Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A way forward

Sar Shalom

First, some conditions that need to be addressed however Israel progresses.

One, there are between 2 and 3 million Arabs living in the disputed territory east of the Armistice Line.

Two, permanently denying them a say in the state that rules them is unacceptable.

Three, forcing those Arabs to leave or conditioning their gain of political rights on their leaving is unacceptable.

Four, including those Arabs in the Israeli polity would be highly undesirable.

Five, Jordan's conquest of 5.6 million dunams in the Independence War does not create a right for a future Palestine to encompass 5.6 million dunams.

As to number four, I am aware that the Palestinian Arab population is inflated and that they may not be enough to threaten the Jewish majority of Israel if they were granted citizenship. However, that is not the only threat from including them in Israel's polity.

Consider coalition politics in Israel today. The Knesset consists of 5 major blocs: the right, the left, the center, the chareidim, and the Arabs. Due to the nature of the Arab parties that exist, a coalition requires a majority of 61 MKs that excludes the Arab parties. In the current Knesset, the Joint List holds 13 out of 120 seats, meaning that a coalition requires 61 out of 107. Thus a simple majority of the Knesset of 50 percent plus 1 is effectively a requirement for a 57 percent supermajority of Jewish-party seats. Adding 2 million Arabs to Israel's electorate could very easily swell the Arab bloc to 30 seats or more, meaning that a coalition would require 61 out of 90 or fewer seats or a two-thirds supermajority of Jewish-party seats.

Given the ability of reaching consensus demonstrated so far, that would render Israel ungovernable.

Unfortunately, there is never going to be an agreement that ends the Palestinian national movement's (PNM) claims with Israel still standing. This means that any path forward would have to consist of unilateral Israeli action.

One factor working in Israel's favor is that the bulk of the Arab population in the northern portion of the disputed territory resides either west of a line running from Route 458 southeast of Ramallah to Route 578 to the northern section of the security barrier or in the vicinity of Jericho. As such, a unilateral action could be to draw from southeast of Ramallah to the security barrier in the north roughly following Routes 458 and 578.

Where that line passes Shilo, a corridor would extend west to the security barrier along Routes 60 and 5, expanding to Route 55 west of Ariel. An additional line would be drawn along some route from the intersection of Route 5 and the security barrier to Ramallah. Inside of defined perimeters west of Routes 457/578 and either south of Route 5 or north of Route 55, Israel would evacuate the settlements and make the vacated territory Area B. Outside of those perimeters, excluding the Jericho area, and north of Maale Adumim would be annexed to Israel.

Subsequently, the PNM could be told that if they ever display actions suggesting that they would not exploit any transformation of their jurisdiction into a state in order to enhance their war-making capabilities against Israel, Israel will start the process of transitioning their jurisdiction into a state and discuss borders for the southern disputed territories. Until then, Israel will sit pat and operate in the expanded Area B as she has operated in Area B for the past two decades.

I realize that abandoning Beit El, Yizhar, and many northern settlements would be a steep price for not even a pretense of peace. However, it would also mean annexing Ariel, Shilo, Maale Adumim, and the northern Jordan Valley, an act for which Israel could not hope to gain diplomatic cover without paying a price.

One requirement to go ahead would be diplomatic cover from the U.S. to acquiesce, if not recognize, Israel's partial annexation in the north. In order to defend against a future president like Obama reneging on this acquiescence, it would be necessary for it to take the form of a treaty that would be legally enforceable against future presidents.

At a more grassroots level, withdrawing from the perimeters I described would provide a counteroffer to the notion that Jordan's conquest of 5.6 million dunams entitles the Palestinians to 5.6 million dunams. Many will complain about Israel grabbing land in giving the PNM less than that. However, unlike during Obama's reign, they would not be able to claim that Israel must withdraw from any additional territory in order to avoid becoming a binational state. Further, it would define the Palestinians' territory in a small number of contiguous areas which would remove almost any objection besides their supposed entitlement to 5.6 million dunams.


  1. Is there a way to post a map of this proposed territory?

  2. I don't have the skills with any graphics package to create such a map, but I could describe a process to help visualize what I mean.

    Go to google maps and zoom in around Jerusalem the minimum amount to make Route 457 visible. Going north, just pan along Route 457 until it ends, around Route 60 near Shilo, which would be near Route 578. Follow that north to the security barrier.

