On December 23, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. For the first time in almost eight years, the United States did not veto an anti-Israel resolution.
This is a break from the American policy of almost unilaterally shielding Israel from generally anti-Israel resolutions in the U.N. While many believe that this was because President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were frustrated with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party, this is only part of the story. There are other reasons that President Obama did not block this veto.
To explain these reasons, Kerry gave a speech about his and President Obama’s position on the matter.
The biggest reason was that President Obama and Kerry genuinely care about Israel and want peace, but believe that more settlements will only further trammel a future two-state solution. They believe that if settlements continue to be built, there will inevitably only be one state — Israel.
Kerry also expressed his belief that this would mean the end of Israel being both Jewish state and a democracy. This is because if there is a one-state solution, Israel will either have to grant citizenship to all the Palestinians, which would mean that Arabs would outnumber Jews and it would no longer be a “Jewish State”, Israel would not give the Palestinians voting rights, which would mean it would no longer be a democracy, or they would have to move all the Palestinians somewhere else.
Now while the argument could and has been made that it would be better and fairer to move the Palestinians to one of the numerous Muslim countries in the region where many of their ancestors came from, this would probably not work despite the fact that 99 percent of the Middle East is Muslim.
Kerry believes that settlements would lead to a one-state solution because he postulates that settlements make it harder to delineate what would be Israel and what would be Palestine in a future two-state solution, both logistically and demographically. As if to simply prove his point, some far-right Israeli politicians openly say that by allowing settlements in primarily Palestinian areas in the West Bank they are trying to make it so that Israel can one day claim that land.
However, these reasons are different from why many Israelis actually choose to live in the West Bank. The reason that many Israelis live there is simply the quality of life. The Israeli settlements in the West Bank are close to Jerusalem, they have a good school system, cheaper land plots and the land is beautiful. There are also many people who feel a connection to the land since Judea and Samaria are where the Jewish people originated. The namesake of the Jewish people is even based on the fact that the Jewish people lived in Judea thousands of years ago before they were exiled by the Romans in 132 C.E.
Some say that the U.N. is anti-Semitic for only going after Israel when there are so many other nations illegally occupying other nations (ahem, Russia in Ukraine), and while there are many nations in the U.N. that are anti-Semitic, the United States is not and knows that there is a time limit to in its view save Israel from itself so that it may continue to be both a Jewish state and a democracy.
While I have mixed feelings about the settlements, I think it is unfair and frankly anti-Semitic for the world to completely condemn them while virtually ignoring all the violence that Palestinians have perpetrated against innocent Israelis both in the settlements and in Israel. This U.N. resolution, like many others before, ignores these facts and only condemns Israel.
In the entire resolution, which vigorously condemns many aspects of Israel’s conduct in regards to settlements, it only mentions the need for the Palestinian Authority to stop supporting terror three times and with only one reference to a law telling them to stop supporting terror.
But is a two-state solution possible? I think so.
Israel would inevitably have to relocate some of its settlers deep in the West Bank and continue to maintain some of the land separating the West Bank and Jordan for security purposes, such as thwarting the smuggling of weapons.
There would also have to be a rule that while the Palestinians would get the majority of the West Bank, they would allow some Israelis to remain in parts that were not absorbed in Israel on permanent visas.
On the other side, Israel would have to allow some Palestinians, who are in areas which have been settled and absorbed by Israel, to stay on permanent visas as well. As for Jerusalem, it would be controlled by Israel. However, it would have to be open to both Israelis and Palestinians for prayer and once again some Palestinians would have to be allowed to live there with permanent visas.
The reason that Jerusalem cannot be an international city governed cooperatively between Israel and Palestine is that the Palestinian Authority to this day does not allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, which is the holiest place in the Jewish religion, while Israel has no restrictions on prayer for Muslims or any other religious group. This is demonstrated by the continued existence of the Al-Aqsa Mosque (The Dome of the Rock). There would also have to be a special set of extra laws governing Jerusalem since it would have many citizens from both Israel and Palestine living there and there would have to have a way to deal with them under both Israeli and Palestinian law. This would mean that a special court district would also have to be established to deal with certain criminal and civil occurrences within Jerusalem.
In order to maintain the security of both states, a Palestinian state would have to be barred from possessing any weapons, and maintaining a military similar to Japan for at least 100 years. Instead, there would be a special legion in the Israel Defense Forces specifically designated to work for the Palestinian state and made up primarily of Palestinians, but led by a joint coalition of Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
The Palestinians would have complete control over the military in domestic cases within the borders of Palestine, but if it ever wanted to send its military outside of its own borders even to deliver aid, the Palestinian military leaders would have to work with their Israeli counterparts so as to ensure that the military is not abused against Israel.
This joint military is to prevent the Palestinian State from trying to conquer and destroy Israel as its Arab neighbors tried to do on multiple occasions since Israel’s Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948. The Palestinians would also be able to continue to maintain a police force, but once again with Israeli military supervision, to make sure it doesn’t turn into a military. The Gaza Strip would also become part of a the Palestinian nation. However it would be a different province from the West Bank similar to being a state in the United States.
When the Palestinian state is first established, there must be new elections. However, no parties or candidates that are deemed terrorists or a security threat to Israel by Israel and the United States should be allowed to run.
This system should have to continue into perpetuity to ensure that a radical government is not elected to rule the Palestinian state in the same way that Hamas was elected to govern Gaza. After this first government is elected, a new constitution for a Palestinian state should be written and reviewed by the UN to make sure that there is nothing in the Constitution that incites terror against Israel. Then, there will truly be an end to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and both Israel and Palestine should be able to exist in peace and freedom.
In order to make sure that the peace deal has gone as planned, after 100 years, there will be new negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian state regarding their cooperation and the United States should be a mediator.