Israel's Decisive Plan
The "two-state" model has led Israel to a dead end. It has brought a sense of despair of ending the conflict, and a turn to "managing" it as a cruel and eternal decree of fate. The alternative to this is a new readiness of Israeli society to win the conflict, rather than merely managing it—a victory founded on the understanding that there is no room in the Land of Israel for two conflicting national movements.
MK Bezalel Smotrich, an attorney, serves as vice-chairman of the Knesset (on behalf of the Ha-Ihud Hale'umi party within the Jewish Home Party).
"Insanity," states a famous quote often attributed to Albert Einstein, "is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." In today’s political reality, it seems that insanity is the order of the day. Time and again, the Israeli Left reiterates solutions that are "simple and safe" for ending the Israeli-Arab conflict; and time and again we witness the failure of these solutions and their pointlessness. Doing nothing simply guarantees the eternal continuation of these attempts, replete with their false hopes and delusions. The time is ripe to say “enough,” to break the paradigm, and to find the appropriate way out of this seemingly unending cycle.
The basis of my proposal is a hundred-and-eighty-degree change from the modus operandi we have become accustomed to in recent decades. Rethinking requires courage—but it seems we have no choice. Most, if not all the political plans raised in recent years, from the Left and the Right alike, provide "solutions" that perpetuate the conflict, dooming us all to continue its miserable management for the next hundred years. The decisive plan proposed here, by contrast, involves a real solution, and more importantly a possible and practical one, for ending the conflict and bringing about real peace.
What separates this plan from the others is that it “grabs the bull by its horns”, dealing with the root of the conflict and the failure, past and present (and future), of "political solutions." It makes no difference where planners draw their proposed borders, even if they emerge from the so-called Right (Sharon and Olmert had maps; perhaps even Bibi has one). Peace will not emerge so long as we maintain our hold on starting assumptions that this land is fated to contain two collectives with conflicting national aspirations. If this is the case, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren will inevitably be destined to live by the sword.
In the following pages, I will delineate my “decisive plan,” which I have called “One Hope.” This is to be an overall solution, optimistic without being naïve, of the sort that does not make light of difficulties yet is accompanied by true faith. Faith in the God of Israel, in the justice of our cause, and in our exclusive belonging to the Land of Israel; faith in our strength to stand firm against arguments that might undermine our belief; and faith in our ability to deploy the heroism required to win this momentous struggle.
Some due diligence is in order at the outset.
I am a believer. I believe in the Holy One, Blessed Be He; in His love for the Jewish People, and His Providence over them. I believe in the Torah which foretold the exile and promised redemption. I believe in the words of the prophets who witnessed the destruction, and no less in the renewed building that has taken shape before our eyes. I believe that the State of Israel is the beginning of our unfolding redemption, the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Torah and the visions of the Prophets.
I believe in the living connection between the People of Israel and the Land of Israel; in the destiny and mission of the Jewish People for the whole world, and in the vitality of the Land of Israel for ensuring the realization of this cause. I believe that it is no accident that the Land of Israel is flourishing and flowering in the wake of the Jewish return—after so many generations of utter neglect.
I believe that the yearning of generations for this land, and the confidence in our ultimate return thereto, are the most profound driving forces of the progression of the Return to Zion which led to the establishment of the State of Israel.
Nevertheless, the document before you will contain nothing that is based on faith. This is not a religious manifesto but a realistic, geopolitical, strategic document. It draws from an analysis of reality and its root causes, and is founded on factual, historical, democratic, security-related, and political assumptions. These lead us to a solution that to the best of my judgment has the most realistic chance of success—certainly compared to the other solutions proposed on a daily basis.
This document is a pragmatic document—but it resides comfortably within my faith-based worldview. Those who wish can see it as nothing more than a practical, political solution; others are invited to see it as an encounter between faith and realism, vision and reality.
For more than a hundred years of Zionism, the Jewish People was forced to conduct a struggle for its very right to sovereignty as a renewed nation in the Land of Israel.
This existential struggle has taken on a range of forms, comprised many battles, and has been imbued, thank God, with victories. It remains undecided. To this day, there remain residents within the Land of Israel who refuse to recognize the State of Israel's fundamental right to exist as the state of the Jewish People, and continue to undermine its existence and Jewish identity. In recent decades, this struggle has primarily been conducted in what is called the "Palestinian arena," referring to the Arabs of Judea and Samaria. This group is indeed striving to establish an Arab state within the 1967 borders, while never hiding the fact that this is but a station towards the real goal: the return to Haifa, Jaffa, Ramle, and Tiberias, and the establishment of an Arab state on the ruins of the State of Israel. They teach this at home and in school to their children, they indoctrinate it in summer camps. Nobody denies that this is the founding ethos of "Palestinian nationalism."
The plan before you means to deal with this very matter: The existence of two conflicting national aspirations in the Land of Israel, which reality demonstrates cannot be maintained in tandem. The fantasy that these two ambitions can dwell one alongside the other has accompanied the Zionist movement from the beginning: Throughout its history, the State of Israel has agreed to compromises and partitions, which were rejected time and again by the Arab side. Even before the establishment of the state, in the thirties and forties, when it was still possible to arrive at an understanding with the Arabs living in the country, partition plans were met with wholesale rejection by resident Arabs, backed by neighboring Arab states. This was in contrast to the Zionist leadership, which was willing to accept the proposals though they involved conceding significant parts of the Land of Israel. Even after its establishment, and throughout its existence, the State of Israel agreed to compromises and partitions that could have led to the establishment of an Arab-Palestinian state in the Land of Israel. The Arab side rejected these time and again.
The ongoing Arab position proves that the "two-state solution," aside from being mistaken in terms of Zionist values and ideology, is entirely unrealistic: The maximum that the Israeli Left is willing to give is far less than the minimum that the most moderate Arab leader among the Arabs of Judea and Samaria is willing to accept. Therefore, at the moments of truth, from the 1947 partition plan to the Camp David Accords and the negotiations with Olmert, Palestinian leaders consistently refused to sign a peace agreement and put an end to their claims.
