|Land of the Covenant|
|States in the Balance|
|Representation & Taxation|
|Rights of Return|
|A Division of Estates|
|Rights of Passage|
|The Capital Region|
|The Old City|
|Security, Order & Defence|
Word count: 1,996 (2K max.)
I. Land of the Covenant
Imagine two nations conjoined in peace, two peoples bound by blood to Holy Jerusalem (Yerushalayim haKodesh / Urusalim al-Quds), the place so revered by their common patriarch, Abraham (Avraham / Ibrahim).
On the Holy Mount of Jerusalem (Har haBayith / Haram al-Sharif) an angel stayed Abraham’s hand, as G‑d dramatically (and forever) repudiated ritual human sacrifice – a terrible test of one man’s utter devotion to G‑d and a stirring, implied decree to guard against the senseless forfeiture of life.
The foundations of the Arab and Jewish peoples were laid in Jerusalem, where Abraham circumcised himself, his son Ishmael (Yishmael / Ismail), and his son Isaac (Yitzhak / Ishaq).
The destiny of Ishmael would carry him South, to sire the twelve tribes of Arabia. Isaac’s son, Jacob (Ya’acov / Yacoub), also known as Israel, would father twelve tribes (B’nai Yisrael / Bani Israil) and become namesake to both an ancient and a modern Jewish state.
II. States in the Balance
There shall be established in the State of Israel (Medinat Yisrael) and in the new Arab State, a special permanent resident class, endowed of special rights which are irrevocable but renounceable and non-heritable, such that…
- an Arab citizen of Israel could:
• retain his/her Israeli citizenship; or
• claim citizenship in the Arab State, with…
special permanent residency rights in Israel and a
future one-time right to revert to Israeli citizenship
- an Israeli now residing in territory agreed for the Arab State could:
• retain his/her Israeli citizenship and become a
special permanent resident of the Arab State; or
• claim citizenship in the Arab State, with…
a future one-time right to revert to Israeli citizenship with
standard permanent residency rights in the Arab State
This will afford Israel’s Arabs a role in the self-determination of their people, at minimal risk, whilst limiting the need for population exchanges generally and enabling Israel to democratically retain its character as a uniquely Jewish state.
A child born in-country to a special permanent resident of that state would inherit citizenship from his/her parent(s) and, upon attaining age of majority, might opt instead to become a citizen of the state in which s/he was born.
The new Arab State, herein provisionally named Ismail or Dawlat Ismail (State of Ishmael), will enshrine in its founding articles clear guarantees of inalienable secular and religious rights, for its citizens, residents, and guests.
Ismail and Israel will enter into covenants of cooperation and mutual respect, recognising that the children of Ishmael are cousins to Israel.
Each state will vow to serve and defend those under its jurisdiction, irrespective of religion, race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, or creed.
Each state will aver to preserve and protect—without prejudice—every Holy Place and archaeological site under its mandate.
Each state will pledge every effort to facilitate the safe passage of pilgrims, tourists and other visitors between the two states.
Each state will provide public services in both Arabic and Hebrew.
State-funded education programmes will disclose their curricula and material lists to encourage fairness, transparency and accuracy of content.
A citizen of one state who resides—and is health insured—in the other, could freely seek treatment in his/her national homeland.
Men (≥13) and women (≥12) who are Israeli citizens, UNRWA-registered refugees, or legal residents of Jerusalem, the West Bank, or Gaza, will be eligible to vote in a peace referendum.
IV. Generation Ex
Each surviving, UNRWA-registered, 1st-Generation (″G1″) Refugee who has attained age of seniority, regardless of citizenship or residency, shall receive a monthly pension from the State of Israel commensurate with the country’s basic old-age benefit. Immediate implementation strongly urged.
V. Representation & Taxation
National voting by citizenship; municipal/regional balloting by residency.
Income tax revenues from individuals who are citizens of one state, but who are special permanent residents of the other, will be divided equally between the two states, with taxes calculated according to the methods of the state in which the majority of income is earned – or as otherwise agreed.
VI. Rights of Return
G1 Refugees not currently residing in Gaza or the West Bank, but who wish to return there, may do so if they pose no risk to public safety. Israel will continue to set its own policy for the return of its people from the diaspora. All future returnees (Hebrew: olim; Arabic: wa’ilin) will become resident citizens of whichever state repatriates them.
A “returned citizen” established in his/her new homeland for five years could petition for residency in the other state, with the approval of both national governments, and with priority assigned to requests from wa’ilin and olim who resided in present-day Israel, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip, prior to 1948. Humanitarian cases will be expeditiously considered.
VII. Refugee Assistance
Surviving G1 Refugees will receive:
- a sum equal to one month’s old-age benefit per full or partial year of dispossession, as marked from date of displacement to date of agreement;
- plus any back-pension owing, as marked from date of seniority to date of initial pension benefit receipt.
The estates of G1 Refugees deceased on/before date of agreement will receive:
- a sum equal to one month’s old-age benefit per full or partial year of dispossession, as marked from date of displacement to date of death;
- plus any back-pension owing, as marked from date of decedent’s seniority until date of his/her passing.
Unassigned monies will collect in an internationally-overseen Fund to be augmented by gifts from many nations, with Israel matching donations to an agreed level. A portion of the Fund will be set aside to compensate displaced refugees for provable property losses.
Every non-G1 UNRWA Refugee will receive a one-time Grant from the State of Israel equal to eighteen years of Child Benefit payments.
A Treaty on Refugee Rights should be agreed by all regional states.
VIII. A Division of Estates
The Israel-Ismail (West Bank) border will mainly follow the Green Line, with any deviations, land-swaps, leases, and other related considerations to be negotiated.
