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CNAS Releases Very Big Study for How to Yield a Palestinian State

Sure to give agita to the Israeli embassy in Washington: The Center for a New American Security publishes a 100-page multiple-case study of how the international community could midwife a Palestinian state from a security perspective.

It’s a long study, with seven authors, and I’ve barely made a crack in it, so I won’t try to summarize the specific recommendations. But CNAS, looking at recent cases of international peacekeeping forces in transitional states or autonomous provinces, examines what security conditions need to be met for a viable independent Palestine that doesn’t threaten Israel to come into being.

Israel generally has balked over the years at the prospect of international peacekeeping forces patrolling the West Bank, as such a force would limit Israel’s freedom of military action in occupied Palestine. (Andrew Exum, one of the studies’ authors, lists a short host of reasons why Israel shouldn’t have a problem with such a force while — at least in the introduction — glossing over the fact that it does.) But less important than any specific recommendation is the fact that the think tank that has launched many an official into the Obama Pentagon and State Department, CNAS, is expending any intellectual heft on the issue at all, let along thinking through the modalities of interim internationalization of West Bank/Jordan River Valley security. Such a detailed study, coming in advance of a potential Obama peace plan — which the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu definitely does not want — will most likely be read at the Israeli embassy and in Jerusalem as a sign that a real U.S. push on a two-state solution is gathering momentum.

And it reaffirms a linkage that some on the American Jewish right and the Israeli government don’t want to see made. “Although peace in the Middle East is hardly the exclusive responsibility of the United States,” Exum writes in the introduction, “it is a goal long sought by its political leaders and one inextricably linked to U.S. interests.” That viewpoint was roundly mocked as simplistic at the AIPAC conference this year, despite it being the stated policy of decades of American administrations.

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