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Why Not The Arc?

The Palestinian delegation was at the U.N. General Assembly last week after a year which the Palestinian commissioner of international relations described as “a lost year.” No peace talks, no progress in other spheres. How long until things blow up again, and what might the global as well as regional consequences be this time if they do?

Since 2002 a multidisciplinary team of experts from the RAND Corporation has been working with Palestinians, Israelis and the international community to develop a Palestinian nation-building plan. The Palestine Arc is the stunning, inspiring infrastructure component of RAND’s work.

Watch the Arc videos here. We think you will agree that the Arc vision can put a wind at the back of Palestinians by giving the global community a tangible vision of a Palestinian nation living side by side with Israel in peace, security, and prosperity. If President Abbas had used his time at the U.N. last Thursday to show the thirty-five minute Arc video, wouldn’t it have generated more progress towards resolving the conflict than the thirty-two minute speech he gave?

In Joshua Cooper Ramo’s wonderful book, The Age of the Unthinkable, Ramo describes a principle of physics called the “sandpile effect.” Why does adding one grain to a sandpile generally have no discernible effect, but every once in a while causes an avalanche? Physicists describe the phenomenon as the tendency of large, complex systems to evolve into a poised “critical” state, way out of balance, where minor disturbances may lead to unpredictable avalanches. Ramo’s book thoughtfully applies this theory to numerous complex systems, including geopolitical events. Who would disagree that the current state of Israel-Palestine geopolitics is way out of balance? And who is to say which “grain of sand” will cause an avalanche? And whether the ramifications of such an avalanche will be local, regional or global?

We believe that government officials, thought leaders and others involved with the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seriously underestimate the Arc's persuasive power: its ability to convince large numbers of otherwise uninvolved or skeptical people that a prosperous and successful Palestinian state ­‑ living in peace with a secure Israel ‑ can be a reality.  This is why we encourage Palestinians and others to recognize the Arc as more than just an infrastructure project.  The Arc is not only an infrastructure project for the day after peace, but a visionary concept for getting there in the first place.

It seems like such a waste not to harness the enthusiasm and hope the Arc generates to move forward towards a two-state solution, especially when other movement has been stymied.  The Arc’s potential creation of 160,000 productive jobs per year in the first five years adds an economic argument – imagine the positive political impact these days of creating that many new jobs anywhere.

Please watch the Arc videos on the RAND website here or at our website and please encourage your government to encourage the Palestinian leadership to embrace the Arc. Whether you are motivated by a passion for Israel or Palestine, or a fear that allowing this conflict to fester could spark serious global catastrophe, the risks of inaction are growing.

Given the continued lack of other progress, why not the Arc?


FOTA is not affiliated with the RAND Corporation, which produced the original Arc study.  FOTA does not seek to raise funds, nor does it have any financial interest in the adoption and implementation of the Arc project.