Lisa Liel

From the River to the Sea – A Peace Proposal

I have written elsewhere about why Israel cannot allow Palestinians, who are devoted to the obliteration of Israel, to remain any sort of independent or quasi-independent entity in Judea/Samaria and Gaza.

To recap briefly, every Palestinian in Judea/Samaria and Gaza is taught from infancy the absolute conviction that the land between the river and the sea is theirs and has been since time immemorial, that they were dispossessed by the Zionist Jews, and that nothing, no matter how gruesome or inhuman, is off limits in the need to obliterate Israel.

No peace can ever be made with a nation whose single driving need, surpassing even the value of life itself, is to destroy Israel.

That being said, the State of Israel does not have popular support among the citizenry for simply deporting them to another country, such as Jordan (which in sober fact is a Palestinian state). And so an alternative plan is needed. One which removes the threat of Palestinian run territories from the land between the river and the sea.

Such a plan was proposed in 2017 in the Zehut Party platform. Elements of that proposal can serve as a model of defusing the conflict, and of improving the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians.

It should be noted that some Palestinians who have relocated to other countries, particularly western countries, have become acculturated there. Raised in a society that does not teach hatred and bloodshed and an utter lack of empathy, they have grown to oppose the endless drive of Middle Eastern Palestinians to pursue the genocide of Israel. This should be seen as a hopeful sign. A sign that Palestinians, removed from the Middle East and allowed to grow and flourish in free societies, can become truly civilized — contributors to society, rather than dangers to it.

Financial Incentives

The first stage of this plan is simply to permit any Arabs from Gaza or Judea/Samaria (henceforth: the territories) who want to leave to do so unmolested. Until recently, the Arabs of Gaza had been leaving at a rate of some 20,000 per year. Polls conducted by Arab pollsters showed that upwards of 60% of Arabs in the territories, if given the opportunity to emigrate, would do so.

What has prevented them from leaving? Three things, primarily, all of which are financial. Starting over in another country is difficult, and doing so with no financial means is even more so.

Arabs in the territories are forbidden to sell their property to Jews. While anti-Israel propagandists love to hurl the accusation of “apartheid” at Israel, Arabs live anywhere they want in Israel and are no more limited than Jews. While Jews are not only forbidden to live where Palestinians rule, but those found to be selling land to Jews are subject to the death penalty.

For many Palestinians, their property is a significant part of their wealth. To leave without being able to realize that value by selling it to Jews makes the prospect of emigrating untenable.

Many other Palestinians own no property to speak of, and have been brought to near-destitution by the corruption of their leaders.

Finally, countries receive many requests from potential immigrants. Those lacking financial means are often pushed to the end of the line, since they would only become a burden on the economy. While those with means are often pushed to the front of the line, since they would become an asset to the economy.

Given all of this, the first stage of the plan would be to change the situation. To allow Palestinians to sell their land and property in order to be able to afford to emigrate successfully, and in order to make them attractive applicants for immigration in the eyes of other countries.

Beyond this, since large numbers of Palestinians lack either property or liquid assets, Israel would offer a generous emigration basket to any of them choosing to leave.

Today, Israel provides an immigration basket of benefits to Jews making aliya (immigrating to Israel). The emigration basket for Palestinians chosing to leave would be similar. Not only would Israel intercede with other countries to facilitate their acceptance of Palestinian immigrants, but Israel would also provide cash grants to those who leave.

Currently, the State of Israel spends over 10% of its annual budget on defense and security, both external and internal. In 2022, this came to $23.4 billion, or roughly ₪90 billion.

According to the American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG), the population numbers popularly touted for the Palestinians in the territories are greatly inflated. There are approximately 1.75 million Arabs in Judea/Samaria, and about another 1.2 million who live in Gaza.

Three million Palestinians could be given ₪30,000 each, and it would only come to ₪90 billion, or the same amount Israel spends each year on security and defense. Given the amount of that budget that is currently spent on protecting Israel from Palestinian terror attacks, this would pay for itself within a few years.

A Palestinian family of 8, which is conservative, given that households among Middle Eastern Palestinians tend to be multigenerational, would receive ₪240,000, or almost a quarter of a million shekels. That sort of funding would allow them to make a solid new start in any western country

The End of Palestinian Self-Rule

Israel is in the process of eliminating Hamas from the Gaza Strip. At the end of this, there will be no Palestinian governing entity in Gaza, and thus no one to prevent Gazan Palestinians from accepting this offer from Israel. And the great number of Gazans who have lost their homes in Gaza as a result of the Palestinian war against Israel launched on 7 October 2023 means that many of them will be even more eager to accept this offer.

Judea/Samaria is another question. Currently, large areas of Judea/Samaria are under the brutal rule of the Palestinian Authority, which was established as part of the Oslo Accords in 1994. The Arabs living there would find their lives in danger should they attempt to sell their property to Jews.

