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Give the Vote to the Diaspora – Rethinking the Two-State Soltuion

August 30, 2011 – 5:53 pm55 Comments
Mobile army polling station at a military outpost in Kerem Shalom, on the border with Israel and the Gaza Strip

An Israeli soldier carries a ballot box used in voting by soldiers, as part of a mobile army polling station (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

By Geoff Bloch

The international community and moderates on both sides of the Israeli Palestinian conflict have, for decades, called for a two-state solution to end the military jurisdiction Israel maintains over some 1.6 million disenfranchised Palestinians living in Yehuda and Shomron, Israel’s ancestral homeland otherwise known as The West Bank. But Jewish settlement over the past 44 years, coupled with the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) insistence on the right of return for millions of refugees into Israel and the PA’s refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish State, mean that a two-state solution will forever remain a pipedream. It is time to grapple with reality and ask whether there is another solution.

No Israeli government has been prepared to annex the West Bank because that means offering Israeli citizenship to 1.6 million Palestinians. It is feared that such a significant demographic shift would, in time, impair the Jewish character of the State because of inevitable Palestinian and Israeli Arab population growth.

What so enrages the Left is not that Israel gained possession of the West Bank in a defensive war. It is that an indefinite military jurisdiction, coupled with Israeli settlement throughout the West Bank, is tantamount to annexation without offering citizenship and is therefore contrary to the social and democratic values upon which Israel was established. This mainstream festering complaint is constantly heard even from within our own ranks and must be satisfactorily addressed sooner or later.

So we have a classic “Catch 22” situation – Israel cannot annex and confer citizenship on West Bank Palestinians for demographic reasons and Israel cannot withdraw from the West Bank both for security reasons and because there is the small matter that over 600,000 Jews now call the West Bank home.

Even if, under a land swap deal or by annexation, Israel were to retain the main Israeli settlement blocs of The Gush, Maale Adumim, Ramot and Ariel (which collectively account for about 330,000 Jews), some hundreds of thousands of Jews live in areas which would be forfeited to the Palestinians under the kind of land for peace deal contemplated by the world community.

Even worse, were the UN General Assembly on 20 September to recognise a State of Palestine in areas captured by Israel in 1967, then perhaps all or most of those 600,000 Jews could find themselves living in a foreign state.

Because of the Palestinians’ racist condition that a nascent Palestinian state must be Judenrein, there would be civil uproar were there an attempt to evacuate Jewish communities from Yehuda and Shomron. By comparison, the forced expulsion of 8,000 Jews from Gush Qatif in 2005 would look like a non-event. Israel simply cannot afford a repetition of that horrible experience, which pitted Jew against Jew, let alone on a scale 75 times greater! The forfeiture of Gush Qatif was not only an abject failure, but it remains a national disgrace as many evacuees still have not been satisfactorily resettled or compensated over the past 6 years.

The two-state solution, which has for so long been the mainstream paradigm for a peaceful future, is therefore almost certainly illusory and unachievable for practical reasons. The international community and Israel herself must face facts and search for another solution.

After 44 years of settlement activity, Israel has almost certainly passed the point when it might have been practicably possible to annex only parts of the West Bank while avoiding the main centres of Arab population. Today’s reality is that if Israel wishes to retain her ancestral homeland, she must formally annex the West Bank even if that means taking on up to 1.6 million new Palestinian Arab citizens.

Most Israelis, today, would flinch at the prospect. After all, many militant Palestinians call for a one-state solution, believing that Palestinian population growth will outstrip Jewish population growth so that, sooner or later, there will be a majority Arab population between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea.

There may be a peaceful solution to this seemingly intractable problem – a solution which does not involve Israel forfeiting Yehuda and Shomron and does not compromise the Jewish character of the State. But understanding the solution calls for a basic understanding of some critical arithmetic.

There are currently 5.8 million Jewish Israeli citizens and 1.4 million Arab Israeli citizens. Jews outnumber Arabs by about 3.6:1. If Israel annexed the West Bank, the number of her Arab citizens would increase by 1.6 million to 3 million (assuming all Arabs took up citizenship), reducing the ratio of Jews to Arabs to 1.9:1.

The current rate of net population increase of Jews in Israel even taking aliya into account is 1.7% per annum. The current rate of net population increase of Israeli Arabs is 2.6% per annum.

Although opinions vary, there could be an Arab majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea within two generations at current trends.

Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which reflects the UN General Assembly resolution of 29 November, 1947, contains two laudable objectives which, tragically, appear to be on a collision course, regardless whether or not Israel annexes the West Bank. On the one hand, the Declaration calls for “…the establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz-Israel” while, on the other hand, it guarantees “complete equality of social and political rights to all her inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex…”

It is conceivable that Israeli Arabs could one day control the Knesset, the army, the treasury, the police force and immigration policy. While this would be entirely consistent with liberal democratic values, things could change dramatically and adversely for the Jewish population. It may be politically incorrect to say so, but Arabs cannot be expected to identify with a flag which represents the Star of David emblazoned on a tallit or with a national anthem invoking nefesh Yehudi homiya - 2000 years of yearning of the Jewish soul for a Jewish homeland.

How, then, can Israel retain Yehuda and Shomron without trammelling the Palestinians’ social and democratic rights and without compromising the Jewish character of the State? Perhaps a solution is a variant of the obvious but unachievable goal of increasing Israel’s Jewish population so dramatically, that it outstrips the increase of her non-Jewish population. The solution is this: At the very same time as annexing Yehuda and Shomron and offering Israeli citizenship to Palestinian Arabs, Israel could amend her existing Law of Return, drawing upon Diaspora Jewry to increase the Jewish voting population by permitting Diaspora Jews to apply for Israeli citizenship without physically making aliya.

Israel’s Law of Return (enacted in 1950) already discriminates, justifiably, between Jew and Arab by granting a right to every Jew to Israeli citizenship upon making aliya. No such right is granted to Arabs. Granting citizenship to Diaspora Jewry is, in concept, perfectly consistent with the Law of Return. It could be augmented by an amendment to Israeli electoral laws so as to permit several hundreds of thousands of expatriate Israelis to vote from abroad as well.

Were this initiative properly promoted and coordinated through the World Zionist movement, millions of new Jewish citizens could be added to the Israeli electoral rolls and the impending political demographic shift could be staved off, effectively forever, given that there are millions of Jews of voting age in the Diaspora.

Most importantly, this initiative would not disenfranchise a single Israeli Arab, unless putting racial pre-eminence beyond their reach is to be regarded as a discreditable objective. It cannot reasonably be viewed as such given that the UN itself resolved that there be “a Jewish State in Eretz-Israel”. The world community should not be at all concerned about who Israel grants citizenship to, so long as the social and democratic rights of all her citizens are not adversely affected.

