Settlers gather for prayer in Ramat Gilad_311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Two anniversaries came in quick succession here in Israel recently. One was the
twentieth anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shaking hands on the
White House lawn in front of Bill Clinton, having signed the Oslo Accords. The
second was the fortieth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, where yet again,
hostile Arab armies invaded the Jewish state on the most sacred day of the
Both events share several common threads, but most of
all those two events came at a time where the Israeli political leadership
refused to entertain countervailing points of view. All elements across the
Israeli political spectrum have been guilty of this, but none more so than the
The past 20 years saw the Right behave like a petulant teenager,
saying “no!” to every initiative advanced by other parties. It is only recently
that the Right is starting to articulate alternative possibilities to the
patently failed two-state solution.
Let us start with an axiom: Judea and
Samaria are an inseparable part of the State of Israel, and part of our national
and historical heritage – in no way different from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Haifa.
Secondly, even if we were inclined to give away sections of our homeland, this
would not herald the peace that we all hope for. Why is this? Very simply, the
conflict is not territorial in nature, but ideological.
Thirdly, even if
the prime minister and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas were to
announce an accord tomorrow, the Palestinian body politic is fragmented among
Islamic fundamentalist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Salafi
elements whose values are in accord with al-Qaida. In addition, there are many
secular, nationalist yet extreme elements that also wield influence.
all these elements would be inclined to coalesce into one homogeneous, united
and sovereign country is impossible. Furthermore, dissenting groups would not
consider themselves bound by any agreement, and the Israeli public would remain
at risk, both from the south west from a “Hamastan,” and from the east in a
We must break out of the failed paradigms of the
past. Consequently, without resorting to cliché or rhetoric, I offer the
following plan, entitled: ‘A Jewish state with an Arab minority.’
1. A process
of shared ownership: An agreement that builds on gradualism, reciprocity and
most of all realistic expectations.
2. Israeli civilian law would be
extended to Judea and Samaria. As part of this extension of civilian law,
citizenship would be offered to all Arabs. Reduction of threat levels from Arabs
in Judea and Samaria would be reciprocated with increased rights until Arabs
enjoy full equality, including the right to vote for representation in the
This would be bound up with a commitment on each individual to
play a constructive part in Israeli society.
3. The demographic threat:
In parallel to the extension of citizenship to the Arab population in Judea and
Samaria, The State of Israel will aggressively incentivise aliya from the
Diaspora to neutralize any perceived demographic threat. Funds previously
earmarked for security needs would be reallocated to fund these
The result will be a Jewish state with an Arab minority: The
Arab population throughout the State of Israel will constitute a minority in a
Jewish state, with full citizenship.
This initiative does not conform to
the tried, tested and failed policies of the past two decades, yet retains a
central premise held by all those who yearn for peace and stability, namely that
Jews, Muslims and Christians can coexist in the same space without killing each
This will mean that those who have been at the forefront of policy
implementation must have the flexibility to see past the righteousness of their
intentions and muster the courage to secure the future.
In 1948, there
was a heated disagreement between David Ben-Gurion and Chaim Weizmann as to
whether independence should have been declared following the end of the British
Weizmann was skeptical of the ability of the Yishuv to defend
itself given the adverse demographics and counseled against. Ben-Gurion, by
contrast, understood that when opportunities present themselves, they have to be
In spite of the seeming insurmountable obstacles, we know who has
been proven right. This is a similar opportunity, which we must not pass up. The
stakes are just too high to fail.The author, a Knesset Minister, is a
Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and sits on the Foreign Affairs and Defense