Actually, Albert Einstein didn’t say Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, but it sure seems that way in the land between the Jordan River and the Sea. The Trump peace plan is about to fail, of course, and there’s nothing on the horizon even remotely hopeful for an end to hostilities. So, it occurred to me, why not try something different. Why not ask the Palestinians what they want? In detail. I’m sure that they’ve thought about it in some detail, even though nobody has ever seemed to have thought to ask them.
Tuches on tisch, as we say in Yiddish.
One of the reasons why I think that the peace treaty Begin, Sadat and Carter forged has lasted so long and has been so resilient is that Begin annoyed the heck out of the big picture guys Sadat and Carter with his insistence on clarifying details down to the Talmudic level. And since a real peace treaty between Israel and Palestinians would be even more complicated, by at least an order of magnitude, than the Sinai treaty, I would think it would behoove serious thinkers about an agreement that would end the Hundred Year War to work things out in excruciating detail.
To be clear, when I say “asking the Palestinians”, I mean, asking their leadership. The fact of the matter is that even in democracies, people don’t make peace, governments do, and since nowhere do Palestinians live under a democratic regime, there’s really no point in wasting time with people with absolutely no ability to implement their vision. Now, since it is clear that Hamas will only accept a Judenrein reborn Palestine, it’s probably not a productive use of time to bother pressing them on details for an end to hostilities. And, since the Palestinian Authority has made it clear that it won’t accept a two state solution, how about asking them for details on their vision for a single state between the River and the Sea?
Here are some questions that I think it would be valid to ask:
- In this single state, are Jews allowed to live in Judea and Samaria and the Old City of Jerusalem? Or is there to be a return to the status quo ante of 1949 to 1967 when Jews were forced to leave their homes?
- What kind of government is to rule this single state? Democracy? Autocracy? What is the place of religion in this state to be?
- Who and how will water be managed?
- Who and how will taxes be collected? Who and how will the treasury be managed?
- What law will govern this state? Current Israeli civil law? Sharia? What, precisely, will the legal code be?
- What language or languages will the laws of the country be written in?
- Who is to defend this state? Is there to be a single armed force composed of both Arabs and Jews, commanded by both Arabs and Jews or not? Or are there to be various competing militias, as is the case now among the Palestinians?
- And, most importantly, how would a Palestinian Right of Return be implemented?
From all signs, the right for the 5 to 6 million Arabs who call themselves Palestinian refugees to move to “Israel Proper” is a holy sine qua non for the entire Palestinian nation. So holy, in fact, that the President of the PA insisted on leaving Palestinians to die in Syria rather than give up the right of return. It’s held to be sacred. So, I think it valid to ask some probing questions on how this return would be implemented:
- Are all 5 to 6 million people who call themselves Palestinian refugees eligible to live in Israel? If not, who is entitled to move to Israel and who isn’t?
- For whatever percentage do have the right to move to Israel, where will they live? Are they to show up at the door of the structure on the site of where their ancestors lived with an ancient deed and/or key and get to move in? If so, where are the current occupants to live? And if not, where specifically are they going to live?
- What are they to do for a living? Since those in the camps have basically been living on welfare for generations now, what job skills do they have that someone is willing to pay a living wage for? Is there a plan for job training programs and other education? Or is UNWRA to continue subsidizing Palestinians after they’ve moved to Israel?
- What about the descendants of Jews from Arab countries who were ethnically cleansed from their ancestral homes? Are they expected to “return” to Syria, Iraq, Libya, Morocco etc.? Are they to be compensated in some way, or are they to be ignored?
- Finally, what assurances would Israelis have that 6 million Arabs moving to their country would not be just a ruse to reinstate the status quo ante of pre-1948.
These are certainly tough questions to answer. And I’m sure that many others could be asked as well. I’m not pretending otherwise. But isn’t it incumbent on Palestinians to answer these types of questions if they actually do want to live in peace with Jews in the Land? Is it too much to hold the Palestinian leadership to the same standards that one would hold the leadership of any nation?