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Palestinian Expectancy in
the Image of Zionism

Aharon Ben-Ami
Policy Paper No. 72, from the book,
Israel and a Palestinian State: Zero Sum Game?, 2001


This article examines the crucial problems which were left for negotiation at the time of the permanent settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This leads to an analysis of the manifest and latent results of such an agreement if and when it might be signed.

The problems discussed are as follows:

  1. The final size of the area supposed to be handed over to the Palestinians, after some changes in the Israeli borderline of 1949 (which already extends to 75% of western Eretz Israel). Israel demands at least an additional 5% to its present area for security reasons as well as some other rights and necessities. It follows that the Palestinians will have to be content with only 20% of western Eretz Israel. But will they?

  2. As for the issue of Jerusalem. There is a diametrical contrast between the parties' positions. Israel considers the existing undivided Jerusalem as its eternal capital, while the Palestinians demand a partition of the city into two capitals. Both sides are determined and uncompromising on this issue.

  3. Israel demands a full demilitarization of the Palestinian area as concerns heavy arms, as well as a prohibition of any military alliances between the Palestinian entity and other states. These conditions, let alone the need for an effective Israeli control of arms held by the Palestinians, seem to the Palestinians to be diminishing their right to self-determination.. In case such a condition would be violated, it might be considered a casus belli. The answer to this problem also seems hard to agree upon and a solution is doubtful with regard to control.

  4. The issue of free immigration into the Palestinian entity is still harder to settle, since the Palestinians will most probably demand equality with Israel in this regard. Namely, just as Israel has a "law of return" for the Jews, so must the Palestinians have such a law. But this would create a demographic explosion across the border with Israel, with perhaps a renewed Palestinian demand to change the status quo.

  5. Finally, the future of the Israeli settlements in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip is far from any forthcoming agreement. It might be partly solved by the annexation of some areas close to the Israeli border. But what about the rest? Would they constitute "islands" of Israeli sovereignty within the Palestinian entity or would they be evacuated as the Palestinians demand? This problem in itself is quite loaded with conflicting interests.

In conclusion, what Israel is willing to concede is the creation of a small Palestinian entity, with no part in Jerusalem, demilitarized under conditions hard to control, deprived of the right of unlimited immigration and including some Jewish settlements.

All of these, in the eyes of the Palestinians, stand in contrast to their declared expectations to form an independent state with its capital in Jerusalem. There seems to be no reasonable bridge between these contrasting expectations.

The analysis goes on to predict a harsh American intervention in the negotiations. A hypothetical model is developed in detail as to the probable American plan to impose a solution, with a view to American interests in the Middle East, namely an appeasement of the Arabs.

In its last part, the article summarizes the attitudes and visions of the so-called "Peace Camp" in Israel. Its positions, as formulated by the left-wing opposition to the previous government, seem to allow for a wide breach in Israeli security, that will enable the PLO to go on with its declared plan of "revolution by stages".

Finally, this article presents certain options for replacing the partition of western Eretz Israel by creating an alternative confederation with Jordan and/or some other Arab countries in the region, together with Israel.

For the complete article, click here.