January 2016 Michael L. Wise email@example.com (Original November 2003)
The political division within Israel was highlighted in May 2003, Prime Minister Sharon said, "You cannot like the word, but what is happening (in Gaza, Judea & Samaria) is an occupation -- to hold 3.5 million[i] (sic) Palestinians under occupation I believe that is a terrible thing for Israel and for the Palestinians." With much fanfare and protest, in a first step to end the occupation, in 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza.
The political divide of Israel has a long and ancient history. Tribal conflicts in the time of Joshua to the division of the country between the Kingdom of Judea and the Kingdom of Israel to the destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE to the Bar Kochba revolt weakened the nation. The political disputes of modern Zionism between Weizmann and Ben Gurion and the revisionists reflected deep divisions within the Yishuv.
Today, Israel suffers from significant internal conflicts revolving around the "occupation" and the "settlers". In the eyes of many well meaning people, ongoing military occupation undermines Israel's international standing and strengthens violent organizations such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, Tanzim, and Hizballah. Arabs both in Israel and the West Bank Arabs are being increasingly incited to violence by these terrorist organizations and the PA who claim that Israel as an occupier plans genocide or expulsion and the destruction of the Al Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount.
The status quo in the West Bank divides the nation and is opposed by persons for different reasons across the Israeli political spectrum.[ii] The Arab initiative is promoted by those who believe that it creates a pathway to regional peace and acceptance of Israel. But, dramatic and rapidly changing events in the Middle East, including the Iran deal, emergence of ISIS, drop in the oil, fears of Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations, suggest that Israel's future role in the Middle east and its relations with the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia does not depend on the creation of a Palestinian state. West Bank Arabs and many in the international community are beginning to understand that two state proposals lead to a dead end.[iii] Nonetheless, the US State Department[iv], the UN, European leaders and others, are obsessed with two state initiatives that seek to force Israel to relinquish control of its security and endanger its very existence. In the face of widespread political meltdown and disarray in many parts of Africa, Asia, and the middle east (including Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iraq) causing massive suffering and creating tens of millions of Arab refugees at risk of starvation and death, there is still a global clamor, supported by many well meaning Israelis and Diaspora Jews to create a Hamastan or a Fatah led state less than 5 miles from the Tel Aviv Airport.
The time has come to end the military occupation of the Jewish heartland and to end the division within Israel and the discord among caring Jews worldwide. Whether one agrees or disagrees with Sharon's formulation, it is time to unify the country. There are two alternative and difficult paths: (i) Creation of a Palestinian state with the hope that, unlike all those failed states in the Middle East, it will escape disarray and bedlam, and that unlike irredentist Arab hostility over the past 100 years, it will constructively seek to live in peace with the Jews in a non Muslim State of Israel or (ii) Unification of Israel and the West Bank, encompassing many mutually hostile elements, and seek to create an environment in which Arabs and Jews will live peacefully within a Jewish democratic state. Creation of a peaceful, constructive Palestinian Arab and Muslim state in the heart of the Land of Israel would seem clearly impossible when one considers the historical and present day experience.[v] Thus the path of Unification must be pursued.
Unification will replace military rule with Israeli civil law. It will provide a well-defined progressive and liberal status for West Bank Arabs who share the wide-spread fear among all Israelis, that regional terrorism will engulf them and those who prefer to live peaceful lives. Israel will no longer be an "occupier" and all those who live in Israel can focus their immense energies more productively. It will have a greater incentive to improve the economy and infrastructure within West Bank communities. The PA will no longer rule and Israel will have normal and accepted flexibility to deal with security and criminal activities. Many of those who have engaged in subversive, treasonous and other criminal behavior were among the 40,000 followers of Arafat who were brought into Israel pursuant to the Oslo Accords. Criminals will no longer be welcome. Israel will not be subject to constant international scrutiny allegedly subject to laws of war governing military occupation[vi], including the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention.[vii]
Gaza will not be part of the Unification. Israel withdrew its Jewish population and its military from Gaza in 2005 and the people of Gaza are responsible for their own leadership and fate. In 2007, Hamas imposed its military rule over Gaza and announced its violent intentions vis-à-vis Israel. Future alternatives for Gaza include reversion to its pre-1967 status under Egypt or creation of an independent and expanded entity with the cooperation of Egypt.
