In this wide-ranging and hopeful essay, Cary Nelson aims to move the international conversation about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict away from mutual recriminations and towards practical steps to create a ‘two-state dynamic’. Defying our fashionable pessimism, he sets out a detailed proposal for a multi-staged Israeli withdrawal from major portions of the West Bank and interim measures to increase Palestinian self governance and nation-building in the absence of final status peace agreement. We invite the critical responses of our readers.
‘So if it is so difficult to arrive at a solution of end of conflict, why not have one state? Because the one-state cure is the proverbial cure that kills the patient. I cannot think of any place on earth where two nations locked in conflict for over 100 years are offered a solution to be thrust together in a boiling pot of coexistence that would end no doubt in mutual destruction … Mostly I would say the reason why this is a bad idea is because most Jews in Israel and most Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza don’t want it. There are people in the Diaspora who may wish for such a solution, but they won’t face the music and probably couldn’t care less about it … We, the Israelis, have to come to terms with the fact that we may have to withdraw for less than peace, that land for peace may be desirable, but not necessarily fully attainable. Why should we withdraw in the absence of full peace? If we don’t, we are allowing those who resist the idea of peace with Israel, like Hamas and company, to dictate to Israel what kind of country we will live in in 10, 20, or 30 years time.’ (Asher Susser) 
Confidence that Israelis and Palestinians can negotiate a final status agreement, settle the outstanding issues that have plagued them since 1948, and establish two secure states that enable their peoples to live in peace may well be at its lowest point in decades. As a consequence of the failure of previous negotiations and the lack of faith in either party’s willingness to continue, the international conversation about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict says more about anger and frustration than it does about how to move forward productively. I have been writing about parts of that conversation – especially the parts taking place on campuses and among non-governmental organisations (NGOs) focused on the conflict – for many years. I have also been an active opponent of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement since 2007. Recent events suggest I should flesh out some of the positive recommendations I have made during these debates, especially my endorsement of Israeli proposals for a multi-staged withdrawal from major portions of the West Bank.
While a comprehensive agreement is obviously preferable – and Israelis and Palestinians will never settle all their disagreements without one – I believe all of us need alternative ways of conceptualising what steps may be politically possible in the interim. My main aim here is to help move the international conversation in a different direction, from struggles over delegitimisation to practical solutions. Along the way, I also suggest productive opportunities for US and European activism. Meanwhile, even an Israeli government opposed, for now, to a fully realised Palestinian state may be forced by West Bank events and international action to consider interim options that offer increased Palestinian self-governance. We all need to understand such options if we are to promote them.
In what follows, I give no credence to any version of a one-state solution. I support the presence of a democratic Jewish state within modified pre-1967 borders. I do so not only because Jews are a people with an ancient history in the land, but also because – beginning with the Balfour Declaration, followed by the San Remo acceptance by the Entente powers of the Balfour Declaration, and continuing through to the post-World War II 1947 United Nations (UN) vote – the State of Israel has had a strong basis for its existence in international law. I also believe, more controversially, that the Allied Powers owed the Jews a homeland after they failed to respond to the Holocaust. The one-state or bi-national ‘solution’ – with two peoples sharing the same land and the same polity – is a recipe for war, not resolution. Indeed it has never found broad support in either the Jewish or Arab populations. The resulting civil war would be one in which Jews and Arabs could die in significant numbers. Jews will fight before permitting their homeland to be dominated by an Arab majority.
I am also convinced the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is unsustainable, not because it cannot be enforced, but because its consequences are unacceptable. Of course, some in Israel – most prominently, Jewish Home leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett – believe moderate improvement in Palestinian employment opportunities and living conditions, combined with settlement expansion, could not only sustain the present arrangements but also make them immutable. Others in Israel and throughout the world see the West Bank status quo as leading to increased European political and economic pressure to recognise a Palestinian state in the future, along with both horrific local violence and an eventual third Intifada. Sanctions, the dormant third term of the BDS movement, could become a reality. Continued small-scale military conflicts with Hamas seem inevitable, and no one can rule out additional wars producing thousands of dead. Meanwhile, Israel’s democratic character would continue to be seriously eroded.
I thus remain a strong believer that only a two-state solution – two states for two peoples – offers a route to achievable justice for both Israelis and Palestinians and a means for the two peoples to control their own political destinies. The first thing I ask of any political proposal is whether it supports that goal and what practical steps it offers to take us there.
This paper summarises and elaborates upon some concepts and options developed by Israelis and offers them for consideration. While a comprehensive agreement is the ultimate goal, after more than half a century in which the parties have failed to achieve one we need alternative ways to move forward. I am not foolish enough to suppose I can lay out a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. Nor will the options described here be sufficient, in and of themselves, to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Only a comprehensive negotiated agreement has a chance to achieve that end. But those of us who care about the needs and aspirations of both peoples need to begin discussing other ways to improve the lives of and provide hope to the Palestinians, and to initiate Israeli disengagement from the West Bank.
I also need to emphasise at the outset that there are no risk free solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict. History is fundamentally unpredictable, certainly no more so than in the Middle East. Regimes that appear to be stable become undone, social, political, and religious movements sweep countries to change the course of national and regional history and violent actors representing constituencies small or large intervene with overwhelming impact. If anyone predicted the rise of ISIS two years ago, I am unaware of it. Did many guess that the Muslim Brotherhood would so quickly be swept aside in Egypt? Is anyone still pinning utopian hopes on the Arab Spring? I didn’t, by the way, but many of my friends did. The unprecedented cruelty we now see in Syria and Iraq has intensified the longstanding Israeli sense of insecurity and deepened the reluctance to take political chances, though it has also opened opportunities for limited cooperation with several Arab states.
It is clear that the Israelis do not have a governmental partner for peace at present and I am not persuaded that the Palestinians do either. In the years leading up to the 2015 Israeli elections, Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas both played to their right-wing constituents. They expected their political challenges to come from the right and thus concentrated on defending that flank. Not all Israeli prime ministers have done so, but this one certainly did. We have a shorter list of Palestinian leaders, but both Yasser Arafat and Abbas regularly supplied their public spheres with radical rejectionist rhetoric. Neither Netanyahu nor Arafat nor Abbas prepared their peoples for the necessity of compromise. A reliable June 15-17 2014 survey of West Bank and Gazan Palestinians asked what percentage of Jerusalem the Palestinian Authority (PA) might control by way of an eventual negotiated agreement. The majority, whether pugnacious or naïve, unrealistically answered 100%. A 2012 poll of Israelis showed continuing support for a two-state solution, but the level of support declined when the question addressed territorial concessions. Meanwhile, nothing about the settlement policy Netanyahu has advanced by his actions over the last six years suggests that he ever intended to give up an inch of the West Bank. Then, hours before the March 2015 vote, he put any doubts to the rest, pledging there would be no Palestinian state if he were re-elected. That being said, you can meet Arabs and Jews who give you hope, as well as Arabs and Jews who only see violence in the future and, indeed, some who advocate it. But I remain convinced that over time, most within each people will opt for peace if they are given good employment opportunities, good housing, the opportunity to raise families, and the right to political self-determination within limits that respect the needs of the other people.
Despite the bleak prospects facing us now, we should nonetheless think about how both groups might be pressed to negotiate in good faith – or at least not to undermine the potential for future negotiations. Because Israel has a powerful military, some see pressure on Israel alone as the only appropriate strategy, and it is the priority, especially now that Netanyahu’s pre-election remarks have changed the political dynamic. But ‘How best to punish Israel?’ is not a peace strategy. Regardless, the two parties are not equal, so practical strategies for dealing with them will have to differ. What’s more, whatever options are adopted, they will at some point effectively be addressed to the Palestinian and Israeli people, not just to their respective leaders; the public reception of peace proposals in the respective societies is a matter of concern. But a model that casts one people as aggressors and the other as victims is not a rational basis for a conversation, let alone a negotiating strategy.
What is required of the Palestinians
Let us begin with the Palestinians, because my suggestions there are limited, and then move on to Israel. One possible form of pressure would be to reach an international consensus that the PA must be subject to an ongoing independent audit that gives a full and transparent account of how all the foreign aid it receives is spent. The PA can never have the full trust of its own people if many continue to believe it is financially corrupt. Thus, the PA might benefit from pressure to reform itself. And that pressure could make it a better negotiating partner. Such pressure is unlikely to come from the UN, but it could be initiated in Europe or the US.