Though Gaza’s borders are well-attested in the 1949 Armistice Agreement, an expansion of the territory by endowments from Egypt and Israel would reduce Gaza’s population density and enhance the security of all three states.
A Treaty on Water & Mineral Resource Cooperation shall be entered into by Jordan, Ismail, and Israel, building on the work of such regional bodies as the Joint Water Committee and being respectful of traditional resource rights.
The parties shall agree terms governing use of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Maritime boundaries shall be assessed according to international norms.
IX. Rights of Passage
Israel will apportion lands for the creation of one or more road & light rail corridors to facilitate travel between the West Bank and Gaza.
Security of the terminals will be jointly managed by Ismail and Israel, with the intervening distance (in-corridor) secured by Ismail and remotely monitored by Israel. This regime shall be reviewed periodically to improve its efficacy and to eventually obviate the need for Israeli inspection of passengers.
Recognising the critical importance of any such corridors to Ismail’s economy and culture, Israel will minimise delays or closures associated with imminent emergencies. Sovereignty over territory thus apportioned will remain with Israel and commercial goods will be subject to Israeli customs inspection.
A secure transit corridor shall link Hebron’s H-2 district to the Israeli border.
Suitable air traffic arrangements shall be agreed between the parties.
X. The Capital Region
Jerusalem is the national capital of the modern state of Israel and the singular direction of prayer (mizrach / qibla) for Jews worldwide. It has shared in many histories and is a place of pilgrimage for millions annually.
The city is cherished by Christians, Muslims and Jews for its myriad holy sites, including the Western Wall, Al-Aqsa Mosque, Dome of the Rock, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Via Dolorosa, City of David, Mount of Olives, and Gethsemane.
Jerusalem and its nearby communities will constitute the Jerusalem Capital Region and share a network for meeting their combined water, power and waste management needs. A Stewardship Board, half elected by the region’s residents, half appointed by Israel and Ismail, will oversee operation of the system and guide the development of suitable zoning, building and environmental plans.
Ismail’s capital will be established in an eastward expansion of Jerusalem contiguous to the Old City along some measure of its easterly perimeter. The precise determination of this contiguity (and the general configuration of the Capital Region) will be negotiated between the parties, taking into account matters of culture and faith, geography and demographics, as well as concerns related to the land and its waters, and to the preservation of peace upon them.
There will be a city council and mayoralty office for each side of the border.
The official work week in the Capital Region will be four days, Monday through Thursday, with government offices closed Friday through Sunday.
XI. The Old City (less than 1 km² of land)
Rising above Jerusalem’s Holy Basin, the Old City, with its hallowed steps and ancient quarters, serves as sacred platform to the stony font from which the spirit of Jerusalem flows.
The Old City (being neither “east” nor “west”) will constitute a separate legal entity to be managed by an esteemed Regency Council, a guiding body with an equal number of members appointed by each of:
- Medinat Yisrael;
- Dawlat Ismail;
- the Chief Rabbinate Council;
- the Muslim community, as jointly represented by
the Islamic Waqf and the Kingdom of Jordan; and
- the Christian community, as jointly represented by
the Orthodox and Latin Patriarchates of Jerusalem.
Affairs of Council will be officiated by a Civil Sheriff elected to a five-year term by the Capital Region’s residents from amongst candidates pre-approved by four of Council’s five primary seats, with unanimity preferred.
Religious and cultural groups could petition the offices of any primary member to represent their interests at Council. Those with current standing in the Old City (houses of worship, shrines, cemeteries and other properties) could petition Council directly on a case-by-case basis.
Passage of routine measures in Council will require five primary-level votes, whether by consensus of the five primary seats, or with the support of four plus the approval of the Sheriff.
Major issues, such as those pertaining to the status quo of the Old City, will require unanimous support in Council and, in crucial matters, confirmation by twin, national referenda in Israel and Ismail.
Mundane civil disputes and any crimes committed (G‑d forbid) in the Old City will devolve to a special Magistrate’s court operating independently of either state’s judiciary but affiliated to both. Appointments to the court will be made by Council with the assent of each state’s Chief Justice.
Basic services to the Old City shall be freely provided by the Capital Region infrastructure network.
No international embassy shall be located within the Old City.
XII. Security, Order & Defence
Ismail will assume security responsibilities in agreed portions of the West Bank and Hebron on a flexible timetable based on clear goals decided between the parties. The Palestinian Authority, whose mandate will be subsumed by Ismail, presently controls security in Area A. Command of security in Gaza will pass to Ismail within 90 days.
A Canadian peacekeeping mission, reporting to the Sheriff, will provide security within the Old City; render protection for the Regency Council; advise Ismail on its development of a robust, responsible and accountable police force; ensure freedom of access to designated Holy Places; and help to maintain order in the Capital Region, cooperating with the security services of both states.
Protection of Ismail against hostile infiltration, foreign attack or invasion will be undertaken by Israel in coordination with Ismail’s security services and the peacekeeping team. This will necessitate a permanent Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley. Ismail’s defence will also be bolstered by Jordan in the East and by Egypt in the West.
The security of Medinat Yisrael will be greatly enhanced by its defence pact with Dawlat Ismail, its peace treaty with the League of Arab States, and its formal recognition by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
There’s a sort of existential futility–and no small irony–inherent in
man’s claiming of land, for in the end, it’s the land that claims us all.
This may nowhere be so true as it is in Jerusalem.
It is our fondest hope that the boundaries which separate us
will be overgrown in time with vines bearing fruit enriched
by the bloom of tolerance; that we might all derive sustenance
from such bounty; and that, years from now, it will be difficult
to remember why it seemed so incredibly hard to find peace
May this work be found pleasing
in the eyes of G‑d, Blessed be He,
to Whom all glory is due
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A PEACE OF JERUSALEM INITIATIVE
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