“You Can’t Tell Palestinians to ‘Get Out of the West Bank'”

“You Can’t Tell Palestinians to ‘Get Out of the West Bank'” December 2, 2023

On my website kermitzarley.com, under “Theologian” in the menu, I have a section entitled “On Palestine.” It is devoted to my book, Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Philistia. Regular readers of my blog know that the thesis of this book is that I believe some Old Testament prophecies about the end times indicate that by then, the end of the age, a Palestinian state will exist only in the coastal plain as a very expanded Gaza Strip, and all of the West Bank will be part of the State of Israel. This arrangement is two states truly lying side-by-side, and this is necessary in order to provide the best security possible for both peoples. It approximates the situation 3,000 year ago, when Israel and Philistia existed side-by-side. That is why the subtitle of my book is “The Revival of Ancient Philistia.”

This book was published thirty-three years ago. Events since then have been moving in the direction that I lay out in this book. Therefore, I also have there on my website ten articles that update this book’s thesis. One of them is entitled “Complete Separation by Relocation.” By this I mean that the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reveals that a successful solution to this conflict can only be two states lying truly side-by-side. (A bi-national, single state would never work.) This means that either through war or negotiation or both, there will be a land swap in which Israel will forfeit coastal land to the Palestinians for their Palestinian state, and Israel will annex all of the West Bank. This could be done so that there would be an equal size of territories that would be traded. For this to happen, there must be a transfer of peoples. That is, Palestinians would relocate from the West Bank to the coastal plain, and Jews would relocate from the coastal plain south of Tel Aviv to Israel.

So, I insist that the traditional two-state solution–in which the State of Palestine would exist as two separate entities in the Gaza Strip and a Swiss cheese West Bank adjoined by a twenty-mile corridor–would not be Israel and Palestine lying side-by-side and therefore will not work successfully. I also insist that this now 56-year old proposal, which is based solely on demographics, has always been a non-starter. I further allege that it has contributed to the failure of establishing a Palestinian state during all of this time. I have many reasons for saying this I state in my book.

In 2001, right after the 9/11 attack and anthrax scare in Washington, DC, I visited there and met with people, including one member of the U.S. House of Representatives, to discuss my alternate proposal for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I also was scheduled to meet with Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst and head of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But the anthrax episode caused him to have to cancel our meeting. However, it was rescheduled with his associate Judith Kipper, who also was a Middle East analyst. How did that meeting go?

In 2005, I wrote and published on my website the update article “Complete Separation by Relocation.” Therein, I mention my meeting with Ms. Kippur, which lasted about 15 minutes. The following paragraph is taken from that article about our meeting:

“One of the people I met with in 2001 to discuss my proposal was Judith Kippur. She is still second only to Anthony Cordesman as the top Mideast analyst at the prestigious Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). As soon as I briefly made my pitch, Ms. Kippur responded, ‘You can’t tell the Palestinians to “get out of the West Bank.”’ I understood her point well. The West Bank is home to nearly 2 million of the worldwide total of 7-8 million Palestinians. Many of their families have lived there for several generations, far longer than the modern migration of Jews to the present land of Israel and the West Bank. My reply to Ms. Kippur’s objection was that I didn’t think it was the best place for the Palestinians to live compared to what I was suggesting.”

The next year, in 2002, Israel began building its West Bank Security Barrier, a 25-foot high wall-fence surrounding much of the West Bank. It has proved to be very successful in accomplishing its purpose–to prevent illegal trespass. At the same time, it has made life much more difficult for West Bank Palestinians. Many of them have since said that they would prefer living somewhere else than the West Bank because of this barrier.

As the years have transpired since I discussed my proposal with Ms. Kippur, the State of Israel, which controls the West Bank as its occupier, has largely ignored international (UN) law by allowing Jews to move into the West Bank and create what are now 144 Jewish settlements consisting of almost half a million Jews. Right now, as of October 7th, Israel is fighting a war in the Gaza Strip with Hamas, an Islamic organization which governs it and the US and Europe designate as “a terrorist organization.” Since this war began, many West Bank Jewish settlers have been emboldened to increase their hostilities toward Palestinians living there. They are enabled to do so both by protection from Israeli armed forces and Israel allowing them to have firearms while disallowing firearms for the 2.7 million Palestinian population. Many analysts have feared that the Israel-Hamas War could spread to the West Bank, where there reportedly are some imbedded, Hamas militants.

The Los Angeles Times had an article two days ago entitled “Palestinians face beatings, fires and drones from Israeli settlers in West Bank.” It has several interviews with both Palestinians and Jewish settlers living in the West Bank. They reveal that tensions between them have resulted in an increase of killings. Since the Israel-Hamas War began, less than two months ago, 232 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed, mostly by Israel’s soldiers and police.

The Times quotes 70-year old Palestinian Awdah abu Sharkh, who lives in the West Bank near the town of Mitzpe Yair. He said of Palestinians, “We can live with Syrians, Jews, whoever. But, you know, I can’t believe these settlers are Jews. This cant be the way of a Jew. In all my years of experience with Jews, they [settlers] are different. I don’t even know what to call them. It’s not good for Jews either. It’s bringing antisemitism to them.”

Indeed, Israel’s intransigence in settling its conflict with the Palestinians, with no peace process now since 2014, and now this Gaza War is greatly increasing antisemitism worldwide. It’s having a major effect on college campuses in the US in which a large majority of students are gathering and demonstrating on behalf of Palestinian rights, and big-time donors of these schools who are more supportive of Israel are speaking out and ending their financial support of these schools.

The Jewish settlers in the West Bank now have a new weapon–drones. They are using them mostly to harass Palestinian farmers and herders. Mohammed Abdel, who also live near Mitzpe Yair, was being interview by a Times reporter on his land when the Times reports, “A small drone hovered above. It circled and drew closer, diving and skimming a few feet from his [Abdel’s] head. It flew back and forth, menacing like a horsefly.” A young man there, who was listening to this interview, then said of the drone, “The [Jewish] settlers send them every hour to annoy and scare us. You feel like hitting the drone with a rock, but the [Israel] army would come and blame us.” Drones are now one more nuisance, which could become a weapon, that some Jewish settlers have in their arsenal to try to drive Palestinians out of the West Bank.

With no disrespect intended, I wonder what Mid-East analyst Ms. Kippur would say now.

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