A Modest Proposal for Middle-East Peace

May 7, 2017 – 10:52 pm


UN resolution 242 calls for a withdrawal to secure and recognised borders.

Israel may have to accept that no conceivable borders can satisfy both criteria. The Arabs maintain a maximalist (or very nearly) interpretation which insists on Israeli withdrawal to the 1948 borders, but these are impossible for Israel , given the hostility of the surrounding states – and especially if the state that arises in the vacated territory is hostile. The evidence of the withdrawal from Gaza and from South Lebanon is that such a state would indeed be hostile.


Israel cannot

1.      maintain a military occupation of conquered territory and a conquered population indefinitely,

2.      annex all the disputed territories and make the Arab population citizens of Israel ,

3.      withdraw to the 1948 borders leaving a hostile entity in the disputed evacuated territories,

Israel must

a.     control the Jordan valley

b.     have guaranteed access to East Jerusalem religious sites – and in the view of the Israeli population, probably must retain sovereignty over those sites

c.     be able to neutralise the danger of Arab irredentism/revanchism/etc.

d.     rid itself of the burden of controlling a hostile and essentially irreconcilable population

e.     resolve the issue of the settlements in the disputed territories humanely (evacuation? extraterritoriality? retained control? Population transfers? etc.)

Israel would prefer

         i.     a ‘Palestinian’ polity (PP) to control and be responsible for the Palestinian Arab population

       ii.      a stable cooperative regime in any Palestinian polity

      iii.      not to be required to concern itself with the internal affairs of the PP (even if it became hostile or unstable)

     iv.       an internationally recognised solution (but can probably be satisfied with one which is merely acceptable to America

Arabs require

A.   an independent polity

B.    a viable polity

C.    access to East Jerusalem religious sites – and have always maintained that the sanctuary must be their sovereign territory (but see Israeli b)

D.    a polity free of Jewish settlers – though they might be permitted to remain as dhimmi


The time is right for an Israeli unilateral solution to the problem of the Disputed Territories

1.     PA is thoroughly discredited internationally because of its involvement in terror, corruption

2.     PA leadership is recognised as not being capable of making peace ( Camp David , intifada Hamas elections, etc.)

3.     the overwhelming likelihood of the hostility of any potential PP is recognised, and Israeli security concerns are as widely recognised as can ever be expected to be the case

4.     America sees the relation between the Israel- ‘Palestinian’ conflict and the wider West-Islam friction – and also associates the Arab allies of the Palestinians with threats to American interests

5.     Middle-Eastern ‘stability’ is no longer valued per se


Under the Oslo agreements the disputed territories were divided into classes of territories as A, B, C. The PA was given control of area A territories. These were territories surrounding centres of Arab population. Under this system the PA controlled over 95% of the Palestinian Arab population.

I propose that

1.     Palestinian area A be taken as the basis for a PP with whatever other areas are required to make those areas minimally viable.

The intention under Oslo was that PA control would eventually be extended over Pal. B territories etc to create a contiguous/connected territory. Gaza would always remain unconnected however.

2.     The effort to create a single Palestinian state as a PP should be abandoned. The PP may be instituted as separate, independent governments of the Palestinian cities and their hinterlands.

(Since the problem of non-contiguous Gaza will have to be faced anyway, there is no reason that whatever solution may be found for Gaza’s communication with the PP instituted on the West Bank would not serve equally well for communication in this plan.)

3.     Territory not assigned to the PP should be annexed to Israel .

4.     Population of the annexed territories may either become citizens of Israel or may be compensated and allowed to transfer to any part of the PP.

5.     Jewish population of the areas assigned to the PP either become citizens there or are relocated with compensation (by Israel .)


1.     Reoccupy all Disputed Territories

2.     Delimit PP zones: I suggest Ramallah, Bethlehem , Hebron , Jericho , Tulkarm/Qalqilya, Jenin and their hinterlands

3.     Separate populations

4.     Annex unassigned territories to Israel

5.     Build a fence around the PP territories (This is already largely completed.)

6.     The final stage has two possibilities

1.      Clean Break (strongly preferred)

1.     Withdraw from PP territories

2.      Nation Building (invents a new quagmire to replace the old one)

1.     Remove all PA officials

2.     Disarm and demobilise all PA security forces and other ‘formal’ militias (Hamas, etc.)

3.     Remove terrorist infrastructure – including UNRWA, EU, NGOs

4.     Assume responsibility for administration of PP

5.     Assume responsibility for funding of PP

6.     Incrementally develop native administration of PP

7.     Incrementally withdraw from PP


1.     Largely removes need for prolonged negotiations (Arabs have shown no good faith previously)

2.     Provides quick, relatively neat final solution to be put in place; removes uncertainties

3.     Provides a separation of populations desired by both sides

4.     Provides strategic depth to Israel – all of Jordan valley (west bank lowlands) held by Israel

5.     Allows a hostile PP to be quarantined from sources of weaponry

6.     Allows maximal control of population movements from PP to Israel continuing the reduction in levels of violence that the incomplete fence has already achieved

