NEW HAVEN – As the turmoil in the Middle East worsens, the fate of the Palestinians seems to have been put on the diplomatic back burner. Indeed, the two-state solution has been on life-support since Israel’s 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, despite US Secretary of State John Kerry’s heroic efforts to revive it. Many in the region, and elsewhere, now believe that it is dead.
But that raises a new problem. With statehood seemingly out of reach, it will be only a matter of time before large numbers of Palestinians begin demanding the right to vote in Israeli elections. That fight will be intense. Israelis embraced the idea of two states for so long partly to keep Palestinian enfranchisement off the table.
How can the emerging order become more inclusive and legitimate? Elements of a constructive way forward are hiding in plain sight.
Shortly after Israel signed its 1994 peace treaty with Jordan, then-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres proposed a cross-border joint economic zone to solidify the agreement. This became the Jordan Gateway Industrial Park (JGIP), a 346-acre special economic zone (SEZ) occupying the Israeli and Jordanian banks of the Jordan River near Haifa.