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One-State Solution: Options One & Two

tabletmag.com

tabletmag.com

On the day Prime Minister Netanyahu met President Trump at the White House – a day we might consider from now on as the ‘official’ day the two-state Solution has died, even though others (myself included, here in this blog and in a talk I gave more than four years ago) declared it dead already – the most significant, important words regarding a solution to the conflict were not heard at that ‘strange’ press conference at the White House, or thereafter in commentary on television and radio news programs, and not read in the many articles by fine observers in the papers online and in print, but those I’ve read that day in the NY Times Opinion Pages from someone I never heard of before. It was titled, “A Settler’s View of Israel’s Future,” and it was written by Yishai Fleisher, “the international spokesman of the Jewish community of Hebron.”

Until now, I wasn’t aware of such an ‘official’ spokesman, and such a position for that community. And yet this article, and its five options that apparently are being proposed and discussed in Israel as a one-state solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine, are worth digesting, discussing, and analyzing. Which I intend on doing, since I believe they carry (unfortunately so) more probability of materializing than the two-state solution, as well as other solutions being mentioned. In this respect, just as the settlers’ movement kept to its mission undeterred for almost fifty years, and has won the day, so are these proposals more likely to become a reality as “facts on the ground,” sooner or later.

Before I lay it out for you, however, I must alert you to the fact that two common-denominators unite all these proposals (and others that I’ve heard of, and may discuss here in the future), in regard to the conflict. One: They all propose the de facto annexation of the West Bank by Israel, as indeed the Israeli President Rivlin has suggested lately; if not all of it than most of it. Second: All the proposals in unison refuse to take into consideration the just aspirations of the Palestinian people for an entity, capital and state of their own. In this respect at least, they are all doom to failure – in the long run more than in the short run – even though some elements in them are surprisingly doable. And might even tried by Israel with the help of the new regime in Washington.

Here then is the first proposal, as written in that Times article: “The first option, proposed by former members of Israel’s Parliament Aryeh Eldad and Benny Alon, is known as “Jordan is Palestine,” a fair name given that Jordan’s population is generally reckoned to be majority Palestinian. Under their plan, Israel would assert Israeli law in Judea and Samaria while Arabs living there would have Israeli residency and Jordanian citizenship. Those Arabs would exercise their democratic rights in Jordan, but live as expats with civil rights in Israel.”

Now admittedly, I was taken aback by this proposal. I’ve heard many times before of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Meir Kahane’s and their followers, proposing to uproot all the Arab/Palestinian people from the West Bank – i.e. Judea and Samaria – and transfer them to Jordan, or even further beyond. Basically, they are the same people, those followers assert, with many families living on the east side of the Jordan River, and others living on the west side. (P.S.: As someone who went to battle against PLO forces behind the border in Jordan, I have a particular point-of-view on this. After all, following that battle, Jordan completed the job the Israeli army had begun in what’s known as ‘Black September,’ and threw the Palestinian fighters out of Jordan). This proposal assumes that first, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, its king and people, would agree to it; and second, that the Palestinians would agree. Now, while I find this outcome to be very unlikely – especially on the Palestinian side – I can see the rationale behind this proposal, which solidify Israel’s control over the whole area on the one hand, and supposedly taking care of the problematic ‘apartheid’ issue on the other. Crazy as it may sound – I’ve heard crazier things in the past – I don’t think it should be discarded out of hand for being too crazy as to not have at least an outside shot of becoming a reality one day.

Here then is the second alternative: “Suggested by Israel’s education minister, Naftali Bennett, (it) proposes annexation of only Area C — the territory in the West Bank as defined by the Oslo Accords (about 60 percent by area), where a majority of the 400,000 settlers live — while offering Israeli citizenship to the relatively few Arabs there (about 200,000. H.D.). But Arabs living in Areas A and B — the main Palestinian population centers — would have self-rule.” In other words: not citizenship.

I’ve heard of this proposal before, of course, and in more details even, as Mr. Bennett has made no secret of it lately. In reality, meaning taking into account ‘facts on the ground’ as they are currently existing in the West Bank, this is the most feasible, if not peaceable solution to the conflict. De facto, it’s actually more or less in existence already. It will make Israeli citizens of the Palestinians living in Area C., and the rest will have their limited autonomy (or a “state-minus” as PM Netanyahu had put it recently). It’s a partial solution of course, if that. But when considering where the political winds are blowing in Israel – news flash: right, very right – it has more probability of becoming a reality than any other proposal.

I need to restress this, though: None of the proposals – these two above and the other three, maybe even more, which I will discuss in my next post – deals with the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own; sidestepping the fact the UN and other countries around the globe had already passed resolutions recognizing Palestine as a state in one form or another; and disregarding completely the fact that all these entities and countries – including, until now, U.S.A. – regard the Jewish settlements in the West Bank as illegal under international law. Stay tune, therefore, as more is to come next month.

