Let’s take as given that everyone wants peace. I think Genghis Khan wanted peace; certainly Chamberlain, Hitler, Stalin, Sadam Hussein, and likely even Osama bin Laden wanted peace. We know for a fact that Arafat wanted peace; he told us so. Yes, everyone wants peace, but on his terms, and that’s the rub. So it’s best to avoid talking about peace unless it is defined in its immediate context…same with “democracy” and “justice” and “nazis” and “racism” and “apartheid”. These terms have become slogans and have their best use in suppressing debate.
“Don’t listen to that guy, he’s a racist.”
Whoever has been speaking is now on the defensive and his argument usually shifts from whatever he was advocating to defending himself.
So read this or not, but don’t stop because you are pinning a label that prevents you from thinking. Full peace means that open conflict is avoided, that there is acceptance and defense of the other as having rights, and that comfortable interpersonal relationships are possible. For this generation and maybe half-way into the next, I think the closest that the bulk of Israelis and the Arabs can come to peace is to avoid open conflict, recognizing that there are already many among them who have gone much farther toward full peace.
Although I have followed Israeli events since before the State, my first visit was in 1990-91 when I straddled the Gulf War while studying Hebrew at Ulpan Akiva. Shulamit Katznelson was the founder/director and her considered opinion, expressed to me in private conversations, was that the Israel/Arab dispute was insolvable, if not into many generations, certainly during her lifetime, and in this, she was correct. This idealistic woman, whose family influenced both the political left and right from modern Israel’s first ideation, believed that Arab insistence on regaining land prevented any hope of resolving the conflict via compromise. It need also be said that conversations with liberal Israelis, when they reached the level of frankness, evoked the response “I don’t want to live with Arabs.” Nonetheless, Shulamit tried to bridge the conflict, using interchange of language as the crossing (the Ulpan, with a multinational student body including Arabs, offered courses in Arabic as well as Hebrew).
Driving around Israel in my rented car I became aware of the 1949 ceasefire lines and was immediately struck by the, to me, crazy Israeli insistence on keeping Umm-al-Fahm on the Israeli side after the 1967 war. “They (i.e. the Arabs) want to stay here (how do you know, aren’t there yearly protest marches)”, “Moving the border is racist (end of conversation)”, “We can’t get them to talk about it” (an imposed solution is “undemocratic” (end of conversation), but silence on the uncomfortable truly racist fact that the UN, not so sub rosa, would just as soon see Israel be swallowed into a Palestine. More, the Galilee was a jigsaw puzzle of Israeli and Arab villages etc. and none were happy about it.
Even then, it was obvious that if a conventional, nonviolent, solution to the conflict were possible through the mechanism of compromise based on both sides yielding some core positions, it would have already happened. So I spoke to several acquaintances about a unique resolution as outlined below. A few years later, Israel endorsed the Oslo terms and brought into the borders Arafat and his soldiers, even arming the latter. The events following upon Arafat’s unrelenting irredentism were foreseen by many.
Now Avigdor Liberman is accused of racism for suggesting that Arabs on the border be transferred to PA citizenship by moving the border. (“Racism” – case closed.) Other political figures would solve the problem by annexing vacant land in Judea/Samaria and still others by offering, in part, to yield the Temple Mount to a committee that would include the Saudis. (Even smart Jews can be crazy.) The Arabs have responded to all Israeli offers by a silence that says “Give me more.”
Overwhelmingly powerful, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt won wars of unconditional surrender. However, a fundamentally weak victor must be aware of international politics and thus be content with less than an absolute victory. (Israel “fundamentally weak?” Unfortunately, yes. Even its bomb is neutralized by politics.)
So with this extended preface, I am suggesting the following:
Two States Within One Border
The current reality is a mixed up two populations, the Arabs fundamentally and irreconcilably opposed to living as a minority among Jews, and we Jews determined to preserve our State, reclaimed after 2000 years.
If a conventionally rational resolution were possible, it would already have happened. Thus, a resolution to the conflict must be sought outside the usual.
The current status is very unstable and getting more dangerous. Forced separation of the populations, such as was imposed on the Hindus and Muslims by the British after WWII, is no longer an option; the political world has moved beyond this kind of thinking.
A new plan, unique to the unique situation, is needed: 2 States within one border.
1. Populations stay in place; people are not moved. Israelis living anywhere in the Mandate are citizens of Israel. Arabs living anywhere in the Mandate are citizens of the new entity, Palestine. Those now in Israel yield their Israeli citizenship, retaining earned State benefits, but do not acquire new one from the State.
2. Existing de facto segregated neighborhoods remain segregated, and boundaries marked.
3. National elections will be limited to citizens of that nation.
4. Taxes paid to the nationality are collected only from citizens of that nation.
5. Taxes paid to a municipality are collected from all residents of that municipality, regardless of citizenship.
6. Municipal police forces will reflect the population(s) makeup in the municipality.
7. Municipal elections will include all residents, regardless of national citizenship.
8. Three court systems are set up; one for disputes between Israeli citizens under Israeli law, the second for disputes between Arab citizens under Arab law, and the third for disputes between Arabs and Jews to be adjudicated by a legal system to be set up by the Israeli and the Arab states.
9. Water and mineral rights allocations will be determined by current use patterns with some adjustments where extreme disparities exist, and thereafter, will continue at the thus established ratio.
10. Current unsettled land will restrict to one or the other nation depending on whether it is within or without the 1949 demarcation lines. The Golan will restrict to Israel.
11. Israel, as the victorious party in the 1967 War, will control the borders, the military, and immigration over the entire post 1921 Mandate. Immigration policy will recognize the small land mass and limited natural and water resource and will not materially change the current population ratios.
This plan does not displace anyone, Jew or Arab. National aspirations can be expressed.
The PA gets its Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and controls all vacant land in Samaria/Judea. Israel gets a resolution of the problem and controls borders, immigration, airspace, and heavy weaponry. Gaza is a separate problem and for the time being can function as a miniState as do Monaco, Luxembourg, and Singapore.
Why not dream?