A PALESTINIAN STATE: The Implications for Israel by Mark A. Heller
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A PALESTINIAN STATE: The Implications for Israel

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Hard-headed arguments for Israeli acceptance of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, under certain conditions, as the ""least of all evils."" Heller is Senior Research Associate at the Center for Strategic Studies, Tel-Aviv University; his analysis is systematic and thorough, penetrating and eye-opening. The crux, however, is this: at some point, ""Israel will amost certainly have to make an agonizing choice between the geomilitary value of the West Bank and the political-security value of a peace settlement."" So Heller first reviews the cost to Israel, since 1967 and especially since 1973, of maximum military preparedness, and the prospective cost of withdrawal--concluding that a settlement must, on balance, increase Israeli security; hence, it must improve Arab-Israeli relations. Next he weighs the risks and benefits of settlements other than creation of an independent state--from maintenance of the status quo (with the prospect of ""broader and more effective Arab war coalitions,"" possibly including Egypt; of an Arab majority and increased Israeli isolation) through nonterritorial settlements (i.e., some form of home rule) to territorial settlements not involving the PLO (most prominently, the ""Jordanian option""). But not only does each have drawbacks, none affords the opportunities of an Israeli-PLO agreement--which also presents the greatest risks. And it is in scrutinizing these that Heller performs a notable service. Most importantly, he does not find that a Palestinian state would have the wherewithal--or the requisite Arab support--to expand into Israel; and he does not see it being so unstable, politically or economically, as to post a security threat. (Throughout, Heller draws international and historical comparisons--here, to ""crazy states."") But not only Israeli security is at issue: What about the Israeli Arabs? Jerusalem? the West Bank? Heller, recognizing that neither side can really give way, suggests tacit, de facto solutions. (For one: Jewish West-Bank settlers might live in the Palestinian state ""like Arabs living in Israel."") With the specified conditions (ratification by ""the most critical Arab states,"" and ""verifiable restrictions on force levels,"" among them): a bracing application of fact and logic to an impossible situation.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1983
Publisher: Harvard Univ. Press