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A modest proposal for the settlements on the Israeli West Bank

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(Article originally published here on August 20, 2009)

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I wrote the article below in 2009, when I was newly writing for Opednews (Much later, a couple of promotions turned me from writer to Managing Editor/Economics Editor).

With the new Trump "Peace Plan" I thought it worth revisiting and expanding upon the article, particularly in light of reviews of the Peace Plan like this one in Opednews.

First, the old article:

Israel, whether it chooses to acknowledge it or not (or we do), is heading toward a one-state solution.

So, knowing that, and believing, as I do, in turning a problem into a solution, I propose the following:
Keep the settlements, but - after thorough screening and background checks - allow one third of the new apartments to go to Palestinian families (the apartments must be of equal quality). If the Palestinian families don't have the money, I think the U.S. or international community could be persuaded to cough it up in the interest of peace and interdependency. We've certainly subsidized lesser causes.

I've long thought a two-state solution - with "Palestine" bifurcated down the middle by their hated Israel, was a geopolitical impossibility. By forcing these two people's to live together, at least those who are realistic, with a common interest in their mutual housing and environs, both people would be moving toward the inevitable co-mingling of their populations.

I think two-state proposals are disingenuous at best - from the Israeli side they are a delaying tactic, since the concessions necessary for co-existence, including disarmament, will never be met; from the Palestinian side they are a part of a strategy of slowly, inexorably, pushing Israel into the sea - I've never heard any credible proposal as to how a Palestinian state (let alone one as divided as Gaza and the West Bank are now) would be run.

If one had a magic box, and could place all hatred and feelings of vengeance inside it from both sides, there would still be enormous logistical challenges as to how to live in a parched, crowded, economically disparate region. The first thing a logical body politic would do is to tear down the wall, then they would improve the transportation and infrastructure. This is an interesting thought-experiment and one both sides should consider, if just to sober themselves up to the honest realities of the situation.

Of course, they won't. None of this will happen while each side is at each other's throat. But, by sharing their neighborhood, a lot could be accomplished. If the Israeli settlers just can't bear to live with ANY Palestinians, they should be moved to Israel proper, willingly or not.

It is time for new solutions. The road map was a dead-end. The Two-State solution is a geopolitical impossibility. The annihilation of Israel is in no one's interest, not even the Arabs, who would then have to contend with thousands of suddenly unemployed terrorists (more likely, Europe would, as that would be their next logical stop to recreate their Caliphate - this has been spoken of by Muslim leaders many times). Obviously, the fourth-world existence of the Gazans and that of their slightly better-off but impatient third-world cousins in the West Bank cannot continue. Obama promised change, but lofty speeches have to be backed up by a concrete plan.

Now that Trump, seemingly largely at Netanyahu's request, has carved up Samaria/Judea (aka the West Bank since 1967) into Rube Goldberg's version of Landed Territory, it's worth revisiting the idea of a Single State for everyone.

First, and very disappointingly, the Trump plan is not that. It is again the tired and 3/4 century failed idea of a Two-State solution. It's worth asking what other failed ideas have continued to be held for over 70 years? What do people still believe is possible after 70 years of failure? Technology advances. Geography does not.

Second, every major candidate, in every political party, reflexively still believes in a two state solution. This is magical thinking, as if making official borders will erase all the antagonisms (see above, but oh, so much more).

Israel could absorb the current Palestinian occupants of the so-called West Bank, divided into Area A, B, and C - C is already majority Israeli, so might be the most "digestible" piece. In contrast to the Trump plan, which is a form of apartheidism, the One State solution increases diversity, grants more rights to Palestinians, while still preserving most of the majority of Jews in the Jewish State. Both sides have to give up something: The stateless Palestinians have to give up the idea of a separate State, Israelis have to lessen their majority (Gaza stays apart, for now, maybe forever, or becomes part of Egypt, which doesn't want it either; this is for another discussion).

The Israeli America-educated journalist, Carolyn Glick, points out in her book, The Israel Solution, that the count of Palestinians in Judea/Samaria is a good deal less than either side claims. Double-counting, inflated estimates and projections based on unrealistic fertility rates, and even under-counting of Israeli Jews has led to a lopsided count and fear of the Palestinian Demographic "Time Bomb" that will threaten the Jewish State. This is not a problem, certainly not if the West Bank is absorbed in pieces.

Life for Palestinians who are citizens of Israel may not be great, but it is much better than for Palestinians who are not Israeli citizens - the very real threat "according to figures published by Peace Now this week, (since) some 380,000 Palestinians 260,000 in the Triangle and a further 120,000 in East Jerusalem (who) would be "swapped out" to a Palestinian state." What the Cook article fails to mention is that "327,070 Palestinians (would) officially be brought under Israeli sovereignty - 107,070 (West Bank) + 220,000 (East Jerusalem)" so it is a wash population-wise with those who would be subject to "Static Transfer" - the process of changing the state of a people still living in the same place, a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention and morally wrong.

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Scott Baker is a Managing Editor & The Economics Editor at Opednews, and a former blogger for Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Global Economic Intersection.

His anthology of updated Opednews articles "America is Not Broke" was published by Tayen Lane Publishing (March, 2015) and may be found here:

Scott is a former and current President of Common Ground-NY (http://commongroundnyc.org/), a Geoist/Georgist activist group. He has written dozens of (more...)

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