Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that the rival of Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett in the party’s April 27 leadership race, Rabbi Zagha, would be seriously mentally sick or otherwise unqualified. Rather, we’re all enjoying a situation in the world mostly created by “normal” people. I think that it’s a sign of hope when someone tries to think outside of the box. My question is: Are Rabbi Zagha’s ideas, his “Israel Ascends to New Heights,” as reported only by the Jerusalem Post, crazy enough?
Let me be clear that I hold that rabbis generally should be banned from politics – not because they would be too evil – quite the opposite: most of them are too honest and naive to have any chance to make any good move on the chess board of lies and intrigues that is called politics. However, Rabbi Zagha does not seem naive and that’s why I’m willing to consider his ideas at all.
According to the JPost article, this is his plan:
- It should be clear to anyone that the West Bank of the Jordan River will stay part of Israel forever. Give up false hope to destroy Israel or capture the West Bank.
- All illegal weapons there must be confiscated.
- In order to obtain citizenship, West Bank Palestinian Arabs would have to go through a lengthy process that includes studying only censored versions of the Koran.
- Urban and environmental planning, treatment of water, sewage disposal, electricity and roads would apply equally to Arab Palestinian towns and villages. Israel would also work to create jobs and promote Arab education with a new Arab education department in the Education Ministry.
- At first, every new Palestinian Arab would receive a certificate of residency, a “Green Card” for Israel. This certificate would give him the right to free movement and social benefits, as if he were an Israeli citizen. The right to vote for the Knesset would only be obtained later. Those who try to harm the State of Israel and continue their incitement will be expelled from the country without delay.
- Peace will finally come to this country.
Strong point: It’s phased. Time is there to allow changes and building.
Yet, he misses the following points:
- You can’t censure. Rather, in the free market of ideas, one must strive to make humanistic values look more attractive than violent approaches.
- You can’t uproot nationalism. There must be an Arab Palestinian State. Jordan needs to be the main part of Palestine, as I argued before.
Earlier, Likud Lawmaker, also in the JPost, came with his own novel peace plan that will prevent establishment of a terrorist state in the heart of the Land of Israel and enable the State of Israel to preserve its special character as a Jewish and democratic state – a Jewish majority.
- The Arab Palestinians would receive 39% of the territory of the West Bank of the Jordan River, containing the vast majority of the Arab Palestinian population in the territory, which would be governed by a Arab Palestinian administrative council.
- Some areas of the Palestinian autonomous region would not be territorially contiguous with other areas, but are connected by what Kisch calls Area I, which would come under Israeli sovereignty but which could be freely accessed by Palestinian citizens of the autonomous region, allowing them freedom of movement between all their population centers.
- This way no one will be evacuated from his home, Jew or Arab, while freedom of movement for both groups could be preserved.
- Israel would have full security control over the Palestinian autonomous region, but the IDF would not have military bases within its territory.
- Jerusalem would remain entirely within Israel, although Arab neighborhoods of the city lying outside the security barrier would be administratively separated from the city and made into their own municipal jurisdictions.
- The status of the 100,000 Palestinian Arabs living in these neighborhoods would remain the same but they would be able to apply for citizenship in the autonomous region if they so wished, although they would relinquish their Israeli citizenship in so doing.
- Palestinian refugees and their descendants would not be able to gain residence in Israel or in the Palestinian autonomous region.
- Some 20,000 Palestinians living outside of the autonomous region in Area I would have Israeli residency and would be able to chose whether or not they want either Israeli or Arab Palestinian autonomous region citizenship.
- The Palestinian administrative council would be an elected body by the Palestinian population in the autonomous region, and the issue of final sovereignty over the entity would be left open for a final decision sometime in the future.
- There is a high possibility that the Palestinians would not agree to participate in their own administration under such circumstances and in such a situation Israel would have to take responsibility for running Palestinian civil and administrative life.
- The Arab Palestinians would be under Israeli administration, and not able to vote for a sovereign parliament.The plan thinks well about Israel’s needs but not about the wants of the Arab Palestinians. Therefore, rather than a peace plan it’s a one-sided wish list. It would be easier to realize if also was thought about Arab Palestinian needs – as I tried here.