What State for the Palestinians?
There are many ways to discuss the subject of a West Bank State (WBS). One way would be to consider the possibility of such a state coming into existence through discussing the various issues, variables, and positions of the parties concerned. Another way will be to consider some political principle such as "the right of nations to self-determination" and discuss the implications of such a principle in the context of the setting up of a WBS. Still an- other method could argue for a certain position as opposed to others and try to show its superiority in light of the gains it involves and its cost-effectiveness. Yet another method might consider a sector of the Palestinian and/or Arab population and examine the implications of founding a WBS for that sector or group.
This analysis will not adopt any of the above approaches as its focus. It will, however, touch on some of the issues which could have arisen under the above methods. The study will consider the problem of a West Bank State - including or excluding the Gaza Strip -and Palestinian attitudes towards it. The analysis is meant as a broad and schematic approach to the subject rather than an exhaustive one. The stress will be on the kind of questions that are relevant (or deemed relevant by the Palestinians), and the variables that are and/or ought to be considered. No attempt will be made to provide exact and conclusive answers or predictions of the future. The objective of this study is to present a framework for analysis through the mapping of the various issues and different positions.
The subject of the WBS is a complex one. It was claimed at one stage that there is no benefit and only little virtue in discussing it. Before the 1973 October War the majority of the Palestinian resistance organizations stipulated such a discussion as futile and counter-productive. The rationale of that position was that within the framework of the objectives of the resistance- and short of what amounts to capitulation-such a solution was not on the agenda for reasons both of political feasibility - local balance of power -- and strategic consistency-recognition of the Zionist State. In short, for the majority of the Palestinian resistance the subject of a WBS was not relevant either politically or ideologically.
Since the October War, however, it seems that all parties to the conflict are discussing the WBS. It would, thus, be foolish to evade such a discussion.
Hussein J. Agha is a Ph.D. candidate at St. John's College, Oxford University.