A Palestinian State - What the World Should Expect

The world has not stopped to contemplate the snowballing results of creating a "Palestinian" state.

Prof. Louis René Beres

OpEds Prof. Louis Rene Beres
Prof. Louis Rene Beres
israelnewsphoto: R. B.

"Palestine belongs to the Palestinians, from the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea. We must not cede this narrative. From the River to the Sea....Palestine belongs to the Palestinians; and the heart of the matter is the right of return, our cause is the right of return."   (Palestinian PA Parliament Member, Khalida Jarrar, April 16, 2014)

 At a moment when supremely civilized countries all over the world seem eager to support Palestinian statehood - Germany is the latest -  few have taken the trouble to examine precisely what this support could actually mean. To be sure, the expected impact of a 23rd Arab sovereignty would be most immediately injurious to Israel, although, over time, even enthusiastic European advocates of "Palestine" would likely suffer their own consequent harms. This is because a Palestinian state - any Palestinian state - would quickly become yet another dedicated launching site for Jihadist terrorism.

Oddly enough, nothing could be more obvious.

"Hamas is ISIS, and ISIS is Hamas," correctly explained Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu before the U.N. General Assembly last September: "They all have the same ideology; they all seek to establish a global militant Islam, where there is no freedom."

 Also in September, Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, now working together with his "brothers" in Hamas, asked the U.N. Security Council to set a deadline of November 2016 for a full Israeli withdrawal from Judea/Samaria (West Bank), including East Jerusalem. His draft resolution vaguely accepts a "Two State Solution" for the disputed areas, but all major Palestinian media continue to speak, officially, of Israel itself as "Occupied Palestine." The "moderate" PA "solution," therefore, exactly like the "radical" Hamas "solution," calls for a single Arab state, in all of the land now defined as Israel, West Bank, and Gaza.

"From the River to the Sea." These are the unambiguously endorsed borders of "Palestine," exterminatory boundaries that are expressed not only in words, videos, and documents, but also cartographically, in oft-published PA maps.

Since 2005, when Israel "disengaged" from Gaza in the naive hope of receiving a suitable quid pro quo from Hamas and the Palestinian Authority - that is, peace and cooperation from the Arab side - the only recognizable use to which this land has been put is as a Palestinian staging ground for endless war and ghastly terror.

Plainly, the only intended Palestinian solution for Israel remains a determinedly "final" one.

A good way to better understand what is actually being planned here by certain advocates of Palestinian statehood is to fashion an appropriate scenario. As a useful approach to social science and international law enforcement, this suggests a speculative but informed narrative of pertinent future events. With this plan in mind, we may consider the following set of thoroughly plausible expectations.

Within just a few hours of any formal Palestinian "declaration of independence," Arab citizens of Israel - there are now 1.8 million - would quickly begin to transform their initially benign and celebratory local celebrations into malignantly full-scale and chaotic riots. Among other purposes, such "spontaneous" violence would serve to display this Arab population's openly overriding loyalties to Palestine.

Of course, these Israeli Arabs won't feel any corresponding need to physically move themselves to the new Palestinian state. After all, they will already understand that, in a matter of months, all of what is still "Occupied Palestine" (Israel) would be forcibly absorbed into the new state. Then, although these almost two million Arabs had themselves been citizens of the formerly-Jewish State, Palestine would frenetically be rendered Judenrein, or "free of Jews."

"From the River to the Sea." This would represent the anticipated start of Arab "democracy" in Palestine. This would be the exemplary justice-based state made possible by conspicuous diplomatic largesse, in various glittering European capitals, and, among other places, also in Washington.

