THE BLOG

Is This Where the Holy Land Is Headed?

Jerusalem, April 31, 2027 -- The final segment from what was known as the Security Wall was torn down yesterday as street signs in the holy city were changed in preparation of the upcoming Unification Day of Israel-Palestine, four years after the Great Middle Eastern war of 2023.

Citizens of the newly established Federal State of Israel-Palestine are only three days away from officially declaring the union in a ceremony that will bring most heads of state to the capital city, Jerusalem.

Historians believe that the nation's birth also signifies a sort of official handover of super power status from the United States of America to China. Other analysts point the finger at the perpetual weakness of the US to solve the historic Israeli-Arab crisis by successive presidents from the late 20th century onward, which they believe lead to a loss of US credibility in the international community.

Today in the Federation, although Jews and Arabs continue to live in segregated quarters as they have done for most of the last hundred years there are signs that mixed neighborhoods are emerging.

The bulk of the Arab populations have continued to live within what was known as the West Bank and in Gaza but internal migration has begun and some Arabs have started relocating to where their ancestors had historically lived prior to the 1948 war of separation. The Federation's Jewish population continues to concentrate in Tel Aviv while others are scattered throughout the now unified state. An expected torrent of emigration among those in the Jewish population who rejected a United Nations imposed referendum in 2025 hasn't materialized and has in fact slowed over the past few months. It is believed that up to half a million Jews - most of whom hold dual citizenship - have emigrated to North America and Europe.

As part of the final settlement, the UN mandated that the Arab countries from which Jewish populations fled must pay compensation to the Jews for land and property that was confiscated upon the creation of what was Israel in 1948. However, only Iraq and Libya have indicated willingness to participate in the fund, administered by the IMF.

Several years on, families of the Palestinian refugees who fled the 1948 and 1967 wars have been split into two categories. Those who settled in the West have returned mostly only for visits, while the Palestinian refugees in the neighboring Arab countries have slowly been moving back into the Federation. Next month a referendum will be held to find a suitable name for the Federation; Palestine and Israel will not be options due to the historic weight associated with both names.

The GCC states, the European Union and China have all promised to invest $10 billion each on infrastructure and job creation in the Federation. This money will be overseen by the Belgian tripartite committee who have been the architects of the Federation based on the system adopted in their own country.

It is also expected that the 50,000 peace keeping troops from Europe and China will start withdrawing next year based on a five year exit strategy of reducing 10,000 troops annually along with a disarming of militant Arab groups and the Israeli Defense Force.

Some discontented Jews now blame previous Israeli governments for rejecting the so called Arab Peace Plan that was presented about a quarter of a century ago by the now defunct Arab League. The plan had proposed full normalization of the relations with what was then known as Israel if it withdrew to 1967 borders. "We could have still had a state of our own," said Ben, a 40-something consultant who refused to give his last name. "Now our dream is lost", he said.

Some individuals have started defacing multilingual signposts, although the violence that followed the first months of unification has largely been contained. The shutting down of the Dimona nuclear complex by the Scandinavian-led team of scientists is currently underway. Only the energy producing elements will be maintained and military technology will be gradually stripped from the site that almost led to a nuclear standoff with Iran, Turkey and Pakistan five years ago were it not for Chinese intervention.

Among the most contentious of issues remaining is an EU administered de-Zionization process including the changing of the flag, national anthem and discriminatory laws. The Federation's interim president Yousef Hanna has repeatedly vowed to uphold the rights of all citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, in the new state.

A fragile and delicate nation has emerged in the midst of the tension that has plagued the Middle East for over eight decades.

"At least we're no longer killing each other anymore" said a Federation citizen who disappeared into a crowd of Semites without giving his name.

This article first appeared in The National on Sunday, April 11th 2010.