Study shows benefits of two-state solution

A Palestinian man on a bicycle watches Israeli bulldozers work along the border between the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis and Israel, Wednesday, June 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

The RAND Corp. presented a study last week at the Jerusalem Press Club that points the way toward millions of dollars being gained by both Israel and the Palestinians if they choose peace through a two-state solution. I was invited to attend the conference at the Jerusalem Press Club.

Five different trajectories were the conclusions of a major study and analysis brought to the table by senior members of the RAND Corp., a non-partisan, non-profit think tank.

The study released last week — in the West Bank, in Jerusalem, and then headed to London, Brussels and Washington — has far-reaching impacts.

A two-state solution decidedly offers more for each of the parties — $120 billion for Israel and $50 billion for the Palestinians over the next 10 years, the RAND study shows.

The Palestinians’ GDP would go up to about 36 percent, Ambassador Charles P. Ries, Rand Corporation vice-president and co-leader of the study, said.

“There has to be a solution for the people of this region,” he added.

The worst-case scenario of the five presented by the survey, entitled “The Costs of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” is a return to violence.

The costs and benefits to both parties were explained in a cost calculator.

There were three other alternative futures: a coordinated unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank by Israel; an uncoordinated withdrawal where the Palestinians do not cooperate with Israeli unilateral moves; and non-violent resistance by the Palestinians, which could lead to Israel losing $80 billion and the Palestinians $12 billion.

It has been proven that violence is detrimental to both sides.

Unilateral withdrawal without cooperation offers little economic benefit. Israel gains more in absolute terms, but the Palestinians gain more in direct costs.

The value of economic opportunities to both is substantial: public and private investments will increase and there will be more dollars available from international donors if a two-state solution is selected.

“More than 90 percent of Israelis and Palestinians were born after 1948 and have known nothing except some version of the conflict and impasse,” the study reports as it compares the costs and benefits that evolve in accordance with present trends, including the economic costs of security.

In a two-state solution, Israel would benefit from increased direct investment in its domestic economy and with new trading opportunities with the Arab world.

The biggest direct effect for the West Bank and Gaza (WBG) in any one of the scenarios stems from employment opportunities in Israel. There are also cost implications for the international community — definitely the United States and Europe — which have continued to provide financial and political support to Israel and the Palestinians since World War II.

Funding from the international community to Israel would primarily be used to resettle and relocate settlers who move out of the West Bank — approximately 100,000 of the 600,000 living in this contested area.

The RAND authors said in a press release as part of the launch of the study last Monday at the Jerusalem Press Club and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem that they made the unusual decision to present the first comprehensive study of costs to both sides in the conflict in Ramallah and in Jerusalem over a period of five days.

The economic report makes it very clear what the consequences of the decisions made will be.

In meetings in both capitals, the team briefed senior Israeli and Palestinian political officials on their findings.

RAND then presented its findings in Brussels and in London, followed by a presentation in Washington this week.

Leah F. Chase, a freelance journalist based in Charleston, often travels to Israel.