The RAND corporation released a report that is making tremendous waves, particularly among those who lean leftward. The news reports say RAND claims that Israelis and Palestinians could be $174 billion dollars richer in 10 years, if only a Palestinian State were created.
But the report doesn’t actually say that.
(Note: I use the terms “Palestinians” and “West Bank” only as a reference back to the content of the report.)
Unfortunately, for all the noise, no one seems to have actually read the report (and admittedly, RAND saved their most truthful and important caveats to the very end), thus misunderstanding what basic premises and assumptions RAND relied on, what conditions were assumed, what they completely ignored and what objective the RAND report authors actually want to achieve.
The report is very specifically only talking about the economic benefits (primarily to the Palestinians) if a hypothetical, Utopian two-state solution at peace with Israel were achieved.
But the report is based on impossible assumptions and wishful thinking that doesn’t coincide with any reality we live in or any historical precedent we’ve experienced.
In fact, the RAND report acknowledges many of the problems I will list below, only to ignore them as it presents the economic utopia that could be… if only…
The report is a hypothetical case study based on impossible assumptions, that only at the end of the report do they essentially acknowledge are unattainable.
Worse, despite their thrice repeated statement of only presenting scenarios that are “credible” and achievable within 10 years, their scenarios are simply not credible, and they notably left out other, far more reasonable and achievable scenario, though clearly not the scenarios they desire.
If I were to actually spell out my perception of RAND’s goal for this report, it would solely be to convince the Palestinians that a two-state scenario is in their best interest to implement, even as it is not in their power to do so.
Towards the very end, the RAND report finally admits the impossibility of their hypothetical case studies:
11.8. No Change in Sight The economic benefits of peace and negative consequences of violence are clear. But many other less tangible considerations, including the ones discussed above, create a complex web of factors and imputed costs, making it exceedingly difficult for the parties to reach an understanding—even internally among various groups in each society, let alone externally to bridge the divide that the final status accord issues have always posed.
None of the scenarios we examined seems likely to change this situation in the short run.
Meaning, implementing a two-state solution won’t bring peace, and peace won’t happen, which is needed to bring about a two-state solution.
I also played a bit with their Conflict Calculator, but again, the primary problem isn’t their math, it’s the underlying assumptions their math is based on.
RAND’s primary required premise is that they must assume the Palestinians want peace and can build a peaceful society for this to work, and they would be satisfied if only they had a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as their capital, and along the 1967 line.
Except, nothing in our experience shows that to be the case, particularly the Palestinian’s own actions and statements.
The PLO was formed in 1964 to destroy Israel, when the Arabs controlled eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank and didn’t try to create a Palestinian state there. They killed the Jews of Hebron in 1929 when there wasn’t even a state of Israel.
Gaza is now controlled by Hamas/Palestinians, and they’ve made it clear they still want to destroy Israel. Instead of building the Gazan Riviera they build terror tunnels and missiles.
The PA continues to propagandize against Israel.
The Palestinians refused offers by previous Israeli prime ministers who were prepared to give them everything they asked for – in exchange for an end to the conflict. But the Palestinians repeatedly turned it down.
RAND’s basic required premise #1 is unrealistic. A Palestinian State will not be one which is at peace with Israel, because that is not what the Palestinians want, as they have made clear. And the multiple wars and battles that follow will not be good for the GDP.
RAND assumes that evacuating Settlers, handing over Area C for Palestinian development, and bringing in 1.2 million Palestinians will increase the Palestinian GDP.
RAND again requires assumption that the Palestinian are interested or capable of developing their own infrastructure, much less absorbing 1.2 million Arabs (perhaps they confused the Palestinians with Israel).
Despite foreign investments and among the highest international donations 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, no one was obstructing them. They just didn’t/couldn’t do it.
So, RAND’s basic premise #2 is wrong. The Palestinians can not or will not develop their infrastructure properly if given the opportunity, as they’ve had the opportunity for the past 20 years and haven’t done so.
RAND believes the collapse of the Palestinian Authority will have a negative economic effect, but requires assuming that a Palestinian State will keep the Palestinian Authority healthy and functioning.
