December 11, 2001
Solving the Israel-Palestine conflict
By Michael S. Sanders
© 2001 WorldNetDaily.com
The art of a successful negotiation is to ascertain at the onset what your
adversary wants and attempt to accommodate those needs in a way that benefits
one's own self interests. Unfortunately the history of Arab-Israeli negotiations
has been to disregard what the Arabs have been saying whilst hoping that
"generosity" would make everything acceptable.
From the time that Rabin gave Yasser Arafat the city of Jericho in return for
the recognition of the state of Israel, the die was cast. The words here are
chosen carefully. The words Israeli and Palestinian were not used. This was an
arrangement by individuals without regard to the views of the majority of either
the Jews or the Arabs around the world, nor even to Palestinians or Israelis at
"home." At that moment, the creation of "the state of Palestine" was inevitable
even though the Israelis tried very hard not to come to that realization for
quite some time.
That, of course, has been one of the problems. Whatever the shortcomings of
Arafat, he has had one vision for the future and the Israelis have only had a
series of crumbling hopes. They have not listened and not learned. Neither, of
course, has the United States government – whose idea of negotiations at every
step has been to ask the Israelis to concede more and more and more. Both the
Israelis and the United States have always been amazed that Arafat continues to
turn them down and turn to violence instead. But if they had been listening, it
was inevitable. They never read Mein Kampf, and they have never listened to the
Now Barak comes along and everyone believed that with his amazing "generosity"
Arafat would finally be tested as to his true intentions. But the Israelis and
the United States were not listening. What they offered did not test Arafat's
intentions. His intentions may be benign or evil – they have yet to be
ascertained. He may in fact have one of two motives.
He has a secret intention of totally destroying the state of Israel over a very
long period of time.
He might genuinely want a just (in his eyes) peace.
At the moment, there is no way of determining which one is correct, and one of
the main goals of this proposal is to ascertain the answer to that fundamental
question. We know the concerns of Israel: true peace with dependable and true
security. We need to find what the Palestinians want.
There are three main areas of concern. The boundaries of a viable Palestinian
state and the future of the settlements, the Haram al Sharif and "the right of
return." If these problems can be solved whilst maintaining the concerns of
Israel, then the Palestinians' true motives can quickly be ascertained. If their
true motives include the total destruction of the state of Israel, then all bets
would immediately be off. Thus, one needs to know the answer to that quickly and
accurately so Israel can make the appropriate response.
A. The problems
From the beginning, the Israelis have been forced continually to cede more and
more of the West Bank to the Palestinians. From 50 percent through varying small
increments (almost on a monthly basis), they are now up to around 95 percent.
For Arafat, violence and stalling obviously pays. Why criticize a man who
doesn't see generosity but sees weakness? His is the correct position under the
circumstances. That he is abused for being the better negotiator is absurd. If
the United States and Israel wish to carry a weak hand, it is for history and
their people to judge them. Who, in the face of Israeli weakness would not have
taken full advantage of it?
We are now at a negotiating stage referred to as "90 plus." But listen to the
Palestinians who have remained steadfast in their position. They want 100
percent of the West Bank and Gaza based on United Nations resolutions and have
changed their position. Their claim is that they gave
their concessions when they recognized Israel in the rest of the area. Someone
therefore needs to change the paradigm of the negotiations.
The question of settlers is just as confusing. Israel started off by adding
little enclaves in strategic positions throughout the West Bank and Gaza. People
who moved there were considered heroes by the Israelis. Gradually, they have
conceded, more and more of the enclaves have to be withdrawn and many settlers
are now considered the source of the problem. Thus the Israelis over the years
have again shown steady weakness in the face of a foe who has been steadfast.
B. The solution
There has to be a change of paradigm. The Palestinians have accepted the concept
of security for the Israelis, which they know involves a presence on the West
Bank. The question is in the nature of that presence. Thus we change the whole
tone of the negotiations by formulating a concept of "100 percent minus."
What does this mean in reality? The Palestinians are given sovereignty over a
complete and whole state according to their stated goals and positions. They are
then in a position to negotiate a defense agreement on equal terms with Israel.
That new state would exist de facto only when the legitimate defense and
security needs of Israel are guaranteed – even if it means by a leased presence
or international forces. No
agreement would be put into effect until such time as Palestine adheres fully
and completely with all their
previous commitments on arms, incitement, education, etc. The time period for
that to occur would be up to the Palestinians. The quicker they put it into
effect, the quicker they would have their total state.
What about the settlers? Today in Israel, there are millions of Arabs living as
Israeli citizens. The Israelis have pretended, until recently, that they are not
quite the same as Palestinians. Well they are. They are Palestinians who have
Israeli citizenship. It is proposed that they be given a form of dual
citizenship, as would the Jewish settlers in Palestine. Palestinian towns in
Israel and Jewish townships in Palestine would have at least the autonomy that
is usual in the USA. They would have their own local police, their own education
system, etc. Thus another brick of symmetry is added to the two states living
side by side.
Many on both sides would wish to leave to return to their "own" state, but many
would wish to stay and, as will be seen, that can also be the solution to "the
right of return."
What about Jerusalem and especially the Old City? The Temple Mount will be dealt
with in the next section.