The contradiction between the existence of the Jewish state and the national Palestinian aspiration is inherent; it inheres in the development of the very concept of the "Palestinian People." The "Palestinian People" is but a counter-movement to the Zionist movement. This is its very essence, its raison d'etre. Even those who support the Palestinian right to self-determination know that such a "nation" did not exist before the Zionist project, and that Palestine was but the geographical name of this stretch of territory—a name given it by the Romans, not by Arabs. After the repression of the Jewish rebellions Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan Roman capital named Aelia Capitolina, while the name of the province of Judea was changed to Syria Palaestina, thus eradicating all reference to the Jews. This was a derivation of the name Pleshet—the Land of the Philistines. Symbolically, it was the period of our destruction, lamented annually on the Ninth of the month of Av, which gave birth to the name "Palestine."
When the Arabs conquered the Land of Israel in the seventh century, they adopted the Roman name "Palestine," while the northern part remained "Syria." Some 1,500 years later, the Arabs of the Land of Israel adopted this name upon launching their struggle against the Zionist movement—a movement that came to restore the Land of Israel to the Jews, the same people whose memory the Romans had attempted to erase. At the time the land was occupied by Palestinian Jews (living in Ottoman and British Mandatory "Palestine") and Palestinian Arabs. Most Jews had immigrated there in the first years of the nascent Zionist movement (though some arrived earlier), and most Arabs, for various reasons had immigrated from surrounding territories in the modern era (though were there from earlier times).
The Palestinian national movement is a negative mirror image of Zionism. As such, it cannot make peace with it. This is the reason Palestinians reject the minimal demand of the State of Israel for recognition of its right to exist as a Jewish State. The Palestinian story is qualitatively different from Israel’s conflict with other Arab states. Egypt and Jordan are independent countries whose existence is unrelated to the State of Israel. Their war with the State of Israel, which they wished to wipe off the face of the earth, may have been important to them as part of a Muslim or Arab ethos, but it did not affect their very definition as nation states. It was therefore possible to arrive at a peace agreement with them. This is not the case concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Absent the "conflict," absent the struggle against Israel, there is simply no Palestinian nationalism. Subsequently, the odds that Zionism and Palestinian nationalism can be maintained together in the Land of Israel are almost nil. The reality of recent decades teaches us just how correct this simple observation is.
The continued existence of the two conflicting national aspirations in our small piece of territory will ensure many more years of bloodshed and armed conflict. Only when one of the sides concedes, willingly or by force, and forgoes its national aspirations in the Land of Israel, will the desired peace come about and civilian coexistence become possible.
I hope that readers will agree with the statement that as Jews, we ought not give up our national aspiration for an independent state in the Land of Israel—the only Jewish state in the world. As such, the party that will have to give up its aspiration to realize a national identity in the Land of Israel is the Arab one. The reason we are condemned to a never-ending cycle of bloodshed is that nobody dares voice this simple statement. Nevertheless, only in this declaration lies the key that can unlock the door to real peace.
This is the goal of the decisive "One Hope" plan before you: No longer managing our ongoing conflict at varying degrees of intensity, but rather winning and ending it; no longer meandering and offering cosmetic solutions involving chasing mosquitoes, but rather draining the swamp, addressing the roots of the conflict, and ensuring its speedy end. Throughout its history, Israel avoided dealing with the actual roots of the conflict. Naturally, it will not be easy to break the paradigm. But the State of Israel cannot afford to continue to flounder in a Sisyphean war on terror, or an equally serious struggle against deligitimization that our “conflict management” strategy creates in the world. The continued management of the conflict erodes Israel's standing, damages its vital interests, and causes irreparable harm. The decisive "One Hope" plan will perhaps be hard to swallow at first, but the great logic it contains, as well as its necessity and unavoidability, will at the end of the day lead to its acceptance among Israeli society and the international community.
Ending the conflict means creating and cementing the awareness—practically and politically—that there is room for only one expression of national self-determination west of the Jordan River: that of the Jewish nation. Subsequently, an Arab State actualizing Arab national aspirations cannot emerge within the same territory. Victory involves shelving this dream. And as motivation for its fulfillment dwindles, so will the terror campaign against Israel.
This goal will be achieved even with declarations—with an unequivocal Israeli statement to the Arabs and the entire world that a Palestinian State will not emerge—but primarily with deeds. It requires the application of full Israeli sovereignty to the heartland regions of Judea and Samaria, and end of conflict by settlement in the form of establishing new cities and settlements deep inside the territory and bringing hundreds of thousands of additional settlers to live therein. This process will make it clear to all that the reality in Judea and Samaria is irreversible, that the State of Israel is here to stay, and that the Arab dream of a state in Judea and Samaria is no longer viable. Victory by settlement will imprint the understanding upon the consciousness of the Arabs and the world that an Arab state will never arise in this land.
Based on this unequivocal starting point, the Arabs of the Land of Israel will face two basic alternatives:
- Those who wish to forgo their national aspirations can stay here and live as individuals in the Jewish State; they will of course enjoy all the benefits that the Jewish State has brought and is bringing to the Land of Israel. We will discuss the status and living management of those who choose this option in more detail below.
- Those who choose not to let go of their national ambitions will receive aid to emigrate to one of the many countries where Arabs realize their national ambitions, or to any other destination in the world.
It is of course safe to assume that not everyone will adopt one of these two choices. There will be those who will continue to choose another "option"—continuing to fight the IDF, the State of Israel, and the Jewish population. Such terrorists will be dealt with by the security forces with a strong hand and under more manageable conditions for doing so.
For those Arabs who wish to remain here as individuals and enjoy everything the State of Israel has to offer, we will need to define a model of residency that includes autonomous self-management including municipal administrations, alongside individual rights and obligations. The Arabs of Judea and Samaria will conduct their daily lives on their own terms via regional municipal administrations lacking national characteristics. Like other local authorities these will hold their own elections, and will maintain regular economic and municipal relations between themselves and authorities of the State of Israel. In time, and contingent on loyalty to the state and its institutions, and on military or national service, models of residency and even citizenship will become available.
