Choosing The 5% That Israel Would Retain


Under the Bermigo Plan, Israel would remove all settlers from 95% of the West Bank. This evacuation would be completed by end of year one of the plan, and six months later, Israel would withdraw all her troops from the 95%.

Why doesn't the Bermigo Plan call upon Israel to evacuate 100% of the West Bank? After all, in 1948 the new state of Israel conquered 78% of Palestine; the remainder (the West Bank 20.7%, and Gaza 1.3%) hardly satisfies Palestinian aspirations as it is. Especially given that by 1949, the new Jewish state had forcibly displaced half the entire Palestinian people, appropriated their homesteads, and erased 400 Palestinian villages from the map.

The reasoning behind the 95% is explained in Why Israel Would Vacate 95%, Not 100%.

If the poll-results of the Bermigo survey show a lot of promise, two research institutes would be set up, one in Israel, the other in the West Bank and Gaza, to take a much closer look at every component of the plan. And indeed, no component is likely to prove more 'make-or-break' than the 5%, for it's one of the few components in the Bermigo package that require a mirror compact from both Israelis and Palestinians.

[The other two components that require a mirror compact are the Old City of Jerusalem, and release of Palestinian 'security-prisoners' (there are close to 8,000) in Israeli jails. All the other components of the Bermigo package concern either just the Palestinians vis-à-vis the Western participants – or just the Israelis vis-à-vis the West.

For several reasons, neither the Old City component, nor Prisoner-release component, is expected to prove an impossible hurdle. But coming up with a mutually acceptable 5% – in actual on-the-ground detail – could indeed be the one make-or-break component of the entire Bermigo Plan.

Many reviewers may already be asking why not have the Israelis and Palestinians negotiate that 5%, rather than assign the job to two institutes. The reasons are explained in Using Research Institutes, Not Negotiating Teams].


The Methodology To Determine Which 5% Israel Retains

Both the Palestinian institute and Israeli institute would invite in a dozen experts who know the layouts and topography of all the settlements intimately – especially in the vicinity of East Jerusalem, where aspirations between the two publics will almost certainly clash. The experts on each side would present several different 5%-options to their respective institutes; the presentations would include a brief explanation of the pros and cons of each option.

The two institutes would each compile a brochure, with aerial photos and on-the-ground photos, containing the various options its team of experts had furnished. Both institutes would then commission top local polling institutes to send interviewers into the field and get feedback on these initial drafts.

[Nearly 100% of the Israeli public is connected to the internet, so the Israeli pollster might be able to conduct a representative poll via a telephone-with-internet system (rather than face-to-face/visual-demonstration interviews). The Palestinian pollster, though, would conduct face-to-face/visual-demonstration interviews – in any case, face-to-face interviews are the norm for nearly all polls in the West Bank and Gaza. In both these '5%-polls' (Israeli and Palestinian), at least 1000 respondents would be surveyed to ensure minimum statistical error].

From these '5%' surveys, each institute would analyze its own poll-results, and amend/refine its 5% options accordingly. Each institute would compile a new brochure for its public that incorporated the amendments/refinements – and once again, the polling institutes' interviewers would go out into the field.

The poll-results of these honed-down options would now be publicized for the general public on both sides to evaluate, and obviously, a welter of opinion would emerge. To see how/whether this opinion had altered each public's opinion, the two institutes would conduct new surveys.

For each new survey (there may be another 3 or 4 until the poll-results reflected the educated opinion of each public), both institutes would keep making refinements that incorporated what had previously been learned.

The entire process would probably take up to a year, after which each institute could definitively rank the top three '5%' preferences of its public.

At this point, the Israeli institute would take a good look at the three top preferences of the Palestinian public; the Palestinian institute would similarly take a good look at the three top preferences of the Israeli public. Each institute would now fashion two additional options – based on what might pass muster (or come closest to passing muster..) with both publics. All 10 options (the 3 + 2 on the Israeli side, and 3 + 2 on the Palestinian side) would be listed in the referendum on the Bermigo package.

The Bermigo package contains a host of components, many requiring at least some upfront 'grunge' research. The two institutes would each have several research teams, with each team specializing in particular components (security-related components, democratic-governance components, economic components, etc). The teams would work in parallel, so that all research – in all components – could be completed within 18 months.

In the referendum, most the components would be bunched together, with the voter approving or rejecting the bunch with a single up-or-down vote. However, the component dealing with the 5% would get separate treatment from the voter; here the voter would approve or reject each of the ten 5% options in turn. The voter could accept all of the options, just a few of the options – or none of the options. Rejecting all ten options would mean automatic rejection of the entire package.

It's highly unlikely that Palestinian voters will go for any of the Israeli public's 'top 3 options'; they'll likely go for their own top 3, and – hopefully – go for at least a couple of the remaining 4. Likewise, Israeli voters are highly unlikely to go for the Palestinian public's top 3, but Israelis – hopefully – may also go for at least a couple of those critical 4.

Let no reviewer make the error of judging what Palestinians – and particularly, Israelis – might or might not go for today. When the day of reckoning comes, and increasing sanctions force the Israeli public and government to no longer choose whether to evacuate settlements the West Bank – but how to do so, the Bermigo package will obviously get intense scrutiny (provided that the Bermigo polls have shown the entire Palestinian public could at least live with the plan).

Since most Israelis are likely to accept (albeit, grudgingly) nearly all the other components of the Bermigo package, their stakes for compromising on the 5% will rise exponentially. And certain compromises which seem unthinkable today will indeed enter the wider Israeli debate.

[It is essential, though, that all relevant grunge research work be completed before that day of reckoning. Else, there won't be time, and a sloppy, haphazard version of the Bermigo package will be thrown together – with calamitous results.

In short, if the all-critical first Palestinian poll (that we are currently trying to raise funds to conduct) does indeed show promising poll-results, then the two institutes should immediately be set up either by the governments in question, or by semi-government institutions, or by a private foundation (of which there are several that might step up to the plate, if indeed that first critical poll bears out).Foundations tend to be very stingy – and shortsighted – before a product is proven doable, but highly prize being associated with success once it's clear an initiative has enormous potential].