    Route 55 runs to the north of Ariel and Route 5 to its south. I haven't fully decided on a path for the border running from Route 5 to Ramallah, but you can see what is settlement and what is Palestinian habitation in that vicinity. You can use that information to craft your own line.

  3. Sar Shalom, I am going to edit this piece.

    I am not going to change your text, unless I come across an obvious grammatical whatever, but I want to break up the paragraphs for easier digestion.

    This is as much for my benefit as anyone else's, because I want to take a closer look.

  4. I have to tell you, man, this is good material for thought.

    I do not have the knowledge to challenge your geographic breakdown, so I cannot really criticize that aspect of your analysis in a fair manner.

    But is it fair to say that you are suggesting a unilateral two-state solution in which Israel takes it upon itself to declare its own borders and move the IDF to behind those borders?

    Is that a fair characterization?

    1. North of Jerusalem, that is exactly my point. If someone could suggest a border for the southern portion, I would be open to suggestions, but I don't have a grasp of the layout of Israeli settlements and Palestinian habitation centers to do so.

      However, that limitation is not a reason to hold up creating a border unilaterally where feasible. I don't have full data on what settlements, and how many Israeli residents, are in the two sections I would cede to the Arabs. This does not negate the gain from annexing the Jordan Valley and the corridor from Shilo through Ariel to the security barrier.

  5. ********************************
    Quick Koran Quotes

    [1] Christians and Jews seek to “extinguish the light of Allah” (Koran 9:32).

    [2] Allah sent Mohammed to make Islam supreme over all other religions. (Koran 9:33).

    [3] Jews and Christians obstruct the “Way of Allah” (Koran 9:34)

    [4] Muslims are encouraged to make Jihad against non-Muslims (Koran 9:38).

    [5] Those who refuse to carry out Jihad will be punished by Allah (Koran 9:39).


    Koran, chapter 4, paragraph 95:
    “Not equal are those believers who sit at home and receive no injurious hurt, and those who strive hard fighting jihad in Allah’s cause with their wealth and lives. Allah has granted a higher rank to those who strive hard fighting jihad with their wealth and bodies, above those who sit [at home]. Unto each Allah has promised good, but He prefers the jihadists who strive hard and fight above those who sit home. He has distinguished His fighters with a huge reward.”

    Koran, chapter 8, paragraph 12:
    “Your Lord inspired the angels with the message:
    I will terrorize the unbelievers. Therefore smite them on their necks and every joint and incapacitate them. Strike off their heads and cut off each of their fingers and toes.”

    Koran, chapter 8, paragraph 39:
    “So fight them [the infidels] until there is no more fitnah [disbelief of non-Muslims] and all [people in the world] submit to the religion of Allah alone.”

    Koran, chapter 8, paragraph 59:
    “The infidels [non-Muslims] should not think that they can get away from us. Prepare against them whatever weapons you can muster, so that you may terrorize them. They are your enemy and Allah’s enemy.”

    Koran, chapter 8, paragraph 65:
    “O Prophet, urge the faithful to fight. If there are 20 among you with determination they will vanquish 200. If there are 100 then they will slaughter 1,000 unbelievers, because the infidels are a people devoid of understanding.”

    Koran, chapter 9, paragraph 5:
    “Fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them, take them captive, harass them, lie in wait and ambush them using every stratagem of war.”

    A different translation:

    Koran, chapter 9, paragraph 5:
    “Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is forgiving, merciful”

    Koran, chapter 9, paragraph 14:
    “Fight them and Allah will punish them by your hands, lay them low, and cover them with shame. He will help you over them.”

    Koran, chapter 9, paragraph 29:
    “Fight those who do not believe until they all surrender, paying the protective tax [jizya] in submission.”

    Koran, chapter 9, paragraph 123:
    “Fight the unbelievers around you, and let them find harshness in you.”

    Koran, chapter 47, paragraph 4:
    “When you clash with the unbelieving infidels in battle, smite their necks until you overpower them, killing and wounding many of them. At length, when you have thoroughly subdued them, bind them firmly, making [them] captives. Thereafter either generosity or ransom (whichever benefits Islam) until the war lays down its burdens. Thus you are commanded by Allah to continue carrying out Jihad against the unbelieving infidels until they submit to Islam.”

