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Gilad Sharon Photo: Avi Cohen
Gilad Sharon Photo: Avi Cohen
 
 

The right kind of tradeoff

Road to peace includes handing over Israeli territory populated by Arabs to PA

Gilad Sharon
Published: 10.13.07, 15:36 / Israel Opinion

A short while ago we were informed that a senior officer recently released from the IDF proposed handing over territory in the Negev to the Gaza population. He wasn't the only one who supported this foolish idea. And how did this officer justify his proposal? He did so by saying that because Gaza has not become a type of Mediterranean Singapore and its population is multiplying at a dizzying pace, the magic solution would be to transfer territories from western Negev communities to Gaza and by so doing expand the territory of the Strip.

 

And what will we do in a few years from now, when the population in the Strip gets bigger - will we hand over more territory? Namely, what he is proposing is that the Gaza population keep busying itself with reproduction, whereas we shall hand over our land without being asked, so that we can organize a convenient place for this activity to take place.

 

Here it should be noted that the Singaporean population, whose territory is just a little lager than the Gaza Strip, is about three times as large as the population in the Gaza Strip; the population in Hong Kong, whose territory is almost double that of the Gaza Strip, is about five times higher than that of the Strip. Namely, it's not a problem of size – it's a problem of content.

 

Gaza residents and the Palestinians in general had every opportunity to turn the area into a positive place to live. Wide-scale international aid and support were put at their disposal when the entire Gaza territory was handed over. Who prevented them from producing, developing and thriving?

 

Instead, they preferred, as usual, to live a life of suffering, despair and deprivation, just as long as they could inflict a measure of suffering on us.

 

This is a society that sanctifies death, not life. Palestinian mothers often appear on TV after their sons are killed carrying out suicide attacks, saying they are happy and hope that their other children would follow suit. Children's programs on Palestinian TV encourage youngsters to carry out suicide bombings. These are the role models; this is the culture.

 

Some say we resemble each other - this is baloney. We sanctify life; it is rooted in our culture. Our society strives for prosperity and a good life. The Palestinians, particularly the Gazans, are prepared to suffer and indeed they do, just as long as their deep hatred towards us is embodied in acts of terror.

 

Similar solutions successful worldwide

Even if a peace agreement does eventually come about, the principle that should guide us should be as follows: Not to hand over undeveloped, open land. If land is to be exchanged with land in Judea and Samaria, it should be done with long-term considerations in mind, namely according to a national division. It should be territory that borders the Palestinian Authority and populated by Israeli Palestinians, as they define themselves.

 

There is no point in being sanctimonious here. Much to John Lennon's sorrow, had he been alive, nationalism has not disappeared: Just look at Scotland after hundreds of years of unification with the British, the Basques in Spain and the Corsicans. Nationalism is certainly not a thing of the past here, and it is not showing any signs of disappearing either.

 

Those seeking long-term calm have to support it. Granted, this will not solve all our problems, but it will solve many. Those who are willing to accept revoking the citizenship of the Arabs of east Jerusalem in the framework of an agreement, as proposed by the initiators of the Oslo Accords or Haim Ramon, cannot object to an exchange of land on a national basis for reasons of ethics, law, or justice, because after all there is no difference between a resident of east Jerusalem who loses his Israeli citizenship and one who loses it in Kfar Qassem, Taibeh, or Umm al-Fahm.

 

Such nationality-based division prevents bloodshed and brings calm, as was demonstrated worldwide in several instances; this should be the aspiration wherever possible.

 

The areas populated by those who define themselves as Israeli Palestinians have lost their national affiliation anyway, and therefore relinquishing them is easier. On the other hand, we should safeguard Israel's open spaces – our limited land reserves - whichever way we can. Additional land is not being manufactured.

 

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