The fast of Tisha Be'av, which begins Wednesday evening at sunset, Israel mourns five historical events, including the destruction of the First Temple by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in the Jewish month of Av in 586 BCE and the destruction of the Second Temple by the Roman general Titus in the year 70 CE due to baseless hatred among the Jewish people.
According to biblical accounts, even before the destruction of the Temples, the tribes of Israel had many difficulties in their relations, including rivalries, fratricidal wars, and a split between the united kingdom of Israel into two separate kingdoms - the southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel.
More than 2,951 years have passed since that severe rift, and it seems that the Jewish people still struggle to maintain a united society.
Recently, discussions on dividing the land into separate autonomous entities have been reignited as part of the ongoing political tensions among factions. While many Israelis see this idea of dividing the land into "New Israel" and "Judea" as an inevitable solution, whether through canonization, federation or through other creative approaches.
One of those promoting such a division plan is Nitzan Amit, a 33-year-old resident of Givatayim, who founded the "Separation Movement" and developed a five-stage plan for a mutual separation agreement.
Nitzan, a former officer in the intelligence unit in the IDF and a commander in the military intelligence school, established the organization after realizing that "the State of Israel is marching towards and abyss," as he puts it.
"The movement emerged after much contemplation," he explains in an interview with Maariv. "I am a person of data, engaged in many political, economic, and security fields for many years, and in the end, we see what is happening today in Israeli society. It is a completely torn society, and the solution we propose is a separation into two states - one liberal state that includes the separation of religion and state, and another state that will be more traditional-religious in its nature."
According to the separation plan proposed by the movement, "New Israel" will include the Golan Heights, Upper Galilee, and most of the coastal plain cities, including Haifa, Netanya, Tel Aviv, and Rishon Lezion, with a population of approximately 5.5 million residents.
The rest of the land will be under the authority of the "State of Judea," with cities such as Jerusalem, Beersheba, Bnei Brak, Ashdod, Petah Tikva, and Ashkelon.
The division plan comprises five stages, with the first being the establishment of a covenant of liberal cities to unite all liberal cities in Israel under one goal.
The following steps include forming a governing and legislative body that commits the organization's companies to a certain policy, legal recognition of the Knesset's authority over the liberal organization as a secondary legislative body, the establishment of regional cantons with local parliament, regional government, and almost complete autonomy regarding internal policies.
Ultimately, it leads to a full separation into two states. "We're not waking up tomorrow morning and parting ways," Amit emphasizes. "There will be stages, and in the end, we will reach a complete separation, where each region will be able to decide which state it belongs to. Each region will have its own constitution and rules, and everyone will be subject to the same law."
Arab citizens of Israel
The question of where Arab Israelis would belong remains part of the ongoing discussion, with Amit asserting that they will be able to choose the state they wish to live in.
They will be equal citizens with full rights, and "New Israel" will also be a federation rather than a centralized state.
Autonomy will be granted to regions with higher concentrations of Arab population, such as the Galilee region, but all regions will be governed by the same constitution.
When I ask him about the weaknesses of the plan, Amit admits: "Of course, there are also drawbacks. Firstly, there is a need to obtain agreement from both sides on this matter. Many people have no interest in it happening, or they find it emotionally challenging.
"In this context, it should be clarified that if we stay together, we are heading towards destruction, and we need to understand that it will be a gradual process. People don't like changes, but many times it's something that needs to be accepted, and when it happens gradually, it is more acceptable. Once we separate forces, each side will be able to decide how its judicial system will look and where to allocate economic resources."
What about the population density in the state of "New Israel"? According to your plan, there will be more residents living there than in the state of Judea, which will have a larger territory.
"True, it will be a relatively dense state, but it is essential to remember that we already live in this density, in the current reality. It's not like we are suddenly moving a lot of people from the Negev to Tel Aviv.
"Moreover, density is not necessarily a bad thing; there are countries with higher population density than Israel and higher living standards, like the Netherlands or Singapore, for example. It's not a bad thing to have density, and there will still be open areas."
What responses have you received about the plan?
"There has been a tremendous leap in the number of followers of our page. Many people who hear about this plan are very supportive. I received hundreds of messages from people who want to volunteer and contribute, and they tell us they have been waiting for something like this.
"We have also been approached by several opinion leaders who are very interested in the model, including prominent figures in the economy."
What are the plans for the future?
"We are an organization that has been around for a few weeks. If you had looked at the group a month ago, you would have seen less than 1,000 people. We are building a work plan that will include conferences, recruiting activists, reaching out to the general public, and decision-makers."
Could this organization eventually become a political party?
"It's possible; we don't rule it out, but right now, we are not a political party. If we see that it's the best way to advance our goal, we won't dismiss it. At the moment, we are at the beginning of the journey, and it's too early to aim for those positions."