If Palestinians want to establish a popular basis for negotiation, they will also need to reform their educational system so it does not instil opposition to Israel’s existence in the hearts and minds of their young. Such a change will not transform attitudes overnight, but Israelis are not likely to trust their Palestinian partners until they see this commitment at work. Both sides need to eliminate curricula that identify the other side as the enemy, but as a 2013 study of Israeli and Palestinian textbooks reports, ‘Israeli state textbooks provided more information and less negative characterizations of the other side and more self-criticism regarding certain historical episodes than the ultra-Orthodox or Palestinian books. Addressing the 1948 massacre in the Arab village of Deir Yassin, for example, a book used in the state secular and religious schools noted that the battle “developed into the killing of dozens of helpless Arabs.”’
There also needs to be widespread recognition that neither negotiations nor withdrawal can readily take place amidst incitements to violence. The PA should be persuaded of the necessity to restrain religious and political figures from indulging in public calls for violence. Incitements to violence need to be made clearly illegal and punished accordingly. Even without the promise of negotiations, the time may have come for the PA to make more precise calibrations of the relationship between violence and the potential to achieve the national ambitions of its people. Violence may persuade Israelis that the West Bank is ungovernable, but that could simply mean no one, neither Israelis nor Palestinians , can govern it. One consequence of Operation Protective Edge that all the players in the area understand is the recognition that Palestinian casualties have considerable international political value. But that also means the Israelis now realise that international opposition and Israeli moral anguish will quickly coalesce. And Palestinian deaths are only maximised by acts of war that threaten Israelis. So the cycle has escalation built into it. One key question is whether international attention and concern has become heightened enough for Palestinians to shift their strategy to mass nonviolent protest and civil disobedience. That would, of course, necessitate the PA controlling violent elements in the West Bank, just as it would require the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to master better policing practices. It is highly likely that international pressure will escalate in 2015 and 2016, in turn giving additional cultural and political leverage to civil disobedience. Whether Americans or Europeans could safely participate in West Bank nonviolent civil disobedience more broadly than they have so far remains to be seen, but it is an option worth careful review.
Some BDS supporters I have talked with are inclined to set aside their avowals of pacifism and declare that only violence will work to influence Israel, thereby implying, in anti-Semitic fashion, that Israel is a country without a conscience (in line with Steven Salaita’s now infamous formulation, ‘Israel’s soul died at the moment of its inception’). But many Israelis are themselves tortured by the routine violence that shapes the military occupation, and nonviolent activism has increased potential to influence both them and the international community. Unlike the British in India, however, Israelis cannot simply sail away; they have a proximity problem, and Yasser Arafat would have made a poor Gandhi. But it may well now be time for Palestinians to give nonviolence a try. The world is watching.
Coming up with means adequate to turn Hamas into a nonviolent partner for peace, however, is outside my imaginative capacity. A prolonged truce, however, may be in Hamas’s self-interest, and could reduce the number of its committed members if it is accompanied by progress on West Bank disengagement, but if Hamas actually made peace with Israel it would no longer be Hamas. And if Hamas were willing to take intermediate steps – like declaring and honouring the Mediterranean coast as a weapons-free zone for economic development – it would no longer be Hamas either. Some intransigent Hamas members would certainly face police and judicial action if moves toward peace became a reality. Others, along with some Palestinians not affiliated with Hamas, would no doubt simply live out their lives in bitter rejection of an unfolding peace. Among those would be Palestinians whose rejection of a Jewish state is grounded in a historic cultural and political rejection of any non-Muslim state in the region. More serious still, are those whose hatred of Israel is based on religious belief. Many on the Left tend to embrace the anti-Semitic conviction that the only religious impediment to peace in the region is Judaism. There is a dual denial involved – both of Arab anti-Semitism and of the Islamic history of classifying Jews and Christians as ‘protected infidels.’ As we have repeatedly seen, protected infidels can become targeted infidels. Discussion of the anti-Semitic component in Islam in many quarters is still frequently blocked by the dominant politically correct stance that critique of any Islamic traditions or any Islamic sect amounts to Islamophobia. One might have thought that the rise of ISIS would open wider campus discussions of these issues, but it did not. Whether the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher supermarket massacres in Paris will do so remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the presence of Hamas remains a basis of risk and uncertainty for any Israeli-Palestinian future.
In that regard, I was interested to find in conversations in Israel in 2014 that, in addition to those on the Israeli left who opposed military action in Gaza entirely, there existed a number of Israelis opposed to current government policy and committed to the left who expressed regret that the IDF had not acted more quickly and decisively to crush Hamas in July. Some of those I spoke with reasoned that only Hamas’s complete military defeat would have made it possible for the PA to become a true partner for peace. This realpolitik style of reasoning draws its conclusion not only from 20th century history and the defeat of Germany and Japan, but also from a cold take on Arab history.
What is required of Israel?
The world has been exposed to numerous scenarios for pressuring Israel, but most show no sign of being anything other than counter-productive or empty symbolism. The latter has been called the politics of radical gestures. I see no prospect, however, that this politics of radical gestures expressed through boycotting or divesting from SodaStream or Hewlett Packard will bring the Israeli government to its knees or have any significant impact on the course of history. Yet in a political context in which broad agreement is rare, there is considerable international consensus on one point: that West Bank settlement expansion jeopardises both present and future potential for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to any prospect for a negotiated agreement, and to long-term peace in the area. Of course there are powerful Israeli constituencies that disagree and a series of Israeli governments have either turned a blind eye to new or expanded settlements or actively promoted them. This is the most notable way in which present Israeli actions limit the policies future Israeli governments can adopt. The US government, Israel’s single major international donor, has been entirely ineffective in extracting truly binding commitments to halt settlement creep. Yet belief in the principle that the US government, despite the combined force of political resistance and inertia, does have potential, if limited, leverage, is nonetheless warranted. And government policy in general is the place where US and European citizens, including faculty and students, have the greatest chance for influence.
Some people believe foreign military aid should be tied to Israel’s adoption of a no-settlement expansion policy. That proposal fails every test of how either the Israeli government or the Israeli people would respond: for both, it would constitute a fundamental threat. Nor would withdrawal of US military aid clearly benefit the Palestinians. Consider, paradoxically, how many Palestinian lives Iron Dome may have saved. Had the rockets fired from Gaza in 2014 killed civilians in Tel Aviv or destroyed a passenger plane at Ben Gurion airport, Israel’s military response would have been far more severe, and many more Palestinians would have died.
But that does not mean the US is powerless. We Americans might for example, as recent news reports demonstrate, begin to suggest that our diplomatic support in the UN or elsewhere be tied to serious progress on the settlement front. Hints of that possibility surfaced immediately after the 2015 Israeli elections. Doing so by way of high stakes US government public theatre will not work, at least not as an initial strategy, although it may come to that, especially if the Right remains in power in Israel. It is far better if negotiated policy changes precede an international political crisis. Meanwhile, concerned people worldwide should be organising to do at least three things: (1) criticise and discredit any effort either by individuals or NGOs to make financial contributions to the settlement movement; (2) put more pressure on their own government to extract settlement policy concessions from the Israelis; (3) advocate relentlessly for a two-state solution. No government lasts forever, and the government put in place after the March 2015 elections may not outlast two years, but even short-term settlement policy and expansion can hamper future government negotiations.
That said, not all settlements are equal. Too many academics are too occupied with political posturing to look closely at the settlements and distinguish their types and locations. That leads to useless and unrealistic protests against any and all additions to existing settlements. The fundamental distinction, in my view (setting aside Jerusalem), is between settlements to the east and west of the fence, security barrier, or wall. No realistic observers expect settlements west of the fence to be part of an eventual Palestinian state; one expects them to be incorporated into Israel through land swaps. Large settlement blocs close to the green line like Modiin Illit, northwest of Ramallah, or Beitar Illit, west of Bethlehem, with populations of 60,000 and 50,000 respectively, are not destined to be abandoned. The largest segment of Israeli land to be exchanged is likely to be to the southeast of Gaza, as Gaza is the Palestinian area with the most need for additional space and the land there will be less controversial for Israel to vacate. An additional land swap could include a segment immediately south of the West Bank, though some of that land is not considered of comparable quality as it is too rocky for agricultural use.
