Would Israel Have A Say

In The West's Deal With Palestine?

The Bermigo Plan calls for two referendums – one in Israel, the other in the West Bank and Gaza – to be held on the Bermigo package. The package would have an Israeli arm and Palestinian arm. Most components of the Israeli arm would have nothing to do with the Palestinians (for example, the price the Western particpants would pay Israel for the housing the settlers had vacated, the subsidy the participants would give Israel for extra desalination plants for loss of natural water supplies, etc). Likewise, most of the Palestinian arm of the Bermigo deal would have nothing to do with Israel (the location and number of new industrial parks and training schools to be built in Palestine, the West's mechanisms for ensuring non-corrupt law enforcement, etc).

Certain components of both arms, though, would be mirrors of each other. Clearly, the 5% of the West Bank that Israel would be permitted to retain for the plan's 25-year term would have to be the same 5% that the Palestinians would be prepared to give up for the term. If the Israeli public insists that included in that 5% will be every neighborhood in East Jerusalem, and the Palestinian public insists that no East Jerusalem neighborhood will be included in that 5%, then the plan won't be doable. So, in both referendums will be the same listing of ten '5% options', and at least one of those 10 would have to garner an okay from both sides for the Western participants to take on the venture. To understand how the joint listing would be arrived at – and how, in actuality, both publics would likely slacken their initially inflexible stances leading up to referendum day – see Choosing The 5% That Israel Would Retain.

By far the greater part of the Bermigo package would be its Palestinian arm. On offer to the Palestinians by the Western democracies would be a host of economic components, sovereignty components, installation-of-democracy components, and security components.

The components relating to the new Palestine's internal security would be of intense interest – and importance – to the Israeli public. However, Israel would not be given authority by the Western participants to approve or reject these components; it's not Israel's right to ratify components between two third parties. That said, Israelis would have much de-facto input, with plenty of opportunity to debate and voice their approval/disapproval of all aspects of the Palestinian package. These sentiments would be relayed to the Western participating democracies both formally (hopefully, discretely and tactfully) by the Israeli government), and relayed informally by individual Israeli experts, organizations, think-tanks and the like.

The Western participants, keenly wanting the Bermigo venture to deliver, would naturally avail themselves of the wealth of insights that Israelis have ingested from years of close interaction (both hostile and non-hostile) with Palestinians. Moreover, since the Western participants would need the Israeli arm of the plan to pass muster in the Israeli referendum, Israeli voices – particularly those that were level-headed and relatively free of hysterics – would certainly be listened to by the West. In fact, sought out.

In addition to the '5%' component, there are a couple of other components that will require mirror approval, and will appear in exact same form in both referendums. Among them, the 'Old City Of Jerusalem Component' Outline Of Jerusalem Old City Charter, the 'Release Of Palestinian Security Prisoners' The Release Of Palestinian 'Security Prisoners', and 'Cross Border Security' (that will contain certain elements of high concern to both sides e.g. the planned Palestinian National Guard having armored vehicles only up to APC level, the use of civilian rescue helicopters, etc).

The two referendums could be held simultaneously, or, the Palestinian referendum held first, and the Israeli referendum within the following six weeks. Some will argue – correctly – that a Palestinian rejection of the Bermigo package (or a Palestinian approval that chose no realistic '5%' option) would render the Israeli referendum moot. Others would buttress the 'Palestinians first' argument from a different angle, pointing out that if the only hurdle that Israelis will face in ending this ruinous 100 year-old conflict is agreeing to a painful '5%' requirement by Palestinians, then indeed let Israelis face that sure up-or-down choice.

For more than one reason, then, many may advocate it's best that the Israeli referendum be slated for some weeks after the Palestinian one.

Another post – under 'The Myriad Factors In The Mix' – will discuss the twin dangers the referendum-package will face, from the Israeli left wing and Israeli right wing.

The Israeli left (and world community that takes much of its cue from the Israeli left) will seek to dilute the critical mass of the Bermigo package – which would be fatal. Every plan the left has ever put forward has pinned its hopes on a reasonable Palestinian leadership – leading an instantly reformed Palestinian society – that can be left to its own devices once a deal is signed. Meanwhile, the Israeli right wing would fatally down the ship no less – and do so quite happily – by overloading the package with humiliating security measures that would ratchet up hard-core Palestinian resistance to the point where it wouldn't be safe for the Western participants to undertake the venture.

Level-headed decision-makers will need to give very short thrift to both left wing diluters and right wing overloaders.