ASSESSING THE VIABILITY OF A PALESTINIAN STATE


Prelude

Given the turbulent happenings in the Middle East and around the world associated with the Palestinian quandary, I have decided to make publicly available my master's thesis Assessing the Viability of a Palestinian State. The thesis was written between 1992 and 1993, and some of the data I relied on goes back to the 1980s. For that reason much of it is dated and perhaps no longer applicable, if it ever was. However, I have hopes that at least some of the effort put into this may prove useful both to observers and to those working to defuse the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation which has, it seems, become more volatile than ever before.

One feature of the thesis deemed rather unique by some Mid-East specialists who have read it is what can best be described as a "consensus vote" method of evaluating each of the components of viability. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being "least" viable and 10 being "most," I have tried to rank-order where a notional Palestinian state might fall in such a ranking. I then compare the overall rankings with currently existing nations that have proven to be more or less viable.

There are obvious benefits to a continuum/rank-ordering approach. Many of these viability components do not readily lend themselves to quantitative evaluation - it would be hard, for example, to calculate numerically and precisely to what degree political turmoil might affect prospects for long-term survival of any given nation-state. However, there is still a fact-of-the-matter as to how each component will affect an embryonic nation-state. These effects would, of course, be readily seen in hind-sight when too late to be of much help.

As I worked on the thesis it seemed to me that experts in the field should be able to give rough, if subjective estimates within a fair degree of accuracy. Each expert, of course, would have a somewhat different take on each individual issue, with some providing estimates higher and others lower. My method proposes having experts provide these subjective estimates as a measure on the 1 to 10 scale. All expert estimates could then be totaled and averaged, providing what I believe would be a reasonably accurate assessment of just how viable a nation-state (in this case Palestine) would be both in terms of that particular component and viability in general.

The estimates that you see in my thesis are not made by experts. Most of them are better described as "educated guesses" made by me as I went through the research, analysis, and writing process. Some of the estimates on how other nations fared when evaluated according to this system were provided by other people familiar with the countries so examined, but who, again, probably don't qualify fully as certified "experts." Still, the evaluations provided are likely not all that far off the mark, and at the very least show how this approach might work.

A further matter to mention here is my depiction of the borders of a possible Palestinian state. I show a thin strip of land linking Gaza and the West Bank. Because of both security and economic issues such a solution would likely be unacceptable to either party. One can speculate on various solutions to this quandary. A surface right-of way would probably be just as unwieldy as was access to West Berlin before the fall of the Iron Curtain. Given the success of the Chunnel between England and France, it might be technically feasible from an engineering perspective to build a high capacity tunnel (though the seismic activity of the region might pose a different challenge). An elevated roadway would be a less-expensive alternative, but more vulnerable to acts of sabotage. Whatever solution turns up will have to be mutually acceptable to both parties.

Assessing the Viability of a Palestinian State was written to fulfil requirements for the Masters of Science of Strategic Intelligence degree offered by the Defense Intelligence College (now re-named the Joint Military Intelligence College), and was officially published as a thesis in July 1993. Thesis chair was Dr. Max Gross of the College; readers were Dr. Bernard Reich of George Washington University and Dr. Omar Kader, formerly of Brigham Young University, now president of Pal-Tech, Inc., an international consulting firm. The views expressed in the thesis are my own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the US Government.

Paul H. Smith
4 August 2002
Austin TX


ASSESSING THE VIABILITY OF A PALESTINIAN STATE

Paul H. Smith

©July, 1993

Table of Contents


PRELUDE

Chapter 1:  IS PALESTINE VIABLE?

Chapter 2:  WHAT IS VIABILITY?

Chapter 3:  NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS

Chapter 4:  THE GEOGRAPHIC FACTOR

Chapter 5:  THE NATURAL RESOURCE FACTOR

Chapter 6:  THE SOCIO-DEMOGRAPHIC FACTOR

Chapter 7:  THE POLITICAL FACTOR

Chapter 8:  THE ECONOMIC FACTOR

Chapter 9:  THE SECURITY FACTOR

Chapter 10:  ANSWERING THE QUESTION

Appendix

Bibliography


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