The RAND report on the costs of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the end-goal of a Palestinian state is rife with errors and false assumptions.
The report is very specifically only talking about hypothetical economic benefits (primarily to the Palestinians) if a utopian two-state solution, with a Palestinian state at peace with Israel were achieved. But the assumptions and facts the report is built on are flawed.
Here are ten things wrong with the RAND report:
10) RAND endorses a Palestinian Apartheid State.
9) US financial aid to Israel is given out of largesse.
8) There exist 600,000 Palestinian Refugees who will “return from abroad” to Palestine.
7) 600,000 Palestinian Refugees will “return from abroad” to Palestine.
6) The Palestinians will develop and maintain the infrastructure needed for a Palestinian state.
5) The IDF can pull out of the West Bank and the Palestinian Authority will survive.
4) RAND’s view on Palestinian prisoners (terrorists) is immoral and financially incorrect.
3) Israel is restricting and limiting water access to the Palestinians.
2) Expelling Jews is critical for a Palestinian state and the only credible solution.
1) RAND assumes a Palestinian state would not want to destroy Israel.
10 – RAND endorses a Palestinian Apartheid State. The report shows concern for Israel’s democracy and Palestinian rights within the Israeli state, but not only is RAND unperturbed by the lack of Jews in the Palestinian state, its recommended solution is expelling all the Jews from Palestinian controlled areas, implicitly endorsing a Palestinian Apartheid state.
9 – US financial aid to Israel is given out of largesse. US financial assistance to Israel has been undeniably important to Israel’s development.
The report seems to imply that the US provides financial and military aid to Israel out of largesse and that all the money has been in the form of grants.
In reality, much of the historical US financial assistance to Israel has actually been in the form of loans that Israel repaid in full.
Furthermore, since 1979, much of the US military funding and aid to Israel was part and parcel with the Camp David Israel-Egypt Peace Accords.
In exchange for Israel ceding the invaluable Sinai Peninsula, with its oil reserves, tourism capabilities, land resources and strategic depth, to Egypt, the US placed financial obligations on itself vis-à-vis Israel.
While this information doesn’t change the report, it implies a certain mindset by the authors.
For more information on US aid to Israel: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/foreign_aid.html
8 – There exist 600,000 Palestinian Refugees who will “return from abroad” to Palestine. The Palestinians are the only refugee group in the world that transfer their first-generation refugee status to their descendants (even to great-great-grandchildren), based on a unique definition established only for them by UNRWA. Refugee status is even awarded to those residing within the Palestinian Authority and Gaza (requiring a very flexible reading of “internally displaced persons”) as the Palestinian Authority keeps them in refugee camps.
Using the original UNHCR’s definition, as it applies to refugees in the rest of the world, at best there are only 50,000 Palestinian refugees still alive today from 1948.
And we haven’t even touched the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries, as well as “internally displaced” Jews from pre-1948 Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
7 – 600,000 Palestinian Refugees will “return from abroad” to Palestine. The RAND report arbitrarily decided 600,000 Palestinians will decide to immigrate to a Palestinian state. But that number could just as easily be 6 million, especially if the international community is giving money away to the refugees along with the instability of the Middle East driving Arab refugees elsewhere. The consequences for the Palestinian State are predictable.
Whatever the final number, the Palestinians can not and will not develop the infrastructure to support any such mass immigration.
6 – The Palestinians will develop and maintain the infrastructure needed for a Palestinian state. Despite foreign investments and among the highest international donations per capita in the world, the Palestinians have refused or been unable to develop the eastern aquifers, sewage treatment facilities, and even advanced hospitals, much less good government.
The money was given to them, the opportunity was given to them, no one was obstructing them. They just did not want to do it.
5 – The IDF can pull out of the West Bank and the Palestinian Authority will survive. Only the IDF is preventing a Hamas, and perhaps an ISIS, military takeover of the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority hasn’t run elections in a decade due to the realistic prediction that Hamas will win due to popular support.
An IDF pullout will guarantee the worst terrorists take over the West Bank, just as they did in Gaza and Southern Lebanon. An IDF pullout is a guaranteed recipe for war, not peace.
4 – RAND’s view on Palestinian prisoners (terrorists) is immoral and financially incorrect. RAND believes the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails would free up money that is instead going to support the families of those jailed.
The Palestinian Authority finances the prisoner’s families based on a sliding scale of how gruesome and successful the attacks on Israel were. With the worst terrorists receiving the most money.
RAND’s call for releasing these terrorists is immoral, and would also result in a significant increase in Israeli expenditure on security due to the historically high rate of recidivism among freed terrorists.
A moral position would have RAND calling for the Palestinian Authority to stop funding the jailed terrorists, potentially saving them over $200 million a year, or 6% of their annual budget.
3 – Israel is restricting and limiting water access to the Palestinians.
The Palestinian Authority has purposely refused to develop the eastern aquifers that could provide them with tremendous water stock.
The Palestinian Authority barely maintains the water system that Israel developed that currently supplies them with water, resulting in tremendous losses as high as 33% from negligence and Palestinian theft.
Israel supplies the Palestinians more water than is required by the Oslo Accords.
The Palestinians purposely do not treat most of their sewage which risks everyone’s water supply, denying themselves additional water for agriculture.
This is an internal Palestinian problem they refuse to deal with.
For more information on water: report: http://mfa.gov.il/MFA_Graphics/MFA%20Gallery/Documents/IsraelPalestiniansWaterIssues.pdf
2 – Expelling Jews is critical for a Palestinian state and the only credible solution. RAND wants to expel (“relocate”) as many as 100,000 Jews (if not 600,000) to establish a Palestinian state. The economic benefits to Israel are actually negative for any relocation.
The RAND report doesn’t consider the far cheaper, more effective and equally fair alternative–relocating Palestinians for peace.
The cost per person would be markedly less, proving to be a better investment of international funding and aid.
If RAND believes importing 600,000 Palestinians into the West Bank would be amazing for Palestine’s economy, imagine what relocating 2 million Palestinians into Jordan would do for Jordan’s economy – and for peace in the region.
1 – RAND must assume a Palestinian state would not want to destroy Israel. This is probably the reports most egregious error.
Nothing in Palestinian history or actions indicates that the Palestinians want peace with Israel.
To point out a few examples:
The PLO was formed before 1967, before settlements, in order to destroy Israel.
In Gaza, the Palestinians had the opportunity to build a Gazan Riviera and instead chose to build terror tunnels and rockets.
Israeli prime ministers have repeatedly offered the Palestinians the maximalist positions the RAND report requires for a 2-state solution and Palestinian state, in exchange for an “end to the conflict” — only to be rebuffed.
All indications are that a Palestinian state will continue to be at war with Israel as that is its raison d’être.
In reality, there would be no financial benefits resulting from the creation of a Palestinian state.