Increasing the Jewish voting population is to be preferred to other peaceful solutions which could bear adversely upon those rights. For example, given that the vast majority of Israeli Arabs live in the Galilee and the northern coastal plain and the vast majority of West Bank Palestinians live in and around Hebron and Shechem, it is theoretically possible for Israel to undergo constitutional reform and introduce parliamentary representation by electorate with a gerrymander ensuring Jewish control of the Knesset. Most right-minded citizens (let alone world opinion) would find anything short of one man, one vote, highly objectionable and would reject any such solution.

Of course this solution is presently unworkable given the current Israeli body politic, for a number of reasons. For example, Jewish Israelis would resent an equal vote being given to non-resident Jewish citizens to whom domestic issues would be of little importance and who have not demonstrated the ultimate commitment to Israel by making aliya. Jewish Israelis would also resent non-resident Jewish citizens voting when they do not have to live with the consequences of the political choices they make. Israelis might also be concerned about whether the contribution to Israel’s state revenues by an increased population would offset the inevitable increased cost of social and welfare programmes.

However, over time, as Israel’s Arab constituency inexorably moves toward a majority and as world opinion to the current “occupation” intensifies, increasing numbers of Jewish Israelis would come to acknowledge the gravity of the problem and would be prepared to accept the imperative of finding a workable solution. Given that more draconian solutions such as population transfer are far beyond Israel’s moral compass, there is perhaps no other peaceful solution.

At the moment Israel is faced with two inter-related problems which have a common denominator. There is the pending demographic shift which has been met with a deafening silence; and there is the current problem of Israel’s occupation and military jurisdiction over the West Bank which has been met with a deafening cacophony.

The common denominator to solving both problems may be you and me and the rest of the Jewish Diaspora. The time may soon come for Israel to act unilaterally once again, in the absence of a negotiated settlement. But this time, instead of forfeiting land and her security as occurred in Southern Lebanon and Gaza, Israel could retain both her land and her security by annexing the West Bank, by offering citizenship to Palestinian Arabs and by amending the Law of Return. With some lateral thinking, the Jewish Diaspora might just hold the key to solving both problems simultaneously.

Geoffrey Bloch is a Melbourne based barrister.

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55 Comments »

  • frosh says:

    Hi Geoff,

    It’s an interesting idea. I have several reservations.

    One concern is that is is creating further ethnocracy in the State of Israel. I’m not for dismantling the current ethnocratic elements in Israel (the flag, the anthem, the Law of Return etc); however, I’m not sure if we should be creating added ethnocratic elements to further disenfranchise the Arab-Israeli minority.

    However, this is not my primary reservation. After all, many nation states are as ethnocratic and allow their diaspora to vote. Italy is a prime example, where they even have parliamentary seats reserved for sections of the Italian diaspora.

    My primary reservation is that it would be giving the vote to people whose children don’t serve in the army (and yes, I know there are sections of Israeli society where there is a substantial lack of military or national service) and who are not exposed to the terror and existential threats that residents of Israel are faced with.

  • Adrian says:

    Hi Goeff,

    This is perhaps the most realistic solution I’ve heard for some time but there are some potential problems that you may not have factored in.

    1. Gaza – you have assumed annexation of the west bank but what would be done with Gaza? (your population figures make it clear that Gaza isn’t included). Does it get left there to fester under occupation for the rest of time immemorial? The world would have a lot to say if Judea and Samaria were annexed but Gaza were left ‘under occupation’. There would be a lot of pressure to absorb both palestianian territories into a single Israeli state.

    2. Palestinian population – there is no accurate figure for Palestinian population in the west bank and I think in all likelihood your figures are very much on the low side. There is evidence that the birth rate has also been under estimated as the birth rate for Israeli Arabs is often used to project figures for West Bank Arabs even though west bank Arabs have a much higher birth rate.

    3. Palestinian diaspora – if the Jewish diaspora are given voting rights and a right of return but the Arab diaspora are not, accusations of racism will fly about. As many palestinian diaspora are stateless, these additions could potentially be difficult to avoid.

    4. US policy on dual nationality – while Australia allows dual nationality (was legalised about 10 years ago), the US does not. Since the vast majority of the diaspora lives in the US these days, this would need to change first. Wouldn’t be much of a problem though as the US do pretty much anything Israel asks these days.

    5. Global reaction to annexation – after spending the last 40 years talking up a 2 state solution and ‘building a Palestinian state’, what do you think the world will say if there is a unilateral annexation? The reaction will not be favourable from the Palestinians or from the over 100 countries worldwide that have already recognised a Palestinian state. This would further erode israel’s moral highground.

    6. Arab majority! – irrespective of voting rights, I don’t think any Israeli govt will put Israel in a situation where Jews are the minority. Within a couple of generations, about 3/4 of the Israeli people would be Arab. The Jewish governments would appear totally illegitimate given that they wouldn’t represent the demographic reality on the ground. Terrorists would have a convenient excuse to attack the state, and one that many thoughout the world would accept – that Israel is not a ‘proper democracy’.

    At the end of the day it all comes down to arithmetic. I will get out my excel spreadsheet and see what the appropriate figures could be for this scenario. But I think it would still leave the Jewish population open to minority status at some point in the future. Something does need to be done though as even under the status quo Israel is likely to have a Jewish minority within 100-150 years unless Arab population growth rates reduce.

  • Zak Goichman says:

    Geoff, this is a good starting point!
    It does have some drawbacks to it though:

    Chief among them: Jews in Israel now constitute almost 50% of World Jewry
    that means that you need substantial numbers of recruits for them to make a difference.
    just in the short term you’d require a bare minimum of 1,000,000 Jews willing to tie their fate with that of Israel… at least on paper :)

    By 2025 there will be slightly more Jews in Israel than in the rest of the world at 8 million and 7.4 million respectively.

    This could nonetheless prove a valuable aspect of a multifaceted approach.

    All signs now point to dropping fertility rates among Arabs with the West Bank even taking the lead and reaching almost parity with Jews at 3.05 and 2.90 children/woman respectively. This seems to be the best prospect. Beat them in their own battlefield. We can then all live happily ever after in a Jewish state that respects values of democracy and personal freedoms.

  • geoff bloch says:

    Hi Frosh and Adrian,

    Frosh, in answer to your 2 points:

    1. I don’t see how it could reasonably be argued that the Arab-Israeli minority is further disenfranchised if up to another 1.6 million Arabs are added to their ranks. If anything, I would have thought the very opposite is true.

    2. I certainly agree that there are reasons why the current Israeli body politic would not embrace my suggestions. I voluntarily identified 3 reasons why they wouldn’t and you have simply identified 2 other related reasons. That simply proves the obvious, namely that there would at first be a natural reluctance to give voting rights to Jews living abroad. But this is not a perfect world and if Israel really does want to retain the West Bank, something has to give.

