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Shrinking the Conflict

In an effort to balance the pessimistic reflections in my references to Micah Goodman’s analysis of the situation created by the occupation, let me now cite from the same essay by Goodman in The Atlantic in which he also suggests how the seemingly insoluble conflict between Israel and the Palestinians can be – as he puts it – shrunk, even if it can’t be resolved.

  • The 1993 Oslo Accords created the Palestinian Authority. It (a) totally controls some areas, (b) in others it only has civilian control and, (c) for the safety of the Jewish settlements, there are areas that are totally controlled by the Israeli army. This makes life exceedingly difficult for the Palestinians. Goodman believes that “to pave roads that would bypass the settlements and join the different parts of the Palestinian Authority” would make the lives of Palestinians much more tolerable.
  • Israel should make it possible and legal for Palestinians in all three areas to build homes to allow for natural population growth. As this is currently not happening, Palestinians have built some 20,000 houses illegally that are now under threat of demolition. Allowing Palestinians to build would enable the Palestinian Authority to “develop, grow, and prosper.”
  • The Palestinians need an airport of their own without having to go through Amman in Jordan. Israel should help the Palestinian Authority to build it thus making it possible for Palestinians to travel abroad in greater freedom.
  • 120, 000 Palestinians work in Israel today. They earn twice as much as they would at home if they had worked there. They provide a livelihood for some 600,000 people. If say 400,000 Palestinians could work in Israel, it would significantly improve the entire Palestinian economy.
  • Israel should allocate areas in the Palestinian Authority for Palestinian economic development that would encourage international investment and thus contribute to the prosperity of the region helping the population to better adjust to the status quo.
  • Israel should not permit Jewish settlement expansion beyond the areas where there are now Jewish settlements. The Israeli right-wing should curb its rhetoric of wanting to settle more and more Jews there.
  • Israel should allow a Palestinian seaport in Haifa and provide a railway from the Palestinian Authority to Haifa.
  • Israel should cede control of the tax and customs system of the Palestinian Authority to free it more from its current economic dependence on Israel.

Arguing, as Goodman does, that the Israeli-Palestinian situation cannot be resolved, he believes, that the measures cited above would be in the interest of all concerned and acceptable to both the right and the left in Israel because it’s as much in Israel’s interest as it is in the interest of the Palestinians.

Though there’s nothing to suggest, alas, that those currently in power in Israel or in the Palestinian Authority would heed Goodman’s advice, it’s nevertheless important for the public at large to be aware of it and, we hope, make politicians on both sides see sense.

Jerusalem 19.1.20                                                                                                                        Dow Marmur

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