Clearly, there can be no peace without mutual recognition of the right to a secure homeland, – tough question, of course, – is how this recognition is achieved..
I propose a peace agreement based on these main points:
1. Israel withdraws from the West Bank. – New border will be pre 1967, exept for reciprocal and agreed-on changes.
2. In return for giving up the right of return, Palestinian refugees are entitled to economic compensation, and citizenship, preferably where they are.
3. Jerusalem remains the undivided capital of Israel. *
According to an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, 23.11-208, – outlines-of-obama-s-peace-plan-emerging , these same proposals were put forward by Obama, pre-election, but apparently he’s been back-tracking on the Jerusalem issue..
Personally, I have only recently come to the conclusion, that the Israeli refusal to give up on East Jerusalem is justified. – My reasons are the following:
a. Since 1893, there has been a Jewish majority in Jerusalem.
b. As of 31. dec. 1946, the population of the un-divided city of Jerusalem was 99.320 Jews, 31.330 Christians, 33.680 Muslims. ( Supplement to a Survey of Palestine ) (p. 12-13)
c. Contrary to what one would expect, the 250.000 Arabs now living in East Jerusalem, as opposed to around 200.00o Jews, have mixed feelings about coming under the rule of Palestinian authority, probably due to a higher living standard, in spite of difficulties, and also in view of the internal strife amongst Palestinian fractions.
Theglobeandmail oct.16 – 2007 (not online).
d. Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank is offered in return for giving up on the claim to East Jerusalem as the capital of a coming Palestinian state
e. A curiosity : In 1854 Karl Marx, – (yes, that Karl Marx), – was a reporter for the New York Daily Tribune. His article of 15 April 1854 reported the population as follows:
“…the sedentary population of Jerusalem numbers about 15,500 souls, of whom 4,000 are Mussulmans [Muslims] and 8,000 Jews.”
On the other hand, according to before-mentioned “Survey of Palestine“, the surrounding areas of Jerusalem, – (Jerusalem Sub Districts), – were populated almost exclusively by Arabs, which calls for a halt to Jewish expansion around Jerusalem, and a coming border-line in close proximity to the city-limit.
In return for acceptance of Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, Israel must grant full citizenship and democratic rights to the 240.000 Arabs in East Jerusalem.
* Alternatively, – Israel must give up on East Jerusalem and accept it as the coming capital of the state of Palestine, which has been considered an undesirable, but necessary step by some Israeli politicians, on the basis of future demographics.
It is also a trade-off: Giving up on East-Jerusalem should make it “easier” for Israel to keep the largest settlements on the West Bank.
Any number of the 200.000 Jewish settlers on the West Bank, who would come under the rule of the P.A. , depending on above-mentioned trade-off, should be given the choice of staying under Palestinian authority, or receiving compensation and re-settle in Israel proper.
Palestinian refugees :
In view of the fact that a tiny nation the size of Israel has absorbed around 850.000 refugees /immigrants from Arab countries, plus around 1 million from the Soviet Union, it is strange, not to say shameful indeed, that Arab nations have integrated only a tiny fraction of the now 4.4 mio. Palestinian refugees, – (according to UNRWA), – out of which 1.3 mio. live in refugee camps in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the West Bank and Gaza. (Figures taken from information.dk )
However, – although it is hardly the only explanation, – Palestinian refugees are denied basic rights and citizenship, in order to uphold international pressure on Israel. Other reasons are demograpfic in nature, as in Lebanon and Jordan, witnessed by the civil wars.
Leaving the question of who is responsible for the huge number of Palestinian refugees aside, I propose the following solutions:
Jordan: The close to 2 mio. Palestinian refugees in Jordan already have Jordanian citizenship and the total number of refugees should be reduced, accordingly, to around 2.5 mio.
Non-the-less, Jordanian refugees, out of which around 200.000 are still living in refugee camps, should still be eligible to compensation, although perhaps not on the same scale as refugees in the other Arab nations. Besides, it can be argued, that Jordan is already a Palestinian state…
West Bank : The 3/4 mio. refugees on the West Bank, of which a little less than 200.000 are living in refugee camps, will, of course, become citizens in the state of Palestine, and receive economic compensation.
Gaza : The same applies, of course, to the over 1. mio. refugees in Gaza, out of which close to 50 % (!) live in refugee camps. – (Total population of Gaza : 1.5 mio., – so 2 out of 3 are UN registered refugees !).
Syria: All 450.000 refugees, out of which just under 200.000 live in camps, should be given Syrian citizenship, but in order to achieve this, Syrians can be expected to demand the withdrawal of Israel from the Golan Heights. This, however, is potentially suicidal for Israel, and would require an international peace keeping force for at least a number of years.
Lebanon: Due to the delicate demographic balance in Lebanon, the 2006 Israeli-Lebanese /Hezbollah war, and the unstable political situation in general, – the 408.000 Palestinian refugees here, – ( 215.000 in camps ), – poses the greatest challenge, and a solution will most likely involve a migration of a large portion of the refugees.
In order to secure Lebanese citizenship to as many refugees as possible, economic compensation should be given not only to the refugees themselves, but might also involve compensation / aid to the Lebanese government.
One realistic scenario might be the granting of Lebanese citizenship to the little less than 50 % living outside of camps. As for the remaining 215.000, this number is approximately equal to the number of Jewish settlers who would be forced to withdraw from the West Bank…, – get the idea.. ?
Solution, then, is the granting of citizenship in the coming state of Palestine, plus, of course, economic compensation, which, in this case, as with Lebanon, should involve aid to a new Palestinian authority /government
For an overview of the sorrow status of Palestinian refugees, termed the second Palestinian “Nakba”, read this article from independent.co.uk : No way home: The tragedy of the Palestinian Diaspora
The financing of economic compensation: At first thought it appears unrealistic to give a substantial compensation to 4.5 mio. refugees, plus aid to Lebanese and new Palestinian governments. – However, – it is peanuts compared to the cost of war, and military and humanitarian expenditure in general.
Consider, for example, the 3 billion $ of US aid to Israel yearly, – the 640 mio. $ of yearly Arabic aid to the Palestinian authority, plus another 110 mio. $ from the EU, – the close to 1. billion $ yearly cost of running the UNRWA.