With reports this week that Palestinian negotiators interpreted what an Israeli official told them to mean that the separation wall would serve as the future Israel-Palestine border in a two-state solution, Israel would annex about 10% of the West Bank (though note the two sides calculate differently). For the moment, let us leave aside two other issues: this Israeli government would want to annex East Jerusalem and keep an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley. (points two past Israeli governments, under prime ministers Ehud Barak* and Ehud Olmert, had already conceded)
Is 10% a lot for the Palestinian state to forgo? I think so. Given that Israel already has 78% of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, we’re really talking about slicing up the remaining 22%, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. More importantly, you can do a lot with 10% (of that 22%) to destroy the contiguity and viability of the new Palestinian state, especially given that a Palestinian state will already be in two parts, Gaza and the West Bank, linked by a corridor. Moreover, 10% is again a much higher figure than past Israeli negotiators talked about annexing (If we think of 6% as the past Israeli figure, 10% is asking to annex 67% more land than the last talks in 2008).
Hey, I’ll make you a deal. You can have the United States as your independent state; I’ll have Canada. I am just going to annex a few parts of the US to Canada:
1. New York (the whole state)
2. California, Oregon, and Washington state
3. the Mississippi River, including a one-mile swath of land on each side, and in Minnesota we’ll run the line all the way to the current Canadian border (I’ll assume an area of 7,000 sq. miles)
Don’t worry, it only adds up to just over 10% of the total land.
(163,696 + 96,381 + 71,300 + 54,556 + 7,000) / 3,794,101 = 0.1036
Plus you only give up 8% of the 50 states (okay, minus a little river territory for states along the Mississippi).
You get almost 90% of the land and 92% of the states. Would you take it?
*You could make a case that he conceded the points though it was more clear-cut with Olmert in 2008.