There can be no ceasefire until all those who perpetrated the October 7th attacks are dead, and the innocents who are taken hostage are freed. Indeed, even then, talk of a ceasefire could be premature. However, lost in all of the discussions of right and wrong, tit for tat, and atrocity vs. atrocity are any real voices offering bold solutions for something that might end in a more permanent ceasefire. So I’ll take that stand.
It’s time to use a bad word in the international community: annexation.
While some still long for a 2-state solution, it’s clear that the likelihood of such an agreement is not only politically unfeasible, but it’s not in the best interests of the Palestinian people in the Gaza strip. Despite the fact that Hamas was elected in 2006, the people who live there haven’t seen an election since. That needs to change.
Under the Gaza Disengagement Plan Implementation Law, Israel evacuated settlements and withdrew its military forces from the Gaza Strip, effectively ending its complete administration of the territory. Now it seems likely that Israel will return to its pre-2006 arrangement in Gaza and restore direct policing of the region. This approach affords an opportunity that may not ever come again if it’s not taken swiftly before the international community can get its meddling hands in the mix.
Hold a referendum on the annexation of Gaza to be subsumed into the political nation of Israel. Currently the 20% of Israeli citizens who are Palestinian Arabs enjoy human rights accorded to the people of civilized Western nations, and NO Arab nations. This arrangement, while imperfect, at a minimum solves the problem of the humanitarian crisis within the Gaza borders, eliminates once and for all the ability of Hamas to control the region, and puts Palestinians who actually want to be free on a path to citizenship. Israel would no longer have an incentive to cut access to resources to the region, and the free flow of commerce could begin.
Over the course of the coming year, as Israel begins the process of…let’s call it “DeNazification”…this is the chance to begin preparing the Palestinians in the Gaza strip for a referendum, possibly even a few referendums. Establishing free and fair elections, with the proper advertising campaign on the benefits of citizenship, might be the best path forward.
Governments are only legitimate if they have the consent of the governed. Once Israel has established security in the region, and some sense of normalcy has been restored, they would be well served to consider adding to their territory, resources, and ending an ongoing security threat once and for all.
History is replete with stories of civilizations whose territory expands through conquest. Rarely does that conquest involve the granting of human rights to the citizens within that region, although it’s not without some historical examples, as it was here in the United States. If a referendum were successful, and Israel’s annexation of the region were complete, it’s possible that many Palestinians might refuse to accept that government. If so, Israel would be wise to avoid a PR blunder a la Andrew Jackson’s Trail of Tears, and perhaps safe passage ought be afforded to Jordan or the West Bank for those who find Western liberty intolerable.
None of this will be easy. But at least it has historical precedent, and is morally correct. It’s time to end the humanitarian and security crisis entirely. It’s time for a 1 state solution. Now is the time to annex Gaza.