The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has already gone on for so long, produced so much unnecessary suffering, and presents grave regional and world-wide implications. Peace is what Israel and the world at large today really need. We need peace because wars have become so dangerous and unpredictable, and humans have accumulated vast arsenals of destruction. Further, we need peace for our further evolution.
Let me then make a peace proposal for Israel and Palestine. In order to solve any problem, one needs to develop a successful methodology. It is an illusory method to obtain peace by destroying all our enemies. A universal empire has never been created. A response to power is power, and no power lasts forever. Therefore, instead of being grounded in power, my methodology will be based on values: flourishing life, harmonious cooperation, fairness and mutual respect. I will add to them mutual understanding and common interest.
It is of common interest to everyone to live in security and peace, and yet some people risk conflict and war. Why? It is because they are often deprived of the conditions in which their lives can flourish. Hence, not only security and peace are important for human beings, but also their material prosperity, their unique cultures and communities, and the freedom needed to shape their own lives. The successful peace plan for Israel and for the whole Middle East has to be based on these core values. It also must accommodate the vital interests of all parties involved.
The common interests of all parties, principally the Israelis and the Palestinians, are lasting peace and security. Maintaining the conditions of security is particularly important to Israel because it is a relatively small country compared to its Arab neighbors. It is clear that by building new settlements on the Palestinian land of the West Bank, Israel has tried to expand its territory. This is motivated by both security concerns and traditional cultural factors. The Israeli settlements are in the areas where flourishing Jewish communities existed earlier for thousand years.
Therefore, because of reasons of security and tradition, the Israeli claim to the West Bank (not only to separate settlements but also to the whole territory) should be considered legitimate, but only under the condition that the Palestinians can be assured of a good life. The basic principle of fairness that I introduce in my Tractatus Politico-Philosophicus says: “Everyone should be happy, but not at the expense of others” (11.2). Based on this principle, let us make the Israelis happy because their country will now comprise the West Bank, and thus will be larger and more secure, and will include the territories of Judea and Samaria that historically belonged once to Israel. But this would be unjust if the Palestinians think that this is done at their expense and will feel unhappy. Thus, we must now consider the dignity and interests of the Palestinians.
AS WITH all human beings, the Palestinians want to live in a peaceful and secure place where their individual lives and their communities can flourish. But to achieve this in the West Bank is practically impossible because of conflicting territorial claims of the Israelis. It is now over 50 years since Israel captured this area in the Six Day War of 1967, and during that period the life conditions of the Palestinians have not improved.
The territories under their de facto control became smaller. Their resistance against the Israeli occupation has produced much suffering and led to many broken lives. To continue as it is does not have any good perspectives. Therefore, it is now time to make a proposal. The West Bank would now become the Israeli territory and those Palestinians who prefer to stay in their homes and eventually become Israeli citizens should be able to do so.
However, every Palestinian should be offered a new land which will extend from Gaza strip to the coastal area of Sinai, and will be one-and-a-half time larger than that the territory of the West Bank. This land and the Gaza strip, which will remain Palestinian as it is, would be the new Palestine. Its capital should be one of the emerging cities built on the new land or one of the cities in the Gaza Strip.
Moving from one place to another is not always the best life choice, and yet so many of us move to other towns or even to other countries because of better life opportunities. One can also find historical examples of large migrations. In 1945, a large part of the Polish population moved from what was once the eastern territory of Poland and is today a part of Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine to what was a part of the German territory before WWII. Also, in 1947, because of Hindu-Muslim riots and inter-communal violence, many Hindus moved from what was before India to what is today Pakistan, and many Muslims went in the opposite direction.
These examples prove that sometimes the only way to solve an ethnic or religious or political conflict is to make people move to places that they can regard as their new home. However, the Palestinians should not only receive a new land, they should also be rewarded for many years of their misfortune and suffering. They should receive not only a territory that will be larger than that where they currently live, they should also receive luxury. The United Arab Emirates, especially Dubai, has been able to create a marvel out of the desert. The UAE and other well developed Arab countries should be invited to build the new Palestine.
THE PALESTINIANS should be offered the world-class infrastructure, administrative buildings, schools, hospitals, universities and private housing. They should be initially provided with good living conditions so that without worry they could shape their future lives in peace and prosperity. Once they agree to this proposal, and once it is accepted by the international community, the new Palestine should be recognized by Israel as the Palestinian state. At the same time, all Arab countries that have not yet done so, should sign with Israel peace treatises, recognize Israel as a state and establish normal diplomatic relations.
Will the international community agree to this proposal? What about Egypt, whose territory includes now a sparsely-populated desert region of the Sinai Peninsula? Who will pay for this? Let us emphasize this: Securing peace for Israel and solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the vital interest of the whole international community. Israeli insecurity has already led to so many violent conflicts in the Middle East, and the currently emerging prospect of war against Iran is frightening. But this war, as all before in the region during the last 50 years, would not really solve anything.
Power can last only for a while. One cannot base politics on power alone, but on common interest and mutual understanding, as well as on other core values that can unite humanity in its effort to build a better world. Therefore, we should express our sincere and respectful gratitude to the government and people of Egypt that by giving a part of their national territory to the Palestinians they have made such a great contribution to solving the problem of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which no one, not even the US, could solve before.
Further, Egypt should receive a large payment which will fully satisfy its territorial loss. This payment should come from the international community. All countries that are members of the UN and the World Bank should contribute to this payment to Egypt and to the cost of building a new Palestine on the model of Dubai. Again, peace in the Middle East is a vital interest of the whole world community and the benefits derived from it are far exceeding the costs.
This article presents a peace proposal for Israel and Palestine. It is now time to end violent conflicts in the world and to live secure, peaceful and fulfilling lives. We need this for our further human evolution and for our development as individuals, communities and civilizations.
The writer is a professor at Lazarski University in Warsaw and Zayed University in Dubai, a former student leader of Poland’s Solidarity movement, and former deputy mayor of Gdansk. He is the author of several books, including Tractatus Politico-Philosophicus: New Directions for the Future Development of Humankind.