NATIV Online        

  Vol. 6  /  October 2004                 A JOURNAL OF POLITICS AND THE ARTS      


The Arab Crisis In Israel:
What Can Be Done?

Raphael Israeli

This is an excerpt from the book,
Arabs in Israel: Friends or Foes?
by Raphael Israeli, Eli Gabbai, Publisher with ACPR Publishers (Hebrew), 2002, Hardcover, 280 pages and is now available in English as well.
This book can be ordered through the publisher, Eli Gabbai,
POB 4664, Jerusalem 91046 ISRAEL

There are not many cases in history in which a nation has consciously committed suicide, or sacrificed its freedom and sovereignty, just in order to find favor in the eyes of others or merely out of respect, consideration or guilt feelings vis-à-vis other nations. Many nations around the world have struggled with troubles with minorities, however as long as the issue at hand was multi-culturalism under one nationality, the problem was solvable through dialogue and consensus. Even when the dispute is national-ethnic in nature, as in Belgium or Canada, it is possible to arrive at arrangements of lingual, cultural, religious and even administrative autonomy. We will deal with some solutions of that sort below.

However, when the conflict becomes national-antagonistic, with strong claims of total negation of the other on the basis of religious-cultural rationales which demand exclusivity for one nation at the expense of the other, or which provide national and cultural expression to one side and nothing to the other – then we are on a collision course, a struggle for life and death, in which each side attempts to overcome its rival until one of them prevails. We are not speaking of absolute rights or absolute justice for either of the parties; in that case, matters would be too simple. There is an approach which posits that ultimately, if the existence of two groups of people, intermingled, becomes impossible (we adopted the expression “one beside the other” in our disputes with Jordan and with the Palestinians and there too it was unsuccessful) – then one must clear the way, just as the German minorities in Czechoslovakia and Poland did after World War II, who were “exiled” to their motherland, willingly or unwillingly. Or like the Armenian and Greek minorities who were repatriated to their homelands from Turkey, and other examples. Here the moral and human reckoning is cruel in its simplicity: If the minority is unwilling to live in accordance with the values of the majority nationality and their existence together causes eternal suffering to both, then perhaps it is preferable to cause a great, though temporary injustice to the members of the recalcitrant minority and transfer them to live with members of their own nation, contingent on the existence of a refuge of that sort, rather than leaving the two of them to continue to struggle, battle and spill blood forever, with no hope of a resolution for either of them.

The Fundamental Assumption – A Comprehensive Solution

We will first examine the existing solution possibilities, and then we will move on to the radical reform which we require in order to halt our deterioration in time. The patchwork attempts, which have been undertaken to date, have never had the potential to provide genuine, fundamental solutions, and the moment of truth which we are now facing, does not allow us to avoid doing so any longer.

Our fundamental assumption is that we are facing a phenomenon of members of a proud, obstinate national minority which not only strives for equality, which it is unable to achieve due to its obstinacy, but rather identifies with those segments of its people who are at war with its country, and will apparently remain locked into this conflict forever. Obviously, every member of a minority has the right to identify with whomever he chooses, however every choice has its price; one cannot play both sides against the middle. It is fair to allow each individual to choose in accordance with his inclination, but once he chooses, he is obligated to act in accordance with his choice: If he wants to accept the rules of the Jewish-Zionist state, pledge his allegiance to it, be educated in its systems and language, obey its laws and serve it loyally – then he is welcome among us, like the members of the Druse sect in Israel, with no difference or discrimination, or like the Arabs, Jews or blacks who become French or American citizens. The faith, customs and way of life of each person as an individual or as a member of a community are the personal affairs of each individual, as long as it is not subversive or hostile to the country, and the state has neither the right, the desire nor the need to interfere with them. If he doesn’t want to – he must know that he will not be allowed to impose his will and his desires on the entire country, and to make the lives of its residents miserable simply because his minority opinion was not adopted. He must also know that his attempts to establish his own hostile anti-state, with leaders and institutions lying in wait to liquidate the majority’s state and to establish a different country,  will not be successful. At that point, he will be forced to choose between emigrating willingly to wherever his heart desires, like the Palestinian state with which he identifies, or the Arab lands-of-the-free so close to his heart, or run the risk of continuing to break the law in Israel, which will smash his life into smithereens. The luxury of enjoying the fat of the land in Israel while at the same time taking action to dismantle it, taking advantage of democracy and freedom in order to destroy it, will no longer be able to pass without the reaction of the Jewish majority in this Jewish, Zionist state.