This plan is the most just and moral by any measure—historical, Zionist, and Jewish—and it is the only option that can lead to quiet, peace, and real coexistence. Attempts to reconcile the two national ambitions, allowing them to exist side by side in the same piece of territory, seem moral at first glance. Ostensibly, the concept takes the desires of both sides into consideration, and prevents resolution of the conflict by moral justification or by “right of might.” Yet, this model can only lead to morally destructive results, since it inevitably perpetuates war and bloodshed. By contrast, victory based on the right of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel—though appearing one-sided and aggressive prima facie—will lead to the most moral result: It will put an end to the bloodshed and allow true coexistence between Jews and those Arabs who choose this option.
This is the core of the plan, into which I will now go in greater detail. But since the plan is very different from the accepted discourse on the solution of the conflict, it is important to repeatedly stress its realistic and moral foundations, before delving into details:
- The two-state solution is not realistic and never was. “Two-states for two peoples” is a slogan empty of content that has become the axiomatic solution for the conflict primarily because of the illusion that the Arab side is open to territorial compromise, and willing to accept the State of Israel as a Jewish State. This assumption has been repeatedly proven false. Under the present reality, the establishment of an Arab terror state in Judea and Samaria, a state whose territory is twenty times larger than the Hamas terror state in the Gaza Strip, would be nothing less than suicidal (from the security perspective). The collapse of several veteran Arab countries in recent years has made the state model even more problematic, and it is hard to envision it as a lasting entity. The two-state solution is unfeasible, and it is therefore time to put a solution based on an entirely different approach on the table.
- From a historic, international and religious perspective, the Zionist project of the return of the Jewish People to its land after two thousand years of exile, wandering, and persecution, is the most just and moral undertaking or enterprise to have taken place in the past several centuries. We are not the U.N., and under no compulsion to assume that we are dealing with two narratives equal in justice and arguments. Our belief in the justice of our cause is what gives us the moral strength to defeat the conflicting Arab aspiration. In a world where people have ceased to speak of justice and switched to a discourse over narratives, it is hard to make such arguments—but of course this does not mean they are untrue. The State of Israel was founded by force of the belief in the justice of the Biblical story, and by force of the agreement of the nations of the world—at a rare historic moment—to realize the vision and restore the Land of Israel to the People of Israel. The creeping erosion in the decision to allocate the entire Land of Israel to the Jewish People derived not from considerations of justice, but from surrender to Arab violence. This is how the entire territory east of the Jordan was torn away to form the Kingdom of Transjordan, instead of being part of the Jewish national home; and this is how the partition plan was later born, creating the concept of two-states in the Land of Israel.
This belief in the justice of our cause is vital, and those who lack it will indeed find difficulty in defending the demand that the Arabs of Judea and Samaria abandon their national ambitions for the sake of ours. As explained above, the unique essence of Palestinian nationalism is its perpetual striving to eliminate the Zionist project. This of course is nothing new. It was obvious to David Ben Gurion and Golda Meir, and effectively to the entire Israeli leadership—until recent confusion set in.
Beyond this, Jewish nationalism has benefited this country in measures that centuries of Ottoman rule did not. Suffice it to refer to Mark Twain's travelogue through the country to realize just how barren the land was before the Jewish return. The Jewish People's return made the wilderness bloom, and made the country into what it is today. Had it remained barren as it was, it is highly doubtful that the world would ever have set its eyes on this small, neglected territory.
- The challenges the State of Israel must deal with are unprecedented, and therefore the solution and the reality it will create can also be—indeed, are expected to be—original and unprecedented. Attempts to compare the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to conflicts taking place in other areas in the world, and to examine present and future arrangements in accordance with accepted standards of conflict resolution, are unfortunately misguided. Hardly a country has faced so deep an existential threat of the kind that Israel has faced since its founding. Certainly, no country in the world was established in the wake of an attempted genocide, only to continue to face constant existential threats from without and within. Israel is unique in that the roots of the struggle against it, and the intense desire to destroy it, rest on opposition to its very existence and to the existence of the people for whom it forms a national home.
Coping with this unprecedented reality justifies unprecedented solutions and arrangements, which may be difficult to defend in other situations but which can certainly be justified in the context of the State of Israel. Within this complex and unprecedented tangle, the State of Israel must continue to exist as the national home of the Jewish People. New democratic and legal constructions might be required to ensure this situation—but there is no need to balk at the thought of their creation. To take a concept from contemporary constitutional discourse in Israel: the purpose is worthy enough to justify a proportional deviation from accepted principles.
- The statement that "terrorism derives from despair" is a lie. Terrorism derives from hope—a hope to weaken us. Terrorism relies on the hope to achieve something—to undermine Israeli society and force it to accede to the establishment of an Arab state within the boundaries of the Land of Israel. Suicide terrorists operate in a vacuum of sorts, yet do so for what they consider a "noble cause." Absent the cause, or make it seem pointless, and the motivations which drive terror will wane; and with them, God willing, will terror itself.
- The national ambitions of the Jewish People and the Arabs of the Land of Israel are in conflict. They cannot be reconciled and permitted to dwell together. An artificial geographical division of the territory will not last. We cannot tuck away security-related and demographic threats behind fences and virtual lines drawn artificially. The territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan is a single geographical and topographical unit, and cannot be divided in a manner that will provide political and national stability. If the territory is divided in any way, with the Arabs receiving their part to realize national ambitions, this will only constitute the first step in their program to destroy the State of Israel—only that they will be able to strive toward this ultimate goal from a more convenient position. Therefore, any solution must be based on cutting off the ambition to realize the Arab national hope between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.
- The statement that the Arab yearning for national expression in the Land of Israel cannot be "repressed" is incorrect. It worked fine for the State of Israel, and it needs to work in the same way for Judea and Samaria. As far as the Arabs of the Land of Israel are concerned, their great catastrophe is the Nakba—which we call the 1948 War of Independence—and not the occupation in the wake of the 1967 Six Day War. According to the Arab narrative the War of Independence resulted in the expulsion of refugees and the destruction of dozens of Arab villages with the subsequent establishment of Jewish settlements on their ruins, and life for many years under a discriminatory Military Administration. Despite all this, the Arabs of the Land of Israel lived for decades in peace under the Jewish regime, and were seldom involved in terrorism or activity against the State of Israel. The reason for this is simple: from 1948 until the 1990s, they simply didn't have the hope. Their hope to be rid of the Zionist project was nipped in the bud.
