But MIFF tells as true: A large majority of the Jews in Israel are willing to withdraw from most of the West Bank and leave this area to Arab control – if only it could lead to real peace.
The reason why it has not become a Palestinian state long ago is that unfortunately there is nothing to suggest that such a state will live in peace cooperation/' target='_blank'>cooperation-with-israel/' target='_blank'>cooperation-with-israel/' target='_blank'>with Israel. It will at best be a terror nest, or at worst, a marching area – a rallying point – for enemy armies, rockets and missiles – at worst with nuclear weapons.
However, the alternatives seem worse
When a large majority of the Jews in Israel in principle support the idea of a Palestinian state, it is because they find the alternatives even more frightening. The alternatives are:
a) To incorporate the West Bank (and possibly Gaza) into Israel and give everyone living there the right to vote and all other civil rights.
It will bring a large Arab population into Israel, with the great danger that in quite a few years Israel will have an Arab majority. The current attitude of the Israeli population is therefore not to incorporate a larger part of the Arab population into Israel, but to move part of the border to the west, so that the part of Israel with an Arab population becomes part of the West Bank. The one who is best known for advocating this solution is Avigdor Lieberman and his party Yisrael Beiteinu. But it is reported that several parties have begun to take an interest in this solution.
b) To incorporate the West Bank (and possibly Gaza) into Israel, and to allow the Arabs to live there without civil rights and without the right to vote. But the outside world will not accept this possibility as a lasting solution, and indeed many Jews in Israel also believe that this is in principle an unsustainable solution.
c) To incorporate the West Bank (and possibly Gaza) into Israel and expel the Arabs (Palestinians) who live there completely. However, this will never be accepted by the world community and really many Jews in Israel will also be against it, for moral reasons.
d) A more peaceful version of model “c” is to pay huge sums to the Arabs, in order for as many as possible to vacate the areas voluntarily. But so far, there is some indication that this can be done so far that it could give a favorable result. There is hardly enough money to be able to pay the Arabs the sums they will accept to move out, and there are probably also a number of Arabs who will not – under any circumstances – move out of the areas, no matter how high the amount is.
e) Over time, there have been proposals that Israel and Jordan should share control of the West Bank, that the Jews should be citizens of Israel and the Arabs of Jordan, and similar solutions (“functional compromise”). But this possibility is perhaps ruled out, first and foremost because very few Arabs will accept it.
And then you sit there again with one state for the Jews and another state for the Arabs (Palestinians), where each group can be in the majority in each state and develop their own identity. So this is what most Israelis are betting on in principle, but it looks really difficult in practice in the short term. If and when such a peace agreement comes to fruition, there is a great risk that the Jews will lose access to some of their most important, historic sites – including many sacred sites. But in exchange for true peace, many Israelis are willing to take the risk – and give up some of the most precious things in Judaism.
Major unresolved issues
In the peace negotiations in Annapolis (USA) in September 2008, Israel must have proposed to keep between 2% and 7% of the West Bank (areas inhabited mainly by Jews), the rest becoming a Palestinian state along with the whole of Gaza. In addition, the Palestinian state from Israel will be given an area adjacent to Gaza as compensation for (some of) the areas that Israel retains in the West Bank. This is similar to the arrangement proposed by Bill Clinton, just before he stepped down as President of the United States in early 2001, which the then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat rejected.
“State minus” or “Self-government plus”?
The first Israeli leader to sign an agreement on a Palestinian Authority was Prime Minister Menahem Begin in the 1979 peace agreement with Egypt.
The Oslo Process (started 1993-1994) was to lead to the formation of a Palestinian state. But oneagreement on an actual state formation has not been reached, primarily because the Palestinians would not give up the “right to return” nor implemented serious measures to stop the terrorist acts against Israel.
There is widespread agreement in Israel that restrictions are needed. Especially in the military field, there must be totally watertight agreements and control systems that can ensure Israel’s existence. It must e.g. never become such that suddenly an Iranian army or Iranian rockets stand just outside Jerusalem.
The leaders of Likud say they are in favor of “self-government plus” for the Palestinians. In practice, there is virtually no difference between what the left calls “state minus”
We who support Israel should be able to explain Israel’s dilemma!
In the current situation and for the sake of the future, one of our most important tasks is to explain why a Palestinian state – at least in the short term – is not such an option, so purely practical. The vast majority of Israelis agree.
Sources and Referrals
The article was originally published in Norwegian in September 2008. In Danish by Inger Irene Hansen, March 2018. Editor’s comment April 2018: The situation seems unchanged.