To begin with, if the Israeli Arabs insist that they are Palestinians and their country is Palestine, we must define the meaning of those terms and answer the question whether their elementary desire to be a free people in their land can be respected. If so, then we will benefit as well, as we will also enjoy the peace and quiet. Because the problem of the Israeli Arabs which has become a national problem and therefore our problem will only be resolved in a national manner, and in any case will always involve two paradoxes: The more we recognize the rights of others, the easier it will be for us, morally, communally and in terms of public relations, to demand our rights; and to the degree that we demand more in principle, the more we will have to actually relinquish.

There is an additional rule which must guide us: We are forced to offer the Arabs of Israel/Palestine exactly the same things that we seek for ourselves, precisely parallel, so as not to leave room for claims against us. In other words, being aware of the depth of the rupture caused by Oslo and other partial solutions which were proposed and attempted over the years, but deepened the crisis and the mistrust between the parties rather than narrowing it, we must aspire to big, comprehensive solutions which will deal with “all aspects” of the Palestinian problem, as it was phrased in the first Camp David summit, and that includes the aspect of the Israeli Arabs. We must no longer rely on partial, temporary, fragile solutions which easily collapse under the burden of their inherent shortcomings. For example, our wise men went ahead and concocted an absurd “arrangement” concerning a Palestinian state on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, totally ignoring the fact that the Palestinian population there constitutes just a bit more than one-third of all Palestinians, and even if everything had worked out as planned and Arafat had joined the Zionist Federation, two-thirds of the problem would have remained an open wound and unresolved. It is no wonder that when Arafat sensed the “danger” inherent in the arrangement proposed to him by Ehud Barak, he immediately raised the right of return, saying that he too is unwilling to accept anything other than the complete solution.

To Start From the Beginning

Therefore, we need to shuffle the cards and start the game from the beginning. What is Palestine, who is a Palestinian, and what is the relevance in characterizing Israeli Arabs as full-fledged Palestinians? Palestine, the Land of Israel in our language, is the name given to the land on both sides of the Jordan in which Jews and then Arabs settled long ago. It is just that these were called Land of Israel Jews (before the establishment of the State of Israel), and the others – Palestinians, beginning in the early twentieth century, when the Ottoman Empire, which was the political umbrella during the previous 400 years for the mixture of peoples and cultures that inhabited this territory, came to an end. The British Mandate over the Land of Israel, which originally included both sides of the Jordan River, and where the national home for the Jews was to be established, unilaterally constricted the designation of the land, when it severed three-quarters of the area from it and called it by its conventional geographic name “Transjordan”, and placed it under the rule of Emir Abdullah from Hijaz in Saudi Arabia. The name Palestine remained only in the western part of the territory, despite the protest of the Zionist Federation which considered itself dispossessed from the eastern portion of the Land of Israel. However, this did not eliminate the Palestinian identity from the residents of the eastern Land of Israel/Palestine, to the extent that it existed at all, neither did it remove their connection to that part of the homeland just as the British slashing of territory from the Land of Israel did not lessen the Jews’ right to continue to demand both banks of the Jordan. (This is ours [and theirs] and so is this.)

Fujimori, who was until recently president of Peru, is of Japanese descent, and Menem, who was at the same time president of Argentina, is of Syrian descent, and in neither of those two cases did the residents of those countries cease to be called Peruvians or Argentines, and the names of their countries were not changed simply because their rulers originated from abroad. If so, why does the Land of Israel/Palestine need to change its identity or its name just because a ruler that no one invited, no one accepted and no one obeys arrived from abroad? Furthermore, even when a country changes its name, as in the cases of Congo to Zaire and back, Ceylon to Sri Lanka, Burma to Myanmar and Cambodia to Kampuchea – it does not alter the affiliation and identity of its residents one iota and they remain Congolese, Ceylonese, Burmese and Cambodian respectively, just as they were before the change. Therefore, what would be more natural than to call the eastern bank of the Jordan, East Palestine, as it always was, and then all of its residents would be Palestinians, including Emir Abdullah and his descendants, who presumably became citizens in their new homeland, just as Fujimori and Menem became citizens of their new countries, called themselves and considered themselves local residents, and it never entered their mind to change the names of their host countries.

Thus we are speaking of a large tract of land, which incorporates the two banks of the Jordan, which two peoples own and demand control of it or part of it. To the degree that the tract of land to be divided is larger, the more there is to distribute to the two rivals fighting over it. The introduction of the Hashemite Dynasty to the picture, which is neither an independent people nor state but rather a regime that autocratically rules Eastern Palestine, need not distort the realistic picture of arranging ownership of the land between the two primary rivals.

