The Preferred Option: Israeli Sovereignty over Judea and Samaria

Nearly every time I suggest to someone that Israel needs to declare complete sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, I am bombarded with doubts and accusations – “Are you crazy, it can’t be done!” “What will the world say?”, “America will not allow us”, “We’ll be boycotted and perhaps attacked”, “We’ll lose the Jewish majority in Israel”, etc, etc.

Although it’s true that it’s a complicated issue, my initial response to the valid concerns is to temporarily change the subject. Thus, rather than addressing each point I bring up the feasibility of the current two-state solution since as they say, “the best defense is a good offense”. The conversation usually goes something like this:

“After nearly twenty years of trying to reach an accord with the Arabs via all the various forms of more or less the same Oslo approach, a period that witnessed numerous Israeli “good-will gestures” as well as endless Palestinian terrorist attacks, do you honestly believe that further Israeli concessions and another Israeli retreat will actually lead to peace?” The answer is nearly always “no”.

My next question is “If removing soldiers from Lebanon brought missiles to Haifa and dismantling Jewish communities in Gaza brought missiles to Beersheva, do you believe the Palestinians will act any differently if they are given a state of their own in Judea and Samaria?” Once again, the answer is nearly always “no”.

My final question is “Do you believe that an Arab state in Judea and Samaria will pose a threat to the very existence of the remaining State of Israel?” Not surprisingly the answer is nearly always “yes”.

At this point I usually stop the conversation to provide my “opponent” with a few moments to reflect on what was just said and to slowly digest the meaning of our brief discussion. Nearly always, these few sentences help to make it abundantly clear to my former detractor that a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria might very well lead to the eventual destruction of the State of Israel.

With this issue clarified I return to the original subject of declaring Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. I place everything on the table and openly admit to my former scoffer and now attentive listener that it is in fact a very complicated subject with many problems and issues that need to be worked out. I don’t pretend for a second that it will be simple.

However, when it is clarified that we’re talking about a choice between possible destruction and national suicide on the one hand or having to deal with intricate issues and difficult problems on the other hand, not surprisingly the latter suddenly becomes the preferred option.

After twenty years of Israel paying a heavy price for its failed attempts at reconciliation with the Arabs despite all its good intentions, the writing is on the wall: Israel simply cannot afford to continue going down the same path of retreat and withdrawal since eventually there will be nowhere left to run.

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22 Responses to The Preferred Option: Israeli Sovereignty over Judea and Samaria

  1. Doug Sterling says:

    If you carry out your sovereignty plan Israel will soon either no longer be a state with a Jewish majority, or else will no longer have a democratic political system. Those thoughts are why Sharon mistakenly took Olmert’s advice to evacuate Gaza.

    A better idea is to negotiate a final peace with the one and only “Palestinian state”, Jordan. To start with Israel needs to withdraw it’s signature to the post-WW2 Geneva convention which prohibits forcible resettlement of civilian populations. After that you can make the Jordanians an offer they cannot refuse: cooperate with Israel to administer the Palestinian territories, or else take the people without the land. Israel is in a very difficult position, and I wish you the best of luck.

    • Yoel Meltzer says:

      Thanks for your comments Doug. The truth is there is a lot of uncertainty as to what would happen, even regarding the demographic issue (regarding this issue in particular you should take a look at some articles by Yoram Ettinger on Ynetnews).
      The point of the article is to get people away from the faulty mindset which says “there is no solution but the two-state solution” and to start opening them up to the alternative. By the way, I wrote a longer article on the subject called “Annexation Now!” which you can find on this blog under “Articles- American Thinker”.
      All I know is that one day Israel must choose. Either we all jump into the sea together or we take a stand and say that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people. This could mean declaring Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria and giving rights to some or all of the Arabs there or, as you said, make some agreement with Jordan whereby Jordan is Palestine. Obviously that would be preferable but at the moment it might not be an option. Then again, maybe it will become an option. I have two interviews on this blog w/an Arab dissident from Jordan named Mudar Zahran who is calling for Jordan is Palestine! One is under “Articles-American Thinker” and one is under “Articles-FrontPage Magazine”.
      All the best.
      Yoel

      • Ruth says:

        I’m an amateur historian (writer but not tenured prof) who follows Israel news out of personal interest (not Jewish, either). Whenever I look at the matter, what stands out to me is that people come and go, but the land is always its own reality. Egypt will always have a centralized government because it is centered around the Nile; Europe has always resisted central government because its geography is so fragmented, with natural walls between regions and many ports and rivers that permit regional autonomy. Human willpower cannot overcome geography; the land never changes and always wins. In this light, only a one-state solution will work. The “West Bank” could never be a viable state. It seems like everyone knows this, at base, and it may be another reason, beyond hate, that the PA has not wanted a state. The West Bank can only function as a canton of Israel. The only real question is how its political union can be achieved, given the animosity and violence. It could be a canton of Israel if only its people were not determined to murder the Jewish piece of the state or use demographic superiority to erase its Jewish-safe-zone nature.

