is a California research institute that has built its reputation as a conservative, strict, yet reliable and credible think tank.
Last week, the institution published a complete study on the options of establishing and founding a Palestinian state.
According to the report, the cost of a durable Palestinian state that sustains reasonable living standards is more than USD 70 billion, to be spent over the course of the next 15 years.
The sources of the 15-year budget, according to the report, must be the U.S., but also the European Union and oil-rich countries.
Additional conditions specified in the report include the creation of a territorial chain in the West Bank Rand calls "The Arc" and a land connection with the Gaza Strip, the establishment of a central government able to disarm the various terror groups, law enforcement and the creation of “crossable borders” between Israel and Palestine to guarantee the free flow of goods, people and services.
Linking West Bank and Gaza Strip - 'The Arc'
The study’s authors, who labored over the report for nearly two years, recommended implementing the plans of Palestinian development along the “arc,” a title they gave the geographical line that runs through West Bank mountaintops and connects Palestinian population centers throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Rand’s proposal entails converting this arc into the artery throughout which all communication, transportation, water and energy transactions - even recreation - would pass.
The arc, therefore, would be the Palestinian state’s lifeline.
A thorough review of the report may bring about disturbing thoughts in Israeli minds.
The best case scenario, if and when all conditions are fulfilled: aid arrives, terror organizations are extinguished, an internal security system is established (estimated cost is USD 600 million a year), and a new regime is founded properly investing in education, health, welfare and infrastructure.
All this groundwork would cause the standard of living in 2009 Palestine to resemble the 1999 standard of living in the Palestinian Authority.
This is the tangible economic expression of the curse that has been cast over the Palestinian people on their way to self-definition: rapid population growth.
This population growth may become an asset in the demographic struggle against Israel, but at the same time could pose an intolerable burden on the attempt to establish a successful Palestinian state.
'Not a likely scenario - occupation'
In the long run, the demographic sections of the research demonstrate an expected decrease in the growth rate of the Palestinian population, going down from 4 percent to 2.2%; but this would only happen in about a quarter of a century.
In the meantime, there is no way in which Israel can rule over 5 million people, determine their fates, occupy their borders and deny them civil rights - regardless of the number of Jews predicted to populate Israel by the end of the decade.
Accordingly, occupation is not a likely scenario.
Therefore, the only optional scenario is a withdrawal to the borders accepted by both Palestinians and the world.
The lesson one can conclude from the study by this generally pro-Israel institute is that the sooner we leave the territories and allow the Palestinians to found their own state, the sooner our condition would improve.
There is no use in insisting on the existence of settlements: they are mere drops in the demographic oceans that would not change the population balance beyond the Green Line.
Rand researchers are convinced Palestinians must enforce development and construction efforts, and will discover the need to slow population growth, limit immigration and focus on raising their living standards.
However, until this occurs, remember the prediction: Five million Palestinians within five years. Time is working against us.