    Adrian, in answer to your numbered paragraphs –

    1. Yes, you are right – I am indeed ignoring Gaza. That is because Israel doesn’t occupy it. Had Israel not gone through the painful ordeal of the hitnatkut, I almost certainly would have included Gaza. But Gaza is now ruled by the elected terrorist organization Hamas and the PA has limited jurisdiction in the West Bank. In those circumstances, I’m not convinced that there would be overwhelming pressure to absorb both into one entity.

    2. If you’re right that my figures, if anything, are on the low side and that the Palestinian Arab population is likely to increase at a faster rate, that would suggest that there is more, not less, urgency in finding some kind of workable solution.

    3. You are undoubtedly right that accusations of racism will be made if a vote is given to the Jewish Diaspora but not to the Palestinian Diaspora. But there is a very good reason why the Law of Return already discriminates between Jew and Arab and why Israel’s liberal Supreme Court has upheld it since its enactment in 1950. That reason is the Holocaust and the UN’s recognition of the right of Jews to an enduring homeland. “Discrimination” and “racism” are not synonymous.

    4. You are incorrect that the U.S.A. prohibits dual citizenship. You can easily research this on the net. The U.S. State Department website explains that the U.S.A. does indeed recognise dual nationality. It is obviously not encouraged but it is recognised, so long as the American citizen obtains another nationality without expressing an intention to give up U.S. citizenship.

    5. Israel would need to explain (1) that offering citizenship is the ultimate act of friendship by any country; and (2) that it is more ethical to offer citizenship rights to Palestinian Arabs (in the absence of any realistic opportunity for them to found their own viable state) than maintaining the status quo.

    6. You have raised an issue I already referred to, namely that the 2 laudable objectives contained in Israel’s Declaration of Independence are on a collision course. I agree with you. But to my mind, given that several other mature democracies have a foreign constituency, Israel could follow suit and this would stave off this collision, effectively forever.

  • Reality Check says:

    I’ve got a good idea Geoff, Get Israel to re-settle all the Arabs and Palestinians from inside Israel and the west bank, which really is Israel, in ,say, Gaza. Then Israel should finish the building of that wall, but along the Jordon river and then along the sea coast, and call the place the Jewish ghetto of Israel.

  • Reality Check says:

    Or you could sterilize all Arab males under Israel’s control. That should work.

  • frosh says:

    RC,

    You might try debating the actual idea put forward by the author, rather than resorting to absurd (and rather offensive) hyperbole.

    As I’ve stated, many nation states such as Italy have voting rights for their diaspora population, and many other countries are debating or have debated this idea.

    Do you find so atrocious the idea that ethnic Italians in Australia are able to vote in Italian elections?

    I still favour a two-state solution, but Geoff’s idea should be debated in a rational fashion, and on its merits, without resorting to absurdities.

  • frosh says:

    Geoff,
    Again, an interesting idea, and please accept my arguments in the spirit of Karl Popper.

    For the sake of argument, I accept that giving voting rights to the Jewish diaspora is an extension of The Law of Return, and that many other nation-states are no less ethnocratic, and there is little concern over this.

    Even if we disregard the “not having to live with the consequences of their votes” argument, there is still another more pragmatic concern I have, and here it is:

    I am certain that both you and I, even if we would or wouldn’t vote exactly the same way, would have the State of Israel’s best interests at heart. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about many people who would qualify for the vote under your idea.

    The are many Jews (and those who do not necessarily identify as Jewish, nor would be deemed as Jewish under Jewish law, but would qualify under The Law of Return) who would gladly use their vote with the intention of weakening or even destroying Israel. I only need to look as far as my Facebook feed to see the unfortunate existence of these people.

    Of course, while such people already reside in the State of Israel (e.g. Ilan Pappé), I would assume they are in far greater numbers outside the State of Israel. Thus the Jewish majority you would be aiming may be quite different to the Jewish majority you would actually get.

  • Ken says:

    Hi Geoff,

    I enjoyed reading your article. I am not an Israeli but I am a supporter. I believe your analysis of Israel’s classic catch 22 is accurate. I do, however, feel your suggestion will not come to pass. My opinion is based on your scriptures. When G-d led your nation to the shore of the Red Sea, it was a classic catch 22. There were no good options. G-d used that catch 22 to demonstrate His power and provision for the nation. I believe He will do the same with this situation. G-d, through Zechariah, predicts that the Land WILL be divided and that He will judge the nations that divided His Land and scattered His people. Israel will soon enter the time of Jacob’s trouble but WILL be delivered by their G-d and recognize their Messiah.

    Ken

  • geoff bloch says:

    Thanks Frosh,

    In a bid to assist your readers to debate the idea on its merits, may I respectfully offer the following suggestion?

    It is inevitable that most of your readers (as you do) support the idea of a two-state solution. Were it practicably possible, I would, too.

    But there is a challenge which supporters of the two-state solution must meet in order to be taken seriously. They must answer the following question: Given the Palestinians’ racist condition that not a single Jew may reside in a Palestinian State on the West Bank, then if Israel is to withdraw from the West Bank, what do you propose should happen to the 600,000 Jews who now call the West Bank home? Do you honestly maintain that Israel has the capacity to evict them all from their homes a la Gaza, when Israel couldn’t even manage that much smaller task (8,000 Jews) satisfactorily?

    In a number of debates I have participated in, I have never yet seen this question addressed in a meaningful way and I have therefore been left to draw the following conclusions: (1) The question itself leads to the realisation that calling for an immediate withdrawal is inane, because there is no practical or realistic way the call for a withdrawal could possibly be implemented. (2) The reason why this challenge is almost always met with complete silence is because there may be no intelligible answer to give and supporters of the two-state solution cannot bear either to admit it or to lose the debate. (3) It is much easier to cop out, not answer the question and simply return to shrill and cowardly criticism and libel of Israel, which is what usually happens.

    To answer the specific query in your last post, yes, it is possible that some Diaspora Jews could apply for citizenship solely for the purpose of voting for Arab parties but I think that that fear is more illusory than real. There IS such a thing as “the silent majority” and Israel has always been and remains the pride of the Jewish world. I have often reflected on how important the State of Israel is to Jews the world over and have often wondered what life for a Jew must have been like before its establishment. There are statistics on the web if you wish to research the point – I have no doubt that the vast majority of Diaspora Jews support Israel.

