Comments on a one-state plan for peace – The Israeli solution

In her book titled “The Israeli Solution – A One State Plan for Peace in the Middle East” (2014), Caroline Glick attempts to make a compelling case for a solution consisting of a One State under Israeli sovereignty that would finally resolve the age-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. At the outset let me be clear, I am not a proponent of and have not expressed support of Palestinian statehood. However the continued Israeli military occupation of the West Bank AKA Judea and Samaria, the ongoing expansion of Jewish settlements on lands acquired as a result of the resounding Israeli victory in 1967, lands that are still being considered by all of Israel’s friends around the globe as occupied, lands of which the jurisdictional status has not yet been settled, have significant adverse effects: irreversibly corrupting Israel’s fabric of society, severely eroding its ideals of civil liberties, human rights, democracy and equality in the eyes of the law upon which the State of Israel had been founded, ideals which are often touted by Israeli and American officials alike as “our shared common values”.

The bottom line: the proposed One State Plan for Peace will exact a terrible price to pay: Palestinian life in the annexed West Bank under Israeli sovereignty will advance from the current status of “de-facto apartheid” to a state where apartheid is officially sanctioned by Israel. Any American administration, even the most outspoken and supportive of Israel, will face an increasing international and internal opposition to its support of Israel and will find it increasingly difficult to continue and shield a state where civil rights are applied based upon ethnicity, religious inclinations or creed. The One State Plan for Peace puts all those “shared common values” in serious jeopardy. Moreover, Israel will certainly face a mounting opposition from its traditional European supporters to a point which will preclude the United States from shielding it against actions such as economic or trade sanctions. And in that context it must be said that Israel does not resemble any of its neighboring authoritarian regimes, some of which are either supported by the United States (such as Egypt that also adheres to the peace accord with Israel) or considered as its allies (such as Saudi Arabia where human and civil rights are violated openly and frequently). Israel, being a democracy, aspires to belong to the group of nations that comprise most of the Western Democracies and thus can be held accountable to judicial and human rights standards that are the norm across that group of countries.

In plain English: the United States will face a precarious circumstance that is likely to threaten its own national security and global interests. President Donald Trump, in his inaugural address, clearly stated that his administration will establish foreign policies focused exclusively and singularly on serving first and foremost American interests. If taken at his word, one must assume that he will not hesitate to abandon or reverse any such policies should they be at odds with his vision of “America First”. Furthermore, regardless of what Mr. Trump will do or will not do, his term is limited (unlike the system in Israel where the Prime Minister’s terms are unlimited) and no one knows who will succeed him at the White House. As he endeavors to undo the legacy of President Obama, his successor may undo his. If Israel continues to depend so heavily and completely on American generosity and support the ramifications of the One State solution proposed by Ms. Glick may bring Israel to its knees. Some of us may recall the utterly anti-Israel policies and rhetoric, and actions, under Secretary of State John F. Dulles who served a Republican president. That was in the 1950s when Israel was very young and at least a decade before the West Bank came under Israeli rule.

Symbolically, Ms. Glick’s book is adorned with a dust cover depicting the entire landmass between the Jordan River to the east, including the Golan Heights, and the Mediterranean seashore to the west, excluding the Gaza Strip, as draped with an Israeli flag. While this artistic liberty fits Ms. Glick’s political ideology as well as the essence of her message and may be palatable to many in Israel, more so to Israeli rightwing politicians, it assumes that all of the currently non-Israeli populations across the West Bank and the Golan Heights are assembled under Israeli (Jewish that is) rule. In this context, it is my opinion that the Golan Heights, which has been brought under Israeli jurisdiction in 1981, must remain under Israeli sovereignty in perpetuity and should be excluded from any future discussions under any UN resolution. The Golan Heights region as an inseparable part of Israel clearly serves the long term foreign policy and security objectives of the United States, and needless to say, Israel’s security concerns. The chaos that reigns just across the Golan Heights borders in Syria is a clear vindication of that assertion.

It should be noted that the United Nations resolution 181 of November 29, 1947, widely known as the Palestine Partition Plan, confirmed an international support for the founding of Israel as a Jewish state and simultaneously created the foundation for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel in portions of the landmass situated west of the Jordan River. The UN resolution 181 superseded the 1922 League of Nations Mandate that created, among other things, a temporary British mandatory governance over the entire Palestine-Eretz Yisrael. Unlike the UN resolution 181, the 1922 mandate did not create an independent Israeli (Jewish) sovereignty (state) although the July 24, 1922 Mandate included Judea, Samaria, Gaza and the Negev Region in the lands slated for what is referred to in the accompanying map as a “Jewish Palestine”. The 1922 Mandate was granted “until such time as” the Jewish Palestine is “able to stand alone”. Thus, the 1922 Mandate was clearly intended as a temporary proposal not as a definitive document granting final statehood. The interpretation of the 1922 Mandate and borders presented in Ms. Glick’s book may be challenged or viewed as potentially misleading.

