Israelis and Palestinians: Harsh Demographic Reality and Peace
Maintaining the separate national character of both Israel and the future Palestinian en-tity to be established in the West Bank and Gaza is critical to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These two national identities, however, are affected in diametrically opposite ways by current and future demographic factors and by the interdispersement of Israeli and Palestinian populations. Because of the stark demographic realities and the projected Israeli and Palestinian population growth, any solution to the conflict will have to be based on the two sides a) coexisting under separate political authority, b) exercising their independent authority over agreed-upon territory delineated by political lines, c) allowing free movement of people across both sides of the political borders and d) recognizing that the agreement should not preclude future political association between the Palestinian entity and Jordan.
Historically, demographic factors have always seriously concerned both Arabs and Jews. For many early Zionists, the establish-ment of a Jewish commonwealth-a thriving ethnic democracy with a Jewish national identity in the ancient homeland-would require the exchange of one group of inhabitants (Palestinians) for another (Jews). To some extent, such an exchange did take place in the wake of Israel's war of independence in 1948 and in subsequent wars in 1956 and 1967. It is estimated that a total of 600,000-700,000 Palestinians fled Israel in 1948 alone. Between 1948 and 1955, however, at least an equal number of Jews fled the Arab countries, especially from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Tunis.
Many other early Zionists, including Theodor Herzl, the founding father of the state of Israel, felt that the technical know-how and financial resources the Jews could bring to Palestine would result in the Arabs accepting the Jews. Each population would mind its own affairs, living side by side under separate political rule, and together, they would prosper socially and economically. Immigration of Jews from around the world to the homeland was seen as the primary source for the immediate population growth necessary to provide a demographic base for the establishment of an ethnically Jewish-oriented democracy.
For the Palestinians, however, the building of a Jewish state and the rapid growth of the Jewish population posed the greatest menace to the Arab-Palestinian national character in Palestine. Both before and after World War II, opposing Jewish immigration was at the top of the Arab agenda. To counterbalance Jewish population growth, the Palestinians focused their efforts on a) encouraging their own natural birth rate and b) seeking consistently the repatriation of all Palestinian refugees. Moreover, they have actively fought Jewish immigration by political and diplomatic means as well as through armed resistance.
ISRAELI JEWS' POPULATION GROWTH AND LIMITATIONS
Without providing a detailed review of Israel's efforts to attract immigrants, the success was astounding by any standard. Within four decades the Israeli Jewish population grew nearly seven times-from about 600,000 in 1948, to more than 4 million in 1990.
This rapid growth, however, is unlikely to continue once the bulk of the former Soviet Union's Jews who wish to immigrate have done so. Based on authoritative demographic forecasts, the Israeli Jewish population will have reached a plateau hovering around 5-5.5 million by the year 2000. Most Israeli demographers agree that, beyond this level, it is hard to foresee from where a mass immigration of Jews could occur.
The only other major source would be the United States, but it is inconceivable that American Jews would consider immigration unless faced with severe conditions of distress and serious discrimination. Such conditions resulting, say, from a total economic collapse-a most unlikely scenario-might conceivably force a significant number of U.S Jews to immigrate.
As expressed by Sergio DellaPergola, a renowned Israeli expert on Jewish affairs, who teaches Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University,
Theoretically, a mass exodus of Jews could be triggered by the destruction of the current balance between the majority society and its institutional leadership, and the Jewish minority. A catastrophic development which affects the Jewish community, on the other hand, would require dramatic changes in the currently predominant societal patterns. All the signs are that voluntary large-scale immigration is not in the cards in the near future. Although neither is there any reason to believe that the modest number of olim (Jews who immigrate to Israel) in recent years will undergo a sizable reduction. Any effort to bring about an increase in Jewish population, or at least to maintain current demographic balances, will have to rely on other sources of growth.
Israel's constant efforts, over the years, to attract immigrants in order to sustain a Jewish majority compelled successive governments to allocate a relatively larger share of the country's financial resources and diplomatic efforts to this enterprise.