As this argument may suggest, the security barrier constitutes a potential border with a Palestinian state. It offers a prospective point of withdrawal even if that withdrawal is, at first, unilateral. The barrier unquestionably has been beneficial in helping to eliminate suicide bombings, but it also offers Palestinians a potential boundary for their own independent state. Indeed, can anyone imagine a two-state solution without such a barrier? Many on the international left regard the wall as an unqualified obscenity, but as a potential international boundary it holds out the possibility of Palestinian statehood. Certainly settlers to the east of the security barrier recognise that, which is why many are opposed the wall’s construction and still see it as a threat. Therefore, with the exception of Jerusalem, where drawing permanent borders presents special challenges and where an eventual solution will require continuing co-operation, the construction of new housing units west of the security barrier should not be the focus of controversy or political posturing.
That is not to say that the route the barrier takes cannot be adjusted. Under Aharon Barak, who served as President of the Israeli Supreme Court between 1995 and 2006, Palestinian efforts to reroute the security fence, block house demolitions, or win habeas corpus suits were more likely to receive sympathetic hearings. Barak, a thoughtful jurist of international stature, struggled continually with ways to grant justice to Palestinians within the legal system, but he is now often demonised by the Israeli far-right. Unlike the federal courts in the United States, the Israeli Supreme Court is set up to hear individual complaints at a reasonable cost. Legal support provided by NGOs is also sometimes available to those who need it. Progressive observers worldwide could collaborate with sympathetic Israelis and local NGOs like ACRI (The Association for Civil Rights in Israel) to select individual cases to publicise and promote so that the court’s decision making becomes more visible worldwide. People can also help fund groups that bring appropriate cases before the court. Specific cases need international visibility before they are decided, and good and bad decisions need to be evaluated and publicised. The Israeli Supreme Court in, other words, should have the same international visibility that the US Supreme Court has. The goals should include encouraging the court to revive its willingness to reroute the security barrier where appropriate and, alternatively, to mandate compensation to Palestinians who have suffered losses due to its location.
Activists everywhere should focus on specific demands for curtailed settlement expansion and principled positions that draw politically useful distinctions. Some settlements present a serious impediment to establishing a viable Palestinian state; others do not. While some non-contiguous areas can be part of a nation state – I know of no plans to build a land bridge to Hawaii – the broken pieces of the PA’s Area A and the barriers to contiguity some Jewish settlements present constitute too much dislocation for coherent economic, political, and social development. Letting off steam about the settlements relieves frustration, but it is not a useful, practical, and effective form of protest. There are both major and minor settlements in the way that need to be taken into consideration according to their own particularities. Creating a Palestinian state may, for example, require Israel at the very least to negotiate the status of the city of Ariel, along with its university, and the city may end up having to be abandoned given that it is substantially east of the green line. In any case, its population has not been growing, and it is an example of a place where expansion should be prohibited. Several Israelis pressed me to consider giving up my firm opposition to boycotting Ariel University, given its location in occupied territory, its reluctance to admit West Bank Palestinian students (as opposed to Israeli Arabs), and its administrative separation from the rest of Israeli academia. My reply was twofold: first, either we hold to a universal principle rejecting all academic boycotts or we will end up debating scores of such proposals worldwide and the principle will have no value. A successful movement to boycott Ariel would soon be followed by intensified efforts to boycott Tel Aviv or Technion. Second, I am interested not in boycotting Ariel University, but in discussing the possibility of turning the whole city over to Palestinians (although Israelis will recall that the ‘Clinton parameters’ of December 2000 would have had them retain Ariel). On the other hand, there are a few settlements close to the green line that may have become so large that abandoning them is politically unrealistic. Maaleh Adumim east of Jerusalem may be one such example. Regardless, there are a number of smaller settlements in the Jerusalem area whose expansion should be prohibited so that they could be abandoned in a comprehensive settlement.
The settlements in the Palestinian city of Hebron, 19 miles south of Jerusalem, are perhaps the settlements in the West Bank that most cry out for abandonment. I would prefer to see them abandoned now, as a real and symbolic concession. The settlements in Hebron are a fragmented group of four tiny groups of Israelis, numbering altogether perhaps 800 people, and surrounded by a large Palestinian city of about a quarter million people. IDF soldiers there have the task of protecting settlers living atop the remains of a Biblical home where they are no longer welcome. The motivation for living there is largely religious, testimony to an ancient heritage whose material revival is unremittingly bleak. The Jewish homes are spartan and the restraints on Palestinian movement necessary to ensure the safety of settlers, oppressive. Abandoned Arab markets are now scrawled with threats and obscenities and spread beneath homes protected with heavy wire mesh. Anger boils over everywhere. Yet I am nonetheless persuaded there would be no more controversial settlement to abandon because of its religious status, and that the Left could not hope to reach resolution unless it found a way to honour what was culturally at stake in Hebron. The Jews, who first returned illegally in 1979, established the first Jewish presence there since 67 of their predecessors were massacred in Hebron in 1929. Ecstatic to be living on Abraham’s territory, they were oblivious to what had become Palestinian facts on the ground in the intervening years. Now they clung to what seemed a living miracle. Abandoning the Hebron settlement without honouring the loss would, I was finally convinced by Israelis I spoke with, be either politically costly or impossible. Some reasonably feel that abandoning Hebron now in effect validates the consequences of the 1929 massacre. I can only answer that both sides have benefitted from violence. Both sides will have to tolerate those consequences if they wish to live in peace.
I am convinced there is no other course, and activists may well want to make a focused cause of the need to abandon the Hebron settlements. They could sign petitions, offer public presentations, and participate in the annual ‘Open Shuhada Street’ demonstrations. Unlike ‘Israel Apartheid Week’, which is mounted as a comprehensive condemnation of Israeli society, the pro-Israel left could focus ‘Open Shuhada Street’ events on a targeted critique of Israeli policy and on discussion of routes to peace. Al-Shuhada Street is a main Hebron road that was closed to Palestinians in 1994 and then reopened to vehicle and pedestrian traffic for a year in 1997. The market, however, remained closed and has never reopened. Palestinian vehicles as of now are prohibited there and Palestinian pedestrians are still banned from some areas. Surely, Jewish access to the nearby Tomb of the Patriarchs could be sustained by a combination of an agreement with the PA and a long-term IDF presence, honouring those observant Jews around the world who mention the founding fathers daily in their prayers. Hebron does not require a Jewish settlement to justify an IDF role in preserving a corridor enabling access to the religious site. Indeed, the PA might help to secure that access as part of an agreement to abandon the Hebron settlements. What is clear is that that there is no way forward unless both the Left and the Right in Israel find a way of respecting each other’s values and passions. A deeply divided electorate cannot decide the future simply by one side winning an election. There are important political lessons to be learned from discussing Hebron and other individual settlements and by discussing settlements by type.
In advocating a form of withdrawal from Hebron that honours the loss some observant Jews throughout Israel would experience, I am not writing out of sympathy for the settlers themselves, some of whom can be belligerent in a way that does not win allies. I am seeking to address the wider cultural reality. Some on the Left – frustrated by the reality of the tiny settlements of Tel Rumeida, Beit Hadassah, Beit Romano, and Avraham Avinu that are isolated within downtown Hebron – are willing to have the IDF announce a date of departure and leave those settlers determined to stay to their own devices. I doubt they would survive. That is not an outcome Israelis or Jews worldwide could accept.
Creating a ‘two-state dynamic’: the case for phased withdrawal
In grounding a phased withdrawal scenario that elaborates on Israeli proposals, one might point to two very different target areas, neither of which would border directly on pre-1967 Israel territory if West Bank buffer zones were maintained. The security implications of dealing with the western portion of the West Bank would be deferred. This is not to suggest precise boundaries for a targeted withdrawal, since that is Israel’s responsibility and since it would require very precise mastery of terrain that is often very hilly, but rather, two general areas subject to international discussion and debate. I am assuming in both cases that illegal outposts (small settlements established illegally even according to Israeli law) would be vacated; such action is overdue in any case and certainly necessary for these scenarios to succeed. Progress beyond one preliminary withdrawal might well be conditional upon the performance of the Palestinians, with the possibility of additional withdrawals held out as an encouragement toward cooperation, nonviolence, and negotiation over a comprehensive agreement. Performance might also include the evolution of political institutions in the West Bank. As Asher Susser has written, ‘as the Palestinians proceed to build the institutions of their state – we should withdraw from considerable territories in the West Bank, gradually – withdraw settlements, particularly – leave the military in many places where we still need them. Thereby we will create the possibility of what I call a “two-state dynamic” – instead of what we are presently creating ourselves, which is a one-state dynamic.’ In the meantime, Israel would not waive control of any West Bank air space, but a managed right of return would operate in the area identified as a prototype Palestinian state or an enhanced Area A. Settlement of the most contentious issues – the borders of a divided Jerusalem and the final status of the Palestinian right of return – is almost certainly impossible without a negotiated agreement. Some, including some Israelis on the Left, feel that unilateral withdrawal amounts to yet one more Israeli political and military imposition on the Palestinians, as opposed to a product of negotiation and mutual consent, but the reality of new facts on the ground and the economic and political opportunities they offer to Palestinians should undercut resentment growing from that perception. A coordinated, staged series of withdrawals would preferably be characterised and managed as steps toward an agreement, as Amos Yadlin – former air force general, former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate, and current director of Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) – has argued, though the government elected in 2015 is unlikely to do so. Meanwhile, even a hypothetical future progressive Israeli government may well need options other than a comprehensive peace agreement, especially in the short and medium term. There need to be routes toward progress that do not require placing either all hope in, or a political consensus behind, a complete resolution of the conflict; Israeli governments of both the Right and the Left need options to be exercised in stages. International observers need them if they are to have productive conversations about the conflict. And Palestinians need to know that a comprehensive agreement is not the only way forward.
