The New Saudi Peace Plan Might Be No More Than a Rumor. But It’s a Good Idea

On Sunday, the New York Times reported that the Saudis have come to Mahmoud Abbas with a peace plan, and told him he must either accept it or resign. The report was admittedly based on off-the record comments and second-hand information; none of the interested parties has confirmed it publicly. If the information is correct, the plan involves Egypt ceding territory from the Sinai Peninsula to create an expanded and completely Palestinian state in Gaza, to which would be added noncontiguous territory in the West Bank over which the new state would exercise limited sovereignty. The settlements would remain in place and the Jerusalem suburb of Abu Dis would become the Palestinian capital. Caroline Glick comments:

The fact is that the alleged Saudi peace plan represents a radical break with all of the peace plans presented by the Arabs, the Europeans, and the U.S. over the past 40 years. [It] is the first peace plan that foresees two viable states living in peace. All the other plans were based on transforming Israel into a non-viable state with a non-viable Palestinian state in its heartland.

While the Times report cites Western sources claiming that Egypt has rejected the prospect of merging Gaza with the northern Sinai under Palestinian sovereignty, there is no reason to assume that the option is dead. To the contrary, in the aftermath of last week’s massacre of 305 Muslim worshipers in a mosque in the northern Sinai, it is arguably more relevant now than at any previous time.

The mosque massacre makes clear that the Egyptian regime is incapable of defeating the Islamic State (IS) insurgency in Sinai on its own. Egypt’s incapacity is as much a function of economic priorities as military capabilities. . . . [I]n the absence of significant economic support for developing the Sinai, it is hard to see an end to the insurgency.

If the Europeans, Americans, and Arab League member states chose to develop the northern Sinai for a Palestinian state with half the enthusiasm they have devoted to building a non-viable Palestinian state in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria that would render Israel indefensible and enfeebled, the Palestinians would have a viable, developed state in short order. And the Egyptians in turn would have the international support they need . . . to defeat IS completely and to rebuild their national economy.

The New York Times article may or may not be an accurate portrayal of a real plan presented by the actual crown prince of Saudi Arabia. But if it isn’t his plan, it should be, . . . because it is the first peace plan anyone has ever put forward that makes sense. Not only does it secure the future of both Israel and the Palestinians, it enables Arab states like Saudi Arabia to work openly with Israel to defeat their joint Iranian enemy, while ensuring that Israel can survive and remain a credible ally to its Arab neighbors for decades to come.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Israel & Zionism, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia, Sinai Peninsula, Two-State Solution

 

Jerusalem’s Economic Crisis, Its Arabs, and Its Future

Oct. 18 2018

The population of Israel’s capital city is 38-percent Arab, making Arab eastern Jerusalem the largest Arab community in the country. Connected to this fact is Jerusalem’s 46-percent poverty rate—the highest of any Israeli municipality. The city’s economic condition stems in part from its large ultra-Orthodox population, but there is also rampant poverty among its Arab residents, whose legal status is different from that of both Arab Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. Haviv Rettig Gur explains:

Jerusalem’s Arab inhabitants are not Israeli citizens—in part because Palestinian society views acceptance of Israeli citizenship, [available to any Arab Jerusalemite who desires it], as acceptance of Israeli claims of sovereignty over the city, and in part because Israel is not eager to accept them, even as it formally views itself as having annexed the area. Nevertheless, they have a form of permanent residency that, unlike West Bank Palestinians, allows them unimpeded access to the rest of Israel. . . .

There are good reasons for this poverty among eastern Jerusalem’s Arabs, rooted in the political trap that has ensnared the Arab half of the city and with it the rest of the city as well. Right-wing Israeli political leaders have avoided investing in Arab eastern Jerusalem, fearing that such investments would increase the flow of Palestinians into the city. Left-wing leaders have done the same on the grounds that the Arab half would be given away in a future peace deal.

Meanwhile, eastern Jerusalem’s complicated situation, suspended between the Israeli and Palestinian worlds, means residents cannot take full advantage of their access to the Israeli economy. For example, while most Arab women elsewhere in Israel learn usable Hebrew in school, most Arab schools in eastern Jerusalem teach from the Palestinian curriculum, which does not offer students the Hebrew they will need to find work in the western half of the city. . . .

It is not unreasonable to argue that Jerusalem cannot really be divided, not for political reasons but for economic ones. If Jerusalem remains a solely Israeli capital, it will have to integrate better its disparate parts and massively develop its weaker communities if it hopes ever to become solvent and prosperous. Arabs must be able to find more and better work in Jewish Jerusalem—and in Arab Jerusalem, too. Conversely, if the city is divided into two capitals, that of a Jewish state and that of a Palestinian one, that won’t change the underlying economic reality that its prosperity, its capacity to accommodate tourism and develop efficient infrastructure, and its ability to ensure access for all religions to their many holy sites, will still require a unified urban space.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Arabs, Israeli economy, Jerusalem