'The time has come for a discussion of new options'

International Spokesman for Hevron pens op-ed in New York Times calling for paradigm shift in reaching solutions to the regional conflict.

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Tal Polon, | updated: 13:11

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“The two-state solution is dead, and the time has come for a discussion of new options by which Israel would hold onto the West Bank and eventually assert Israel sovereignty there.”

Thus writes International Spokesman for the Hevron Jewish Community Yishai Fleisher in an op-ed piece published this week in the New York Times entitled “A Settler’s View of Israel’s Future.”

Fleisher notes that, for the past several decades, Israel has suffered from an inability to justify to itself the building of communities in Judea and Samaria.

“Whenever the claim that Israel stole Palestinian lands is heard, Israel’s answers inevitably are: ‘We invented the cellphone,’ ‘We have gay rights,’ ‘We fly to help Haiti after an earthquake.’ Obvious obfuscation. And when pushed to explain why the much-promised two-state solution is perennially stuck, the response is always to blame Arab obstructionism.”

In turn, he notes that “this inability to give a straight answer is a result of 30 years of bad policy that has pressed Israel to create a Palestinian state in the historic Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria, which the world calls the West Bank.”

Fleisher states in no uncertain terms that "Judea and Samaria belong to the Jewish people. Our right to this land is derived from our history, religion, international decisions and defensive wars. Jews have lived here for 3,700 years, despite repeated massacres, expulsions and occupations — by the Romans, Arabs, Crusaders and Ottomans. And the world recognized the Jewish people’s indigenous existence in this land in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the San Remo Accords of 1920."

In turn, Jordan was an occupier. "In 1948, Jordan, along with five other Arab states, attacked Israel, occupied Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, and drove out Jewish residents."

Fleisher goes on to note encouragingly that Israeli policy-makers and thinkers are finally starting to think outside of the box about new solutions to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, listing “five credible plans [that] are on the table already.”

The first option he notes is that of former MKs Aryeh Eldad and Benny Elon, whereby “Jordan is Palestine.”

“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,” he explained.

A second option is that of Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett, whereby Israel would annex “Area C,” containing most of the Jews in Judea and Samaria, while allowing Arab self-rule in Areas A and B.

A third option is that of Prof. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University, which is based on the idea that the Palestinians are comprised of a collection of clans. “The Palestinian Arabs are not a cohesive nation, he argues, but are comprised of separate city-based clans. So he proposes Palestinian autonomy for seven non-contiguous emirates in major Arab cities, as well as Gaza, which he considers already an emirate. Israel would annex the rest of the West Bank and offer Israeli citizenship to Arab villagers outside those cities.”

A fourth option is that of Jerusalem Post journalist Caroline Glick, who proposes that Israel should simply “assert Israeli law in the West Bank and offer Israeli citizenship to its entire Arab population without fear of being outvoted,” and rely on demographic indicators that Jews will maintain a demographic majority over the Palestinians.

A fifth option is that of Zehut party Chairman Moshe Feiglin and Martin Sherman of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. Seeing no way to resolve the “conflicting national aspirations [of the Israelis and Palestinians] in one land,” they propose “an exchange of populations with Arab countries, which effectively expelled about 800,000 Jews around the time of Israeli independence,” with Arabs leaving voluntarily receiving generous compensation - in contrast to their expelled Jewish counterparts.

Fleisher concludes that while each one of these solutions has drawbacks, the fact that “Israeli policy is at last on the move” is encouraging.

“None of these options is a panacea. Every formula has some potentially repugnant element or tricky trade-off. But Israeli policy is at last on the move, as the passing of the [Regulation Law] indicates.” And the claim of those who consider the two-state solution the only alternative "is contradicted by its manifest failure."