Gershon Baskin

Transitional mind-shifts

24.11.2016

Gershon Baskin. Photo: Otmar Steinbicker

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s position of reaching agreement with the incoming Trump administration regarding Israel’s settlement policy is a step in the right direction. The suggestion that Israel should focus any future settlement activities in the so-called “settlement blocs” and not outside of them puts forward the idea that someday there might actually be a border between Israel and the Palestinians.

Coming from a settler who lives outside of the blocs it is actually quite a progressive, forward-thinking policy option.

Of course, the main problem with Liberman’s proposal is that it is not the Americans who need to agree, but the Palestinians.

No Israeli building for Israeli citizens beyond the Green Line will be legitimate, even if sanctioned by President-elect Trump himself, unless and until the Palestinians agree to it. Palestinian agreement on Israeli settlement blocs will become legitimate when it is in the framework of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on a border that will include territorial swaps and end Israeli domination and control over the Palestinian people and their lives.

Despite Palestinian rhetoric, the Palestinians know that returning to the 1967 borders is never going to happen and only through territorial swaps will any end-of-conflict agreement be possible.

Israel has created too many facts on the ground to be ignored. Those facts are that settlement building (which is illegal by international law, despite the few who might argue differently) will mean that between four and five percent of the West Bank will eventually be annexed to Israel, as part of an agreement which will enable between 75% to 80% of the settlers to remain in their homes, which will become part of the sovereign and recognized territory of the State of Israel.

The rest of the settlements – not a small amount of them, encompassing some 70,000-plus Israelis – will be beyond Israel’s sovereign border. It makes no sense whatsoever to build even a single new house there.

Eventually those settlements will either be evacuated or the homes and people living there will live under Palestinian sovereignty. The primary factor limiting the size of the territorial swap is the availability of non-inhabited land on the Israeli side of the border.

Despite Liberman’s anxiousness to be rid of as many Palestinians with Israeli citizenship as possible, communities such as Umm el-Fahm will not be included in the territorial swap. Umm el Fahm residents may raise the Palestinian flag much more than the Israeli one, but they will not agree to have the border adjusted so that they are no longer Israeli citizens. There are many reasons for that, not the least of which is that Israel is a democracy.

For Israel both sides of the Green Line constitute the Land of Israel, just as for Palestinians both sides are Palestine.

There is nothing holy about the Green Line and therefore it is possible to shift the future border – and in fact there is no other solution. It is perhaps unpleasant to think about so many people who will have to leave their homes and communities. The future removal of the few families from Amona will not be pleasant at all. Recollection of the scenes from the disengagement from Gaza bring back heart-wrenching images that call for empathy at the human level.

Future withdrawals from most of the West Bank will cause no small amount of human suffering.

Settlers beyond the future Israeli border will basically have three choices.

They could relocate to areas of Judea and Samaria that will be incorporated into the sovereign recognized borders of the State of Israel.

They could also move back to Israel inside of the Green Line.

But they could also request to receive citizenship or permanent residency rights under Palestinian sovereignty and law – although very few are likely to do so, mostly out of fear.

One element of the future agreement will have to be mechanisms to protect those Israelis who, despite their fears, may chose that as their preferred option.

One of the lessons that we should have learned from the disengagement from Gaza is that Israel should not demolish what it leaves behind. That was a waste that served no positive purpose, where good use of those homes and communities could have been made for the poorest of Gaza’s residents. Evacuated settlements in the West Bank can be used as a cornerstone of Israel’s contribution to a future international fund for Palestinian refugees. Those are real assets that, while causing pain and anguish to those Israelis who will have to leave them could provide new hope for Palestinians who have suffered for too long and also deserve the opportunity for a new beginning. It is also a tremendous platform on which we call also begin the long and arduous task of building reconciliation – which is much more difficult than negotiating an agreement.

It would be a giant step forward if the homes in Amona, built on private Palestinian land, could be turned over the Palestinian refugees to live in rather than turning them into piles of rubble that will pollute the environment that we all claim to cherish.

What a shift in public attitudes toward peace could be achieved at such a small cost! We will never break out of the dynamics of this conflict if we don’t have a psychological breakthrough that changes mindsets.

Perhaps Liberman’s stepping out of the mold could be first step on a much longer path forging a new future for Israelis and Palestinians alike. Wishful thinking, I know, but sometimes wishes do come true.

Gershon Baskin ist Autor des Aachener Friedensmagazins www.aixpaix.de. Seine Beiträge finden Sie hier


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Beiträge von Gershon Baskin
2016

Transitional mind-shifts

Excuse me for asking

Israel needs a fully functioning opposition

Putting the end forward

Speaking peace out loud and all over

Secret back channels

Left, Right, Zionist, anti-Zionist

Clear and measurable steps

Russia?

Palestine-Jordan confederation and peace

The waiting game

The apology, democracy and peace

Sisi, the peace broker

Anti-anti-normalization

The republic of Israel-Palestine?

My enemy's leader

De-risking peace - Part 5

De-risking peace - Part 4

De-risking peace - Part 3

De-risking peace - Part 2

De-risking peace - Part 1

The Left is right

The French connection

The United Nations and Israel’s legitimacy

A moment of opportunity

The darkness of our times

Addressing the core

The worst negotiations, the best negotiations

Palestinian turmoil and Israeli interests

This one is for you - the Palestinians

Palestinian suffering makes no sense for Israel

Creating a compelling vision for peace

It is also in our hands

Sooner or later

There is no partner

There is no partner

2015

Yes, it is difficult to make peace

What does he really want?

To those who oppose Israeli-Palestinian peace

Israel – my sad home

Have I got news for you

It is still not too late for peace

Netanyahu, tell us what you really think!

The partnership challenge

The binational reality that we are experiencing

Abbas is still the leader who can make peace

A new intifada?

After Abbas

The distance between here and peace and security

Doing the wrong thing at that wrong time

The one and only solution!

Yeshayahu Leibowitz was right!

The disengagement – 10 years on: What we choose to forget

Needed - a new approach to Gaza

A bad agreement is better than no agreement

Obviously no peace now, so what then?

Ramadan Kareem!

Israel’s strategic choices regarding Gaza

Anti-normalization hypocrites

FIFA, soccer and the Palestinians

Both sides now

It’s time for Palestine

The citizens’ challenge – from despair to hope

We have the chance to do the right thing in Yarmouks

The world is not against us

This is what you voted for, and this is what you will get

The no decision elections

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For the sake of Israel, Netanyahu must be sent home

Going ballistic even prior to an agreement

To the new IDF chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot

The Peace Bridge

The choices we must make

Israeli elections – It’s not about the economy

Threats and security

2014

Returning to negotiations

Our most important elections

The missed opportunities

We want peace, but they don't

Our future is in our hands

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Unlike religious wars, political wars have solutions

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If we had a real leader

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Mutual and reciprocal recognition

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2013

Contextual reciprocity

Negotiating atmospherics

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Die Kluft im Umgang mit den israelischen Arabern schließen

2012

Eine Ein-Staat-Realität ist nicht durchführbar

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Das Ende des Raketenbeschusses aus Gaza

Die Aufgabe eines Staatsmannes

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