By Martin Sherman, IISS
Extending Israeli sovereignty over Judea-Samaria (and eventually over the Gaza Strip) is indeed a necessary condition for ensuring the ability of Israel to endure as the nation state of the Jewish people. It is, however, not a sufficient condition to ensure that worthy objective. In fact, without additional complementary measures, such an initiative on its own is very likely to imperil Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel…in its entirety on both sides of the pre 1967 Green Line.
Accordingly, in order to ensure its long term survivability as the Jewish nation-state, Israel has to deal effectively with two imperatives: The Geographic Imperative and the DemographicImperative.
The first of these imperative calls for Israeli control (i.e. sovereignty) over all the territory east of the coastal plain up to the Jordan River—to prevent intolerable risks to its physical survival; the second imperative calls for significant reduction of the Arab presence in the territory under Jewish sovereignty to forestall the emergence of an intolerable demographic threat to its dominant Jewish character.
The need to contend with the exigencies of this twin imperative is virtually axiomatic. After all, if it fails to do so, Israel will either become untenable as the nation-state of the Jews geographically or demographically—or both.
Clearly then, any demand for Israeli sovereignty over Judea-Samaria must simultaneously provide a blueprint for the future of the Arab population resident there after the application of Israeli sovereignty.
“The Lebanonization” of Israeli society
Regrettably, as I have pointed out repeatedly in the past, virtually all the proposals of the prominent advocates of Israeli sovereignty are, in this regard, arguably worse than the “two-state” formula, which they purport to replace, and constitute an even greater menace to the Zionist endeavor.
Of course, in a brief essay such as this, it is not possible to elaborate fully on the disastrous detriments entailed in most the proffered alternatives to the “two-state” principle. Accordingly, I will restrict myself to pointing out that annexation of Judea-Samaria together with the Arab population resident in these areas, will totally preclude Israel’s ability to contend adequately with the Demographic Imperative.
This dour assertion is valid even if the optimistic demographic assessments of the size of the Arab population in these areas are correct.
After all, with a Muslim minority of 35-40%–the vast majority of which not only do not identify with the Jewish character of the state but vehemently reject it—it will not be possible to forge a coherent cohesive society, especially not one with a predominantly Jewish nature. Indeed, any such step would constitute a certain recipe for the “Lebanonization” of Israeli society and an inevitable erosion of the Jewish component in it.
Incentives for leaving; disincentives for staying
Accordingly, the unavoidable conclusion is that to contend effectively with the Demographic Imperative, Israel must undertake assertive measures to reduce the scope of the Arab presence within the borders of its sovereign territory.
In the absence of conditions of wide-scale warfare, in which more “kinetic” measures may be acceptable, the only non-coercive manner to achieve this objective is to put in place an overall system of economic/material inducements designed to increase the incentives for the Arab population, resident across the pre-1967 lines to emigrate, on the one hand, and disincentives for them to remain, on the other.
In order to accomplish this, Israel must declare the Palestinian-Arab collective what it, itself, declares itself to be: An implacable enemy, dedicated to the total destruction of the Jewish-Zionist entity, wherever it may be in the Land of Israel—as is clearly articulated in the founding documents of all the major Palestinian organizations.
Israel, therefore, has no obligation—moral, legal or practical—to sustain the socio-economic edifice of a hostile collective, committed to its demise as an entity and to the slaying of its citizens, as individuals. Quite the opposite! Israel has a moral duty to induce its collapse—to stymie the efforts to destroy it and to slaughter its citizens, for whose fate it is responsible.
Gradual denial of service
Accordingly, Israel must publically retract its recognition of the Palestinian Authority, and announce its intention to gradually reduce—and eventually, totally terminate—the provision of all merchandize and services to the Arab population in Judea-Samaria, including water, electricity, fuel, port services and tax collection (as a disincentive for staying).
At the same time, in order to prevent the grave humanitarian suffering such a step would entail, Israel should offer generous relocation grants to non-belligerent Palestinian-Arab individuals and their families (as an incentive for emigrating)—so as to allow them to build a better and safer life for themselves, out of harm’s way, in third party countries, free from the clutches of the cruel, corrupt cliques, who controlled their lives for decades, leading them astray into disaster after disaster.
The only non-violent prescription
This policy prescription—which redefines the context of the “Palestinian context” and transfers it from the political/collective sphere to the humanitarian/individual one is the only non-violent paradigm that contends, simultaneously, with both the geographic and demographic pre-requisites for the long term survival of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
Clearly, this brief synopsis, is a brutally condensed presentation of the Humanitarian Paradigm, and leaves open numerous questions regarding its feasibility as an actionable policy proposal that can be implemented in practice. (“What would the cost be?”; “Which countries would accept the Palestinian-Arab emigrants?”; “How are the recipients of the relocation grants to be protected from the fratricidal wrath of their more radical kin-folk?”… and so on).
These are weighty considerations, and the obstacles and challenges that stand in the way of the adoption and implementation of this policy paradigm should not be underestimated. These difficulties do not, however, reduce the urgent need for it.
Moreover, it will be vital to accompany—even precede—its implementation with a robust global public diplomacy initiative to drive home not only the unavoidable necessity for the Humanitarian Approach, but to underscore its moral and practical merits, relative to all other alternatives.
Learning from the Palestinian experience
There will, undoubtedly, be those who will raise a skeptical eyebrow as to the chances of convincing the public, at home and abroad, as to the practical feasibility, the pressing need and the moral justification of the proposal. To these skeptics I would suggest learning from the experience of…the Palestinian-Arabs. After all, imagine how hopeless and gloomy their situation must have seemed in July 1967—with the IDF’s crushing victory, the humiliating defeat of the Arab armies and the world-wide admiration for Israel. But because they demonstrated resolve, resourcefulness and the ability to raise resources for their struggle, they managed to convert what appeared a seemingly lost cause into the dominant position in the mainstream discourse on the Arab Israeli conflict.
Could it be that, paradoxically, it is the Palestinian-Arabs who need to remind the Jews: If you will it, it is no dream?