Furthermore, both the Palestinians and the Israelis have an interest in adding the eastern Land of Israel/Palestine to the solution equation, because without it, no solution will be reached at all. Why did the Oslo arrangement with the Palestinians fail? Because they could not sign a final commitment that the agreement is the end of the conflict, since that would leave the issue of the right of return for the refugees not included in the arrangement as an open wound refusing to heal. And that right of return, which is also supported by the Israeli Arabs, is the primary stumbling block. In other words, without return, there is no solution and without a place to which to return, there is no return. Therefore this whole chain of cause and effect requires viewing all of the Land of Israel/Palestine as a single unit in which a solution for all would be found, including the Israeli Arabs; and also consideration of the entire Palestinian people, including the Israeli Arabs, as one national unit.

The tragic mistake made in Oslo, whose architects prefer to perpetuate it instead of admitting their mistake, was that the Palestinian people was divided into four segments by the negotiators: The eastern segment with approximately three million people, which was determined to be Jordanian, and therefore the Hashemite dynasty would look after it; the western segment, also containing three million people, is today undergoing a struggle for its independence and where the Oslo people incorrectly believed that the entire matter would be brought to an end; the segment residing in Israel, numbering over one million, which incessantly reminds us that it is Palestinian, however we insist on considering it Israeli; and the segment in exile, numbering more than a million, located in refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon, or in the other exiles in the Arab and Western countries.

King Hussein’s Peace Trap

Therefore, from whatever angle we assess the situation, we find that the problem of the Arabs in Israel can only be resolved in the framework of the greater solution of the comprehensive problem of the Palestinian people in the framework of greater Land of Israel/Palestine in which there is an extensive area for both to realize the right of return while at the same time preserving Israel’s vital security interests. To a certain extent, this option was undermined by the second tragic error made by Israel, which fell into the trap set by the wily King Hussein, who, more than anything, desired to receive Israeli legitimization for his rule over the eastern Land of Israel and half of the Palestinian people, without that being characterized as a resolution of the Palestinian problem. For that exalted king, an absolute monarch who cared only for his throne and who, in his stupidity and nearsightedness, made every possible political error since he decided to enter the war to destroy Israel in 1967, was, until 1967, the ruler of Judea and Samaria whose residents were Palestinian and who together with those east of the Jordan River constituted more than 80% of his country’s residents. During those years, it was he himself who coined the phrase: “Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan”, indicating that he too, accurately considered the residents of Amman and its suburbs Palestinians in every sense. Residents of Judea and Samaria, who pledged allegiance to his grandfather and to him, if it is possible to trust pledges of that sort, supplied half of the members of the Parliament, a plaything, which convened in Amman and played in accordance with orders from the King, who maintained the supreme authority - as well as the national leadership of the Palestinians. In 1967, the residents east of the Jordan did not stop being Palestinians and the regime, which had pretenses of returning to Judea and Samaria, continued to cultivate its residents as Jordanians in every sense. It was only with the outbreak of the first intifada in 1987, when Hussein feared that the riots would spread east of the Jordan and undermine his throne, that he announced that he is “relinquishing” Judea and Samaria, which in any case were never his and he never had a chance to return to them. He then concentrated on defending the land east of the Jordan, and made certain to maintain quiet along his extended border with Israel, having learned his lesson from the 1968-1970 War of Attrition in the Jordan Valley, which would have led to his demise, had the Palestinians succeeded in their rebellion against him during Black September.

Then too, Israel made a tragic mistake, when it supported the King against the PLO and Syria. If it had not done so, a Palestinian state would have been established east of the Jordan, whose revolutionary, activist leadership would have asserted its rule over most of the Palestinian people. Their conflict with Israel would have been over borders, with Israel having a much more advantageous position, on the banks of the Jordan, and not over the terrible existential questions which the Palestinian leadership, together with the Israeli Arabs, are placing before us today. That was the great opportunity, which we wasted due to our shortsightedness and lack of vision, because then we would not have to stand as pariahs before the entire world because we are preventing the unfortunate Palestinian people from asserting their right of self-determination. In that case, there is no doubt that many of the Palestinians in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Israel would have wanted to join their independent country in the east, and the demographic pressure upon us would have eased considerably.