A major factor which limits the potential growth of Jewish population and which constitutes a serious national demographic concern is the emigration of Jews from Israel. Because many Israelis leave Israel under different categories such as students and visitors, and still others leave for limited, job-related periods, no official hard data exist for the number of Israelis who have left permanently. It is estimated by numerous Israeli sources, however, that, during the last twenty-five years, 500,000-800,000 Israelis (13-20 percent of the total population) left the country for extended stays abroad. The majority have become citizens or permanent residents of their host countries.
Successive Israeli governments have attempted to lure these Israelis home by offering them a variety of tax incentives and other privileges normally accorded to new immigrants. These efforts have enjoyed only a limited success due to a) a lack of national commitment to effectively tackle the problem, b) the governments' inability or unwillingness to offer generous financial help for housing, higher education and job opportunities, c) the inability of the Israeli economy to absorb every graduate student (sadly, this situation still exists). Thus many who chose to seek temporary employment abroad end up staying there regardless of the incentives offered to entice them to return, and d) the weariness of many Israelis in the face of constant tension produced by wars and terrorism. Moreover, a growing number of parents, concerned with their children's safety, have opted to take them out of the country before they reach the age of military induction.
The emigration problem was further aggravated by various Labor governments during the sixties and seventies. Labor was not only embarrassed to acknowledge that the problem existed but that it was so severe. Israeli emigres were stigmatized as yordim (Israelis who left Israel). When he was prime minister between 1974 and 1977, Yitzhak Rabin referred to yordim as dreck (roughly translated as dirt).
More recently, Israeli demographers and government officials who study this phenomenon have suggested that, if strong incentives had been offered and the problem accorded national priority, many Israelis would have returned and rebuilt a new life in Israel. Instead, committees were appointed to study the problem. More often than not, their recommendations were ignored by a detached bureaucracy and political leaders who lacked commitment.
Natural Birth Rate
The third demographic factor is the lower Jewish birth rate compared to that of the Palestinians living in the occupied territories and in Israel proper. Ample demographic projections and other statistical data suggest that, should Israel accept the Palestinians currently living in the West Bank and Gaza as full-fledged citizens, the Palestinians will become a clear majority before the year 2010 by virtue of their birth rate alone. To illustrate this projection, in 1987 there were 20.4 births for every 1,000 Israeli Jews and 7.4 deaths for the same population, leaving a net gain of 13, or the number of natural growth. For the same period, in the Gaza Strip, there were 47.6 births for every 1,000 Arab Palestinians and 9.5 deaths, leaving a net gain of 31. or 2.4 times the birth rate of Israeli Jews. A similar birth-rate ratio has been recorded in the West Bank and among the Israeli Palestinian population. The projected figures for the 1990s are generally the same. Although both communities are being encouraged to give birth to a greater number of children, the Israeli Jewish birth rate has been declin-ing and is currently the lowest since 1948.
THE PALESTINIAN DEMOGRAPHIC POSTURE
Although the Palestinians were consistent in rejecting Jewish immigration on political and ideological grounds after the Arab military defeat in the 1967 Six-Day War, demographic considerations assumed an even greater urgency for the Palestinians. Palestinian concerns were further heightened by the daunting realities on the ground. Jobs were an immediate worry, as was the increase in consumption of scarce water. It was feared that any influx of Jewish immigrants would spill over to the territories. In addition, for the Palestinians the diminishing military option against Israel and the lack of a viable political option to resolve the conflict on their terms raised the importance of demographic factors. The birth rate now became a matter of great urgency.
Remarks attributed to PLO chairman Yasser Arafat reveal the Palestinian mindset. "The Israelis fear us….They fear our children and the Palestinian women who give birth to another child every ten months." For Arafat the Palestinian natural birth rate is a "biological time bomb which threatens to blow up Israel from within…. After the year 2000 the number of Palestinians will be greater than the number of Jews," and "therein lies the Palestinian ultimate victory." Many other PLO leaders, including the head of the political department of the PLO, Farouk Kaddoumi, also occasionally express a growing sentiment among the PLO rank and file: Since, demographically speaking, time was on the Palestinian side, why then rush to a political settlement that may require premature concessions?