The Israeli Arabs of that generation knew very well that had they God forbid won the War of Independence, they would have cruelly wiped out the Jews, as has been Arab custom in all Middle East wars. Because of this, they appreciated the Israeli demonstration of mercy and generosity shown to them, and consented to live here in peace, even before they had equal rights. They protested the discrimination latent in the Military Administration; they protested the expropriation of lands; but there were no national movements, and no striving to realize a national vision.
The nationalist radicalization among the Israeli Arabs and their support for the terror and armed struggle of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria against the State of Israel began in the beginning of the 1990s, when the State of Israel brought the PLO terrorists from Tunis into Judea and Samaria and began to cultivate national hope among the Arabs. The Palestinian national aspiration, which was aimed at the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, reignited the national emotions and ambitions of Israeli Arabs, and led to a dangerous nationalist radicalization among them, whose results we feel today.
We need to and can go back to the post-1948 days, regarding both Israeli Arabs and the Arabs of Judea and Samaria. It worked fine then, and it can and should work fine today. We have no pretense of erasing or changing this national identity; but the ambition to realize it between the Jordan and the Sea can and must be changed. We can and must put an end to the Arab hope to realize national ambitions in the Land of Israel, and develop a new hope based on improved individual lives incomparably better than any Middle Eastern country around us.
- The morality of an action is measured by results and not at first glance. Reality teaches us that when we take responsibility and manage a territory, we produce the most moral and best reality for both sides. In contradistinction, when we abandon a territory, the opposite occurs. So engrained was our deep desire to be "moral" and refrain from "ruling another people," that we withdrew from the Gaza Strip. Has the life of the Arabs therein improved? Instead of electricity 24/7, they have it six hours a day; instead of regular water supply, they face a major water crisis; instead of work, they enjoy a fifty percent unemployment rate and are on enforced vacation the year round. Tens of thousands are without a roof over their heads living without a trace of hope.
Put simply, since we vacated the Gaza Strip residents enjoy far fewer rights and freedoms. They have even lost all semblance of a democratic system and the right to vote. What they do have is the repressive Hamas regime that takes the humanitarian resources sent into the Strip, and uses them for armaments and tunnels instead of desperately needed civilian construction. The situation is infinitely worse and far less moral and humane for both sides, compared to the reality that existed in the Strip when the IDF controlled it. There is no reason to assume things will be otherwise if an Arab state is established in Judea and Samaria.
- Winning the conflict is more economical than continuing to manage it. Some argue that applying Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria will be financially prohibitive and place a strain on the Israeli economy. Firstly, this is a very weak argument. It is precisely developing countries that produce the greatest engines of economic growth. The need to bridge the gap between the Israeli and the Palestinian economy contains the potential for rapid economic growth for the Israeli market. Improved quality of life, technology, infrastructures, and other elements of life in Judea and Samaria will increase consumption and thus result in growth in both economies. Secondly, and more importantly, no matter how costly this imposition of sovereignty is to the Israeli economy, it will still be far less costly than the security and indirect costs entailed in continuing to manage the conflict with the repeated rounds of warfare. Furthermore, it will certainly be less pricy than expelling tens of thousands of settlers and resettling them within the Green Line.
Stage One: Victory Through Settlement
The first and most important stage in the decisive "One Hope" plan will be involve settlement. At this stage we will establish the most important basic fact: We are here to stay. We will make it clear that our national ambition for a Jewish State from the river to the sea is an accomplished fact, a fact not open to discussion or negotiation.
This stage will be realized via a political-legal act of imposing sovereignty on all Judea and Samaria, and with concurrent acts of settlement: the establishment of cities and towns, the laying down of infrastructure as is customary in "little" Israel and the encouragement of tens and hundreds of thousands of residents to come live in Judea and Samaria. In this way, we will be able to create a clear and irreversible reality on the ground.
Nothing would have a greater and deeper effect on the consciousness of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, deflating their illusions of a Palestinian state and demonstrating the impossibility of establishing another Arab state west of the Jordan. Facts on the ground deflate aspirations and defeat ambitions. Let the settlement blocs attest to this.
The development of Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria in a sovereign and established manner will also contribute to solving the housing shortage in the State of Israel. Many state lands in Judea and Samaria in the center of the country can be made available at much lower prices than the average property within the Green Line, thus increasing the supply of affordable housing in Israel by hundreds of thousands of units.
This unequivocal victory in the conflict will surely reduce the motivation for terror.
Of course, it won't happen overnight. It will take time, especially since we have foolishly spent the last three decades cultivating the illusion that an Arab state can become a reality. After years of acquiescence to the universal adoption of the "two-state solution” paradigm it is natural, as noted, that some time is required to convince the same world that it isn’t going to happen, and to demonstrate that we have rethought our path and that we are determined that a Palestinian state will not emerge. But this is what we must do, thus leaving no purpose left for terror.
In the first stage, it is likely that the Arab terror efforts will only increase. Frustration with the inability of realizing the hope-illusion we cultivated will increase, as will the motivation and efforts to execute terrorist attacks in a last desperate attempt to actualize their goals. But at some stage, the point will come when frustration will cross the threshold of despair and will lead to reconciliation and a renewed understanding that their cause stands no chance – it simply isn't going to happen. When that recognition penetrates the Arab consciousness, and terror becomes pointless, the motivation will decrease as will its practical expressions.
In the interim period, I am confident that a determined and unequivocal political directive will enable the IDF to deal with this temporary threat, defeat terror, and complete the settlement victory in a decisive manner.