Since neither side now believes much of what the other side says, we need deeds rather than words to trigger the peace process. Writing in 2012, Alan Johnson gave a concise definition of coordinated unilateralism: ‘In other words, each party would make moves that the other accepts to be part of any final-status agreement (“coordinated”). However, given the paralysis of the negotiating process, they would do so with only the tacit approval of the other party (“unilateral”).’ Johnson quotes Ami Ayalon, former head of Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence service, who has also endorsed the concept: ‘It is OK if the Palestinians are demanding unilaterally a Palestinian state – Israel should not be against it; it’s OK if Israel will act unilaterally in order to achieve a reality of two states, as long as it is coordinated with a shared vision.’ He also cites Gidi Grinstein, a veteran of earlier peace negotiations and president of Tel Aviv’s Reut Institute, on coordinated unilateralism: ‘First it would be a kind of Fayyadism-plus, green-lighting the PA to continue nation-building. Second, it would be low-risk, so less likely to experience the periodic screeching halts that plague the peace process. Third, unilateral measures can mostly be implemented by governments, so shielding the process from legislators. Fourth, it puts off a resolution of the Gaza-West Bank split (and so avoids having to pretend that a “demilitarized Palestine” is compatible with a militarized Gaza). Fifth, it evades unrealistic implementation arrangements and timetables. And finally, the creation of a Palestinian state may give many refugees the feeling that they have a home that realizes their collective desire for self-determination, draining away some of the venom from that issue.’
One potential first target area for withdrawal is in the north central area of the West Bank and it might be anchored in the north and the south respectively by the existing Palestinian cities of Jenin and Nablus. Much of it is classified as Area A or B under the Oslo Accords and is under at least Palestinian civil control, but Area B areas are crisscrossed by Israeli roads and thus do not constitute a fully contiguous Palestinian area. The region has a substantial population and business base on which to build and there is also considerable area available for development. This amounts to the northern portion of the area of the West Bank that Amos Yadlin identified as a target for unilateral withdrawal should negotiations fail, but it is substantially less than the eventual target of 85 per cent of the West Bank he set. Asher Susser, in 2012, proposed a 60-70 per cent withdrawal from the West Bank. Starting in the north, the issue is how far to the east and the south one chooses to go in stage one. The eastern boundary in the north could extend as far as the Palestinian town of Bala.
Between Nablus and Ramallah, a series of settlements cut through the centre of existing Palestinian areas . A realistic Palestinian state would require their elimination. There are also approximately 30 outposts with a total estimated population of about 4,000 to be dealt with in the area. Evacuating 24,000 or more people in both very well established settlements and illegal outposts will not be easy. Thus the first phase of a unilateral withdrawal would likely have to make Nablus its southern border. The Jenin to Nablus withdrawal could be carried out without evacuating any settlements, thereby leaving the government with a more limited political problem to confront. If that first withdrawal worked well and helped build trust, the more challenging withdrawal from the area between Nablus and Ramallah might follow. It might be possible to work further south in stages; general negotiations could be reopened at any point. Even a Netanyahu coalition, as I suggested, may need options to reduce West Bank unrest and international opposition.
Yadlin prefers to call this a ‘coordinated’ withdrawal, echoing Susser’s ‘coordinated unilateralism’ in his 2012 BICOM interview and Foreign Policy Research Institute essay, both to distinguish it from the pure unilateralism of Ariel Sharon’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza and to foreground the key components he recommended, which would include beginning both with a public Israeli offer of a comprehensive solution and with coordination with other countries to secure increased legitimacy and build trust. The final status offer to be made public, an event that likely awaits a future Israeli government, would embody the key concessions each side would have to make. Israel would (1) explicitly abandon all ambitions to establish a Greater Israel encompassing the West Bank; (2) commit itself to accepting a modified version of the pre-1967 borders; and (3) agree to the division of Jerusalem with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. The Palestinians would (1) specify that a final status agreement would settle all issues and end the conflict; (2) recognise Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people and agree that the right of return for Palestinian refugees would be limited to returning to a Palestinian state; and (3) accept a form of sovereignty consistent with restrictions to guarantee Israel’s security. This last consideration will require a considerable international educational effort if it is to win broad understanding and acceptance.
One might clarify the Palestinian concessions by pointing out, first, that acknowledgement of Israel as a homeland of the Jews is not the same as declaring Israel to be a theocracy or possessing a state religion – it simply recognises a historical fact. Combined with recognition of Israel’s borders and the country’s democratic status, it effectively concedes that the Jewish majority has the key role in shaping the country’s future. It is also important that Israel acknowledge the catastrophic character of the Nakba and support the principle of financial compensation for those who lost property. Israel could also accept the return of a limited number of refugees with a family member who actually resided there in 1948 and is now an Israeli citizen. If a partial withdrawal were executed in the light of these commitments, it would make it clear that Palestinians could gain more land and establish their East Jerusalem capital through a final status agreement. Meanwhile, as Susser has argued, the result of a partial withdrawal would be better than we have now. The door would continue to be open to renewed negotiations, and the partial withdrawal would leave most settlements in place as significant bargaining chips. There would, however, be no commitment to the return of the Golan Heights.
Creating a two-state dynamic: Palestinian Nation-Building
The inability of one side or the other to agree to the controversial but essential six principles above has played a major role in the failure of previous negotiations. Focusing instead on an interim partial West Bank withdrawal allows us to discuss making progress and bringing explicit benefits to the Palestinians. Thus, the viability of a Palestinian territory created by combining selective Areas A, B, and C would be enhanced by the fact that it would create significant possibilities for development. Small sized West Bank cities of 20,000 to 40,000 people are often started on a hilltop, spreading down its sides. There are many such potential locations in the West Bank. The model Palestinian city of Rawabi, located 9 kilometres north of Ramallah and designed for 25,000 or more residents, has already been partially built, largely with funds from Qatar. For two years, it awaited its water rights from Israel or from the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee for its first apartments to be filled, rights that should have been granted immediately. Installation of the last small segment of water pipe was finally approved in March 2015. It would have been great to have seen resolutions from around the world throughout 2014 demanding that Rawabi get its water.
In the model very roughly sketched here, Israel would retain its buffer zone to the north as a security guarantee, but would cede control of the roads crossing the area to the PA so as to create a substantial contiguous territory that could anchor a fledgling Palestinian state. The fate of the few settlements in the area would partly determine the exact boundaries. Ideally, a narrow agreement specifying that the area would be demilitarised would be negotiated, but that could be achieved by Israeli declaration if necessary.
The Jordan Valley
The other territorial suggestion here is far more speculative and controversial, and it would require a major international commitment to housing, infrastructure, and economic development: the Jordan Valley, an area presently classified as Area C under Israeli control in the terms of the Oslo Agreement. Discussing this option should help lead people to confront Israel’s security needs, a subject critics of Israel often dismiss out of hand. Depending on how far south the targeted area goes – one could anchor this segment in Jericho – one is basically looking at about 20 very small existing Jewish settlements with a total population of about 6,500 to be dismantled. Those in the far north are larger – as large as 400-500 people – and tend to be more religious and nationalistic in character; the rest are secular, but with an ideological cast. The Jewish settlements, running north to south, with their approximate populations as of 2011 in parenthesis afterwards, are: Mechola (400), Shadmot Mehola (500), Maskiyot (60), Rotem (100), Chemdat (178), Roi (157), Bqaot (162), Argaman (169), Masua (141), Yafit (107), Petzael (214), Tomer (234), Netiv Hagdud (186), Niran (54), Yitav (139), Naama (100), Mitzpeh Yericho (1,851), Vered Yericho (196), Beit Haarava (120), Almog (170), Kalia (306). The residents perennially complain of being neglected and at least some suggest they would be willing to leave if decently compensated.
