The year is 2028. As I look out across the ancient city of Jerusalem from my veranda, I see nothing but holy ruins, children playing in the streets, and tourists bustling along to site after site. The only sound in the air is the singing of birds, the light whistling of the breeze, and the hearty laughter of former enemies finally settling down into the peace they never thought they could attain. This is nothing like the Jerusalem I remember from 2018. I am experiencing nothing like the fear that used to strike my heart at the sound of the bombing campaign on the Gaza Strip, the air-raid sirens warning of incoming rockets fired from Gaza, or the F-16s and Apache helicopter gunships overhead. This is peace. This is impossible peace.
It all began with what they are now calling the “New Two-State Solution” of 2019. The 1967 Armistice lines endorsed by the United Nations, European Union and Russia, and the United States just weren’t working out for the people of Israel-Palestine. Nevertheless, the solution had to come in the form of a two-state solution. In a study by Maoz et al., it was discovered that when it came to peace proposals, may Israelis and Palestinians actually had quite similar opinions on what solution would be best (one-state vs two-state solutions, etc.) (2002). The point of the study’s findings was that it didn’t particularly matter to the people what the solution was chosen, so long as they believed that it was chosen by their own nation, and not the nation of their enemies. Nevertheless, the solution had to be a two-state solution because so many feared that a one-state solution would inevitably lead to an apartheid-like situation (Brown, 2018). While many believed that Hamas would never recognize Israel as a state, and that this would permanently prevent a two-state solution from ever working, “what Hamas and other Palestinians [did] not recognize as legitimate [were] the [then-current] borders of the Israeli state and the policies enacted by the state of Israel, especially with regard to the Separation Wall, ever-increasing illegal settlements in the West Bank, and the unrelenting Israeli military and political occupation” (Brown, 2018). It wasn’t necessarily the state of Israel itself which Hamas was so against (as of around the year 2000), but more so the actions of Israel. Thus, while peace seemed impossible to most in 2018, the future would soon prove them wrong.
The United Nations, the European Union, Russia, the United States, and a few of the Gulf States (most notably, Saudi Arabia), all agreed to contribute financially to the seemingly crazy idea of building on an extra landmass to the Western border of Israel, extending into the Mediterranean Sea. They were all fed up with the hatred, violence, and violation of international laws happening in the region, and they decided to work together to fight the injustices happening on both sides of the conflict (particularly, the horrible violence cause by Hamas, the Israeli military, and the violation of international law via Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank and Separation Wall). Moreover, they were terrified that if the conflict were left unattended, it could spawn the third Intifada (Ehrenreich, 2013). The United States was the most reluctant to join this solution at first, but by their presidential election in 2020, they attained refreshingly new leadership and decided to join the other nations in their pursuit of peace. This landmass was the key aspect of the New Two-State Solution. They hired thousands of unemployed workers from both Gaza and from Israel in order to build the landmass, lowering unemployment by a record amount in just weeks (Booth and Taha, 2017). This landmass has not only created more space for the Israeli settlers to migrate to, but has also helped to solve the problem of the 9 mile-wide, “impossible to defend” strip of Israel which once laid between the West Bank and the Mediterranean Sea (Burgess, 2011). In addition, this helped to solve the problem of the Israeli occupation of the Jordan River Valley, in which Israel previously wanted to maintain a military presence because it insisted that it was necessary in order to ward off attacks from the East (Burgess, 2011) and (Zahriyeh, 2014). Slowly but surely, the barrier wall which Israel had been building (sometimes as far as 10 miles into the border of the West Bank) was altered to reflect the true borders of the 1967 lines. As forcible population transfer is illegal under international law, the Israelis could not be forced out of their homes within the Palestinian borders. (Brown, 2018). Many of their communities there were very established, with schools, hospitals, and neighborhoods. To attack this issue, the same group of nations who contributed to the building of the landmass in the Mediterranean Sea also hired out many of the unemployed citizens of both Israel and Gaza to build even nicer schools, neighborhoods and hospitals on the new landmass. They also paid for these workers to build a vast train network and new roads to facilitate the movement of Israelis from the West Bank to this new landmass. Incentivized by the idea of moving away from their enemy Jordan, and by distancing themselves from their Palestinian neighbors, as well as the idea of the very nice, affordable infrastructure of the new landmass (and the newly facilitated means of travel to get there), many Israeli settlers began to move from the West Bank to the new landmass. This same logic also applied to the Israelis who had moved to the Palestinian side of Jerusalem (Burgess, 2011). Many of them packed up and left for the new landmass in the years after the New Two-State Solution was implemented. The New Two-State Solution required that the Israeli constructions which blocked off Palestine from their Eastern half of the holy city be brought down, so that the two nations could once again share the city (Fisher, 2016). Another provision of the New Two-State Solution completely delegitimized the idea of the “Areas A, B and C” of the West Bank, as made under the Oslo Agreement (Brown, 2018). Full Palestinian authority (both political and security control) was to be the new norm for the entirety of the West Bank. All Israeli military checkpoints in the West Bank were closed down in the years following the implementation of the solution, and the previously segregated roads were returned to the Palestinians. This was yet another factor which incentivized Israelis to migrate to the new landmass. Once the Israelis left, the Palestinians were free to move into their nice neighborhoods and occupy the fertile farmland they left behind, vastly improving their way of life.
An additional positive effect of all of this was the fact that many Israelis and Palestinians spent hours, days, months, and even years working side by side in order to build all of these new additions to the former Israel-Palestine, forcing them to work together. In many cases, the people of the two bickering nations came to see each other as more human, and to hate each other less. In some cases, friendships were even fostered. However, it was not just the Israelis who had to uproot their lives in order to make this peace negotiation a reality. There were also many Palestinians who had to make some major changes. Namely, in exchange for the re-instatement of Gaza and the West Bank for the Palestinians, Hamas had to turn in its weapons and finally become a fully legitimate political party. In addition, the Palestinian Authority had to go. It had, for years, been a government of corruption and impotence (Brown, 2018). It spent more money on its police apparatus than it did on education and health combined, did nothing to stop the Israeli settlers from bringing physical harm to Palestinians and their property, and it even killed scores of its own Palestinian citizens in order to coordinate its security activities with Israel and the United States (Brown, 2018). Instead, the Palestinian government was replaced with a new, far more legitimate democratic government. They now have a central capitol in the West Bank, but are very much in connection with Gaza. The new government is simultaneously less corrupt than Fatah, and less fundamentalist than Hamas. The two nations now each have established borders, Israel has a new landmass for its settlers, and the eyes of more than a few world powers are on the region in order to prevent any potential further conflict.
I came to this alternative scenario by looking at the maps listed on the Module. I realized that a lot of the issue was that Israeli settlers kept moving into the West Bank for various reasons, and I wanted to find a way (if very far-fetched) to solve that, and other, problems. I realize how ridiculous this plan sounds, but honestly (and unfortunately), it seems to me that this is no more impossible than any of the other peace plans that have been proposed. Dr. Brown was absolutely right in his mini-lecture. This issue induces nightmares. The creative writing style of this assignment helped me to realize just how ridiculously complex this conflict between Israel and Palestine is, and why it is so controversial. I now understand why the conflict hasn’t been resolved yet. Honestly, I can think of no feasible way to solve it anytime in the near future, unless something changes drastically.