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After Israel

Hayarkon River - Tel Aviv

Hayarkon River – Tel Aviv

As promised before my trip to Israel, here are some of my reflections and observations following that long-awaited visit. But since that previous blogpost was mostly of the personal nature, as opposed to the political one, allow me to start by saying – it won’t be long, don’t worry – that on that score, and on all fronts, the visit was outstanding. Above and beyond all my expectations, or as we say in Hebrew: מעל ומעבר. My family and my friends, males and females, embraced me with love and showered me with kindness; my mother turned 90-year-old and my one-year-old granddaughter learned how to climb steps on her own; I visited the places I wanted to visit, and – on a wintry, cold and cloudy day – I jumped head on into the natural spring pool I call my “fountain of youth,” as I’d used to do as a kid; I found Tel Aviv to be modern, vibrant, full of zest for life with so many young children and dogs in the streets and in the parks, like no other city I know (and I know quite a few). My only worry on this front, for the city and the country, is that this fast-paced growth and development will one day soon leave no piece of land without humans living on it, roads and building built on it; which would be a pity. But to surmise, I tell you this: I sent an email just before leaving the country to my younger son in America, and without thinking much wrote this in the Subject Line: “Leaving Home – Coming Home.” That’s how I feel and, of course, I would have to deal with the implications of that statement in the days and years ahead.

Now to the political situation in Israel. While admittedly I hardly watched the news on TV, three events/ developments had occurred while I was there – the saying “Never a dull moment” was invented with Israel in mind – that did not escape my attention. I didn’t invest a lot of reading on these three occurrences, but nonetheless here are my observations. First to shoot into news headlines prominence were the rapid developments related to PM Netanyahu two-pronged police investigation, which concerns claims that he and his family received hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of luxury gifts from businessmen, and a case deals with recordings of conversations between Netanyahu and Israeli media mogul Arnon Mozes in which the pair allegedly negotiated an illicit quid pro quo. You all heard about it by now, and know that “power corrupts.” No surprise here. It is surprising, however, that it is happening to the most astute, experienced politician there is in the country and on the global stage (together with Putin), and that he has allowed it to burst into the forefront before he had managed to have a full dictatorial control over Israel and its people (as his friend Putin has in Russia). What’s my prediction as to the outcome of this investigation you ask? How can I know. But roughly, I give it fifty-fifty chance that Netanyahu would be forced to resign and pay a substantial political price for his follies. No matter the outcome of this investigation, however, I believe it signals that his political career – a long career of a leader without any vison, or courage, other than hunger for power – may be coming to an end. In the sense that even if he would somehow, miraculously, finish his current term as Prime Minister, he will not be elected again. This is not a prediction, as predictions are meant for fools, but more like an assessment based on gut feeling. Needless to say, though, the damage he has caused to Israel and its people – from Rabin’s assassination to the victory of the settlers’ movement – would be a lasting one.

The second event to take place in Israel while I was there was the unanimous guilty verdict in the trial of the soldier, Sgt. Elor Azaria. Now, while his guilt – that of a coldblooded murderer – was clear to anyone with functioning eyes and working brain, the eruption of the blood-thirsty crowd in the streets, and the cacophony of corrupt and softheaded politicians – Netanyahu of course leading the way – in defense of the murderer, and in opposition of the long, studious verdict by the three-judge panel of distinguished army judges, was deafening (but maybe expected too). Though the trial has reached its conclusion, this matter is not yet over by any stretch of the imagination. Let me leave you with this thought: The most appalling, frightening slogan I’d heard being chanted in the streets was this: “Run, Gadi, run; Rabin needs a friend!” Gadi is the first name of the current Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot. The implications are obvious, of course: You’re next! Don’t be surprise, then, when another such political assassination does occur. You shouldn’t be surprised that Netanyahu didn’t really condemn these hooligans in the streets. Just as he hadn’t done a thing to calm down the crowds in the streets of Jerusalem when they shouted similar things against Rabin.

The third thing to occur was the terrible terrorist attack in Jerusalem on the cadets of an IDF Officers Course, with four of them dead as result, and seventeen others injured. What stood out to me, together with the deep sadness of the loss of young, innocent lives, and apart from the repulsion at the government officials and ministers who didn’t find the time to attend any of the funerals, as is the custom in Israel, was the clear, prominent thought that no matter how strong Israel and its army are; no matter how many nuclear bombs Israel possess; no matter how sophisticated the fighter planes and the submarines are – all it takes is a simple, basic truck with a driver to cause that much horror and grief. The only thing that can prevent these things from happening again – and they will, of course – is peace. Yes, that five-letter dirty word. But peace, and the future of the Zionist dream, that’s another story for another post.

Basel - Switzerland

Basel – Switzerland

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