So much discussion about the Middle East is backward-looking, apportioning guilt and blame, while very little seems to ask what would be necessary in order to establish a lasting peace. Although I personally have always been skeptical that a two-state solution could ever work in the long run, everyone seems in agreement that it is the only basis for peace that could be effective in the short term. In a recent Boston Globe editorial, Jeff Halper asks whether the currently proposed two-state solution would actually produce two states, or whether the proposed Palestinian “state” would be little more than a series of prison cells, with no viable economy of its own?
Viability, a term found in the road map, is not a secondary issue. After almost four decades of deliberate Israeli de-development of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, the Palestinians are left today with scorched earth. No functioning economy (the Palestinians, 70 percent of whom live on less than $2 a day, are being kept alive by international relief agencies); no agriculture (since 1967 Israel has uprooted or cut down a million olive and fruit trees); no homes for the young generation (Israel has demolished 12,000 Palestinian homes since the occupation began, and refuses to issue permits to build new ones).
This is important to keep in mind when Israel talks about retaining a certain percentage of territory. While 5 to 15 percent of the West Bank might not seem like much,
Israel could control the borders, Palestinian movement, all the water and most of the agricultural land, the Jerusalem area (which, because of tourism, represents almost half the Palestinian economy), the country’s airspace, and even its communications sphere. The Palestinians could get 85 to 95 percent of the actual territory and, like inmates of a prison, still be locked into a series of cells called a ”state.”
Obviously, the best thing for the economy of the entire region would be peace and stability, but if that is going to be based on a two-state solution, there need to be two real states and not just one state with a prison appendage.