    Regards,

    Geoff

  • David Zyngier says:

    Geoff can you please provide any evidence for your statement that “Given the Palestinians’ racist condition that not a single Jew may reside in a Palestinian State on the West Bank”

  • David Zyngier says:

    Geoff,

    Why do the Palestinians have to recognise Israel as a Jewish,/> State when in fact the UN has already done so in 1947! No other state recognises Israel as a Jewish State but recognises the State of Israel (see Harry Truman’s handwritten amendment to the US recognition in 1948 as an example http://www.fold3.com/image/#4346731

  • Reality Check says:

    Hi frosh, What is absurd is that Geoff, doesn’t consider how the Palestinians would feel. As Rabbi Hillel said, don’t treat others as you would not want them to treat you, or words to that effect. Israel is under seige, and it’s partly by its own doing. The world is a different place to what it was when modern Zionism was born. and you can’t compare Israel to Italy: Italy is not under seige. And how could one possibly justify some right wing religious fantatics, especially those from the former Soviet Union, here having a say in Israel’s politics. If they had a say in the running of Israel, there would be a war and, indeed, they would vote for the deportation of all Arabs under Israel’s control and/or the sterilization of all Palestinian men. I know what I am talking about.

  • Reality Check says:

    Further, Do Italian ex-pats get to vote or those who’s ancestors came from Italy?

  • frosh says:

    Reality Check,

    You might consider changing your first name from Reality to “Google”, because if you had checked on Google, you would have been able to discover that under current Italian law, Italian citizenship is hereditary, for an indefinite number of generations.

  • frosh says:

    Geoff,

    I certainly don’t think Israel should be evicting people from the main settlement blocs.

    I don’t think that Israel should be going back to 1967(so-called) borders.

    I think the Palestinians should have a state, but the idea that their state would be contiguous is a non-starter. After all, even the USA is not contiguous, e.g. Alaska.

  • Reality Check says:

    frosh, why google when I can ask you. But it still doesn’t change a thing.

  • Reality Check says:

    And another thing,Italian is a nationality, while Judaism is a religion.

  • frosh says:

    Judaism is a religion, but being Jewish is being part of an ethnicity – no different to being Greek etc.

    The Jewish people are primarily a tribe (or a collection of tribes).

    Hence http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Buddhist

  • Yaron says:

    This would all be a wonderful idea in a Utopia, but there is reality that gets in the way.

    To borrow an idea from Sir Humphrey, never ask a question in politics if you are not certain of the answer, based on this there are three problems:

    1) While the Jews in Israel generally tend right wing, there is no guarantee that the millions of assimilated Jews will tend the same way, and may skew the numbers back towards the Arabs (which way for example would you imagine Steven Fry would vote?)

    2) How would this affect the Hareidi vote. There are already so many who sponge off the state due to their voting of Hareidi parties, now imagine the ultra-Orthodox in the USA voting in Haredi parties built on the promise that their children’s gap year in yeshiva will be free of charge.

    I bring up the Haredim here, but it could equally apply to all parties in the elections.

    3) The BDS protests will be stepped up and brought into the heart of Caulfield. The pressure on the Jewish community from all people from the Muslims of Coburg to the hippies of the inner city to vote their way will turn Jewish areas into battlegrounds (possibly even violent) every 4 years.

    It would seem that no solution is better than this solution. The truth is that this solution is equally as bad as all other solutions that have ever been suggested.

    The only solution exists only in my own happy little utopia where rainbows lead to pots of gold and the grass tastes of chocolate. The solution is a citizen transfer.

    That is with anyone who makes aliya can relinquish their citizenship from their country of birth. This citizenship is then offered to a Palestinian who leaves Israel and voluntarily relinquishes their “right of return”.

    Now back in the real world we have to come up with the least bad option for a solution.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Hi Geoff

    This proposal ignores the obligations that Israel has under international law to a Palestinian state through agreements it has entered. It also ignores the inherent legitimacy of a Palestinian state and the right that Palestinians have to self determination in the same way that Jews do. That was the solution reached by the international community in 1947. Rejection by successive Palestinian leaders does not dilute the justice of the case for a Palestinian state.

    This proposal would not be supported by the international community including the US. Nor should it. That lack of support of itself would make it not feasible.

    It also makes several assumptions about Israeli opinion that should be challenged.

    Assumption 1 : Israelis want to hold onto the West Bank as a matter of principle. In fact, the majority of Israelis support – in principle – the establishment of a Palestinian state . Most Israelis are secular and do not believe the West Bank has religious value which outweighs the justice of a Palestinian state, or which outweighs the potential benefits for Israel of a Palestinian state including international support for it and the corresponding lack of international support for Israel’s current trajectory. (That is not to say that the majority of Israeli support the creation a Palestinian state in 2011 but that is because of concerns about security not because they want to ‘retain the West Bank’ as this proposal assumes.)

    Assumption 2: That the majority of Israelis would have a problem with he removal of the Jewish population from the West Bank. Israeli opinion distinguishes between the people in areas contiguous with Israel parts of which could be incorporated into Israel with land swaps. Many Israelis have very little patience or respect for the hundred of thousands of settlers in areas not contiguous with Israel, and are infuriated by the expenditure and military burden these settlements impose.

    The PA has at various points conceded that a significant proportion of the settlement areas contiguous with Israel could remain part of Israel under a negotiated settlement. This is not to disregard the odious views of Abass about Jews – but it is politically highly relevant.

    This means that in the unlikely event that Israelis (20% to 25% of whom are not Jewish) were required to consider this proposal they would be faced with the choice between on the one hand, incorporating Diaspora Jews as citizens with full electoral rights notwithstanding that they do not pay taxes, do not contribute to the economy but potentially deplete it, do not serve in the army, do not live the consequences of voting decision and on the other hand, letting go of the West Bank and supporting the government to forcibly remove NOT 600,000 but possibly half of that number of people, from the West Bank.

    I imagine that most Israelis would far rather go with the second option.

    As to your last post about how Israel facilitates the removal of – say 300,000 – citizens from the West Bank. the government could create a limited window in which people can register for long term and short term compensation and then close it. People who choose not to comply can take their chances in Palestine.

    And here’s a useful role for Diaspora Jews – they can support the Israeli government in funding this – by contributing to specific funds to compensate and re-establish people who lose their homes and livelihood.

    Geoff I think you overstate the lack of satisfaction in middle Israel with the removal of resistant settlers from Gaza. I guess it depends who you talk to. You also overlook that many of the hard core objectors were not people who owned homes but political activists. The ‘orange suits’ included many young men with homes elsewhere who relocated to Gush Katif to resist the IDF. There were also many families who left their homes, mainly in the West Bank, and took up residence in Gaza to resist. Of course the removal of hundreds of thousands of people will be ugly and difficult but your proposal is even less feasible and less just.

  • Shaun says:

    I note firstly that Geoff’s take on the demographics is highly dubious. The figure of 600,000 settlers assumes the neighborhoods in east Jerusalem are settlements. The Palestinians have accepted in negotiations that these will be annexed in any final settlement. The figure of 1.6 million Palestinians in the WB is based on partisan right wing sources not considered serious by demographers. The true number is approx 2.5 million. He is obviously ignored the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.

