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One-State Solution: Options One & Two



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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Before Israel

When you read these words, I’ll be probably on my way to Israel already, to visit family, friends, and the old country. While I’m not making Aliya, it’s certainly feel like I do; in the sense that I haven’t been in Israel for so long, according to my “book-of-visits,” that it does feel – no matter how much I try to convince myself that it does not – like a “Return to the Homeland.” Or חזרה למולדת. Emotionally it feels this way, you see, even if I’ll be there for just short of three weeks.

I used to go more often, in the first years after I’d left the country. Mind you, it was never that I left the country “for good,” really. It was more like one big road trip across the sea and ocean to the land of new opportunities, with a new American wife. Will see what happened, I told myself, see if we can fulfill some dreams. And here I am still, thirty years later, older but hardly wiser. And now that I’m getting on in years, and the boys are striking it good on their own, both in Israel and in America, and money is fixed and in short supply, it simply that much more difficult to embark on such a long trip.

In fact, the last time I was in Israel it was on the sad occasion of my father’s death; also on Chanukah, as it happened, only then it came at the end of November. He just turned ninety-year-old, but I was not there for his birthday, as I’d promised I would be. And now I remember it every day, as I talk to him daily. And it is why I’m eagerly looking forward to this trip, when together with my adapted brother we will visit his grave in the kibbutz; there in the Jezreel Valley, under Mount Gilboa, where I grew up. A village and a childhood I miss so very much. Even though I know that the place I left behind is no longer the place I left behind. It is a “community” now, whatever that means. A “Bed and Breakfast,” as a friend who came back from a visit once observed. And yet for me it is – always will be – home.

Because home is where the heart is, isn’t that how the saying goes? Or where you left your heart. Where all the memories permanently reside. But of course, I have plenty of memories from my crazy days in Tel Aviv as well, after leaving the kibbutz, and later on upon returning from my studies in London. And there in Tel Aviv my family now lives, including the new arrival, a granddaughter, whom I’m yet to hold in my arms. She is the daughter of my Israeli son and his bright and beautiful wife. How sweet that’s going to be to see them all, and celebrate Chanukah together. And for me, to learn how to be – even if for such a short time – a grateful grandfather.

And of course – first and foremost – my mother still lives in that city. And even though she had experienced the horrors of the Holocaust, and all that had followed, she is reaching another milestone, as she turns ninety-year-old while I’m there. How cool is that, I ask you. And also the most important reason for my visit, my friends, to make sure I see her one more time. Enjoy each other’s company, talk things over, make a lasting peace if possible. As my Israeli son had pointed out when visiting me here two years ago: It’s better to see her while she’s still alive, even with her health deteriorating, than to come over for the funereal service. Well said.

I will meet and visit with my sister, of course, in the hope of spending some quality time together, help each other in preparing for the years ahead. And then there’s a woman friend in Tel Aviv as well, going back to those crazy days in Tel Aviv of the early eighties, both of us in the filmmaking business back then. We will meet, and hopefully reconnect. Who knows what we will find in in our hearts. Feeling young never gets old, they say. I will see, too, what’s new on the streets and cafes in Tel Aviv. I hear and read that the city, very much alive and crazy back then, is even more so now. A modern metropolis by the Mediterranean Sea, where every wave that comes ashore creates a ripple effect of renewal for the city itself and its people.

A “perpetuum mobile” of sorts, that what is. And so it is for me: a perpetual motion. Maybe a renewal awaits me there as well. Who knows. A new adventure. A new discovery. This is not a political visit, my friends, I promise you that. It’s a personal visit. Will I remember the road not taken? Of course I would. Reevaluate the road I had taken? You bet I would. I hope you’d forgive me this once for being so personal, and look forward with me for my report – After Israel – when I come back. Shalom.

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