    Koran, chapter 61, paragraph 9:
    "He it is who has sent His Messenger (Mohammed) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam) to make it victorious over all religions even though the infidels may resist."

  7. Winston Churchill said [in year 1955 CE]:

    “You ought to let the Jews have Jerusalem;
    it is they who made it famous.”

    SOURCE: Churchill and the Jews (chapter 26,
    page 292) by Martin Gilbert, year 2007 CE

    Winston Churchill was British Prime Minister
    from 1940 to 1945 CE and from 1951 to 1955 CE.

    Why Muslims Hate Jews:

    Ancient Roman historians connected Jews with the Land of Israel:

    Rabbi Ovadiah of Bartenura
    (in a letter to his father
    in year 1488 August 15 CE):

    “Jews in Muslim lands make
    themselves appear poor.

    They go about like an impoverished,
    despised people, with their
    heads bowed before Muslims.”

    SOURCE: Pathway to Jerusalem: the Travel Letters of Rabbi Ovadiah of Bartenura (page 40) written between 1488 CE and 1490 CE during his journey to the Holy Land, translated by Yaakov Dovid Shulman, year 1992 CE, 93 pages, CIS Publishers, Lakewood, New Jersey, ISBN 1-56062-130-3

    His commentary on the Mishnah is still studied often, even in our times.

  8. I am well familiar with the prevalence of Islamic supremacism. The problem is that people like Mr. Cohen lack the intellectual integrity to accurately depict the views of those with whom he disagrees. To start, have you bothered to look at a map, follow the instructions I left sheldan if nothing else, and the names of the places on either side of perimeters I defined.

    "...because most Leftists never learn..."

    I am calling for annexation of the Jordan Valley and the corridor from Shilo to Ariel and the security barrier. Name one leftist who would make such a call.

    Further, I am under no illusion that giving the Palestinians any further would change them one bit. Two things to add to that. One, the target audience is not the Palestinians, but the western do-gooders who insist that the Palestinians are entitled to 5.6 million dunams because Jordan controlled that much territory west of the river until 1967. Two, there are some things that aren't changed by that.

    As to targeting the western do-gooders, the right is oblivious to their legitimate arguments. The problem is not that they raise those arguments, but that they insist that resolving them requires giving the Palestinians 5.6 million dunams. The problem with those who say that altering the border from the 1949 Armistice Line requires land swaps is that it tacitly entitles the Palestinians to 5.6 million dunams, because if no such entitlement existed, there would be no reason to simply reduce the Palestinians' allotment by whatever settlement corridors Israel keeps.

    As to the do-gooders' arguments, a timely place to see them is in Ehud Barak's column in today's Times, . Note, this is not an endorsement of Barak's views, do not think of construing my thoughts of aligning with his.

    Among the points that Barak parrots from do-gooder chattering class that we must address:

    [The deep settlements] aim to block the option of a "divorce" from the Palestinians which the overwhelming majority of Israelis support.

    [Netanyahu] prefers a Greater Israel with and Arab majority, violence and division over a united, self-confident Israel with a solid Jewish majority.

    Those arguments have traction because we have no counteroffer. Would the western do-gooders be able to present either argument with a straight face as reason that Israel must withdraw from more land north of Jerusalem than what I suggest?

    As to how it relates to the Palestinians, the issue is that they are in limbo between occupation and self-determination. Further, while security conditions may prevent addressing the issue, defining as a permanent condition the denial of civil and political rights to the Palestinians in the state that most closely affects them is not acceptable. Neither is requiring their relocation to another state to gain those rights. For instance, if some European country were to remove Jews' voting rights, would you say that their claiming "there is a Jewish state, it is called Israel and they are free to move there" would justify them doing so? Simply giving the Palestinians the right to vote in Israel would solve that problem, but I described the problem with that in the main post. Any grounds to dissent from my assessment?

    As to the settlements within the perimeters I define, take the example of Beit El. The Palestinian village of Jifna is located a few miles north of Ramallah on Route 466. Due to the presence of Beit El, making such a trip would require going through checkpoints at both ends. Can you justify that, even if allowing Jifna residents to travel Ramallah checkpoint-free will have absolutely no effect in reducing enmity? Maale Michmash and Rimonim have no such effect and as such would be annexed to Israel by my plan.