The RAND study mentions and then ignores that the IDF is what is keeping Hamas at bay in the West Bank. The PA is incapable of fighting Hamas on its own. ISIS is also trying to make inroads (in Gaza too). If the IDF pulls out of the West Bank, the PA will collapse, guaranteed. Civil war will follow, as it did in Gaza.
RAND’s calculator calculates the negative effect the dissolution of the PA will have on their GDP. Yet it is clear that an IDF pullout will lead to the PA’s dissolution. You can’t pull the IDF out from the West Bank, hand over Area C to the PA and expect the PA to survive what happens next.
RAND’s basic premise #3 is wrong, because it ignores that the PA will definitely collapse following an Israeli pullout.
The RAND calculator discusses “relocating” up to 600,000 “Settlers”. The report talks about a more realistic 100,000 settlers.
RAND takes into account a number of variables.
If Israel foots the bill, then the more Settlers Israel “relocates” the worse Israel’s GDP gets.
If the international community foots the bill, the benefits to the GDP are incredibly marginal.
Furthermore, to reach the number 600,000 (and even just 100,000), RAND has to include “Settlers” living in well established Jerusalem neighborhoods such as the Old City, Gilo, Har Homa and Pisgat Ze’ev.
Regardless, their calculator shows that the benefits to Israel of “relocating” settlers is almost always negative for Israel.
RAND’s basic premise #4, that expelling the Jews from the West Bank and parts of Jerusalem would be a productive step, is directly contradicted by their own calculator, at least for Israel.
There are some other RAND assumptions that I simply found to be disgusting and immoral.
RAND worked on the assumption that if Israel released Palestinian terrorists, then the Palestinian Authority would no longer need to provide financial support to the terrorists’ families, and their GDP would rise.
As we already know from experience, Palestinian terrorist recidivism is quite high, so releasing Palestinian terrorists would increase Israel’s security costs (and Israeli deaths).
But that’s not the only problem. The other major problem is that the Palestinian Authority is giving money to support the families of terrorists. The worse the act of terror, the more blood on their hands, the more money the family gets.
The RAND report says that 6% of the PA’s annual budget or $200 million goes to paying the families of terrorists.
The calculator should have discussed the Palestinian Authority ending payments to terrorists, not releasing the terrorists.
RAND’s basic premise #5 indicates a strong moral lapse on RAND’s part as well as ignoring the facts. They were thinking in terms of releasing terrorists as opposed to ending support for the terrorists. And their calculator ignores the increased security cost each released terrorist brings with it for Israel.
Moving on to BDS, the bottom line is that despite BDS attacks, Israel’s economy has been growing, and in fact, the attacks have forced Israel to open up new markets and do even better internationally.
But RAND assumes that BDS will suddenly start becoming successful on a large scale, when there is no indication that this is the case.
RAND’s assumption #6 that BDS will suddenly be more successful is wishful thinking on RAND’s part.
On a final note, the RAND report only considered two basic scenarios and the degrees of violence and unilateralism between them – from the status quo to a Palestinian State.
RAND is clearly stuck in a failed paradigm.
It didn’t consider any other possibilities (and I don’t mean a one-state solution, which they deemed as undesirable, as do I).
For instance, instead of relocating Settlers and determining who would pay for that, the report completely ignored the alternative–relocating the Palestinians.
How much would it cost to relocate the Palestinians to Jordan? How would that affect Israel’s GDP?
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 peace in the region.
It’s an equally fair question to ask and equally fair alternative scenario to consider – but RAND didn’t.
The most RAND did say in passing (p. 179) is there exists a “federation” option, but it hasn’t been “extensively examined” or researched.
Well, why not? Why did RAND put in all this effort into scenarios they ultimately admit are impossible, when they could have explored new ideas that might actually work?
RAND’s basic premise #7 is that their are only 2 basic solutions – from status quo to Palestinian State, but was incapable of considering other, actually credible, scenarios.
There are other errors in the report which I won’t go into.
The bottom line is that the RAND report’s hypothetical scenarios are based on false assumptions, immoral considerations, failed concepts and impossible conditions.
I’m sure someone else will invest their time successfully debunking RAND’s financial assumptions too.
But I don’t believe there’s a need to waste more time on it, RAND presented us with a hypothetical case study based on impossible parameters.
End of story.