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Encountering Peace: Use your imagination
By GERSHON BASKIN
05/28/2012
Let’s face it, neither Israelis nor Palestinians want to live under the control of the other side.
 
Okay, for the sake of argument, let’s say all those (on the right and the left) who say it is too late for the two-state solution are correct. Let’s agree that the Oslo idea was nice in theory but in reality is/was not implementable. History, so far, is on their side; after all of the years of negotiations and attempts, there is no Palestinian state next to Israel.

The settlement enterprise has been quite successful, at least in terms of limiting Palestinian development, with Israel in direct control of 62 percent of the West Bank and with effective control of 100% of it. So, as the argument goes, tomorrow morning, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas either throws in the towel or disappears for reasons of health or convenience. What then? What options do we really have?

1. It’s all ours. All of the territory of Judea and Samaria, or the West Bank, which ever you prefer, becomes part of Israel. The government and the Knesset pass a law annexing all of the territory and Israeli law is imposed on all the land and all the people living on it.

The 2.5 million Palestinians living there will get citizenship and will become Israelis with passports. They will inherit our flag, school systems, taxes, social security, national anthem, the whole package.

Most of them will at first refuse to take Israeli citizenship, like in the Golan Heights, But it doesn’t really change anything. They will learn the school curriculum that we teach in Israeli Arab schools. The use of Palestinian flag will be illegal. Those who fight against the annexation will be thrown in prison. Those who use violence and try to organize can be expelled.

Eventually they will get used to us, like the Israeli Arabs did. Those who learn quickly will benefit the most. They have a lot to gain by being good Israeli citizens and a lot to lose if they are not. As for the Jewish majority, well, God is on our side, so we’ll pray for more Jewish babies and more Jewish immigrants.

2. It’s all ours, but we don’t want the people. All of the territory is ours and we annex it all, but we don’t offer citizenship to the Palestinians living there. They become permanent residents, like the Palestinians of east Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority will not exist, but local governments can exist under Israeli sovereignty. The Palestinians will have all of the privileges of citizenship without the right to vote in Knesset. Israel will administer all of the government services, collect taxes, run the health, welfare and education systems.

Like in east Jerusalem, they will pay for and receive social security benefits. They will be issued Israeli travel documents. We can allow them to continue to hold Jordanian passports so that they can continue to travel in the Arab world. We won’t force them to become Israeli citizens nor will we encourage them to take Israeli passports.

They can continue to say they want independence, it won’t change anything. We will limit their development and as long as they are peaceful we will allow them access to the Israeli economy.

3. It’s all ours but we will only annex the settlement blocs now. We will control the rest from the outside. Israel will annex about 11 percent of the West Bank, which includes all of the major settlement blocs along the west side of the Green Line, and also the Ariel finger, leaving most of the Jewish population of the West Bank under Israel sovereignty.

Israel will construct a wall/separation barrier around the rest of the Palestinian areas and control the entry and exit of people and goods into the Palestinian territories. Inside those territories the Palestinians can have full autonomy and control themselves with the continued assistance of the international community, if it is interested in helping them.

Those Palestinians who are friendly and observe our security needs will have the possibility of entry into the State of Israel for business purposes. Israel would be willing to provide financial resources to improve the Palestinian health system so that there would be no need to rely on the Israeli system.

Imports and exports will continue via Israeli ports with Israeli security control on everything coming and going. Palestinians can have their state inside of the territories under their control. Israel will not object to a Palestinian state such as this being a member of the UN, as long as Israel controls all questions of security.

4. It’s all ours – we are willing to give up part of it, but there is no partner. In this option we continue to play the peace process game, declaring that we want peace and support the two-state solution but arguing we have no partner for peace, as the Palestinians refuse to come to the table.

As long as the Palestinians continue to “cooperate” and they are the peace refuseniks, we can continue to do whatever we want. We control all of the territories. We control who comes and goes, what comes and goes, we build where we want, block whatever roads we want and as long as the economy continues to grow, everything is quiet.

Palestinians have their Palestinian Authority, which collects taxes and international aid and provides services, or is supposed to provide services, to 95% of the Palestinians living in the territory. They have “security” forces that coordinate with ours and for the most part behave themselves.

They have learned the lessons of the past: if they allow cells of terrorism to develop, we will destroy them, their forces, their economy and their chances to live a normal life. They have a lot to lose and they have learned their lesson well.

There are all kinds of other options that some dreamers dream of, like an agreed-to binational state, or some kind of dream-world federation or confederation where everyone will agree that Israeli settlers can live wherever they want and Palestinian refugees can resettle anywhere within the borders between the river and the sea and each side will be in control of its own people.

I don’t believe any of those kinds of proposals are remotely possible. Let’s face it, neither Israelis nor Palestinians want to live under the control of the other side. As far as I can see, this basic reality will not change.

So if we want to take the above options seriously, we only have to ask ourselves if any of them are doable, acceptable (to a majority of Israelis and Palestinians) and to the international community? Would we have any partners anywhere in the world for implementing any of the above options?

In my opinion, the answer is a big “no.” What is acceptable and doable then? Use your imagination for a moment. The answer is not too difficult.

The writer is the co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post, a radio host on All for Peace Radio and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit.
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