Over the last twenty year neither Republicans nor the Democrats have succeeded in resolving the Israel-Palestine issue. Each administration; Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama,has focused their efforts on an overall peace settlement.
Our Recommendation: Win-Win Incremental Progress
Incremental progress that provides benefits for both sides could lay the groundwork for a long lasting peace.
Issue 1. Settlements
There are 4 major Israeli settlements (cities) in the West Bank. During prior peace talks; under Clinton and Bush, the Israeli and Palestinian leadership agreed that these four settlement would remain a part of Israel.
We propose that a Trump administration support an interim agreement where the US would recognize these four settlements as part of Israel. In exchange Israel would turn over 16% of the West Bank to the Palestinians. This would increase the Palestinian portion of West Bank land from 39% to 55%.
Issue 2. Border with Jordan
Israel seeks to retain control of the Border to prevent weapons from being smuggled into the West Bank. The Palestinians seek control of the border as a sovereign right.
We propose an interim solution where Israel would retain control of the border’s “security”. No Israeli settlements would be permitted within the border zone. Individuals; not on a terrorist watch list, with a Palestinian visa or passport would be permitted entry to Palestine. Israel would be increase the capacity of border check points to ensure the timely entry of goods coming into the West Bank. Foreign diplomats; even diplomats from countries opposed to Israel, could cross the border to visit Palestinian controlled areas.
Issue 3. Hebron
Hebron is the largest city in the West Bank. with a population of about 215,000 Palestinians and 900 Israelis. The city is divided between Palestinian control (80%) and Israeli control (20%). It is also home the Cave of the Patriarchs, the second most holist site in Judaism.
The key issue for Israel is access to the Cave of the Patriarchs.
We propose reducing the Israeli controlled portion of Hebron to 5%. This increases the Palestinian controlled portion of the city to 95% while reducing the number of Palestinians under Israeli control. Israel would retain responsibility for the security of the Cave of the Patriarchs and the city area around it. Palestinains would reaffirm the right of Israelis to visit the Cave of the Patriarchs.
Issue 4. Travel between Gaza and the West Bank
Palestinians cannot freely leave Gaza to visits relatives or go to school in the Palestinian controlled areas of the West Bank.
If the governments of Gaza and West Bank can live in peace with Israel an elevated high-speed rail line should be constructed between Gaza City and Hebron. This would reduce travel time between these two cities to under an hour while protecting Israeli security.
Land for this rail line should be set aside now, so that it is available when a sustainable peace is reached between Israel and the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza.