Israeli and Palestinian economists said in a new position paper released this week that disengagement poses a ‘significant risk’ to the viability of a Palestinian state.
The economists, who belong to the Aix group, added that the risk can be minimized by securing a free flow of goods between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The group is a non-political group created in 2002 by Professor Gilbert Benhayoun of the University of Law, Economics and Sciences of Aix-Marseilles III. Failure to allow for the free flow of goods through such a road, it warns, could keep disengagement from leading to the road map. Instead, the paper says, the ‘outcome might distort permanent status parameters by creating, for example, different economic regimes in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.’ As a solution to the problem, the group suggests constructing a secure road, only for Palestinians running between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Such a road, the paper said, should be ‘guaranteed to all people at all times’ and be ‘safe from Israeli military activity.’ According to the paper titled ‘Israel and Palestine, Between Disengagement and the Economic Road Map,’ a territorial link is ‘crucial to the development of a Palestinian state and economy.’ Ron Pundak, director of Peres Center for Peace, claims that poverty leads to terrorism. He argues that it is in Israel’s interest to use disengagement to help the Palestinians build a strong economy to minimize poverty, therefore ‘terror’ as he put it. Another solution was suggested by the Rand Corporation calling for a high speed rail link to connect the West Bank with Gaza Strip. Through disengagement, Israel achieved several things that would also pose risks to the viability of a future Palestinian state. According to the summit, which joined the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the United State President George W. Bush in April 2004, Bush gave Sharon guarantees in which the U.S. committed not to allow a return to the pre-1967 borders, and pledged a recognition of the major settlement blocs in the West Bank and recognition of the current route of the wall. Such pledges and guarantees pose major risks to the viability of a Palestinian State. The settlement blocs, including Gush Etzion in the south, Ariel in the North, Maale Adumim in the east and the settlement around Ramallah in the middle, fragment the West Bank into four sections given the current route of the wall that surrounds Jerusalem. This fragmentation, observers say, prevents territorial contiguity which is vital for a viable state.
Additionally, Under disengagement, Israel will still control the Gaza port and airspace, which also violates the sovereignty needed for a viable state.