As diplomats convened in Paris on Sunday to discuss ways of reviving the Israel- Palestinian peace process and the two state-solution, Likud MK Yoav Kisch made public a radical plan for solving the conflict.
Kisch’s plan is a total departure from the process that began in 1993 and would formally revoke the Oslo Accords, dissolve the Palestinian Authority and impose Israeli sovereignty over all settlements and the Jordan Valley, granting Palestinians an autonomous administrative region without full sovereignty.
Although the Palestinian political bodies and representatives are unlikely in the extreme to agree to his plan, Kisch argues that Israel can no longer wait for the Palestinians to agree to a proposal and says security considerations preclude a sovereign Palestinian state anyway.
That being the case, he said, Israel and the Likud, in particular, should now take the initiative and advance a plan that serves the country’s interests, goals and security requirements.
“As we enter the Trump era, we cannot stay passive, we have to come up with our own plan,” Kisch told The Jerusalem Post
. “The autonomy plan represents a realistic alternative to the dichotomous proposals of the Left and the Right, and offers a better and brighter future for the State of Israel. This plan will prevent the establishment of a terrorist state in the heart of the Land of Israel and will enable the State of Israel to preserve its special character as a Jewish and democratic state.”
Under Kisch’s plan, the Palestinians would be given 39% of the territory of the West Bank, containing the vast majority of the Palestinian population in the territory, which would be governed by a Palestinian administrative council.
Some areas of the Palestinian autonomous region would not be territorially contiguous with other areas, but are connected by what Kisch calls Area I, which would come under Israeli sovereignty but which could be freely accessed by Palestinian citizens of the autonomous region, allowing them freedom of movement between all their population centers.
In this way, Kisch argues that “no one will be evacuated from his home, Jew or Arab,” while freedom of movement for both groups could be preserved.
Israel would have full security control over the Palestinian autonomous region, but the IDF would not have military bases within its territory.
Jerusalem would remain entirely within Israel, although Arab neighborhoods of the city lying outside the security barrier would be administratively separated from the city and made into their own municipal jurisdictions.
The status of the 100,000 Palestinian Arabs living in these neighborhoods would remain the same but they would be able to apply for citizenship in the autonomous region if they so wished, although they would relinquish their Israeli citizenship in so doing.
Palestinian refugees and their descendants would not be able to gain residence in Israel or in the Palestinian autonomous region.
And under the terms of the plan, some 20,000 Palestinians living outside of the autonomous region in Area I would have Israeli residency and would be able to chose whether or not they want either Israeli or Palestinian autonomous region citizenship.
The Palestinian administrative council would be an elected body by the Palestinian population in the autonomous region, and the issue of final sovereignty over the entity would be left open for a final decision sometime in the future.
Kisch acknowledges there is a high possibility that the Palestinians would not agree to participate in their own administration under such circumstances and says that in such a situation Israel would have to take responsibility for running Palestinian civil and administrative life.
However, despite the unequal status of the Palestinians under Israeli administration, and their inability to vote in a sovereign parliament, he does not believe Israel would be subjected to international sanctions.
Kisch argued that allegations of apartheid are already made against Israel today, and that since Israel would not be asserting sovereignty over the Palestinian autonomous region sanctions would not be forthcoming.
“I will never allow Arabs living in Judea and Samaria the right to vote in the Knesset since this would undermine the Jewish character of the state, but we can also not allow a Palestinian state because of the security risk,” he said.
“The plan is not perfect, and I cannot solve this issue at present... it would be pushed off into the future, when a solution within a regional discussion with Egypt and Jordan might be arrived at.”
Kisch said that under certain circumstances, the Palestinians might be able to ultimately exercise their right to vote in a sovereign parliament in one of the regional countries, although he acknowledges that this is unlikely in the near future.
“The autonomy plan does not purport to be perfect, but it is doubtful that a perfect solution can be found to the Jewish-Arab conflict... This plan will strengthen the security of the State of Israel and its future as a Jewish and democratic state, granting maximum benefits to Arabs in Judea and Samaria by way of defining the autonomous area,” he said.
Regarding its political feasibility in the current political constellation in Israel, Kisch said Netanyahu has been unwilling to discuss it before President-elect Donald Trump takes office, but that he will be meeting with the prime minister shortly after January 20 to discuss the plan with him.