Redefining the Basics: Sovereignty and Security of the Palestinian State

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VOL. 24

1994/95

No. 4
P. 5
Articles
Redefining the Basics: Sovereignty and Security of the Palestinian State
FULL TEXT

 

With the signing of the Declaration of Principles (DOP) in Washington on 13 September 1993, the prospect of eventual Palestinian statehood became probable, if not virtually inevitable. Just what form a Palestinian state, if established, would take is another matter. The constraints from the Israeli side-for example, demilitarization, determination to retain greater Jerusalem and substantial areas of the West Bank, and to deny a Palestinian refugee return-and the broad consensus supporting these constraints are well known, as is the fact that only the most dovish Israeli government is likely to relax them more than marginally, if that. Nor do any illusions remain concerning a change in the strategic balance with Israel, or support for Palestinian core concerns from the Arab states or the international community. Still, despite the fact that Israeli preconditions are well known and their implications realized, few, if any, Palestinian policymakers have dispassionately and systematically considered the full "package" that will accompany statehood, let alone drawn up a coherent strategy in response.

Yet to maximize their capabilities and preempt (or ameliorate) the outcome, it is essential that the Palestinians anticipate what the substance of such a package might actually be, and then structure their demands and strategies accordingly. In other words, the Palestinians must examine carefully what sovereignty means, not only in the inter- dependent modem world into which they will, willy-nilly, be integrated, but also in the specific context of the contractual arrangements with both Israel and Jordan that will inevitably accompany Palestinian state- hood and that will impinge heavily on major aspects of Palestinian life.

Conceptualizing the Problem

Three principal problems threaten meaningful Palestinian statehood. First is a severely reduced territory that may also be fragmented into noncontiguous pockets. Second is the possibility of residual intermeshing of Israeli (settler) and Palestinian population concentrations, raising the prospect of mixed or overlapping jurisdictions, with attendant administrative, security, and political complications. Third are the limitations on the return of Palestinian refugees and the ceding of East Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty, without which the new state will lose much of its national identity and political legitimacy.

In each of these cases the question is: Can the Palestinians live with statehood as it is likely to be structured, and how might they do so? Will this require a fundamental redefinition of the meaning of sovereignty in the Palestinian context, and can this be done without simply translating sovereignty into nonexistence?

A useful way of approaching the question is to think in terms of security. Security has two distinct meanings in this context. In the narrow sense it means military defense against direct, physical threats to the population, vital economic installations or resources, and agencies of the state. In the second, broader sense it means the ability to protect "national values," identified broadly as safeguarding the political and territorial integrity of the state, ensuring the physical well-being and survival of the population, promoting economic welfare, and preserving social harmony. [1] 

Defined in this way, security depends on the attainment and subsequent maintenance of "stateness." This may be measured in terms of material capabilities (military and economic, but also organizational/institutional), political legitimacy, autonomy (with regard to domestic and external forces), and the functional differentiation and coordination of state agencies. [2] The specific sources of each element and the overall balance between them vary from state to state. So does the state's capacity to regulate domestic life, extract and appropriate resources, and penetrate society (politically and administratively). [3] It is these variations that distinguish "strong" states from "weak") ones. [4] 

It is immediately obvious that the Palestinian state will be "weak" by most measures. The state may nonetheless exist, in part because its success in obtaining international recognition (juridical statehood) will not depend on a commensurate ability to defend and control territory (empirical statehood). [5] Quite the reverse, in fact. Independence is far more likely to come because the external powers that count most- Israel, followed by the U.S. and Jordan-come to the conclusion that there will be little real difference between Palestinian autonomy and nominal sovereignty once the structure of the final peace settlement is put into place. As importantly, the state will build on Palestinian nation-building since 1948 and on the consolidation of a new political system and social alliances in Gaza and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) under the Palestinian Authority (PA).

What this suggests is that there are sufficient reasons for a Palestinian state to appear, albeit one in which sovereignty is constrained both by formal, contractual limitations and by the complete exposure of the Palestinian polity, society, and economy to outside forces. Flawed sovereignty and structural weakness will be intrinsic features of any Palestinian state, and so the question "how can the Palestinians live within statehood as it is likely to be structured?" is reduced to: Can the Palestinians, through considered choices and calculated trade-offs, actively mitigate some aspects of weakness and deliberately turn others to advantage, to the point where core "national values" are adequately ensured? After all, a state that is "strong" because it enjoys great autonomy vis-a-vis its own society is not always a good thing, and the Palestinians may benefit instead from a "weak" state that has to compensate for externally-imposed limitations by decentralizing power and improving performance at all levels.