Though there are scattered Palestinian villages, the Jordan Valley is much less developed and amounts to something like a blank slate for developing a segment of a potential Palestinian state. It would be an opportunity to construct ideal communities somewhat like Rawabi – though Rawabi is also a project in social engineering, since it was designed for high-tech nuclear families and thus intended to break with the Arab pattern of extended families living together. The Jordan Valley thought experiment could not succeed without major foreign investment. It is notable that Qatar expects to make a profit from Rawabi, so not every West Bank home built needs to be a gift.
Israeli discussions of security considerations in the Jordan Valley go two very different ways. Some argue that the long-running peace with Jordan means Israel no longer needs a military presence along that border. They point to regional threats to Jordan that add to the need for continued cooperation with Israel. Others, to the contrary, point out that Jordan’s large Palestinian population gives the country long-term potential for political transformation and instability, and the presence of a Palestinian state on that border throws additional uncertainty into the mix. As Dore Gold – Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former President of the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs – has pointed out, the risk of a large scale military incursion is far lower than the potential for weapons crossing the border, though he also emphasises that the strategic situation can change.
One may recall that, in the period immediately following the 1967 war, Israel perceived its security needs very differently, thinking that the risk was of a full-scale military invasion from the east. At that point, Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Alon drafted what is known as the Alon Plan, in which Israel would retain a full third of the West Bank in the form of a 10-15 kilometre wide area running along the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. That would provide for an extensive swath of settlements and military installations to the east, rather than the heavy settlement development to the west that actually came to pass over time. The western two thirds of the West Bank would have been an autonomous Palestinian area. When that was rejected, Alon proposed returning that territory to Jordan, along with a corridor linking it to Jordan proper. Israel would get its east/west corridor as well. In contrast, the narrow Jordan River security corridor suggested above would have no Israeli settlements. The question for Israelis to decide on is whether that would provide sufficient protection against both possible contemporary threats – weapons smuggling and a transformed Jordan.
Both arguments about potential risk have merit. None of us can guarantee anything about the future of the Middle East. Recall that Israel was at one point willing to return the Golan Heights to Syria in exchange for a peace treaty. If Israel had done so, who would be ensconced there now? If you were to cede the Golan Heights tomorrow, to whom would you cede it? Regarding the Jordan Valley, however, one can point out two things: that a unilateral withdrawal could leave the Israelis with the option of retaining control over a buffer zone sufficient to interdict weapons, since preventing smuggling across the Jordan River would require less territory than repelling a full-scale ground invasion; and, again, that the present West Bank arrangement is unsustainable.
Israel’s Arab citizens
Meanwhile, unless Israel makes more rapid progress in meeting the quite reasonable demands among its Arab citizens for better educational and employment opportunities and better infrastructure in Arab communities, tensions with those communities will increase and support for coordinated unilateralism will be undermined. None of the Arab citizens of Israel I met or listened to as part of a Brandeis University study tour in 2014 – among them journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, activist and journalist Nazier Magally, and activist and prospective Knesset member Nabila Espanioly – want to live in a Palestinian state, let alone some nightmare caliphate, but they are quite justly impatient with the pace at which discrimination against them in Israel is being ameliorated, and they are alienated by anti-Arab sentiment from Israel’s far right. Yet they see the lack of freedom in the surrounding countries, and they do not wish it on themselves. There are professions, like medicine and higher education, in which Arab Israelis have done quite well and have relative equality, but the overall economic conditions for their communities are unacceptable. That, in turn, makes them more politically restless and more identified with their West Bank brothers and sisters. The statistic Nabila Espanioly cited – that Israeli Arabs constitute 20 per cent of the population but 50 per cent of those living in poverty – needs to be addressed with a timetable to cut the poverty level by half.
I have not met any West Bank Arabs, meanwhile, who do not feel deep resentment and anger at Israel. Their desire for nationhood is intense and deeply rooted. Few who are not stateless themselves can understand the psychological consequences. Meanwhile, the psychological cost among young IDF soldiers who do West Bank service is considerable. It seems that the experience is always psychologically and politically transformative. Some West Bank IDF veterans find their hearts hardened toward Palestinians, while many others migrate to the Left, adopt the terminology of occupation, and urge either a rapid settlement of the issues or unilateral withdrawal. The idea that the West Bank can stabilise in its present configuration is fanciful.
Deep Mutual Recognition
But if we want to think fairly and realistically about this intractable political problem, we have to realise that both the Israeli and the Palestinian narratives have a core of truth. Both Jews and Arabs have long histories with Palestine; it is useless to seek to give one people’s history priority. The Nakba was a tragedy, whether or not some Arabs fled out of fear, some were forced out, or others left because they were encouraged to leave by neighbouring Arab states. The failure of the surrounding Arab states to integrate the Arab exiles of 1948 and their determination to use the refugees as a political weapon against Israel has helped create a Palestinian people who might otherwise not have sought separate nationhood. But there is no going back, no undoing the consequences of 75 years of history.
Despite Israel’s military strength, the vulnerability some of its citizens feel is real. Try living in Sderot, within sight of Gaza, where thousands of rockets have landed over the last decade. You have 15 seconds to get to a shelter when the warning siren sounds. More than 1,000 Israelis were killed in suicide bombings before the security barrier was built; their names are inscribed in the hearts of millions of others. Indifference to Palestinian suffering is callous and inhumane, but so too is dismissal of the tensions and threats Israelis face. Concern about rockets landing on Ben Gurion airport is perfectly rational, even though Asher Susser, an Israeli scholar I admire, likes to quip that ‘Herzl did not urge us to establish an airport.’ A modern state cannot function without air travel and commerce. The military response to successful targeting of Ben Gurion would have to be overwhelming. The risk is already there in the form of long range rockets from Hezbollah, but anyone who asks Israelis to take on that risk from the West Bank as well needs to be realistic about the potential consequences. I met a highly educated Palestinian in Ramallah, a one-state advocate, who pointed out that, when Arabs look comprehensively at the map of the Middle East, they see Arab regimes everywhere except in Palestine. Why, he asked, should we alone suffer the presence of a non-Arab Jewish state in our homeland? Such sentiments give reason to take Israeli concerns for security very seriously. Israeli concern that the West Bank does not become another Gaza is not unwarranted. This paper has only begun to address the security question, though the areas from which Israel might withdraw could be constituted so as to lack the land, sea, and underground access for weapons smuggling that Gaza has possessed at various times. Israeli territory patrolled by the IDF would surround the two areas discussed above. Indeed, Israel could continue to provide an appropriate buffer zone if the prospective Palestinian state were extended somewhat to the west and the south. Amos Yadlin’s 85 per cent eventual coordinated withdrawal zone also provides comparable Israeli territorial buffers secured by the IDF. Only a comprehensive agreement could enlarge the Palestinian state beyond that.
Nonetheless, every possible solution to the conflict is a wager. There are no guarantees. There is risk at every turn. We gain nothing by postures that deny or minimise those risks. The risk is partly embodied in those on each side who reject compromise. If you meet the right fanatical Israeli settler or the right Palestinian zealot, full of hate, you will justly wonder whether peace has any chance. If you read the Hamas charter, you can conclude it does not. The only hope is that those who wish the death of those they see as their opponents can gradually be marginalised by events. Meanwhile, those who are prone to violence need to be monitored and controlled. The murders on both sides that led up to the summer 2014 war are telling indication that single acts of violence embodying a hostile ideology can have catastrophic consequences in Palestine. It will be politically difficult for Israel to subject its violent Right to more thoroughgoing surveillance, but the kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian child in July 2014 proves it is necessary. Neither side can expect the other to succeed in constraining its own radical elements unless both sides do so. If both peoples are convinced that their police reliably interdict violent plots and public incitements to violence have been suppressed, then a rogue plan that succeeds has some chance to be viewed as rogue, rather than as an expression of popular will. With absent sufficient policing, however, peace efforts will forever remain hostage to events outside any control negotiators can exercise.
There are many groups across the world that discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in terms of such very specific options as those briefly sketched here. People should discuss other alternatives as well. The focus on coordinated withdrawal from limited portions of the West Bank is intended both as a way of improving the current situation by giving Palestinians a greater level of control over their lives and as a means of building enough trust for negotiations over a final stage agreement to commence. The endnotes here provide links to a variety of maps detailing proposals for such an agreement. Whether people find these exact proposals persuasive, however, is less important than that we begin talking about and promoting options like them.
