Ian Joseph

The Price of Peace

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” – Sherlock Holmes to Dr. Watson

Occams Razor – if you have two competing ideas to explain the same phenomenon, you should prefer the simpler one.

US Navy KISS design principle – Keep It Simple Stupid

When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses, not zebras.” – Dr Theodore Woodward in the 1940s [Unless of course you are on safari in Africa – IJ]

“Israel is in denial, that is the only way it’s been able to maintain so many years of occupation…. Israelis live in denial and the outcome is blindness. And thanks to those walls protecting you, you don’t see what you’re doing,” Gideon Levy 2024

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By any assessment Israel has entered an uncertain future both internally and externally. Internally the political strife and divisions generated by the new right wing government are re-emerging. Externally, international pressure and Palestinian dissatisfaction with the status quo are generating pressure on Israel to end the occupation, one way or another.  Without a strategic policy vis a vis the Palestinians, the future will look like the past, only worse. The future will be more occupation, more settlement, more Palestinian violent unrest, more terror, more violent reactions from Israeli Jews, more dissatisfaction with the status quo from both Israelis and Palestinians. 

Palestinians have sought a state limited to the occupied territories since 1988, when the PLO renounced terrorism and recognized Israel, thereby de facto relinquishing its claim to the other 78% of mandatory Palestine. States are often born in war, strife and bloodshed, the birth process of a Palestinian state, depending on how you recognize the beginning, is more than a 100 years or, post Oslo, 36 years, and the process is bleeding Israelis and Palestinians alike to death.

Nations never stop wanting freedom, and Israel’s attempt to portray the world as unrealistically out of touch for advancing a Palestinian state is itself frightfully out of touch. 

A political solution on the near horizon is the only way to avoid the festering West Bank exploding into a hell that would make Gaza look like a picnic by comparison.

Supporting Palestinian self-determination in the form of a state is therefore the right historic, moral, legal and political direction. 

You would have to be blind and asleep for the last four months to not understand the real security fears Israelis have post October 7. But security is not just for Israelis, Palestinians also need security just as much as Israelis do. More than 29,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza as a result of Israeli military actions post October 7 as have more than 350 Palestinians been killed by soldiers and settlers in the West Bank.

For more than 75 years Israel has attempted to totally control the situation; targeted operations and strikes; assassinations from the air, land, and sea; worldwide targeted killing; mass killing; mass arrests; detention without trial; “legal” and illegal land expropriation; ongoing settlement construction; building walls and fences; multiple legal stratagems; and various personal and financial forms of relief. Israel has succeeded in prolonging the occupation and “managing the conflict,” but it did not and could not truly erase the Palestinian issue, did not succeed in ending the hundred year Israel Palestine war, did not succeed in imposing an Israeli solution on the Palestinians, and did not eliminate the Palestinian concept and dreams of self-determination.

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Israel received a fundamental blow to its self image and self conceptions as to the ongoing war with the Palestinians on October 7. Prior to October 7 Israel lived under the delusional concept that the Palestinian problem could be shelved, ignored, managed at an acceptable price and would not require compromise to end it. As a result of the surprise attack by Hamas, Israel went to war under the mutually exclusive slogans of self-defense and the return of the hostages. However, what’s happening in practice is not a war against Hamas but a war against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian narrative, a war solely of revenge and without any vision for the future. The most prominent sign of Israeli fantasy solutions to the problem of Gaza is a populist push for “voluntary emigration” of Gazans to the Western world. The Zionist dream has always, since its inception, contained the implicit de facto dream, that the local indigenous population of non Jewish Palestinians would somehow, magically, disappear. If Israel wants to topple Hamas, end UNRWA’s role in the Gaza Strip, and change the status quo, it must recognize the reasons behind them, namely formally recognize that there is another population that shares the same territory, and plan and create a process culminating in a vision that recognizes the Palestinian right to self-determination.

Arguably, destroying Hamas, if that is even possible, will not make Israel any safer. Rather any organization that arises post Hamas will be more violent, more radical and more determined to kill Israelis as a result of radicalization and a desire for revenge caused by the destruction and chaos Israel has unleashed in Gaza.

Without a clear and accepted process that will culminate in either a Palestinian state alongside Israel, or a secular unitary state of all its citizens, the future will look much like the past. A future, that like the past, contains more occupation, more Israeli settlement of the West Bank, more violent resistance from the Palestinians, more violent oppression and reactions from the Israelis, and more and more death and bloodshed. Such a future will also contain international sanctions  as the world loses patience with Israel, growing emigration by Israelis elites who are no longer prepared to live with the stress, fear, and losses resulting from a never ending war, and resulting economic decline.

Making peace with the Palestinians, and ending the hundred year war, will require the following, at a minimum:

  1. Relocating about 150,000 Jewish settlers or more so as to enable the creation of a continuous Palestinian state in the West Bank.
  2. Ceding East Jerusalem as the Capital of Palestine
  3. Internationalizing the old City and the holy basin area of Jerusalem, placing it under an international administrative body.
  4. Recognizing the Palestinian right of return: Allowing a symbolic number of Palestinian refugees to return and compensating the rest.
  5. Normalization of relations and peace with all the Arab states.
  6. Creating a state of Palestine in the West Bank with some land swaps so that the final area of the state of Palestine is 22% of the total area of mandatory Palestine.
  7. The eastern border of Palestine would be the Jordan River.
  8. A land bridge between Gaza and the West Bank.
  9. Palestine would be demilitarized with only police armed with light weapons.
  10. International monitoring of goods entering Palestine from Egypt and Jordan to ensure no arms smuggling.

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To avoid the train wreck about to be inflicted on Israeli society there is no other choice, but to come to a political solution with the Palestinians in order to end the hundred year conflict. To do so is not to give the Palestinians a reward for terror, but rather to reward Israelis with the security, peace and prosperity that they deserve.

About the Author
Born and educated in South Africa, a graduate of Jewish day school and Habonm Dror, Ian Joseph served in the IDF as an officer in combat units, and currently resides in North Carolina and Cyprus. Ian holds an MBA from Shulich School of Business in Toronto, is certified as a Master Instructor by the American Sailing Association and is currently retired from IBM. Among other pursuits Ian edits a weekly newsletter of Israeli news items, teaches sailing around the world and certifies sailing instructors.