankly, I don’t think most Israelis would agree with what I wrote. But so far, you have not taken the opportunity to articulate what you think will happen. If you want to continue a discussion, it is time for that.
I did take the opportunity (see above), but for the sake of argument, I will repeat. I don’t think much will happen. Possible, perhaps even probably, a Palestinian State will be declared (for the umptheens time) and recognized by some or most countries, like Kosovo. Despite the fact that nobody (Jordan, Israel and the PA) wants this and that it will damage everyone involved.
As to your response – frankly, I think you live in dreamland. Five or so? Out of over 400 Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria? What will Israel do with those who refuse to leave their homes? Abandon them? Not a chance. Forcefully evict? I don’t think you estimate correctly the sentiments of the Israeli public and the reactions new evictions of Jews will generate, especially when its so close to home and heart. Even evacuating remote and hostile outposts took the efforts of hundreds, if not thousands police and soldiers and almost toppled government after government. How on Earth will any Israeli government generate enough political credo and law enforcement to pull out hundreds of thousands of its citizens from their homes for the third generation?
I dare you to go to Sderot and tell them in their face the Gaza experience worked out for Israel. Schools are being made rocket-proof there – how is that “worked out”? Israel has responded to rocket attacks from Gaza and got wall-to-wall condemnation, flotilias and fly-ins, UN investigations and accusations of genocide no less.
Hamas in the meantime has got visits from heads of state and is applauded for “reconciliation” with the Fatah, not much isolation there, I would say. And Hamas will probably still win any elections if they ever will be held, so no one actually cares if they are capable of governing, it seems.
Now to your next point – transfer or Israeli Arabs to the PA. I agree that a couple of them might actually be insane enough to agree to be stripped of their Israeli citizenship, free travel in the world, pension, social security and healthcare and be transferred to an impoverished, tyrannic non-recognized “entity” at war with everyone in the world, but about 99.9% of them would say “are you out of your mind?” And will be completely right. Now why would Israel transfer more territory to some vague “entity” if in exchange it gains nothing but the duty to resettle and compensate tens of thousands of its Arab citizens in addition to the hundreds of thousands of Jews already dragged kicking out of their homes. Please explain how is that a good deal for Israel? Because if it is not, why would Israel do it?
I was hoping we could have a conversation but you are clearly more interested in an argument. I respect you opinion and would have liked to have more of an understanding of how you think things will unfold in the future. Perhaps you can use your own blog for that if you ever get around to it.
I thought I have said rather clearly how I think things will unfold, but I will repeat it for the third time – “steady as she goes”, “more of the same” or any other way of describing the current affairs. The reason is that I think the current trends favour Israel on the long term and the other parties (Hamas, PA, Jordan, Egypt, anyone else) are too busy with their own affairs to have genuine interest or power to influence the situation.
I asked, kindly and politely, out of genuine interest, why you think things will go the way you think they will. I have outlined why I don’t think the course of events you describe is likely. So far you only mentioned WHAT you think will happen. Being a scientist, I am interested in the reasoning – WHY you think it will go this way and not any other. If you could explain that, we could have a meaningful dialogue. You might start by referring to specific posts you wrote that are relevant for specific questions I posted.
Michael, I will try to deal with your comments in another post on this topic rather than comment on your comments. It may be a week or two before I can do that. Also please feel free to email me at email@example.com. But I do want to say one thing. When I write about the future, I use my intuition. It is not science although I too have been a scientist. But I have learned to listen to my intuition it has a pretty good track record.
Thanks for clarifying that. I find that it certainly adds value to predictions if there’s more behind them than just a hunch. Doesn’t make it exact science but does makes it more than a wild guess.
Michael, there is a lot more than a hunch or a wild guess. I believe in intuition. Intuition is when you know something but do not know why you know it. The brain is pretty amazing and we have to learn to trust our intuition.
Under International Law and Treaties – An Arab/Palestinian State cannot be established in Israel
The Exclusive Political Rights Granted To Jews In 1920 At San Remo
San Remo Agreement of 1920 that established the British Mandate for Palestine. It granted the Jews exclusive collective political rights to Palestine, in trust, to vest when the Jews had attained a population majority.
The San Remo agreement of 1922 states that only the Jewish people can set-up its own government.
In violation of the of the agreement the British allocated over 77% of the Jewish land to Trans-Jordan.
Now you want to allocate more Jewish land to the Arab/Palestinians, again in violation of the agreement. This would create two Arab countries and one Jewish country greatly reduced in its original land allocation. This is in violation of International law and the San Remo agreement which was adapted by the League of Nations and signed by 51 member countries.
Under the law we must address the ejection of close to a million Jews from Arab countries and the property and assets that were confiscated. In addition about a third of those Jews died during those Arab pogroms against its Jewish population.
Regarding your statement: “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. ”
If the Palestinian state is truly a new sovereign state (as it should be), why are you making the assumption that Israel will “allow” a limited number of Palestinian refugees per year? That should be up to the government of Palestine, not Israel.
The Arabs expelled over a million Jewish people from their countries and confiscated their land, which is 4 times the size of Israel, they also confiscated all their personal assets valued at over 15 trillion dollars. About 650,000 Jewish people ejected from Arab countries were resettled in Greater Israel. Let the Arabs resettle the Arab-Palestinian refugees in their countries, and let peace, coexistence and tranquility prevail in the Middle East.