        I see the only real answer as waiting another generation, with the status quo as it is, until people can accept a federal government of the region. Its natural boundaries are the Jordan, the Negev and the Golan. There is just no getting around that fact.

        When I read your blog post (redirected from Jewish Ideas Daily), I wondered if you had thoughts on the political governing. It sounds like you don’t. And yet there’s a great opportunity: Israel itself is feeling the need for a new constitution and some revision. Incorporating Judea and Samaria would require something more like the US system, less like the Knesset. What do you think of all that?

        • Yoel Meltzer says:

          Thank you Ruth for your very thoughtful and interesting comments. The bit about the oneness of the land and geography is very interesting. It’s actually very similar to the deeper teachings of Judaism which talk about the oneness of the Land of Israel and the oneness of the Jewish people and the oneness of God. Regarding the natural borders, it reminds of what Mudar Zahran (an Arab dissident from Jordan) said several times when I interviewed him. He openly says that Jordan is Palestine and the Jordan River is the natural border between Israel and Jordan/Palestine. FYI, 2 interviews w/him are on this blog (“Articles-American Thinker” and “Articles-FrontPage Magazine).

          Regarding political governing, you’re right I don’t have much to add on the subject (or I haven’t thought too much about it). A good source on the subject is Professor Paul Eidelberg.

          All the best.

          Yoel

  2. Ruth says:

    Nobody can move the Great Rift Valley that forms the borders, but people’s attitudes can be changed, with time. There should be much less focus on drawing borders and much more on Palestinian textbooks.

    The Tanach is also firm on the need to let a corrupt generation die out before making political changes. :-)

    However, I anticipate that taking the position you’ve taken will manage to annoy everyone at once. “One State Solution” is generally code for the final victory of Arab Nazis. “Greater Israel” is code for the far Zionist Right. “Two State Solution” is the only phrase considered fit for polite society. As soon as you deviate from this framework, you’re going to be called names. On some comments thread once, I tried saying that as far as I could see, the West Bank could not function as a state, due to geography, and someone sniped that aha, I must be a covert One-Stater who had finally tipped my hand. I’m still not sure if he thought I was a far-right Zionist or a Palestinian, but it didn’t matter; whatever was not in the binary system had to be secretive and dangerous.

    • Yoel Meltzer says:

      In many of my articles I try to bring forth an idea or a different way of thinking even if it’s not politically correct. Naturally some attack me but usually there is a lot of support, something that just strengthens my gut feeling that the average person on the street (at least here in Israel) is definitely tired of the politically correct nonsense (and lies and propaganda) and are longing for real leadership to provide an alternative direction based upon the truth. I’m also convinced that ideas are what change the world, although obviously it takes time since mindsets and ways of thinking don’t change overnight. Thus, all of us who want to see a real positive change, not only in Israel but in the world, need to just keep going forward.

      Also, in my opinion although Palestinian textbooks (and European anti-Semitism, world hypocrisy, UN nonsense, the Iranian threat, Arab violence, etc, etc) are all problems, they are not “the problem”. They obviously need to be dealt with but they’re not the source. I fully believe that the “real problem” is the Jewish people themselves (which I’m part of) since for the most part they’ve forgotten who they are and what is their true purpose in the world and how it’s connected to having a sovereign nation in the Land of Israel. Without a clear understanding of this they become (and presently are) confused. Thus, rather than exuding real confidence based upon a clear understanding of these concepts, they project confusion and guilt and weakness and etc, etc, etc. This for me is the real source of the problem. Once again, it doesn’t mean the other problems are not real; they certainly are and they must be dealt with. However, focusing on them alone will not fully rectify the situation if the Jewish people continue to be confused and splintered.

      I’d be interested to hear more on your ideas regarding political governing (what you alluded to in your first post). Can you elaborate Ruth?

      Yoel

      • Ruth says:

        I don’t have answers either. But sometimes, with insoluble problems, it’s because the wrong question is being asked. The only question that’s ever been asked about the West Bank is how much of it to use to create Palestine. If a new question was posed, it might be answerable. That would be, “if Israel annexed Judea and Samaria, how could the Arabs who live there learn self-government without violating the balance of power?” There would be quite a lot of self-government possible under a federal system; the real problem is concern that a “one man, one vote” system would permit the PLO to vote that Israel is now an Islamic state and all Jews must wear yellow armbands…or whatever. Once we frame such a political question, though, solutions can be found.

