Palestine: More than one way to do a two-state solution. November 18, 2009
Why does everyone assume that in order for there to be a two-state solution in Palestine, the Palestinian state has to include the entire pre-1967 West Bank? Why could they not just enlarge the current Palestinian zones considerably? You would have a “Samaria” in the north, an entity probably called “Idumaya” including the Palestinian portions of Bethlehem and Hebron, the Gaza strip, and autonomous “free cities” of Jericho, Qalqilya, and possibly Tulkarm if it can’t be connected to Samaria. These areas will be fully autonomous, and perhaps eventually an independent nation or nations, but until trust is established, which will be many years, the border fence will be necessary.
A couple catches that may make this hard to swallow for the Israelis.
First, rural lands in Palestine are associated with a particular village or town, and belong to it – sort of a township system. You can see that referred to in Leviticus. The Wall should run on township boundaries. If it separates any village from the farmlands or pastoral lands that belong to that village, the wall must be moved.
Second, all non-Jewish residents outside the defined Palestinian territories must become full citizens of Israel, with full property rights, not subject to arbitrary confiscation or squatter settlement. Their status must become, at the very least, equal to that of the Israeli citizen Arabs of the Galilee. It was because Israel cannot digest the entire Palestinian population as citizens that the one- state option cannot be considered. So Israel has to draw the boundaries of the Palestinian entities large enough to include considerable numbers of the Palestinians, because those who are not in the Territories are entitled to full Israeli citizenship.
If there are “settlements” caught in the expanded borders of the Palestinian Territories, their residents can be given the choice of moving out or becoming citizens of the Palestinian State. (Maybe the Palestinian State can handle a few Jewish citizens, if Israel can handle Arab citizens. I have often imagined that the Haredim of Mea Shearim, who won’t serve in the military or, some of them, even recognize the Jewish state, could with profit be included within the Palestinian state!
“Settlements” in the territory remaining to Israel will be examined carefully for their legal status. The Palestinian property owners will now be citizens of Israel with full rights, and if the settlements are squatters, they will have to go. If they own their land legally, they can stay, but their non-Jewish neighbors, on the same side of the fence, are equal citizens.
This seems to me to be the most just resolution of the problem. There is no perfect solution.