Not only have Israeli efforts to alter the demographic make-up of the territories failed, they stand less chance to materialize now because of external and internal eco-nomic and political constraints. Arnon Soffer, who teaches geography at Haifa University and is considered one of Israel's leading demographers, observed that on the Golan Heights the growth plans (of Israelis) were not fulfilled, and Arabs comprise the majority of the population there. In Judea and Samaria, despite the great hullabaloo that accompanies every settlement, Jews constitute 10 percent of the population if the Jerusalem area is counted out. The natural growth of the Arabs in Judea and Samaria in two and a half years is equal to the total Jewish settlement there in the twenty years between 1967-1988….In the Gaza strip Jews constitute barely 0.2 percent of the population. The entire Jewish settlement effort in Gaza is offset by the natural growth rate of the Arabs there in one month.
For these reasons, the PLO leadership sees future demographic development as central to their continuing struggle with Israel. Only this time the Palestinians will wage their national struggle, not through armed conflict but through demographic means, by revitalizing their self-reliance. As a result of this change of strategy, the Palestinians have begun to assume an "equal" posture vis-a-vis the Israelis in the negotiating process, demanding to be treated as a separate people with an independent national identity.
Assessment of the population dispersement of the Palestinians throughout the region suggests an indisputable reality with which the Israelis must reckon. More than 80 percent of the Palestinians live within a 100-mile radius; nearly 1.6 million live in Jordan, 900,000 in the West Bank, 750,000 in Gaza, 850,000 in Israel proper, and 350-400,000 in Lebanon. The remaining 18 to 20 percent are scattered throughout other Arab countries and around the world. Short of a transfer of a limited number for family reunion and other humanitarian reasons, most Palestinians will probably remain in their current place of residence. Although some Palestinian leaders speak of eventual repatriation of all Palestinians to the West Bank and Gaza, there is no realistic way to implement such a program because of socioeconomic, political and logistical problems. There is a growing sense among the Palestinians that the majority of the Palestinian refugees may have to settle in their present country of residence provided they are fully compensated. It has also been suggested that 75-100,000 Palestinians may have to return to the West Bank and Gaza for reasons of family reunion or other personal considerations.
These Israeli and Palestinian demographic trends have been further augmented by the Israeli settlements policy throughout the 1980s, Palestinian entrenchment in and outside the territories and by the interdispersement of both populations resulting from day-to-day socio-economic intercourse. All these factors have created certain demographic realities that are not subject to a dramatic change except in the case of all-out war. These realities must now be carefully considered against the backdrop of Israeli and Palestinian insistence on preserving the national identity of the territories under their jurisdiction.
Jewish National Identity
Israel was created as a Jewish state, an answer to the Jewish people's millennia-long yearning to return and reestablish their own commonwealth in the land of their ancestors. Maintaining the Jewish national character of the state is seen as the principal requisite for safeguarding the future of the country as a haven for all Jews who opt to live in their homeland. Sammy Smooha, a noted Israeli sociologist and an expert on Arab-Israeli affairs, argues that Israel is…a specific case of an ethnic state, as a state of and for the Jews, Israel claims to be the homeland of the Jews only. The dominant language is Hebrew, while Arabic is degraded to an inferior status. The institutions, official holidays, symbols and heroes are exclusively Jewish. The major law of immigration allows Jews to enter freely, excludes Palestinian Arabs, and admits other non-Jews only under certain uneasy conditions….Land and settlements policies are geared to further the interest of Jews only….In many other ways the state extends preferential treatment to the Jews who wish to preserve this embedded Jewishness and Zionism of the state.