Stage Two: The Two Options and Military Victory
Based on the victory by settlement of stage one, which includes the nipping of the Arab hope for the establishment of a state west of the Jordan, the Arabs of Judea and Samaria will have two paths opened to them:
- Peace and Local Identity
Those Arabs of Judea and Samaria who desire it will have a new hope for a good future and a satisfying private life under the wings of the Jewish State. The Jewish People have brought so much good, so much plenty, progress, development, and technology to this country, and it will be happy to allow anyone who wishes to live here in peace to enjoy them. Those who choose to stay here as individuals will be able to enjoy a much better life than their relatives and friends in surrounding Arab countries or the life they can expect under the (corrupt) government of the Palestinian Authority.
This will be life with the maximum of democratic rights: life, liberty, and property; a life of freedom of religion and expression, and many more such rights and freedoms that characterize a democratic and progressive State of Israel. It will also contain the right to vote for the system which runs their everyday lives.
The self-government of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria will be divided into six municipal governmental regions wherein representatives will be elected in democratic elections: Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jericho, Nablus, and Jenin. Each of these governmental entities reflect the cultural and accepted structure of their Arab societies, and will thus ensure internal peace and economic prosperity. The failure of the idea of the "nation state" in the Arab world, an idea brought from Europe with the colonial powers, can be seen clearly today; and in the opinion of many, this failure is inevitable given the tribal structure of Arab society. The Arab states that flourish are the gulf kingdoms built to match the traditional tribal structure.
The Arabs of Hebron are not like the Arabs of Ramallah, who are not like the Arabs of Nablus, who are not like the Arabs of Jericho. Even the Arab dialect changes from region to region. A division into regional municipal governments will dismantle the Palestinian national collective and the ambitions to realize its independence, but will at the same time preserve the tribal-familial structure and thus allow the existence of a stable system for managing day-to-day life free of tensions and internal conflicts. These regional municipal governments will maintain a system of cooperation between each other and with the State of Israel, thus allowing stable and lasting regional economic development.
Free of terror and a security threat, the residents of the regional municipal administrations will enjoy freedom of movement and the right of entry—for work and for humanitarian reasons—into Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria and the State of Israel, to the benefit of all.
As noted, the Arabs of Judea and Samaria will be able to conduct their daily life in freedom and peace, but not to vote for the Israeli Knesset at the first stage. This will preserve the Jewish majority in decision making in the State of Israel. As we will explain at length below, this is, albeit, an imperfect situation in terms of civil rights, but it is certainly a reasonable one; it might even be the best solution possible given the complex circumstances of the State of Israel in the Middle East. In the long term, it will be possible to expand the democratic component of the plan with a broad regional arrangement with Jordan, in which the Arabs of Judea and Samaria will be able to vote for the Jordanian Parliament and thus realize their right to vote. Another improvement open to examination, over time, the sincerity of those who chose to remain is determined and consequently involvement of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria in the civilian decisions of the State of Israel—as opposed to national decisions- will be possible. This will require constitutional changes that need to be discussed down the road. It will be possible to consider granting full citizenship as a third option, including voting for the Knesset, in accordance with the number of Arab residents who wish to do so and alongside the declaration of complete loyalty to the Jewish State by serving in the armed forces, much like Israel's Druze citizens who have tied their fate to the State of Israel as a Jewish State and maintain a partnership of courage with it.
And no, this graduated arrangement does not make the State of Israel into an "apartheid state." A regime of freedom does not begin and end with the right to vote and be elected to office. There is no doubt that this is a fundamental right in a democracy, but it is explicitly not its sole definition. Today, we include a whole set of freedoms and rights under the title of democracy—the right to life, dignity, property, freedom of religion, expression, and movement, and more. The lion's share of these rights and freedoms will be granted within the plan for Arabs of Judea and Samaria, including the right to vote in municipal administrations which control their daily lives. Lacking the full right to vote for national parliament does not mean apartheid rule; at most, it is a missing component in the basket of freedoms, or if we wish, a deficit in the democracy.
The axiom whereby "democracy without a full and equal right for everyone to vote and be elected is not a democracy" serves the benighted advocates of the two-state solution, and allows them to terrorize the Israeli public. Their argument, namely, that without the establishment of an Arab terror state in the heart of the Land of Israel the State of Israel will have to choose between being a Jewish state and being a democratic state, is simply untrue. We can impose Israeli sovereignty on all the territories of Judea and Samaria without granting the Arabs living there immediate right to vote for the Knesset, and still remain a democracy. True, not a perfect democracy—but a democracy nonetheless. Reality is not perfect. As we wrote in the introduction, the State of Israel deals with an unprecedented existential challenge, and if the model allowing it to deal with this challenge includes a certain deficit at the democratic level, then this is certainly a tolerable price to pay. The Israeli situation is unique, and we should therefore not be put off if the way Israel deals with it is unique.
Interestingly, experience teaches that when western democracies had to deal with far simpler security issues, they left democratic values far behind. This is what the United States did in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even among its own citizens after 9/11; and this is how western countries deal with terror within their borders. The State of Israel can take pride in the way it deals with its existential challenges, and the fact that arrangements forged after the victory stage will be imperfect in terms of democracy need not detract from the feasibility of our plan.
It is important to remember that the alternatives are far worse: Establishing a Palestinian state will endanger the existence of the State of Israel; and granting full voting rights to the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria will create a significant deficit in the Jewish component of the State of Israel. When I need to decide where to direct the results of an imperfect reality in the State of Israel—at the existential, the Jewish, or the democratic sphere—my choice is clear. Moreover, this situation has been a reality in the State of Israel for fifty years concerning the Arabs of East Jerusalem, who enjoy a status of residency but not citizenship. The State of Israel did not cease to be democratic because of this.
Furthermore, in recent decades, and especially in the wake of (and as part of) Israel’s constitutional revolution, the State of Israel has moved the emphasis from the simple meaning of "majority rule," a function and derivative of the right to vote and be elected to office, to a set of "democratic fundamental values" that cannot be harmed even through the majority voting system. The center of gravity is moving from the voting mechanism to that of fundamental values and rights. For some reason, when it comes to the Palestinian context, those who usually espouse a “democracy of fundamentals” suddenly cling to the technical mechanism of a formal democracy, ignoring all else (namely, the serious and daily violation of rights on the Palestinian side). In the plan before you, the Arabs of Judea and Samaria will benefit from the total set of democratic values, rights, and freedoms, which have become so dominant in recent decades.
