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Israel, a Palestinian State
and the Middle East:
Plus Sum Potentials

Yehezkel Dror

Policy Paper No. 70, from the book,
Israel and a Palestinian State: Zero Sum Game?, 2001


Consideration of the future of a Palestinian state requires thinking of the next twenty years as a non-linear mix of necessity, contingency, chance and choice. The propensities of a new historic structure, such as a Palestinian state, cannot be extrapolated from past behavior, requiring instead estimation in terms of partly different, non-continuous and also mutating processes. Israel has often failed in such thinking. All the more so, care must be taken to consider Israeli policies on the Palestinian issue without being captivated by "concepts" and a variety of "motivated irrationalities".

The establishment of a Palestinian state is nearly inevitable, because of demographic mass, nationalistic feelings with empowerment, international politics, and domestic constraints on Israeli use of force. Israel should base its policies on that assumption, trying to influence the evolutionary potential and pathway into the future of that state so as to move towards a "plus sum" dynamics. However, a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be nonviable and irredentist, with near certainty of zero sum and also minus sum interaction with Israel. Only a full scale integrated Palestinian-Jordanian state can achieve sustainability, solution of the refugee problem, inner-directness, and modernization and democratization effects on the Middle East as a whole, in plus sum interaction with Israel. Helping movement, hopefully peaceful but this is not certain, towards such a state carries serious risks for Israel, in particular the danger of facing a large and hostile Palestinian state. But, in the longer run, this is the best realistic scenario, with a real possibility of achieving plus sum interaction. Adopting such a grand strategy is all the more recommended, as in any case a Palestinian state is very likely to destabilize Jordan. Israel should adopt a geo-strategic architecture policy accordingly, "riding on the 'waves of history'" while trying to guide them, instead of being dragged behind them.

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