        Would they accept them? Who knows. Not in this generation. It may take longer for the Arabs to learn that self-government starts with voting for the guy who will maintain your sewers and clean water. Europe was learning that lesson in the 12th century, while governed at the top by kings. Town government matters most, and elected officials must learn their job at the bottom. There’s no room for ideology concerning garbage pick-up.

        Do you read Azure, the journal of the Shalem Center? I know the Israeli press makes a point of always tagging “right-wing” to the name “Shalem Center,” but that’s shallow.

        • Yoel Meltzer says:

          Thanks for your comments Ruth. I like what you wrote about insoluble problems being caused by the wrong question being asked. It’s a very “out of the box” approach, something that is certainly needed. Regarding Azure, I’m aware of it but I don’t read it.

  3. Ruth says:

    But I guess that’s just another way of saying that the corrupt generation that must die out isn’t going to like new ideas.

  4. Daniel says:

    In the one state solution, the issues of not drafting Israeli Arabs will become much more acute, and their citizenship status will be de facto second rate. Mixing the volatile West Bank elments into the more manageable Galilean Arab population will work to the detriment of the current Israeli Arabs.
    Perhaps we need to experiment with a two-citizenship solution to and create a liveable legal atmosphere, and not this very tenuous status quo business. The status quo will fall apart as soon as an annexation occurs.
    What do you think?

    • Yoel Meltzer says:

      You raise some very good points Daniel. What will happen if and when Israel declares sovereignty over Judea and Samaria? Obviously no one knows for sure.

      However, I am certain that if we should ever start to seriously go down that path, creative ideas will be needed regarding legal and governing issues. I’m not an expert in those fields so I don’t think I presently have anything to add on the issue (FYI, your comment and Ruth’s comments make me realize that I need to learn more about these issues). I’m just trying to “make some noise” to get people thinking in this direction since the prevalent mindset which says “there is no solution but the two-state solution” must be changed if we are to continue to exist as a sovereign nation in our land.

      If you want to elaborate more on your ideas, I’m all ears.

      Yoel

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  6. Michael Dar says:

    Just as the Fakestinians had the arrogance to menacingly brandish the threat of an non-negociated, one-sided declaration of statehood for September; which by the way I think was no more than a political bluff or some kind of psychological “trying baloon” first to irritate Israel and see if the idea could eventually, by chance, get international support; so should Israel not hesitate to rock the boat of the world’s hypocrits. An announcement of intent to unilaterally declare sovereignty over Judea & Samaria (in absence of Arab willingness to negociate) could relaunch the whole debate in which we would have the opportunity to review every aspect of the conflict, denounce and try to reverse all the fallacies, misconceptions, historic distortions, manipulations, deceptions which accumulated over the years and became widely accepted as truth and facts. Everyone familiar with history, international law, the laws of war etc. knows the Jews have the unique historic, moral and indeed legal rights on the land, some by ignorance and or by deceit call Palestine. There was neve a sovereign country called Palestine and consequently no such thing as a specific Palestinian people and identity for that matter in the first place. What claim could the Arabs, let alone the Fakestinians possibly have on the land of the Jews? We have a much better claims but our leadership seem to be unable to present our just case, fight for our cause and completely deprived of imagination.

  7. Ruth says:

    This guy might be an interesting contact for you. I don’t know if he’s done direct work on the political question of how Judea/Samaria could be governed without political crisis, but he’s one of a small number of people who’d have a right to an opinion (unlike most people who have one anyway).

    http://www.shalem.org.il/Biography-Current/Faculty-Michael-M.-Rindner.html

    • Yoel Meltzer says:

      Thanks. I’ll check him out.

      • Ruth says:

        Link to his CV has an email address.

        Do you follow any Shalem events or publications? I read Azure. Seems like it’s on the same boulevard you’re traveling, in general. Not living in Israel, I don’t know what else Shalem offers, but it would be worth checking out. Also, the Shalem College project is worth following. It’s the same kind of thoughtful Zionism that tries to look a generation forward, not just at today and yesterday.

  8. Chaim says:

    Judea and Samaria legally belong to Israel and are absolutely necessary for Israel’s survival. This is obvious to any rational person. The real issue: What can we do to bring this about, given the gutless leadership of Israel today? The real problem is not the international community. It is Israeli leaders who lack the guts to stand up for our rights. Much weaker nations than Israel stand up strongly for their presumed rights, which have only a fraction of the validity of Jewish rights to all of Israel.

