Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Benny Morris on Prospects for a Palestinian State

Benny Morris’s substantial article,Bleak House”, in Tablet Magazine, in which he argues that “the prospects for a Palestinian state have rarely been more grim”, is a must-read (hat tip: reader Rob):

In recent years, starting with the Israeli handover of West Bank cities and the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority in the mid-1990s, the Palestinians, ever-so-slowly and inefficiently, have built pre-state institutions of governance—most recently and competently under the leadership of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. During the past few years alone, Western observers have noted substantial improvements in Palestinian taxation, infrastructure, and economic development, and in the functioning of the (American- and European-trained) security services. Indeed, under Fayyad, the West Bank is flourishing economically (around 9 percent annual growth, according to the International Monetary Fund, even if the gains are fragile) and is a largely peaceful place, with residents even paying traffic tickets, and militants of Hamas and other organizations largely inactive, with some jailed in periodic round-ups.

At the same time, Hamas, which took over the Gaza Strip in 2007 from the Palestinian National Authority, in the process throwing PA officers off of tall buildings and knee-capping others, has also demonstrated an ability to rule, in an orderly if brutal fashion.

A series of question marks hangs over these recent improvements in the governance of the West Bank: How deep do they run? And can they outlast Western financial aid and political backing and the overriding guardianship of Israeli bayonets? Will the American- and European-trained security forces, in crisis, hold their own against Hamas or fade away, like the Western-trained Iraqi and Afghani forces have when left to perform independent of their American and British instructors?

Even before we can get to such practical questions, though, there is another more fundamental question that goes to the heart of the continuing historical struggle between two peoples for the same piece of land: What will be the geographical contours of the envisioned Palestinian state and what will be its nature? Put simply, will the envisioned state encompass all of Palestine, including the territory of the existing Jewish state, Israel, or will it include only the West Bank and Gaza Strip and, perhaps, Arab-populated East Jerusalem? And will the envisioned state be a secular, perhaps even “democratic,” republic as promised by the Fatah-led PNA, which rules the West Bank, or will it be a fundamentalist, Islamic, sharia-based state, as sought by Hamas, which rules Gaza? Will one of the parties absorb or co-opt the other, or will the Palestinians maintain this political bifurcation indefinitely?
Read the rest:


  1. It is a good article. Morris' argument is dispassionate, descriptive and absolutely accurate.

    For mine, I see no prospect of resolution absent the emergence of a moderate Palestinian leadership prepared to live in peace with Israel and guide its people in that direction also. But I can't see it happening for a generation at least.

  2. Thanks for pointing me in the article's direction, Rob. I'm becoming increasingly pessimistic, given the negativism and rejectionism we've been seeing from the Palestinians lately.