Two States For Two Peoples
It appears that my latest weekly column in the Jerusalem Post entitled ‘The Inevitability of Coexistence' has caused some confusion or controversy about my stance regarding the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
I want to make it abundantly clear that I have not, I am not now, and will never support a one-state solution.
That said, Israeli-Palestinian coexistence is inevitable because both peoples are literally stuck between the Mediterranean and Jordan River. Neither can dislodge the other, short of a catastrophe of unimaginable magnitude.
There are extremist right-wing and ultra-Orthodox Israelis and extremist Palestinian groups like Hamas who seek to realize a greater Israel and greater Palestine respectively. They will continue to resort to any measures, including incessant violence, to realize their hopeless dreams. They have thus far failed and their eventual complete failure will be dictated by the reality on the grounds of coexistence.
The Palestinians will never defeat Israel militarily and Israel will never succeed in sustaining the occupation and subjugate the Palestinian people.
Israel was created as the last refuge for the Jewish people. It must remain free, independent and democratic. Israel can, indeed it must, maintain the Jewish national identity of the state through a sustainable Jewish majority. The only way this vision can be realized is the creation of a two-state solution, a Jewish state and a Palestinian state.
To ensure the sustainability of the Jewish majority, the Israeli government must create the socio-economic and the political conditions that will make Israel the haven for all Jews. The failed Netanyahu/Lieberman policies have created the precise opposite conditions forcing many Israelis to run away from Israel rather than staying and flourishing in their homeland. By last credible estimates, more than one million Israelis have emigrated to different countries seeking better opportunities. The growing socio-economic gap between rich and poor and the lack of any prospect for peace with the Palestinians will force a still growing number of Israelis to emigrate from the once called the last refuge for the Jewish people.
It is not for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state as Netanyahu demands, it is for the Israelis themselves and their government to ensure the continuing Jewish identity of the state through a sustainable Jewish majority without racism and discrimination.
Israel's territory must be based on the 1967 borders with some land swaps of roughly five percent to allow for the incorporation of all Israeli settlements (three blocks of settlements) along the 1967 borders into Israel proper.
The territory of the Palestinian state must encompass the Gaza strip, 95 percent or so of the West Bank, plus five percent of current Israeli territory to swap for five percent of the West Bank that will be incorporated into Israel proper.
Israel's national security under any peace agreement with the Palestinians will be maintained through six comprehensive security and political measures:
1) Maintaining credible deterrence that will inhibit any Palestinian group or states in the region from posing a serious threat to Israel;
2) Insisting on a demilitarized Palestinian state with the exception of maintaining internal Palestinian security forces that cooperate fully with their Israeli counterparts;
3) Stationing of a robust international peace-keeping force along the Jordan River under American command to prevent the penetration of terrorists and the smuggling of weapons;
4) Establishing a regional security pact among all the states in the area with vested interest in maintaining peace with Israel;
5) Encouraging people-to-people cultural, trade and tourism to foster neighborly relations between the two sides;
6) And finally, changing the political narratives about each other to disabuse a growing number of Israelis and Palestinians of the notion that one harbors the eventual destruction, displacement, or domination of the other.
As the security situation gradually stabilizes and the extremists on both sides accept the inescapable reality of coexistence, Israel can eventually remove all security barriers to allow for unimpeded movement of goods and people in both directions across the borders.
Under any peace agreement, there will be some Israelis who will continue to live in the Palestinian state and Palestinians (other than the Israeli Palestinians) who will continue to live in Israel. Those Israelis and Palestinians who will live in each others' state will be given the status of permanent resident who can vote or be elected only in their respective countries. This will not only solve the problem of some settlers who by agreement with the Palestinians choose to stay in the West Bank under the Palestinians Authority, but will also sustain the national identity of both Israel as a Jewish state and Palestine for the Palestinian Arabs.
The Israelis must now rise not only against the vast socio-economic gap between the rich and poor, but against the defunct Netanyahu/Lieberman policies toward the Palestinians that, if not changed, will bring Israel to the brink of socio-economic and political disaster.