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The Two-Legislature Solution – But Is There Room?

One person who commented felt that the Two-Legislature Solution is a great idea but said that it would be impossible to allow all of the Palestinian refugees to return to the pre-1967 boundaries of Israel because Israel is a small country and there just isn’t enough room.  Is that true?

Taking up the question of whether there is room for all of the Palestinian refugees to return, consider the following table:* Non-Jews includes Israeli-Arabs and those identified as “others” (non-Arab Christians, Baha’i, Samaritans, Karaite Jews, Seventh-day Adventists, Messianic Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and immigrants from the former Soviet Union, who identify themselves as Jewish but do not satisfy the Orthodox Jewish definition of “Jewish” the government uses for civil procedures) but not Refugees.

** Refugees includes Registered Refugees plus Non-Refugee Husbands, Wives, and Descendants

Sources:

Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (https://www.cbs.gov.il/he/mediarelease/DocLib/2023/424/11_23_424b.pdf)

Encyclopedia Britannica (https://www.britannica.com/facts/West-Bank)

UNRWA Registered Population Dashboard (https://www.unrwa.org/what-we-do/relief-and-social-services/unrwa-registered-population-dashboard)

Statista (https://www.statista.com/statistics/1422981/gaza-total-population/)

As shown in the table, even if all of the Palestinian refugees were to return to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, the population density would only rise from the current 534 people per km2 to 665 people per km2.  Compare this to a region with similar climate and geography lying along a western coastline with a modern economy and a vital population; that is Los Angeles and Orange Counties in California.  Combined, the US Census estimates a 2024 population of 13.2 million people in an area of 14,363 km2, or a population density of 919 people per km2.  If we continue down the coast to San Diego County, the totals become 16.5 million people in an area of 25,399 km2 for a density of 650 people per km2, which is similar to the calculated value if all of the Palestinian refugees were to return.  So, yes, there is room.

In his memoir, “Searching for Peace” (Page 291), Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asserts that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas never really believed that all the refugees would move to Israel but would take compensation instead.  But if they did all decide to come, where would they live?

In his book, “From Refugees to Citizens at Home” (https://www.plands.org/en/books-reports/books/from-refugees-to-citizens-at-home), Dr. Salman Abu-Sitta shows in precise detail that the absolute majority of sites from which Palestinians were ejected in 1948 are still vacant and available for rebuilding to take place.  He states that for those sites that have been built upon the refugees could maintain their property rights and lease the land to the present occupants, most of whom are institutions, then use the money to rent or build homes elsewhere in the vicinity.

In his book, “2048: The Rejuvenated State” (Yamma, Kedma, Tzafona, u’Negba – Israelin 2048), Ambassador Michael Oren notes that 45% of the Israeli population lives on only 17.5% of the land within the current boundaries of Israel, this being mostly concentrated in the Greater Tel Aviv area (Gush Dan).  Noting that the bulk of Israeli industry is concentrated there, as is the vast majority of Israel’s technological workforce, and that it is Israel’s financial and cultural hub, home to two major universities and a growing number of private colleges, he declares that the state needs to establish at least three new metropolitan centers—one in the north, two in the Negev—each with a sustainable industrial base.  He concludes that only a national decision to distribute Israel’s population and resources more equitably will ensure Israel’s economic, social, and strategic viability in 2048.

So, who will populate these new cities?  Surely Jews making Aliyah will provide some of the needed population, but in order to maintain a growing industrial, technological country where Jews will feel safe to immigrate, there must be peace as well as prosperity.  The path to that peace is through the Two-Legislature Solution.

About the Author
Mr. Ashley is a Mining Engineer with 36 years of experience in the mining industry. He holds a B.S. in Mining Engineering, an M.S. in Mining Engineering (Geostatistics), and an MBA. He is also a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Nevada (Retired). He has worked on evaluation and development of more than 50 mining projects located in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Peru, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Suriname, Thailand and the USA, involving commodities as diverse as aluminum (including bauxite and alumina), coal, copper, diamonds, gold, iron ore, kaolin, lignite, nickel, oil shale, potash, silver, uranium and zinc. Since his retirement he has dedicated his life to supporting causes that promote sustainable peace and development for all and working within his community to support democracy and good government doing such things as working on the Civil Grand Jury in his County and working as a Poll Worker and Trainer of Poll Workers.
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