Wednesday, June 20, 2007

THE THREE-STATE SOLUTION: Jacob Savage, a Shalem Center graduate fellow, argues in an article for The LA Times that the cultural distinctions between Gaza and the West Bank are great enough to justify a "three-state solution" consisting of Israel, Hamas-run Gaza, and a Fatah-governed West Bank.
Gaza was, starting in the early 1800s, culturally dominated by neighboring Egypt. Though Gaza was part of the Ottoman Empire, a large number of its residents were Egyptians (and their descendants) who had fled political turmoil. The West Bank, on the other hand, became culturally and economically linked with Jordan after the kingdom's founding in 1921. Unlike Gaza, the West Bank always has had a prosperous Christian minority, which served as an important moderating influence.
Read the article for the details on the other cultural and historical differences between Gaza and the West Bank.

According to Savage, the benefits of a 3 state solution are:
Israel would be able to treat Gaza as a pariah state and respond to Hamas' rocket attacks accordingly. Israel could then await Gaza's further descent into a quarantined chaos or the unlikely emergence of a more moderate political leadership.

West Bank Palestinians also could profit from such an arrangement. Indeed, the Israelis are already considering giving Fatah the nearly half-billion dollars in tax revenues they've been withholding. Once detached from Gaza, the West Bank leadership probably could force Israel to dismantle roadblocks and evacuate settlements. Following a perverse logic, the benefits might even extend to residents of Gaza. Freed from West Bank hegemony, Gazans could live in whatever Islamist dystopia they choose.

A bifurcated Palestine ultimately might facilitate a temporary solution to the conflict: peace between Israel and the West Bank, continued fighting between Israel and Gaza. This is an admittedly partial solution, but it is better than the status quo of no solution at all.
The question still remains whether the result would be a 3 state solution or a 2 state pileup on Israel.

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