It is therefore evident, concludes Smooha, that the dual Jewish and democratic character of the state renders the status of the Arab minority problematic. Their status raises the most fundamental issue of Israeli identity: how to reconcile these two features when they clash with each other under circumstances involving the Arab minority. Thus, there are inherent inconsistencies between Jewish nationalism-the core of which is a permanent Jewish identity for the state based on ethnic democracy-and Palestinian nationalism- which requires the legitimation of the Palestinian national movement and therefore the de-ethnicization of the state-if the groups are to merge in one state. This Palestinian prerequisite, coupled with Palestinian demands for equal individual, collective and political rights, would necessarily precipitate the dissolution of the ethnic-democratic foundation of the state.
In addition, the Jews' historical record with the Arabs has hardly provided the Israelis with any cause for comfort. The Jews have no reason to believe that the Arabs will ever treat them as equals. Leaders who abuse their own people have much less regard for other people. Not much has changed in Arab politics since Michael C. Hudson observed in his book Arab Politics in 1977:
The central problem of government in the Arab world today is political legitimacy. The shortage of this indispensable resource largely accounts for the volatile nature of Arab politics and the autocratic, unstable character of all the present Arab governments. Arab politics today….are not just unstable, although instability remains a prominent feature, they are also unpredictable to participants and observers alike. Fed by rumors, misinformation and lack of information, the Arab political process is cloaked in obscurity and Arab politicians are beset by insecurity and fear of the unknown.
Most Israeli demographers agree that the Jewish population in Israel may well exceed 5 million by the year 2000, especially if the flow of Jews from the former Soviet Union reaches the level of 200,000 immigrants annually for the next few years. According to Joseph Alpher, deputy director of the Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv,
Any rational demographic analysis will show that the arrival of even 700,000 Soviet immigrants in the next 10 years would only mean that in 10 years we would be where we are now-with Jews at 60 percent of the population and Arabs at 40 percent; it would allow you to hold your own for another ten years.
Arnon Soffer cautions,
The demographic picture for the year 2000 is especially significant, for by then the land of Israel will have evolved into a binational state with Jewish/Arab population ratio of 55:45 respectively. Within the borders of Israel (the green line) the Jewish/Arab rates will be 78:22 respectively….The only way to alter the disturbing demographic trends is to reduce the Arab demographic pressure on the Jewish society in the land of Israel.
The same demographers agree that even when, as projected, the Jewish population climbs to above 5 million, an outright or creeping annexation of the West Bank and Gaza will obliterate the Jewish identity of Israel. Matti Steinberg, one of Israel's most noted Arabists, explains it thus:
The PLO sees the demographic factor as providing a way out of the Palestinian dilemma; it gives the PLO the hope that the Palestinians can achieve their objective on their own, even though this must be a gradual and long-term process. Thus, the principle of self-reliance regains its relevance, but from now on the main means of achieving it is not armed struggle, as in the PLO's original conception, but Palestinian demography…. In their opinion the human dimension determines the physical dimension, and not the contrary. Changes of physical infrastructure cannot lead to an irreversible situation. As long as they have demography on their side, time works in favor of the Palestinians. There is, therefore, no special urgency for the land to be liberated in order that the Palestinians should gain their national rights. They believe that nowadays such aspirations are not merely pipedreams, but reasonable assessments based on hard demographic facts.
These "hard demographic facts" rule out annexation because, at best, it is a recipe for a binational state. There would be tremendous pressure on Israel to offer the Palestinians equal civic and political rights. Refusing to grant these rights would mean the creation of a second-class citizenship, a development that would be unacceptable to the majority of Israelis and violently opposed by the Palestinians. In addition, annexation would be severely condemned and probably resisted by the international community, especially in the wake of the Gulf War, which showed the folly of forcible annexation of occupied territory. As indicated earlier, Israel's leading demographers estimate that by the year 2010, even if one million Soviet Jews immigrated to Israel in the next few years, Israel would lose its Jewish identity. This projection explains why there are voices raised within Likud, for example that of Ariel Sharon, advocating annexation of only the territories where Israeli settlements are built.
