(revised February 27, 2017)
Peace between Palestine and Israel can be achieved by proceeding in small steps; ceasing fighting, progressively making concessions.
Israel and Palestine have been addicted to endless violence. Recovery from addiction to violence is like recovery from other addictions, such as to drugs or alcohol. It doesn't happen all at once; it progresses through a series of steps.
Since two parties are engaged in this recovery, the steps have to be taken in pairs, so that, all during the process, each side always feels they are gaining something.
At each step, each side makes a concession. Only when both sides have completed their half of the pairing does the peace process proceed to the next step.
For the Palestine-Israel conflict, something like the following 12 steps could lead to permanent peace:
Palestine -- recognizes the legitimacy of Israel as a state, a home for the Jewish people.
Israel -- recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to have a national state, in the same way that Israel has a national state, but holds off defining what geographic territory constitutes Palestine.
Palestine -- affirms that the State of Palestine and the State of Israel should be good neighbors, at peace with one another, and enjoying productive cooperation within a regional zone of economic prosperity.
Israel -- affirms the same.
Palestine – agrees to cease all attacks on Israel and to arrest any rogue Palestinians who shoot rockets or send in commando groups.
Israel – agrees to cease all attacks on Gaza or the West Bank, including use of air power, artillery and tanks, and to arrest any rogue Israeli settlers who attack or harass Palestinians.
Palestine –- suspends construction of homes for Palestinians in the region of Jerusalem.
Israel – suspends construction of homes for Israeli settlers in the West Bank or East Jerusalem.
Palestine -- releases all Israeli prisoners it holds.
Israel -- releases all Palestinian prisoners it holds.
Israel - suspends its economic blockade of Gaza.
Palestine -- suspends smuggling of arms into Gaza or the West Bank.
Palestine -- nominates at least 8 small geographic regions, any of which would be suitable to become a nucleus from which state of Palestine will expand. Each of these regions must be contiguous and may be cookie-cut from anywhere in the territory presently constituting Israel, West Bank and Gaza.
Israel – chooses one of these designated regions as the nucleus of the Palestinian State.
Palestine –- establishes an economic infrastructure and government in the nucleus Palestine.
Israel – facilitates setting up the government, including cooperation with the government of Israel. Provides compensation and relocation support for any Israeli settlers who wish to leave Palestine; provides assistance to Palestine in dealing with any Israelis who choose to remain in Palestine.
After the nucleus of Palestine is made operational, it begins to grow.
Palestine –- nominates up to 8 geographic regions, which border on the current nucleus of Palestine, to be annexed by the Palestine nucleus.
Israel -- chooses one of these regions to be annexed to Palestine; surrenders any Israeli territory involved.
Palestine –- integrates the annexed region into Palestine, providing housing, stores, communication, roads, energy and schools.
Israel -- provides compensation and relocation support for any Israelis who wish to leave the new region of Palestine; provides assistance to Palestine in dealing with the Israelis who choose to remain.
Palestine –- agrees to protect the holy sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam which are part of Palestine, and to allow all religious believers free access to the sites.
Israel –- same agreement for sites that are pert of Israel.
Palestine –- agrees to share the City of Jerusalem with Israel.
If the above steps have worked, Israel and Palestine should have a basis for working together to achieve this.
Is this twelve-step program actually viable? Could Palestine and Israel really use the twelve steps to find a common cure for their addiction to fighting? Can they live together within a regional zone of economic prosperity?
Of course there are many other issues that eventually must be resolved if there is to be a stable peace in the Mideast. They include: