ASSESSING THE VIABILITY OF A PALESTINIAN STATE
Final scoring for the preceding assessment of the Factors of Viability for Palestine are as follows (the two figures for the economic section represent "without" and "with" significant external aid):
The average of these scores (5.1 // 5.9), divided by 10, gives us a "Viability Coefficient" of .51 // .59.
This would be an appropriate place to warn the reader against the temptation to take these figures too absolutely. Numbers in academic papers often assume an authoritative mystique that in this particular case at least is certainly not justified. What these viability assessments represent is more an "informed opinion"--an educated guess based on fairly extensive research. As such, they represent my best current judgement as to where Palestine would rank. Someone else with access to the same facts as I might well provide a different rating based on a different set of perceptions and biases than I have. Still, these figures provide a useful jumping-off point for comparison with other presumably viable nation-states, and hopefully serve as a very preliminary start for further and more rigorous research into an interesting and important problem.
Before we compare the Palestinian viability coefficientwith those of other countries, let us consider what we have learned concerning Palestine's prospects for viability. Could Palestine be viable? The answer seems to be a qualified yes. The qualifications to our answer stem from certain elements necessary for success but somewhat outside Palestine's control. They also relate to certain "formats" Palestine would have to meet in order to succeed once it became a nation.
First, it seems that success economically can only be obtained by developing an export-oriented manufacturing-based economy. For this to work, Palestine would need a primarily secular, fairly non-restrictive (hence probably representational) government. Whether a religious-based regime governed by Islamic law could create the necessary climate for the world-wide focus needed to make Palestine successful seems unlikely, though further study might be helpful to better understand this. Agriculture, the traditional mainstay of the Palestinian economy, will still be important, but will only be able to augment the state's finances in the future, not support them.
Further, it is apparent that a great deal of judiciously applied outside aid and capital will be essential to get Palestine "up and running." With proper planning and following correct economic principles, there is good reason to hope that this start-up capital will result in the establishment of a self-sustaining economy along the lines, if not the scale, of a Singapore or a Taiwan. Without this aid, prospects for success look grim.
There is reassurance, though, in observing that in its formative stages Israel was faced with the almost identical problem, with a similar lack of resources, similar handicaps, yet similar advantages as well. Israel received (in fact, is still receiving) the necessary external aid, and has developed a robust, export-oriented manufacturing and service economy. Were true regional peace to accompany the formation of a Palestinian state, Israel's need for external assistance to offset the major economic burden of its military would decrease, perhaps dramatically. And Palestine would never develop that need.
Presuming there is an equitable peace agreement established in the beginning to divide land, water, and resources fairly, the best scenario for success would also seem to indicate a need for amicable relations with the Israelis and the Jordanians--though success could still be had with more difficulty even if there were no commerce between the neighbors, as long as there were no overt hostilities. Palestine will have to meticulously police its citizens, and consistently and sincerely renounce any violent acts against the Jewish state or its interests.
It would seem that, with the few noted but important exceptions--for which there are possible remedies--Palestine has the necessary potential for viability. But how does it stack up against other countries in this regard? Using the viability coefficient we have determined through our analysis, we can compare against similar coefficients derived for other nations. The coefficients given for the countries below are not the result of the same exhaustive research as is that for Palestine. They were, however, derived by individuals who have extensive familiarity with the countries reported. The full table of analysis for each of the countries is found in the Appendix.
From the limited scope of comparison available to this survey, it appears that Palestine would emerge somewhere in the middle of the pack in viability comparisons. Were it at a more mature phase in its development (granted a history of success in that development) its score might be nearer that of Israel. However, it would seem that if poor Lesotho, with all its liabilities and meager resources, can eke out the frugal level of survival that it does, Palestine should be able to do better as a viable entity.