Analysis of the highest order on an agreement with the Palestinians, which necessarily will result in the establishment of the state "Palestine," requires an understanding that such a result will not amount to the "end" of the conflict with the Palestinians. And even less so, will it spell the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict - whose roots run much deeper than the Palestinian issue, however important. Therefore, it is necessary that alternative potential developments following the establishment of the Palestinian state be explored in advanced, and that the agreement be shaped, along with related steps, accordingly.

Four master scenarios present the main possibilities that could be seen the next 10 years: 1. A peaceful Palestine, the establishment of which quiets the Arab-Israeli conflict as a whole

Thanks to international aid and enlightened leadership, Palestine develops socially and economically, and maintains good relations with its neighbor Israel. Syria is willing to sign an agreement with Israel at acceptable conditions, or, alternatively, is neutralized. Most Arab states establish relations with Israeli along with regional cooperation and containment of Iran.

2. Palestine destabilizes Jordan

The Palestinian state suffers from congestion and is pressed by Palestinian refugees who want to settle there. Palestinians in Jordan try to make it a part of Palestine, but Jordanian authorities repress them brutally. Palestine supports subversion of Jordan and destabilizes it. At the same time, Palestinian leaders reassure Israel that they are facing "eastward" and fully accept the peace with Israel.

3. The Israeli-Palestinian agreement causes Syria to open limited military operations, supported by Iran and Hezbollah

The Syrian regime finds itself in a difficult situation, due to a lack of achievements compared to the Palestinians. To break the status quo, Syria attacks Israel's north, declaring that its only intention is to get back "what belongs to us, as the Palestinians did." Iran and Hezbollah pledge support and put their forces onto attack readiness, while in Palestine there is disagreement over whether or not they should "stand aside."

4. Hamas takes over Palestine, after assassinating the leaders who supported the "treasonable" agreement with Israel

The United States recommends that Israel not interfere, while the rulers of Jordan and Saudi Arabia secretly urge Israel to invade Palestine and destroy Hamas. Iran and Syria declare that any Israeli intervention will be regarded as a "declaration of war."

These are but a few possible scenarios out of many, to which various unexpected outcomes must be added. But they are enough to stress the absolute necessity of taking various alternative futures for a Palestinian state into account during negotiations. This is all the more so imperative considering that the likelihood of realizing the first, optimistic, scenario will remain low unless the overall dynamics in the Middle East change direction; the development of Palestine will depend a great deal on the greater geo-political environment. A comprehensive Middle East agreement would contribute significantly to the stability of Palestine, while eruptions of Arab-Israeli violence could easily destabilize it.

The conclusion from the analysis presented above is not that Israel can or should refrain from helping to establish a Palestinian state. Refraining from its establishment would surely lead to even more dangerous scenarios - such as an escalation in violence, endangerment of Israel's Jewish character and its democracy, and erosion of the country's relationship with the United States along with its international standing on the whole.

Therefore, there are compelling reasons, from the perspective of Israel's national security, to move toward an agreement involving the establishment of a Palestinian state. But this leaves much leeway for Israel to impose various conditions and take measures to deal with any possible undesirable developments. These may include:

(1 ) Providing the Palestinian state with everything it needs to ensure stability and social, economic and political development.

(2 ) At the same time, Israel must ensure that it is able to to cope with any negative developments. For instance, instruments and plans for providing support for the legitimate government of Palestine against subversion would be necessary - and if possible, in cooperation with Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

(3 ) Most important of all, Israel must make every effort to incorporate an agreement with the Palestinians into a broad Middle East settlement. Recent pronouncements made by the prime minister hint at such an intention, but much more is needed: A major Israeli proposal to advance a comprehensive Middle East agreement, based on the Arab Peace Initiative, with certain amendments. One of the components of such a proposal must be the establishment of a stable Palestinian state.

One essential pre-condition to all of the above is the recognition that the Palestinian issue is just one link in the historic processes which make up the Arab-Israeli conflict as a whole, rather than one which stands alone. This is a main challenge to Israeli statecraft facing professionally the National Security Council on a professional level, and on a political level the prime minister and the defense minister.