There have been a number of press reports about the Trump Administration ‘peace plan’ this year. Usually the reports are based on statements, or purported statements, from members of the administration and other parties involved in discussions. While we don’t know what is in the administration’s plan, based on these reports we do have some idea of what has been talked about, even if these things do not make it into the actual plan.
One of the topics discussed was an idea that has been floated as ‘The Greater Gaza Plan’. This plan initially proposed by a retired Israeli General, suggested Egypt provide some land in North Sinai to be added to Gaza, the construction of a seaport, airport, and other infrastructure to give Gaza enough land and infrastructure to solve all of their problems.
To give some credence that this idea was being considered, the Trump administration was playing up the ‘humanitarian crisis in Gaza’ a few months ago and promising ‘massive’ investment in the Gaza Strip if Hamas would just stop killing Jews for a little while. So there is a high probability that something along these lines is, or at least at one time, was included in the Trump plan.
Another idea raised was the three state solution, promoted by Ambassador John Bolton in 2014. Basically returning Gaza to Egypt, which the Egyptians still refuse, and aligning parts of Judea and Samaria into a confederation with Jordan, which the Jordanians have also refused. Whether these were two separate plans or two parts of the same plan is not clear and perhaps no longer relevant.
The fact that neither of these ideas addresses the real core issue of the conflict is not encouraging. The recent announcement that the administration may not be releasing a plan anytime soon also suggests the possibility that due to the rejection by Egypt and Jordan, the administration may no longer has a workable plan and is again searching for an alternative.
Since the two state solutions, the three state solutions, and the Greater Gaza Plan are all dead, what else is left? Well, as it happens there are several other options that have been raised over the years. Of these proposals few address the core issue of the conflict. I have analyzed several options in a previous work ‘Something Different,’ and more recently discussed identification of the core issue, which one would think, is rather obviously is a crucial prerequisite to resolving any conflict.
There should be a realization by now that the conflict has nothing to do with economics, airports, seaports, or confederations. In fact, the conflict, as far as the Arabs are concerned, also has nothing to do with land or another state, except that the Arabs refuse to accept the existence of a Jewish State and the Arabs seek to deny the Jewish State as much land as possible. These goals are driven by the Arab hatred of the Jews and nothing anyone can do will change that. This is a core issue of the conflict and must be addressed.
So far, the only viable proposals that address the core issue include the evacuation of most of the Arabs from Gaza, Judea, and Samaria. Such a plan has been promoted by Martin Sherman for about twenty years now. Dr. Sherman’s plan centers on an incentivized population transfer and a similar plan is included in the Zehut Party platform.
There is one other plan, The Jordan Option that also promotes migration of Arabs out of Israel. However, the Jordan option also promotes replacing the Hashemite Monarchy with an opposition government that is democratic, secular, pro western and pro Israel. Such opposition claims to exist in exile and has stated a desire to implement such a solution, which includes accepting all of the Arabs from Israel as immigrants into Jordan and possibly renaming the country as Palestine.
The leader of this opposition ‘group’ if such a thing really exists has been surrounded in controversy for months and discredited by many in the media, so the viability of the Jordan Option is in serious doubt. I mention it here for two reasons. First, if something should destabilize Jordan or should the King unexpectedly fall, there would be a significant opportunity for change and other powers should be prepared for such a contingency. Second, some of the research done to promote the Jordan Option may be helpful in implementing the migration plan of Dr. Sherman.
While both of these ideas would address the core issue, the problem seems to be in implementation, or perhaps more accurately, the perception that implementation is not feasible. However, as Martin Sherman has pointed out, his plan has the benefit of being the easiest to implement and causing the least amount of disturbance or damage if the plan fails.
One of the biggest objections to Sherman’s plan is his cost projection. His proposal involves an exorbitant incentive package to be offered to each family, to the tune of $300,000 per family. Why and how Dr. Sherman came up with such a figure is beyond me, since surveys have shown that 50% of the Arab population already WANTS to leave Gaza and 25-40% wants to leave Judea and Samaria.
Ted Belman has been promoting the Jordan option, calling it, The Ultimate Alternate Israel-Palestine Solution. On his website, in a post publication note at the end of his article, Mr. Belman describes research provided by a reader indicating the cost of apartments in Egypt and Jordan being $16k and $40k respectively. This should give some pause for reflection. Granted an apartment is not the only consideration, but it is a high priority for most families to have a place to live.
Consider that since 1994 the United States alone has wasted $10 billion on the ‘Palestinians’ according to Ambassador Friedman, and “Peace isn’t a millimeter closer”. If Mr. Belman and his reader are right, about $16 billion would buy every Arab family in Gaza, Judea, and Samaria an apartment either in Egypt or Jordan. Whether or not they deserve such a handout is debatable, but this is far more reasonable and doable than the $300,000 per family figure cited by Dr. Sherman, which would total $200 billion.
The viability of a solution based on migration could be tested by offering to relocate clients of UNRWA, possibly by reassigning them to UNHCR for resettlement. Any UNRWA clients that want to leave Gaza, Judea, or Samaria could be resettled by UNHCR within two years. Keep in mind, they could be resettled in any Arab country, they do not have to be settled in Egypt or Jordan. They could even be resettled in South America or any other country that will accept them.
As mentioned, Dr. Sherman observed, such an attempt would cause the least amount of damage if it did not go as planned. The costs of attempting such a proposal, using housing as the primary incentive, would be relatively modest compared to the other proposals that have been raised. UNHCR has a high success rate and the funds previously allocated for UNRWA could be easily redirected to UNHCR.
The Jordan Confederation and the Greater Gaza Plan are both dead on arrival. It is time for a new alternative. Migration is the only solution that addresses the core issue of the conflict. Cutting funding to UNRWA creates the opportunity for real change. The window will not remain open for long. Let’s hope someone in Washington has an open mind to recognize and act on this opportunity, before the window closes. The world may not get another opportunity like this.
Levi Randolf is a contributor of Blitz.