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Biden's Initiative for a Palestinian State Poses a Security Dilemma for Israel

The Essence 


Recent reports indicate that the Biden administration, in collaboration with Arab countries, is nearing the completion of a comprehensive political plan, which includes a timeline for establishing a Palestinian state within weeks. Israel, having not proposed its own political agenda for the day after, now finds itself in a reactive position to the prospect of a Palestinian state being established without an agreement. This situation places Israel in a strategic dilemma, which we explore in this analysis.

The Missed Opportunity


Already On October 17, we highlighted the necessity of presenting an agenda that prioritizes Israel's security needs, especially during a period of heightened global empathy towards Israel. The prevailing sentiment at that time suggested that Israel might have overlooked a chance to develop a new strategic framework, one not constrained by the outdated assumptions that have led to the current impasse.

The conundrum of the Palestinian State initiative 


The domestic support in Israel for a Palestinian state has dwindled since October 7, yet the concept is regaining traction internationally. 


  • A recent Direct Polls survey reveals that 74% of Israelis are against the establishment of a Palestinian state. Following the Washington Post's report, several Israeli politicians voiced concerns that such a state could fall under Hamas control following elections, potentially reigniting terrorism, enabling continued conflict from a strengthened position, and undermining Israel's right to self-defense.

  • Israel hoped for greater international understanding regarding its apprehensions about a Palestinian state. However, it realizes its positions in this regard leads it to a political clash with those countries which extended the greatest support following October 7th. Fierce criticsm from German, as well as sanctions from the US, UK, and France against settlers in Judea and Samaria, as well as their stated intention to recognize a Palestinian state unilaterally,  signal a firm international stance on this issue

The Iranian Threat amidst the Palestinian State Discourse


Iran, along with its proxies, is perceived as Israel's primary security threat. Despite Israel's military edge, the IDF lacks conventional means to counter this threat effectively. The moment Iran crosses the nuclear threshold, it could achieve a form of 'immunity', propelling Israel into an unprecedented strategic conundrum. Israel's strategy against Iran necessitates forming a regional coalition with moderate Sunni countries, bolstered by American and international backing.

The Strategic Paradox


Two states

Saudi Arabia's declaration of conditioning normalization with Israel on the establishment of a Palestinian state exacerbates Israel's strategic paradox:


 On one hand, a Palestinian state poses significant security challenges, but on the other, it could facilitate a strategic regional alliance against Iran and garner support from the US and NATO. Conversely, thwarting a Palestinian state might stabilize the security situation in Gaza and the Judea and Samaria but could isolate Israel in its confrontation with Iran and its proxies.

Israel's Strategic Predicament


Israel's strategic dilemma arises from the apparent contradiction in its security objectives: it seeks to safeguard its security interests and prevent a Palestinian state, without desiring to govern the Palestinians, while needing to forge a regional alliance against Iran with global support. This analysis does not delve into another critical factor - the deep polarization within Israeli society and the challenge of reaching broad political consensus.

Looking Ahead


What steps can be taken to reconcile Israel's divergent security interests in a society lacking a unified national vision? We will address this question in a forthcoming policy paper coming out next week, aiming to outline a strategy that balances these complex considerations. Stay tuned for insights on navigating these challenges, and support our work to ensure we can bring this important discussion to fruition.


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