i. Palestinian Authority is Dismantled. The 20+ year old Oslo Accords (which were designed for implementation within 5 years) have never been honored. The PA formally declared that they will never recognize Jewish sovereignty over any part of Palestine. The PLO Charter was never modified, PA incitement has grown yearly and Israel should stop propping up this illegitimate, corrupt, and essentially imposed regime. The time has come for Israel to unify its people and to provide a true democratic option for both peoples. Israel Civil law will be implemented and the civil and religious rights of all inhabitants will be guaranteed. Local law abiding elected authorities will be recognized and supported.
ii. Permanent Residency & Citizenship. Residents will immediately receive Blue Israel ID card. All national benefits are available to Blue Israel ID card holders. Surveys indicate that Israel Arabs with Blue Israel ID are the envy of West Bank Arabs. All residents will have a clear path to qualify for citizenship based on democratic procedures and principles, including the requirements of security.
iii. Autonomy. Residents would participate in local elections and be responsible for local matters. Current employees of the PA including security personnel and local police would receive salary increases commensurate with those of Israeli counterparts. Israel civil law and courts would be available to all Residents. All civil employees, Jewish and Arab, will be treated equally. Educational, health and social institutions will adhere to national standards. (see below)
iv. Local Development. Economic opportunities and infrastructure development will be funded and encouraged in Arab communities in Israel and in the West Bank. International investment to create job opportunities, improved infrastructure, education and social institutions will be encouraged. Residents will be invited to participate in National service and IDF programs whenever feasible.
v. Citizenship. Israel Arabs living in pre-1967 Israel are citizens of Israel. Arab residents of the West Bank will be offered a path to citizenship. Appropriate guidelines and qualifications will be implemented based on standard citizenship questionnaires and tests, the absence of any criminal activities, health record, national service, etc. New Arab citizens would have equal rights to democratic participation at the national level. In 1967 Israel offered citizenship to Jerusalem Arabs. Jordan and Arab leaders discouraged all Arabs from applying. Today about 5% are citizens. In the 1970's Israel offered citizenship to the Druze living on the Golan. The Druze leadership strongly discouraged all Druze residents from applying. About 10% are citizens. Israeli citizens are entitled to vote, run for Knesset and receive Israeli passports. For foreign travel, non-citizens are issued an Israel laissez-passer.
Civil and religious rights will be extended immediately to all who want to live in peace and harmony. Blue Israel ID cards provide health care, education, welfare, economic incentives, employment, social safety nets, and voting in local elections. Local authorities will be responsible for all government functions as an internal matter and not the subject of global concern. Humanitarian and social services will meet the highest global standards.
Each country determines residency and citizenship rules and there are many models ranging from extremes like Switzerland and Saudi Arabia to more liberal standards enforced by other countries. In view of the violence in many Arab societies, and in view of the experiences endured under a corrupt Palestinian Authority, the vast majority of West Bank Arabs will choose to become permanent residents of Israel with the opportunity to pursue life and peace.[viii] Any West Bank Arab who do not wish permanent residency status will be allowed to seek other venues such as Gaza, Jordan, other Moslem countries, or Europe. Currently, as many as ten million middle east Arabs are relocating to Europe and elsewhere to escape the violence in the Moslem middle east. All those qualified who elect to become citizens will, of course, be entitled to vote in national elections.
As the irreversible nature of Unification is made clear, Residents with vested interests in land, businesses, homes and families will continue to prefer to live in peace and choose the path to citizenship. Others will no longer find incentives or advantage to pursue conflict, confrontation or violence. Israeli Arab citizens will be less torn and conflicted by emotional claims and contending loyalties.
Divisions within Israel society will abate, dispute between Left and Right will turn towards more constructive internal programs and the issue of military occupation rather than civil law which has divided Israelis for almost 50 years will disappear. Israeli Arabs have been told by Israeli leaders, the PA and many others in international forums, that there will be a Palestinian state. That possibility has encouraged many Israel Arabs to show hostility to the State of Israel lest they be branded as traitors or collaborators with a hated Zionist occupier. Those concerns weigh heavily on them and strongly influence how they conduct themselves. Unification will end those fears and more and more Israeli Arabs will join with the many Israel Arabs who are already loyal, productive Israeli citizens.
