The Israeli government’s acceptance of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, in a considerable portion of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, is very likely the acceptance of the destruction of the Jewish state. Prime Minister Sharon believes that the United States, the Europeans and the world are going to accept his version of what this state should be. This is a fatal delusion. And even were they to accept as a first stage such a mini-state - without control over its own border, its airspace, without the right to contract foreign alliances - the Palestinians themselves through endless politicking in the U.N. and throughout the world, in time, will wear down future Israeli governments. If there is going to be a Palestinian state, it will be eventually a state with all the rights and privileges of other states.
Prime Minister Sharon and others such as Foreign Minister Sylvan Shalom have been making a tremendously big deal about their achievement in winning U.S. assent to the idea of no massive Palestinian refugee entry into the state of Israel. No doubt after negotiations, the absolute no will have been somewhat qualified, and a number of Palestinians will eventually be allowed to enter, perhaps what the Israeli government will consider a non-critical number, fifty or one-hundred or one-hundred and fifty thousand.
But what the Israeli government does not wish to recognize is that the Palestinian Arab state, very aware that the struggle is for the whole of the land, will welcome warmly into its own territory hundreds of thousands , perhaps even millions of Palestinians and other Arabs from the even poorer surrounding countries. These millions will not stay locked up in Ramallah and Jenin. As their compatriots from Hebron have done for thirty years, they will find their way into Jerusalem, west Jerusalem, as well. And they will make their way into the Galilee and Negev, where their compatriots await them. There will be family reunifications. There will be simple stealing of the border, as goes on all the time now. The artificial barrier created by the state of Israel will not hold up at all, especially as a very large minority within Israel, the former Israeli Arabs, now Israeli Palestinians, will also be working to break this border down.
The state that is supposedly (and this is one main argument for allowing its creation) going to solve Israel’s demographic problem will worsen that problem tremendously.
The overcrowding of the Palestinian state will effect Israel in other ways. Despite the Palestinians having been granted a state, there will no doubt continue to be claims against Israel about that state’s relative poverty . Why doesn’t Israel allow more workers in from Palestine ? And why, if there is peace, can’t the Palestinians benefit too from the Israeli economy?
The sum result of the demographic flood, and a very likely continuation of, or resumption of, Palestinian terror will be a worsening of the situation in Israel. Let us remember the Palestinian’s success in the past thirty-two months of violence is not in making life better for themselves, but in making it worse for Israel. The worsening of Israel’s security and economic situation will also change the demographic balance for the worse, as it will drive many young Jews to seek their fortunes and futures elsewhere.
This will also accentuate another aspect of the demographic problem, one little written about: the confrontation between a very young Palestinian population and an aged and tired Jewish one.
In the small, already overcrowded land, with one of the highest population densities in the world, the creation of a Palestinian state will increase crowding, poverty and economic pressure on Israel. And here it is wise to remember that as the Palestinians are prepared to dwell in squalor and misery without demanding to move on, the Jews will, in increasing economic difficulty, find their way elsewhere.
Nothing has been said here about the kinds of terror threat, the kinds of ecological threat, presented by a Palestinian state. But these also are very great indeed, and justify Israeli resistance to it.
Prime Minister Sharon may help bring into being the Palestinian mini-state, believing he has brought ‘peace’ for an ‘interim period’, if not ‘in our time’. President Bush may, after his second term, be seen as the great architect of the ‘peace of Palestine’. But what they essentially will have done is undermine the only democracy in the Middle East, and, what is for some even more important, the only Jewish state in two thousand years.
This is a very, very frightening prospect. And before ‘Palestine’ is allowed to come into being supposedly alongside, but actually within, Israel, those ministers in the government, even if they are members of the Likud, should be courageous enough to resign if necessary and bring down this government; in order to prevent the disaster from happening.Shalom Freedman is a freelance writer in Jerusalem, whose work has appeared in a wide variety of Jewish publications.