The citizenship conundrum need not confound the statehood solution

If we accept the figures offered by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the annexation of Judea and Samaria would result in as few as 120,000 and as many as 300,000 new Palestinian Arab voters.

Members of the Sovereignty Movement protest outside the Prime Minister’s Residence on February 6 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Members of the Sovereignty Movement protest outside the Prime Minister’s Residence on February 6
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Recently, a featured editorialist in a left-leaning Israeli newspaper lamented the rising chorus of the “pro-annexationists on the Israel Right” and their compatriots clamoring for the assertion of Israeli Law in the historic homeland of the Jewish people. As is typical of such detractors, their failure of imagination binds their argument to long-held falsehoods which need, and demand, both addressing and correcting.
What is plain to see from the perspective of those of us in the so-called “radical right wing,” is that the languishing Left continues to confuse the matter of security, statehood and citizenship. The authors assert that annexation will result in a dangerous demographic imbalance, Palestinian political predominance, and the ultimate death knell of the Knesset via a mobilized Arab electorate eager to wield the power which sovereignty will provide to them, thereby turning the proverbial table on the very Jews who had invited them to dine it.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
• First, this argument presupposes an annexation plan not even those clinging to the very far reaches of the political fringe have ever suggested. A land-grab theory such as this is grounded in anti-Israel tropes and tantamount to Israel annexing the planet Mars and granting citizenship to whatever life forms may exist there without yet having accomplished a landing on the Moon.
There is, to date, not a single party in power which lays claim to supporting annexation over areas under the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority. Rather, those of us who seek to ensure the critical security requirements for the preservation of our homeland have a singular goal in mind; that being the formal assertion of Israeli statehood only in the Jewish communities of Area C, slightly more than half of the region, as designated by the Oslo Accords.
• Second, citing statistics offered by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, which has a vested interest in inflating the number of Palestinian residents in Area C, the author potentially adds over one million Palestinians to an imaginary Arab voter bloc needing to be incorporated into the Israeli political system.
If we accept the figures offered by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics – which has a vested interest in providing realistic demographic data for the foundational purpose of assisting the government in delivering necessary services and meeting the fundamental needs of the Jewish communities scattered across Area C – the annexation of Judea and Samaria would result in as few as 120,000 and as many as 300,000 new voters of Palestinian Arab descent.
This represents a mere quarter of the votes suggested by the author’s fear-mongering scenarios. The addition of these citizens-turned-voters in Israel, even at an unreachable 100% voter turnout, would have little effect on the nature of Israeli politics or society beyond exposing our system to a more vibrant multiculturalism for which we have always been inclined.
• Third, this manner of advocacy for the Palestinian people is insincere at best and patronizing at worse, as it fails to recognize that the Palestinians are no more a monolithic bloc then are the Jewish people, whose political inclinations and voting patterns reveal an ideological rainbow of beliefs as diverse as the society which we have created over the past century.
Who are any of us to predestine these votes? Is it not feasible to imagine a scenario wherein these new voters are no more likely to be inspired to support the leadership of Israel’s current Arab parties – many of whom have proven as nefarious as those politicians these new voters would leave behind – as they are to support the perfidious Palestinian Authority?
CAN WE not suppose new Arab-led parties will rise from the ranks of this voting bloc? Leaders may align their interests and those of their communities with Israeli political parties may also evolve. They might recognize the value of inclusivity and investment in this new leadership, which rejects current Arab political representation as it has been, in favor of what it could be, to work alongside their Jewish compatriots to strengthen the nation and advance their shared interests.
It might be hard to imagine, but so too was Israel once, not led by a Labor government until the terrorist-turned-Noble Peace Prize winner Menachem Begin and the Likud Party assumed the reins of power, 30 years after the establishment of the state.
• Fourth, it is critical to separate the consistent conflation of statehood and citizenship. Debates over population size notwithstanding, the Palestinian Arabs in Area C would be offered, and each would have the individual choice to determine for themselves, if the acquisition of Israeli citizenship is in their personal self-interest. Citizenship would neither be mandatory nor imposed.
Annexation alone does not imply, nor require, the acceptance of citizenship on behalf of the Palestinians. Neither does it require the forced transfer of any population. Further, those who decline the offer to participate equally in the region’s only viable democratic nation would, as do millions of people around the world, remain as residents in, but not citizens of, the state of Israel. Once a Palestinian state is established, these legal residents would also be welcomed to remain as such, in Israel, while simultaneously becoming citizens of their new state. Residency and citizenship are not mutually exclusive.