In practice, the Palestinian answer to the above question will almost inevitably be provided through eclectic politics, a process of trial-and- error in which populist nationalism, personal and factional ambition, corporate interests, and collective inertia all have their impact. The new Palestinian political system is already in the making and with it the internal structure of the state-to-be, although the latter's juridical standing in the international community has yet to be determined. This suggests that short-term expediency (internally) and "balancing politics" (externally) will tend to play a greater role than conscious design as the Palestinians work toward statehood.

Be that as it may, there is a significant difference between the internal processes of state formation (the construction of social control through political, economic, and other levers) on the one hand, and negotiation of the specific terms of independence from Israel (and, perhaps, of confederation with Jordan) on the other. The former process is essentially evolutionary and rarely conforms to deliberate planning, whereas the latter exercise demands clarity of purpose and careful calculation of long-term pros and cons. The "terms of independence" will still emerge from a series of compromises in which initial blueprints may change beyond recognition, but the outcome will nonetheless be profoundly shaped by the degree of structured thinking and preparation that have gone ahead on each side. Palestinian Insecurity and Its Implications

Besides the legal basis for their statehood, to which both the United States and Israel are parties by virtue of their acceptance of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 of November 1947, [6] the Palestinians understand that their exercise of sovereignty over their land, resources, and people is the key determinant of their well-being and national survival. Hence the imperative need for an independent state. Until this state comes into existence, the Palestinian people remain under one degree or another of Israeli military occupation or in an exile the precariousness of which has been amply demonstrated in Lebanon and Kuwait. Statehood, then, is deeply felt as the only means of assuring Palestinian individual and collective security needs. It was the same understanding, after all, that drove the Zionist movement before 1948. [7] 

It should be stressed that the Palestinian need for physical protection is no whim. The events of the 1948 war continue to arouse controversy, but indisputably they led to the uprooting and dispersal of the larger part by far of the Palestinian population. The trauma of separation from land and patrimony and the "disarticulation" of Palestinian society as a whole was compounded in following years by the vicissitudes of life under alien control, whether Israeli or Arab. For the majority, the Palestinian condition became one of exile and vulnerability; after June 1967 the rest of the Palestinian population also came under Israeli military occupation. [8] The existential nature of the threat to Palestinians is clear from the fact that in the two decades following 1967 some 35,000-45,000 Palestinians were killed in fighting with Israel or related civil conflicts in Arab countries. [9] In the occupied territories, an estimated 350,000-400,000 Palestinians were subjected to Israeli interrogation and some 100,000 received prison sentences between 1967 and the mid-1980s, even before Israeli repression of the intifada caused an additional 1,200 dead, over 100,000 wounded, and 80,000-90,000 detainees in 1987-93. This threat has stemmed directly from the Palestinian lack of sovereign power over themselves and the land on which they live.

If the key to Palestinian existential security is statehood, then how shall the physical security of a Palestinian state be defined? Once a Palestinian state is established, it would face two distinct levels of threat: large-scale attack by the regular armed forces of neighboring states; and low-level violence instigated by clandestine paramilitary groups, possibly with access to government resources and security or defense forces.

From the Israeli side, the threat would come from a variety of sources. One is the action of former Israeli settlers or other civilians who might form clandestine terrorist networks similar to those that have appeared from time to time since 1980, when one group, TNT, attempted to assassinate three elected Palestinian mayors. Another threat is the possible action of maverick officers or other government officials, who might either act in conjunction with underground civilian groups or seek to use their special access to provoke incidents between the two states of Israel and Palestine. [10] 

Even in the absence of individuals with private agendas, the Israeli government might misread military and political developments in Pales- tine or other neighboring Arab states, or overreact to the action of agent provocateurs. It might then launch military operations against the Palestinian state, in keeping with the emphasis in Israeli military doctrine on preventive and preemptive strikes, without it really being necessary to do so. More serious would be if Israel perceived a ground-based military threat from Syria, Iraq, or any other country that might prompt Israeli reoccupation of Palestine as a preemptive measure. However, it is precisely to counter the scenario of a large-scale attack by conventional Arab forces advancing through the West Bank that Israel would no doubt insist on ironclad security arrangements within any peace agreement leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state. [11] 

