An Eight-State Solution for Peace
As the Palestinian Authority lies on the brink of total chaos, President Obama continues to ignore its refusal to negotiate with Israel. Instead, he proposes the same tired and obsolete formula for peace: the two-state solution.
Obama places no blame on the Palestinians, insisting that Israel agree to a high-risk territorial compromise, without making it clear that there will be no Palestinian “right of return.”
The idea of a “right of return” is unique to the Middle East conflict; no other people in the world has been awarded or promised the “right to return.” Many of those “Palestinians” demanding this “right” don’t even have connections to Israel, such as those who were foreign workers in Palestine before 1948 with no prior residential status. Many of them carry names like “El Iraqi” (“from Iraq”), or El Masri (“from Egypt”), or “El Hourani” (“from the Houran, Syria”), which testify that they are originally not from the land. They would rather live in Israel — a democratic state that honors human rights and religious freedom, and has a robust, free economy — but they certainly wouldn’t be “returning” anywhere.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a senior researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, is the author of a plan he calls the “eight-state solution.”
Dr. Kedar proposes the creation of no less than eight independent and separate Arab city-states in the West Bank and Gaza. He writes: “There is no reason to assume that a Palestinian state will not become another failing Arab state, due to the fragmented society in the West Bank and Gaza, tribalism and lack of awareness of nationhood as demonstrated by the failing performance of the Palestinian authority since its establishment in 1994. He says that “social stability is the key for political stability,” and therefore proposes small states based on tribal and ethnic loyalties.
There is much logic in what Dr. Kedar describes about Arab societies. The Arab Middle East has always been composed of many tribes, religions, sects and ethnic groups — all at war with each other and with their government. The colonial imposition of a central, Western-style nation-state based on arbitrarily drawn border demarcations has served not the interests of the many indigenous peoples, but rather those of dictators and corporations.
There is great merit to the eight-state idea. After all, size alone does not determine the success or failure of a state. Monaco, Lichtenstein and Luxembourg, for example, are small states with a high quality of life, while Algeria, Libya and Sudan are large states with a poor quality of life. According to Dr. Kedar: “The towns that will receive independence (from both the Palestinian Authority and Israel) are Hebron (the Arab part), Jericho, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, Tul-Karem and Qalqilya…Bethlehem will require further consideration.”
The eight-state solution would be practical for local Palestinian leaders who are unable and unwilling to accept Israel’s right to exist. Israel has extended out its hand in peace many times, yet a real peace process is far from in sight. As long as the Palestinian Arabs desire to replace rather than live alongside Israel, the eight-state solution should be adopted.