In September the United Nations General Assembly will convene in New York. It is widely anticipated that the Palestinian Arab leadership will unilaterally push for the declaration of a state, seeking approval and diplomatic acceptance from among the gathered representatives.
It is unlikely that this initiative, that would essentially amount to an effort to seize control of the West Bank, will materialize. However if it did, it could cause a great deal of concern for Israel. Now consider for a moment what the implications would be if at the very same time, a movement to declare a second Jewish state in Judea and Samaria was gathering pace.
Sounds farfetched? Maybe, but the idea is not my own. Political activists in Israel and around the world have begun to debate the merits of this concept, and as interest grows, the embryo of a movement may begin to be taking shape. The residents of cities, villages, towns and outposts throughout Judea and Samaria have often borne the brunt of Arab aggression, and their future is constantly subject to political whims. Israeli civil law does not apply to residents of these areas and the ability for communities to defend themselves is restricted.
The recent brutal and barbaric Itamar slaughter underscored the kind of threats that these communities need to take into account. Following Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit of consolation to the Fogel family, the following comments by their oldest daughter Tamar gives an indication of how isolated many Jewish West Bank residents feel.
“The prime minister said, “They murder us and they try to…and we build. We build. We build. We…just continue on.” So I told him, “And then afterwards you expel people (from their homes).” She continued, “And during the expulsions, it’s not just expelling people from their homes; there is also a war between brothers going on.”
As communities feel more isolated, movements that call for Judean independence may begin to gather more steam. The argument, although not unflawed, is in many ways quite sound. First of all, as many Israel advocates are fond of mentioning, there are a number of Arab states and only one Jewish State. So why not establish a second?
According to most in the international community, Israeli control-and certainly inhabitance-of the West Bank, is illegal and Arabs refer to the land as ‘occupied’ territory. Even to those observers that defer minimally to the laws of impartiality, the area is referred to as ‘disputed.’ If Israel were to cede control of the areas to a new entity, governed by the local Jewish inhabitants who have an extensive historical connection to the land, what grounds for reckoning would be left? Israel would no longer be involved, as the dispute would now be between the West Bank Jews and the West Bank Arabs. After all, historically Jewish sovereignty was divided at times between the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah.
Of course, because of the strategic importance of the area militarily, economically, and agriculturally, Israel would need to maintain an extensive bilateral defense and trade pact with the new entity.
Besides the immediate effects on the ground, the benefits for Israel in the ongoing arena of world opinion could go even further. The precious underdog status that has so expertly been transferred from Israel to the Palestinian Arabs over the last number of years may be assigned to the Judeans as they struggle to build their newly independent Jewish State.
Faced with a new geopolitical reality, and understanding of Jewish fortitude and determination, the local Arab population, maintaining their refugee status, may have more of an incentive to seek resettlement elsewhere in the Arab world. They may finally even be assisted by the international community.
These committed pioneers have settled the Jewish homeland in its entirety and have shouldered the burden of peoplehood and the hardships of actualizing the dream of a Jewish return to Zion. They may yet open up a new frontier in the battle for the Jewish right to self-determination and it may go a long way in reframing the Israel-Arab conversation.