In 1948 – and until the 1967 war – the Old City and East Jerusalem were under
Jordanian rule. The Palestinians maintain that under United Nations resolutions
228 and 442, they should have all
the territory that was captured by Israel in that war, even though the United
Nations were very careful not to
include the word "all" when it referred to the return of territory.
One of the plans that Barak is supposed to have accepted is one in which both
the Old City and the Arab areas of East Jerusalem would be given to the
Palestinians, less the Jewish quarter in the Old City and the "Western Wall."
This despite many pledges by Israel never to divide Jerusalem again. One thing
is clear, however – once one side concedes one idea, it is difficult if not
impossible to ever retract it. It is, therefore, inevitable that Jerusalem be
part of the "100 percent minus" paradigm with negotiations regarding the
complete openness of the city to everyone. The Vatican has sovereignty over
Vatican City but its arrangements with the government of Italy make certain that
there are no artificial boundaries between the two.
The Temple Mount – Haram al Sharif
A. The problem
Like many other religious problems, this is the hardest of them all. Physical
danger to leaders who mess with it would come not only from fundamentalist
factions but ordinary people who have a visceral connection with the center of
their religion. Both sides have both good and bad arguments to keep the site
under their sovereignty – and their sovereignty alone. They will never agree.
Remember, it was Moshe Dayan who handed over the site after its capture by the
Israelis to the Islamic Waqf in 1967. That act was the start of all the major
Israeli problems in Jerusalem. However, without a solution, all the rest of the
issues cannot be resolved.
There appears to be only one possible solution, and that is outlined on the
Bible Mysteries website.
The evidence seems extremely convincing. "The City of David" over the Gihon
Spring is not only the logical place where the Temple of Solomon should have
been built, it is the place in the Bible so described.
C. The solution
If the above is correct – and we suggest there be assembled a conference of the
leading academics in the field of biblical archaeology, rabbis and political
leaders of all sides to investigate the thesis thoroughly – then the problem is
solvable by a sacrifice on both sides. The sovereignty of the Temple Mount can
be handed to the Palestinians but, in return, they would have to hand over the
Arab area known as "the City of David" south of the Temple Mount. There the
Israelis can build their third Temple.
The "right of return"
A. The problem
The underpinning of Arafat's support amongst the Palestinian people since the
beginning of his leadership has been his promise that he would enable them to
"return home." This is the reason why Arab states have tried
to absorb the Palestinian "refugees" and condemned them to camp living for more
than a generation. No Arab leader likes either Arafat or the Palestinians. Their
financial support has been predicated on the hope and belief that he would get
all his people out of their hair eventually. For Arafat then to state
categorically that after all these years the efforts of the Palestinian Diaspora
has been for naught would be signing his own death warrant.
On the other hand, the whole rationale for the state of Israel being a Jewish
state would be destroyed if 3 to 5 million Arabs suddenly were allowed to settle
in greater Israel – especially if they were granted Israeli citizenship. It is
the only thing that the Israeli people have in complete agreement. Both the
extreme left and extreme right agree that an unlimited right of return is
B. The solution
We have already suggested that for peace now to be a reality, there must be two
states, existing side by side with intricate defense agreements to protect the
national security needs of Israel. There also has to be a situation where Arabs
can live in Israel and Jews in Palestine with special status for each that will
be the subject of negotiations between the two parties. From this arrangement
comes a solution to the problem of the Palestinian "right of return." By
definition, and by treaty, each side would have the right to an unlimited right
of return of its own people. Jews from the Diaspora to Israel, Palestinians to
Palestine. Many, many Arabs would perhaps want to leave Israel to become fully
integrated into a Palestinian state and many Jews would probably want to leave
the "settlements" to return to Israel. On the other hand, many relatives of
Arabs wishing to continue to live in Israel would want to join them. The same
would also apply to Jews living in Palestine (which would include East
Jerusalem). Thus a series of negotiations could be instigated where reciprocal
agreements would be worked out to expand the numbers of Arabs in Israel and Jews
in Palestine. As each group would have a special status especially with regard
to voting, this would not
affect the essential Jewishness of Israel nor the Arab nature of Palestine,
whatever the numbers agreed upon. The advantage is that each side has an
incentive to be "generous" to the other for its own self interest.
For the Palestinians it is essential for their economic well-being that there be
a free flow of people from Israel to Palestine and back. That they have not
responded to this factor before now is due hopefully to the fact that they were
only allowed a percentage of their needs and felt that until those needs were
met, nothing else mattered as much. If in fact their real motive for any peace
treaty is the eventual elimination of the state of Israel, this will become
apparent within a very short period of time and the only solution then would be
It must also be understood that the process is likely to take many, many years,
unless there is complete and early compliance by the Palestinians. With a just
and certain future for all their demands, they will no longer have any excuse
for violence or incitement. Should their leadership immediately call publicly –
and at every opportunity – for peaceful reconciliation, then the process could
move faster. There will be no more excuses for any bad behavior.
We look forward to the debate on the key issue, the true site of the early
temples in Jerusalem.
Michael S. Sanders is well known as an explorer and biblical scholar. Today,
Mike serves regularly as an adviser to Middle East experts and commentators.
Sanders' long-term experience as a resident of the Arabian Gulf – and his
friendships and business relationships with leaders and influential businessmen
in the region – add to an intimate and fresh perspective on the origins and
solutions to the ongoing crisis.