There are theories which cannot be fulfilled, but manage to twist an entire nation. This applies to the matter of leaving Jewish communities in a Palestinian state. No one plans for it to happen, no one knows how it will happen, and yet the political argument has a life of its own. Business without a solid foundation.
The birth of this idea can be found in Ehud Barak's term as prime minister. The talks about peace agreements opened a window for creative thoughts. Arafat engaged in terror, the Jews engaged in technical solutions. Barak started it, the prime ministers who followed improved it.
Behind the theory are two problematic basic assumptions: The first is the feasibility of a peace agreement putting an end to the conflict. The second is that the evacuation dilemma can be bypassed. Instead of evicting settlements and dealing with the terrible disengagement-like sights, the peace makers will leave them where they are. And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb and settlers under Palestinian rule. "A Jew doesn't evict a Jew," the Right declared during the disengagement. That doesn’t mean that a Jew cannot invent creative ideas to voluntarily evacuate him.
The method is based on free choice. The settlers will be presented with two options: One, to stay in the area and live as citizens of the Palestinian state; two – to leave. As the sane majority will not want to live attached to the land but without a state, the evacuation will be voluntary. The perfect solution theory.
When objects become portableAbout 100,000 Israelis live outside the settlement blocs which all prime ministers have been talking about since the Oslo Accords. They are the ones the theory holders are dealing with. The settlements blocs will not be evacuated and will not be handed over to the Palestinians even if Abbas lights a beacon on Independence Day.
The 1967 lines no longer exist; they are as theoretic as a Palestinian state with Jewish residents. Reality has changed. Where there is a consensus, there are no doubts. Contrary to the known perception of Gush Emunim, the consensus around the settlement blocs affects Israelis more than any caravan on an isolated hill. That's the reason why the Israeli negotiation space focuses on the area outside the blocs.
But negotiations alone are not enough to outline a reality. The past 20 years have left very few believers in a peace agreement which will put an end to the conflict. There are those who support a separation on the left and those who support a separation on the right, but in our region there are hardly any daydreamers left.
In all the discussions held until today between Palestinians and Israelis, the Palestinians opposed Jewish presence in the future state. I participated in one round. The train has never left the station, but their objection is already gaining mileage. Palestinians in Israel – yes, Jews in Palestine – no. It's outrageous but it's not surprising, considering the fact that they are persistently opposed to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state too. This circle cannot be squared. An agreement in which Jews live peacefully and quietly in a Palestinian state cannot be signed.
Several weeks ago, when there were discussions about swapping lands in which Israel's Arabs live, voices were heard in Israel that it's immoral. I thought otherwise: Separating nations through land swaps has shaped borders and states everywhere. Despite the freedom of choice, people are not objects, some argued at the time. You cannot transfer them to a different country. It turns out that it depends what type of objects. When it comes to the residents of east Jerusalem or settlers – the objects become portable.
The one thing Israel's Arabs, east Jerusalem's residents and the settlers have in common is their distrust in a Palestinian state. No one wants to live there, not even theoretically. It's hard to blame them.