Similar to the consequences of aliyah in Israel, Unification will spur economic growth. In addition to the historical growth factors associated with immigration, business partnerships and cooperation with Arabs will contribute to Israel's regional economic and political influence. Every addition to Israel's population caused initial concern. Eventually each new group contributed to Israel's strength and success.
Bi-National State: Many oppose Unification because of concern that Israel will become a bi-national state. A bi-national state means that Israel will lose its character as a Jewish State. Those concerns are examined below. Israel was created as a Jewish State for the Jewish nation. Zionism's founders and intellectual leaders knew that along with the small Jewish population there was an existing local population of non-Jews. Winston Churchill (a prime mover of the Mandate for Palestine), Chaim Weitzmann and others understood that there could not be a Jewish State until there was a Jewish majority. When in 1947, the UN General Assembly recommended a plan for Mandatory Palestine west of the Jordan River, there was a Jewish minority of 32%. The formation of a Jewish State required an artificial partition in order to create a Jewish majority state. Today, there is a 67% and growing Jewish majority in Israel plus the West Bank and the Jewish population has increased from 630,000 to a critical mass in excess of 6.6 million. Thus, there is no need for an artificial partition to implement the original plan to create a Jewish state.
Current concerns with respect to the character of the Jewish State will be reduced once it becomes clear that Unification will relieve many of today's tensions. Israel will invest heavily in the improvement of the lives of its Jewish and non Jewish residents and internal frictions will subside. Improved infrastructure, education and jobs, and living conditions will reduce resistance to a Jewish democratic state.
Why Not Two States? In an attempt to end the occupation and resolve the conflict over the West Bank, Israel entered into the Oslo Accords and cooperated in creating the Palestine Authority (1993-1995) with the hope that within a 5-year time frame final agreements for a two-state solution would be reached. These attempts have failed due to ideological and practical reasons. Ideologically, Israel has demanded that the Palestinian entity recognize Israel as a Jewish state. However, no Arab organization or leader, even those who profess to recognize Israel's right to exist, is willing to recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish State anywhere west of the Jordan River. Islamic ideologies which cannot waive the rights of Moslems to rule over once conquered territory and the replacement theologies that deny Jewish sovereignty in any part of the Holy Land continue to remain unchallenged. Practically, fundamental issues such as (i) defensible borders, (ii) right of "refugee" return to Israel, (iii) status of Jerusalem, (iv) restriction on heavy weapons appear to be intractable. Thus, twenty years later after failed negotiations with Arafat and Abbas, radical Islam and spreading terrorism both internal and external have convinced even the most trusting or gullible that the two-state option is fundamentally not viable.
Other major concerns include:
1. Arabs want their own State: We often hear that Arabs want their own sovereign country called Palestine even though there was never such an Arab state or an Arab state whose capital was Jerusalem. Polls and immigration trends show that Arabs living in Israel and in the West Bank prefer being part of the State of Israel. West Bank Arabs have repeatedly voted with their feet. Whenever possible they relocate to Israel. When the Oslo Accords created the PA, thousands of Arabs who had left Jerusalem returned from the West Bank because they did not want to be trapped in a terrorist state led by a corrupt PA. Virtually no Israel Arab relocated to Area A under total control of the PA. Similarly, when the security barrier was being constructed, thousands of West Bank Arabs moved to the Israeli side. And, when Avigdor Lieberman proposed land swaps, whereby Arab communities in Israel contiguous to a new Palestinian State would become part of that state, there was a wall to wall outcry and demand among Israel Arabs that they be allowed to remain part of the State of Israel. Numerous polls of Jerusalem Arabs[ix], demonstrate that the majority of eastern Jerusalem’s Arab residents preferred Israeli residency over “Palestinian citizenship”. If Jerusalem were to be divided, 40 percent of Jerusalem Palestinians said they would definitely or probably move in order to retain Israel residency rather than become citizens of a new Palestinian state.[x]
Outside agitators and enemies of Israel will be outraged that a solution was found and that the contrived "3,000 year old dream" of a sovereign Palestinian state was not realized. Of course, they will ignore the fact that Jordan is three times the size of Israel, occupies more than 75% of Mandatory Palestine, and more than 4,000,000 Palestinian Arabs comprise 85% of its population. No one knows when the USA supported ruling Hashemite minority (imported from Arabia in the 1920's), will be overthrown and replaced by Palestinian leadership or an ISIS style state. However, it is not unreasonable to presume that after Unification, Palestinians will understand that if they really pine for a Palestinian State they can find it on the East Bank of the Jordan River. The impact of such a post-Hashemite development on the question of citizenship and demographics could be very significant. It would be irresponsible for Israel to make any agreements in today's environment that would eliminate the possibility of a genuine two-state solution: a Jewish State on the West Bank and a Palestinian/Moslem State on the East Bank.
