From the time of the announcement of the Saudi Plan for the Middle East we have been commenting on the developments in that area.
The Saudi Plan was the last proposal that had any chance of being acceptable to the Palestinians and Arabs and Muslims around the world. And had it been accepted by the Israelis, could have resolved the so-called Middle East Conflict. This was recognized by the World Community, and the Road Map for Peace in the Middle East could be interpreted to lead to the implementation of that plan.
This Road Map, however, was drafted in such way that it could only lead to the proposed by it solution, if both the parties wanted to arrive at such solution anyway.
But this was not the case. And this has lead not only to failure to implement the Saudi Plan, on which the Road Map was vaguely based, but has lead to developments on the ground within the conflict area, which have rendered the Two State Solution no longer possible1.
Our aim here is not to apportion the blame for this course of events, but to honestly examine the realities on the ground in the context of the realities of the world at large as they are today, and to propose a solution based on these realities.
As we pointed out still at the time just shortly after the publication of the Saudi Plan2, the obstacles to the implementation of the Saudi Plan were (1) the politics of the Israeli government and (2) the Bush Doctrine of War on Terror which the Israeli government have been using to justify the further expansion of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. As a result of this expansion the real map of the West Bank today shows an area of Israeli settlements with enclaves of Palestinian population centers. And while there are some hints of Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, there are no indications of any serious intentions by the Israelis to withdraw their settlements to the per-1967 borders in the West Bank. And this makes any prospects of a Palestinian State in the West Bank, which would be acceptable to the Arabs, sheer impossibility. And this means that any attempts to "revive the Road Map" cannot be anything but political games. Politicians will talk, take postures and stances, but will produce no positive results. Just as they had been doing it all along.
The "facts on the ground3" are evolving as follows: the Palestinians are being progressively squeezed into a few population centers surrounded by security fences in the midst of Israeli settlements connected by roads controlled by the Israelis. And as this situation continues to provoke Palestinian resistance, this resistance (labeled as "terrorism") is used to justify squeezing in the Palestinians more and more. And this will continue as it has been continuing up to the present time until all the Palestinians are squeezed out of the West Bank. It is also possible that at some time the politicians will proclaim some of the Palestinian enclaves as a Palestinian State. But the reality will be the same - this Palestinian State will be just a large concentration camp, the only purpose of which will be to protect Israel. And because of the Arab (and Muslim) solidarity the conflict will be increasingly moving outside of Palestine, taking the shape of intensification of the present hostilities towards Israel, the USA, and anybody who is seen to be connected with them. The reaction of the US Administration to these hostilities will be intensification of the present War on Terror, which will be provoking still more resistance. As it can be seen in Iraq. And there will be no peace in the Middle East for many decades or even centuries.
And this means that people on all sides will continue to die and property will continue to be destroyed. And politicians will continue to justify their incompetence and dishonesty by more deception and propaganda, and will be discrediting themselves more and more. But the democratic systems will not be able to offer any alternative. And the human civilization instead of advancing will be decaying.
So, are there any alternatives?
Stated in general terms, the failure of the Saudi Plan was due to (1) non-acceptance of that Plan by both the parties at the same time, and (2) absence of mechanisms of supra-national law, which would be able to force the parties to accept conditions which they were unwilling to accept voluntarily.
Thus, in the absence of possibility to impose upon the parties a solution which is not acceptable to both the parties, the only realistic way to resolve the conflict would be to meet the maximalist aspirations of both the sides at the same time.
But is this possible?
Before we answer this question we need to consider what these maximalist aspirations are in real terms, as distinct from the rhetorics in which they are usually expressed.
The maximalist aspirations of the Palestinians would be (1) "throw the Zionist Entity (the State of Israel) into the Sea", (2) for all the Palestinians to return to their houses in the Palestinian cities and villages in the present day Israel, (3) to proclaim all of Palestine a "democratic" state in which all the "real Palestinians" (as opposite to the immigrants who came to Israel after 1948), Arabs, Christians, and Jews would have equal rights and live together in peace in their houses in accordance with their customs and traditions. It was such geographical state that the Palestinians wanted before 1948. And this is their "maximalist" aspiration.
