Can the U.S. Help Build a Palestinian State?

Constructing democracy isn't easy

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Implicit in the ongoing, U.S.-moderated Israel-Palestine peace talks is the near-universal assumption that any agreement would end with the creation of an independent Palestinian state. But that would mean forming a new and sovereign government in Palestine, no easy task in any country or context. Is the U.S., which has taken the lead role in the Israel-Palestine process, up to the task?

  • Palestinian Governance and Israel-Palestine Peace Deeply Intertwined Think Progress's Matt Duss writes in Foreign Policy, "In the absence of genuine progress toward ending the occupation however, Palestinian dissatisfaction with the [Palestinian Authority], which is already severe, is only likely to grow. And without opportunities to express that dissatisfaction through legitimate democratic institutions and procedures, the likelihood of greater violence will grow, too -- both toward Israel and toward the [Palestinian Authority], who increasing numbers of Palestinians see as simply managing the occupation for their Israeli bosses. .... Political freedom is not a peripheral concern in Palestine -- it is central to the U.S. goal of a functioning, viable, and democratic Palestinian state at peace with Israel."

  • Palestinians Are Ready to 'Test' Independence The New York Times' Thomas Friedman writes, "The fact is that the team of Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad have built a government that is the best the Palestinians have ever had, and, more importantly, a Palestinian security apparatus that the Israeli military respects and is acting as a real partner. Given this, Israel has an overwhelming interest to really test -- that is all we can ask -- whether this Palestinian leadership is ready for a fair and mutually secure two-state solution. That test is something the U.S. should not have to beg or bribe Israel to generate. This moment is not about Obama. He's doing his job. It is about whether the Israeli and Palestinian leaders are up to theirs. Abbas is weak and acts weaker. Netanyahu is strong and acts weak. It is time for both to step it up. And it is time for all the outsiders who spoil them to find another hobby."
  • Obama Should Make Palestinian Leaders More Conducive to Israeli Concerns Commentary's Rick Richman fumes, "[Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas has stated he will 'never' recognize Israel as a Jewish state nor negotiate any land swap. ... Abbas cannot make peace even with Hamas, which controls half the putative Palestinian state. ... Abbas has repeatedly canceled elections and that the idea of the Palestinian Authority as a stable democratic entity is a joke. ... Abbas has declared he will never waive the 'right of return,' which makes a peace agreement impossible even if every other issue could be resolved." Richman insists that Obama "commit to veto any Palestinian state that does not result from direct negotiations that provide Israel with defensible borders."
  • We Can't Impose Democracy on Palestinians Pseudonymous Israeli blogger 'Israel Matzav' writes, "Democracy cannot be imposed on people who are accustomed to living under another system of government based on a timetable. The American Revolutionary War ended in 1781 but it took until 1789 for George Washington to become the first President. In between, hearts and minds had to be persuaded and consensus had to be reached. That was not done based on a timetable. The only two instances in recent history where democracy was effectively imposed were post-World War II Germany and Japan. In both cases, democracy was imposed by a military occupation (following a complete military defeat) by outside powers that was unlimited in time, and which ended only when sufficiently stable democratic institutions were established so as to ensure that there would be no return to a Hitler or a Hirohito."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.