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The Plan

Most of you have had a sore throat at some point or other.  You probably went to see a doctor who diagnosed a throat infection and prescribed conventional antibiotics.  In some such cases, however, the ailing patient returns to the doctor with the same complaints, or worse.  A reasonable doctor would then prescribe a different type of antibiotics, with the assumption that the bacteria in the patient's throat are, in all likelihood, immune to the first type of antibiotics.  The scenario might even repeat itself a third time.  However, any reasonable doctor, who has treated his patient "by the book" and is still unsuccessful in alleviating the patient's symptoms, would stop for a moment and think: Perhaps my diagnosis was wrong?  If the doctor had indeed erred and the patient's ailment was not a throat infection, the chances of curing him with antibiotics are very slim. 

Most of the countries which take interest in the Israeli-Arab conflict assume that the conflict is a territorial one: two nations fighting over one piece of land.  This underlying assumption leads to one logical solution – dividing the said territory between the two nations will solve the problem. 

It must be noted that the said solution was tried and tested time and again during the course of the 20th Century, and had never proved successful.  Even today, as the conflict continues, the world's frustration only grows.  However, the repeated attempts to solve the Jewish-Arab conflict with the steadfast view that the conflict is a territorial one, all of which ended in failure, must lead to one logical conclusion: Perhaps the cause of the conflict has been misdiagnosed. 

If the conflict is not a territorial one, but is religion-based, the solution proposing to divide the territory is doomed to failure since it is contingent on a misconception, and misinterprets the reason for the conflict.  The proof for this lies in the fact that both the Hizballah and Iran are currently waging war against Israel.  It is a given fact that there is no territorial conflict between Israel and Iran; however, nobody assumes Iran will ever stop trying to obtain nuclear weapons for the purpose of annihilating the State of Israel, even in such case that a Palestinian state will be established in Judea & Samaria and Gaza.  It is not the Palestinian problem that fuels Iran; rather – it is the very existence of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel.  Nasrallah is hardly perturbed by the existence of Ofra and Bet El because, as far as he is concerned, Haifa and Tel Aviv are also "settlements".  Notwithstanding the above, the realization that the conflict in question is not a territorial one, but rather a war of religion against the Jews' right to a Jewish state in the Land of Israel – has not yet taken root on a global scale.     

In the latter half of 2002, the plan which later became known as The Road Map for Peace started to take shape and form in Europe and the United States.  The plan was originally outlined by President George W. Bush, but President Obama, the former's successor, advocated the idea that resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict with a "two-state solution" was in America's interest.  All of Israel's prime ministers since that time, with no exception – from Ehud Barak in the Camp David talks, through Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and even Benjamin Netanyahu – accepted the plan in principle.  What had been the plan of Israel's radical left two decades earlier, suddenly metamorphosed into Israel's mainstream government policy: dividing the Land of Israel, lying west of the Jordan River, into two separate states – an Israeli state and a Palestinian one.  Public opinion, both local and global, viewed the plan as the only feasible political solution for the conflict, despite the ninety years of apparent failures.  Every past failure was accompanied by bloodshed and war.  Some twenty thousand Jews and tens of thousands of Arabs died during the course of these years, be it on the battlefield or in murderous terrorist attacks.   But despite this heavy toll and the loss of life, no real attempt has been made to present an alternative plan.  The basic principles of the aforementioned plan call for the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, on the basis of the 1967 lines.  During the numerous negotiations that took place, the Israeli representatives insisted that east Jerusalem and the big settlement blocs remain within the borders of the State of Israel.  Some even offered the Arabs a "compensation" for these areas, in the form of territories currently within of the Green Line.  The question of Jewish settlements outside of the big settlement blocs, much like the question of Jerusalem and the status of Arab refugees, as well as security arrangements, commercial "corridors"' and movement between Judea & Samaria and Gaza Strip, and lastly, the question of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state – all of these remained unsolved. 

Until the Camp David Summit, where talks were held between PM Barak and Arafat, all of Israel's prime ministers, with no exception, were unanimous in their view that a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River would threaten the existence of the State of Israel.  PM Rabin took the leaders of the PLO very seriously when these proclaimed that a Palestinian state could only be built upon the ruins of the State of Israel.  Golda was convinced that "there is no such thing as a Palestinian nation".  Even today, there is broad national consensus that the "Right of Return" – i.e., allowing Palestinian refugees to live inside the borders of Israel -should be refuted.  All of Israel's leaders since the Six Day War objected to Israel withdrawing to the pre-1967 borders, which were referred to as "The Auschwitz Borders" by the late Aba Even, who was Israel's most dovish Foreign Ministers. 


