Peaceful solution to Arab-Israeli conflict

conflict

Background

Since the destruction of the Judean kingdom by Romans in the first century AC, followed by expulsion of the Jews and renaming the land to “Palestine”, this territory remained a part of various empires: Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and British. Its population was sparse and changing, land deserted, and it never again was a sovereign state.  At the end of the 19th century, Jews started returning to Palestine, buying lands, reviving the agriculture, introducing the irrigation, electrification and other infrastructure. This created a labor market which, in turn, attracted Arabs from surrounding areas and, by 1948, the Arab population rapidly swollen to about 1.2 million.

The Problem of co-Existence

Despite the economic benefits, Arabs were hostile to Jewish immigration from the very beginning. Multiple riots took place in the first half of the 20th century, the most notorious of which occurred in 1920, 1929 and 1936-1939. The local Arab population as well as surrounding Arab countries rejected proposals for peaceful co-existence with the Jewish state in 1948. In fact, they attacked it immediately after its creation and then again in 1967, 1973, not counting a multitude of other, smaller-scale, attacks and terrorist acts. Despite establishing peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, attempts to live in peace with Arabs in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza did not succeed, culminating in the 1st Intifada in 1987-1991. Israel tried normalizing the relationships with Palestinian Arabs by creating a Palestinian autonomy in Judea, Samaria and Gaza with the Oslo Accords in 1994.  Instead of peace, formation of the Palestinian authority resulted in multiple waves of enhanced violence, culminating in the 2nd Intifada which led to thousands of deaths since September 2000. Similarly, withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in hope for peace in 2000, led to Hezbollah overtaking this land and creating a terrorist base. Hezbollah attacked Israel by cross-border shelling, rockets and kidnapping, culminating in the 2nd Lebanon War in 2006. Despite these two fiascos, in 2005 Israel decided to transfer the control over Gaza strip to Arabs, and uproot its Jewish population. Soon after the disengagement from Gaza, Hamas – a terrorist organization – overtook that territory, and started attacking Israel with artillery, rockets, and infiltrations. Israeli retaliation led to three wars in Gaza: in 2008, 2012 and 2014.  The recent wave of Arab terror in Israel, called the 3rd Intifada, constant incitement for violence by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, and calls for the elimination of Israel made it clear that separating the Arab population of Judea and Samaria from Israel by swapping “land for peace” is not working. It also affirmed that if the “Oslo process” will continue, it will only lead to the creation of a 3rd terrorist state on Israel’s border.

Proposal for a Peaceful Solution
Like in numerous Middle Eastern countries, many Arabs in Judea and Samaria are interested in emigration, and tens of thousands of them are already leaving each year (25 thousands in 2014). The process of legal immigration requires significant efforts, including applications for visas, finding jobs, selling properties, considerable relocation expenses, etc. Assisting the ones who would like to leave would accelerate the process, and with the emigration rate increased by a factor of 5, the problem will disappear within a few years.

Helping Arabs escape from the violent and impoverished society controlled by a corrupt Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria, or by Hamas in Gaza, would enable them to greatly improve their lives. It would also eliminate the constant tension with the Jewish population in Israel. As a voluntary and peaceful solution, it is gaining wide (53%) support among the Israeli population. It will require substantial financial and organizational resources, but much less than the current military expenses and economic losses associated with continuous violence. Most importantly, it will save lives, alleviate suffering, and solve the long-lasting conflict by peaceful means, fitting the democratic and liberal nature of Israel. 

Financial Aspects
The total Arab population of the Judea and Samaria in October 2015 is about 1.7 million. It may be the simplest and most impactful to start in Jerusalem. A new apartment for a family of 5 in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem costs about 100,000 NIS ($25,000).  With the 300,000 Arab population of Jerusalem, comprising approximately 60,000 families, the total cost adds up to 1.5 B$ - less than the economic losses due to the Intifada. Even if Israel pays 4 times the value of the apartment, i.e. 100 k$ per family to cover the relocation expenses, it adds up to 6 B$ – approximately 6% of the annual state budget. These expenses would be quickly recovered by new construction, since the average price of real estate in Israel is several times higher than in the Arab neighborhoods. For example, the price of a 3-bedroom apartment in Jerusalem exceeds 500 k$. Some of the funding could also come from the foreign aid, currently wasted on support of terrorism and on perpetuating the refugee camps. The process could be tested on even smaller scale: the population of the Muslim Quarter in Old City of Jerusalem is about 5,000 families, so the total cost would amount to about 500 M$.

Immigration in the World
Immigration became very common in the last decades, and its pace is accelerating. Currently it amounts to approximately 3 million people per year world-wide, with the total number of migrants exceeding 230 million, as of 2013. Many Western countries are accepting migrants, and not only engineers and doctors, but also (and mostly) having very common professions, such as farmers, construction workers, food trade, car mechanics, hospitality support, etc., with very modest requirements for the proof of funds: 25 k$ for a family of 5 in Canada, and 40 k$ in Australia, for example. The total amount of legal migrants to US is about 1 million a year, similar to the immigration rate to Europe. Arabs in Judea and Samaria are relatively well-educated due to the education system Israel created, and therefore many of them are capable of meeting the immigration requirements.

Conclusion
Emigration of Arab population from Judea and Samaria as a peaceful solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict is not a new idea, but it was never implemented. It’s time to consider this approach since (a) other attempts to solve the problem failed, (b) it is a peaceful win-win proposition, and (c) immigration became very common and relatively easy process.