A Permanent Peace Plan for Israel
(First published April 7, 2005) Peace in the Holy Land is very much a possibility but it is by no means easy. In fact, it can be argued that the most successful solution includes one country with Jews, Christians and Muslims living together in peace and harmony as they had for centuries before now.
One of the problems of current peace negotiations is that with blind support from the West, Israel has everything to lose and almost nothing to gain by giving up any of its territories. Even the latest Clinton Plan only served to tear out as many more Palestinians from Israel as possible into a sophisticated Bantustan under the guise of independence.
If we look at past history of occupations across the world, we would see that the times an occupier was successful was when the conqueror assimilated with the conquered, like some of Muslim invaders of India. The other times were when the indigenous population was slaughtered to insignificant numbers such as the fates of Native Americans and Aborigines of Australia. At almost all other times the conqueror ultimately had to leave.
With only about 50 years under its belt, Israel should seek a more lasting and just agreement with the Palestinians or, risk another mutual catastrophe that will make all the post-independence losses in the area seem insignificant. Judging by the unreliability of intelligence reports of the past few decades, one cannot say with certainty who might have which weapon of mass destruction. Given Israel’s known “pre-emptive” behavior, both sides of a future Arab-Israeli conflict might let loose their weapons of mass destruction in fear that they might be annihilated. This is more possible because the controls, which existed between the US and the USSR during the Cold War, do not exist here. If such a war erupts in the Middle East then it will not matter who wins because the lands will be uninhabitable.
It is time for the Jews, the Christians and the Muslims to give up their deep desires for an ethnically “pure” or a segregated land.
It is time all sides realized that any such desires would only serve to guarantee a future of repeated genocidal attacks by one another.
It is time for the three faiths to accept that God created them not so that one might kill off the other but that they might share the good they have been endowed with and help make this earth a better place for all.
Perhaps the greatest reason a people can have for seeking to live in a land of their own is to ensure freedom, equality and safety for themselves and for their children. But that is buried deep under the rhetoric of nationalism, race and religion. Some might argue that the status quo works because Jews of Israel have been safe for the last 50 years but let us examine the position closely. How many wars has Israel fought? How many bombs have exploded in Israel and the Occupied Territories and how many days of total peace has Israel had where there wasn’t the threat of another war around the corner? The fact that more of the Enemy have been killed than Jews is indeed small consolation.
What if each of the three sides of the triangle (Jew, Christian and Muslim) could have the entire country ensuring peace, equality and safety for all people in the country? Despite the various failed peace plans that have been presented in the past, it seems that the one that has been omitted also has the best chance of lasting and is the one that requires the most sacrifice from both sides.
For an enduring peace, the victor must make the first and the major moves and win over the hearts and the minds of the vanquished-:
Israel would have to acknowledge its part in the depopulating of Arab lands, the massacres and the expropriations of Arab properties. Israel should also provide fair market reparations in forms of money and housing to the surviving Palestinians and their descendants.
The Palestinians need to accept that it is unrealistic to expect even those who live on post-1967 lands, to uproot and move into new homes in Israel proper. The better solution is for the Arabs and Jews to live together in a merging environment rather than the strictly delineated Jewish-Arab conditions that currently exist in Israel and the Occupied Territories. This means, the Arabs must be permitted to become residents within the same neighborhoods as the Jews. Those Arabs, who have had their property taken away in order to build housing for Jews, should be allowed to share in the same housing projects. Israel needs to acknowledge that Palestinians are not solely represented by Fatah or Arafat; that other parties can and do exist. Israel needs to open a dialogue with Hamas, which is based on recognition of mutual needs and mutual respect.
The Law of Return as it applies to Jews must also include Palestinians. As an immediate gesture of good faith, Israel can allow Israeli Arab citizens to return to the villages from which they were depopulated between 1948 and 1967. For the Diaspora Palestinians, Israel can place some safety issues and require that all returning Palestinians swear an oath to live in peace and equality with the Jews as citizens of the new state of Israel-Palestine and help them integrate successfully. The annual numbers of returning Palestinians could be limited to 100,000 plus the number of Jews who immigrate to Israel that year. As an additional measure of safety, citizenship for the new émigrés can be delayed for 1-3 years after their arrival, during which time anyone committing a felonious crime, could be deportable. Given the universal maltreatment of the Palestinian Diaspora, the Palestinians will have as great a stake in defending an Israel where they are respected as equals with Jews.
Christians, Muslims and Jews must change their expectations and coexist without discrimination against each other. The new rules should not only protect a minority but also give enough checks and balances to ensure that the three main religious groups have continuing parity of representation. This could be achieved in a House and Senate arrangement where the House representation is based on total population and the Senate is based on 35% of seats for Jewish Senators, 35% for Muslim, 20% for Christian and 10% open seats for independent candidates for people who might not wish to be represented by any of the three religions. Any changes in the constitution must require large percentages of each group as well as ratifications by states. Passing of laws too must have a multi-layer approval process to prevent abuse by one side or the other, perhaps even a minimum (60-75%) vote. As secular demands grow the Independent sector could increase while the other three are proportionately reduced.
Clearly, this is only a skeleton of a plan and one must expect setbacks. Obviously, the healing process could take a decade or two, but what is that time when compared to the millennia of existence of Arabs and Jews? There will probably be groups of Arabs and groups of Jews who will be unable to accept peaceful coexistence. As long as the citizenry is convinced that they are safe in this new arrangement, the extremist groups will not be able to flourish. All three sides of this issue, the Jews, The Christians and the Muslims must realize that together can they form the greatest nation the Middle East has had in centuries.
No comments yet.