Notwithstanding the above, the League of Nations ceased to exist by the end of the Second World War and had been succeeded by the United Nations under a new charter that was crafted to reflect the enormous transformations brought about at the conclusion of hostilities. Chief among them was the demise of the British Empire and the desire by Britain to end the Palestine mandate. In this context, the UN resolution 181 addressed the end of the British mandate over Palestine and the relinquishing of governance to the Jews and the Arabs. A new map was drawn by the UN in support of the resolution 181 (April 1946) clearly annulling the 1922 map, depicting a partition of the entire land mass situated west of the Jordan River into two “states”: a Jewish State and an Arab State under an “economic union”. The word “State” (that was not used in the 1922 mandate) was used to explicitly imply national sovereignty. The map also depicts an utterly unacceptable solution for Jerusalem as an enclave under international supervision.

An interpretation contained in Ms. Glick’s book of the UN resolution 242 that was adopted following the decisive Israeli victory in 1967 that presumes that Israel could not return to the 1949 armistice demarcation lines (the so called “1967 borders”) is far reaching, well beyond the resolution’s intent that all states in the region, including Israel, have the right to “live in peace” within “secure and recognized borders”. The meaning of “secure and recognized borders” had been left (perhaps intentionally) vague since it was envisioned that the final negotiated and agreed upon borders could differ from “1967 borders” and would be enshrined in durable peace agreements between Israel and its neighbors.

With regards to the question of defensibility of the 1949 armistice lines with the Kingdom of Jordan, a subject addressed in Ms. Glick’s book, some members of the Israeli government argued subsequent to the 1967 victory that these borders do not provide a sufficient “strategic depth” and thus will continue to be indefensible if agreed upon as permanent borders. Perhaps so, if this statement is viewed through the vantage point of the 1967 circumstances. Apparently Ms. Glick continues to hold this opinion. Unfortunately, since then Israel’s foes acquired formidable capabilities to reach nearly any city and village or any military facility or industrial complex within Israel proper by firing missiles from points well beyond its borders. A recent assessment by Israel’s military high command concluded that even if only five to ten percent of that capability remains deployable following a successful preemptive strike by the Israeli air force, some tens or even hundreds of missiles of various sizes and capacities may still reach their targets.

Applying the argument of “indefensible borders” to the current 1949 armistice line with Lebanon for example (that are actually along the international border between the British and the French post-World War II UN mandates) may suggest to some that these lines must also be extended northward in order to mitigate a potential threat posed by the Hezbollah. Perhaps the same is true regarding the current southern Golan Heights borders at the confluence of the Jordan River and the borders with Syria and Jordan which are in close proximity to Israeli towns and villages just south of the Kinneret.

Although Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan signed a peace accord and the borders between the two countries are considered final in the agreement, the Kingdom’s future stability is a constant concern given the recent chaos in neighboring Arab countries, thus the continued long term “defensibility” of the Jordan River, as Israel’s eastern border, may also be challenged.

Finally, the argument that the 1967 lines do not provide sufficient protection against terror attacks does not hold water. As we have seen time and again, perpetrators of terror can infiltrate into Israel from far afield, regardless of the distance from the borders. Some of us recall the late 1960s and early 1970s when Israel suffered repeated attacks perpetrated by terrorists infiltrating from areas east of the Jordan River. Israeli military forces repeatedly operated within areas east of the Jordan River, such as Karameh (1968), in an effort to mitigate that threat. So much for the defensibility of that border.

In her solution, Ms. Glick suggests a set of circumstances that could only be described as a thinly vailed “apartheid” directed at the Palestinian population across the West Bank. Upon enactment of Israeli laws and sovereignty over the entire West Bank the Israeli government will grant permanent residency to its Palestinian populace on a case by case basis (not communally). Israeli citizenship maybe issued later to some individuals in accordance with applicable Israeli laws. It should be noted that currently and perhaps justifiably so, Israeli laws grant almost automatic citizenship to any Jew anywhere in the world (under the Law of Return, subject certain limitations) who desires to become one. However, non-Jews who are not espoused to a Jewish partner face a difficult and prolonged process that more often than not culminates in a denial. In addition, as permanent residents Palestinians will be able to travel and purchase land anywhere and reside anywhere they wish, contingent upon obtaining certain security clearances. Likewise, Jewish Israeli citizens will be able to purchase land and reside anywhere (no security clearances will be required).