Creating a defacto annexation, as successive Likud governments have apparently planned, by populating the West Bank with 400,000-500,000 Jews, eventually met with stiff American resistance (when Israel sought $10 billion in loan guarantees) and failed to generate wide Israeli support. How that would have ensured the continuity of the Jewish national identity of the state would have been left for future generations to ponder.
There are also those who suggest that Israel offer Palestinian autonomy to the people, not the land, a view articulated by Ze'ev Benjamin Begin, a Likud member in the Israeli Keneset:
The concept of autonomy for the Arab inhabitants of Judea, Samaria and Gaza has its origin in the writing of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the Likud mentor, more than 50 years ago. It was echoed in the platforms of the Likud party and its Herut element before coming to power in 1977, and the concept was modified by Prime Minister Begin that year. Originally it pertained to Arab religious and cultural autonomy, to be guaranteed under Israeli sovereignty….It should be stressed that the agreement between Egypt and Israel (the Camp David accords) concerning Arab autonomy pertains not to the territory of Samaria, Judea and Gaza, but to its inhabitants.
At Camp David, Ezer Weizman, who was a member of the Israeli delegation and a former chief of the Israeli Air Force, confirms in his book The Battle for Peace that
the agreement specified that a solution must acknowledge the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and their just demands. Both sides agreed that autonomy would apply for no more than a five-year interim period. However, Israel reserved a veto over a number of central points of particular sensitivity as well as the right to demand full sovereignty in the future.
(The defeat of the Likud in the June 1992 election was, to a great extent, a referendum on the future of the territories; annexation under any guise failed to generate an Israeli national consensus and was therefore rejected.)
In an effort to secure a Jewish majority to preserve the national identity of the state, some Israelis from the extreme right have advocated the "transfer" (euphemism for expulsion) of Palestinians from the occupied territories. Expulsion of Palestinians en masse, however, is not seriously considered in most Israeli quarters.
Expulsion raises serious legal, moral and political questions. Israelis who even contemplated such a possibility usually found the position ultimately self-defeating. No Israeli law could conceivably justify the expulsion of many hundreds of thousands of natives from their homeland. Expulsion violates accepted human-rights accords, especially as articulated by the fourth Geneva Convention, which governs the treatment of people under occupation. Other than in specific cases of extradition to the country where a crime was committed, the convention rejects the deportation of any individual regardless of alleged crimes or political motivation. Moreover Israel's credibility as a signatory to the Geneva Convention will be further eroded, making hollow its claim to being a law-abiding society.
Viewed politically, the expulsion of Palestinians makes even less sense. Israel's friends and supporters find the expulsion of even a few hundred Palestinians politically counterproductive. In this context, the Bush administration's support of U.N. resolutions strongly condemning Israel twice in January and December of 1992 on the same issue suggests that the continuation of this policy by the Israeli government is totally rejected by the community of nations and could severely damage Israel-U.S. relations. There is no indication that the Clinton administration will respond differently.
Expulsion as a policy designed to inhibit Palestinian violence has also failed; instead, it has produced only adverse political consequences. Since the beginning of the uprising in December 1987, Israel has expelled 479 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza including the 413 Islamist Palestinians. This has proven to be a disaster for Israel's public image. Each deportation has provoked a new round of violence. Rather than deterring civil disobedience, each deportation has encouraged Palestinian youths to commit more violent acts and has generated greater sympathy for their cause.
In fact, the expulsion of Palestinians has worked in every way to their advantage, strengthening their awareness and deepening their conviction to attach themselves to the land at all costs. Many Palestinians interpreted the Israeli talk about expulsion as either a sign of panic or at least as an indication that the Palestinian demographic threat was taken seriously.
Indeed the moral implications of mass expulsion touch a most sensitive nerve among Israelis. Anyone who understands the moral fabric of the Israeli society realizes that the notion of expelling Palestinians en masse goes against the moral grain of most Israelis. In addition, Israel's moral standing would be questioned, its intentions would become suspect, and the democratic values that have guided the country from its inception would be undermined. Each deportation sanctions the view of Israel's detractors that the government is paving the way for the mass expulsion of Palestinians.