In what is termed Judea & Samaria, there currently reside about 320,000 Jews, and over 200,000 reside in Jerusalem suburbs located in areas that were annexed to the city after the Six Day War.  The Road Map for Peace plan, which aims at achieving a "two-state solution", actually calls for the transfer of hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes in the Land of Israel.  The plan puts the very existence of the State of Israel in peril.  When Israel expressed the willingness to make extensive concessions, the result was never peace.  On the contrary, it always led to a renewed intifada, as was the case in the failed Camp David Talks which resulted in the Second Intifada, during the course of which more than one thousand Jews were murdered by Arabs.  The latter were certain that Israel's end was drawing near and that a few more blows would annihilate it once and for all. 

Ariel Sharon, who despaired of ever implementing the Road Map for Peace plan ("There is no Palestinian partner"), promoted the unilateral Disengagement Plan instead, which meant the evacuation of Jews from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria.  Twenty-five prospering settlements were wiped off the face of the earth in ten days.  Thousands of Jews were forcefully evacuated from their homes, and live in temporary caravan settlements till this day.  However, following Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Hamas took over the area, disengaged itself entirely from the PA's central government in Ramallah and waged a full-fledged missile attack on Israel's southern region.  Similarly, the Second Lebanon War broke out in wake of Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria, as this very act on the part of Israel validated Hassan Nasrallah claim all along: Israel was weaker than a flimsy spider-web. 

Benjamin Netanyahu, who had opposed the Disengagement Plan (albeit in the government only, but not in the Knesset), and who had also opposed the establishment of a Palestinian state, ultimately announced his support for "a two-state solution" a few months after he had formed a government.  Succumbing to American pressure, Netanyahu also agreed to freeze construction in Judea & Samaria (and, de facto, also in Jerusalem).  This was an unprecedented building freeze, both in scope and severity, which lasted for a period of ten months – all for the purpose of creating the right 'political climate' which would enable the Palestinians to return to the negotiation table.  In essence this meant, that once both parties agreed to negotiate the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River, it also meant that most of the principles laid down by the plan would be accepted.  Only a complete and utter rejection of the plan by Israel would render the plan irrelevant and bury it with all the other political plans which, over the past sixty-two years, have attempted to bring about the destruction of the State of Israel.  Concurrently, Israel must propose an alternative plan, even if such a plan would be deemed "sheer madness" at this point in time, when most of the world propagates the idea of a "two-state solution", which incorporates the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River.  Such an alternative plan might have a better chance of being heard in a time of crisis – the crisis that is bound to happen following yet another failed attempt to divide the land and the bloodshed that will inevitably ensue.

The alternative plan must be based on the understanding that the Palestinians already have a state of their own in the Kingdom of Jordan, one which was formed after Mandatory Palestine was divided into two.  75% of Jordan's residents are Palestinians.  Consequently, any regional solution for the Palestinian refugees must be based on the premise that Jordan, as well as any other Arab state that took in Palestinian refugees after the War of Independence, should be the ones to offer a home to refugees in future.  If Joran is defined as a Hashemite-Palestinian state, non-refugee Arabs living in Judea & Samaria will be entitled to Jordanian citizenship; will have the right to vote for the parliament in Aman, representing the Palestinian people, and will allow them to develop their national identity.  The Arabs that will choose not to move to Jordan as part of the refugee relocation plan will be allowed to live in Israel as residents (not citizens).  They will be able to administer to their civil needs within specific urban and rural localities, with no territorial continuity.  This civil responsibility will allow such residents to handle their own affairs in areas such as economy, health, education, transportation, religion, agriculture and even municipal matters.  Israel will have sovereignty over the entire territory west of the Jordan River, and will have sole responsibility for matters of security in all its sovereign lands.  The reason being that Israel cannot reconcile to the existence of another militarized state west of the Jordan River, which would have full aerial sovereignty and full control of its outer borders.  The belief that it is possible to establish a "demilitarized" Palestinian state, as suggested by Netanyahu, is a dangerous delusion.  The minute an independent Palestinian is established, it would be futile to compel it to remain free of arms if it should choose otherwise.  The only alternative then would be to re-occupy it by force.  However, in such case, the international community would never allow Israel to occupy a sovereign state, all the more so when Israel was the one that recognized that state's right to self-existence.  The State of Israel can never consent to a Palestinian territorial continuity (connecting Judea & Samaria and the Gaza Strip), which would consequently divide the State of Israel into two.  On the other hand, if Jordan is pronounced as the Palestinian state, its citizens can enjoy full civil rights.  Such a state would have territorial continuity and would be an independent economical entity.  The notion that "Jordan is Palestine" is the only plan that might actually resolve the conflict without threatening the continued existence of the Israeli state. 

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