*My thanks to Pnina Sharvit Baruch, Ernst Benjamin, Mitchell Cohen, Steven M. Cohen, Peter Eisenstadt, Sam Fleischacker, Amos Goldberg, Bethamie Horowitz, Sharon Musher, Alvin Rosenfeld, Kenneth Stern, Kenneth Walzer, Avi Weinryb, Jeff Weintraub, Elhanan Yakira, Alexander Yacobson, and Steven J. Zipperstein for comments on earlier drafts of this paper. Of course that does not imply their agreement with the arguments I make. I would also like to thank Alan Craig, Shay Rabineau, Brent E. Sasley, Robert Saunders, and Ilan Troen for their recommendations about sources to consult. A condensed version of this essay was presented as a lecture at Hunter College, Brooklyn College, Baruch College, the College of Staten Island, and the Bronfman Center at New York University in February 2015. I thank audience members whose comments have also enriched the paper. I have also benefited from many months of discussions on the Alliance for Academic Freedom/Scholars for Israel and Palestine (AAF/SIP) listserve.
 Asher Susser, ‘The Two-State Solution: Getting From Here to There,’ Foreign Policy Research Institute E-Notes (October 2012, available online at http://www.fpri.org/docs/media/Susser_-_Two_State_Solution.pdf.
 For an analysis of the campus environment for discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, see the fourth chapter in my No University Is an Island: Saving Academic Freedom (New York: New York University Press, 2010). The environment has become more hostile since then. Also see Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm, eds. The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel (Chicago and New York: MLA Members for Scholars’ Rights, 2015).
 See, for example, Scott Jaschik, “A Moderate MLA,” Inside Higher Education (31 December 2007), available online at https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/12/31/mla.
 For a history of the bi-national concept, see Rachel Fish, ‘The Bi-nationalist Fantasy Within Academia’ in Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm, eds. The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, pp. 365-374. The most recent polemic in support of a one-state solution – by an Israeli journalist – is Caroline B. Glick’s The Israeli Solution (New York: Crown Forum, 2014). For a critique of the one state solution see Benny Morris, One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009). For earlier efforts to float unilateral withdrawal, see Shlomo Cesana, Yoav Limor, and Associated Press, ‘Barak Floats Unilateral Withdrawal from Judea and Samaria,’ Israel Hayom, 24 September 2012; See also ‘Reassessment of Israeli-Palestinian Political Process: Build a Palestinian State in the West Bank,’ Reut Institute, 5 May 2009; ‘Israel Should Withdraw Unilaterally: Asher Susser interviewed by Toby Greene,’ BICOM, 17 July 2012, available online at http://static.bicom.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/120712_susser_upoad-II.pdf. As Toby Greene points out in a later piece, support for consideration of a graduated unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank has grown as advocacy for a one-state solution escalates. He argues persuasively that the diplomatic benefit from commitment to a graduated unilateral withdrawal depends in part on how the process is communicated internationally. See his ‘Can Disengagement Secure Legitimacy?: The European Angle’ Strategic Assessment 16:4 (January 2014), 47-60.
 See Naftali Bennett, ‘For Israel, Two-State Is No Solution,’ New York Times (November 5, 2014), available online at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/06/opinion/naftali-bennett-for-israel-two-state-is-no-solution.html?_r=0. Also see his ‘A New Plan for Peace in Palestine,’ The Wall Street Journal (May 20, 2014), available online at http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304081804579559432394067704. For a dramatic presentation of Bennett’s plan, accompanied with vivid maps, see his ‘The Israeli Security Initiative: A Practical Program for Managing the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,’ available online at http://www.myisrael.org.il/action/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Stability-Plan-EN-Final.pdf. In his proposal there is no Palestinian state, merely disconnected fragments under overall Israeli military control. Palestinians would gain economic investment and greater physical mobility but have no real capacity for political self-determination. Moreover, there would be no right for Palestinian refugees to return, not even to the West Bank. Bennett’s plan, unsurprisingly, is not the only West Bank proposal to come from the Israeli right. Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of party Yisrael Beiteinu, first proposed his ‘Populated Area Exchange Plan’ in 2004. Aimed at ensuring ethnic homogeneity for both Israel and a Palestinian state, it takes the extraordinary step of transferring not only a significant portion of Israel’s Galilee region to a Palestinian state but also the Israeli Arab citizens living there. This would constitute a blatant violation of both Israeli and international law. Lieberman would, however, abandon Jewish settlements deep inside the West Bank. See Timothy Waters, ‘The Blessing of Departure: Acceptable and Unacceptable State Support for Demographic Transformation: The Lieberman Plan to Exchange Populated Territories in Cisjordan’ (Law & Ethics of Human Rights, 2008), available online at http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1020&context=facpub.
 The survey was conducted by The Washington Institute. An online summary is available at http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/new-palestinian-poll-shows-hardline-views-but-some-pragmatism-too. It showed that 55 per cent in the West Bank and 68 per cent in Gaza believe the goal should be to reclaim ’all of historic Palestine, from the river to the sea,’ but a majority preferred popular resistance rather than violence. A slide show of some of the data is available online at http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/uploads/Documents/other/PalestinianPollingReport_June2014.pdf.
 See Yehuda Ben Meir and Olena Bagno-Moldavsky, The Voice of the People: Israeli Public Opinion on National Security 2012 (Tel Aviv: Institute for National Security Studies, 2013). There remains hope that Israelis will choose demography over geography when they confront the one state/two states choice.
 Isabel Kershner, ’Academic Study Weakens Israeli Claim The Palestinian School Texts Teach Hate,’ New York Times (3 February 2013), available online at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/04/world/middleeast/study-belies-israeli-claim-of-hate-in-palestinian-texts.html?_r=0.
 See Raphael Cohen and Gabriel Scheinmann, ‘The Grim Lessons of “Protective Edge”’ The American Interest (31 August 2014), available online at http://www.the-american-interest.com/2014/08/31/the-grim-lessons-of-protective-edge/, and Yaakov Lappin, Yonah Jeremy Bob, and Tovah Lazaroff, ‘Ya’alon: We can apply lessons from Protective Edge to other arenas,’ The Jerusalem Post (30 September 2014), available online at http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Yaalon-tells-defense-conference-that-Hamas-did-not-intend-to-launch-war-376654. For an ambitious analysis of the issues, see Anat Kurz and Shlomo Brom, eds. The Lessons of Operation Protective Edge (Tel Aviv: Institute for National Security Studies, 2014).
 At the 2015 annual J-Street conference, Peter Beinart suggested that concerned activists from other countries might join nonviolent West Bank protests. That is worth serious consideration, but it is important to note that assuring nonviolence would require advance notification and cooperation with both the IDF and that PA. Even in the US, police can be antagonistic when confronted with civil disobedience that is not coordinated with them in advance. The challenges in the West Bank are still greater, since radical elements among both peoples would need to assure nonviolence.
 Steven Salaita, Israel’s Dead Soul (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2011), p. 10.
 In The Palestinian Hamas: Vision, Violence, and Coexistence (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000) Shaul Mishal and Avraham Sela argue that, ‘Although it is doubtful that Hamas will revise its ultimate goal and its public attitude toward Israel, it may find that it can accept a workable formula of coexistence with Israel in place of armed struggle’ (ix). They remind us of the community services Hamas provides and describe it as a complex, divided organization. Their view does not really survive the experience of July 2014, during which Hamas treated its own civilians as expendable. If Hamas wanted to give Gazans a taste of peace, it could declare and honour a demilitarised zone along the Mediterranean and encourage economic development there.
 See Richard Landes, ‘Fatal Attraction: The Shared Antichrist of the Global Progressive Left and Jihad,’ in Nelson and Brahm, eds. The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, pp. 293-310. Also see Jacob Lassner and Ilan Tron, Jews and Muslims in the Arab World: Haunted by Pasts Real and Imagined (New York: Rowan & Littlefield, 2007).
 Campus debates are often dispiriting because the politicisation of humanities and soft social science disciplines has reached the point where entire areas of necessary rational reflection have become no-man zones, topics that many will simply not engage. See Sabah A. Salih, ‘Islam, BDS, and the West,’ in Nelson and Brahm, eds. The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, pp. 141-155, for an account of the politicization of the humanities. Also see Heather Rogers, ‘Holding Our Tongues: Why aren’t more non-Muslim feminists decrying violence against women in Muslim-majority countries?’ Tablet (4 March 2015), available online at http://tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/189292/holding-ourtongues
 See Todd Gitlin, ‘BDS and the Politics of ‘Radical’ Gestures,’ Tablet (27 October 2014), available online at http://tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/186468/bds-politics-radical-gestures.
