It's a new year, and there's a new administration in the White House. US President Donald Trump, while maintaining an extremely pro-Israel position, has already committed himself to achieving the "ultimate deal". With an ego as 'yuge' as his, why wouldn't he? So now is the time for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to become, in the words of former president George W. Bush, "the decider". What kind of legacy does he want? What kind of country does he want Israel to be? It's clear that a one-state solution is not a solution at all---while the demographic arguments are shaky at best, a one-state solution could lead to another Syria or Bosnia, with endless intifada and war. A two-state solution as promoted by the EU, UN, and Islamic countries or entities, would pose a grave threat to Israel. Yet the status quo, which Bibi prefers to go along with, is unsustainable. It leaves the Arab population of Judea & Samaria  feeling hopeless and turning to jihadism; the Jewish population of Judea & Samaria wondering if their homes will become the next Amona; and the Jewish state open to sometimes unfair international criticism. It's time for a change to be made in terms of the Territories, but it should be set on Israeli terms. Due to the burgeoning alliance (against Iran and terrorist organizations) between Sunni Arabs of the region and Israel, it's important not to take rash moves. However, as the most powerful player in the region, Israel should be the one to set the terms of any peace agreement with the Palestinians, to ensure that its safety and historic/religious ties to the land remain safeguarded. Past failures of the international community towards achieving a two-state solution are because the egoistic John Kerry and others of his ilk went too far, choosing to go all out in terms of an independent Palestine, rather than taking slow steps towards peace and two states. Israel should negotiate with Donald Trump, and demand of the international community, to take a new approach of solving smaller issues in the dispute that will ultimately lead towards some kind of resolution. 

1. Recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel, and annex UNDOF and the "settlement blocs": Israel needs secure borders, now more than ever. Ever since the nuclear deal with Iran was made almost two years ago, the Islamic Republic has sent billions of dollars worth of weaponry and aid to groups like Hezbollah, a Shiite terrorist group that is sworn to the destruction of Israel; the murderous Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad; and Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip. The United Nations in recent decades has proven to be a hostile force to the existence of a Jewish state, and has failed in previous endeavors to safeguard the peace on Israel's borders. As such, Netanyahu should expel UN peacekeepers from the borders with Syria and Gaza and annex the UNDOF zone, turning it into a military base (along the lines of Britain's military bases in Cyprus) which can project power into southern Syria to keep away groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, which are right across the border. Furthermore, the Golan Heights have now been under Israeli control longer than they were ever part of Syria, and were initially to become part of the Jewish state before the British ceded it to French-controlled Syria. In addition, the Golan Heights is rich with history for the Jewish people, and provides high ground necessary to protect Israel from Assad, Iran, and Shiite & Sunni extremists fighting in Syria's civil war. Similarly, Bibi must not cede the high ground of Judea & Samaria to terrorists. If Israel has learned anything from the withdrawal of Gaza twelve years ago, it's that the international community will continue to trash talk Israel even when it makes moves for peace, even if said moves result in "liberated" land being used as a terrorist base. The "settlement blocs" are expected to become part of Israel under any final status agreement, and contain the majority of "settlements" in Judea & Samaria. Ariel, Ma'ale Adumim, Beit El, Kiryat Arba, and Shiloh must remain, for historic and religious purposes, under Israeli sovereignty. Israel should expand the settlement blocs to include Kiryat Arba, Beit El, and Shilo, and compensate Arabs living near there to move from the land to another plot (or outside the country). As such, Israel should finalize the security barrier around this land and annex it, unilaterally if it must. It should increase building to the utmost proportion (especially in eastern Jerusalem), and Bibi should build the new settlement promised to Amona evacuees in the E1 zone. While the international community would be, no doubt, infuriated, it would send a strong signal to the Europeans and the Islamic World that Jerusalem is completely off the table as far as negotiations are concerned. Israel should also annex most of the Jordan Valley and most of the Dead Sea coast, for economic/tourism benefits and security guarantees. However, a portion of the Dead Sea coast should remain under Palestinian control, in order to build a tourism economy around there that can lift many Palestinians out of poverty. 

