Weekly Commentary: Preparing for unilateral Palestinian state
Dr. Aaron Lerner Date: 28 October 2010
"We will turn to the Security Council in order for it to declare our
independence within a few months." Mahmoud Abbas – 28 October, 2010
It doesn’t really matter if the Palestinians intend to create a sovereign
state if they don’t get their way with Israel in the coming months, or if
these threats are no more than a negotiating tactic.
That’s because sometimes threats can take on a life of their own,
So Israel has to take this threat very seriously.
Israel’s goal in the event of such a move should be to prevent the
Palestinian state from being effectively in existence for a long enough
period that the event ultimately becomes no more than yet another in the
long series of Palestinian declarations, photo ops and documents already
To achieve this, Israel would have to maintain a semblance of normality
while, at the same time, operate as if the Palestinian state did not exist.
First and foremost this would require being able to ignore the officials of
the Palestinian state while avoiding a humanitarian crisis.
Israel must be in a position to shift from interfacing with Palestinian
officials at a national level to a regional and municipal level.
We have experience in this already.
Even in the worst of times in Jerusalem-Ramallah relations, Israelis and
Palestinians cooperated on a municipal level to restore or maintain vital
One of the biggest tests Israel would face would be maintaining the flow of
goods and people between the West Bank and the outside world.
Israeli planners should set as a goal to actually speed up the movement of
cargo to and from the West Bank. It would also make sense to prepare
administrative provisions to avoid the situation that equipment contributed
from overseas for Palestinian humanitarian projects gets stuck in Israeli
ports because of disputes over the payment of various duties and taxes to
Israel should also be prepared to efficiently substitute Israeli travel
documents for the ones issued by the then defunct PA so that international
movement is not impeded.
And what about the officials themselves?
Israeli planners have to decide if it would serve Israel’s interests better
for there to be a Palestinian “government in exile” comprised of deported
officials making photo ops in Geneva or to allow them remain to operate a
state Israel whose existence Israel doesn’t recognize.
Then, of course, is the thorny issue of the Palestinian security forces.
While Israel wouldn’t necessarily have a problem with Palestinian cops
associated directly with a specific municipality or regional groupings of
municipalities, the American trained and armed Palestinian troops who answer
to the Palestinian federal authorities could present a serious challenge if
it is not possible to shift their allegiance to municipalities or regions.
It goes without saying that Israeli policy today towards enhancing the size,
training or equipping of the American trained and armed Palestinian troops
should already take into account the possibility that the Palestinians go
through with a unilaterally declared state.
It would not be easy.
But with proper planning and unity Israel can insure that a Palestinian
state created without the conclusion of an agreement with Israel will wither
on the vine.
And the more prepared Israel is for this challenge, the more likely that the
Palestinians will opt to drop the idea.
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
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