(revised January 3, 2018)
The endless conflict between Israelis and Palestinians can be stopped. Negotiations move only when compromises are made, without clinging to rigid positions.
No big concessions may be neccessary, if a series of small ones are achieved.
The following is a "12-step plan" for managing the small compromises.
Since two parties are engaged, the small compromises are made in pairs, so that at each step, each side feels they have gained 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 the Jewish people have a national state.
At this point, both sides have not committed to what territory will become Palestine.
Both sides accept that the city of Jerusalem will be the capital of Palestine and the capital of Israel. Details to be negotiated later.
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 and 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 designated small region 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 initial Palestinian State, which will grow from that point.
Palestine –- establishes an economic infrastructure and government in the initial Palestine territory.
Israel – facilitates setting up the government, including cooperation with the government of Israel.
Israel will rovide compensation and relocation support for any Israeli settlers who wish to leave Palestine.
Israel will also provide assistance to Palestine in dealing with any Israelis who choose to remain in Palestine.
After the initial Palestine is made operational, it begins to grow.
Palestine –- nominates up to 8 geographic regions, which border on the current Palestine, to be annexed by Palestine.
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 generation and schools.
Israel -- provides compensation and relocation support for any Israelis who wish to leave the newly established 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 the holy sites which are part of Israel.
Palestine and Israel –- negotiate a plan to share the city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the capital of Palestine and to establish facilities in Jerusalem for managing cooperation between the states.
Is this twelve-step program actually viable? Could Palestine and Israel really use these twelve steps to find a cure for their addiction to fighting?
Can they live together within a regional zone of economic prosperity? Well, they should. Palestine/Israel together might even become a big regional competitor in the world economy.
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: