There are three possible solutions for dealing with the issue of settlers in a
genuine peace agreement with the Palestinians.
Option 1: settlers wishing
to do so can be repatriated to the State of Israel proper – within the “green
Option 2: settlers wishing to remain in Judea or Samaria
rather than returning to the borders inside of the “green line” can remain or
resettle in those areas that will be annexed to the State of Israel by agreement
with the Palestinians.
Option 3: those settlers wishing to remain in
their settlements, if they will not be annexed to the State of Israel, can
remain in the Palestinian state, under Palestinian sovereignty and law and
receive Palestinian citizenship.
Those who chose option one will be
eligible to receive full and generous compensation payments to enable them to
resettle wherever they choose in the State of Israel. Leaning the lessons of the
Gaza disengagement, the State of Israel should not take responsibility for their
resettlement plans; the state does a bad job of it. Compensation payments should
be very generous, but should also be time-linked – the longer you wait, the less
you get. Once compensation agreements are signed, a date of evacuation should be
set and the keys should be turned over the state.
Those who chose option
two and wish to remain in Judea or Samaria but under Israeli sovereignty will be
able to do so in the areas to be annexed. All fair estimations of a workable
deal approach between 4-5 percent of the territory of the West Bank. That would
allow between 75-80% of the settlers to remain where they are.
from outside the annexed areas could decide to move into those areas annexed and
remain in Judea or Samaria. They will receive generous compensation for their
homes left behind in order to allow them to purchase a similar home in one of
the annexed settlements.
For those to whom remaining in Judea or Samaria
is more important that living under Israeli sovereignty, they should be allowed
to remain where they are (on the condition that their homes are not built on
privately owned land). If they decide to remain, they must recognize that they
will become citizens of the Palestinian state. They must agree to live under
Palestinian sovereignty and laws.
It should be possible for them to hold
dual citizenship and also remain citizens of the State of Israel. It should be
assumed that the Palestinian state will not allow them to bear arms and that
their security would be the direct responsibility of the Palestinian state.
While very few are likely to select this option, I would insist, if I were a
negotiator for the Palestinians, on accepting the principle of a Jewish minority
in their state.
I lectured last week to a pre-army academy in Aderet. One
of the students asked me if I recognized the Jewish people’s right to all of the
land of Israel. I responded yes. I understand that when our fingers walk through
the pages of the Old Testament they are traveling on the hilltops of Judea and
Samaria. The cradle of our civilization is not the beaches of Tel Aviv but in
those very hilltops where the prophets walked that have been settled over the
years since 1967.
I also said that by the same logic we could easily
speak about the “promised borders” of the Bible, which reach all the way to
Iraq, but we don’t. There is a difference between having rights and exercising
those rights. We also have the right (and obligation) to guarantee the lives of
our citizens which require us to compromise with our neighbors on borders. We
will not be able to exercise our Jewish rights to the land on all of the land.
We will have to make compromises.
When Israel was born, after the war in
1949 we found ourselves with a Palestinian population of some 156,000
They were then about 12% of the population. Today they number
more than one million and they are 20% of the population.
did not choose to be Israeli citizens. The State of Israel granted them
citizenship and kept them under military rule until 1966. They have been granted
equal rights (as individuals) by law although as a collective they have been
largely discriminated against since the birth of the state. Their situation and
status is much better than it was decades ago and there are constant signs of
progress in reducing gaps, while there are also very worrying signs of gaps
widening as well.
Israel does not recognize its Palestinian citizens as a
“national minority” and does not deal with the issue of collective rights, other
than their right to live in exclusive communities and to study in segregated
schools in the Arabic language. Their curriculum is controlled by the state and
they are required to study core subjects including history (of Israel and the
Jewish people), civics, Hebrew, Bible and more. They do not study their own
narrative and very little Palestinian culture – literature and
The demand to the Palestinians to allow for the existence of a
Jewish-Israeli minority in the State of Israel is going to challenge us all to
come to terms with the meaning of collective national minority rights. The State
of Palestine should require all of its citizens to study the state, its history,
language, culture, etc., alongside of the particularistic subjects and content
of the national minority.
In a conversation I once had with the
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on this subject, in which he said he was
not opposed to the idea of Jews in the Palestinian state, I encouraged him to
announce that the State of Palestine would treat its Jewish minority exactly in
the way that Israel treats its minority.
I still believe that this is a
good formula and should encourage us all to carefully consider, in the interest
of the future Jewish citizens of the State of Palestine, the whole concept of
collective rights of national minorities. The development of this concept could
be pioneering as almost every nation-state in the world is confronted with
problems of large national minority groups.
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.