When this article was written many misconceptions existed regarding a Palestinian state, and press articles about a separation process hardly existed. As of 2013 it seems that the majority of Israelis are aware of the need in a Palestinian state.
Geographical separation and Palestinian state – A first priority for a Democratic and Jewish State of Israel
Geographical separation from the Palestinians and a stable, viable, peaceful Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel are essential for the future of Israel as a democratic and Jewish (secular) state. This is due to the demographic map in the area: Millions of Palestinians and millions of Jews with different cultures and traditions. Israel should vigorously pursue this as a goal, while maintaining military presence (with no Jewish civilian presence) and full control of its security during the future Palestinian state formation process. Given the current situation this process is going to be difficult and possibly long. Such process is crucial in spite of opposition, provocation, interference, and sabotage, by Arabs (including Palestinians), Jews, and others. Israel should be committed to the goal of a Palestinian state regardless of who is right, who populated the area earlier, who think that God promised what to whom, and who initiated hostility and terror in the region. For its own interests Israel should immediately seize building and expanding Jewish settlements in areas intended for the Palestinian state, since they interfere with the process, waste precious resources, and lead to the impossibility of separation into two states. For the same reason Israel should seriously and urgently evacuate existing settlements that are intended to reside in the future Palestinian state. Thus Israelis should elect a government that is committed to proactively pursuing an agreement with the Palestinians, the establishment of a Palestinian state, and unilaterally, urgently evacuating its intended area from Jewish settlements. The current government of Israel acts from a combination of delusional ideology and seemingly short-term personal interests. By this it clearly sabotages crucial long-term strategic interests of Israel.
The State of Israel wishes to be democratic and Jewish (in the national sense, not religious; most of the Israeli citizens are secular, but with a strong Jewish Identity). This assumption has always been the vision of Israel, and still seems to be the consensus among the majority of its citizens. It is the basis for the discussion below, carried out through questions and answers that lead to the conclusion of a need in a Palestinian state. Fundamental relevant facts are outlined, and the main steps necessary for Israel to reach this goal are described.
Question: What is a democratic Jewish state?
Answer: For most Israeli citizens a simplistic common definition is the following: It is first a democratic secular state with freedom of religion. It is also a state with the values, symbols, culture, and heritage of the Jewish people, as gathered during History in various centers in the world of Jewish life, and especially in the Land of Israel, including in the State of Israel since its establishment. It is a home for every Jew, i.e., a person with the Jewish nationality (in a broad sense; no definition is given here for a Jew). All those aspects give the state its special Jewish-Israeli content and feel, and should be officially and practically maintained by the State of Israel. To sustain this definition a Jewish majority is needed. Without a Jewish majority the state loses it Jewish distinction and becomes like many other states with Jewish population.
Q: Why is a Palestinian state a first priority for Israel?
A: A physical separation from the Palestinians is a crucial for the State of Israel’s future as a democratic Jewish state of the Jewish people. Without a separation, the State of Israel is going to lose its Jewish majority in few years. A democratic state without a Jewish majority cannot maintain its distinct Jewish and Israeli nature (from the national, cultural and symbolic points of views; the religious aspect is less important to most of the Israeli citizens, but no majority of a non-Jewish religion is desired). In a democratic state it is impossible for the minority to rule and control the majority, while officially enforcing its values, symbols, habits, holidays, etc. as laws of the state. Since the Palestinians are not going to leave the area or disappear, without a separation they are going to be a major factor in determining the nature of Israel, including its government, military and other major institutions. They even may become the decisive majority, while enforcing their own respective characteristics on the state. Thus a separation to two states is a must.
Another important reason for the need in separation is the over a century years old tension between the Jewish population and the Arab Muslim population in Israel and it’s surrounding: The Jewish state of Israel has been perceived by Arab Muslims as a strange, improper entity in the area, and most Muslim population in the area, as well as many Arab countries, are hostile to Israel. Many openly still wish its destruction. As a result a mutual suspicion exists between the Jewish and Muslim populations in Israel. It will take many years of education with good will of both sides to reduce this suspicion. Though the Muslim population usually enjoys citizens’ rights of equality in the eye of the Israeli law, most Muslims are practically profiled and discriminated, both for security reasons (e.g., most Muslim citizens cannot serve in the Israeli military, with many implications) and by reasons of safety concerns, real and imaginary, by most of the Jewish population. Thus increasing the Muslim population of Israel by annexing areas with substantial Muslim population will only increase the tension in Israel between Jews and Muslims. This may result in official discrimination against Muslims, apartheid, and the end of a democratic Jewish state. An economically successful Palestinian state will provide the Palestinians the means of national expression and satisfaction, may reduce the tension, and clear the way for cooperation between the Jewish and Palestinian states.
Q: Can’t Israel just “get rid” of the Palestinians and “solve” the problem?