 Although some on the Israeli right reject the concept of land swaps entirely – and others envision a ratio more favourable to Israel than 1:1 – there seems little prospect of getting the Palestinians to agree to the fundamental concessions necessary to a final status agreement if the land swap ratio appears to be demeaning. The infrastructure Israel would be giving to the Palestinians is definitely a bargaining chip, but I do not see the Palestinians trading land for it. At least one dramatic piece of potential infrastructure – a mixed sunken road and underground tunnel linking Gaza and the West Bank (it is just over 22 miles from Targumiya to northern Gaza) – could have substantial weight in negotiations. The S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace has a very clear oral presentation of the land swap issues at http://centerpeace.org/learn/borders/. It is part of a 4-part video series (Borders – Security – Refugees – Jerusalem) that is also available at http://www.theatlantic.com/special-report/is-peace-possible/. The Atlantic also makes printable transcripts of the four presentations available on its site, though without the very helpful charts and graphics that are part of the videos. Also see David Makovsky, ‘Imagining the Border: Options for Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Territorial Issue’ (The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2011), available at http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/uploads/Documents/pubs/StrategicReport06.pdf. The Israeli architectural firm SAYA has a very detailed plan for managing Jerusalem after a final status agreement. ‘The Border Regime for Jerusalem in Peace: An Israeli-Palestinian Proposal’ is focused in part on maximizing tourist income for both parties. It is available online at http://issuu.com/www.sayarch.com/docs/saya_jerusalem_border_regime?e=2112089/3364024. For a critique of current Israeli settlement policy and its impact on the final status of Jerusalem, see Daniel Seidman, ‘Spatial Shaping: Unilaterally Determining Israel’s Base-Line Border’ Terrestrial Jerusalem (February 2013) and ‘”Spatial Shaping”, the Ross Agenda and Proposals for a Partial Settlement Freeze,’ Terrestrial Jerusalem (March 2013), available online at http://t-j.org.il/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=QRDH_lnqzyM%3d&tabid=1508 and http://t-j.org.il/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=hhUfE1PWLA0%3d&tabid=1508. For an earlier debate about land swaps between Israelis and Palestinians, see ‘Land swaps and the two-state solution’ on the bitterlemons website: http://www.bitterlemons.org/previous/bl010210ed49.html.
 As Shaul Arieli has written in ‘What we have learned from the barrier’ (Haaretz, 10 July 2012): ‘We have learned that Israel is in need of a physical barrier between it and the Palestinian territories in any scenario, whether confrontation or negotiated agreement. This need springs from the ongoing threat of terror, of varying levels of intensity, on both sides … A barrier on an agreed border line should be in the Israeli interest, since Israel would then be able to ensure that the border between it and Palestine is relatively porous, enabling the passage of goods, tourists, workers and vehicles. Building the barrier with security needs in mind will make it easier for Israel, when it signs an agreement, to prevent opponents on both sides from interfering with the implementation of a deal through violent acts, mass marches and so forth.’ On the other hand, as points out, ‘We have learned that all the Israeli governments since Sharon’s have been inclined to revise the barrier’s route on the basis of political considerations that take the needs of settlements into account, considerations that are alien to real security needs.’ Available online at http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/what-we-have-learned-from-the-barrier-1.450015.
 Among prospective, as opposed to existing, settlements, none seems more controversial than the proposed plan to build in the E-1 area or corridor between Jerusalem and the large settlement of Maaleh Adumim to its east. If construction does not continue farther to the east beyond Maaleh Adumim, then E-1 development would not divide the West Bank in two and block establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state. A Palestinian state could still control the 12 miles between Maaleh Adumim and the Jordan River. Concerned about Palestinian construction in the E-1 area and about the potential for Maaleh Adumim to become a permanently isolated enclave, and wanting to secure sufficient strategic depth on the eastern border of its capital, the Israelis have repeatedly announced plans to build in the E-1 area; international opposition has led them to desist. Both Palestinians and Israelis are interested in creating immutable facts on the ground by building in the area. The Palestinians are concerned about access to their own future East Jerusalem capital, which E-1 construction could make more time consuming, and see all construction in the Jerusalem area as a threat. Ideally, neither party would build in E-1 for now, instead waiting for negotiations to settle its status. A Google search on ‘E-1 West Bank’ will turn up a variety of position papers and historical accounts. See, for example, Nadav Shragai, ‘Understanding Israeli Interests in the E-1 Area: Contiguity, Security, and Jerusalem,’ Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (2015), available online at http://jcpa.org/understanding-israeli-interests-in-the-e1-area/. Ramallah-based Palestine Monitor (http://palestinemonitor.org/details.php?id=o3vocpa267yoe3465r87) regularly reports on E-1 and other issues confronting Palestinians. For a concise summary of the Palestinian perspective, see Atif Shamim Syed, ‘Israel’s E1 Plan and Its Implications,’ The Palestine Chronicle (22 December 2012), available online at http://www.palestinechronicle.com/israels-e1-plan-and-its-practical-implications/.
 See Breaking the Silence: Soldiers’ Testimonies From Hebron, 2005-2007 (Jerusalem: Breaking the Silence, 2008) for accounts of IDF service in Hebron. In December 2014 I spent a day in Hebron with Avner Gvaryahu, an IDF veteran who is now Breaking the Silence’s Director of Public Outreach.
 See Yossi Klein Halevi, Like Dreamers:The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation (New York: HarperCollins, 2013) for a portrait of the settlers who returned to Hebron after the 1967 war. There are several full-length documentaries and numerous brief video segments about Hebron on Youtube.
 There are many articles about the status of Shuhada Street. See, for example, David Shulman, ‘Hope in Hebron,’ New York Review of Books (22 March 2013): ‘Those who still live on Shuhada Street can’t enter their own homes from the street. Some use the rooftops to go in and out, climbing from one roof to another before issuing into adjacent homes or alleys. Some have cut gaping holes in the walls connecting their homes to other (often deserted) houses and thus pass through these buildings until they can exit into a lane outside or up a flight of stairs to a passageway on top of the old casba market.’ Available online at https://web.archive.org/web/20130323220130/http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2013/mar/22/hope-hebron/. The sixth annual ‘Open Shuhada Street‘ demonstration took place in Hebron on 27 February 2015. There are over 20 ‘Open Shuhada Street’ demonstration videos on Youtube.
 The experience of relying completely on the PA to protect a religious site is not confidence inspiring. Consider the wholesale trashing of the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus.
 For a useful map that shows the settlements in Hebron, see Humanitarian Atlas, issued in 2011 by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and available online at http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_humaitarian_atlas_dec_2011_full_resolution.pdf. It includes detailed maps for a number of West Bank areas. Shaul Arieli maintains a very useful series of maps on his website: http://www.shaularieli.com/?lat=en. There, for example, one can see maps detailing the Israeli and Palestinian proposals that grew out of the 2007 Annapolis Conference attended by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and US President George W. Bush.
 Asher Susser, ‘The Two-State Solution: Getting From Here to There.’ For a concise summary of the principle of ‘coordinated unilateralism,’ along with accounts of key Israelis supporting it, see Alan Johnson, ‘Idealism Without Illusion: Should “Coordinated Unilateralism” Replace the Peace Process?’ World Affairs (2 March 2012), available online at http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/alan-johnson/should-‘coordinated-unilateralism’-replace-peace-process. Also see ‘Head to Head: Moshe Arens and Ami Ayalon discuss coordinated unilateralism,’ Fathom (Winter 2013), available online at https://fathomjournal.org/head-to-head-moshe-arens-and-ami-ayalon-discuss-coordinated-unilateralism/. A recent and quite ambitious study – The Costs of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation, 2015) – estimates that Israel will not derive significant economic benefit from either coordinated or uncoordinated withdrawal from the West Bank. On the other hand, Rand sees substantial economic benefit to both Israelis and Palestinians from a fully realised two-state solution. Of course coordinated unilateralism is not ideally intended as an end in itself but rather a route to a two-state solution, in which case the economic benefits would be achievable. Notably, however, the Rand report does not envision Israel’s overall security expenditures declining under any scenario. It also adds that the economic costs of a new violent uprising would be considerable. Finally, readers will want to consult the concise 2012 white paper on coordinated unilateralism, “A New Paradigm for the Israeli-Palestinian Political Process,” on the web site of Blue White Future, a group founded by Ami Ayalon, available online at http://bluewhitefuture.org/the-new-paradigm-2012/.
