A suggestion for resolving Israeli settlement problems --
Helping peace in the Middle East

A major stumbling block to achieving peace in the Israel-Palestine situation is the resolution of the fate of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Here is a suggestion which might help. That is, to arrange for UNO or one of the international bodies involved to set up negotiations by which a 99-year ground lease could be bargained for, for each of the Israeli land settlement areas.

With a hefty annual ground rent going to Palestinian state or local governments, this would be a large incentive for the Palestinians to tolerate, or even encourage, the continued existence of such settlements.

Sovereignty over the land would be clearly in the hands of the new Palestinian Government, while the Israelis could feel that they were paying their way and were entitled to improve their settlement areas for their own benefit.

A commercially-bargained arrangement of this sort would have a much greater chance of acceptance than an imposed political solution. Each area involved should be separately negotiated, under UNO arbitration, perhaps with the Palestinian side suggesting asking prices for each lease and the Israeli government gradually buying up or counter-offering for the areas they most wanted.

The lure of substantial lease payments to allow reconstruction and improvement of the rest of the state would be a big attraction for the Palestinians, providing an incentive currently absent from the political approach.

Hopefully, a hundred years down the track, the current bitternesses might be forgotten, and the 'Settlement Ground Rent' approach might be accepted as a normal usage of the land, not only in the present settlements, but on others which might be set up over the years and run by any mix of Israelis, Palestinians, or others.

Jerusalem as an International City

Jerusalem has for centuries past been an International City, a vital centre of interest for many nations, faiths, and ethnic groups.

This defacto status could be rationalized by making Jerusalem a separate legal entity under negotiated control, similar to the Vatican or Monaco. In practical terms, none of the current claimants will be satisfied with an arrangement by which one of their rivals for control 'come out ahead', but there are possibilities for acceptance of a new international entity called Jerusalem.

This entity could be governed under a constitution thrashed out with regard for local and global aspirations for a true Jerusalem World City. This entity could have United Nations membership and all the rights and obligations of an independent nation.
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First circulated 2005 Mar 13. Up on Web 2003 Jun 24. Amended with addition of Jerusalem suggestion 2009 Mar 2