Much has been spoken about the highly anticipated Trump peace plan, which is reported to be unveiled in the short term, with only final touch ups still pending. However for this to truly be the ‘Deal of the Century’, whatever it contains must be grounded in the biting, tough reality of the Middle East, and not in the naivete and perhaps fantasy of bygone initiatives and administrations.
To think that any deal, with as simple of the signing of some papers, nice speeches and a handshake photo op will change any realities on the ground, has been proven time and time again to be a fallacy. Both sides have a deep distrust of the other, and deservedly so. Moreover, the Palestinians have not even reconciled amongst themselves. So the thought that Israel could fully reconcile with parties that are at odds with themselves is preposterous. Similarly, Palestinians who have been taught from a young age that Israel are foreign colonialists and occupiers, cannot be expected to overcome that deep hatred even under the best possible deal.
What can be done, however is to create a framework of cooperation on security, economic growth and other areas of mutual interest, of which there are many.
As a result, Israel would relax their restrictions wherever possible, and allow the Palestinians autonomy in majority Palestinian towns and cities as well as admission to the world bodies. Israel would work hard to reduce checkpoints, lengthy administrative hurdles and other inconveniences to reduce and eventually remove the perception of oppression in the eyes of the Palestinians.
Israel’s security needs would be met increasingly by new technologies such as drones and face recognition technology instead of other past methods that are more of an inconvenience. In return, the Palestinians must confront the fundamentals of their hatred, which is the poisoned education against Jews and Israelis, and face up to the historical truth of Jewish history in the Promised Land and in Jerusalem. They must unequivocally end their tacit approval of jihad and ‘Martyr culture’, which is expressed through their support payments to terrorists families and their glorification in the public square.
Such an arrangement is not a ‘solution’ as in the traditional talk of one or two physical states, but an arrangement of cooperation and non interference between networks of cities wherever they are, founded in the reality that each side has much to gain from adhering to the rules of this framework, mainly because of the social and economic benefits that it can provide.
All involved will have full voting rights for their government, Palestinians for the PA, and Israelis for Israel, and will determine the cultural nature of the cities and towns they live in, without having to struggle over the nature of the whole land. This will ensure the Jewish nature and democracy for Israel, without denying the same freedoms of self determination to residents of Arab towns and villages. It will also open up the whole land to all its inhabitants, as this is not a delineation of borders within the land but that of cities.
Neither side will be completely happy; some Jews demand that the whole of the land should be for them alone, and some Palestinians will never accept Israel. But the truth is that even in King Davids time, the Israelites had an agreement with the Jebusites of coexistence and non interference. Similarly the Arabs know and respect the person they know as Dawud, the same David who ruled Israel, from Hebron and then from Jerusalem, no less.
No arrangement is perfect, however where talking about traditional states has failed, perhaps we can look to our new capabilities and technologies, to build a secure arrangement for peoples living in the Holy Land.