    The concept of granting voting rights to non-citizens of a state for the transparent purpose of ensuring a political goal is unworkable. We would not simply be giving the vote to Israeli emigrants but to people who may never have ever been to Israel at all let alone participated in Israeli civic life. It’s a non- starter proposal. No one other than segments of israel’s right wing camp would agree to such a proposal.

    Perhaps a better approach would be for Netanyahu to actually seriously negotiate a two state solution and continue where Olmert was Abu Mazen were in their negotiations before he lost office. It is quite clear as for example Bernard Avishai’s article in the New York Times made clear whilst gaps remained, Olmert and Abu Mazen were getting closer to resolving final status issues.

  • Zak Goichman says:

    @Shaun

    The figure of 2,500,000 by all accounts is the highest threshold and includes east Jerusalem Palestinians who are counted as Israeli Arabs
    Therefore 2,000,000 should do as a compromise between the upper and lower bounds.

    But I think this article deals with a solution that includes incorporating Judea and Samaria into Israel so I don’t think this is the forum to push for a Palestinian state within the west bank.

  • geoff bloch says:

    Hi Mandi,

    I’ll address your 2 preliminary comments first and then move on to the 2 assumptions.

    It’s rather difficult to respond to your assertion that the proposal ignores Israel’s obligations to a Palestinian state under international law when you don’t articulate what those obligations are, what their tenure and conditions are and whether they are susceptible to being validly and lawfully discharged for the Palestinians’ repudiatory breach.

    You concede the “rejection by successive Palestinian leaders.” In contract law (and international covenants may well be governed by similar principles but that’s not my area of practice), if one side repudiates an agreement, the other party can elect to discharge the agreement which then frees it from all obligations.

    I suspect this is a complex area which would be difficult for us to explore in this forum.

    I question your sweeping statement that “rejection by successive Palestinian leaders does not dilute the justice of the case for a Palestinian state.” That is simply stating a conclusion or opinion which you have not supported with any argument. Frankly, I would have thought that the very opposite is true – namely that every unreasonable rejection of a reasonable peace offer does indeed render the Palestinian case for statehood less deserving or just. And there is a moral basis for regarding it as such because if there IS no loss or penalty for intransigence, that simply emboldens and rewards a fixed and unreasonable position. That is why, ironically, criticizing Israel while failing to hold Palestinians to account and forgiving their intransigence, has always been counter-productive.

    Similarly, your sweeping statement that “this proposal would not be supported by the international community including the US….that lack of support of itself would make it not feasible” is again, simply stating a conclusion or opinion without any argument supporting it. How can you possibly know? You don’t have a crystal ball. If Assad can murder thousands of his own citizens without drawing any meaningful response from Obama, why assume that conferring citizenship on Palestinians, which is the ultimate act of friendship, would draw US ire? You shouldn’t be so ungenerous in your estimation of our US friends!

    Now to the assumptions.

    As to the first assumption: Although it’s far from clear, I am prepared, for the sake of argument, to accept your assertion that the majority of Israelis do not want to hold onto the West Bank because they are secular and do not believe the West Bank has religious value. So what? Their wishes and beliefs are not my focus. The whole point of my article is that regardless of all these things, many hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews live in the West Bank and they cannot and will not be moved and that a two-state solution cannot be implemented. We can wring our hands and fret all we like but that has become the fact.

    As to the second assumption: Again, for the sake of argument, I am prepared to accept your assertion that Israeli opinion distinguishes between Jews living in parts of the West Bank close to and contiguous with Israel which could be incorporated into Israel with land swaps and those living deep within the West Bank in areas which would be forfeited. And again I say, so what? Even if one subtracts the 330,000 Jews living in the Gush, Maale Adumim, Ariel and Ramot (areas which would be annexed by Israel in any settlement or otherwise), that still leaves almost 300,000 Jews who would have to be evicted from their homes. That is still far too massive a number for Israel seriously to consider rehabilitating inside the Green Line. It just won’t happen.

    Your idea of compensating 300,000 Jews is fanciful. It may sound a good idea but you make the unsound assumption that Israel could afford the billions (or is that trillions) of dollars it would cost in compensation or that the 300,000 Jews would voluntarily move back within the Green Line. An offer based on opening a temporary window of opportunity for compensation didn’t obviate the forced expulsion of Jews from Gaza, so why do you assume it would work in the West Bank on a scale 35 times greater?

    Finally, it your prerogative to regard the proposal as unjust, but if you make the leap, as I reluctantly have, that a Palestinian State in the West Bank has become a pipedream, then justice really boils down to comparing the difference between maintaining the status quo, where Palestinian Arabs are disenfranchised and something like my proposal, where Palestinian Arabs would share the very same rights as Israeli Jews.

    Regards,

    Geoff

  • Nathan Cherny says:

    This is a bizare abd ridiculous proposal that distorts notions of justce and democracy. It is a what I would call a “talmudic” style
    justification of appartheid that as an Israeli I would want no part of.

    This discussion is not worthy of GA.

  • Reality Check says:

    Nathan, now you can see what sort of rubbish we reasonable people here have to deal with.

  • geoff bloch says:

    Hi Nathan,

    I have noticed both on this site and elsewhere, how readily some people, including extremely intelligent ones, give knee-jerk, negative reactions and condemn ideas without the slightest attempt to engage in honest and intellectual argument.

    Ironically, calls for the censorship of ideas increasingly come from those to the left of the political spectrum. If you’re interested in reading about this phenomenon, Frosh has written an article on this very point which you can access at:

    http://galusaustralis.com/2009/12/2466/look-who%E2%80%99s-afraid-of-free-speech-now/

    Regards,

    Geoff

  • Reality Check says:

    Yeah right Geoff, the right: the greatest defenders of free speech

  • Morry says:

    Fascinating article, Geoff, if only on the theoretical level.

    Let me address a couple of issues. “What enrages the left” is undoubtedly quite accurate, but the proposition that Israel “acquired” the West Bank in 1967, is simplistic and misleading. If you trace the actual land ownership, it passed, by agreement, from the Ottomans to the WW1 allies, and again by contract to create the various states of the Middle East, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, Iraq, and the Jewish Homeland of Palestine. Palestine was defined as the territory west of the Jordan River, which includes the West Bank and Gaza. 1948 was little more than a name change, in which Palestine declared itself to be called Israel. Around the same time Transjordan named itself “Jordan”.

    Unlike some Security Council resolutions, UN General Assembly resolutions have no real legal status, and are mostly advisory. Historically it means that without agreement between the parties there could be no partition of Palestine in 1947, and it also means that a General Assembly resolution recognising the State of Palestine is, at best, a great PR coup, but is largely symbolic. That is the reason all UN Genral Assembly resolutions are couched in the terms “This Assembly recommends…”, and why all relating to Israeli-Arab conflicts have recommended that the parties come to agreements … sometimes adding suggestions.