2. Demographic: Israel's Arab population is now 20%. After Unification it will increase to 33%. There are currently over 6.6 million Jews in Israel, fewer than 1.7 million minorities, and a maximum of 1.6 million Arabs on the West Bank. Future fertility, morbidity, and emigration/immigration factors all point to an increasing Jewish majority. Arab fertility rates have declined over the past 15 years to below Israel Jewish fertility rates of 3.1 children per woman. Increasing aliyah trends including returning Israelis, emigration of Arabs, and a relative aging of the Arab population point to an ever increasing Jewish majority. After Unification, of course, the Knesset and government can decide to adopt agendas and incentives to encourage fertility and migration policies as deemed necessary and appropriate.
Until recently most of Israel's demographers and "think" tanks relied on PA census claims[xi] and warned that there was already or in the near future there will be an Arab majority in Israel and the West Bank. Based on these unfounded claims, policy makers and planners, concerned that there was a vanishing Jewish majority, proposed separation and two-state plans. These policy makers, in addition to being wrong in their calculations, also failed to realize that creation of a Palestinian State would encourage massive Arab immigration from surrounding countries and create new incalculable threats to the State of Israel.[xii]
Today, the leading Israeli demographers admit that they erred by not verifying the fallacious data released by the Palestinian Authority.[xiii] Nonetheless, there are still journalists and commentators, political advisors, the CIA, US State Department (who acknowledge that they only report data from local authorities and do not do any of their own independent census taking) and others who are unaware that any presumed demographic threat to the Jewish State is significantly diminished. Israel must no longer rely on outdated, erroneous population and fertility surveys or upon uninformed population and fertility forecasts to miss the opportunity for Unification.
In the last 15 years there has been a dramatic collapse in global fertility and local Arab fertility. Government efforts to reverse these declines have met with little or no success. Some of the most startling declines in fertility have occurred in Egypt and other Arab states, Iran and non-Kurdish Turkey. As modernization and westernization is introduced in post Unification Israel, Arab fertility will continue to decline.
Jews have prospered over the centuries as tiny minorities in hostile environments. Today, Israel will continue to prosper as a Jewish democratic state in which the overwhelming democratically elected majority controls all the levers of power required in a modern 21st century country: security, finance and economy, education, high technology, etc.
3. Political: Israel's political parties have shifted away from two-state solutions. Polls[xiv] indicate that support for two-state solutions has declined. Recent events have proven the futility of expecting Hamas and other terrorist organizations as well as the PA to create an environment of peaceful coexistence. It is now understood by all, other than a fringe minority, that no Arab or Moslem leader will ever recognize Jewish Sovereignty over any parcel of land in Mandatory Palestine[xv]. After unification, Arab MK's will seek to preserve their positions and will focus on representing the well-being of their constituents rather than on policies leading to the destruction of Israel.
