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Simple Solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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Headlined to H4 11/29/12

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The Israelis and Palestinians have been involved in more than six decades of conflict. Although much of the international community wish to see an end to this tragic struggle, hopes for a peaceful resolution in the near future appear remote. However, a number of simple solutions to resolve the conflict have unfortunately been overlooked.

First, Palestinians could convert to Judaism. This conversion has many benefits, including the return of Jewish-Palestinian refugees to their lands and homes, a sizeable increase in the Israel's Jewish population and a unified Jewish nation covering all the land of Eretz Yisrael. Of course, Jewish Israelis could convert to Islam -- or, if they prefer, to Christianity. These moves would have the corresponding benefits to a unified Palestinian nation.

A second simple solution, which avoids religious conversion, is to bar official religious identification and limit its public display. This would create a secular nation with equal standing for Christians, Jews, Muslims and others. As is the case in many Western nations, religious identification would have no official role in government affairs and not collected in administrative records.

Third, Jewish Israelis - many already having US passports - could migrate en masse to American cities, such as New York or Los Angeles. This migration would not only resolve the conflict, but would strengthen the American Jewish community. It would also save American taxpayers billions in foreign aid and provide seasoned Israeli politicians to the Democratic and Republican parties.

Alternatively, of course, the Palestinians could settle permanently in any one of the nearly two dozen countries belonging to the Arab League, especially those seeking migrants such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. This resettlement would enrich those societies as well as free up the West Bank and Gaza for Jewish Israeli settlements.

Fourth, since the United Nations partition didn't work out as originally planned, the British Mandate in Palestine could be reestablished. Israelis and Palestinians might not be enthusiastic about the return of the British Mandate. Yet, its clear advantage is that it would provide a clean slate to devise a new and improved partition plan that avoids past mistakes.

The fifth possible simple solution, and perhaps the most straightforward, is we ignore the Israelis and Palestinians, say for a period of 25 years and hope for the best. We simply leave them totally alone, something like a time-out for quarreling kids. After 25 years, we check on them and see how things are going. Maybe they'll surprise us.

Of course, it's possible that religious conversion, emigration, separating church and state, reestablishing the British Mandate or totally ignoring them for 25 years will not be embraced by the Israelis and Palestinians. If that turns out to be the case, then what are left are "not-so-simple" solutions.

One not-so-simple solution is the "one-state" option.   Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would be combined into a single democratic state. Christian, Muslim and Jewish residents would hold a common citizenship with equal rights for everyone, similar to most Western democracies.

Although theoretically appealing, the proposed one-state option has opponents. Jewish Israelis, in particular, object because they would not like to become a demographic minority in the new state. Many Palestinians also feel that a single state is not possible at least at this time because too much blood has already been spilled.

The second not-so-simple solution is the "two-state" option, which envisions two separate states -- Israel and Palestine - co-existing peacefully side by side. Most Israelis and Palestinians, as well as their international supporters and most members of the United Nations, are in principle in agreement with the two-state option.

However, arriving at a two-state solution involves navigating through a tortuous path with virtually insurmountable obstacles and political minefields. Regarding borders, for example, the emerging global consensus - recently articulated by US President Obama - is to begin with the 1967 borders with mutually agreed upon land swaps. The President's remarks were welcomed by Palestinian President Abbas, the European Union and much of the international community. However, after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu -- with the backing of many in the US Congress - stated that this is a non-starter, the Obama Administration apparently began back pedaling.

Other intractable issues to resolve include the Palestinian refugee's right of return, the sharing of Jerusalem and control over security and borders. Also, achieving full normalization in the region would involve returning the occupied Golan Heights to Syria, which many Israelis are also loath to do.

So, if neither the simple nor the not-so-simple solutions are acceptable to the Israelis and Palestinians and the peace talks between the two parties are stalled if not terminally ill, what remains?   Unfortunately, it's the status quo, plainly a volatile and dangerous state of affairs for the Israelis, the Palestinians and the rest of us as well.

It's time to resolve this tragic conflict, especially as the basic principles for a just and comprehensive peace settlement are widely acknowledged and understood except for the extremists on both sides.

*Joseph Chamie, a demographer, recently stepped down as research director at the Center for Migration Studies in New York and editor of the International Migration Review. He was formerly the director of the United Nations Population Division. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a trustee of the Migration Policy Institute.

 

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Joseph Chamie has recently stepped down as Research Director at the Center for Migration Studies, New York and Editor of the International Migration Review. Formerly, he was the Director of the United Nations Population Division. He had been with (more...)
 
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SiDevilIam5:51 PM ESTMy hearty congratulations to ... by Sid Harth on Thursday, Nov 29, 2012 at 4:57:00 PM
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