In this BICOM Expert View paper, Col. (res.) Shaul Arieli, former head of Israel’s administration for negotiations with the Palestinians, challenges the idea that the window is closing on a two-state solution. The paper argues that regardless of where one stands on the wisdom or otherwise of past or future settlement construction in various parts of the West Bank, creating a border between Israel and the West Bank remains entirely possible. The continuing viability of partition from an Israeli perspective is enhanced by the fact that:
- most Israeli settlers are concentrated in blocks
- the Israeli settlement presence beyond the blocks is limited;
- most working settlers are employed inside Israel;
- Israeli settlements use largely distinct infrastructure from West Bank Palestinians;
- many settlers are economically motivated therefore likely to move voluntarily in the event of peace;
- the number of new homes currently planned for construction within Israel is 20 times the number of households that might need to be relocated.
The picture outlined here of the demographic and settlement reality in the West Bank shows that the real difficulty in implementing the idea of partition is not physical but political.
Click here to read the paper in full.