• Fifth, the author cites a growing number of Palestinians, particularly among the younger generation, who espouse their desire to live in one state, under Israeli rule. Who can blame them?
Exhausted by the corruption, chaos and conflict which has defined the entirety of the lives – caused by the PA and their associates in Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and a vast array of other terrorist and sub-state entities – the ‘Palestinian Street’ no longer believes these failed actors speak on their behalf. Meanwhile, they see the thriving democracy that exists in Israel – which respects human rights, provides dignity of work, ensures freedom of faith, and upholds gender equality – and they, as do all self-respecting human beings, wish to partake of it.
This is true even if doing so means (or perhaps precisely because) these promises are carried out by a Jewish majority-led government. The Palestinian people fully understand the accusation that Israel is an apartheid nation is as false as the promise of a brighter future sold to them by the PA. They therefore understand that at the present time, and until a Palestinian state can be established, it is in Israel that they can now realize the vast potential they have yet to unleash. We would welcome them with open arms and embrace their contribution as a critical part of the vibrant fabric of modern Israeli society.
• Sixth, it is simultaneously of equal importance to point out that a one-state solution is perhaps the most ill-informed of all misconceptions. The alternative to the traditional two-state solution model is not only one state. Rather, a one-state solution is a threat imposed upon Israel by its detractors – Jewish, Israeli and international meddlers alike – to create a climate of fear forcing the Jewish state to accept the untenable terms of Oslo, or face the false threat of a Palestinian takeover at the institutional level.
THIS IS not the only alternative, and in our opinion, it’s not an even an alternative worthy of debate. A one-state solution neither serves the short- or long-term interests of the Palestinian people, nor that of the Jewish people. But alternatives do exist.
The New State Solution, for example, calls for the creation of a free, viable and contiguous sovereign state for the Palestinian Arabs, anchored in Gaza and the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula. Under this scenario, the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, as noted above, would be granted citizenship in their own state while remaining residents of Israel, if they so choose. This alternative, and other creative solutions to Palestinian statehood – both conceived and yet to be imagined – are long overdue in the context of public debate and discussion.
• Last, we must address the most poignant and pressing point of all. What of the more than 450,000 Jews in Area C, Israelis who currently reside in an existential state of daily uncertainty and insecurity? What of our brothers and sisters who have spent decades building up their communities and cities, infrastructure and industry, schools and shuls, but who consistently see their lives, and that of their neighbors, callously cut down by terrorism?
Do they not deserve the type of future ensured by the establishment of the State of Israel; the type of future that has been bestowed on their friends and families in Tel Aviv, Caesarea, Ashdod or Eilat? Does our government not have an obligation to provide for them the same freedom from fear and freedom of faith that the establishment of the Jewish state had so promised all its Jews, in equal measure?
If we are to believe the author, the sanctity of these promises is secondary to the demands of the Palestinian people, and the international community which would as soon endorse the abandonment of these half a million Jews as would Neville Chamberlain again endorse Adolf Hitler marching in Czechoslovakia.
But we will not.
We are HaBithonistim, a large and growing coalition of high-ranking retired and reserve IDF officers and security professionals who believe the time has come to declare Oslo dead, if in fact it ever lived at all. We believe that the fictional foundation of past agreements must be now relegated to the dustbin of history’s least cherished relics, and that a new tome be written in the name of the defense of the Jewish people, the preservation of the Zionist dream, and the future needs of the Israeli state.
No one wishes more for the creation of a Palestinian state then we do. A state for the Palestinian people would generate the responsibilities that sovereignty bestows, and thereby remove the false charge of occupation and aggression lobbied against the Israel Defense Forces every time a necessary defensive action is taken in Judea and Samaria in order to preserve Jewish life. Indeed, statehood would require the Palestinian Arabs to address the issue of terrorism in their midst, forcing them to confront the malcontents existing within the ranks of the violent entities operating therein. Otherwise, they would face the consequences imposed upon their state by Israel and the international community; consequences which would be imposed in equal measure upon any state permitting such manner of illegal acts against another sovereign nation to emerge from behind its borders.
The potential solutions to the ongoing matter of Palestinian statehood are innumerable, however, they must be adapted to the facts on the ground, a new reality which is a far cry from that which existed at the time Oslo was fashioned. Israeli security, on the other hand, is a fixed variable. There is no other solution then the application of sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and the Jewish towns of Judea and Samaria. Of this we are certain there can be no more misconceptions.