Those Palestinians who will become Israeli citizens could exercise their right to partake in Israeli general elections. Ms. Glick remains silent regarding any rights to form political parties and revisions to the structure of the Knesset to accommodate the additional electorate that will be added to the Israeli one. Today, the Knesset consists of 120 seats based on an ancient tradition of 120 members of an assembly of Jewish scribes, sages and prophets. Perhaps this unicameral structure served the purpose when it was founded in 1949 when the entire Jewish population of Israel numbered just over one million. However, today the unicameral structure of 120 members is considered by some parliamentary experts as obsolete given the current size of the population. In this context a question must be raised regarding the minimum number of votes a political party must garner in order to send delegates to the Knesset.

In her book Ms. Glick presents an elaborate discussion of the demographic issues surrounding the proposed One State Plan citing statistical analyses conducted by various individuals and entities. She refers to the “demographic time bomb” as a “dud” and suggests that a Jewish majority will continue to prevail. Nevertheless, the demographic issue is real and cannot be ignored even if we all agree that the Palestinian demand for the “right of return” of the 1948 refugees and their descendants to their former villages and towns is a non-starter and will (and should) never be accepted. The question of potential immigration of Palestinians to the West Bank following the Israeli annexation, presumably 1948 refugees or their descendants who currently reside outside Israel as well as outside the West Bank, is not fully addressed. It is safe to assume, under the scenario described by Ms. Glick, that Israel will continue to enforce its current policy of curtailing any such immigration. To be sure, life in the West Bank today and presumably in the future, in terms of economic opportunities and personal safety, is significantly better than in surrounding Arab countries. Thus the incentives for immigration exist and will likely intensify.

Assuming Israeli magnanimity in granting citizenship and current population counts, at least 85 percent of the Palestinian permanent residents across the West Bank will be granted Israeli citizenship under the plan suggested by Ms. Glick and that 60 percent of those be eligible to vote, it will add about 1.5 million Arab voters to the current about 1.6 million Israeli Arabs (Israeli citizens, most are Muslims) who are eligible to vote. Excluded here are smaller ethnic minorities such as Druze and Cherkessk who had been Israeli citizens since 1948. According the Israeli Bureau of Statistics (2014) about 5.5 million Jewish Israelis are eligible to vote. Assuming a 100 percent turnaround should general elections be held today at current numbers, the ratio of total Arab voters (3.4 million) to the Jewish electorate (5.5 million) exceeds 50 percent. Most demographers (Israelis and foreign) agree that a future government formed under these circumstances could, by default, be either headed by an Arab, or at least be significantly weighted by Arab ministers in a multi-party coalition. At that point, the Palestinians will have achieved their long term goal of statehood. The Israel that Ms. Glick and all of us know will no longer exist.

To avert this gloomy scenario Israel would have to adhere to a de-facto apartheid policy, limiting civil rights, severely limiting the rights to obtain citizenship by the annexed Palestinian populace and curtailing immigration of Arabs, thus reducing their overall eligibility to partake in the governance of the One State. At the same time the population in the Jewish settlements will continue to grow enjoying the full civil rights by virtue of their Israeli citizenship. In this post I haven’t touched upon the question of taxation of the annexed Palestinian populace and the use by Israel of the collected taxes. If they are relegated to a permanent residency status and are denied political rights that stems out of citizenship on the national level, their status can be summed up as “taxation without representation”.

While some would consider the term “apartheid” as not applicable, it goes without saying that if Israel annexes the West Bank and promulgates the existing Israeli laws in these areas while denying the non-Jewish (Palestinian) population an immediate and full access to civil rights (namely citizenship) – apartheid it is indeed.

Couple of footnotes: regardless of how the text is dressed up and presented, Ms. Glick’s book does not offer a pragmatic solution. Instead it seeks to convey her views that are clearly slanted towards perpetuation of the existing circumstances by which the Palestinians continue to be subjugated to Israeli rule, denied basic civil rights and Israel continues its march towards the creation of an apartheid state. The history of Palestine as discussed in the book is also slanted to the right. Readers who seek a more balanced account may find works by historians such as Tom Segev or Yitzhak Ben-Tzvi interesting.

About the Author
Arie, a retired consulting engineer, had been born in Israel, served in the IDF and is a resident of Boston since 1978. lifelong interests include history of Israel (including the formerly Palestine) and US/Israel relations. Other interests include studies in philosophy and theology.