Imagining Israeli-Palestinian Peace

Jerusalem, 2016 As you may be aware, the Government of Israel and its Palestinian partners have come to an agreement concerning the permanent border between Israel and the new Palestinian state. There are several hundred thousand Israeli citizens in areas of the West Bank that will be part of the new Palestine. This memorandum outlines the policy of the Israeli government with respect to those citizens.

In past Israeli withdrawals, from certain areas of Egypt in 1982, and from the Gaza Strip in 2005, the Israeli government forcibly removed Israelis in those territories. This led to unseemly battles between citizens and the army. Such a policy is not feasible with the size of the Israeli population on the West Bank, and is not consonant with our values. It is not, and should not be, the prerogative of the Israeli government to tell its citizens where they may not live. Consequently, it is our policy that those Israeli citizens living in the areas of the West Bank that will be part of the new Palestinian state may return to Israel, or may choose to stay, or may find another country to move to.

Those who choose to return to Israel will be welcomed and aided with the full resources of this government to find new housing and employment. As they leave their former housing on the West Bank, they should leave them clean and in move-in condition to aid the new occupants. Destruction of state property will be prosecuted. Destruction of private property by its owner, while reprehensible and unhelpful, may not be illegal.

Those who choose to stay will be served by diplomatic consulates that will be set up in convenient locations with the agreement of the new Palestinian government. The Israeli Army will not be involved in problem-solving between Israeli citizens who choose to remain and the new Palestinian government, except possibly at the invitation of that government.

There may be a tendency on the part of some to create armed vigilante groups to enforce their views. The Government of Israel deplores and opposes such action. Those who have chosen to remain must remember that they are there as guests of the new Palestinian government. A guest who reaches for a gun is not likely to remain a welcome guest.

In any such large movement of people, there is bound to be confusion, chaos, and, although we hope not, possibly violence. By working closely with our Palestinian partners, we hope to minimize all three.

We believe that this agreement opens the way for a new era in the Holy Land, one based on mutual respect. We hope and believe that peace and prosperity will ensue.

Shalom Salaam