Acknowledging that Israel cannot simply “end the occupation,” as leftists demand, and that withdrawal from the West Bank would be disastrous for Israelis, Palestinians, and the region in general, Micah Goodman argues in favor of some modest steps that could improve Palestinian living conditions. Among them are building separate roads connecting Palestinian towns and villages and easing economic conditions:
Some 120,000 Palestinians work in Israel, bringing large sums of money to the Palestinian territories and providing a livelihood for 600,000 people. There is a large pay differential between employment in the Palestinian Authority and in Israel; for the same job, workers in Israel earn twice as much. In recent years, the IDF’s top brass have concluded that the number of permits for Palestinians to work in Israel can be dramatically boosted.
Employment opportunities can be opened up to women and older men with clean records, with . . . minimal risk to Israel. If 400,000 Palestinian workers entered Israel every day, this would significantly improve the Palestinian economy. More than 1 million Palestinians would directly enjoy the fruits of working in Israel, and the whole population would benefit from the injection of new cash into the local market.
Most importantly, such steps can be taken without undermining the policies that have effectively put an end to the suicide bombings of the 1990s and early 2000s:
When it comes to Palestinian terrorism, Israel’s security is based on its forces’ ability to foil the formation of terror cells in the West Bank on a daily basis. Their great success stems from Israel’s wide-reaching intelligence network in Palestinian towns and villages. To guarantee the effectiveness of this intelligence, Israel needs free military access to every part of the Palestinian autonomous areas. This is not the situation in Gaza. Israel pulled its army out of Gaza and consequently wrapped up most of its intelligence network there. The IDF’s ability to stop terror attacks from the Gaza Strip is therefore extremely limited. This mistake must not be replicated in the context of unilateral moves in the West Bank.