4. Global reaction: The UN (with at least 50 Muslim majority members), the quartet, and others will object to Israel acting unilaterally. The idyllic vision of a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel, promoted by the Oslo accords will not be easily abandoned. The world clearly demonstrated in the 20th and 21st centuries that the well-being of the Jewish people and the state of Israel is of little concern. Israel has many powerful friends and supporters in the U.S., India, the Far East and elsewhere who will support a democratic nation that stands up for its long term survival. The world is beginning to understand that radical Islam whether in the form of Iran, ISIS, the Moslem Brotherhood, Al Qaida, Hamas or Fatah cannot be allowed to succeed in creating another Islamic state. Saudi Arabia and others in the middle east today understand that a strong Israel is imperative for their long term survival in the face of the hostile ambitions of the theocratic Shia Iran.
5. Jewish State: Can Israel preserve itself as a Jewish and democratic State? The Founding Fathers, including Ben Gurion declared in the 1948 Proclamation of Independence that all the inhabitants of Israel would be assured full civil and religious rights but national rights would be preserved solely for the Jewish nation. The ongoing conflict both external and internal has from time to time affected the social status of Israel's Arab residents. As those hostilities subside, Israel will become even more accepting. The suggestion that Arab MK's will join with ultra left Jewish MK's to undermine and change the character of the Jewish State ignores the change their constituents will experience and in any event, ignores the demographic realities and the will of the majority. Additionally, a constitution is long overdue and if and when it is enacted, amendments, including any proposed substantive changes to the Jewish State will typically require super majorities. Israel will remain a Jewish state and the Law of Return and other laws (or constitutional provisions) defining its Jewish and democratic character will remain unchanged. The Jewish people will continue to have a right to their own Jewish State.
There are at least 50 Muslim majority states, few of which resemble democratic states. There is only one democratic Jewish state. Arabs historically identified themselves as members of the Arab Ummah rather than as citizens of "nation states". Today, though the nation state concept is under attack, Arabs should be welcome and free to live in any of 22 Arab countries (422 million people with 5.148 million sq. miles), just as Jews are welcome and free to live in one small Jewish country (10,000 sq. miles). This fact does not undermine the rights of any citizen of Israel. While Jews may feel more spiritually or socially comfortable than Arabs in Israel, this is the case of all ethnic minorities living in nation states. The overwhelming majority of democracies today are nation states with ethnic majorities and minorities.
6. Autonomy: The United States has the world's longest lasting and vibrant representative democratic form of government that protects the inalienable rights of individuals and minorities. Federal government authority includes defense, international dealings, social security, medicare, etc. Other services and activities are the responsibility of local and state governments rather than federal authorities - a strong example of local autonomy. Israel should strengthen existing regulations to implement similar local governing structures. Local governments including municipalities, councils or boards should have full responsibility with respect to day-to-day matters, all within the national framework. For example, educational standards would be centrally legislated but would be locally administered. Each city and region should have a police force to preserve law and order. The above structure, will ensure the Jewish character of Israel, provide full rights and local governance for non-Jewish populations, and will encourage productive members of society.
7. Economic: Israel will spend resources developing the West Bank infrastructure including energy, roads, schools, sanitation facilities, water, etc. instead of building fences and dispersing forces. Nations with a vested interest in a peaceful resolution to the current conflict will be invited to participate in the development of a prosperous and advanced West Bank society that will engage in science, trade, and commerce and become a source and a spur to regional prosperity. There will be modest impact on Israel's strong economy. The expense of Government funding of programs that will benefit the residents of the West Bank will be offset by reduced funding of security requirements and increased tax revenues. Every increase in Israel's population has contributed to the growth and success of the economy. Additionally, Jewish/Arab partnerships will encourage commerce with Israel's neighbors and others.
8. Apartheid and BDS: Those who outrageously accuse Israel of Apartheid policies because of the occupation and those who advance other anti-Israel theories, will continue to accuse Israel of racist discriminatory policies. Those claims will be undermined by Israel's democratic, judicial, fair and just policies. Israel will continue to be a role-model for how a society can be both just and secure. Unfortunately, the world will continue to appease numerous, admittedly apartheid regimes, with official policies that declare: "No Jews Allowed".
9. Social: Interactions between communities will not change significantly immediately after Unification. People tend to live and interact within their own social groups. The demographic distributions within green line Israel, show that people do not relocate to areas that do not suit their financial, employment, and social requirements. The implementation of Civil Law rather then military rule in the West Bank will encourage the evolution of a more normal social environment.
