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Carl Alpert -- March 8, 2003

Haifa - The proposal to establish an independent state of Palestine to be located alongside the kingdom of Jordan and the state of Israel continues to make headlines and to draw support in some circles. It is doubtful if the advocates of such a state have ever made a serious and thoughtful study of what that means and what is involved. True, objections have been voiced but even these fail to deal with a basic and fundamental flaw in the whole matter.

First, the usual objections. There has never been such a state. It never existed, was never destroyed. There is no history, no tradition, no literature, no past. There is no native population. The great majority of the present population here are descended from Arabs who immigrated into the area from surrounding countries, attracted by the prosperity created by Jewish settlement.

If the demand for a state continues, it must be pointed out that it was already created in three quarters of the territory which the British mandate undertook to develop as a Jewish homeland. It is known as Jordan, and is distinguished by its Arab inhabitants, Arabic language and Muslim religion.

But little attention is being given to the most crucial fact: Even if artificially brought into existence, such a state will be utterly non-viable. First of all, no matter what boundaries are set, it will always be a divided unit, part in Gaza and part in the West Bank, separated by central Israel. There is no possibility of uniting the two, because any territory serving that purpose would bisect Israel, separating the Negev from the rest of the country. Look at the map.

Further, there is absolutely no economic justification for its existence. There is no industry to speak of. When a local family opened a meat processing plant not long ago, employing 88 people, it made headlines. It is the Palestinians' largest industry. Agriculture is marginal economically, exports minimal, natural resources none. No one with a head on his shoulders is going to invest any money in developing this hopeless area. Before the intifada, the income from employment in Israel constituted over 40% of the Palestinian population earnings. By declaring war on Israel and practicing terrorism, the Palestine Authority cut off most of this income and practiced economic suicide. In the meantime, Israel has learned to use the services of foreign workers who come from afar, and are not security risks.

Thus far the Palestine Authority, though rent by bitter internal dissension, has been able to maintain the appearances of existence thanks to the liberal financial support from European countries and the U.S. The rest of the Arab world is not the least bit interested, and has reneged on pledges of support. Thus, the several million inhabitants, including perhaps an equal number of Arab refugees who the other Arab states will quickly dump into the new "homeland", will be constantly on the verge of starvation. They will become a perpetual international burden, but how long will the world be willing to support the illogical, artificial and economically destitute state?

It is significant that even when suggestions are made to cede to the infant state some adjacent areas of Israel with heavy Arab population, the Israeli Arabs who would be affected rise up in vehement and unanimous objection. They insist on remaining citizens of Israel, with all its social welfare benefits, rather than patriotic residents of the new, questionably viable Palestinian state.

Conditions in such a state will lead to perpetual instability, hostility and continued terrorism and wars. Are there intelligent, thoughtful Arab leaders who realize all this? Are American and European leaders who advocate creation of a new state aware of what the consequences will be?

Even if we accept and recognize all of the above, that does not solve the problem of several million unfortunate Arabs who are resident in the area. Obviously Israel can not accept them as citizens, since they would soon outnumber the Jews in the Jewish state. One possible solution would be to create a U.N. mandated territory, under international auspices. Another would be to encourage absorption of the population within the neighboring state of Jordan. If nothing is done, the population there will gradually dwindle as people seek more economically feasible homes in any of the close to 20 Muslim states around them. Again, international help could assist in this move, in the best interests of the people concerned.

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