Other potential threats to Palestinian security include possible resort to covert operations by Palestinian individuals or groups opposed to the peace with Israel. Intercommunal tensions within Jordan could also conceivably lead to various forms of low-level violence, as well as political friction. Jordan would be extremely unlikely to pose a military threat to Palestine, however, as Israel would not tolerate the movement of major units and weapon systems across the Jordan River for any reason, and the kingdom's own economic and social stability would suffer if Jordanian-Palestinian relations deteriorated. Jordan could still cause substantial damage to the Palestinian economy and national security, if it chose to for whatever reason, by suspending West Bank traffic across the Jordan River. [12] 

With regard to the Palestinian state's capability to meet these threats, even if the peace agreement with Israel did not impose major limitations on Palestinian military dispositions (an exceedingly remote prospect), it would not possess the financial and human means to build a defense capability sufficient to deter seriously, let alone repel, a deter- mined conventional assault. The experience of establishing the Palestinian police force stipulated by the PLO-Israel Cairo Accord of May 1994 offers a sobering guide. The World Bank expects its annual cost to run initially at $180 million, for a strength of 9,000. [13] A defense force would require more specialized military training and greater investment in combat and support equipment, permanent facilities, and monitoring/warning systems. The cost per combat soldier is much higher than for policemen or moderately-armed national guardsmen. The formation of even a token ground-based defense force (with no aerial or naval capability) would impose a severe financial burden on the Palestinian state. The diversion of revenue could tax Palestinian society and economy excessively, leading to domestic instability and actually worsening national security.

Moreover, for the Palestinians to seek a peace agreement permitting them to maintain sizeable armed forces would be self-defeating, since their resultant defenses would in any case be inadequate to defeat an all-out attack. Indeed, to maintain a defense force of more than minimal capability would only increase the anxieties of neighbors, leading to countermeasures that would ultimately leave the Palestinians less secure than at the start-a classic "security dilemma."

That said, the Palestinian state should possess sufficient military means to ensure its basic security credibly against small-scale attack or cross-border infiltration. [14] In this way, it would make a significant contribution both to its own security and to the stability of Palestinian- Israeli relations. After all, any Israeli attempt to invoke security grounds for intervention within the area of Palestinian jurisdiction would only provoke irredentism and prove counterproductive. The fact that maintaining both a defense force and a police force might prove too costly suggests that the Palestinians should study options for a single formation, such as a national guard, with responsibility both for border security and for public law and order.

Security as a "Package" 

The approach to Palestinian security developed here is based on the premise that the military dimension is only one component of security, and not always the most important one. Security is in fact an integral concept that includes-in addition to the military-political, social, economic, and even environmental dimensions. [15] This understanding is at the heart of Palestinian insistence on exercising the right to self-determination in the form of a sovereign state. It also offers a means of achieving trade-offs, since the Palestinians define their existential requirements and priorities in a way that allows them to reduce the emphasis on conventional security and military defense.

As already indicated, the Palestinian state would have limited military options for dealing with possible threats to its security even if it enjoyed unfettered freedom to build up its armed forces. [16] It is equally obvious that the most serious threats, short of conventional external attack, would be to its political rather than its physical security. Besides inter- state conflict, Palestine would face challenges from Israelis or from those of its own citizens unwilling to relinquish their claims and recognize the other party. Yet this type of threat, even if it can be contained, cannot be resolved militarily.

This serves to reiterate the need for a focus on nonmilitary elements in Palestinian security thinking. Statehood is the key determinant of Palestinian existential security, but military strength cannot be the primary guarantor of security for the state because it would lack the demo- graphic and financial resources and be bound by constitutional constraints. Instead, the Palestinians should consciously seek a trade- off in any peace agreement with Israel. They should exchange the demand for a military capability that cannot serve its stated purpose for real political and territorial gains. A vast asymmetry already exists in terms of military capability between Israel and the Palestinians, and in- deed in almost every other respect;  the only equivalence is the equal need of both peoples for lasting peace and security and for access to natural resources and the outside world. Rather than seek to cancel military asymmetry, most aspects of which will inevitably be replicated once full peace is attained and the two states coexist, the Palestinians should view it as an advantage since it allows them to focus their claims and efforts on those areas of greatest concern to them.

