Pragmatic Solution

This appeared as a letter in The Jerusalem Post today, Feb 20, 2017:

Pres. Trump and PM Netanyahu are looking for an innovative and pragmatic solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.  Here is a modest proposal.  Under the rubric of a Multinational Sunni Arab (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Emirates) – Israel agreement, the territories of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) could be governed by a joint Israeli-Arab Peace Force, the Arab component being represented mainly if not entirely by a Jordanian Army force.  The whole arrangement would be negotiated with the US as guarantor of the implementation, perhaps with a US Observer Force as in the Sinai.

Israel will be responsible for the Jewish towns (Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim, Etzion) and settlements and the Arab Peace Force will be responsible for the Palestinian towns (Ramallah, Nablus, Jericho) and settlements, currently under the Palestine Authority.  There would be joint jurisdiction in such areas as Hebron.  This could also involve land-swaps as envisaged formerly by Pres. Reagan between Israel and the PA to allow for both Israeli and Palestinian contiguity. The area would be demilitarized apart from the joint Israel-Arab Peace Force.

As for Gaza, this could be occupied and demilitarized by the Arab Peace Force, without Israeli presence, but this will require that the terrorist organization Hamas give up control there to ensure a peaceful transition.

It would be envisaged that ultimately this arrangement might devolve into a Confederation of Israel, Palestine and Jordan, with each retaining its own sovereign government, but with open borders for goods and people, but without the right to settle.

The main impediment to this solution would be the absence of will on the part of the Arab States to deal realistically with Israel or rejection by the Palestinians of recognition of Israel as the Jewish State.  It would be up to the other Sunni Arab States to persuade the Palestinians to accept this agreement.   In return they would be given a guarantee by the USA and Israel that they would act to prevent either Iran or the  Islamic State from attacking or occupying their territory, as Israel did for Jordan in 1970, with US support, when it was threatened with invasion by the Syrian Army.

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