Since 1993, successive governments, supported by the international community, have tried to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict using the flawed paradigm of land for peace. Each time, the same formula was attempted, but failed every time because of Arab recalcitrance.
Increasingly, the international community has started to demand that Israel return to the pre-1967 armistice lines as the basis of any resolution to the conflict. This has largely happened because there is a misunderstanding that the dispute is territorial in nature and confusion on international law and precedent.
Most importantly, the Israeli leadership has historically provided no alternatives to this paradigm.
Those who claim that Israel must return to the socalled Green Line need to examine UN Security Council Resolution 242, the legal framework created following the 1967 war when the territories were conquered.
The resolution purposely never called for a full withdrawal from the West Bank. Lord Caradon, the main drafter of the resolution, called the pre-1967 lines “artificial and undesirable”, another drafter, Eugene V. Rostow, US undersecretary of state for political affairs in 1967, said Israel needs to retreat only to “secure and recognized borders, which need not be the same as the armistice demarcation lines.”
In fact, the Green Line was created as a line where the Israeli and Jordanian armies concluded their fighting when Israel’s War of Independence ended. The Jordanian- Israeli Armistice Agreement specifically stated: “No provision of this agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims and positions of either party hereto in the peaceful settlement of the Palestine questions, the provisions of this agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations.”
So there is no evidence that the Green Line, the demarcation that former dovish foreign minister Abba Eban described as the “Auschwitz lines,” was ever considered a border of any kind.
While many claim that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is territorial, the facts suggest otherwise. Israel had no citizens, settlers or military in the West Bank until 1967, but did not enjoy one moment’s peace from our neighbors and the terrorists that they supported.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization preceded that war and was created in 1964, specifically stating in its original constitution that it made no claims to the West Bank.
IF THE conflict returns to the pre-1967 lines, it will inevitably pass beyond those borders and into Israel. Most of the country’s Arab population defines itself as Palestinian politically and culturally.
Many openly identify with the Palestinian national movement to the point where they openly act against the state which provides them with full civil rights. In 2006, the Arab leadership wrote a paper titled “The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel,” which was deeply troubling as it questioned Israel’s legitimacy and raison d’être as the realization of Jewish self-determination.
Even worse, some Arab leaders actively assist those who want to destroy the Jewish State. Former MK Azmi Bishara directed Hizbullah rocket attacks on Israel and Ahmed Tibi advised Yasser Arafat and current Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, even though he is a member of the Knesset whose wages are paid by the taxpayers.
Large-scale demonstrations against Israel regularly appear in Arab cities all over the country, where it is not infrequent to hear the cries of “Death to the Jews” and where pictures of terrorist leaders from Hamas and Hizbullah are prominently displayed. These phenomena are a clear indication that a conflict between two peoples is the cause of friction.
The solution lies not in appeasing the maximalist territorial demands of the Palestinians, but in truly creating “two states for two peoples.”
The current demands from some in the international community are to create a homogeneous pure Palestinian state and a binational state in Israel. This becomes the one-and-a-half to half state solution. For lasting peace and security we need to create true political division between Arabs and Jews, with each enjoying self-determination.
Therefore, for a lasting and fair solution, there needs to be an exchange of populated territories to create two largely homogeneous states, one Jewish Israeli and the other Arab Palestinian. Of course, this is not to preclude that minorities will remain in either state where they will receive full civil rights.
There will be no so-called Palestinian right of return.
Just as the Jewish refugees from Arab lands found a solution in Israel, so too Palestinian refugees will only be incorporated into a Palestinian state. This state needs to be demilitarized and Israel will need to retain a presence on its borders to ensure no smuggling of arms. In my opinion, these need to be our red lines.
We have seen that history is moving away from attempts to accommodate competing national aspirations in a single state. The former Yugoslavia was broken up into many separate states. Czechoslovakia was split into two, and even in Belgium there are strong voices who wish to see that nation broken into separate Walloon and Flemish territories. The precedent of creating new states based on ethnic, national and even religious boundaries has been established in the international community and is becoming the trend.
With all the difficulties involved, this is the only solution that ensures long-term stability in the region.
In most cases there is no physical population transfer or the demolition of houses, but creating a border where none existed, according to demographics.
Those Arabs who were in Israel will now receive Palestinian citizenship.
THERE ARE those who will claim that it is illegal to remove citizenship from individuals. However, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 55/153, written in 2001, explicitly states: “When part of the territory of a state is transferred by that state to another state, the successor state shall attribute its nationality to the persons concerned who have their habitual residence in the transferred territory and the predecessor state shall withdraw its nationality from such persons.”
There are also those who claim that those Arabs who would become part of a future Palestinian state would reject this. Firstly, we need to beg the question: Why would Arabs who claim to support Palestinian national aspirations reject this plan? However, I believe that we can put this to a referendum to all of the citizens of Israel and let them decide.
I have no doubt that they, regardless of race or religion, will show political maturity to ensure a lasting peace which is in the best interests of all.
While many are growing impatient for a resolution, setting artificial time limits or pressure will not help.
Regardless of how long it takes, the resolution to this conflict can only be achieved through nonviolent means. There are currently more than 100 territorial and national disputes around the world where those involved do not resort to violence.
However, to build trust and a positive atmosphere between the parties the Palestinians cannot continue to incite against Israel, glorify murder, stigmatize Israel in international forums, boycott Israeli goods and mount legal offensives against Israeli officials.
While there will be many ups and downs during this arduous process the resolution can only arrive through direct negotiations.
This is the blueprint for a permanent resolution to our conflict. In the words of Theodor Herzl: “If you will it, it is no dream.”
The writer is foreign minister and deputy prime minister.