In practical terms, Palestinian security is best ensured by political arrangements that address, insofar as possible, the historic claims and attachments of the Palestinian people. If the security of Israel is to be assured primarily through military means, then the more extensive and far-reaching those assurances, the more accommodating the Israelis should be on nonmilitary issues. Foremost would be free access for Palestinians (and Israelis) to the whole of what each regard as their historic homeland. This would address the very core of the century-old struggle over Palestine, and so remove the root cause of future conflict.

What this essay suggests, then, is a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement that offers a comprehensive "package" for both sides. [17] Extensive security arrangements would ensure the military defense requirements of Israel and so make political and territorial concessions to the Palestinians both feasible and safe. The establishment of a Palestinian state would reinforce mutual security and stabilize relations between the two peoples, since it would provide a legitimate authority responsible for its own citizens. This, after all, was the logic behind Israeli recognition of the PLO and the gradual transfer of control to the PA. A state would provide an even more effective mechanism for the regulation of bilateral relations and, when necessary, the exercise of crisis management. [18] 

Furthermore, by partitioning the shared homeland into two distinct sovereignties, each people would be able to exercise self-determination (including the "right of return/aliyya") and ensure its own survival in its own portion without endangering the other. Having obtained the key guarantees of security and sovereignty, each state could afford to offer wider freedom of movement, employment, and residence to nationals of the other state. Special bilateral protocols would govern this movement, under which individuals would remain citizens of their original state but enjoy agreed rights as resident aliens in the other state. Their political (electoral) participation would be limited to their own state, however. This would prevent a shift in the Arab-Jewish demo- graphic balance that might allow either community to use legal, parliamentary means to reverse the two-state structure against the will of the other.

Put differently, the Palestinians would be well-advised to seek a negotiated settlement in which there is a distinction between types of borders, even if this comes close to Yitzhak Rabin's distinction between "political" and "security" borders. A "hard" border with Israel would entail losing substantial territory, given the balance of power and realities on the ground, and would not really enhance Palestinian security, whether military or political. "Soft" borders, conversely, could allow the Palestinians to exercise administrative and legal jurisdiction over the full extent of their territory, while allowing Israel to safeguard its external security from points within Palestine. By securing the outer- most border of Palestine-Israel, "internal" barriers to the movement and residence of citizens (both physical and legal/administrative) could be greatly reduced. Thus, Palestinians may find that the only way to maintain borders commensurate with the "Green Line" of 4 June 1967 is by accepting the overlap between the wider extent of their political sovereignty and the wider extent of Israeli security arrangements.

Horizontal overlap and vertical differentiation might pose tactical security problems because of the intermingling of populations, but would shield the Palestinian entity from conventional forms of military threat or nonmilitary (mainly economic) coercion exercised by Israel in the past. The details might vary, but in essence such a package would enable each people to enjoy free access to the whole of Palestine/Eretz Yisrael, as a matter of agreed right, thus bringing a crucial human dimension to reinforce mutual security.

Last, but not least, the adoption of "soft" internal borders might pro- vide a basis for resolving the status of Jerusalem. This might be by adopting a functional division of municipal authority-keeping the city physically undivided and accessible to all, yet permitting localized policing and security functions-while agreeing on joint, nominally-divided, or shared political sovereignty. [19] 

Integrative Security

The approach presented here has the advantage of being commensurate with the current international trends toward more extensive integration and interdependence. Admittedly, nationalism and ethnic conflict are also growing and may counteract the integrative effects of globalization. However, the contractual obligations that the Palestinians would have to accept in return for statehood would bind them structurally to their neighbors and to the global economy. Only major violence could overthrow this structure, in which case the survival of the Palestinian state would itself be jeopardized.

The implication here is that the Palestinian state must define its security in conceptual terms that take evolving international realities into account. No matter what the precise terms of the peace agreement with Israel or of special protocols with Arab or other states, the Palestinian state will reflect the patterns of global interdependence in its own political, economic, social, and cultural relations. Rather than view this as an infringement on its independence, it should regard such interlocking as a guarantee for its physical survival and a source of security more potent than any military defense it could provide itself.