Although things did not transpire in that way, it is not too late to go back to the original drawing board. When the Oslo process began, and totally surprised Hussein, as it did the rest of the world, he saw the opportunity to again trap Israel and hurried, as fast as he could, to propose peace with Israel before it could agree on anything with the Palestinians. He realized that the Israelis, in their stupidity, rather than continuing to insist on including the Palestinians as part of the Jordanian delegation, as is appropriate for one nation and as it was done during the Madrid conference and the subsequent Washington talks, which were fruitless, raced out the back door, with the approach that no alternative exists except to talk directly with the PLO. By doing so, they opened the door to the greatest scam in which Israel has ever been victimized. Because in Oslo, current Palestinian testimony indicates, they introduced a Trojan horse to the heart of Israeli control over Judea, Samaria and Gaza, with an army, weapons and autonomous and then independent territories, from which they will conduct, with the devoted assistance of the Israeli Arabs, the decisive offensive against the naïve and simple Zionist state.

Hussein understood what the Israelis didn’t, and rather than see the Palestinian uprising sweep his country, he transferred the Palestinian ball to Israel’s court, received irresponsible and unwise legitimacy from Israel regarding his rule over almost half of the Palestinian people and over three quarters of the territory of the historic Land of Israel, under the guise of Hashemite Jordan, which has no connection with the Palestinians and left the Israelis to burn their fingers in the Palestinian fire alone. And all this, after extorting from us some territory, water that we don’t have and our standing in Jerusalem.

What we got out of it is unclear. For if in 1970, we did not want a PLO neighbor across the Jordan, now we have one on the west side of that same river on this side of our security lines in the Jordan Valley and tragically proximate to the Gilboa and the Sharon regions and to Jerusalem and along the Gaza Strip. Brilliant deal!!! Hussein rubbed his hands together in pleasure because we helped him rid himself of the trouble named Arafat,   while at the same time we saved  the latter from his exile in Tunis and from the scrap heap of history and gleefully brought his army to our front door, in contrast to Hussein’s own expectations that we would not provide the Palestinian Authority a common border with him, lest they move in on him. The border with Jordan was quiet beforehand anyway, with one difference: Israelis were not murdered as frequently on the border and in Jordan itself as they are now after the peace treaty. And what is significant for our purposes is that the immediate proximity of the Palestinian Authority increased the Israeli Arabs’ self-confidence and the boldness of their demands to the point that they adopted Arafat’s plans in their entirety, with no caveats or criticism; his demands were their demands, and they even adopted his armed violence.

The great PLO continuum, which we established between the Mediterranean and the Jordan, turned against us, while the natural habitat of the Palestinians to the east, remained outside the parameters of the arrangement. From the moment that we willingly closed that valve, it is no wonder that the pressure cooker is bubbling and blowing up in our faces.

Four Principles for a Long Term Arrangement

In other words, the Oslo process, which was supposed to permanently stabilize our relations with the Palestinians, to bring peace to our eastern border and to assuage the Israeli Arabs from the time that their brothers achieved their national objective, turned out to be a failure in all three senses, because none of the aforementioned problems were solved; on the contrary, the problems became a thousand times more severe to the extent that Prime Minister Sharon used the term “a continuing War of Independence” in characterizing the misery brought upon us by Oslo and its consequences. Had Israel been able to convince the world, or at least the United States, of the need to include the solution to the entire Palestinian problem, or at least most of it, into one package, then we might have been able to consolidate a consensual solution based not on the one-sided Oslo principles, which were adopted absent-mindedly without properly anticipating its consequences, but rather on four other principles in which equality, reciprocity and comprehensiveness were integrated and were likely to guarantee long-term arrangements.

A. Mutual Recognition of the Rights of the Two Nations, the
 Palestinian-Arab and the Israeli-Jewish, to Self-Determination
 within the Territory of the Land of Israel/Palestine

The terrible mistake made in Oslo, despite the warnings transmitted to the negotiators during and after the negotiations were dismissed with phrases like “insignificant semantics” or “antiquated thinking” in the face of the “great revolution in the Palestinian thinking”, was that in exchange for our recognition of the Palestinian right to self-determination, we did not demand the obvious, that the Palestinians recognize the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. And why is that important? Because paragraph 20 of the notorious Palestinian Charter, which was not amended or abrogated despite all of the maneuvering and deceptions to which we were victim and the faith of the fools, on the right and on the left, that it was in fact amended, speaks of the fact that Jews are not a nation and therefore are not entitled to a state, as opposed, of course, to the Palestinians. As we didn’t demand abrogation of that paragraph, it remains in effect, together with the rest of the paragraphs. In other words, the right of the Jews to a state was marginalized and now it is again in question, both in terms of the “moralistic” preaching, which we hear from Palestinians and agonizing Jews that the Jewish state was conceived in sin, etc., and in terms of implementation of the right of return, which will of necessity ultimately lead to the demise of the Jewish state.