There is no basis for the belief that the government of the Palestinian state, if it is God forbid established, will be any different than other Middle East governments, much as the case for the Palestinian Authority today (with no free elections having taken place for over a decade). When it comes to results, the Arabs of Judea and Samaria under Israeli rule will have far more rights than they have now, and certainly more than they will have under any form of Arab rule, even without being given the right to vote in the Knesset (in stage one). Those who ignore the violation of democratic rights in Arab regimes, and wish to establish a national entity for the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, demonstrate their lack of care for basic rights on “the day after.” What they care about is only that they should not be party to an "apartheid" regime in the eyes of the world. I am convinced that under Israeli rule, the Arabs of Judea and Samaria will have far more democratic rights and freedoms than under any other regime. Therefore, in the broader view—broader than the accusations that will be leveled against us—the "One Hope" plan enjoys an advantage at the democratic level as well.
To conclude this point, it is important to note that in democratic terms, there is no daylight between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the plan before you. Netanyahu defines the Arab national entity he strives to establish in Judea and Samaria as a "state-minus," and thus reflects the fact that he has no intention, justifiably, to allow that state entity to have an army and control the aerial, land, sea, and cyberspaces. So long as we limit the of the sovereignty of that Arab entity, it is not a truly sovereign state and the right of the Arabs to vote in that entity will thus not be complete in any case. This is the "price" Netanyahu also understands must be paid at the democratic level to protect the security and existence of the State of Israel. In this sense, there is no difference between the future scenario and the present state of affairs, in which the Arabs of Judea and Samaria have the right to vote for a non-sovereign Palestinian parliament, and the situation created by this plan in which the Arabs will vote for a number of municipal councils. In any event they will have the right to vote for the system that governs their life in the practical sense, but not the right to an ideological vote for a sovereign parliament. If Netanyahu's plan passes the democratic test, then so does this one. The difference is that in Netanyahu’s vision the national collective entity of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria is maintained, an entity with national ambitions which contradict our own—while in our plan it is not. This, as we have explained, is the strategic advantage of our plan, ensuring a stable peace instead of perpetuating the conflict.
The second option is meant for those Arabs in Judea and Samaria who will have difficulty letting go of national ambitions. Those who cannot remain here as individuals who have left their national aspirations behind are invited to realize them in one of the many surrounding Arab countries—or search, like so many Arabs around us, for a better life in Europe, South America, or elsewhere—so that he won’t have to stay in the Jewish state.
The Israeli Left has for years waved the flag of the Jewish majority and separation from the Arabs. It has systematically preached that we should work to preserve a high percentage of Jews within the borders of the State of Israel, preferring separation over life with the Arabs. Yet, for some reason, it opposes the decent and effective means of improving our demographic reality, namely, encouraging emigration. Among other things, it is claimed that "Arabs don't migrate, they cling to their land." It is likewise claimed that "emigration is cruel expulsion," and that "no-one wants to absorb Arab immmigrants." These arguments are all absurd.
Beginning with the first one, it seems to me that there is no need to go to any lengths to prove that emigration is definitely an option in the eyes of Arabs, an option that many choose today—from Judea, Samaria, and many Arab countries—despite the limitations and lack of encouragement for emigration. In a reality that allows easy and convenient emigration, and even provides logistical and financial aid to those interested in trying their luck in other countries — emigration will become far more widespread.
Of course, I am not talking here about cruel expulsion or the flooding of countries with penniless refugees. The emigration we are talking about is planned, willing, and based on a desire for a better life, by people with appropriate skills for their new country of absorption and the economic ability to make the change. This is not migration on rickety boats, but the very modern phenomenon of organized relocation to countries which provide an opportunity for a better future, and absorption in an environment which usually contains a community of immigrants with similar backgrounds.
Regarding the third argument—who would want them?—there is no foundation for the claim. The world is having difficulty in handling waves of penniless refugees and migrants. But at the same time, many countries around the world welcome immigrants with professional training and funding, for many and varied reasons—and this will be the character of Arab migration from Judea and Samaria.
The State of Israel can and should provide generous grants to Arabs who wish to live in other countries, allowing them to make the move in an honorable and successful manner. This would be an appropriate “parting grant” from Israel. Zionism was built based on population exchange e.g. the mass Aliyah of Jews from Arab countries and Europe to the Land of Israel, willingly or not, and the exit of masses of Arabs who lived here, willingly or not, to the surrounding Arab areas. This historic pattern seems to require culmination, ensuring a future of peace above all else.
- Military Victory
There will probably be those among the Arab population who will have some difficulty in making peace, or coming to terms with the end of the conflict, and who will choose to continue the armed struggle against the State of Israel. A la guerre comme a la guerre, we can and must win. Those who think they will stay here and constantly, violently undermine the State of Israel's right to exist as the state of the Jewish people, will find an IDF determined to defeat them with the help of God. The IDF, thank God, is a strong and astute army, with the will and the capability to defeat the terrorists within a short time frame: killing those who need to be killed, confiscating weapons to the last bullet, and restoring security to Israel's citizens.
Arabs who do not give up their national ambitions—yet avoid engaging in subversive activity—will not be harmed. There is no expectation in this plan that everyone will love the State of Israel, salute the flag, or sing the anthem. Suffice for them not to fight the IDF and the State of Israel to demonstrate coming to terms with the new reality. Loyalty can and should be a condition for receiving various rights and for making progress in the areas of residency and citizenship. However loyalty is not an imperative as long as the law of the land is the binding authority.
By placing the various options before the Arabs, we are in effect addressing the reasonable range of human responses to the new reality. People act from motives of human comfort—but also out of motives of religious and national identity. They act in accordance with what is possible—but sometimes based on an ideology that takes no heed of reality. The new reality of Israeli policy, which makes it clear that there is no room for two national movements in the State of Israel, will compel those who are realistic to choose one of the two options put before them. There will be those who prefer the comfort and security of life within the Jewish state, in the knowledge that their national ambitions will not receive expression in the state they choose to live in; and there will be those who will have difficulty in giving up the Palestinian national narrative, which sees Zionism as a cruel enemy, and will prefer to try to build their future in an alternate national entity.
