Yechiel Leiter at 2019 Jerusalem Post Annual Conference..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
At Sunday’s Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York, Dr. Yechiel Leiter, senior fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum, outlined his thoughts for a successful strategy for coexistence with Israel’s Palestinian neighbors. “We need to move away from what has failed and move to what has proven to be a success,” stated Leiter. “What has failed is a focus on issues like the right of return, the re-division of Jerusalem, and the contours of a Palestinian state.”
What is working, said Leiter, is precisely what the BDS movement wants to destroy – cooperative coexistence with Palestinian Arabs. Farmers in the Jordan Valley employ over 6,000 Palestinians daily, and in the peak harvest periods, the number reaches as many as 12,000 people per day. For two generations, he said, Israelis and Palestinians have produced food together, turning the Jordan Valley into a food basket.
Palestinian workers receive standard Israeli benefits, vacation days and a pension plan. Industrial zones in other areas have met with similar successful results. “More industrial zones equals more jobs, more prosperity and more coexistence – which then provides a greater possibility for peace,” explained Leiter.
Day to day peace between people is possible, he said, provided that five criteria are met, and this should be at the focus of the upcoming Bahrain conference if it is to succeed:
1. Investment and job creation for Palestinians must take place in the part of the West Bank under Israeli control (Areas B and C).
2. Implementation must be direct, partnering not with the present Palestinian leadership, but with people, corporations and family businesses.
3. Massive infrastructure development must be developed for the area, including new highways, water electricity and gas lines, which run through infrastructure corridors in Areas B and C.
4. Social service centers including hospitals and health centers should be built in conjunction with the new medical school in Ariel.
5. A process to extend Israeli civil law over Area C should begin.
By courageously breaking away from existing paradigms, said Leiter, coexistence and peace are possible.
At the conference, the Jordan River Regional Council operated a booth, with the support of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, headed by Minister Gilad Erdan, and of the Yesha Council about the struggle against the BDS boycott and the importance of the economic development of Judea and Samaria. The booth was manned by: David Elhaiini, head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council; Yigal Dilmoni, head of the Yesha Council; and Berny Moschcovich of the Veresta Group.
Informational material and products from the Jordan River were distributed to attendees. Medjoul dates from the Jordan Valley were distributed to conference attendees, and were the most popular item at the conference.
This article was written in cooperation with the Jordan River Regional Council.
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