  9. I note that you quote Khaled Abu Toameh. He produces a lot of great work. Somehow all the quotes you produce from the Koran and the Hadiths do not stop him, as a Muslim, from taking the positions he does.

  10. Frankly, this discussion about giving away some of Judea and Samaria obscures the real problem that has been preventing settling the conflict.

    The Palestinians have shown no interest in ending the conflict because they refuse to give up the idea of dismantling the State of Israel. They refuse to give this up because the existence of a Jewish state on any of the land is an insult that must be rectified.

    After the majority of the Palestine mandate was given to the Arabs in 1922, there was 23% of the land that was supposed to be given to form the Jewish homeland according to the Balfour Declaration and San Remo. Unfortunately, the Arabs and British, and the rest of the world, could not see it that simply. Instead, they proposed partitioning that 23% again and again (1936 Peel Commission, 1947 Partition Plan). Even when those proposals gave the Arabs more of the Mandate, they could not accept it if the Jews remained in the land. Even when the borders were very flimsy and undefendable.

    Then the War for Independence happened, with the result that the State of Israel held the pre-1967 lines (the 1949 armistice lines that everyone wants Israel to withdraw to). After the Six-Day War, Israel was back to the original 23% (and the Golan Heights and Sinai).

    Ever since then, Israel has been trying to offer some of the land for a true peace. The response to that was the Khartoum "Three Noes." The Sinai was returned to Egypt in 1979. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, during the Oslo peace process. The Palestinians were offered almost all of Judea and Samaria in 2000, 2001, and 2008 (probably well over all the red lines that Israel had set over the years). We all know that the Palestinians refused all these generous offers. Why? Because they would have had to agree to the end of the conflict, with the State of Israel still standing and with Jerusalem in Jewish hands.

    I think I might wait for the end of the conflict "when Moshiach comes." But I don't have much confidence that Sar Shalom's well-meaning proposal will get any traction. Again, if it was a territorial conflict, there have been offers which were generous to the Palestinians. This must be one of those conflicts which is more fundamental, and therefore will continue to resist settlement, unless the Palestinians recognize that Israel is established and is not going anywhere.

    1. Thank you for your response.

      I fully agree that this will induce no change among the Palestinians. However, the target of this move is not the Palestinians, but the West.

      Right now, the West mostly insists, without explicitly saying so, that the Palestinians are entitled to 5.6 million dunams. They do not present any reason they are so entitled, other than that was how much land was Arab-controlled before 1967 which in turn was how much Jordan conquered during the Independence War. Instead, they argue:

      The settlements block the option of a "divorce" from the Palestinians, and

      The right prefers a Greater Israel with and Arab majority, violence and division over a united, self-confident Israel with a solid Jewish majority.

      The withdrawal I propose, even with the annexation attending it, makes it impossible to present those two arguments. The international community might turn to saying that Israel has to respect the "borders" that existed previously, but that would be an easier diplomatic fight than the two points I mentioned.

  11. In my opinion, Israel must do what it has to do without having to please the West.

    If any withdrawal won't stop the Palestinian demands, it is pointless. And I am not sure that the West cares about Israel at all. Maybe many in the West would secretly hope that Israel would cease to exist. As I pointed out above, they could not seem to accept a Jewish state on 23% of the original Palestine Mandate. This sounds as if we have to partition the 23% again, whereas having the Jordan River as our natural border would make more sense than slicing the land over and over.

    Maybe it's time Israel and the world recognize that trying to do the same thing again is insanity. After 70 years (and long before that), Israel has the right to be within secure and recognized borders. The Arabs may need to make their choice between being a minority with full rights in Israel or going to an Arab-majority state where they can be part of the majority.

    1. "The Arabs may need to make their choice between being a minority with full rights in Israel..."

      That would solve the problems related to Israel permanently ruling the Palestinians. The problem is that it would lead to the Arab bloc in the Knesset having 30 or more seats. That is a conservative estimate. Is that a future you could accept?

    2. I did not mean that all of the Arabs would necessarily seek citizenship. If not all of them become citizens (the others might not accept citizenship due to opposition to the state and others might become Jordanian citizens), then there is less of a problem, as the demographic argument which was once touted as a danger is not as much of a problem.

      However, I can also see the danger of an Arab bloc of 30, so a final settlement needs to be carefully written.