The maximalist Israeli aspirations would be expulsion of all the Arabs from the historical Land of Israel, and establishment of the Kingdom of Israel within its historical borders of the times of David and Solomon - from the Euphrates to the Nile River (as per the Bible).
Both of the above rhetorical aspirations are seen by the International Community as "extreme", and this is used by the "moderates" of both the parties seeking support of the World Public Opinion to claim that their opponents are "fanatical extremists", and in that way to elicit support for their "moderate" causes. But, it is the "extremists" that lead the fight on both the sides of the conflict. And, if these "extreme" aspirations of the "extremists" would have been met, the conflict would have been resolved.
So instead of labeling these aspirations as "extreme" we shall strip them from the rhetorics and see what they amount to in the realities of the modern world.
Some Israelis might be dreaming about the ancient glory of the Kingdoms of David and Solomon, but if they were offered today all the land from the Nile to the Euphrates, there would not have been enough Jews to populate that area. So, in practice they would have been content with a State of Israel which would comprise the present territory of Palestine under their control. And this is the State of Israel within the pre-1967 borders plus all of the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and whatever they have kept of Lebanon in the North. This would have been enough for them, if to remove all the Arabs (the Palestinians plus the Israeli Arabs). This would have been enough for them to have their own purely Jewish State. They would have demolished the mosques on top of their Western Wall and fulfilled their dream of building the Third Temple in the Golden City of David. All the Jews, who would want to "return" to the Land of Israel would have been able to do so. And the Zionist Dream would have been fulfilled. And, if the Arabs would have accepted all that, the Zionists would have nothing to fight for anymore.
Originally the Palestinians did not seek an ethnic Arab state of their own. Like most people in the world today, they just wanted to live on the land and in the houses where they were either born, or which they purchased in their own life time. What they were against was being expelled from their land and their houses to make place for somebody else's ethnic state, or to be second-class citizens governed by a "ruling" ethnic group to which they did not belong. They were not against living in a single Palestinian State shared by Arabs and Jews.
So, the reason for their hostility towards the Israelis, is not aspiration for an ethnic Palestinian State (similar to Israel), but the injustice that they had suffered at the hands of the Israelis who had expelled them from their own houses4.
So, if the Palestinians could regain their houses in which they could live as first-class citizens, without any diminution of their rights, then they would have no reasons left to fight for.
Thus, if to find a way of satisfying the desire of the Jews for a purely Jewish state within their present area of control (all of present day Palestine), and the desire of the Palestinians to live in their own houses as first-class citizens with dignity, then the conflict would be resolved.
What made such resolution of the conflict seemingly impossible was that the houses from which the Palestinians were expelled (or the sites where these houses stood) happened to be on the same land as the land which the Israelis wanted to be part of their purely Jewish state.
But, if it were possible to separate the Palestinian houses from the land which the Israelis want to use for their purely Jewish State, then it would have been possible to resolve the conflict.
But President Bush has a vision of a Palestinian State, which he hoped would be achieved in 2005, and he said that he is ready to spend some capital, when he was elected for a second term.
But as the "facts on the ground" in Palestine leave no room for a state of G.W. Bush's vision (unless this vision is a Guantanamo style concentration camp), this state will have to be the United States of America.
G.W. Bush needs to offer all the Palestinians in Palestine and in the refugee camps outside of it and the Israeli Arabs in Israel full American citizenship. All the Palestinians will become citizens of the United States of America. And in addition to it they will be given a compensation of $600,000 per adult and $160,000 per child under 16. And all this on condition that they move out of Palestine to the USA and abandon all claims to Palestinian land. This compensation will be free of all taxes, but in view of its total magnitude, will be paid by installments over 20 years. The upaid balance will be a debt that the US government will owe to each of the Palesitinians. And, if a Palestinian dies before the debt is repaid to him, the outstanding balance will be due to his inheritors.