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2. Create a military-controlled zone in Mitzpe Yericho, and pull out some of the more isolated settlements.  It's tragic to even think of evacuating Jews from our indigenous homeland. At the same time, there are a number of communities deep in the "West Bank" that are sparsely populated and have no significant religious or historic importance to Jews. Hundreds of IDF soldiers risk their lives guarding these areas, and millions of dollars are spent on their well-being and existence. In any final status agreement, many of these communities would have be to evacuated and/or demolished anyways. However, Mitzpe Yericho should be an exception. Given that Israel will cede some of the Dead Sea coast to Palestinian control in this scenario, it would still make sense for an early warning system or military presence somewhere in the "West Bank" to remain in place, to safeguard the Jewish state. Creating a base in Mitzpe Yericho (again, along the lines of British bases in Cyprus) would allow the Jewish community there to remain in place and with Israeli citizenship, due to historic and religious purposes. They would remain safe within the military base and continue to be able to carry out their lives as usual. 


3. Tackle the refugee issue and demand a just status for some "settlers". There is no reason why Israel should be able to have a 20% Arab minority, but a Palestinian state should be free of Jews. Avigdor Lieberman proposes a full population exchange, in which Jews living outside of the blocs be sent back to Israel while Arab Israelis are stripped of citizenship and deported to "Palestine". I propose a more reasonable solution. While some of these communities would have to be evacuated, it's not realistic to expect nearly half a million people to leave peacefully. Evacuating many Jewish "settlers" is not only economically unfeasible, but also risks putting both the settlers and the IDF forces evacuating them in danger of jihadist strikes, and risks fomenting wide scale tensions or even civil war between secular Israelis and the more religious right-wing which supports settlement expansion. That, too, would leave Israel vulnerable to attack by surrounding forces. This is in the interest of nobody. The international community generally demands that everyone be treated as equals. As such, the soft bigotry of low expectations must go---a Palestinian state must be held to the same standards as others, including Israel. The UN should demand, perhaps with the encouragement of the USA and other world powers, that some Jewish settlers be allowed to remain in a state of Palestine, either as residents with Israeli citizenship, or as citizens of the new state. Some of the most religious people in Judea & Samaria would never wish to leave even in the event of a peace deal being reached, due to overall historic and religious connection with the land. If Morocco and some other Arab countries in the region can still have Jewish residents (no matter how few), why not a newfound Palestinian state which rests on the core of Jewish ancient civilization? As far as the refugees go, Israel should not accept any refugees back, nor should it accept light responsibility for their plight, apologize, or issue compensation. If the Arab World did this for the nearly one million Jews who fled their lands after the War of Independence in 1948, perhaps it would be a different story.  Instead, the Jewish exodus from these countries largely goes ignored. Israel, the USA, and the international community at large should instead insist that these refugees and their descendants be given citizenship and equal rights in the countries where they currently reside. In return, the UN should dismantle the ineffective and corrupt UNRWA and send those funds to the governments of the countries where the refugees reside. This will stabilize and enrich these regimes, which are either broke and can't provide for their people (Jordan) or risk being toppled. An alternative (although probably less effective) option would be to threaten sanctions against these countries if they refused to solve the status of refugees from the 1948 war. 

Some of this would need coordination with the Americans or others, but much can be implemented unilaterally. Israel has tried again and again for peace with the Palestinians, only to be met with rejections, intifada, or outright war (as in 2008-09, 2012, and 2014). The Palestinians must accept that they have missed out on previous opportunities for independence that were exceptionally generous to them, given that they'd already long lost the war against Israel. Now it is time for them, and the rest of the world, to accept the reality of Israel, being the much stronger power, having the ability to take more than it has to give. With the Trump Administration in office, the international community--already ineffective as it is--will have even less room to operate from an anti-Israel position. The Palestinians will no longer be able to circumvent bilateral negotiations by whining to the UN or the EU. And Netanyahu has no more excuse for continuing the status quo, which is untenable. If the Palestinians continue to launch violent attacks after such a plan is implemented, there is no reason Israel shouldn't be able to defend itself to the utmost and seek a new solution to the conflict even more favorable to its security needs. But in any case, it's important to demonstrate to the world that while Israel will take into consideration its own interests and act accordingly, it is also willing to make peace. 



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