The Palestinian state will have little choice but to rely heavily on the commitment of the international community to uphold its sovereignty and territorial integrity against external threats. As a token of its earnestness, international or multinational forces could be placed in agreed locations on the Palestinian-Israeli or Palestinian-Jordanian borders for peacekeeping and supervisory purposes. This is an uncomfortable position to be in, but the Palestinians will have an extremely limited military option in any case, and so conscious cultivation of the international dimension of their security is a logical response. This implies full participation in the activities and discussions of various international agencies, starting with the United Nations, and adherence to treaties (for example on human rights, weapons nonproliferation, and the environment) and other norms regulating interstate relations.

Similarly, regional organizations and collective security agencies could play a role in reinforcing Palestinian security. They could be the primary framework for the provision of external assistance to Palestine and for supervision of the implementation of the Palestinian-Israeli peace treaty and security agreements for the foreseeable future. Most importantly, membership in regional organizations and adherence to binding contractual arrangements could provide an effective constraint on Israel and imbue Palestine with a politically-based deterrence that its minimal military capability could not provide. In that sense, it would benefit even more from regional organizations that emphasize cooperative, not just collective, security. [20] Three structures suggest themselves as appropriate for these ends: a tripartite Jordanian-Palestinian-Israeli "open zone"; an Arab-Israeli "security community"; and an umbrella organization modelled on the Conference on Security and Confidence in Europe (CSCE).

Tripartite "Open Zone"

Reminiscent of the Benelux or Nordic Zone models, the "open zone" would connect Jordan, Palestine, and Israel in a special structure designed to enhance mutual security and economic development. The same basic freedoms and limitations described in the Israel-Palestinian "package" outlined above would apply to the tripartite structure: maxi- mum reciprocal freedom of movement, employment, and residence among all three states, but restriction of the exercise of the political privileges of citizenship (such as voting rights) and sovereignty to each.

The main advantage of broadening the Palestinian-Israeli relationship in this way would be to widen the geographical scope of security arrangements throughout the zone and so reduce the intrusion experienced by each member-state. [21] This would in turn permit greater flexibility in human and territorial terms throughout the "open zone"; with its political sovereignty recognized and physical security assured, each state could afford a "blurring" of boundaries. [22] 

The "open zone" would also give each state added security benefits over and above those defined in the bilateral peace agreements. Israel would gain increased strategic depth. Jordan would enjoy stronger commitment to its political identity and territorial integrity because the question of Palestinian allegiance would have been resolved. [23] For Palestine, the main security advantage of the proposed structure would be to limit the ability of its more powerful neighbors to threaten it or intervene in its affairs, committing them to uphold its security.

Indeed, this core triangle will exist by sheer force of geography and state interest even if not by conscious design. Israel and Jordan will tend in most circumstances to maintain a special, if implicit strategic relationship, even though each will also seek a stable working relationship with Palestine. This pattern can be fundamentally altered only if two of the parties merged (for instance, a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation). Failing that, the Palestinian state will remain the weakest of the three. In this case the establishment of a formal tripartite structure could prove the most effective means of limiting domination by its other two partners.

An Arab-Israeli "Security Community"

The tripartite structure could be reinforced (or supplanted) by an Arab-Israeli "security community" [24] which would include as well Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. The formation of such a security community, similarly anchored in already-concluded bilateral or multilateral peace agreements, would be subject to the implementation of agreed security arrangements and arms control measures, and would be guaranteed by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

The main purpose of establishing the proposed security community would be to prevent armed conflict between member-states. These would renounce resort to war in pursuit of their aims, respect each other's sovereignty and territory, and avoid external military alliances. The community would also be a forum for the negotiation and implementation of additional security measures, including demilitarization and limited-deployment schemes. It would negotiate conventional force reductions and the establishment of a nuclear/biological/chemical- weapons-free-zone, and agree on the modalities and agencies needed to monitor implementation.