    There are further complications. Not just does Israel have a primary claim to the lands that once belonged to the Ottomans, but both the West Bank and Gaza contain large tracts of land that are Jewish titled. The idea of Jews being removed from these areas, especially ones like the Etzion Bloc with its bloody history, would be unacceptable to most Israelis, who would, however, welcome extremist Jews being removed from illegal outposts.

    The major issue I have is with how easily we fall for arguments that incorporate roads, well, pretty much anything, to augment the Jewish presence in the West Bank. The reality is that settlements sit on a mere 1.5% of the land, and that the curreent path of the security fence puts 98% of the Arab population on one side of the fence, whilst including most Jews, and Jewish titled property, on the other. So why can’t the fence make up the border? … I was about to fall into the trap of saying “instead of the 1967 lines”, but they’re not “1967” lines at all. They’re actually the “1949 Armstice Lines”. They have been renamed both for PR purposes and to prevent people from looking up the agrrements that formulated them. One of those was that they will never serve as a border, but that borders will (again) be the result of agreements.

    The Palestinians are trying to circumvent these requirements, and those of all subsequent agreements including Oslo. Current international legal advice is that the PLO will be digging its own grave if the resolution passes, nullifying itself, and all agreements reached with Israel to date.

    As to my solution, it’s far simpler. The Mandate of Palestine was divided in 1924, in much the same way as India was into India and Pakistan, to create a small Jewish Homeland, “Palestine” and a very large Arab one on the other side of the Jordan River, “Transjordan”. The people living in Jordan are of the same stock, with the same culture, as those currently seeking their own state. If we’re talking theoretically, the ideal solution is to make the fence Israel’s border, to hand the remainder of the West Bank to Jordan, thus restoring the very acceptable status of Jordanian citizens enjoyed by West Bank rsidents from 1948 to 1967. I would dig a tunnel under the Negev, thus connecting Gaza, and giving Jordan a much needed port on the Mediterranean. Theoretically, at least, I think this solution ideal.

  • Zak Goichman says:

    Nathan and Reality Check,

    What’s wrong in nationalism? Is it the sole privilege of developing countries?
    Can’t one support nationalism and at the same time preach tolerance, coexistence, peace and pragmatism.

    Nationalism doesn’t mean Nazism or the encroachment on other peoples’ rights.
    To most it simply means social cohesion.

    As for the Judea and Samaria… With all due respect to our Palestinian brethern, they have the East Bank (Jordan) that is already over 60% Palestinian. If they feel like exercising their right to self determination they can do so there.

    Israel has to remain Jewish if Jews and Arabs are to live here in harmony.

  • Mark Symons says:

    Geoff – Interesting idea overall.

    I agree that there would be civil uproar were there an attempt by the Israeli government – to evacuate Jewish communities from Yehuda/Shomron. But regardless of the Palestinians’ racist condition that a nascent Palestinian state must be Judenrein, in the event of a Palestinian state being established there, the Jewish communities living away from the main settlement blocs would most likely voluntarily evacuate themselves from those areas anyway.

    But regardless of any entitlement of Palestinian Arabs to their own state in Yehuda/Shomron, it would simply be too dangerous for Israel for the forseeable future.

  • Philip Mendes says:

    Absolutely bizarre, but my main question is not about practicality but rather about credibility. The author is saying that Israel’s settlement policies in the West Bank have made a two-state solution difficult if not impossible. This is an argument promoted world wide by academic Virginia Tilley, and other BDS advocates. I don’t agree since what has been done by political will can equally be undone by political will. But mainly I want to ask Geoff: does this mean you always opposed the West Bank settlements from 1977 and even earlier by Labor Governments? Does this mean you protested when the Begin and then Shamir governments stepped up the settlement expansion? Does this mean you would philosophically support two states if only it was not too hard (in your opinion) to dismantle the settlements?

    PM

  • geoff bloch says:

    Hi Mark and Philip,

    Mark,

    On what do you base your opinion that Jewish communities would voluntarily evacuate from the West Bank in the event a Palestinian State were established? Most political commentators accept (and I agree) that even if the UN General Assembly recognises such a state on 20 September, it will not alter facts on the ground. We are not talking a few hilltop settlements comprised of some caravans with no infrastructure. The Jewish population in the West Bank, excluding the 330,000 who live in the settlement blocs which sooner or later will be annexed by Israel in any event, comprises almost 300,000 people living in well over 100 communities. This is a massive number of people. They physically cannot and will not be resettled to the west of the Green Line even if there were a general will voluntarily to relocate. There IS no such will anyway.

    Philip,

    I have been reflecting on your superficially seductive statement that “what has been done by political will can equally be undone by political will”. While that may apply in some very limited and simple cases, I suspect that in most cases, you cannot easily put the toothpaste back in the tube. It is axiomatic that the more complex the case, the more difficult it would be to undo what has been done and I think I am safe in saying that we can at least agree that the case we are discussing is one of the more complex cases!

    You have specifically asked me to describe where I have stood in relation to settlement expansion over the years. I studied in Yeshiva in Jerusalem in 1974 soon after the establishment of Gush Emunim (the settler movement) and I remember being captivated at first with their pioneering spirit in reclaiming our ancestral homeland to which we have had the title deeds for over 3,500 years. But I also remember thinking a second time within that same year that they might be creating a potential political minefield. My greatest teacher at Yeshiva was the late Nechama Leibowitz z”l. Her brother, Yeshayahu Leibowitz z”l, was a lone voice calling for restraint as he foresaw the problems which lay ahead.

    You may not remember, but in 1991, when Sam Lipski was editor, the AJN published an opinion piece in which I argued that Israel did not have a genuine peace partner and that Israel’s military jurisdiction in the West Bank and Gaza over a disenfranchised Arab population was unjust and tore at the fabric of Israeli society. I argued then that Israel should act unilaterally by partially annexing the West Bank immediately to the east of the Green Line so as to incorporate most of the Jewish settlements and otherwise by unilaterally withdrawing from the West Bank and Gaza so as to leave a region within which the Palestinians could realise their political and national aspirations. That was many years before “acting unilaterally” arrived on the Israeli political agenda. So my support for a two-state solution for most of the past 44 years since Israel won the 6 Day War is documented (if you or anyone else reading this are interested and want to read my opinion piece from 1991, feel free to email me on blochg@vicbar.com.au and I will email it).

    However, I must hasten to add that by the time Israel did indeed act unilaterally in 2005, I opposed the hitnatkut because it seemed obvious to me, after the failed Oslo Accords and after witnessing 15 painful years of growing Palestinian intransigence and sickening terrorism and brutality, that Israel’s gesture in providing an opportunity to the Palestinians to nation build would be counter-productive. I knew then that it would breed a terrorist State and that Israel’s civilians in southern communities would be rocketed relentlessly. I debated the point publicly immediately prior to the hitnatkut at Beth Weizman in August 2005 (my childhood friend and classmate Johnny Baker and Sam Tatarka also participated). It gives me no pleasure in being able to say today “I told you so”.

