Is­rael, Pales­tine would gain bil­lions from peace: study

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY ARON HELLER

Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans would gain bil­lions of dol­lars from mak­ing peace with each other while both would face daunt­ing eco­nomic losses in case of other al­ter­na­tives, par­tic­u­larly in case of a re­turn to vi­o­lence, ac­cord­ing to a new study re­leased on Mon­day.

The RAND Corp., a U.S.-based non­profit re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion, in­ter­viewed some 200 of­fi­cials from the re­gion and else­where dur­ing more than two years of re­search into the costs of the Is­raeliPales­tinian con­flict. Its main find­ing was that fol­low­ing a peace agree­ment, Is­raelis stood to gain US$120 bil­lion over the course of a decade. The Pales­tini­ans would gain US$50 bil­lion, mark­ing a 36-per­cent rise in their av­er­age per-capita in­come, the re­port said.

In con­trast, the Is­raeli econ­omy would lose some US$250 bil­lion in fore­gone eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties in a re­turn to vi­o­lence, and the Pales­tini­ans would see their per­capita gross do­mes­tic prod­uct fall by as much as 46 per­cent, the re­port said.

The find­ings are in line with long-time ar­gu­ments that peace is in the eco­nomic in­ter­est of both sides.

“We hope our anal­y­sis and tools can help Is­raelis, Pales­tini­ans and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity un­der­stand more clearly how present trends are evolv­ing and rec­og­nize the costs and benefits of al­ter­na­tives to the cur­rent de­struc­tive cy­cle of ac­tion, re­ac­tion and in­ac­tion,” said C. Ross An­thony, coleader of the study and direc­tor of RAND’s Is­raeli-Pales­tinian Ini­tia­tive.

The study looked into five dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios: a two-state so­lu­tion, a co­or­di­nated uni­lat­eral with­drawal, an un­co­or­di­nated uni­lat­eral with­drawal, non­vi­o­lent re­sis­tance and a vi­o­lent up­ris­ing. Not sur­pris­ingly, the eco­nomic ben­e­fit for both sides dropped con­sid­er­ably in each of al­ter­na­tive down the lad­der.

Some of the el­e­ments of the non­vi­o­lent re­sis­tance sce­nario are al­ready un­fold­ing with Pales­tini­ans tak­ing ac­tions to put eco­nomic and in­ter­na­tional pres­sure on Is­rael. The study found that Is­raelis could lose US$80 bil­lion and Pales­tini­ans could lose US$12 bil­lion rel­a­tive to cur­rent trends. But com­pared with a two-state so­lu­tion, losses from the non-vi­o­lent re­sis­tance sce­nario be­come even more dra­matic: about US$200 bil­lion for the Is­raelis and US$60 bil­lion for the Pales­tini­ans.

RAND teams are cur­rently in the re­gion, pre­sent­ing their find­ings to both Is­raeli and Pales­tini­ans of- fi­cials. The study was funded by an in­de­pen­dent donor and the think tank in­sisted it was not ad­vo­cat­ing, just pro­vid­ing tools for lead­ers to make good de­ci­sions.

In reach­ing their con­clu­sions, re­searchers de­vised a “cost- of­con­flict cal­cu­la­tor” that fac­tored in is­sues like Is­rael’s de­fense bud­get, its trade re­la­tions and what it would cost to re­lo­cate West Bank set­tlers. For Pales­tini­ans, vari­able costs in­cluded po­ten­tial de­struc­tion of prop­erty, free­dom of move­ment and bank­ing reg­u­la­tions.

The Pales­tini­ans seek the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of their fu­ture state, yet nu­mer­ous rounds of peace talks have been un­suc­cess­ful.

“A two-state so­lu­tion pro­duces by far the best eco­nomic out­comes for both Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans,” said Charles Ries, co-leader of the study and an ex­ec­u­tive at RAND. “In a decade, the av­er­age Is­raeli would see his or her in­come rise by about US$2,200, ver­sus a US$1,000 gain for Pales­tini­ans, com­pared with our pro­jec­tion for present trends. But that only works out to 5 per­cent for each Is­raeli ver­sus 36 per­cent for the av­er­age Pales­tinian, mean­ing Is­raelis have far less and Pales­tini­ans far more eco­nomic in­cen­tive to move to­ward peace.”

RAND spokesman Jef­frey Hi­day said copies of the study had been sent to of­fi­cials on both sides of the con­flict, in­clud­ing the Is­raeli prime min­is­ter’s of­fice and For­eign Min­istry and the Pales­tinian Fi­nance Min­istry.

Is­raeli of­fi­cials de­clined com­ment, while Pales­tinian of­fi­cials could not im­me­di­ately be reached for com­ment.

AP

(Above) In this Dec. 8, 2009 file photo, an ul­tra-or­tho­dox Jewish man passes by Pales­tini­ans sit­ting in a cof­fee shop near Da­m­as­cus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. (Left) In this Feb. 22, 2007 file photo, a Pales­tinian who of­fers don­key rides to tourists shares a laugh with an ul­tra-or­tho­dox Jewish man at the Mount of Olives, over­look­ing Jerusalem’s Old City. The RAND Corp. non­profit re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion pub­lished a new study Mon­day, June 8, in­di­cat­ing that Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans would gain bil­lions of U.S. dol­lars from peace.

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