As noted above, there will be those who decide to continue fighting—and they will be quickly defeated by our forces. Thus, our plan deals with all the possible responses of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria to the new reality. The plan only disallows one thing: the continued existence of two concrete national ambitions within this one land, an existence which perpetuates the conflict and dooms us to "manage the conflict" instead of end it.
We can estimate that this process will take a number of years. The process by which the Arabs begin to truly internalize the loss of national hope, the absorption of the new reality, and the choice of one of the alternatives it provides them with will take some time, and will require patience and fortitude. As stated, I am confident that with God’s help the IDF can help us withstand this complex interim period safely. The price we will pay in this interim period will prove itself worthwhile when we will achieve quiet, peace, and coexistence with those who choose to stay here.
I believe that the greater part of the plan can be successfully accomplished in the first years of decisive settlement. Ceasing the obsessive attempts of the Israeli leadership to try to "solve" the conflict, and refocusing on economic development while establishing clear markers of Israeli sovereignty, will drain the motivation for the continued violent struggle on the Arab side. It will quickly become clear that terror is pointless and that it primarily causes harm to its adherents and their surrounding supporters. In contrast, the hope embedded in making peace with the new situation, and the possibility of a good life waiting for those who choose it—whether here or abroad—can be a beneficial and a viable alternative.
Dealing With Challenges
- Responses of the International Community
We need to begin by admitting that it is unwarranted to fault the international community alone. For decades, the official Israeli position has been supportive of a Palestinian state and even presented this option as just and moral. In all these years, the Israeli leadership said "Yes, but not now." "Yes"—a Palestinian state is a just solution to strive for; "but not now"—for a variety of reasons and excuses. In the face of this position, the world makes what it considers to be a just demand: "if even you concede that this is the just and moral solution, then implement it, and stop taking steps that distance this solution from reality—such as building in Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria". As far as the international community is concerned, the legitimate security fears of the State of Israel have solutions in the form of international guarantees, aid packages, defense systems, and the like. These cannot be a valid reason to avoid advancing this "solution" for so many years. This is a logical and even natural position to adopt and it explains the complex international situation Israel finds itself in today.
The revised underpinnings of our new plan present the international community with a new paradigm, and in time, the world will grow towards understanding and acceptance. Firstly, it is a plan based on justice. Religion plays a definitive role among world population who can appreciate the justice of the biblical ties that the Jewish People have to the Land of Israel. So far, the Arabs have spoken of justice and we have spoken of security—and the world prefers justice. Justifiably so. From here on, we must change the discourse and speak of the justice of our cause in order to be compelling and persuasive.
Secondly, we will need to strengthen the growing view concerning the unrealistic nature of the "two-state solution," as attempts to implement it have led only to waves of terror and violence. We will have to explain to the world that ending the conflict and removing the Arab hope of establishing a state west of the Jordan is the only way to ensure the existence and prosperity of the State of Israel and the presence of peace and coexistence within it.
The greatest challenge in this context will be the democratic one—the need to explain to the world that among the various options, the option of democratic rights without the right of vote for the Knesset, at least temporarily, is the least bad option. This will indeed be a challenge, but it is feasible, primarily by making it clear that the other options are simply worse, whether in establishing an Arab terror state aiming to destroy Israel, or in granting voting rights that will harm the Jewish majority and thus also endanger the state.
Thirdly, better people than I have already said that "it doesn't matter what the Gentiles say so much as what we Jews do". We are not ignoring the world. We need to conduct a professional and intelligent diplomatic campaign, and I believe we can convince others or at least moderate the criticism. We cannot allow ourselves to act according to the demands of the world, but rather act upon what is good and right for us as any other nation state in the world does. And what is good and right for us is to end this conflict decisively once and for all in our favor, and bring quiet, peace, prosperity and security to the State of Israel. As the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin said, "if there is someone in the world who turns his nose up at us—let him have a turned-up nose!"
- And what if we're wrong?
After twenty years of failed attempts at promoting the "two-state solution" created by the Left, it's time to try a plan which is based on a rightwing, Zionist, faith-based approach. For twenty years, the Left has dragged us into dangerous adventures which have already cost us thousands of victims and wounded in an attempt to realize this absurd dream detached from reality. If we God forbid continue on this path, we will ensure the continuation of the conflict and the heavy price in blood it exacts from both sides. The two-state solution was and remains a slogan successfully marketed by the Left as a realistic and even sole solution—though this was never the case. There may be doubts concerning our plan, but when it comes to the Left's alternative failure is clear and plain to see. What else needs to happen for us to realize that it is hopeless, that we are dealing with two national ambitions that cannot coexist alongside each other, and that the very raison d'etre of the Palestinian "People" is to deny the right of the State of Israel to exist?
We must try another, entirely different direction—a direction that recognizes reality and doesn't try to outwit it. I call on all readers to adopt this plan and join me in the effort to finally bring peace to Israel and the entire region.
- Political Feasibility
I consider this decisive plan to be both just and correct, given the lack of any other feasible alternative on the ground. Despite this, since it is different than anything we have considered in the past, its adoption by the public will not be easy. Such a major conceptual shift is of course a challenge, but it is far from impossible. When Uri Avneri began to conduct negotiations with the PLO and speak of a Palestinian state almost forty years ago, he was almost alone. Talks with the PLO, defined as a terrorist organization, were actually illegal; Rabin opposed a Palestinian state, and Peres did not even dream of dividing Jerusalem. It took Avneri little over a decade to introduce his absurd plan into the mainstream of the Israeli Left, and make it the single available option.
Things are far easier for us. The decisive "One Hope" plan is based on the innate belief in the justice of our cause, native patriotism and national pride, which are growing sentiments among a large swath of Israeli society. This is a timely development. The public feeling of despair at the failure of the "two-state solution," reflected in most opinion polls conducted in recent years, provides us with an opening for new ways of thinking, an opening into which the Israeli Right must enter—not by selling "the same old goods," but by presenting an entirely different vision.