    My point now, Philip, is that it really doesn’t matter anymore where one stands in relation to settlements and the two-state solution. It is of course indescribably painful to those who have supported it to face the fact that the settlers have indeed won by default. The world community simply refuses to face the reality that 600,000 Jews are in the West Bank to stay. As I wrote in answer to Mandi Katz, I have reluctantly concluded that the two-state solution has become a pipedream and that justice for the Palestinians really boils down to comparing the difference between maintaining the status quo, where Palestinian Arabs are disenfranchised and something like my proposal, where Palestinian Arabs would at least share the very same citizenship and democratic rights as Israeli Jews.

    It may not be the perfect outcome many had hoped for, but this is not a perfect world and who knows, forging such a union between Jews and Palestinians may hold more promise for a peaceful and prosperous future than would a two-state solution, with two hostile, resentful neighbours living side by side.

    Regards,

    Geoff

  • TheSadducee says:

    Geoff

    Can you point out where the Palestinians have clearly stated that no Jews will be permitted to live in their proposed State?

  • Zak Goichman says:

    @TheSadducee

    http://www.israelsituation.com/2010/12/abbas-no-jews-in-palestinian-state/

    I suggest you do your homework better next time.

  • Moe says:

    Exciting Reading, thanks Geoff,

    From an Arab perspective, I would support this idea, and no, not for the reasons you may think!

    Let’s be honest, Israel is the beacon of real prosperity in the Middle East. I believe this to be the potent check for peace and security consistent with your proposal.

    Arab’s (Including those in Gaza and South Lebanon) will see this marriage from a purely opportunistic (economic) perspective. There is much potential in these Arab populations that have been starved of prosperity and seeking a real opportunity. The Arab Spring only reinforces this hypnosis.

    I believe your proposal can succeed given the following amendment;
    -Israeli citizenship to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and refugees around the world, granted over a period of 20 years.
    I.e. Israeli citizenship for everybody above the ages of 80 immediately.
    Five years later, citizenship for everybody above the age of 60,
    Five years again, for everybody above 30,
    and in the 20th year citizenship for all.

    I believe this sustainable migration approach can help foster intercultural harmony in the new generation that is detached from the hatred attitudes prevalent on both sides today.

    Over the course of 20 years, Arab’s will experience prosperity and will have no other choice but to thank Jews for it.

    I could talk more about the vital checks and balances this approach makes, but I will leave you to think about it a little more.

    Kind Regards,

    Moe

  • Aaron says:

    Very, very strange. I ask, as a couple of others have, how the rest of the world would see this. Engineering a majority for the sake of political control. There a probably some inflammatory analogies that I could use, but for this argument would use a safer one.

    How about Quebec was about to break away from the rest of Canada, had a near French-speaking majority in Canada as a whole, and English speaking Canada was determined to keep it as part of their birthright? Would it be a reasonable thing to enrol all English speaking people across the world, in order so that a majority could be held? And do you really think that the French speaking people of Canada would accept this and not rebel in some way?

    The analogy with Italy is ridiculous. From what I can tell, and I am no expert in Italian politics, the foreign vote contributes 6 senators out of 315. The diaspora vote in Israel would outnumber the vote of Israeli residents. Secondly, Italy is not in the middle of one of the most volatile and disputed regions on earth. Arguing about democratic principles here would be an academic exercise, particularly given the small contribution of the foreigh vote. In Israel and Palestine, it would be a life and death decision.

  • geoff bloch says:

    Hi Aaron,

    You have posed the important question as to how the rest of the world would see this proposal. I think it is likely, although we cannot really know without the necessary research (which I don’t think would be all that difficult to undertake), that a significant majority of Palestinians would accept Israel’s offer of citizenship in the hope of a peaceful and prosperous future.

    Surely the rest of the world would have to see that result as far preferable to the status quo under which the Palestinians are disenfranchised.

    I would go further. Those interested in justice for the Palestinians don’t need to be “more Palestinian” than the Palestinians themselves. So were a majority to accept citizenship, I would question the true motives of those who maintained their rage against Israel.

    Although you use the expression “political control” in a derogatory sense, the UN General Assembly itself called for the establishment of Jewish State in Eretz-Israel (on 29 November, 1947) which indeed recognised the Jewish people’s political right to nationhood in their ancient homeland.

    Geoff

  • Aaron says:

    Geoff. With great respect, I cannot fault your logic. To me, I am against the idea that a Jew (or Palestinian) in the diaspora has as much claim to influence political process as a Jew or a Palestinian in their homeland. Maybe this is a faultline for me, between Zionism and post- Zionism. I wish nothing but the best for all the people in the area, and I would love to see Israel a peaceful and secure nation. I do not want to use my Judaism to guarantee a Jewish majority, however, and if that means a break with Zionism, which you would probably rightly argue it does, then I will have to wear that. I am certainly not anti-Zionist, however I do not feel I could support this if it came to the crunch. I am unlikely to be alone.

  • Morry & Zac are on the money – any pragmatic solution is going to have to involve Jordan, which has a majority of Palestinians. The border issue will remain a stalemate until the security of Israel under those borders can be reached (as provided by UN resolution 242). The Jordan valley is an essential security buffer zone.

  • geoff bloch says:

    Hi David,

    I agree with you that Israel will almost certainly always insist on retaining the Jordan rift valley and surrounding the whole of the West Bank, for basic security reasons,

    But your comments are otherwise ambiguous because they allow for a number of interpretations. For example, when you say that “any pragmatic solution is going to have to involve Jordan, which has a majority of Palestinians”, do you mean (1) that Israel should withdraw from most of the West Bank and transfer administration and military jurisdiction to the Jordanians rather than to the PA? Or do you mean (2) that there should be a population transfer of Palestinian Arabs to Jordan as it is ethnically homogenous, leaving the West Bank free for Jews to continue to colonise? Or (3) do you mean something else and, if so, what?

    You may have meant (1) because you refer to UN security council resolution 242 which indeed calls for Israel to withdraw from territories captured in 1967 and the right of “every State in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries”. But if so, there are a number of questions left unanswered. Do you support Israel withdrawing from Yehuda and Shomron or do you envisage Israel retaining Jewish settlements but transferring administration to Jordan on the presumption that Jordan would tolerate a Jewish minority in the West Bank? If you meant that you would support Israel withdrawing from the West Bank but not from the main settlement blocs, then how would you solve the problem of rehabilitating the other 270,000 Jews living elsewhere in Yehuda and Shomron?

    I doubt you meant (2) because if you favoured population transfer, you probably would have come right out and said so.

    Which leaves (3) and leaves me to ponder just what you do mean! I obviously cannot comment until you clarify your position.

