Redefining the Basics: Sovereignty and Security of the Palestinian State
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.
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.