Dr. Martin Sherman of the Israeli Institute for Strategic Studies says that UNWRA funds be used to pay Arabs to resettle elsewhere
By Yaakov Levi
At an event in Haifa last week, Dr. Martin Sherman, head of the Israeli Institute for Strategic Studies, said that the best way to ensure the future of a Jewish Israel, and the individual welfare of Arabs living in Judea and Samaria, was to offer an “evacuation-compensation” package for them, similar to the process undertaken by the government for families who live in buildings slated for urban renewal projects.
Sherman was speaking at a conference on sovereignty for Judea and Samaria sponsored by Women in Green and the Hazon Leumi (National Vision) students’ organization. In the past, Sherman said, efforts to establish multiple sovereignties on the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River had fallen flat, and the current “experiment,” in which the Palestinian Authority was given limited sovereignty over parts of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, only proved the point. Eventually, he said, there would be only one sovereign – Israel, the Jewish state, or an Arab Muslim entity.
On that basis, Sherman said, it was legitimate for Israel, which is fighting for the survival of its Jewish population, to offer Arabs a deal in which they would be compensated for leaving their homes and moving abroad. Israel would eventually be forced to adopt a policy like this, because of the demographic pressures it will be subject to from a large and restive Arab population in Judea and Samaria.
The solution to the overall problems of sovereignty and demography, said Sherman, was three-pronged: First, the United Nations organization responsible for dealing with the Palestinians – UNWRA – must be dismantled, or expelled from all areas of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. UNWRA, more than any other organization, is responsible for preserving the “refugee” status of Palestinians, decades after their grandparents and great-grandparents fled their homes in Israel, in order to move out of the way and allow seven Arab armies to destroy the newly-founded State of Israel in 1948. Without UNWRA support, he said, all but about 50,000 of the 5 million people around the world who claim to be Palestinian refugees will give up that status.
After that, said Sherman, the massive budget that had been provided to UNWRA should be transferred to a fund that will allow Palestinian ex-refugees to resettle in a new home of their choice. The fund should provide enough money to resettle families and clans, providing them with positive living, work, and educational opportunities in Arab or Western countries.
Once those arrangements are in place, he said, it will be possible to approach Arab families and clans with offers that will be worth their while. According to Sherman, an offer like this to the heads of extended families among Palestinians would be embraced.
This is not an “expulsion” or “transfer” plan, said Sherman, but a humanitarian one “that will provide benefits for the Arab population, as well as for the countries that agree to receive them as new, wealthy residents.”
Sherman’s idea is similar to one proposed by MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud-Beiteinu) last year. Speaking at the 2013 Sovereignty Conference, Feiglin said that Israel should offer each Palestinian Authority Arab $500,000 to leave Israel. “The country pays 10% of its gross national product every year to maintain the ‘two-state solution’ and the Oslo Accords,” Feiglin said, including money for security fences and checkpoints, Iron Dome missile defense systems and guards whom he said are posted “at every café.” Feiglin said the same money could be used to pay every PA Arab half a million dollars to leave Israel.
Palestinian protesters have added a colorful twist to demonstrations against Israel’s separation barrier, painting themselves blue and posing as characters from the hit film “Avatar.”