Our wise men volunteered, at the expense of us all, to recognize the right of the Palestinians to a state, and by doing so relinquished, one would hope out of stupidity and not malice, the Jewish demand of identical recognition, no more and no less. Instead, our representatives in Oslo thought that they were outsmarting their rivals, when they got them to state their recognition of the State of Israel, and they rejoiced and celebrated that “historic accomplishment”. What then is the problem? Our wise men did not demand, and therefore did not receive, recognition of the State of Israel as a Jewish state, which would not only have abrogated that accursed paragraph 20, but it also would have a priori torpedoed any demand for the right of return, which would have put an end to the state’s Jewish character. Therefore, and since the Palestinians did not volunteer to grant us proper recognition, they emerged with their own interpretation of their recognition of the State of Israel, saying, similar to the Israeli-Arab interpretation – as a state of “all of its citizens”; the implication being a bi-national, not a Jewish, state. That means that with the natural increase in the Israeli-Arab population and with the implementation of the right of return, which even Israel’s loyal Arab citizens support, the end of the Jewish state will ensue willy-nilly. Thus, in the later stages of the most recent negotiations with the Palestinians, they raised the right of return, with the enthusiastic support of the Palestinians on the “inside” (the Triangle, the Negev and the Galilee), because in any case, in the early stages of the negotiations, the Jews showed no interest in characterizing their state as Jewish.

Had the Oslo negotiations been conducted with proper consideration, seriously and professionally, we would not have allowed the Palestinians to outwit us and we would have demanded that the determination that in any future demographic situation, the Jews’ right to a Jewish state would remain intact, be anchored in the agreement. This demand would not only have served as an early test of the Palestinians’ intentions – without agreement upon it we would have refused to proceed, but because it is so natural, fair and logical, and is based on equality and reciprocity, there is no nation in the world that would not have supported us. However, the negotiators were in so much  hurry, that something as fundamental as determination of the state as Jewish did not seem important to them, and thus they left the door open for the Palestinians to entangle us in their schemes. What is even worse for our purposes is that the State of Israel’s waiver of its definition as Jewish in that historic document was a sign to the Israeli-Arabs that the time had come to raise the issue of a state of all its citizens, to demand to change the Jewish symbols of the state and to begin to fulminate and behave insolently towards the state. The conclusion drawn by the Palestinians, as well as the Israeli-Arabs, is that although Arab nationalism has 22 manifestations in the form of states, and although the Palestinians deserve one, two, or even three (Jordan, Judea, Samaria and Gaza and thereafter in Israel) – the Jews do not have the right to even one state. Encouraged by the weak Israeli positions, they insolently claim against us that in today’s world, nationalism (Jewish, of course, not Arab or Palestinian) no longer has importance, that Israel as a Jewish state is racist (of course that is not true of the Arab countries, even if no Jews reside there), that Israel is an old-fashioned “religious” country, as the Jews are not a nation, and we accepted that determination by implication in Oslo, or that Jewish Israel was in any case conceived in sin and therefore its disappearance would not be a cause for distress.

B. Reciprocity as a Condition for Our Recognition of the PLO

In Oslo, Israel recognized the PLO as the Palestinian people’s movement for national liberation, as they conducted negotiations with its leadership, despite the fact that they were not forced to do so, as the Americans also devoutly boycotted Arafat until we surprised them behind their backs in Oslo! How could they then be more anti-PLO than Israel? However, even according to the approach of the architects of Oslo, whose building has meanwhile collapsed, why was it so difficult for them to demand equality and reciprocity? After all, the Jewish people also have a national liberation movement called Zionism, and only a few years earlier, we vehemently battled the entire world in order to repeal the UN resolution equating Zionism with racism. And it was, indeed, repealed, against the will of the entire Arab world. The simple, fundamental question is: Why did we grant recognition to the PLO and did not demand recognition of Zionism in return? Was this just another case of stupidity or perhaps malice and lack of self-esteem as well? What are the logic and justification for recognizing the validity of a national movement and negotiating with it, while at the same time it is pronouncing from every rooftop in the world that our national movement is racist? And here too, had we insisted on reciprocity, the entire world would have supported us, because of the natural give and take, which is expected, and again we would have tested the Palestinian’s intentions before proceeding.

Here, too, the main problem is not symbolic but rather practical and political. For had we demanded reciprocity as a condition of our recognition of the PLO, the PLO Charter would have necessarily been abrogated. Because in that charter overflowing with invective, 15 of the 33 paragraphs clearly and uncompromisingly demand the eradication of all political, military, economic and cultural elements of Zionism. The charter was and remains the PLO’s identity card. It is difficult to understand how our people grew accustomed to that line of thinking, accepting their enemies, recognizing them and heaping upon them praise and goodness, while the latter repeatedly declare their hatred for Israel, and pour their poison in copious amounts. This is precisely the mindset of the Dhimmi, who is beaten by his Moslem ruler, but continues to grovel in his dust and thank him for his good treatment. East-European Jews, who did not experience the Dhimma, are familiar with this phenomenon as the ghetto spirit.