The Israelis can have no reasonable objections to such solution, because they will get everything they can realistically want, and at no cost to themselves. But many Palestinians will object to such solution for emotional reasons.
For over 50 years they had been fighting for their land. This fight for their land had shaped their whole thinking, and it is not easy to change that.
But, this attachment to their land can bring them no benefit, but endless fighting and suffering.
Moreover this attachment to their land is a product of being expelled from it forcibly. Many people move from one land to another of their own free will in search of a better life. The USA itself is a product of such movement of people. And many Arabs, including some Palestinians, in the USA have better lives, than they would have had not only in Palestine, but in any Arab country. And the compensation ($600,000 per adult and $160,000 per child) will mean that all the Palestinians will be able to live in dignity, rather then struggling for survival. A family of 2 adults and 3 children will get $1,680,000, payable over 20 years.
Such exodus by the Palestinians from Palestine will also achieve their dream of defeating their old enemy, Zionism. Once the Jews have got all of Palestine, Zionism will become obsolete, and the Jews will no longer be dreaming about returning to Jerusalem and rebuilding their Temple. They will build it. And it will be just like another public building anywhere else in the world, not a dream to fight for.
But what about the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque?
A similar solution can be applied to the problem of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque being above the Jewish Western Wall. For the Jews it is the place that is important. For the Muslims it is the mosques. With the use of the modern technology it is possible to move the buildings of the mosques to a different place. Such different place could be somewhere in Saudi Arabia, so that the pilgrims could visit the mosques as they visit Mecca.
In that way it is possible to satisfy the "extreme" aspirations of both the sides. The Israelis will get the Zionist dream fulfilled, complete with the Third Temple. The Palestinians will be able to buy better houses than the ones they had been driven out of, and become First Class Citizens of the most prosperous country in the world. And will have enough money to start comfortable lives, and live with dignity. And the Ancient Mosques will be preserved and moved to a place where they will be looked after and accessible to the Muslim world.
In principle, the Americans can have no objection to such solution. America was created by people fleeing oppression and seeking better life. And, if an American were caused injustice similar to the one suffered by the Palestinians and an American court would award him damages of $600,000, he would appeal saying, "It's too little, for what I have suffered".
The Americans will ask, however, "How much will it cost us?"
And the answer is: "Not much more than the cost of the Vietnam War. And less than the endless War on Terror, which they will wage, if the conflict is not resolved".
|The Costs of Settling the Middle East Conflict|
|1||Gaza||1,200,000||Approximate Arab population of Gaza Strip|
|2||West Bank||1,000,000||Approximate Arab population of West Bank|
|3||Israeli Arabs||1,300,000||Approximate Arab population of Israel|
|4||Refugees||4,000,000||Approximate number of Palestinian Refugees outside of Palestine|
|5||Palestinians Total||7,500,000||The total of above. As the above figures are approximate, the real figures need to be verified.|
|6||Adults||3,750,000||It is assumed that one half of the Palestinians are above 16 years old. This needs to be verified.|
|7||Children||3,750,000||It is assumed that one half of the Palestinians are 16 years old and below. This needs to be verified.|
|8||Compensation per Adult (free of taxes)||$600,000||The figure is based on the need to provide reasonable compensation for the loss, and damages as a result of the "conflict".|
|9||Compensation per Child (free of taxes)||$160,000||The figure is based on the need to provide reasonable compensation for the loss, and damages as a result of the "conflict".|
|11||Other costs||$150,000,000,000||These are the costs of moving the Mosques and the overheads of the whole operation.|
|12||Total||$3,000,000,000,000||This is about 2 times the cost of the Vietnam War at 2004 prices.|
|13||Costs of Vietnam War||$200,000,000,000||At 1970 prices.|
|14||Price increases 1970 to 2004||7||An approximate figure.|
|15||Costs of Vietnam War at 2004 prices.||$1,400,000,000,000||At 2004 prices, as adjusted by the price increase factor.|
|16||As $3,000,000,000,000 is too much for the American budget to be paid in one year, the payments of the compensation to the Palestinians will be spread over 20 years.|
|17||Compensation per Adult per year for 20 years||$30,000||The figure is based on the need to provide reasonable compensation for the loss, and damages as a result of the "conflict".|
|18||Compensation per Child per year for 20 years||$8,000|
|19||Total US yearly outlay||$150,000,000,000||This is 6.25% of the 2005 US Budget of $2,400,000,000,000, and 35% of the Discretionary Defence 2005 Budget of $429,000,000,000.||The above figures are approximate and their purpose is to show that the cost of the proposed solution is financially feasible.|
And there will be many economic benefits to offset the costs.
