The first thing the article talks about the Fatah Revolutionary Council's latest meeting, in which it refused, among other things, to permit recognition of Israel as a Jewish state ("The council also renews its refusal for the establishment of any racist state based on religion in accordance with international law and human rights conventions.") or to consider lands swaps as part of comprehensive peace agreement with Israel ("[I]llegal settler gangs can't be put on an equal footing with the owners of the lands and rights."), or the idea of establishing a Palestinian state with temporary borders in preparation for final status talks. All this leaves me wondering precisely what Palestinians think is being negotiated over here? If negotiations are about compromises and give-and-take, is there anything the FRC is prepared to, well, "negotiate" over?
When it comes to negotiations, Palestinian officials seem to think only one side has an obligation to show up. It's not that there aren't things they have just claim to -- of course there are -- but there's scarcely any notion of reciprocity. "Jewish state"? No. Land swaps? No. Temporary borders? No. Recognition of basic historical facts like the Jewish connection to the Western Wall? No. It's paralleled by the seeming Palestinian approach to armed conflict, where, there too, only one side is apparently allowed to show up.
It's ridiculous. The refusal to countenance land swaps in principle is an arbitrary red-line on a subject which, until now, everyone took for granted would play a role in a final status agreement. And paired with the refusal to consider temporary borders, it puts the kibosh on one of the more promising proposals (by Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz) which would create a provisional Palestinian state on roughly 60% of the West Bank (comprising 99.2% of the West Bank's Palestinian population, plus additional land to create territorial contiguity), as a first step to final borders. Undoubtedly, the ceding of certain settlement blocs to Israel would be matched by land swaps back to the Palestinians. It's a decent plan, and is the outline (subject to negotiation) of a fair one, and now it appears to be a dead one. Go figure.
Meanwhile, shoehorned into the bottom of the article is a proposal by Yair Lapid (son of Shinui founder Tommy Lapid) that we detach the creation of a Palestinian state from the question of peace between Israel and Palestine. It's an idea that's appealed to me for awhile now. Often, the question of Palestinian statehood is debated as a question of dreams and nightmares: the dream that it will lead to a rapid solution to the entire conflict (in which case it should happen immediately), the nightmare that it will lead to a catastrophic and irreversible deterioration in Israel's security situation (in which case it shouldn't).
But of course, those aren't the only alternatives. Also possible -- and I think most likely -- is that the creation of a Palestinian state would neither solve the conflict, nor exacerbate it. It may bring peace moderately closer, or it may make Israel moderately more precarious, or it may have a negligible effect. In that case, it seems like the balance of rights would counsel immediate creation of a Palestinian state, as the benefit to the Palestinians (independence) would outweigh the prospective harms (at worst, moderate deterioration in Israel's security). As Lapid writes, the creation of an independent Palestine may not bring peace, but it certainly will make the conflict easier to manage than in the status quo:
[T]he establishment of a Palestinian state would “take the world off our backs, curb the process of turning us into a pariah state, enable us to maintain our security with fewer restraints, lift the burden of controlling three million people, and enable us to manage the discussion on our final borders and the future of the settlements.”
Whatever else one might say about Israel's security posture towards, say, Lebanon or Syria, it's clear that it has been easier to manage than the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The reason is simple -- interstate conflict is well-studied, well-modeled, is easy to predict, and possesses well-established rules and norms of conduct governing the parties. Intra-state occupations and ethnic conflict possesses none of these qualities. Changing the status of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict to something like the Israeli/Syrian conflict would be decidedly less than ideal, but it would also be a marked improvement over the status quo.
Of course, as the first part of this post indicates, simply establishing a Palestinian state is not so simple, as the Palestinian approach to negotiation appears to be stuck in near-maximalism. But what can you do?