Then the trouble began, and the dizzying vision of the alleged revision of the Palestinian Charter transpired, when Israel could have easily avoided the extended self-abasement. First our government informed us that it would not sign the Oslo Accords if the charter paragraphs “referring to the destruction of Israel” are not revised, but since there are no paragraphs of that sort (other than one incidental mention), as the charter speaks of the destruction of Zionism and not of Israel, the Palestinians were in no hurry to fall into line in accordance with our will, because they could not renounce their ideological, constitutional founding document. They also adhered, from that point on, to the Oslo Accords, which did not require them to do so and they therefore saw no reason to volunteer to renounce something which was not established during negotiations as a sine qua non for recognition of the PLO in the first place.

Thus the humiliating farce began for Israel, which on the one hand continued to implement Oslo, including the withdrawals and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, and on the other hand, continued to demand revision of the charter without specifying exactly how, not especially forcefully and as it turns out, as lip service and without halting the entire process.  Under these circumstances, the Palestinians learned that they have no need to fulfill this obligation or any other paragraphs of the agreement, as the Israelis are so eager that the failed Oslo process proceed, to the point that they are able to withstand all sorts of indignities without blinking an eye. Those were the days when the acts of terrorism continued (Beit Lid was the first), the number of casualties increased relative to the pre-Oslo days, Arafat’s calls for jihad were heard publicly and a new concept, “sacrifices of peace”, was coined in our area. Merry and excited, Arafat praised his partner to the “peace of the brave”, who was generously prepared to continue to concede and bite his lip, however the revision of the charter did not come. Those were the days of the attempts to buy the Israeli-Arabs with money, when unprecedented funds were appropriated; however they too understood that there was no limit to their ability to extort the Israeli government, like Arafat, and it was just then that the tones regarding the “Naqba” celebrations exacerbated, the calls of identification with the Palestinians and of the demand for a “state of all its citizens”, which would undergo a process of de-Zionization, as the state itself was not resolute regarding its Zionist identity in its Oslo negotiations and thereafter.

C. The Third Principle is the Division of Greater Israel, in Other
 Words, Israel, Judea, Samaria and Gaza and Jordan, Between
 Its Two Owners: Israelis and Palestinians

The territory is expansive enough to satisfy the Palestinian aspirations for a large, spacious state, in which they can manifest their nationalism and also find a solution to the troublesome refugee problem, which if it is not solved, the end of this bloody conflict will never ensue. At the same time, this territory is providing for Israel’s national and security needs. Instead of establishing a series of “no”s, which cannot serve as a fitting overture to negotiations, we will propose that everything is open to negotiation in principle including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, as well as Amman and Irbid, recognizing the status quo that most of the population of the eastern Land of Israel is Palestinian while most of the western Land of Israel is Israeli (meanwhile, and that is why this must be done with alacrity). As a result, no one would even consider reversing this fundamental status quo, however it should be revised and applied locally in accordance with the agreement which will be consolidated with the demographic reality on the ground.

This comprehensive conception of the Land of Israel as a single unit and the Palestinian people as one totality can pressure the Palestinian leadership to accept the proposal. Because, as opposed to today, in which the residents of the refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan vehemently oppose any arrangement with Israel, and accuse Arafat of neglecting them in their wretched state after he and his cronies found a “deal” for themselves in Gaza and Ramallah, with the Greater Land of Israel arrangement there will be more than enough room to rehabilitate them.

This matter of consensus regarding the resettlement of refugees is vital, because otherwise, Arafat has no choice but to raise the issue of the right of return, as he has no alternative in resolving the problem in the context of the narrow solution discussed in the framework of Oslo, until its collapse, and then the problem of the refugees and displaced persons will continue to pursue anyone who attempts to resolve the entire Palestinian problem. However the honorable and massive resettlement of the refugees and displaced persons within the borders of the eastern Land of Israel, would be considered much less traumatic and more reasonable than the humiliating residence in a foreign land with no hope for improvement, but rather for a deterioration of the situation, in light of the galloping natural increase. (In the past 50 years, the number of refugees has quintupled in size.) Figure what type of explosion will take place over the next 50 years if the greater solution is not adopted. In this framework, perhaps some of the displaced persons in the State of Israel (approximately 200,000 of them who constitute an inseparable part of the Palestinian people according to their own testimony) will find a permanent arrangement east of the Jordan, and then the issue of their resettlement in Israel, all the more so the matter of granting the right of return to others outside of Israel, will no longer be an issue. The Palestinian leadership, perhaps Arafat’s successor, will also reach the conclusion that due to the exacerbation of the situation from year to year, perhaps it is preferable to find a radical solution now, rather than continuing to delude those unfortunate people, who continue to retain the keys to their homes in Jaffa or Acre, that they will return to their homes one day. The original generation of refugees is gradually dying out, and even though the tradition and memory remain strong among the generations of the children and grandchildren, one may assume that the new generation would be glad to find a permanent abode and consider the proposal, just as several young Palestinians, who despaired of their refugee status over the years, traveled overseas and rehabilitated themselves.

