For an unspecified number of years there has been a wealth of ideas flowing in and around the Middle East as to what it would take to bring peace among the warring factions. In all those decades, a handful of experts have looked for a real reason behind the conflict: some say religion, others believe it’s about land, or rather ethnic. Whatever, an enduring peace is what the world desires for that piece of Earth constantly torn by death and destruction, birthplace of the three major monotheistic religions.
Meanwhile, negotiations have been the medium of choice to try and achieve the above-mentioned end, but there seems to always be a sticking point. Either it is attacks, or water, or too many wish list items to write about (and besides no one really seems to care). All they want is a conclusion to the institution of conflict between the State of Israel and the Arab neighbors.
But what could be a mutual point from which to begin?
Weapons allocations? Maybe for Israel, but Palestine wants something more ‘acceptable’, like its own region without the interference of the Israelis. Needless to say, Jerusalem wants none of that for that would be a state containing many of its ‘enemies’. How about recognition? That the Palestinians have a right to return and Israel the right to exist, neither of which is a point to enter into negotiations for either will go so far at the beginning.
Here is an idea: economics!
I’m positive since I’m not exactly the first person to approach the solution to such a problem from an economic point of view, but since an almost invisible minority actually speaks of them, I will go out on a limb and suggest that economics could be a perfect starting point for the pursuit of peace in the Western Asian contention.
Let’s start with current circumstances as they are: the situation is controversial and both sides distrust each other. Palestinians protest (mostly non-violently, unless Hamas militiamen take the lead), therefore Israel usually reacts with force, which leads to further protests, et cetera.
How does this situation effect GDPs of Israel and the State of Palestine?
Gross domestic product (GDP), a parameter defined by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), is commonly used as an indicator of the economic wealth of a country, as well as to gauge a country’s standard of living. Critics of using GDP as an economic measure have that the statistic doesn’t take into account the underground economy, namely transactions that, for whatever reason (often linked to organized crime), are not reported to the governments. Others say that GDP is not intended to gauge material well-being, but serves as a measure of a nation’s productivity, which is unrelated.
Now, how do protests and Israeli reactions effect both entities?
As for Israel, it is an evidently negative result: -$15 billion. For the Palestinian Authority (PA), quite the same: a negative of $2.4 billion. Clearly enough, these protests and the subsequent reactions are costing both sides money that is badly needed to help there people through some very tough times.
Just for a moment, let’s assume both sides meet and decide that the two-state solution is the most effective way to achieve peace and prosperity. Once the violence has ceased and the states are established, what would their GDPs be? Jerusalem will prosper nicely from this solution to the tune of $22.8 billion in GDP. What about East Jerusalem? Most assuredly, they will benefit, too, to the tune of $9.7 billion.
As one can see, the results are positive on all sides and no one would be left out of the prosperity potentially brought by the two-state solution. Actually, one may say that it doesn’t take a Ph.D. in Economics to see its benefits.
The next logical questions is: why isn’t it an option?
Religious ideology is killing people on either side, why can’t anyone see that it is doing no one any good? This is not rocket science, a little foresight and leaders could see that there’s no downsize to a two-state solution.
But yet, the welfare of their people seems to mean very little, as it will always, sadly be about ideology.
Note: I invite readers to personally verify the totals of the two options with this calculator from the RAND Corp.