An idea whose time will never come
An idea whose time will never come
In the history of Zionism in the 20th century the "transfer" proposal comes up again and again. Transfer is shorthand for population transfer and explicitly means the physical removal of the Palestinian Arab population inside the borders of the Jewish state to neighboring Arab countries. But aside from large number of Arabs who left Israel during the 1948 War of Independence and the 1967 Six Day War, Palestinian Arab population transfer has never been practically exploited. The calls of Zionist leaders for transfer however have never stopped.

Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, was the first to express an interest in transfer

On 12 June 1895, Herzl confided to his diary his program for the removal of the non-Jewish population from the Jewish State and the expropriation of private property by the Jewish State.

In the twentieth century a whole series of Zionist leaders advocated transfer, beginning with the 1937 Peel Commission report. David Ben Gurion,  Yosef Weitz. Chaim Weizman, Nachman Syrkin,  Dr. Arthur Ruppin, Leo Motzkin, Akiva Ettinger, Israel Zangwill, Vladimir Jabotinsky,  Moshe Shertok,  Berl Katznelson, FDR Herbert Hoover, Eduard Benes and others.

In the 1980s the Knesset swept out Meir Kahane because of his “racist” transfer doctrine with the same hand with which it swept in Rehavam Zeevi and the Moledet party whose doctrine was transfer. The difference was that Kahane advocated transfer for Arabs within the pre-1967 borders, who were Israeli citizens, while Zeevi advocated it for Arabs of Judea and Samaria.

Moledet's Doctrine

The Moledet movement said: we will apply the cure before the bad blow through transfer, which means moving the Arabs of Judea and Samaria to the Arab countries. The solution to the Arab Israeli conflict and peace between them will be achieved through separating the two peoples. The Jews in the land of Israel and the Arabs in Arab lands. This will be the next stage in the exchange of populations that began with transferring Jews of the Islamic countries to Israel. Now we need to act for the sake of moving the Arab population from the areas of Judea and Samaria to Arab countries.

As a result, the demographic danger will disappear and conditions will be created for annexing and governing areas of the liberated biblical heartland. The Moledet movement said at the time: a two state solution is a sure guarantee of civil wars, terror and blood. Look what is happening in Lebanon in Pakistan in Sri Lanka in Ireland. The Moledet movement said openly and forcefully what many Jews think in their hearts: transfer of the residents of Judea and Samaria to Arab countries. We are here they are there and may there be peace in Israel.

Is transfer moral?

This solution is moral for Jews who have no other motherland and for the Palestinian Arabs who are the biggest losers in every war when their homes and villages are damaged and they become refugees. The whole world understands, but may not admit,  that there is no peace in two states and that there is a need for separation.

But no Arab state will agree to this idea and accept Palestinian Arabs. So how can it be done? This is true today. But there is also no Arab state or Arab leader who will agree to other Zionist solutions. Do any of them agree to Peres’s plan that formulates that all of Jerusalem remains in our hands? The idea that the IDF remains on the Jordan and that will be annexed, according to the Alon plan?

The state of Israel needs to present the transfer of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria as a condition for peace in the framework of future negotiations. We cannot concede on these territories and we cannot accept them with the Arab population that is there The state of Israel cannot exist long term in terms of security unless it holds militarily and with governing power the high territories of the land of Israel and the passages on the Jordan.

Avigdor Liberman

In the age of Oslo, the transfer idea is still alive and kicking. Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beyteinu party included transfer in its platform.

In a manifesto of his Yisrael Beytenu party, Liberman said he favors ceding Arab-majority areas in what is called "the triangle" to a future Palestinian state, switching them for Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, and providing economic incentives for Arab-Israelis — about 20 percent of Israel’s population — who do not identify with the state to encourage them to leave the country, and make a future Palestinian Arab state their home.

An offer to Israeli-Arabs “who feel part of the Palestinian people [to leave the country] will solve the problem of the divided loyalties and ‘split personality’ they suffer from. They can decide if they are part of the state of Israel or Palestine.”

Tzipi Livni also raised transfer in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

The transfer idea has greater longevity than any Zionist idea except for Zionism itself. It is fundamentally a peace settlement idea. And it will always be a powerful Zionist aspiration.

Powerful, but impotent. Even if the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza agreed to be removed from their present homes and relocate in some Arab country no Arab country will accept them. Suggestions of providing monetary compensation in return for relocating are meaningless. The Palestinians don’t want money, they want to replace the Jewish state with a Palestinian state. This is one reason also there will never be a two state solution.

The underlying belief in possible coexistence between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs is what restrained the Zionists from carrying out any transfer proposal.
Another reason is that the Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel as the Jewish state. The third option is the binational state. But this also is not viable because the Palestinians have everything to gain from such a partnership government and the Jews have everything to lose.

What can possibly bring about a solution to the Palestinian Israeli conflict? I believe that only time will bring a solution. The status quo will remain in place for the foreseeable future and even into the future one cannot see. Eventually the Palestinian Arabs will tire of running to the UN and the Hague court to harass Israel, eventually stop their anti-Israel and anti-Jewish harassment.

The Palestinian Arabs will eventually find a way to reach détente with Israel’s existence. The Oslo Accords were supposed to achieve this but they brought about the Second Intifada. It is the Palestinian side that must bend and be flexible for the sake of fruitful negotiations. Time will wear them down, not transfer.

However time is not likely to wear down Hamas which controls the more than a million Palestinian Arabs in Gaza. Conceivably rapprochement is possible at some point in the distant future with the Palestinian Authority with respect to the Arab population in the 'West Bank' (Judea and Samaria). But the Hamas problem is intractable. There were attempts to marry Hamas with the Palestinian Authority but these were frivolous. Hamas and the PA will never rule jointly, and nothing will moderate the ugly Hamas Islamic position in a million years. Gaza is Iran in miniature under Hamas rule.

One reason the Zionists never made transfer a reality is that a priori no Arab country would accept a transferred Palestinian Arab population. the Arabs of 1948 and 1967 are not awarded citizenship and their grandchildren are still kept in "refugee" camps  in Arab lands. 

Another reason is that the Palestinian Arabs living in the 'West Bank' and Gaza are not an existential threat to Israel. Yes there was a rash of suicide bombings in Israel during the Second Intifada and and there is violence now and yes, Hamas periodically fires many rockets out of Gaza into Israeli population centers. But the IDF enters the picture and the Palestinian uprisings and rocket wars are crushed. These are ad hoc problems not problems threatening Israel’s existence.

At large, the Palestinian Arab population minds its own business. Conceivably it is possible to live with them in coexistence. Not Hamas and the Palestinian Arabs it imprisons in Gaza, but the 'West Bank' population will eventually reach a point at which they are prepared to live in peace with Israel. It will take a long time but time is on Israel’s side.

The underlying belief in possible coexistence between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs is what restrained the Zionists from carrying out any transfer proposal. The Oslo Accords were supposed to be a blueprint for Israeli Palestinian coexistence but they were ill conceived and were the trigger for the Second Intifada.

There is no profit in trying to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority today. A lot of time must pass that will wear down the Palestinian side make them bend and be flexible about many things. Some day the Palestinian Arab side will stop its arrogance and harassment. The Palestinians will see clearly how weak their position really is. Then it will be possible to negotiate, with the Palestinian Arabs asking for any kind of national organization and less than a state.