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The Geographic Aspect of a Palestinian State

Arnon Soffer
Policy Paper No. 63, from the book,
Israel and a Palestinian State: Zero Sum Game?, 2001


Geography that Does Not Allow a Routine Solution

The purpose of this article is to examine the geographic obstacles in the way of the negotiators on all issues of the permanent agreement; the hypothesis is that the geographic reality of Palestine, physically and in terms of settlement, does not permit routine solutions such as separation between these two peoples. Major factors are the small area of all Palestine and the number of population living in this small area. All northern Palestine will be covered in the next two decades, by concrete blocks, with asphalt over considerable spaces. Any discussion about physical separation of this urban area is impractical.

The reality of population distribution all across western Palestine creates a need for many corridor connections of the main Jewish and Palestinian areas to isolated settlements and some main corridors for connections between the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria. As far as Jerusalem it is impossible to cut a border through this built-up area of the city, without sowing economic and municipal chaos. Jerusalem will remain an open city in any political agreement.

In addition, other factors exist that connect the Palestinians to Israel in a way that does not allow separation: Palestine is one economic unit, one water regime, one united transport network, one holy land, and the relations between Israeli Arabs and those in Gaza, Judea and Samaria cannot be separated again. With such data there can be no separation between the peoples of the two states. The Swiss canton model may offer a solution for an appropriate kind of integration.

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