    Regards,

    Geoff

    p.s. At least yesterday’s disappointing loss gives us a better draft pick!

  • Reality Check says:

    Good idea, David W, Israel should give the West Bank back to Jordon and let them deal with the problem. But in regard to, now it’s the Jordon Valley: doesn’t a valley form on both sides of the river? Keep playing with those words and terms David, and maybe one day you’ll get it right.

  • Reality Check says:

    Geoff, This population transfer of the Palestinians; hasn’t that sort of thing been tried by countries during both world wars, and with great success, I understand. Some called it re-settlement.

  • geoff bloch says:

    Dear RC,

    I’m at a loss as to why you have addressed your last post to me which refers to population transfer. Nowhere, neither in my article nor in any of my responses to participants in this debate, have I advocated population transfer as a solution. To the contrary, I specifically mentioned in the article that population transfer is well beyond Israel’s moral compass.

    I was therefore not going to respond to your post as your post was not responsive to anything I had written. The only reason I AM writing this is to disabuse the casual reader of your post that I may have advocated otherwise.

    GDB

  • Geoff,

    My intent was just to endorse Morry and Zac’s views regarding the role of Jordan the peace process. They are the elephant in the room, which everyone has conveniently chosen to forget and instead put the onus entirely on Israel for create peace.

    Given that the PA requires any future Palestinian state to be Judenrein, population transfer is probably the only method to achieve this. The question then becomes which populations get transferred. If Israel annexed the West Bank, it would still be reasonable to give the population the option to either become Israeli citizens or move to Jordan/Palestine. Such an option would never be offered to Jews living in a future Palestinian state, would it?

    RC – you use the term “re-settlement” like it’s a dirty word. Do you have a real path to peace that doesn’t involve it?

    PS Richmond premiership before peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Pretty safe bet, eh?

  • Reality Check says:

    No Geoff, you don’t advocate outrightly population transfer, but when that idea pops up in David W’s comment, you don’t rebut it. To me that’s almost the same as agreeing to it. If you failed to communicate your point properly and you oppose the idea outrightly, I do apologize. So please let me know where you stand.

  • Zak Goichman says:

    @Reality Check

    Whats wrong in population transfers if this can prevent further bloodshed?

    Hasn’t it been done before with ehtnic Germans removed from Eastern Europe
    and Turkish-Greek population exchanges.

    Don’t forget that 900,000 Arab Jews fled Arab countries and were resettled in Israel.

  • Reallity Check says:

    Zac, what the he’ll are talking about. I am talking about resettlement as a ethemism for genocide,

  • Zak Goichman says:

    Reality Check,
    you mean euphemism.

    No one would EVER contemplate genocide… Nobody here talked about Genocide, nobody thinks Genocide.

    How can you even say such horrible things??

  • TheSadducee says:

    @Zak

    Thanks for the link – Abbas appears to refer to Israelis rather than Jews.

    Can you or anyone point out where specifically the Palestinians have formally published a plan for their state which says that it will have no Jews in it?

  • Reality Check says:

    Mr.Goichmann, what about ethnic cleaning. You you prefer that. I do hope I haven’t got any spelling errors this time. That’s one thing about fascists, they really care about getting the spelling rihtg.

  • Zak Goichman says:

    @Reality Check

    Fascist?? :)
    The extreme left loves to use that label. Even when a person is pro-personal freedom, pro-gay, pro-minorities, anti-religious fanatism, anti any form of violence, he is still a fascist in your eyes?

    Anyway, I’m for population transfer when it means less people getting killed. But in this case I guess Palestinians will not move of their own accord and Israel will never move them forcefully (we are not fascists despite everything you have read on Al Jazeera)
    and therefore in this case I’m FOR annexing the West Bank and giving Palestinians there full voting rights.

    But i’m not for granting voting rights to Jews who don’t make the effort of Aliya. Since there must be a token of commitment on the part of future Jewish citizens of Israel.
    Jews can’t get citizenship from the comfort of their American homes.

    250,000 American Jews have already made the move and hopefully many more will come and share in the awesome Israeli experience.

    @TheSadducee

    There are Jews living in Palestine for whom it is more important to live in that part of the Holy Land than live in a Jewish state.
    They are willing to stay but Abbas is not willing to let them stay.
    This is racism. There are many Arabs in Israel and there should be Jews (Israeli or others) in any future Palestine (if there ever will be one)

  • TheSadducee says:

    @Zak

    The reference that I have been referred to indicates that Abbas was talking about Israelis living in a Palestinian state. I suggest he was specific about this because he didn’t want an opportunity for interference by the Israeli govt. in a Palestinian state on behalf of their citizens. This is understandable – most states would act similarly.

    I haven’t seen any specific reference yet to anyone saying that no Jews would be allowed in a Palestinian state – if they renounced their Israeli citizenship and adopted Palestinian citizenship I can’t see what the problem would be?

    I think the claim based on the reference provided is innaccurate – and I call again on readers or the article author to point me to where it is specifically stated Jews are not allowed to live in a future Palestine.

  • Zak Goichman says:

    @Sadducees

    I think you’re reading more into his statements than can be supported by his speech

    Had Israel said “we won’t accept the presence of even a single Palesitinian when we annex the west bank” would you be lenient and elusive on that too?

    Btw about 15% of Israeli Arabs haven’t renounced their previous citizenship and yet the only thing they can’t do till they accept Israeli citizenship is vote in national elections. Everything else including voting in municipal elections is open to them.

    Now let’s put it aside. We both know that Abbas doesn’t have enough control over the west bank to prevent civil war between the 500,000 Jews and 2,000,000 living there in the hypothetical situation of pull out to 67 borders.

  • Sophie says:

    Geoff,
    thank you for the intriguing and well-reasoned article.
    I have a few questions that occured to me after reading it:

    1) What is the source of the population growth figures that you quote? I have found greatly differing numbers in different sources. For example a study at

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/142226

    says that Jewish population growth is increasing while Arab is declining within Israel proper, while (according to other sources) in the West Bank the growth of Arabs is only slightly higher (3.1) than that of Jews (2.9) These do not support your assumption of Arabs outnumbering Jews anytime soon.

    2) If an Arab majority is indeed not a forseeable threat, would you still say the status quo is unsustainable? By status quo I mean containing Hamas in Gaza, and continuing the slowly improving economic cooperation with the PA.
    I have doubts this can be sustained due to the Islamic change in Egypt and elsewhere in the region, the weakness of Abbas and the apparent growing extremism of Palestinian Arabs, but would like to know your opinion.

    3) Why do you say that annexing only parts of the WB, leaving out the major Arab centers, is no longer possible or advisable?

    4) How do you think Israel could prevent terrorist attacks following annexation when, presumably, the separation fence will sooner or later need to be much more permeable than it is now?

    Thank you,
    S.

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