For this reason, stage one of the plan will also necessitate a formal ending of the Oslo Accords. As stated in the Zehut Platform:

The State of Israel will officially decide and will then officially notify the Palestinian Authority and the Quartet (the US, the EU, the UN and Russia)* of the full cancellation of the Oslo Accords and all its derivatives and the restoration of the legal situation in Judea, Samaria and Gaza as it was before the agreements. Israel shall attach to the declaration concrete and detailed evidence that the agreements were substantively violated by the other party since the beginning, and that from the outset, the other side did not intend to end the conflict and live in peace with Israel. Therefore, Israel has the right, indeed the duty for its safety, to cancel them.

This will restore all members of the PLO and the PA and their various “security” organizations to the status of terrorists, similar to the status of Hamas today.

*The Quartet is the supervisory body over the “Oslo Process”. It was established with Israel’s agreement in 2002 on the heels of the failure of the process until that point. The process continues to fail. However, Israel will have to make the official announcement of the end and nullification of the “Oslo Process” to the Quartet.

Withdrawal of Terrorist Forces

At the end of the first Lebanon War, thousands of PLO terrorists were permitted to withdraw from Lebanon under Israeli and international guarantees for their safe departure. In order to prevent unnecessary bloodshed, Israel will make the same offer to anyone in Judea/Samaria who intends to continue making war against it. Their families will be permitted to accompany them.

Security prisoners in Israeli prisons will be permitted to leave as well, subject to a finding that they will not constitute a significant danger to Israel once they have left.

Israel will provide the terrorist organizations with a list of wanted persons who are not on the list of those withdrawing whom Israel intends to arrest or eliminate after the withdrawal so that they can join those leaving.

Needless to say, terrorists and security prisoners will not be eligible for the financial aid discussed above.

Civil Status

The Arabs in the territories will each be issued an Israel temporary resident card, and will be able to elect their own municipal leadership and pay taxes to that leadership. Israel will not tax them, and will not provide them with services other than security and Israeli health services, which will be available to all who pay for it in the same way that Israeli citizens do. Arab health services will also be permitted to continue operating.  Municipalities will have to pay for the utilities their residents use, such as electricity and water.

Once this has been accomplished, the Arabs of the territories, no longer under threat by their own leaders, will be able to decide whether they want to accept Israel’s generous emigration basket and relocate, or whether they wish to remain.

Those who wish to remain, after undergoing security checks, and according to security needs, will be able to opt for permanent residency. Receipt of this status will be conditional on an open declaration of loyalty to the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish People, and a clean background check. Permanent residents will have full freedom of movement and employment throughout Israel, which will include the territories. They will have the same rights and responsibilities as Israeli citizens except that they will not be required to perform national service and will not be able to vote in national elections.

“Second Class Status?”

Some will complain that not permitting permanent residents to vote in national elections is “undemocratic”, but it is no more undemocratic than residents of Puerto Rico and Washington, DC not being able to vote for representatives to the US Senate, or residents of Guam and American Samoa having no national representation at all.

After a century of unceasing hostility and murderous actions, Israel has the right to take special precautions when it comes to Arab non-citizens.

That said, those permanent residents who truly wish to tie their fates to that of the State of Israel, and to become citizens, will be able to apply for citizenship.

Arab citizens of Israel are a valued part of Israeli society. Many of them serve in the IDF or perform other forms of national service. They constitute a respectable percentage of students at Israeli universities, and often become professionals. Those permanent residents who wish to join their ranks will be able to request citizenship.

Citizenship will not be granted automatically. The process of attaining it will not be short, though for those Arabs who collaborated with Israel, it will be shorter. A simple background check will not be sufficient. They will have to be examined over time for their suitability and loyalty.

A Better Future

Imagine a future in which Arabs who were unwilling to live along side Israel are able to live their best lives in countries where they can make a real contribution. Where they can excel, and devote their considerable energies to constructive endeavors.

Imagine a future in which Arabs who choose to remain as permanent residents of the State of Israel are able to work and live throughout the country. Where no checkpoints exist, no work permits are necessary, and where Israelis can learn to trust them again, and they can see how it feels to be trusted.

Imagine a future in which Arabs who choose to tie their fate to the Jewish State of Israel — surely no stranger than Jews who have tied theirs to the Anglican United Kingdom or the Catholic Republic of France — join the many Arab and Druze citizens who have already done so, and reap the benefits of a flourishing society where they are valued and have no need to seek supremacy.

Imagine a future in which the State of Israel can continue making peace with its Arab neighbors, but a warm peace, rather than the cold peace it now has with its closest neighbors, Jordan and Egypt. Where highways and pipelines run throughout the Middle East, barely hindered by national borders, and where Israeli advances in the sciences, such as desalinization and medical miracles, can turn the Middle East into a place the world can look to in admiration, rather than in horror.

All of this is possible. We have the opportunity to make it happen. Let’s do it.

About the Author
Lisa Liel lives in Karmiel with her family. She works as a programmer/developer, reads a lot, watches too much TV, does research in Bronze/Iron Age archaeology of the Middle East, and argues a lot on Facebook.
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