    • Yoel Meltzer says:

      Chaim shalom,

      Thanks for your comments. Regarding what can be done, I’ve organized a lecture evening on the subject next Monday night (June 20) at the Israel Center in Jerusalem. The speakers will be Yoram Ettinger (Ambassador ret.), Dani Dayan (head of Yesha Council) and Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Bar Ilan University). I’m hoping that this event will lead to further events which will attract additional speakers and in doing so start a real discusion of the topic on a national level.

      Yoel

  9. Michael Dar says:

    I strongly believe that the Jews and Israel by extension have the historic, moral, spiritual and legal (national) rights on the land some by ignorance or by deceit call Palestine. I suppose most Israelis , even “liberals” could or would agree with that. That is why I never understood why so many Israelis and Jews would not hesitate to give up those rights for some illusory “peace” and hand them over to an ennemi which want, as we all know, our destruction and could never present a better case of ownership on the land. Arab and their tumour called the Fakestinian’s have no historic, moral nor legal claim on the land of the Jews. Even the Coran, certainly not Jew-friendly acknowledge the right of the Jews on the land.

  10. Bradford Hauser says:

    Based on an examination of the past 160 or so years of history of the Land of Israel, one may conclude that G-d has slowly been fulfilling a long-term plan to return the Jewish People to the Land. The Jewish population of the land has grown steadily, as has the percentage of the world’s Jews (i.e. those that know that they are Jews and identify as such) who live in the Land. This is a long process: G-d’s view of history is very long-term. Despite the length of the process, and the apparent setbacks along the way, we see that every Israeli leader who works against the process quickly loses his leadership position, in most cases permanently. (In one case the leadership position was lost for ten years and then restored, perhaps due to the small size of the territory that was ceded.)

    Ultimately the entire Land of Israel will be restored to the Jews, and may any effort in this direction be blessed. As the process is long-term, we ought not to move too quickly or expect immediate results. The Israeli government might declare that it is Israel’s intention to annex Judea and Samaria in stages, over a 30-year period. With the annexation of each territory, the residents of the territory would be offered Israeli citizenship. For example:

    - Immediately: Western Samaria (the areas of Jewish population, including the surrounding Arab villages) and the Jordan Valley, excluding Jericho, but including Maalei Adumim
    - After three years, if all goes well: Bethlehem, Gush Ezion, and the broader Jerusalem corridor
    - After ten years, if all goes well: Hebron and Har Hebron
    - After twenty years, if all goes well: Binyamin (i.e. all of “Samaria” south of Ariel, including Ramallah, Salfit, and Jericho)
    - After thirty years, depending on demographics and other factors: the rest of Samaria, including Shchem, Jenin, Tulkarm and Kalkiliya, and all villages

    Lots happens in 30 years! Since the beginning of the modern return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, many have predicted that demographics would work against Jewish sovereignty in the Land. All these predictions proved wrong. Perhaps G-d will continue to help us fulfill his plan. For example:

    - The world is rich today. Israel might establish a 15-year 50-billion-dollar repatriation fund, offering $100,000 to each Arab resident of Judea and Samaria who chooses to forgo Israeli citizenship and move to a country of his choice. The source of the funding could be $1 billion per year from the Israeli government, plus $2.5 billion from the U.S. government (in lieu of U.S. military aid to Israel, which would be stopped). Preference would be to Arabs living in slums (so-called “refugee camps”). Israel would work with governments of various countries such as Canada and Argentina, to encourage them to agree to accept the migrants. In this way perhaps 500,000 Arab residents of Judea and Samaria would choose to move, building better lives for themselves in the countries of their choice, over 10 or 15 years.

    - Perhaps Israel will receive a new wave of one million Jewish immigrants over ten or fifteen years. Given major new building projects in Judea and Samaria, a vibrant job market, and removal of doubts about the future of Israel, perhaps larger numbers of American Jews will choose to move here.

    - As Jewish birthrates continue to increase, and Arab birthrates continue to drop, we can expect other demographic changes.

    Arabs residents who choose to remain would become Israeli citizens. This is not necessarily detrimental to the Jewish character of the state. Perhaps having a large non-Jewish population is essential to Israel’s role as a Light unto the Nations, enabling our country to demonstrate how a majority population may preserve its character and build a nation-state based on that character, while at the same time respecting, celebrating and incorporating the culture of a minority population. There is a need for such an example in a world where many nations subjugate or dismiss the cultures of their resident minorities.

    • Yoel Meltzer says:

      Bradford,

      Thank you for your very, very thoughtful comment. There is a lot of sense to what you say.

      We’ll see what happens.

      All the best.

      Yoel

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