A: No, Israel cannot!
Some proven-to-work methods for getting rid of millions of people include:
Such are out of question, of course.
Also, along History examples exist of large and small transfers of population from one area to another, to gain control over peoples and territories. Such a “solution” is out of question as well.
Some describe a “solution” by using for the Palestinians the Hebrew uncommon term “YITKAPDU” which means in a free translation “Will shrink, vanish, or annihilate” (by an act of God?). Such beliefs seem to be quite secretly held by an extreme, delusional, but vocal minority only.
All the above “solutions” are out of question. It is a matter of fact that Israel is going to live in the Land of Israel together with millions of Palestinians for any foreseen future.
Q: What about Historic rights and Justice?
A: The existence of a Democratic Jewish State in the Land of Israel is the culmination of Historic rights and Justice. The existence of the State of Israel in the Land of Israel is involved with some major claims regarding rights and justice. Major claims, which are sometimes conflicting, are the following:
A Democratic and Jewish State of Israel in the Land of Israel should be considered and maintained the major goal of the State of Israel. Palestinian claims can be resolved without moving Palestinian population from their current locations. This can be accomplished by territorial arrangements between Israel and the Palestinians and possibly economic/monetary compensation. A geographical separation and a proper Palestinian state will well serve the new Palestinian People to self-determination, independence, and Peace.
Q: What should be the territory of the Palestinian state?
A: A viable stable state should sustain its citizens in comfort and with a reasonably solid economic foundation. Thus it should be sufficiently large in territory to allow livelihood, development, and population growth. Without sufficient territory it is unlikely that the Palestinian people will be content and peaceful. A too small territory is a certain cause of instability, hostility, and the lack of Peace. It means that it is a top interest of Israel to allocate and keep a reasonable territory for a Palestinian state.
Q: Do Jewish settlements there contradict keeping a territory for the Palestinians?
A: Yes. They definitely contradict. The more settlements are built inside the intended Palestinian territory, the more difficult it is to keep the needed separation. Evacuation of settlement is very costly and painful. Beyond certain size of a settlement it is practically impossible to evacuate it. The Jews that support settlements know this and are trying to increase settlements’ sizes almost at any cost. Encouraging and financing such settlements have been the biggest mistake of Israeli governments, since now separation is becoming more and more difficult. In some areas the situation already looks irreversible, and changes in the May 67 borders, where the separation was quite clear, are needed. They should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians. Such changes may include territorial swaps, where Israel returns areas to the Palestinians to compensate for settlements that cannot be evacuated. Such arrangement should keep each state’s area continuous, without territorial islands. It should be done in a way that Palestinians do not move from their current location and both land and national separation become clearer: Some Palestinians may need to lose their Israeli citizenship and become citizens of the Palestinian state as part of the agreement.
Q: When can a Palestinian state be established?
A: When a stable agreement is signed, which guarantees both the security of Israel and the livelihood of the Palestinian state. Both states deserve security, but History shows that only the existence of Israel is openly threatened by Arabs (including Palestinians) and is in danger. Examples are threats from the Hamas in the Gaza strip, and the Hizbollah in Lebanon. This cannot happen again. As long as Hamas is in power, openly call for the destruction of Israel, and perform acts of terror against Israel (see the Hamas charter, covenant), such an agreement with the Palestinians is impossible, and thus also a Palestinian state is impossible. Israel should fight the Hamas, a terror organization, with all possible means, probably at the cost of lives lost and suffering, until Hamas changes its intentions. Israel cannot afford signing a lasting agreement with one part of the Palestinian people, while the other part, controlled by Hamas, declaring war on Israel.
Such an agreement may take a long time to materialize, if not both sides are determined and committed to reach it.
Q: What should happen before and until agreement is signed?
A: Two major elements need to take place:
Q: Do the Jewish settlements contribute to the security of Israel?
It is well known that the settlements before and during the establishment of the State of Israel contributed tremendously to its security, and were crucial.
A: No. On the contrary.
The Jewish settlements in Israel, before the declaration of the State of Israel and during its first years, played a crucial role in the foundation and establishment of the state. These sparse settlements in hostile surrounding were major military bases of the fighting army of Israel. Comprising the Israeli presence in remote areas in the Land of Israel, they needed to maintain civil life as much as possible. This included growing children, and surviving economically primarily by Agriculture. The adults in the settlements, both men and women, were a substantial part of the Israeli fighting defense forces. The demographic composition at that time was different, and war actions were imposed on the young state by neighboring countries. These settlements took an active part in the defense of the state’s threatened territory. Now the situation is completely different: Israel is strong, has professional equipped defense forces, the demography is different, and civilian settlements in areas intended for a Palestinian state are completely unnecessary for defense. On the contrary: these settlements are an additional burden to the defense of Israel.