10. Religious: Religious rights will be guaranteed to all. Educational institutions will be funded by the State and subject to measures that prohibit incitement, racism, violence and discrimination.
11. Electoral: There are some who fear that Arab MK's will join up with MK's for whom a Jewish State is not important and create a bi-national environment. National elections will focus on substantive issues and will not be distracted by "settlers" and "occupation". Arab voters, wherever located, will no longer elect MK's whose primary goals are hostile to Israel but will elect MK's who will improve their lives and best represent their needs. Though all Arab residents will receive blue Israel ID cards, initially fewer will opt to pursue the pathway to citizenship. The requirements for citizenship will compare favorably with those in the western democracies, and will require the standard tests and qualification criteria described above. Note that 48 years after East Jerusalem was annexed, 95% of the Arab residents of Jerusalem, while enjoying the benefits of Blue Israel ID cards, have not sought formal citizenship. Resident non-citizens will vote and be represented in local and regional elections.
12. Security: How will security be maintained on the West Bank without the PA and the Israel military? When the PA is disbanded, the 50,000 person security force, now funded by the PA with monies received primarily from Israel, will become employees of the Government of Israel. Their salaries will be increased significantly to be on par with Israel police. A prime responsibility of every government and local authority is to guarantee security for its population. For example, NY City has more than 45,000 armed police and other personnel to provide security. Israel will be no exception. No jurisdiction can allow criminal activities. After Unification, the Israel police and Yassam will replace the military and all will be subject to civil law.
13. Legal: Foundation for Unification can be found in the Levi Edmund Commission[xvi] and in the July 24, 1922 Palestine Mandate which was unanimously adopted by the League of Nations[xvii] and incorporated into the UN founding charter (paragraph 80).
Preparation for and expeditious implementation of Unification is essential because:
Creation of a peaceful Palestinian state west of the Jordan River is a fantasy. Such a state would will become a center and haven for global terrorist organization such as ISIS. Eventually there would be a major war with that state and its supporters. In the recent years, many groups[xix] and analysts[xx] have begun to understand that the serious issues and problems associated with Unification pale relative to the consequences of trying to preserve the status quo or establish an independent West Bank Palestinian state. Back in 2003[xxi] there were only a handful of MK's that supported Unification. Today more than 1/3 of Israel's Knesset have announced their support of partial or total Unification.
Unification will take place either: (i)now in a reasoned, planned, systematic manner, (ii) after one or more mega terror attacks on Israel, or (iii) after the creation of a new terrorist state leads to a major conflict.
Unification will ensure that the Jewish State of Israel remains the homeland of the Jewish people and a democratic nation that preserves the rights of all its inhabitants.
[i] Note that Prime Minister Sharon was misinformed by Israel demographers such as Sergio Della Pergola who claimed that there was already an Arab majority between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. These claims were not based on independent research but relied entirely on fallacious claims by the Palestinian Authority back in 1997. see footnote xiii
[ii] http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Into-the-Fray-Immoral-435534. Martin Sherman early on understood the consequences of counterproductive concessions and compromise.
[iii] http://www.jta.org/2015/12/03/news-opinion/opinion/op-ed-israel-must-act-now-to-preserve-the-two-state-solution, https://newrepublic.com/article/127184/its-late-two-state-solution-israel-palestine
[iv] http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/204447 - .VmPbxfkrLIU
[vi] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_occupation - Military_occupation_and_the_laws_of_war
[vii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli-occupied_territories - cite_note-21
[ix] http://www.jns.org/news-briefs/2015/9/9/poll-52-of-eastern-jerusalem-arabs-prefer-israeli-citizenship - .VfBYVRFViko= ,
[xvi] http://www.yesh-din.org/userfiles/file/Reports-English/Yesh Din - Chasar Takdim English - Web (1).pdf
[xvii] http://www.mythsandfacts.org/Conflict/mandate_for_palestine/MandateN2 - 10-29-07-English.pdf
[xix] http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/181501 - .VoGKZRUrLIU and http://www.womeningreen.org/
[xx] Caroline Glick recently adopted the original "one state plan" and published http://carolineglick.com/the-israeli-solution-2/