The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

When a Palestinian state?

Egypt's Hosni Mubarak said in an interview to be published in Der Spiegel that he expects a Palestinian state in 2008, by the end of Bush's second term. How many times has a Palestinian state been postponed now? Considering that there are several near-final agreements in place and agreed on (Geneva is just the latest, there are various others), why should it take so long. If there was going to be a Palestinian state, it should be in 2005 as Bush had promised a few years back. The pliable Mahmoud Abbas is sure to agree to whatever is presented to him.

If I was betting, though, I would bet on that there will never be a Palestinian state. These deadlines have been talked about for the past 15 years, and there always ends up being something that blocks it. I don't see any powerful element of the Israeli political establishment that really wants to get out of the West Bank (Labor joining with Likud shows that they too have other priorities, to do with future elections and domestic politics). What they want is to secure more land through the settlement process, retain control of strategic assets such as certain sites, underground water etc., and create a situation where the West Bank is pacified and submissive. But pull out and allow a Palestinian state worthy of the name? Methinks not.

By the way, one little-considered aspect of the forthcoming Palestinian elections (whose results are conveniently already known since the great powers have made their preference quite clear) is that Palestinian refugees don't get a voice.