For the Palestinian state, the Arab-Israeli security community would provide an additional layer of commitment to its sovereignty and integrity in the face of any threat. Conversely, because Israeli security would be simultaneously reinforced at the regional level-both with contractual agreements and with specific military measures and arms controls-it would become even more possible for the Palestinians to ensure their minimum political and territorial requirements and gain more extensive access to the whole of Palestine/Israel. The existence of a wider Arab-Israeli security community would also reduce Palestinian vulnerability to its two partners in the Jordanian-Palestinian-Israeli core triangle. Finally, the community would underpin the political (and territorial) and economic components of the Arab-Israeli peace agreements, by enhancing overall stability and allowing the formulation of collective policies.

There is strong opposition in Arab states to formal regional structures that include Israel, partly on the grounds that they will institutionalize Israeli domination in various spheres. A closer look reveals the opposite. Israel is negotiating separate peace deals with its Arab neighbors, maximizing its bargaining power in each bilateral track and making itself the primary locus of all regional arrangements, whether political, security, or economic. Israeli gains are already formalized at the bilateral level, and only the existence of collective institutions might limit its relative advantages at the regional level.

Regional Security and Cooperation

The third suggested structure, modelled on the CSCE, would be a Conference on Security and Confidence in the Middle East (CSCME) comprising the Arab states, Israel, Iran, Turkey, and other potential members. [25] It would provide an "umbrella" forum to discuss and agree shared guidelines on issues of common concern: security (including proliferation issues), economic development, water and natural re- sources, environment, political liberalization, and human rights.

By endorsing certain basic principles – nonresolution of disputes by force, respect for internationally –recognized borders, non-acquisition of territory by force, nonintervention in the domestic affairs of other states, and recognition of the equal rights and self-determination of other peoples-the CSCME would extend regional protection to Pales- tine under the scrutiny of the five permanent Security Council members. [26] It would offer a crucial mechanism for dealing with security issues affecting the region as a whole, such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, external military intervention, or new military technologies and space programs.

The CSCME would reinforce Arab-Israeli peace and security by ad- dressing these wider issues at the regional level. It would provide a much-needed forum for crisis management, since it would "cushion" its members to some degree from the destabilizing impact of events further afield, such as the competition for influence in Central Asia or an escalation of Indo-Pakistani nuclear rivalry. At the same time, the CSCME's specialized agencies could discuss ways to modify security arrangements in order to absorb the effects of strategic developments in or near the region and to anticipate, and adjust for, technological innovations that might destabilize the equilibrium and trigger a return to conflict or militarization.

By reassuring Israel, the multilateral framework would once again introduce greater flexibility and "space" within which the Palestinian state can gain independence and enjoy its fundamental requirements. And by focusing on issues of concern to Palestine, the CSCME would offer a wider, cooperative regional context for its economic and social policies.

Sovereignty and the Security Matrix

Comparison of Palestinian security as defined in this essay with stated Israeli security requirements shows that both operate within an "existential matrix" comprising political, territorial, and military elements. For each people, the freedom to express national identity and exercise collective sovereignty-self-determination-is imperative. This is based on possession of land and other resources (which form a part of identity as well as the means necessary for survival) and of assured means of self-protection.

The proportions in which these three elements combine to form the existential matrix differ for Palestine and Israel. Since priorities and circumstances are not identical, there will always be asymmetries, though discrepancies based on denial and coercion must be eliminated. Asymmetry can be positive: it offers a means of reconciling competing claims, by making mutually-advantageous trade-offs possible. The more concessions offered in one sphere, the more gains made in another. To turn asymmetry into an asset rather than an issue of contention, however, requires mutuality and reciprocity in all parts of the final Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement.

Even then, trade-offs might prove difficult to achieve or maintain. In order to allow greater flexibility, the Palestinian and Israeli security matrices can be treated as a combined matrix set in the wider regional context. Regional arms controls and disarmament would alter the parameters of the matrix and allow additional trade-offs within it, as would setting up a triangular relationship with Jordan, an Arab-Israeli "security community," or the CSCME. Ultimately Israeli strategic doctrine could shift from its present reliance on deterrence to a posture of basic defense, while the mainstay of Palestinian security would be the collective political framework rather than military defense. [27] This would mitigate the structural dominance that Israel will continue to enjoy, and deter unilateral steps damaging to the Palestinians, such as border closures. There is little hope otherwise of turning buzzwords such as "trade-offs" and "reciprocity" from hypothesis into modest fact.