All in all, the too close interaction between the settlers and the Palestinians severely harms and delays any substantial agreement with the Palestinians, and is a clear obstacle to Peace.
Q: Is the State of Israel interested in a two-states solution?
A: Officially Israel is interested. Most of the Jewish population is interested, as polls show. It also has been declared again and again by the heads of the state. Practically Israel acts as if it is trying to sabotage such solution by supporting and increasing the settlements.  By doing so Israel endangers and defeats its own future as a Jewish, democratic state (see arguments above). Though a consensus exists in the world, including Israel, for the logical two-state solution, the governments of Israel, and especially the current right-wing government, have performed acts that will lead into the unacceptable situation of one state (which is the eventual end of a Jewish democratic state).
Q: What are the reasons for an Israeli government to act opposite to the needs of Israel?
A: Said with regret, Israel is held captive by its own coalition system for government. Some in the current group of ministers prevent, on ideological grounds, any action in the direction outlined above, and deem reaching the goal of a Jewish democratic state impossible. These members, detached from reality, do not believe in a two-state solution, and clearly do not want to give up the territory needed for a viable and stable Palestinian state. These people have managed to acquire power and control over the Israeli government during the last elections, and systematically sabotage any possibility for a peace solution. In claiming they want a two-state solution they knowingly deceive and cheat those citizens of Israel who believe in what they hear (though many other citizens, both the government supporters and opponents, do not believe), as well as the rest of the world (with a majority who do not seem to believe either). The credibility of this government in this regard is as low as possible, but this government currently represents Israel and continues to cause damage to the Peace process.
Some of these government members believe they can maintain a long-term control over the Palestinians by military force. Some of them rely on religious beliefs that “God will fulfill his promises to give the entire Land of Israel to the Jews, and will bring a solution.” Both beliefs are delusional and clearly lead Israel into a disastrous situation.
Said with regret as well, many Palestinians call for and act to the destruction of Israel (see the Hamas charter, covenant; see footnote 1) and make it virtually impossible to negotiate. Many Israelis, including some in the government, have lost hope in the possibility to negotiate and reach an agreement. Thus they act as if an agreement is impossible while deteriorating the situation. This is a mistake, and Israel should unilaterally pursue a separation along the principles above, and be ready for the right moment of opportunity to start negotiations for a peaceful Palestinian state, even if it takes many years.
Q: Why is it urgent to reach an agreement for a Palestinian state?
A: Time makes the possibility of a geographical separation between the two peoples into two states harder and harder. The populations grow and become more and more entangled. Separation becomes more and more both costly and painful. It is already close to the point of no return, where separation is unfeasible anymore. This will be the end of the Jewish democratic state dream. Without a physical separation the two peoples will live in one state that will eventually look like the other states in the area. The distinction of a Jewish state for the Jewish Nation in the Land of Israel will be lost forever. Thus reaching an agreement is urgent. Such an agreement is complicated, and may take many years to complete, which makes it even more urgent to start negotiations as soon as possible.
Q: What can the citizens of Israel do?
A: They need to understand and spread the idea of necessity in separation (most of them already support this old idea); protest about the stagnation and inaction in settlement evacuation, and demonstrate against settlement increase, and lies, and sabotage by the government concerning the evacuation; replace this government in the next election. If possible, break the current coalition and cabinet by pressure from citizens on their representatives in the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) to stop supporting the current cabinet. During the next election replace the current government with a government that effectively can execute a plan for pursuing a stable peace, based on a two-state solution, with two viable and prosper states with content citizens. Achieving this may require some fine-tuning by legislation of the election and coalition-building method and process in Israel, which is as well difficult to achieve in the current situation.
It is a top interest and priority of the Democratic Jewish State of Israel to proactively pursue and advance the geographical separation of the Land of Israel into two states. This should be done in spite of severe resistance to the idea and provocations from outside and within Israel. Jewish settlements in areas intended for the Palestinian state should be unilaterally and unconditionally evacuated as soon as possible, rather than being further developed. No new Jewish settlements should be created in these areas. Strong IDF (military) presence in the Palestinian territories should be maintained for the security of Israel, until a peaceful Palestinian state is established. Security guarantees for Israel should be maintained for the foreseen future. The current government of Israel acts from a combination of delusional ideology and seemingly short-term personal interests, and by this sabotages long-term strategic interests of Israel. Dealing with severe threats like nuclear Iran and combatant Hamas and Hizbollah should not delay preparing for a Palestinian state. It is a must for the citizens of Israel to elect a capable government committed to these principles.
Keywords: Israel Palestinian conflict, Palestinian state, occupation, Peace process, unilateral evacuation, separation, disengagement, settlements, IDF, military presence
Hamas Covenant – Wikipedia, Retrieved on October 12, 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamas_Covenant
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