On Monday, the RAND Corporation released a study asserting that if Israelis and Palestinians were to forge a two-state solution and end their decades-old conflict, their economies would enjoy a combined windfall of $173 billion over 10 years.
Then again, to paraphrase an old Yiddish proverb, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” In the report, the authors were forced to temper their optimism and acknowledge that their definition of the status quo had been upended by the deepening of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during the course of their research:
Indeed, the reality that evolves is likely to be a mixture of some aspects of all the scenarios presented here. For example, the Gaza war in the summer of 2014, the subsequent recriminations, the Palestinian diplomatic moves at the UN and its agencies, and the punitive responses from Israel depart from what we originally defined as present trends and seem more akin to our nonviolent resistance scenario.
It was just the latest reminder of the far-flung ramifications—of the accreted costs, both calculable and incalculable—of this particular struggle. Another came hours after the release of the RAND report, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that effectively granted the power to recognize foreign governments exclusively to the president. The case centered on Menachem Zivotofsky, an American citizen born in Jerusalem whose parents sued for the right to list “Jerusalem, Israel” as their son’s birthplace on his U.S. passport.
In 2002, the U.S. Congress passed an act with a provision giving Americans born in Jerusalem the option of listing their birthplaces as “Jerusalem, Israel” on their passport and birth certificate. President George W. Bush signed the law, but also declined to enforce the provision; the Zivotofskys were seeking to have the provision enforced.