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A Quick Look At The Bermigo Plan

– From Israel's Vantage point

Most Israelis view the aftermath of the 2005 Gaza pullout as an unmitigated disaster. But the outcome should have been obvious; Israel evacuated with no plan in place to fill the economic vacuum, democracy vacuum – or security vacuum. 

Yet, Israel will soon have to evacuate the West Bank as well. In 2013, the EU imposed a first round of sanctions against Israel, and further rounds – a lot more painful – will follow.

The solution, say most observers, is for Israel to nail down an agreement with the PA so a West Bank evacuation can have a peaceful aftermath. But it's an illusion; every poll over the last 20 years has shown that only a third of Palestinians would abide by a deal that gave up their right of return. And of the remaining two thirds, many say they would not abide by any direct agreement with Israel – right of return or not. 

So what can Israel do once sanctions start to bite? Most likely, the government will announce that it won't remove the Israeli army from the West Bank, else the PA forces will collapse. But that it will remove settlements forthwith – provided sanctions end.

But, just as in Gaza, the outcome will be disastrous for all. Israel will go through the trauma of uprooting settlements, yet still be blamed for leaving her army in place. The West Bank Palestinians will become destitute as Israel retaliates against their ongoing resistance and investors flee. And the West, blamed by the Muslim world for not forcing Israel to remove her army, will impel more support for Al Qaeda.

[Note that the 10,000 Israeli troops in the West Bank could not be replaced by an international force. The Israelis don't just 'patrol'; they also conduct dangerous raids to keep Palestinian militants off balance – which no international force would do. So there's no option of an outside replacement force unless in a deal that's wall-to-wall acceptable to Palestinians]

Is there no way, then, to have three winners instead of three losers? Specifically, no way for Israel to safely remove both settlements and her army from the West Bank?

There may be a route: the 'Bermigo Plan'.

This novel package would not be an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians at all. Rather, a deal between Palestine and the Western democracies – and between Israel and the Western democracies. No agreement – not even negotiations – between Israel and the Palestinians, themselves.

The Bermigo package would be a long-term Marshall Plan for Palestine and comprehensively cover the three realms it needs to succeed; economics, security and democracy. Provided the Palestinian public overwhelmingly approved the offer in a national referendum, the Western nations would carry out – respectfully, but firmly – the 25-year onsite program.

The deal would have a host of dividends for the Palestinians, and contain none of the usual deal-breakers, since it doesn't require the Palestinians to relate to Israel at all. Which is why every expert who has reviewed the Bermigo blueprint feels it might be the one route acceptable to Palestinians across the board. 

Israel, for her part, would evacuate 95% of the West Bank (see Choosing The 5% That Israel Would Retain for how the 5% retained would be determined), and forgo all her non-essential demands. But she'd genuinely attain the most important requisite of all; a 25-year ceasefire, and reorientation of Palestinian society during that long window, so that violence wouldn't resume after the plan had run its 25-year course. There has never been a war between two prosperous, democratic neighbors, no matter how deep the historical grievance.

And Israel would de facto retain all the properties she seized from the Palestinians in 1948 – without continuing to be attacked for that appropriation. That would be no small attainment. Furthermore, with a voluntary cessation of attacks against Israel for the duration of the 25-year plan (and very high chance that attacks would not resume after that), Israel's ferocious retaliation against the Palestinians would likewise come to a complete end. And that would greatly stem the insidious ebbing away of Israel's legitimacy in the eyes of the world community.

Bluntly put, the Bermigo Plan could be a godsend not just for the Palestinians, but for the Israelis no less. But, as with any proposal, it could only work if all Palestinians – including those who oppose the plan – were willing to at least live with it.

Well, are they?

Initial indications are they might. But to find out definitively, we need to poll the full Bermigo blueprint with a 1000-person sampling in the West Bank and Gaza.

The sum required to conduct the poll: $16,500.

For want of $16,500, it would seem crazy – no less for Israel, than for Palestine – not to carry out this critical survey.

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