Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Imagine for a minute that there was a one state solution?

Last May I posted on demographics of the Israeli-Palestinian and now I see this startling information is slowly being absorbed into the Israeli mainstream. Today in Ynet News I found this opinion piece by Elyakim Haetzni wherein he deconstructions the two state solution. The only part which truly interests me is this bit near the end:
Meanwhile, the “leftist’s last resort” had also been deflated – the demographic demon. It is impossible that the foreign minister did not receive the exciting information showing that the Arab figures which the scary demographic prophecies were premised on were false: The number of Arabs residing in Judea and Samaria is 1.5 million (rather than 2.5 million) and together with Gazans they make up 2.7 million (rather than 4 million.) Arab birthrates are declining, while Jewish birthrates happen to go up.

In 1995, Jewish births in Israel constituted 69% of all births, yet by 2006 the figure rose to 74%. Meanwhile, the fertility gap between Jews and Arabs, which stood at six children per woman (within the Green Line) in the 1960s, is now down to only 0.7 children per woman. Finally, in the area between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River (not including Gaza,) the Jews constitute a 67% majority (60% if we count Gaza.)

A one state solution would make an interesting proposition given the current demographics. For some years, I have been suggesting not only is the Road Map an unfeasible a solution given current realities; it would never see the Palestinians established with a viable sovereign state which could function independently financially.

If the Israeli trends continue, a Jewish majority is always assured and the character of the state would remain both Jewish and democratic. Currently, the national religious and Charedi camps have incredibly high birth rates, and fast closing in to make-up 40% of the overall population of Israel. The opening up of the disputed territories for building could see a boom in the local economy as well as solving the housing crisis.

The downsides – there are many but the biggest obstacle I can see revolve around security considerations and what I believe would be the inability of the Palestinian leadership’s innate reluctance in giving up all the perks which come from both local and international extortion.

Not to mention the neighbors would be in an uproar when they realized they would have to finally absorb the Palestinians living in refugee camps into their populations as I doubt the granting of Israel citizenship to those born in any of the neighboring Arab states. Since most West Bank Palestinians still hold Jordanian residency cards, those who were opposed to living in the state of Israel could be returned to Jordanian sovereignty.

Would the Israelis accept such a solution, well, they just might - provided the upsides outweighed the negatives in terms of security and stability and what shape a final agreement would take. It would be interesting to see it put to a referendum to both the Israeli and Palestinian public.

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