Contributing AuthorA contributing author.
The solutions for the current phase of the Arab-Israeli conflict are playing out on a similar theme: Israel will cede territory that it came into possession of in the course of defending itself in 1967, and the Palestinians will sign a treaty that ends hostilities, recognizes the Jewish State, and puts a final end to all claims in pre-67 Israel.
Most readers of this column probably don?t believe that the solution put forth above is the proper solution for the situation, for reasons ranging from lack of trust of the Palestinians or their intentions (been there, done that); to international precedent and law dating back millennia that permits a nation-state to retain territory conquered in a defensive war; to belief that the areas of Judea, Samaria and Gaza with their continuous 3500 year Jewish presence are part of the Jewish heritage; and not least because the Almighty said that it?s ours.
There is another approach being put forward to solve the conflict, and it has the support of anywhere between 35% to over 50% of the Israeli population, depending on whose polls you read and believe. It goes under the popular name of ?Transfer?.
There have been many different implementations suggested to effect Palestinian transfer: physical transfer, voluntary transfer, paid transfer, or virtual transfer - whereby the population stays where it is but exercises political autonomy somewhere else (probably Jordan).
The nations of the world see the notion of transfer as being an integral part of the solution to the conflict, legitimizing the transfer of Jews out of Yesha. The Palestinians also have no problem with the transfer of Palestinians into the Galilee, Jerusalem, the Negev and the rest of Israel.
Sooner or later, negotiations of the ?we?re here, you?re there? type will begin again. The talks will center on where to draw lines on a map. Most of the world takes this to mean the evacuation and dismantling of some or all of the Jewish communities in Yesha. There has also been an acceptance that certain areas of Yesha ? the settlement blocs of Maale Adumim, Ariel, the Etzion Bloc, and perhaps the northern communities in Gaza - will remain in Israeli hands and be annexed to ?Israel proper?.
Physical and virtual transfer will not bring about the changes the pro-transfer lobby would like. There are many reasons, not the least of which is that Jews herding men, women, and children onto trucks for transport is unconscionable, and another, because it will lead to destabilization of the region in a very short time.
This is a catch that has not yet been brought to the public?s attention by the transfer groups. Up till now King Abdullah II, like his father King Hussein before him, has done a reasonable job of keeping the Iraqis confined to their own western border and suppressing nationalistic tendencies in his own Palestinian majority.
Should the Palestinians gain political hold of Jordan through democratic or other means, however, this buffer zone will cease to exist. Given the close relationships the PA enjoys with the regimes of Iraq, Iran, and to a lesser extent Syria, within short order we should expect to see Iraqi irregulars, if not the Republican Guard, hiding out in the bushes on the other side of the Jordan. Even a strategic agreement with Turkey won?t help, as they will have difficulty trying to move troops through Syria or even Lebanon to reinforce the IDF. We will also be distracted at our porous southern border, with Egypt. If now camels and women are routinely smuggled in, imagine what a small but professional infiltration force could do in places like Eilat, the Arava, and the southern kibbutzim.
I personally believe that if Israel had sole, recognized sovereignty over all the land west of the Jordan, the Middle East, if not the world, would be better and safer. Any transfer plans that are put forth must be well thought out to minimize the risk to Israel and the stability of the region.
This leaves us with paid or voluntary transfer. The people of Israel cannot force transfer on the Palestinian population. But the government of Israel can (and must) conduct negotiations with planning, thought and care and in such as manner as to create the conditions that Palestinians, who are in any case mainly descendents of migrant populations, will find that their quality of life will be better elsewhere.
If left to their own devices, the Palestinians will self-destruct as a people. Right now what defines the identity of a Palestinian is the magnifying glass that he holds up to the Israeli populace. A complete separation from Israelis will force them to turn inwards and try to define their own society. Their nation-building efforts will fail as the ?Palestinian Nation? disintegrates into fiefdoms and militias, much as we saw during the period before September 2000.
Israeli disengagement must be complete (but not unilateral). The government must maintain three tenets in negotiations:
1) Exchange of populations: The principle of evacuation of settlements to form a buffer zone between populations must be applied both to Jewish and Arab populations. While certain Israeli yishuvim would be closed and their residents required to move elsewhere, the Arab populations of Hussan and El Khadr in Gush Etzion, Izariah and Abu Dis near Maale Adumim, Anata near Jerusalem, the Erez checkpoint and Bet Chanun in Gaza, to name a few, must also move and be integrated into other Palestinian areas. This is fully compatible with international law and would forestall claims of a double standard.
2) No financial support: Once the umbilical cord is cut, all financial ties must be severed. This includes Israeli public and private industries being prevented by law from employing Palestinians, and the cessation of any and all trade with the Palestinian entity.
3) Segregation between the West Bank and Gaza: The notion of a ?safe passage? corridor through Israel must be abandoned, as it is a constant and serious threat to the security and well being of Israel?s citizens. People who wish to relocate for reasons of family reunification could do so during an interim period.
Jerusalem is, and always has been, a red herring in the negotiating tactics of the Palestinians. Israel must take it off the table and have the backbone to declare to the world that an undivided Jerusalem is the capitol city of only the Jewish State, and the capitol city of only the Jewish nation.
If these conditions are met, the Palestinians will transfer themselves, and Israel will have peace.
Boaz Fletcher comments on current affairs.