Much the same logic applies to sovereignty as to security. Neither can be defined in conventional terms in the Palestinian context without immediately depriving statehood of any last substance. Similarly, although the Palestinians have every right to insist on an exact coincidence of political and security borders and on a clear demarcation of territory and sovereignty, they may be left with even less territory as a consequence. Even then, they will still be subjected to intrusive "terms of independence" in the political, economic, and security spheres.

Palestinian sovereignty simply will not be an indivisible whole. The Palestinians have little ability to compel Israel to give up more, and so their principal means to obtain better terms will be to view sovereignty as a multifaceted, multilayered attribute in which the degree of Palestinian control varies from zone to zone and from level to level. Qualifying sovereignty even further by deliberately subordinating it as far as possible to wider regional bodies is another means of cushioning the state against Israeli domination.

It was obvious by spring 1995 that final Israeli-Palestinian borders were already being demarcated. The "separation" plan put to the Israeli cabinet-with the twin aims of controlling Palestinian access to Israel across the pre-1967 "Green Line" and of separating Israeli settlements and Palestinian population centers in the West Bank-indicated the boundary that Israel will seek. The serious delays in negotiating the expansion of PA control in the West Bank, after the relatively easy transition in Gaza, have arisen precisely because what is really at stake in the agonizingly complex debates about functional jurisdiction is the ultimate demarcation of sovereignty, with its territory, population, and security responsibility.

Whether or not statehood in these circumstances meets the mini- mum criteria of historical justice and political rights will be hotly debated among Palestinians, but from now on the debate must be given concrete substance. To do otherwise is to accept the eventual outcome a priori.

 

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Yezid Sayigh is assistant director, Centre of International Relations, University of Cambridge. In 1991-94, he was an advisor and negotiator in the peace talks with Israel and headed the Palestinian delegation to the multilateral working group on arms control and regional security. The views expressed here are his own. 

 1. Borrowed from Edward Azar and Chung-In Moon, "Towards an Alternative Conceptualization," in Edward Azar and Chung-In Moon, eds., National Security in the Third World: The Management of Internal and External Threats (London: Edward Elgar, 1988), pp. 283-84.

2. Borrowed from Joel Migdal, Strong Societies, Weak States: State-Society Relations and State Capabilities in the Third World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), p. 18.

3. Migdal, Strong Societies, Weak States, p. 4, n. 3.

4. There is considerable literature on the strong weak state paradigm. Besides Migdal's Strong Societies, Weak States, the idea is developed in Barry Buzan, People, States and Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post-Cold War Era, 2d. ed. (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1991); and in his "People, States and Fear: The National Security

Problem in the Third World," in Azar and Moon, National Security.

5. Notions borrowed from Christopher Clapham, Third World Politics: An Introduction (London: Routledge, 1985), p. 114; and Robert Jackson, Quasistates: Sovereignty, International Relations and the Third World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 5.

6. Resolution 181 was the basis for Israel's unilateral declaration of independence in 1948, and acceptance of it was also a prerequisite for the successful Israeli application for UN membership.

7. Although Israeli apologists and their Western supporters have claimed that Palestinian rejectionism up to 1948 now absolves Israel of the duty to implement international resolutions it became party to on acceding to the UN, a central aim of Palestinian rebellion at that time was to compel the other parties to the conflict (especially Britain) to recognize and negotiate with the national Palestinian leadership. The same leadership in 1948 actually sought to establish a Palestinian state in the territory under Arab control, and formed a parliament and other governmental bodies to that end. This is not to suggest that it had settled for a two state solution, but simply to emphasize that much of the subsequent sufferings of the Palestinians stemmed from the refusal of the other parties-Britain, Israel, and the key Arab "frontline" states-to allow them to speak for, and govern, themselves.

8. The political and structural implications of this are discussed in Yezid Sayigh, "The Politics of Palestinian Exile," Third World Quarterly 9, no. 1 January 1987), pp. 28-66.

9. Statistics based on research conducted for author's forthcoming book, The Palestinian Armed Struggle since 1949.

10. This may not be such a remote possibility. In their book Israel's Lebanon War (New York. Simon & Schuster, 1984), Ze'ev Schiff and Ehud Ya'ari suggest that then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon and his chief-of-staff Rafael Eytan drew the cabinet by deliberate subterfuge into a confrontation with Syria in June 1982 and then into the siege of Beirut.

