Emanuel Shahaf

Israel-Palestine – Go Regional

Israel is clearly at a crossroads if not about to run into a wall, without a clear vision on how to proceed. The situation with the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria is almost hopeless with Israel unwilling to negotiate, more because of political constraints than out of purpose. At the same time none of the political forces in Israel have any concept on how to proceed realistically and what to negotiate for, were it politically feasible. The call for the Two State Solution that still occasionally rises from among the ruins of the political Left is more a cry of anguish than a desire to really go for that solution which has long faded away if it ever was relevant.

The situation on the Palestinian side is hardly better: The Palestinian Authority (PA) keeps preaching their mantra, the Two State Solution but has no way of implementing it nor how to bring Israel back to the negotiating table. At the same time internal chaos is breaking up the PA which is losing the limited regional control it has in area A by the day to armed groups which don’t necessarily listen to Hamas, nor to Fatah.

Anarchy is close and every day incidents cause casualties on both sides dragging the area further down.

The possibly only approach that could likely improve the situation, albeit only locally for the time being but with potential positive impact for the whole area, one that could even show a way towards a more permanent arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians, is one of regionality: Israel should approach the individual Palestinian provinces/municipalities, definitely those that are less prone to civil unrest/terror, individually and work out regional terms of cooperation drawing these areas into a cooperative regime, bypassing the PA, but making assistance contingent upon maintaining order.  This would play well with Israel’s present policy of shrinking the conflict which is de-facto mainly aimed at integrating the Palestinian economy with that of Israel. While the effort at regonalizing the treatment of the conflict could speed up a break up of the PA, it’s probaby the only way to deal with the present West Bank chaos in a rational way. An increase in violent interference by the IDF will only be counterproductive. Palestinian provinces and municipalities have considerable autonomy already so approaching (some of) them and offering economic and security incentives would likely go a long way of keeping the peace. While implementing such an approach could become a burden for the Israeli taxpayer in the short run, the money could be taken from the taxes that Israel collects for the PA and is being withheld as long as the PA’s “pay for slay” policies are maintained.

This regional approach, if successful, could eventually lead to a federal approach for the whole area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, probably the only realistic long term alternative to the present quandary.

About the Author
The author served in the Prime Minister’s Office as a member of the intelligence community, is Vice Chairman of the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, Vice-Chairman of the Israeli-German Society (IDG), Co-Chair of the Federation Movement (, member of the council at and author of "Identity: The Quest for Israel's Future".