Or if you prefer, “The United States of the Holy Land.” You can throw Gaza into the mix as well, why not, and name it yet again: “The United States of Israel-Palestine-Gaza.” Whatever floats your boat, go sail with it. After all, the chances of the Palestinians in the West Bank and those in Gaza, i.e. Fatah and Hamas, agreeing on a united front have about the same odds of succeeding as Israel and Palestine agreeing on the Two-State solution. It is a dead corpse, whichever way you slice it, being cooked and salted over at the Dead Sea under the blazing Mideast sun. And as for the living watching from the shore, they must move on and find a better solution.
Make no mistake about it, though: The Two-State Solution, talked about and progressed as if endlessly through a number of resolutions and declarations – from the White Paper issued by the British government in 1939 to the United Nations partition resolution 181 in 1947; from the Oslo Accords of 1993 to president W. Bush roadmap for peace of 2002; and on to the 2012 Unites Nations vote recognizing Palestine as a non-member state, to name but a few milestones – is still the best solution there is hands down. For Israel, for the Jewish people globally, and for the Palestinians and Arabs everywhere. But since, as mentioned before, it is dead in the water – the sharp stake at the center of that floating corpse is, of course, the fervent Jewish Settlers Movement (the big and only winner in an all-around loosing game) – we have to move forward.
Which road to take, then, is the big question. And it does look, indeed, as if some moderate forces on the polarizing sides of the equation have begun to see such a road ahead, and began to formulate a different solution, albeit limited in scope and vision. Moshe Arens, a former Israeli Defense Minister, had suggested such a solution of a “bi-national state,” comprised of Jews and Arabs with equal rights, more or less, in an article in Haaretz (05/13/13). He stated a hope that, with the help of the Jewish-diaspora, Jews will always be the majority in the Holy land. Wishful thinking, maybe, since here comes the other side, with some prominent leaders of Fatah not only suggesting, but producing a document “calling for the establishment of one democratic country in the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River (Haaretz, a day later). Rejecting therefore the unrealistic prospects for the Two-State solution, ad hoc, and accepting the reality and inevitable outcome of no separate independent Palestinian state. They, I assume, entertain the same hope that, eventually – remember what Arafat had said, about the womb of the Palestinian woman being the best weapon available for the Palestinian cause – they would become the majority in the land.
These and other thoughts on the matter by various thinkers still fall short, naturally, of formalizing a true, solid solution to the problem, since they avoid some of the most difficult issues facing what would be a new confederated state. But let’s see, or imagine, what it will take, and what it will look like, this new entity of the “The United States of Israel-Palestine.” And in order to do that, unlike the politicians, I’m going to start with the most difficult problem of all: Jerusalem. The city, naturally, will become the capitol city of the new nation entity. All citizens of Jerusalem, both Jews and Arabs – and for that matter, all citizens of the new nation – will have equal rights and will vote in the democratically held elections. The elected mayor and the city council, and the elected prime minster and parliament, will be in charge thereafter. Arabs and Jews, Israelis and Palestinians will have to work together. Since these will be confederated states, there won’t be a need to change flags and national anthems, at least on the outset, as each state will retain its flag and anthem. And since (most likely) the Prime Minister will be an Israeli, then – just maybe – the President will be a Palestinian.
Fantasy land, you say? Last days’ prophecy? Maybe. But what else do we have going for us, really, as far as solving that biblical conflict? Nothing much. Now, if the decision will be that all settlers and settlements remain intact where they are, then the Palestinians should have the right for compensations; i.e. their refugees, from close and afar, would have the opportunity to come back home. I’m not so sure that too many of them will jump merrily on this opportunity, however, and I’m not suggesting to uproot Israeli towns, villages and their inhabitants. All I’m saying is, they can come back to their new Palestine, now united with Israel, and if they so choose, try to rebuild their life where they choose, and where they can afford to live. Financial compensations and incentives might play a part in it as well (courtesy of good old USA and oil-rich Saudi Arabia, probably).
There are many challenges and obstacles, of course, ahead on such a road. Non bigger maybe than the need to retain full democracy. And yet, on the other side of the coin, the need to avoid – at all costs – an apartheid state. Otherwise, it is an endless war. And remember, even if the Two-State solution is somehow, miraculously resurrected – and we are dealing here with, and talking about the land of miracles and resurrections, after all – no force exists anymore in Israel, politically and maybe even militarily, that is capable of undoing the settlers movement’s victory of “facts on the land.”
This victory is so complete that, in a most fascinating twist of history, that movement had also created the foundation for the new confederated entity of “The United States of Israel-Palestine.” Once that foundation is indeed secure, and some initial basic rules are established and followed through, the process will move forward and other pieces will begin to fall into place soon after. I can even see a national, Israeli-Palestinian soccer team playing in international competitions; and I can hear the loud roar of the crowd cheering their team on in Hebrew and in Arabic!