Israel, whether it chooses to acknowledge it or not (or we do), is heading toward a one-state solution, one that includes the Palestinians as part of their citizenship. They may wish the Palestinian problem would go away. But their Arab neighbors have no reason, nor inclination, to accept millions of Palestinians into their midst. The reasons for this are well-known and I won't rehash them here.
But, knowing that, and believing, as I do, in turning a problem into a solution, I propose the following:
Keep the settlements, but -- after thorough screening and background checks -- allow one third of the new apartments to go to Palestinian families (the apartments must be of equal quality). If the Palestinian families don't have the money, I think the U.S. or international community could be persuaded to cough it up in the interest of peace and interdependency. We've certainly subsidized lesser causes.
I've long thought a two-state solution -- with "Palestine" bifurcated down the middle by their hated Israel, was a geopolitical impossibility. By forcing these two people's to live together, at least those who are realistic, with a common interest in their mutual housing and environs, both people would be moving toward the inevitable co-mingling of their populations.
I think two-state (now, three state?) proposals are disingenuous at best -- from the Israeli side they are a delaying tactic, since the concessions necessary for co-existence, including disarmament and recognition, will never be met; from the Palestinian side they are a part of a strategy of slowly, inexorably, pushing Israel into the sea -- I've never heard any credible proposal as to how a Palestinian state (let alone one as divided as Gaza and the West Bank are now) would be run. Instead, they hope for the "promised land" of an undivided Palestine. No significant Palestinian leader has recognized Israel's right to exist, or even renounced armed struggle -- they would not be leaders for long if they did.
Imagine if one had a magic box, and could place all hatred and feelings of vengeance inside it from both sides. Don't worry! We have not gotten rid of those feelings, just put them inside the magic box, for now.
What would be left?
Well, there would still be enormous logistical challenges as to how to live in a parched, crowded, economically disparate region. The first thing a logical body politic would do is to tear down the wall, then they would improve the transportation and infrastructure, share the water and electricity etc. They would share access to the Mediterranean Sea.
This is an interesting thought-experiment and one both sides should consider, if just to sober themselves up to the honest practical realities of the situation in their New Jersey-sized homeland.
Of course, they won't. None of this will happen while each side is at each other's throat. But, by sharing their neighborhood, a lot could be accomplished. Think small first, then big, not the other way around -- which hasn't worked.
And if some Israeli settlers just can't bear to live with any Palestinians, they should be moved to Israel proper, willingly or not.
It is time for new solutions. The Road Map was a dead-end. The Two-State solution is a geopolitical impossibility. Obama's unimaginative pleadings, "Are you two peoples ready for peace now?" will only grant him snickers and disrespect from a region where respect is everything.
The annihilation of Israel is in no one's interest, not even the Arabs, who would then have to contend with thousands of suddenly unemployed terrorists (and likely, so would Europe, as that would be the next logical stop to recreate their Caliphate - this has been spoken of by Muslim leaders many times).
At the same time, the fourth-world existence of the Gazans and that of their slightly better-off but impatient third-world cousins in the West Bank cannot continue.
Obama promised Change, oh so long ago, but lofty speeches have to be backed up by a practical plan.
Share the buildings, share the land, save the world.
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