For Israel, which would have to fight for its life yet again - and more arduously, perhaps, than at any time before in its starkly beleaguered history - the resultant security costs of staving off aggression and "absorption" would be difficult to bear. More than likely, the core enemy now, after a legally problematic bestowal of Palestinian sovereignty, would not be Palestine per se, but rather an enlarged or conglomerate Arab/Islamist adversary, one involving a discernibly broad alliance of both state and sub-state opponents. It is even possible, in these entirely predictable circumstances, that some mobilized IDF elements would be placed in direct confrontations with ISIS, or ISIS-related foes.

"Hamas is ISIS, and ISIS is Hamas."

In the short run, after formalization of Palestine, security dangers to Israel would center upon very bitter internal unrest, and also on those corollary perils originating from domestic terror attacks, expanded border incursions from Palestine, and external (Palestine-based) rocket launches. In the longer term, bereft of needed strategic depth, Israel would face a steadily deteriorating "correlation of forces," that is, an overall weakening of Israeli military capacity. This weakening, in turn, would substantially enlarge the probability of conventional war with other Arab states, and also of conventional terror attacks.

If such attenuations of Israeli power were to take place simultaneously with Iranian nuclearization, a genuinely plausible expectation, the single most catastrophic consequence of Palestine could ultimately include nuclear war fighting. This dire assessment is offered not because a Palestinian state would itself have any direct nuclear capabilities, but rather because that state's creation would contribute, prima facie, to an increasingly corrosive, for Israel, balance of power.

From a more broadly geo-strategic perspective, the precise hazards, to Israel, of a nuclear Iran, could be affected by what happens throughout the region along the most primary Sunni-Shia axes of conflict, especially if ISIS were to make any further progress in its ongoing territorial takeovers within sectors of Iraq and Syria.

Another still widely-ignored factor in all of this prospective regional transformation is the growing probability of a new Cold War between Russia and the United States. Such hardening bipolarity, too, could impact the nature and function of other core Middle Eastern alignments.

A still under-examined result of Palestinian independence would be a meaningfully enlarged threat to Israel (a country smaller than America's Lake Michigan) of nuclear war and nuclear terror. Understanding this, Palestine's emergence could spawn tangibly enlarged efforts in Jerusalem/Tel Aviv to properly strengthen Israel's traditionally "ambiguous" nuclear deterrent. Quickly, such indispensable measures could embrace a more-or-less dramatic shift to an openly declared nuclear strategy, one including even unhidden statements about nuclear basing, nuclear targeting doctrine, and intentions for maintaining "escalation dominance."

From a more narrowly legal or jurisprudential perspective, there is one additional point to underscore in this scenario. Under governing international law, the binding requirements of statehood are expressed at the Convention on the Rights and Duties of States ("Montevideo Convention"), which entered into force in 1934. Among other things, this authoritative treaty clarifies that statehood is always independent of recognition.

What this really means, for the urgent matter before us, is that Palestine would not become a proper sovereign state in automatic consequence of assorted national approvals, either within the United Nations as an institution, or anywhere else on earth. No matter how many states might choose to support Palestinian statehood, and no matter how venerated or powerful these discrete states might be, such support would be trumped by the specific, codified, and then still unmet expectations of "Montevideo."


In the final analysis, as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated before the U.N. General Assembly last September, "The people of Israel are not the occupiers in the land of Israel." Significantly, the Mandate for Palestine (1922) reaffirmed the longstanding Jewish legal right to settle anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, an authorization further codified and protected at Article 80 of the U.N. Charter.

For those governments across the world that now seem comfortably supportive of granting Palestinian statehood, the above scenario should suggest a gravely logical warning:

Be careful what you wish for.

Louis René Beres was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), and is the author of many books and articles dealing with international relations and international law. His most recent publications on these topics can be found at the Harvard National Security Journal (Harvard Law School); International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence; The Brown Journal of World Affairs; Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs; Parameters: Journal of the U.S. Army War College; and Oxford University Press. Professor Beres also writes for U.S.  News & World Report; The Atlantic; The Jerusalem Post; Israel National News; and The Washington Times. He was born in Zürich, Switzerland, at the end of World War II.