The first question, which must be asked, is: What will happen to the Hashemite Kingdom? Well, nothing will happen, if we remember that all that needs to be done is to recognize Jordan as part of Palestine, geographically and demographically, and to change the name of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the “Palestinian Hashemite Kingdom”, because that is precisely what it is. We already said that if the world has to choose between the autocratic rule of a king who has no roots in the area and taking the rule and investing it in the hands of the Palestinian majority in the land – every sensible person would choose the majority rule and the concurrent stabilization of the Middle East.

We have already seen that a change in the name of a country or regime change does not change its essence or the essence of its people. Almost every Jordanian was once a Palestinian as well, and most Palestinians remain Jordanian citizens even today. The question of the monarchy, Hashemite or other, is a question of regime, which should be determined by the majority of the residents. For nothing will happen to Jordan if that is what the residents want, and if the monarchy becomes truly constitutional, and not autocratic, in which the king is the supreme decision maker while the parliament is merely his plaything. This is on the condition that the rule in practice falls into the hands of the Palestinian majority, with which Israel will negotiate regarding the final, permanent border between them. Situating themselves in the heart of the eastern Land of Israel will enable the Palestinian leadership to assemble the majority of the nation under its rule and to resettle all the others who arrive with Israeli and international aid. 

The matter of the territorial division and the demilitarization of the Palestinian territory in the western Land of Israel can be resolved over the course of long, exhausting negotiations in which each side will want maximum territory with a minimum of enemy population. It is also possible that the principle of population exchange will be acceptable to the parties: For example, evacuating Jews from certain settlements, whose territory is ultimately destined to be under Palestinian rule, and exchanging/transferring the Arab residents of some problematic Arab villages in Israel, which are proud of their Palestinian affiliation to the territory of those evacuated settlements and Palestinian rule, for their relief and pleasure. However, the primary solution must involve finding attractive alternatives which will convince the Palestinians to relinquish certain sections in order to gain better sections, or other benefits that we will offer them. For example, if we propose to them an east-west division of the land, with the significant part of the Palestinian state in the eastern Land of Israel/Palestine and parts of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip will be annexed to it, then minimal movement would be necessary in order to reach an agreement. And if we propose a north-south division, in which the State of Israel will begin in Arad-Dimona-Beersheba and include most of Judea and Samaria, with part of the Gilead region, while the Palestinian state would include Ammon, Moab, Edom and most of the Negev (with Eilat having special status) which will create a territorial continuum with the Gaza Strip, perhaps that would be attractive enough for them.

The principle is that everything is open to negotiation, with each side bringing its interests to the table in the hope of gaining most of them and in the knowledge that they will never get everything. It is possible that this will also solve the problem of the Bedouins of the Negev, who will be joined to the Palestinian state which they love so much, and the Israeli territorial and strategic loss of the Negev will be offset by the stationing of Israeli forces on the expansive, fertile Gilead plateau and with the direct threat to Damascus from the south as well, and not only from the east.

D. The Israeli Arabs

The fourth principle, which relates to our matter more directly than the others, is also the most revolutionary because it will enable us to put the Israeli Arabs who want to continue living with us to a perpetual test, and at the same time will neutralize the demographic danger threatening us from within. How?