11. For an additional discussion of potential Israeli threats, see Ahmad Khalidi, "Middle East Security: Arab Threat Perceptions, Peace and Stability," in Ahmad Khalidi and Yair Evron, Middle East Security: Two Views (Cambridge: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Occasional Paper Series, 1990), pp. 6-8.

12. Palestinians have already evinced clear concern at being "outflanked" and isolated by the construction of highways and bridges that will allow traffic between Israel and Jordan to flow freely without entering areas under Palestinian control.

13. World Bank, Developing the Occupied Territories: An Investment in Peace (Washington: World Bank, September 1993).

14. An early proposal for the type of Palestinian forces needed is in Walid Khalidi, "Thinking the Unthinkable," Foreign Affairs 56, no. 4 July 1978). The most up-to-date proposals are in Jeffrey Boutwell, Everett Mendelsohn, et al, Israeli-Palestinian Security: Issues in the Permanent Status Negotiations, report of the American Academy for Arts and Sciences, 1995.

15. For further development of this notion, see Yezid Sayigh, Confronting the 1990s: Security in the Developing Countries, Adelphi Paper No. 251 (London Brassey's for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Summer 1990).

16. A slightly different view of Palestinian military requirements is in Ahmad Khalidi, A Palestinian Settlement: Towards a Palestinian Doctrine of National Security, Israeli-Palestinian Peace Research Project Working Paper Series Jerusalem and Rome: Arab Studies Society, Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, and the Institute for International Affairs, 1992), pp. 6-8.

17. A good discussion of such a package is Mohamed Rabie, A Vision for the Transformation of the Middle East (Washington: Center for Educational Development, 1990).

18. A parallelogic is that "an independent Palestinian state which meets certain minimum conditions actually constitutes a recommended strategic choice for Israel." Mark Heller, A Palestinian State: The Implications for Israel (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1983), p. 5. Though over a decade old, this review remains the most comprehensive and considered work of its type.

19. Faisal Husseini has spoken publicly in favor of an undivided Jerusalem with split sovereignty, but there are few developed Palestinian proposals dealing with the future of the city. Among the Israeli proposals are Heller, A Palestinian State, pp. 121-26; and Naomi Hazan, "Negotiating the Non Negotiable: Jerusalem in the Framework of an Israeli-Palestinian Settlement," Emerging Issues, Occasional Paper no. 7 (Cambridge: American Academy for Arts and Sciences, 1991).

20. This notion is developed succinctly in Ashton Carter, William Perry, and John Steinbruner, A New Concept of Cooperative Security (Washington: The Brookings Institution, 1992).

21. A discussion of the security aspect of such a tripartite structure is in Yair Evron, "Israeli-Palestinian-Jordan Security Relations: The Idea of a 'Security Zone'," in Khalidi and Evron, Middle East Security, pp. 23-49.

22. Naturally, protocols governing such exchange and the monitoring of implementation and internal security would be necessary to underpin the structure and allow mutually-acceptable response to domestic challenges.

23. The significance of Jordan to Israeli strategic depth is also noted in Joseph Alpher, "Security Arrangements for a Palestinian Settlement," Survival 34, no. 4 (Winter 1992-93), pp. 56-58.

24. For a fuller discussion, see Ephraim Karsh and Yezid Sayigh, "A Cooperative Approach to Arab Israeli Security," Survival 36, no. 1 (Spring 1994), pp. 114-25.

25. A discussion of the relevance of the CSCE to the Middle East is in Tim Niblock, "The Realms within which Regional Co-operation and Integration Could be Fostered," in Gerd Nonneman, ed., The Middle East and Europe: An Integrated Communities Approach (London: Federal Trust, 1992), pp. 45-49.

26. For a fuller discussion of the impact of the CSCME on Arab-Israeli security, see Yezid Sayigh, "The Multilateral Middle East Peace Talks: Reorganizing for Regional Security," in Steven Spiegel, ed., Practical Peacemaking in the Middle East (New York. Garland Press, forthcoming 1995).

27. A cogent Israeli argument for a shift from the offensive emphasis to a defensive one is presented in Ariel Levite, Offense and Defense in Israeli Military Doctrine (Boulder and Jerusalem: Westview Press and Jerusalem Post for the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, 1989)