So Israel and the Palestinians are at one another's throats again. What's this, the umpteenth time in the last fifty years? Isn't it time that the rest of the world step in and put an end to this never-ending feud?
Yes, yes it is. And it has to be an way out-of-the-box idea too, because nothing even close to the status quo has a chance in hell of working. That we know, for sure.
And there is such a solution, but it would be messy, very messy. But no more so than the status quo and, at least this idea holds a promise for a more stable and sustainable region.
And this idea would need the UN to step up to the plate in ways it hasn't in decades. And it would require nations to cough up the kind of help it usually only coughs up when some enormous natuaral disaster strikes. And it would require the financial world to cough up tons of dough to fund it.
I know, none of that seems possible. Okay, well then let's just let this region continue to fester and bleed, forever. Those are the two choices.
First everyone has to say it right out loud: Gaza, a piece of land disconnected from the future Palestinian state on the West Bank is, and will remain, a incitement to both sides. It is a demonstrably unsustainable fragment, an orphan, that belongs to neither Israel or Palestine. And it's a monumental slum, breeding what slums everywhere on the planet breed; discontent, anger, and endless trouble.
Gaza is at the key to solving this mess. Just under 2 million Palestinians are trapped in Gaza, a piece of land roughly the size of the US District of Columbia --which itself houses just over 625,000. So you can see just from that how over-populated this spit of land is.
(Population density in Gaza Strip it is 4,822 persons/km compared to a lower population density in the West Bank of 493 persons/km at mid 2014.)
The first thing that needs to be done is to create a larger piece of land, contiguous with Palestine proper, for the entire Palestinian population of Gaza. Then begin a methodical mass migration to that new homeland. Not easy, not nice, not nuanced, a gross violation of ... whatever. Also necessary, if what we are after is a sustainable peace in the area.
Migration to where? Well that would up to Israel, Palestine and Jordan. Yes, Jordan. Because Jordan, as nice as they are compared to some of their Arab neighbors, is part of this problem. (Read about some of that here.) Jordan expelled Palestinians where they could, whenever they could. So it's high time Jordan coughed up a piece of property itself to help solve a problem they contributed to creating.
If I were to pick a place for the Gazan population it would be on the north end of existing Palestine (AKA, West Bank) straddling the border with Jordan. (See map below.)
Israel would give up portion of land the size of Gaza, plus additional land to compensate Palestinians for 1967 border settlements Israel wants to keep for security reasons. Jordan would contribute a contiguous piece of about the same size. The combination piece would become part of the new Palestinian state. (Not all Gazans would relocate to this new parcel. Many would be settled inside what is now the occupied West Bank.)
Gaza itself would be turned over to Israel. Palestinians would retain certain rights, like port access and fishing rights and transit routes across Israel to Palestine. Otherwise Gaza would be part and parcel of Israel, a seaside community. (Think of it as the Miami of the Middle East.)
Map Of Palestinian State as Proposed
(image by Stephen Pizzo) DMCA
The approximately 700,000 Israeli settlers inside the West Bank, (excluding the handful of border settlements,) would be uprooted and moved to Gaza -- likely kicking and screaming all the way. Abandoned Israeli settlements would be turned over, intact, to the relocated Palestinians.