By Moshe Phillips
Special to WJW
The two-state solution would endanger Israel’s safety. The one-state solution may endanger Israel’s Jewish identity. So what’s the alternative?
The two-state solution would create an independent Palestinian Arab state approximately along the pre-1967 lines. It would occupy all, or almost all, of Judea-Samaria (the West Bank) and be linked to Gaza.
So Israel would be just nine miles wide at its narrowest point — virtually indefensible. Israel’s major cities and Ben-Gurion Airport would be within easy range if a Palestinian terrorist army should arise — an unprecedented danger. Also, there would be a mass expulsion of tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of Jews in existing settlement towns — which would be utterly immoral.
Two-state advocates say the only alternative to their plan is a one state solution. Which, they say, means granting Israeli citizenship to the Palestinian Arabs and turning them into a majority; or depriving them of citizenship and having an apartheid-like regime. But that’s just a hypothetical issue that they use as a talking point. In reality, not a single mainstream Israeli party calls for either making those Arabs citizens of Israel or having an apartheid system.
The real choice is not between two states and one state. It’s actually a choice between two states; the status quo; and a third way, which my movement, Herut, advocates.
The status quo refers to the existing situation: the Palestinian Authority (PA) rules about 40 percent of Judea-Samaria, and all the major cities where Palestinian Arabs live. Hamas rules 100 percent of Gaza. Under the status quo, the Palestinian Arabs do not pose a demographic threat to Israel, because they’re not Israeli citizens and never will be.
Herut’s approach takes the status quo and builds on it in three important ways.
First, the Jewish communities in Judea-Samaria would live under Israeli law, just as the Palestinian Arab communities live under PA law. This would not create a demographic problem for Israel, since it would not impose Israeli citizenship on the Arabs living in the Israeli-ruled sections of Judea-Samaria.
Second, Jews would be free to live anywhere in the Land of Israel. This is not a right-wing position, but rather a sacred Zionist principle that has been at the center of the Zionist movement since its inception.
There’s no reason to fear that such Jewish communities would obstruct peace. If the Palestinian Arabs genuinely want peace, they should have no objection to Jewish neighbors, just as Israeli Jews live side by side with nearly two million Arab citizens of Israel.
Third, Herut’s plan proposes to focus Palestinian Arab aspirations on Jordan. That’s the country that is in an area historically called Eastern Palestine, until the British decided in 1922 to unilaterally change its name to Transjordan and later to Jordan. But changing a name doesn’t change the identity of its citizens. The vast majority of Jordanians are Palestinian Arabs; Jordan is already the independent state for Palestinians that everyone is demanding. The only obstacle to Palestinian statehood is the king of Jordan.
Like the one-state solution, not a single mainstream Israeli party calls for this option. But if the Palestinian Arabs ever decide they actually want a state — rather than the destruction of Israel — then 78 percent of historic Palestine awaits them, just a few miles east.
Until then, Israel must be guided by the principle of steadfastness — what Herut’s ideological forefather, the legendary Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky (1880-1940), called “the Iron Wall.” We know that Israel’s enemies of will never love the Jewish State. But they can be forced to respect Israel — by remaining steadfast in the both the defense of Jewish rights and in the integrity of the Land of Israel.
Moshe Phillips is national director of Herut North America’s U.S. division; Herut is Wan international movement for Zionist pride and education and is dedicated to the ideals of pre-World War II Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky.