Based on unbiased studies conducted over the past few years by various researchers regarding the demographic status of Eretz Yisrael (the entire land mass situated between the Jordan Valley to the east and the Mediterranean shore to the west, including the Gaza Strip) the Jewish population is already a minority albeit slim (Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, April 2012 and others). The non-Jewish population, mainly Arab, including that of Israel proper (the “Israeli Arabs” as they are commonly referred to), exceeds that of the Jewish by few hundred thousand persons. Given the nature of the two peoples that manifests itself in a generally higher birthrate for the Arabs, this demographic schism is poised to continue and widen for the foreseeable future. This fact is likely to adversely impact the state of Israel that proclaims itself as the world’s only “Jewish and Democratic State”.
Maintaining the current largely Jewish governance will become increasingly at odds with the evolving demography of Eretz Yisrael. It will be impossible to maintain any semblance of “democracy” when its benefits apply exclusively to the Israeli citizenry and at the same time are denied from millions of non-citizen Arabs and others who had been making the West Bank, AKA Yehuda and Shomron, their home for generations. Israel will find itself as a full blown apartheid state not unlike what we have seen in the 20th century South Africa. Notwithstanding the devastating international ramifications of such an eventuality. Some, with more than a grain of truth, claim that a de-facto apartheid already exists across the West Bank where there are some roads constructed on Palestinian land for the exclusive use by Jewish settlers, some bus lines that exclude Arabs etc.
Furthermore, Israeli settlers, being Israeli citizens, are effectively subject to Israel’s judicial and legal system while technically residing within an area of which the jurisdictional status has been determined by international rules of war as an “occupied” land. It should be noted that although some Israeli (Jewish) legal scholars opined that an “occupied” status is not applicable to the West Bank, the international community, including friendly governments, still adheres to the occupied status. In comparison, the non-Jewish Arab (Palestinian) population of the West Bank, under the governance of the Palestinian Authority (PA), is subject to a combination of PA rules and Israel’s military ordinances under its occupying power authority. A dichotomy that suggests, at least from a judiciary vantage point, some level of segregation resembling the appearance of an apartheid.
No one doubts the historic facts (regardless of the recent foolish and ignorant UNESCO declaration) regarding the Jewish ancient affinity to Eretz Yisrael dating back to time immemorial. But the current reality cannot be ignored. The fact that those parts of Eretz Yisrael referred to as “Yehuda” and “Shomron” were during distant biblical history a home for a Jewish majority is at odds with the more recent history of the last several centuries that points to an overwhelming Arab (Palestinian) majority. Unfortunately, what could not have been achieved during the just war of 1948, namely making “Yehuda” and “Shomron” inseparable parts of the State of Israel when the world’s attention was focused on the recovery from WWII calamities, still, for vastly different reasons, could not be achieved in the aftermath of the just Six-Day war of 1967. Moreover, any attempt by any Israeli government current or future to “annex” these parts of Ertetz Yisrael and bring them under full Israeli (Jewish that is) jurisdiction and governance will meet stiff opposition by those foreign governments that are considered Israel’s strongest allies (first and foremost the US upon which Israel fully depends for its economic viability and military strength). In other words, such an annexation could only be considered acceptable if the Arab (Palestinian) population across the West Bank be granted citizenship and full civic rights equal in all respects to those bestowed on current Israeli citizens as well as on the Jewish settlers in their midst.
By definition, Palestine and Israel would become a single political entity governed by a majority government achieved through fair and open elections to an inclusive Parliament. A true One State solution indeed. Indeed, the Arab age old aspiration for an independent state will come true. It is safe to assume that such a scenario is repugnant to all Israelis (Jews that is) as well as to most of the Jewish diaspora regardless of their intent, or lack thereof, to view Israel as the ultimate Jewish Homeland.
Nonetheless the demographic clock is ticking relentlessly and regardless of the militant right-wing views expressed by some within the Israeli government the current circumstances are widely considered as unsustainable. Their vision of an indefinite and unmolested Israeli rule over an ever increasing Arab population in the West Bank is a dangerous pipe dream. Attempts by the Israeli government to circumvent an Israeli Supreme Court ruling ordering the removal of a settlement that was constructed on private Palestinian land are viewed as utterly illegal by most of Israel’s friends in Europe and the United States.
Ignoring the growing alignment between the Israeli Arabs and their brethren across the West Bank is foolhardy if not outright endangering the entire enterprise. The majority of the Arab members of Knesset are openly vocal demanding an end of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Their defiance of the government and advocacy on behalf of the West Bank’s Arab population is likely to intensify as a consequence of the continued settlement activities and military occupation.
Last but of course not least is the fate of the Israeli settlers and their settlements across the West Bank. If one considers the views expressed by the current government that the Jews have the right vested upon them by their ancient history to return to “Yehuda” and “Shomron” after the 1967 “liberation”, that the Jewish settlers are the sole beneficiaries of the Israeli judiciary and that their permanent presence there is a nonnegotiable God-given, and if a full annexation of these areas into Israel proper is impossible, one cannot escape the conclusion that the current government truly believes that the Palestinian Arabs will acquiesce to an eternal subjugation to Israeli rule. The daily life of the Palestinian Arab population will continue to be “managed” in perpetuity by their local “autonomy” subject to overarching and intrusive Israeli military rules.
The self-serving rhetoric voiced by various politicians regarding a “two state solution” is, as we say, “smoke in mirrors”. A cursory observation of the current population geography of the West Bank reveals a land resembling “Swiss cheese” where the “holes” depict the many Israeli settlements scattered amongst Arab villages and towns. Any attempt to draw lines that resemble borders between the “two states” is bound to fail. The result will show numerous Jewish enclaves effectively dissecting the West Bank into many Arab sub-regions devoid of contiguous geography, thus prevented from forming a viable independent State. The facts on the ground strongly suggest that a “one state” solution is unavoidable. Israel created a Gordian knot that can only be undone by Israel itself. Undoing that knot will require extraordinary actions of extremely painful consequences.
It is impossible to fool all of the world all of the time. There will come a time, perhaps sooner than later, when Israel will have to face the reality that has been brewing for nearly a half century. I believe, like many others who may share in that view but dare not to say, that Israel is heading towards an internal struggle that may deteriorate into a civil war. Again history is likely to repeat itself with a renewed vengeance and the Israelis will become their own bitter enemies. The historically proven saying: “No Empire Lasts Forever” is aptly applicable. Israel is no exception even though some (perhaps many) of its Jewish people believe that they are the righteous ones and that they have a non-alienated and forever divinely guaranteed right to populate and rule over the entire Eretz Yisrael including the “Yehuda” and “Shomron” regions, and in doing so to eternally subjugate the Arab population of those regions even if that population does not wish to come under Israeli rule and will continue to resist any such notion.
The above is not intended to be an indictment of any of the Israeli governments, past or present. However, it is impossible to envision a failure by the Israelis to understand the gravity of the demographic circumstances and their potentially disastrous consequences. Further, it is clear to any objective observant that the present circumstances surrounding the continued occupation are unsustainable. It appears that the current Israeli government is in a state of denial and firmly in the grips of an extreme right and utterly militant ideology. Therefore, it seems incumbent on the US and other friendly foreign governments to explore a different approach, an approach that will save Israel from itself and ensure the longevity of the entire Zionist enterprise.