It is worth noting that the expulsion advocates were hard-pressed to provide a bloodless blueprint for the transfer of more than 1,600,000 Palestinians. They were long on rhetoric and short on the substance of a credible plan that would meet the mammoth logistical requirements-assuming the unthinkable, that the transfer were carried out peacefully. They are, however, quick to argue that the Palestinians would be forcibly expelled should a peaceful agreement to effect their voluntary transfer fail to materialize.
Although those who advocate such a policy remain a small minority, the voices of the hawkish former housing minister, Ariel Sharon, and the former Likud minister without portfolio, Rechavam Ze'evi, who openly advocate the "transfer" of all Palestinians, provide propaganda tools for those who seek to undermine Israel's position and depict it as an autocratic, racist state.
The reaction of the international community to the expulsion of even a relatively small number of Palestinians has clearly indicated how unacceptable and severe the repercussions of such a course would be. It will also foreclose any possibility of making peace with the Arab states. In any case, rejection by the overwhelming majority of Israelis makes such an "option" simply unthinkable and therefore unrealistic.
Preserving the Status Quo
Maintaining the current situation-over 1.6 million Palestinians living under military occupation-is no longer tolerable for either the Palestinians or the Israelis. Sustaining Israeli rule and a Jewish majority at the expense of suppressing the freedom of the Palestinians is causing a grave moral dilemma for a growing number of Israelis. "Arab civil liberties," emphasizes Smooha,
are not adequately protected in Israel for four reasons. First and foremost is the absence of a constitution or a bill of rights with a superior standing over other laws. Thus Arabs lack an independent legal base to fight unfair treatment. Second, as long as Israel is legally in a permanent state of emergency, excessive emergency regulations are in effect. Since the Arabs are considered a security risk, these regulations operate mostly against them. Third, the present implementation of the Jewish-Zionist character of the state carries certain discrimination against the Arabs. And fourth, Jewish public opinion not only condones constraints imposed on Arabs but also endorses preferential treatment of Jews. Each of these factors, let alone the special effect of their combination, is sufficient to downgrade Arabs to a status of second-class citizens.
This was not the Zionist dream: the creation of the State of Israel was never intended to subjugate other peoples. A whole generation of Palestinians (over 60 percent of the total Palestinian population in the territories) was born a few years before 1967 and has known nothing but occupation, alienation, deprivation and despair. They are now committed to throwing off the Israeli yoke. The intifada, which began in December 1987, has driven this point home to every Israeli, including hardliners. After five years, even right-wing extremists have concluded that the gravity of the situation has reached a point of no return. The only way to quell the violence in the streets of Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem is to grant the Palestinians certain mutually acceptable rights.
The Reality of Interdispersement
There has always been a deliberate effort by the Israeli government to keep the Arab minority non-assimilated with the Jewish majority, to reduce intermarriage and to prevent the transformation of Israel into a binational state. These efforts were only marginally successful. The Palestinians' gradual penetration of Israeli society, explains Arnon Soffer, has succeeded beyond their own wildest expectations. Within and outside the territories they have launched a demographic counteroffensive demonstrating steadfastness, flexibility and the ability to flourish. Shifting or transferring any significant number of Jews or Palestinians from their present place of residence would be violently resisted by either or both sides. The interdispersement of Israelis and Palestinians in Israel proper and the West Bank and Gaza make Israeli-Palestinian coexistence a fundamental part of any future settlement. Arab penetration of Jewish cities and towns is increasing throughout Israel; there are dozens of urban centers including Tel Aviv-Jaffe, Lod, Jerusalem, Haifa, Ramie, Maalot and Tarshiha where Jews and Arabs live side by side. Coexistence is not only dictated by demographic conditions, but has also become, after 25 years, a way of life enforced daily by socio-economic and security considerations.
