Saturday, August 04, 2007

There are other possible solutions to THE Conflict

New Options for Middle East Peace: A Plan to Extend Israel’s Democracy to the West Bank

American-Israel Strategic Planning Group

August 3, 2007 Originally Published in the Washington Times under title: ‘Preserving Israel’

By Bennett Zimmerman and Michael L. Wise with Roberta Seid

The separation of Gaza and the West Bank provides the greatest opportunity since 1967 to resolve the status of the West Bank and Jerusalem. Policy-makers have been wedded to the vision of a two state concept and have not entertained alternative solutions.

Without a solution, Oslo adopted a two-state framework that left unresolved borders, limited defense rights and a "chutes and ladders" division of Jerusalem that has left chaos on the ground where Jewish and Arab populations live intertwined with the other.

West Bank Arabs have been voting with their feet for Israel, as they flee life under the PA. Israeli ID cards have become the most sought after commodity in the West Bank today, especially in the Jerusalem area.

The ability to attract the constituency of a rival is a political victory of the highest order. With Israel able to bypass external players, negotiation occurs at the individual, family or local level.

How Israel handles its political attractiveness will determine if it can use the opportunity to resolve the conflict.

"The Fourth Way: A New Demographic, Electoral and Political Paradigm for Israel's Extension of Democracy to the West Bank" provides the first integrated demographic and electoral analysis of the combined areas.

In Israel and the West Bank, 67 percent of the population is Jewish, 14 percent are Israeli Arab citizens fully enfranchised within pre-1967 Israel and 3 percent are permanent Jerusalem residents with rights to apply for Israeli citizenship. West Bank Arabs, who are currently outside of Israel's political system, make up only 16 percent of the combined populations.

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