Jun. 28, 2019
- The Fatal Flaw in the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan – Jeff Goodson
The economic part of the new Israeli-Palestinian peace plan is nation-building on steroids. It’s big, it’s bold and it’s comprehensive. There’s just one problem. As we’ve learned repeatedly since World War II, development doesn’t buy peace in ethnic and religious wars because social and economic issues aren’t driving the conflict.
The Israeli-Palestinian war is not an ideological war, nor is it a politico-economic war where development and governance are required for peace and stability. It’s a religious war. Only strength can secure stability there, and only future generations will find a way to peace.
I spent a lot of time on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza in the 1990s, working on USAID road, water, housing, business, trade and other economic development projects. The projects did some good, but no one was living under the illusion that they would significantly change the calculus for peace.
The Palestinians will happily take every nickel of U.S. taxpayer money, but trade, investment and economic development won’t incentivize them to moderate their hatred for Israel. That hatred is too much a part of their cultural identity. The ugly truth is that you don’t get to either peace or stability in religious wars through economic development. Especially Islamic wars. Instead, the U.S. should focus on military strength and help Israel protect itself from our common enemies.
The writer, a retired foreign service officer who served 29 years with USAID, served as director of development for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan (2010 to 2012). (The Hill)