About 1.5 million Palestinians live in the UN designated “occupied territory” of the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967. Nearly half that many Jews live there in what they call “Judea and Samaria.” That is because the West Bank curiously corresponds almost exactly to ancient Judea and Samaria before the Romans extinguished the nation of Israel in 1935 following the Second Jewish Revolt.
The UN also designates the Jewish settlements in the West Bank as illegal according to international law. It surprises me that the UN has allowed Israel to continue to be a UN member all of these five plus decades despite this fact. But that’s because the U.S., Israel’s primary ally, has always been a permanent member of the UN Security Council and would veto any proposal to terminate Israel’s membership. Nevertheless, President George H.W. Bush threatened to completely cut off the $3 billion in aid that the U.S. has given Israel annually unless it ended those settlements. But it came to nought.
So, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict goes on, and on, and on. U.S. President Trump, who brags about being a great deal-maker, says solving it would be “the mother of all deals.
Palestinians living in the West Bank have been slowly coming to the realization that the traditional two-state solution is never going to happen. Now, they have mixed feelings about the future. Some are willing to accept a monetary payment to move out of the West Bank.
The Trump-Kushner peace plan for the Middle East will be revealed next month in Bahrain, and that seems to be what it is or something like it. It’s focused on economics with no political rights. That’s what Israel’s leadership would like to see happen. Some say the Kushner plan will offer two stages, with the second stage about political rights.
Christianity Today magazine reports this month (“Interpreting Israel”) that a 2017 poll conducted by the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America among Palestinians in the West Bank “found half of residents were discussing a move abroad and were open to resettlement in exchange for about $5,000. That put that in a biblical perspective, that’s like Jacob’s brother Essau selling his birthright for a pot of porridge (i.e., lentil stew; Genesis 25.29). And it certainly does not meet Palestinian aspirations of their own independent, sovereign state.
Other West Bank Palestinians reportedly are entertaining the old one state solution in which Palestinians would have equal rights along with Israeli Jews. Palestinians Hamada Jaber of the One State Foundation says. “There is no two-state solution. It’s pushing us as Palestinians to think about an alternative.” But that alternative is never going to happen either. The Palestinian birthrate has always been much higher than that of Palestinians. Thus, this one state solution with equal rights would be suicide for the Jewish state, which must maintain its Jewish identity at all costs. Don’t talk to Palestinians about it; talk to Israeli Jews. They’ll tell you it is DOD–dead-on-arrival.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who recently won reelection helped by U.S. President Trump, not only has always said he would never remove Jewish settlers from the West Bank, but he recently said he is thinking of unilaterally annexing some of its Jewish settlements territory to Israel. That would further alienate Palestinians.
The continuation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and the increase in their population, has always moved in the direction of what I call the Philistia Proposal for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (But that does not mean I support Jewish settlements there. They have been illegal and a detriment to a solution.)
There is not much ingenuity in my Philistia Proposal. It is merely a call to return to historical precedent wherein ancient Israel existed mostly in the hill country of Judea and Galilee, and ancient Philistia existed in the coastal plain. These two foes occupied approximately the same size of territory lying side-by-side in a north-south direction.
Thus, my Philistia Proposal involves a land swap and transfer of peoples, in which the State of Israel annexes the entire West Bank, and Israel forfeits forfeits territory in the coastal plain south of Tel Aviv in which a Palestinian state would simply be a very expanded Gaza Strip. I not only make this proposal, but I claim this is how the conflict will turn out based on my interpretations of ten texts in the Jewish Bible (Tanaak). It’s all in my book, Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Israel, published way back in 1990. Since then, numerous events have progressed in the direction of my proposal.
The Trump-Kushner plan will further bury the traditional two-state solution. In fact, Kushner recently suggested that the language “two-state solution” be buried. But with Trump’s domestic politics, he might get buried so that we’ll soon be talking about some other solution. I suggest we start talking about the alternative, two-state, Philistia Proposal.