Although Israel has never been stronger and more secure, it today faces a severe external national security threat in the form of a one-state reality, which would perforce be either non-Jewish or non-democratic. However, the Israeli political system of recent years has failed to address this threat seriously. While the Israeli right continues to lead Israel toward a one-state reality that threatens to destroy the Zionist dream of a Jewish democracy, the left still believes that reaching peace is possible. However, the Palestinian parameters for agreement are clearly unacceptable to the vast majority of people in Israel, fall short of assuring sufficient security and demographic conditions, and fail to guarantee the end of the conflict. Thus, both of the traditional two paradigms are unrealistic, and the dichotomy between them is artificial.
As a professional, Zionist, non-partisan institute, INSS believes it is its duty to forge a new conceptual path toward a secure future for Israel and present it to the Israeli public and to decision makers. Since 2016, a team of INSS experts, together with a group of former senior Israeli officials, has worked to design a plan that would take the dominant paradigms on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a new stage. During our research we consulted with senior US administration officials, leaders of pragmatic Arab states, and diplomats and practitioners who engaged in previous negotiation efforts alongside our own team’s past negotiators.
Our team performed detailed work, conducting an in-depth and thorough assessment of the various policy options for Israel, politics aside. This resulted in a new proposal that is both creative and realistic. It is a plan that combines bilateral and regional agreements and independent steps to ensure a process of separation from the Palestinians, while maintaining an uncompromising stance on security and keeping future political options open.
The main advantages of the INSS Plan unveiled here are twofold. The first advantage lies in its very essence: defining a clear strategic goal for Israel as a Jewish, democratic, secure, and just state, and arresting the slide toward a one-state reality. The second advantage is in its modular, flexible, and phased implementation strategy. This strategy can breach the current impasse in the political process and enjoy critical flexibility of maneuver between various alternatives, while suiting the ever-changing strategic environment.
The Main Principles of the INSS Plan:
- Anchor Israel's political, security and territorial interests in Judea and Samaria ahead of future arrangements – demonstrate Israel’s intention to promote political and territorial separation from the Palestinians and promote conditions for a two-state reality, thus improving Israel's strategic position even without bilateral political progress.
- Embed a strong security component – preserve operational freedom throughout Judea and Samaria while reducing friction with the Palestinian population; enhance security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority Security Forces (PASF), based on the operational motto of “The more they do themselves, the less we need to do.”
- Strengthen Israel's international and regional status and legitimacy – demonstrate its serious intent and commitment toward a two-state reality and promote regional security, political, and economic cooperation.
- Strengthen Palestinian infrastructure, governance, and economy – take gradual, incremental steps, with international assistance, to improve the Palestinian Authority’s performance and governance reach, as a foundation for a future high-functioning and independent Palestinian state. Inter alia, for this purpose, special areas will be allocated for economic and infrastructure development.
- Adopt a differential building policy in Judea and Samaria – continue construction within the existing settlement blocs, which are deeply rooted within the Israeli consensus. Meanwhile, freeze construction in isolated settlements deep in the Palestinian populated areas, while halting the government's support for their expansion and incentivizing residents’ relocation to the blocs or inside the Green Line. Possible evacuation of settlements outside of the blocs will arise only in the context of a comprehensive agreement with the Palestinians.
- Jerusalem and Gaza are not part of the plan, but relevant planning modules can be easily adapted to our strategic design. Our research has also indicated possibilities for improving the security-political situation in those areas.
The overarching philosophy of the INSS Plan is that Zionism invokes proactive and enterprising initiatives. We do not await the Messiah but take the helm and navigate present waters to chart our own destiny. We aim to shape Israel by our venerable founding fathers’ principles, without being held hostage to the Palestinians’ veto. There is currently a rare window of opportunity in history, with a strong Israel, a friendly US administration, an Arab world that shares interests with Israel and is by and large willing to work with it, and the reduction of the Palestinian cause in world affairs to size. The time for a bold and historic Zionist step is NOW.