 There are a considerable number of maps of the West Bank available online, though many of them are too small for those unfamiliar with the area to use effectively. I recommend the map available on the Peace Now website. Note that several Jewish settlements in the north central West Bank – Kadim, Ganim, Sa-nur, and Homesh – were abandoned and the settlers evicted as part of the August 2005 withdrawal that included Gaza. The settler movement, however, has not given up interest in returning. See, for example, ‘Settler leaders vow to rebuild West Bank settlement of Homesh,’ The Jerusalem Post (16 January 2014), available online at http://www.jpost.com/National-News/Settler-leaders-vow-to-rebuild-West-Bank-settlement-of-Homesh-338347. It should be entirely impossible for settlers to return once a prototype Palestinian state is established. For a remarkable set of maps that begins with ancient near east empires and proceeds to the contemporary world see Max Fisher, ‘40 maps that explain the Middle East,’ available online at http://www.vox.com/a/maps-explain-the-middle-east?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=voxdotcom&utm_content=thursday.
 See Herb Keinon, ‘Yadlin: Israel should consider ‘coordinated unilateral’ action if peace talks fail,’ The Jerusalem Post (27 January 2014), available online at http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Yadlin-Israel-should-consider-coordinated-unilateral-action-if-peace-talks-fail-339493, for a preliminary version of Yadlin’s plan. He presented it in a full lecture at a 29 June 2014, symposium – ‘In the Absence of Progress toward a Final Status Agreement: Options for Israel’ – sponsored by The Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. A simultaneous English translation of Yadlin’s presentation and numerous responses are available online in video format at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCapdZwzDpNnYultApPpGDjy-OGwGGOFT. Yadlin’s presentation is the third one on the list, titled ‘An alternative option for Israel, “Plan B.”’ As of the end of February 2015, it had received only 550 views, some of which are no doubt repeat visits to the site. That is not a hopeful indication of international interest in these matters.
 Running north to south, the outposts (with Peace Now’s population estimates as of 2011) include Skall’s Farm (35), Bracha A (40), Sneh Ya’akov (100), Shalhevet Farm (120), Lehavat Yitzhar (40), Hill 725 (40), Mizpe Yitzhar (40), Hill 851 (100), Hill 782 (120) Hill 836 (20), Hill 777 (70), Gva’ot Olam (30), Tapuah West (50), Rechelim (240), Hotel Nehemia (100), Pagel Mayim (180), Nof Harim (160), Hayovel (150), Givat Harel (180), Shvut Rachel (400), Es Kodesh (80), Ahiya (130), Haroch (80), Kida (200), Adel Ad (150). Ofra North East (60), Amona (200), Jabel Artis (100), Beit El East (50), Givat Assaf (80), and Mizpe ha’al (90). There are a few additional outposts for which I do not have population figures.
 A second phase withdrawal could extend from Nablus to Ramallah. That would require evacuation of numerous settlements and outposts. Negotiations over Ariel’s status, however, might be postponed, leaving it contained within a finger of Israeli territory extending from the west. From Bethlehem through Hebron to the far south is yet another target for withdrawal.
 It is possible of course that the Palestinians might refuse to cooperate. Susser thinks otherwise: ‘it will be very difficult for Palestinians to resists an Israeli withdrawal. If Israelis decide to withdraw from 60 to 70 per cent of the West Bank, are the Palestinians going to ask the Israelis to remain? Probably not. It’s true that the Palestinians, in principle, have resisted a negotiation on an interim settlement. But I am not talking about a negotiation’ (p4).
 When I visited Rawabi in July 2014 as a member of a faculty study tour organised by Brandeis University’s Shusterman Center for Israel Studies, the project’s administrator, Palestinian businessman Bashar al-Masri, was asked what level of cooperation and assistance he’d had from either Israel or the Palestinian Authority. His answer: ‘Zero from the Israelis, zero from the Palestinian Authority.’ He emphasized the need for water rights from the Israelis and complained that the PA collected taxes and returned nothing. See Avi Issacharoff, ’Waterless, the first planned Palestinian city sits empty,’ The Times of Israel (20 February 2015) for an analysis of the political manoeuvring that stalled Rawabi’s opening to occupancy. Available online at http://www.timesofisrael.com/waterless-the-first-planned-palestinian-city-sits-empty/.
 See Dore Gold, ’Kerry and the struggle over the Jordan Valley,’ Israel Hayom (5 July 2013). Available online at http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=4877. Also see Shaul Arieli, ’A security plan for the Jordan Valley,’ The Jerusalem Report (27 January 2014), available online at http://sfile.f-static.com/image/users/77951/ftp/my_files/arieli.pdf?id=14283478.
For a convenient online map of the revised version of the Allon Plan see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allon_Plan.
 Toameh, Magally, and Espanioly all talked to faculty members on a study tour organized by Brandeis University’s Schusterman Center for Israel Studies in July 2014. I also talked privately with Toameh.
 For accounts of IDF soldiers’ experience, see Our Harsh Logic: Israeli Soldiers’ Testimonies From The Occupied Territories 2000-2010 (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2012).
 For an online copy of the 1988 Hamas Charter, see http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/www.thejerusalemfund.org/carryover/documents/charter.html?chocaid=397.
Informative but totally removed from political reality. The right in Israel will neither work to implement the two state solution nor try to dislodge 25,000 Jewish families from the West Bank as would be required. The left in Israel, if back in power would not be capable of implementing a withdrawal, unilateral or otherwise and the Palestinians are similarly incapable of getting their act together. The 2 state solution, for all intents and purposes is irrelevant. What has the most chances of success is a modified one-state solution: Israel and the Palestinians of the West Bank in a federal state and Gaza as a separate state. That would leave a solid Jewish majority in a federal Israel and Palestinians with full Israeli citizenship and equal rights.
I disagree with all or most of your assumptions. Palestinian Arabs are not free to choose. If given the choice they would happily sell any rights to any land they have and move elsewhere or become Israeli citizens and stay where they are. The last thing they want is the PA. (I probably say good morning to more Palestinian Arabs than you do. ) The Jews don’t particularly want more Arab citizens in Israel but under better and different circumstances they may be convinced.
You are so quick to “eiiminate settlements”. Why? The more settlements in Palestine the better Palestine will be. Why not leave the settlements alone? make an open border, take down the fence and just live in peace.
The last 22 years taught Israelis that security should always come before peace, and not vice versa. Add to that the problematic topography of Israel and its surroundings, and the fact that according to recent polls, 24% of the Palestinians support or see ISIS positively.
Therefore, I support a unilateral solution, but instead of Israeli unilateral withdrawals, I believe a better solution would be Israeli annexations of the main settlement blocs and all areas essential for Israel’s security. Israel should ensure the security of the next generations of Israelis by setting a new secure borders. The few Palestinians living in the annexed areas, will be eligible to get a full Israeli citizenship. The remaining Palestinians living in the Palestinian autonomy are not prepared yet for peace and for their own state. To prepare them, Israel and the main international players who have influence on the Palestinians, should ensure that Palestinian schools will stop calling to the annihilation of the Jewish state, stop glorifying war and martyrdom and stop the hate, and instead, prepare the Palestinian children to peace and coexistence with the Jewish state. Palestinian TV, and Palestinian leaders should too, call for peace and coexistence with the Jewish state, stop glorifying murder of innocent Israeli citizens, stop inciting the Arab citizens of Israel against Israel. When Palestinian society will be ready for real peace and for their own state, (and it will probably take at least a decade or two of education for peace to prepare them), only then, a Palestinian state could be established.
I applaud this laudable effort to stimulate new lines of discussion during this depressing period when virtually all peace efforts seem to be stuck. Professor Nelson has drawn thoughtfully on a number of suggestions put forward by Israeli analysts and woven them into a coherent account of how incremental progress might be attempted in the absence of any imminent prospect for a comprehensive peace. To be sure, there is little indication that the existing Israeli government will be hospitable to this proposal, and the Palestinian Authority will rightly be skeptical of depending on the Netanyahu Administration to take the painful and politically difficult steps outlined here. But in the Middle East, some things stay the same (temporary steps are often the most permanent), and others can change quite unpredictably. Conditions may well evolve in which prospects for constructive movement are more promising than they seem today. It is indeed time to begin discussing a range of possibilities that might bear fruit in the indefinite future, and Professor Nelson does an excellent job of initiating those conversations.