7.     Preserves Jewish character of Israel and Arab character of PP(assignment of lands and populations results in only a small increase in the Arab population of Israel )

8.     Allows Israel to cease governing hostile alien population either immediately (preferred) or relatively quickly and on a known schedule

9.     Provides immediately/eventually for independent Palestinian Arab governance of an independent PP.

10.   After withdrawal PP internal politics need no longer concern Israel vitally

11.   Although there is the opportunity to create a functioning liberal regime in the PP, nothing hangs on this. (The example of the current dysfunctional government does not encourage such a commitment – hence the preference for Clean Break)

12.   Both strategies – but Clean Break especially – provide Israeli forces with a foreseeable end, improving morale


1.     Unilaterality means no other actors are committed to the success of the proposal

(It is not clear how much of a disadvantage this is. Arab states are apparently incapable of publicly supporting any peace deal, Egypt and Jordan notwithstanding, so no peace proposal can be made dependent upon their approval or cooperation. In the best case they may acquiesce, though they are most likely to continue their current hostility.)

2.     Proposal falls far short of satisfying the Arab maximalist position, or even the ’48 or bust’ solution. For this reason it will be unacceptable to Arabs and some others.

(Whether Europe and others will seriously dispute the execution of this proposal is unknown. They will certainly complain and decry its ‘unfairness’ pro forma, but they seem to have no interests requiring more.)

3.     ‘Viability’ of PP is likely to be disputed

This will be answered in detailed arrangementsfor communication and general access through Israeli territories. I see no reason why cities and suitable hinter;ands may not be viable, given good will on the Israeli side.

4.     Dependence on Israeli ‘good will’ is humiliating and will ensure hostility

Possibly true. However, Israeli security could hardly be secured without infringing Arab ‘honour.’ Moreover, PP hostility is irrelevant if they can be made impotent.

5.     Will probably make many Jewish religious sites inaccessible if PP is hostile.

Unfortunate, but not unbearable

6.     No concessions are made to long-standing Arab demands – whether those demands were sincerely made or not – which will upset some

(See final status settlement for East Jerusalem , Refugees, etc.)


1.     Status of East Jerusalem

Old City will remain in Israel . Arab inhabitants will be given choice of citizenship in Israel or PP. Etzion Bloc to go to Israel .

Any person to have the right to visit the sacred sites in the Old City – principally referring to the right of Muslims to visit the Haram.

Temple Mount outside the Haram to be Israeli territory. Haram to be shared sovereignty with some appropriate authority. The form of words may be left for diplomacy, but the facts will be something like: PP administration over Haram, Israeli security about Haram (including authority to quarantine or restrict access if incitement leads to violence or general level of PP hostility makes it dangerous.)

2.     Right of Return

Denied, of course. However, final compensation may be paid to a responsible UN agency for distribution amongst claimants, or paid to PP authorities with understanding that misappropriation on their part will not void the finality. Amount of final compensation to be set by Israel . A process to determine a fair amount to be decided upon. It is to be made clear that compensation is humanitarian aid and does not constitute an admission of guilt or liability for disadvantages.

The Arabs will almost certainly decline to cooperate. Israel may put this compensatory money in an escrow account to be tapped whenever they decide to accept it. This would actually be good for the Palestinian Arabs as symbolizing finality of claims and providing capital; and would be symbolically good for Israel as demonstrating bona fides

3.     Arab State Hostility

No change in current status except perhaps with respect to Egypt and Jordan .

Egypt has a very Cold Peace with Israel and government has made no effort to pretend that anything more than the desire for US money makes them pay lip service to the peace. There will be no change here, despite popular unrest

Jordan ‘s political shape may be more seriously affected. Israeli unilateralism – which Jordanians will see as a repudiation of the ‘land for peace’ formula to which Jordan has been committed and by which Jordan has tried to justify its peace – will be read as a betrayal of the principles of the peace.

Syria will do what it can to derail the process if there is no concession on the Golan Heights . Syria and Iran may take the opportunity to incite their collaborating forces in Lebanon to conflict with Israel . Unfortunate, but that was always going to happen whatever Israel did.

Diplomatic activity may be able to ameliorate some of this hostility. Perhaps some concessions may be made.

Egypt will be given joint control with the PP over the Gaza border with it – as it has now wrt the PA.

Jordan may be given an administrative role for the Haram. This has the advantage of playing into a threat of Hashemite revanchism wrt the sites at Mecca and Medina, and threatening Saudi control of Arabia . A threat which it is handy to have in the background when negotiating for Saudi cooperation.



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