I believe that within a few months, many fundamental principles from this plan will enter public discourse, and become cornerstones for new ways of thinking. The understanding that these are two national and conflicting ambitions that cannot be resolved by an artificial geographical division of territory; that terror derives from hope and not from despair; that imperfect democracy is not apartheid; that the morality of an action should be judged in the context of other available options and within a long term view—all these will penetrate the discourse and consciousness of the public, and enrich them with new and creative models yet to be explored in recent decades. Based on these, it will be possible to adopt our plan or similar plans based on subduing the conflict, and the understanding that to achieve peace and coexistence we cannot leave an Arab collective with national ambitions in the Land of Israel, whatever its definitions and boundaries.
- The Demographic Challenge
With or without the right to vote in the Knesset, our plan and the realities that will be shaped at its conclusion, lead to a demographic challenge. The truth is that the demographic challenge also lies ahead for supporters of the "two-state solution," since the argument that the two-state solution bypasses the demographic problem is an illusion, much like the plan itself. The area between the river and the sea is a single geographical and topographical unit, and the Arabs are not about to go anywhere—certainly if their national ambitions are encouraged and cultivated. A border does not make people or their hostility disappear.
However, I am not a member of the demographic scaremongering club. The demographic trend in the last two decades points in our favor. The Jewish birthrate has greatly risen throughout the Jewish population, while the Arab birthrate has dropped drastically on both sides of the Green Line. Based on the realistic assumption that this trend will continue, an Arab majority in the Land of Israel is not to be expected in the coming decades. The contrary seems more likely. True, we need to help it happen. We have not expounded on this matter here, but our new plan needs to be accompanied with a variety of measures intended to improve the demographic balance. The strengthening of Israel and victory in the conflict will make the absorption of immigrants easier, increase Jewish demographic growth, and encourage part of the Arab population to emigrate to other countries.
The decisive “One Hope" is the only plan based on a vision of the complete Land of Israel. It is the only plan which has not despaired of what was until recently the vision of the entire Right, and it includes no definition of any Arab national entity in the Land of Israel. It is the only plan which is not based on leaving an Arab collective with national ambitions in place, and as such is the only plan based on winning the conflict and not preserving it at varying levels of intensity. Most of all, it is the only one that believes in the possibility of realizing the dream of peace and coexistence, rather than despairing of that dream and replacing it with an impossible separation. It is for those who dare to hope. Let us make it happen.
Illustration: Or Reichert
This is something I advocated over 15 years ago – this article is well thought out and practical.
I've never really seen the sense of a two-state solution, especially as the so-called Palestinian people (or their leaders) don't seem to be particularly devoted to nation-building and infrastructure development and education and entrepreneurship but prefer instead to invest their time and money in attacking Israel.
It seems pretty clear then that an independent Palestinian state just won't work. The "Gaza Experiment" proved that. There is perhaps some wishful thinking that maybe a developed country with a strong middle class will have no real desire to engage in expensive and inconvenient conflicts with a neighboring country (particularly one that is a lucrative trading partner). But there's no guarantee of that, especially as the (real?) Palestinian leaders already have such a cushy lifestyle (in other Arab countries of course) that there is no incentive for them to actually go live in Palestine and govern the country.
The Palestinians themselves are probably not aware of the inevitable pattern in history that revolutionaries become cruel, corrupt and despotic masters (France, Russia, and more recently: Zimbabwe, South Africa, etc.) It's very unlikely a Palestinian state will be a fair and free and prosperous country.
So the best solution would be (simply) to abandon the idea of a separate Palestinian state completely and for Israel to annex everything and create a Greater Israel that incorporates all the so-called Palestinians. It will be deeply unpopular and there will be a furor all over the world, but (like Russia annexing the Crimea), it will eventually die down and the business of raising the standard of living (and dignity) of "Palestinians" can begin.
Firstly, I'm not so sure that everybody already living in the "Palestinian" regions will even want to be "Palestinian". Many will probably readily accept Israeli citizenship and be done with it. They can call themselves whatever they want, "Palestinian Israeli", "Arab Israeli", "non-Jewish Israeli" – but ultimately they will become simply "Israeli" in the same way as the Ethiopians Jews or Russian Jews are now "Israeli", but originating from somewhere else with perhaps a unique and separate culture and lifestyle.
For the others who want to be "true" Palestinians, they can accept permanent Israeli residency but eschew voting rights. I'm not sure what the point of this would be, but it may assuage the fears of Jews who are afraid of being overrun (see below). Alternatively, offer them the opportunity to vote as Israeli citizens and form a normal political party within the Knesset.
For everyone else, they will probably find other countries to emigrate to (and plenty of funding from pro-Palestinian groups, assuming they are willing to put their money where their mouths are!) – if they identify themselves with Jordan then apply for Jordanian citizenship, or Lebanon or Egypt or maybe even Europe, Canada, USA or Australia. Perhaps part of a grand brokered solution is for other countries to take in a quota of “Palestinians” respectively for those who don’t want to identify themselves as “Palestinian” or “Israeli”.
That will put to bed the idea that there ever was or could be a Palestinian nation. It's a 50- or 60-year old idea that has run its course. Whoever the "Arab" people were at the time (Jordanian refugees, Lebanese refugees, etc.), the idea of banding together and forming a new identify with a shared culture and heritage can't ever progress beyond being just an idea.
Of course, I suspect that the real underlying problem with this is that of demographics. Israelis probably don't ever want to "conquer" the entire region because it comes with responsibilities.
One responsibility is that of citizenship and voting rights. The Jews want to keep Israel a Jewish state (even if the majority of Jewish Israelis are secular or even atheists). There are about as many "Palestinians" as there are "Israelis", so by annexing the Palestinian territories, there's a good chance that "Palestinians" could actually get to become the ruling force in Israel. Wouldn't that be ironic!
That means in practice that Palestinian-Israelis might end up becoming second-class citizens in Israel, permanently, with limited voting rights.
I think that is the crux of the problem. A two-state solution won't work. And nobody really wants a one-state solution, even though that is probably the only way forward.