THE LIKELY SOLUTION
The terms under which Israeli and Palestinian rights to the same land are to be exercised will largely be determined by the realities on the ground. Both peoples already live in their biblical land, and no major shift of population can realistically be contemplated by either side. Because of their interdispersement, political borders cannot neatly separate Israelis and Palestinians. Palestinians living in Israel under Israeli rule will undoubtedly continue to live in Israel, while many Israelis living in the West Bank might end up living in a Palestinian entity, regardless of where the borders are eventually drawn as long as all adhere to the laws of their country of residence.
Acceptance of this principle by Israelis and Palestinians will considerably facilitate settlement of the territorial dispute. Although both sides are keenly aware of the need for territorial compromises based on U.N. Resolution 242, no Israeli government could survive the ensuing political storm should it contemplate dismantling any sizable number of settlements, even for the sake of peace. And no Palestinian leadership will give up nearly 50 percent of the West Bank, even for the sake of statehood.
The extent of territorial concessions that Israel will make is governed by the unique situation that exists on each front. Although Israel, it seems, will be prepared to withdraw from Gaza entirely, it will seek to revise its pre-1967 border on the West Bank. (In one area north of Tel-Aviv, the distance between the 1967 border and the Mediterranean Sea is only 9 miles.) This territorial adjustment, representing roughly 8-10 percent of the West Bank, would meet some Israeli security concerns, satisfy the religious' strong attachment to their biblical land and allow Israel to incorporate nearly half its West Bank settlements into Israel proper, especially those around Jerusalem. This could alleviate the formidable resistance of West Bank settlers and their supporters, who will violently oppose the abandonment or dismantlement of settlements and could thus torpedo any peace agreement.
What must be established, following a transitional period of Palestinian self-rule, are political borders. Such borders would become the basis for legal jurisdiction for both peoples, an actual demarcation of the territory over which Israelis and Palestinians would exercise their respective political authorities. The Palestinians should then establish their own political entity in Gaza and over 90 percent of the West Bank. The right of Jews to exist and even live in biblical Bethlehem or Hebron is viewed by the majority of Israelis as a natural right that connects them directly to their heritage. There will be 50,000-75,000 Israelis, scattered in a few dozen settlements, who may not want to relinquish their current place of residence, even though they may end up within the Palestinian entity.
Under a just settlement, the right to purchase land by either Jews or Palestinians in each other's territory will be regulated to ensure that no further sizable transfer of land can actually occur. The right of those Israelis and Palestinians who already own land beyond their respective political borders should not be prejudiced by this arrangement. Israelis and Palestinians should maintain their separate national identities and political rights, while both live in and share their respective homelands.
Israel and the future Palestinian entity would offer their people legal jurisdiction for residency and citizenship. Jewish settlers living within the Palestinian political borders might, for example, opt to retain Israeli citizenship and therefore be barred from voting or running for office in their place of residence, or they might choose to become citizens of the new Palestinian polity, or perhaps they might be granted dual citizenship and so be eligible to exercise political and civic rights in Israel and in the Palestinian entity. Israel and the Palestinian entity will establish their own laws to govern the issuance of permits for residency or citizenship of each other's nationals who wish to relocate from one entity to the other.
This arrangement would permanently prevent the Palestinians or the Israelis from attaining a demographic majority in each other's territorial domain. The Lebanese tragedy and the explosion of ethnic strife across Eastern Europe and in the former Soviet Union, in addition to the Arabs' and Jews' own experiences, are vivid reminders of the horrors arising from demographic imbalance and ethnic jealousy.
Palestinians living in Israel and in Jordan as citizens of their respective countries will naturally identify emotionally and intellectually with their own political entity to satisfy their need for national identity. The acceptance of dual territorial claims will make it possible for Palestinians and Israelis to maintain their own national identities without uprooting themselves and to establish a physical presence in the area where their national political expression is exercised freely. Besides, the presence of 900,000 Palestinians in Israel makes it particularly important to maintain open channels to Palestinian cultural and religious centers in the West Bank. There the Palestinian national center would become the national core with which all Palestinians, regardless of their place of residence, could identify.