After we reach agreement with the Palestinians after long, exhausting negotiations which could last years though there is a chance for a positive conclusion over the permanent borders between us, each side will be sovereign to implement any immigration policy that it pleases. Thus, the Israelis will no longer be able to make claims against the right of return, as those returning will be directed to the unpopulated areas east of the Jordan, while the Palestinians will have no claim against our Law of Return, because the arriving Jews are no longer ostensibly blocking the return of the Arab refugees to their settlements of origin. The principle here is the separation of sovereignty over territory which will become clear with the agreement regarding the division of territory between us and them, and the personal status of the residents. In other words, there can and will be Jewish-Israelis who will fall (in the most literal sense) under Palestinian sovereignty, and it is clear that very many Palestinians, including Israeli Arabs, will remain residing under Israeli sovereignty. However, neither one nor the other need dictate their civilian, political and national allegiance. For the populations of both parties which will remain in rival territory after partition will be given a choice, on a basis of equality and reciprocity, to choose, in complete freedom, between three alternatives:

  1. To sell their real estate and movable property and move to their motherland. Presumably, a certain number of people on either side will choose to do this; or

  2. To remain where they are, to pledge allegiance to their adoptive state, serve in its army, learn its language and live in peace and equality therein; or

  3. To remain where they are as permanent foreign residents, whom no one can move, however their citizenship, loyalty and political commitment is to their motherland, in which they will have their right to vote and will have political representation, like a Canadian residing in the United States or a Belgian in France. Of course, an arrangement of that sort is only possible if Palestinians living in Israel, or in Judea and Samaria have sovereignty, citizenship and a passport of their country which will grant them enough of a sense of security to live in their villages freely and equally in the knowledge that their country across the border protects their rights and is aware of their problems.

Certainly, a solution of that sort for the Israeli Arabs, which is only possible in the framework of a comprehensive resolution of the Palestinian problem, is filled with pitfalls and dangers. However, even if it is a bad solution – the others, which have been proposed and attempted so far, are even worse. Great statesmanship is not merely choosing the good option over the bad, that, even mediocre politicians can do, but rather it entails preserving the negative reality, before it gets worse. These guidelines for the resolution of the conflict, which do not repeat stale clichés, which have not had any effect until now, provide hope for a change in the present desperate situation. The power of the innovation here lies in the fact that rather than invest the fate of the Palestinians and the region in the hands of irresponsible leaderships, it is recommended to allow each individual to decide his fate himself, by choosing where he wants to live, to whom to be committed conceptually and politically, creating the absolute minimum of chaos possible, for a transition period as brief as possible, with the objective of achieving the greatest degree of stability possible, for as long as possible.

An arrangement based on these four principles will provide the Palestinians with a sufficiently large territory to settle most of their nation and to control it by means of a final liquidation of the refugees’ suffering, a peace of good neighborhood and cooperation and building between the two countries, free political expression for the minorities on both sides, with a connection to their motherlands, even if they continue to live on land neighboring their country, and neutralization of the demographic problem threatening Israel from within. This is because under these circumstances, there is no difference how many Arabs live under Israeli sovereignty, as long as they are only residents and not citizens with a right to vote. However, they must maintain that right in their motherland. Failure to do so would lead to the development of apartheid conditions between the two populations over the same piece of land, something which Israeli democracy will not be able to bear. Incidentally, regarding demilitarization as well, the Palestinians will agree to totally demilitarize those tracts of land which will fall under their control west of the Jordan, since their army will be deployed without restriction east of the river, just as Egypt was able to demilitarize Sinai, only because their heavy armies were able to deploy comfortably west of the canal.

Therefore, it is vital that Israel resolve the Palestinian problem in its entirety as a condition of ridding themselves of the troublesome yoke of the Israeli Arabs who identify themselves as part of that problem. Only this broad, comprehensive solution can guarantee the circumvention of other solutions which were proposed by ambitious Arabs or concerned Israelis over the years, under the assumption that the Arab population, which has Israeli citizenship is a given that cannot be changed, a type of dictate of fate to which there is no choice but to submit. But that is not the case, because all of those proposals contain an unresolved nucleus which is ultimately destined to lead to the resumption of the conflict between the two populations – when the percentage of the Arab population passes the threshold of critical mass which will then require the repartition of the Land of Israel within the Green Line in order to preserve the Jewish state, if we don’t want it to totally vanish.

Of course, according to the Israeli Arabs and the Palestinians in general, the optimal solution is the implementation of the right of return, that is, transformation of the State of Israel into the third Palestinian state (alongside Jordan and Judea and Samaria), and ultimately into a large Palestinian state which will restore the Jews to minority status, abolish the Jewish state, and roll back the clock to the situation prior to the 1947 partition resolution. However, even among them, due to their recognition that Israel will not allow itself to fall into that trap, different “phased” programs have been raised, designed to have Israel swallow the bitter pills incrementally, employing “moral” rationales dripping with “tolerance” and “understanding” among nations. However, their malicious final intentions emerge from the “reasonable” veneer, and anyone with any sense can see them. It is enough to consider the excessive demands of the Arab parties, as they are manifest in their platforms and their contacts with the principal ruling parties in Israel, in order to appreciate those true intentions.