Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

RAND's Blueprint for Palestine: Fairy Tale or Nightmare?

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

RAND's Blueprint for Palestine: Fairy Tale or Nightmare?

Article excerpt

What is needed for a Palestinian state to succeed when peace finally breaks out in the Holy Land? There was no planning for post-invasion Iraq, and look what happened there. Unlike Iraqis, however, Palestinians already have in place a democratically elected government, so there won't be political pandemonium when Israel finally withdraws from the territories it occupies. But, since Israel has destroyed the Palestinian economy and infrastructure, a plan of action for getting worldwide assistance can't hurt.

The RAND Corporation has produced a a two-part report full of recommendations of what it will take to build a successful Palestinian state. For more than 50 years, RAND (a contraction of the term "research and development") has been an influential nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank. Until now it has mostly steered clear of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

David and Carol Richards initiated and funded the two-year, $2 million study, "Building a Successful Palestinian State." Although Richards says he supports Israel, he adds, "I think their occupation of the West Bank is hurtful to Israel. The policy is wrong, and we as Americans have condoned it and supported it."

The Richards wanted, and got, a blueprint for a viable self-reliant Palestinian state that includes projects to improve health care facilities, education, the judiciary and water availability.

According to the report, there are three main issues that will make or break the new state: whether the state's territory is contiguous; how freely people can move between a new state, Israel, and the outside world; and the prevailing degree of security and public safety. The bottom line: if people and products aren't free to move, the state is doomed to failure.

Most of the reconstruction projects recommended in the report could begin today, subject to securing international funding as well as promises from Israel not to destroy the new projects. In January 2002 Israel bulldozed the runways of the new Gaza International Airport and attacked the new sea port built by international donors. Even if Israel does withdraw from Gaza, moreover, it plans to retain control of the air and sea space.

A companion report by the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy was funded by Guilford and Diane Glazer. They originally wanted RAND to design a new Palestinian city to accommodate returning refugees. Architect Doug Suisman instead proposed "The Arc: A Formal Structure for a Palestinian State," which is a highspeed rail system, highway and infrastructure link between the northern West Bank and Gaza. The Arc is a 140-mile corridor which would include a rail line, highway, aqueduct, energy network and fiber optic cable linking Palestine's major towns and cities. …

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