If you missed my letter in The Jerusalem Post last week, here it is. A few words will follow.
Sir, – Gershon Baskin writes in “A victory for our side?” (Encountering Peace, January 31) that a one-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians will soon be inevitable. His reason: Building in Jewish towns and villages is taking away land “slice-by-slice” from a possible Palestinian state.
Baskin has been saying the same thing for many years, without bringing a solution one step closer.
If he were to change his perspective by just a few degrees, he would understand that Jewish residents and their dwellings are no threat at all to “Palestine.”
What Baskin and his ideological colleagues should be saying is: “Let the Jews stay and build all they want. Jewish towns and villages do not prevent the creation of a Palestinian state any more than Arab villages prevent an Israeli state. Nor do they unilaterally determine Palestinian borders. Palestinians should pursue diplomacy and state building without any reference to Jewish residents in their future state. They should welcome Jews and all others who are willing to live as citizens in Palestine.”
If the Palestinians and their supporters in Israel and around the world negotiate on this basis, new possibilities would open up in the diplomatic process toward a two-state solution.
Here are the few words:
This is not the letter of a right-winger. True rightists want to build and expand Jewish towns and villages in the West Bank because they think it will prevent a Palestinian state. And the Palestinians have happily accepted this thesis. They do not want two states for two peoples. They want two states for one people: an ethnically pure Palestine and a de-Judaized, bi-national Israel, "a state of all its citizens."
So both sides are stuck over this issue.
My suggestion for a way out is to divorce the issue of Jews in the West Bank from all negotiations on the two state solution. Now, even though I may not fit into the "rightist" category, I am certainly a security hawk. We owe the Palestinians nothing, zip, nada. If the existence of a Palestinian state is deemed to be an unmitigated security risk to Israel, let them find another way to express their newly-minted national identity. But if through mutual negotiations both sides agree that such a state should exist in parts of the West Bank, so be it. There will certainly be restrictions placed on this Palestinian state and one of them should be this: No Jews who choose to remain in Palestine should be expelled by force.
Let Palestine have a Jewish minority just as Israel has an Arab one. This may add an element of balance and stability to a venture into unknown territory.