There will be no longer need to pour money to finance the Israeli war against the Palestinians.
And an influx of some 1,000,000 of reasonably wealthy families will boost the American industry - like selling some million extra houses, cars, and household goods.
And, if G.W. Bush, wants to end World Terror, he could withdraw his troops from Iraq, and make peace with the "terrorists", as we suggested to him still in 20015.
And this will yield still further economic benefits to the US. They will stop wasting money on the Iraq War, they will stop wasting money on torture camps (like the ones in Cuba), and they will have no need to spend money on the various propaganda ventures to "win the hearts and minds".
And this will be the start of a new world, a world without wars, terrorism and politics.
"But will those Muslims agree to such a reasonable solution?", will ask some Americans.
Islam is a global religion of reason. It is not limited to any country, tribe or nation. It seeks justice and peace, not nationalist politics and oppression.
When the Prophet and his followers were persecuted in Mecca, they chose to emigrate, rather than fighting an unequal fight or accepting an unjust compromise. Is not God's Earth wide enough to emigrate [from oppression]? (4:97). And the East and the West both belong to God (2:115). There is little benefit to the Palestinians of retaining whatever is left of Palestine, and accepting unjust conditions being imposed on them by brutal force. Let the Israelis have the last remnants of Palestine, and the Palestinians will have freedom, dignity, and the whole world.
Within a few generations all nationalisms will become obsolete, all people will be able to move freely around the world, and all the national borders will have no more meaning than the borders between the states within the US. And the political world of today will be seen as a dark barbaric stage of Human History.
1) It should also be noted that the Saudi Plan itself was conditional for its success (1) on adequate compensation being offered to the Palestinian refugees, which would be acceptable to them, so that they would abandon their rights to return to their houses in present day Israel from which they were expelled to make place for the present day Israel, more than on the establishment of the "Viable Palestinian State", (2) on finding a workable arrangement for the Palestinians retaining East Jerusalem, and Israelis accepting having access to the Western Wall of the Temple, which would be on the Palestinian territory, (3) on the West Bank and Gaza becoming a truly "viable" state. These three conditions would have been extremely difficult to achieve, even with the agreement of the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships. And without such agreement, downright impossible.
2) The Obstacles to Peace in the Middle East (2002-04-13).
3) as distinct from the picture of them presented by politicians.
4) It was only when they could not succeed to regain their houses, that a two-state solution began to be seen as an acceptable compromise by some Palestinians. But as we have showed above, such Two State solution is impossible due to the realities on the ground and absence of an effective supranational government.
5) See: http://www.truth-and-justice.info/stopterror.html. Had he followed our advice then, some 1,500 Americans would not have died, and thousands would not have been wounded as a result of his War on Terror. And, if he follows it now, he will save many thousands of American lives that his War on Terror will claim in the coming years, if not stopped. And what has his War on Terror achieved so far? Deaths, destruction and disgrace of America. But it has had a positive result - it has made people think. So, if the American administration follow the advice given to them in 2001, terrorism will become a thing of past history. It is never too late to act sensibly. But the earlier it is done, the less damage one has to deal with.