A Jordanian-Palestinian Arrangement
A brief review of Jordan's special role in the life and the development of the Palestinian National Movement clearly shows the desirability of connecting any solution to the Palestinian problem with Jordan. Jordan's Palestinian population, roughly 55 percent before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, climbed to more than 60 percent after the influx of Palestinians forced out of Kuwait and other Gulf states in the wake of the Gulf War. There is a natural link and affinity between the two banks of the river. Close socio-economic and cultural relationships cultivated during 19 years of Jordanian rule have continued to a great extent under Israeli rule, even after King Hussein severed Jordan's ties to the West Bank in July 1987.
In addition, while Jordan has always had a relationship that hovered between enmity and friendship with the PLO, Jordan's relations with the Palestinians, living in Jordan proper and in the West Bank, were nurtured on the assumption that Jordan would maintain its dominion over the West Bank and its inhabitants.
This deeply rooted relationship covered every aspect of human endeavor that neither the Palestinians nor the Jordanians would sever while still maintaining a normal existence. Although there is no agreement among Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians as to the modalities of the Jordanian-Palestinian connection, they all agree that some kind of formal relationship must be established.
One such option, to which the Palestinians have generally subscribed and Israel has endorsed in general terms, is the creation of a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation. The formation of a confederation answers, in large measure, the Palestinians' need for self-expression and could, at the same time, satisfy Israel's and Jordan's national security interests. Yehoshafat Harkabi, former Israeli chief of army intelligence and a noted historian, is correct in suggesting that
for Jordan, handing over the West Bank to the PLO may not be a heartwarming prospect, but it is incomparably preferable to Israeli annexation. After the bloodshed between them of 1970-71, it seemed that an unbridgeable gulf separated the Hashemite Kingdom from the PLO. But over the course of time both parties seem to have concluded that their mutual benefit required them to forget the past and form a united front, or at least a temporary expedient, although the Jordanians are aware that the radical organizations support the confederation plan in the hope that such an arrangement will strengthen the Palestinian component on both banks and lead to the collapse of the Hashemite regime. However, the Jordanians hope that a confederation will give them significant influence over the West Bank and Gaza Strip and prevent the Palestinian enclave from becoming a center for plots directed against Jordan. It is true that Jordan and the Palestinians differ on the ultimate character of the Jordanian-Palestinian confederation, but this question can be deferred to the future and does not prevent cooperation in the present stage.
The specific provisions that may govern a Palestinian-Jordanian arrangement will have to be worked out between the parties. There are, however, four basic requirements that need to be met to satisfy Israel's security concerns, while allowing both Jordanians and Palestinians maximum flexibility for fine-tuning the final agreement: a) the Palestinian entity will remain politically autonomous but not an independent state, b) Jordan-Palestine will not enter into any military alliance with other states, unless Israel is an active member in such an alliance, c) the West Bank and Gaza will be incorporated into the larger state in stages to be determined by mutual agreement, and d) the territories involved must remain permanently demilitarized. Under conditions of peace Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians would have the right to reasonably free access across borders.
In seeking a Jordanian connection with any future solution to the Palestinian problem, both Labor- and Likud-led governments have permitted throughout the years some Jordanian-Palestinian ties. Insisting on a Jordanian connection, the Israelis argue, could help to ensure that any agreement achieved with the Palestinians is supported by a legitimate government that can be held accountable, a government that has the means of enforcement and enjoys international recognition and support.
Dealing within the framework of the Palestinian-Jordanian connection now would facilitate the negotiation process and open up new possibilities that have eluded all parties to the conflict for more than two decades. Maintaining separate national identities by ethnic and demographic means and coexistence with full cooperation are not mutually exclusive. Only their combination can create the ideological basis and the pragmatic means to build a lasting peace of reconciliation.
"Speaking for myself," noted Ezer Weizman, the president of Israel,
there is nothing I would like more than to see Judea and Samaria incorporated into the state of Israel. These landscapes are a part of me; they are my homeland in the simple, everyday meaning of the word 'home.' But the clock cannot be turned back. We must deal with realities, including the reality of living in a world in which no one enjoys complete independence.