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A Logical Solution for the Middle East Conflict

The conflict in the Middle East between Israel, a sovereign nation, and Hamas, a designated terrorist organization that represents the Palestinians living in Gaza, is making news again. Over the last few weeks the TV screens around the world have splashed horrific images of destruction and suffering. We've seen this many times before. The leaderships of Israel and Hamas are not able to present a feasible proposal to end this conflict; a proposal that at least in theory would make logical sense.

Israel wants Hamas to stop their resistance fight, offering in exchange, at best, some additional territory, which Hamas cannot accept. Hamas wants Israel to lift the blockade and dismantle the settlements in the occupied territories, which Israel cannot accept. Lifting the blockade would allow Hamas to rearm, and also they want to expand. Moreover, both Israel and Hamas want the other side to make concessions first, given the many broken agreements in the past. So this conflict will continue with no end in sight. At this point the consensus is that once Israel destroys all their targets in Gaza, they will withdraw their forces and go back to normal until they feel the threat level has risen again, then another attack will take place. Hamas will pick up the pieces after this round and restart hurling rockets and building tunnels, which is pretty much all they can do at this point, hoping that some day they will get their hands on a much more powerful weapon capable to inflict serious damage. Once every few years a bloody fight breaks out leaving thousands of people dead and many more displaced. Many analysts are discussing the conflict and they present their opinions live on TV especially during the fights, however, I have not seen any feasible plan.

My proposal may be unrealistic, but I believe it presents a logical solution. The reason I am saying this is that in order to implement it, the international community must intervene forcefully, which I don't think it will happen. But if it did, the solution could satisfy all parties.

There are 2 separate main conflicts going on; there's a dispute over land and there's a religious strife that overlaps it. The first step is to recognize these two separate conflicts and address them independently.

The land dispute originates in the old ages. Nobody can prove exactly what is the legitimate ownership. There are multiple claims that obviously contradict each other and the logical conclusion is that these two parties must agree to share the land in some way. The religious strife interferes in the land dispute because there are some pieces of land considered 'holy' by either side. In a few cases both sides have religious claims over the exact same piece of land. Therefore a land-sharing deal has no apparent solution. Under these circumstances, Israel continues to build settlements in the occupied territories, which angers the Palestinians even more.

The religious strife is quite confusing. Each side accuses the other of intolerance and at the same time loud voices on both sides call for the complete destruction of the other side. Critics quickly point to the contradictions; Islam is a peaceful religion, yet the Quran calls for the killing of infidels, which include Jews but also Christians and others. The Bible also has verses that can be interpreted as inciting violence. Confused yet? In fact, this conflict can be easily explained considering that in every religion there are moderates and extremists; the moderates are tolerant and choose to ignore the calls for violence and are able to negotiate, while the extremists take literally every verse of their holy books. Many Israelis argue that the Muslims would not stop at the destruction of Israel; they would move on to fighting against all infidels including Christians. The extreme factions cannot be reconciled, there can be no negotiations and no tolerance ever.

My opinion is that the conflict as it stands has no chance to be resolved because the extremists on both sides are represented in their leadership. The first step in resolving the conflict is to isolate the extremists and take their power away. Anyone who uses God, Quran, Torah, Bible in their arguments must not participate in the negotiations.

My solution calls for 2 states and 2 demilitarized enclaves.

Each side must delegate a team of negotiators that is free of extremists. These 2 teams should proceed to map out the holy sites and carve out 2 demilitarized enclaves. The hardest part would be to reach an agreement on sharing the sites that are considered 'holy' by both sides; possible solutions can be to leave them under international tutelage or to use a time-share program to allow each side full access alternately for short periods of time. Once the enclaves have been delimited, each side should ask their citizens who live in those enclaves to either move out or to accept the designation and give up their arms. All extremists from both sides should be given the option to move inside the enclaves, but without arms. The enclaves should be administered and policed by an international force.

The remaining territory should be negotiated by the moderate negotiating teams. I believe this is the easiest part, because moderate people can reach agreements. They can exchange land for money and peace. As soon as an agreement is reached, the Palestinians should be allowed to create their own state, administer and police themselves. Both sides must pass stringent anti-extremism legislation similar to anti-Nazi laws in Europe. They must not be allowed to organize politically, and must be severely punished if they cause any trouble. The religious extremists can express their beliefs peacefully in those separate, demilitarized enclaves that include their holy sites, and those who do not accept the agreement and choose violence as a form of protest, should be thrown in jails.

Many moderate Palestinians do not want the destruction of Israel; they just want to live in peace, just like everyone else. Many moderate Israelis would agree to give the Palestinians the land they want, mostly Gaza and West Bank (without any Israeli settlements) and perhaps a bit more, in order to achieve lasting peace. At the same time, there are extremist Palestinians who do want the destruction of Israel, some who want the killing of all Infidels and also Israeli extremists who believe every inch of the territory including West Bank and Gaza are God's gift to the Israeli people and want to take it by any means possible. These extremists on both sides should be isolated and given the option to live peacefully in the religious enclave or go to jail. I would go even further; religious extremism must be recognized as a destructive force and must be banned in all democratic countries, just like Nazism is.

Indeed, the solution is unrealistic but it is so just because there is no authority powerful enough to impose it onto both sides in conflict. There are too many extremists in the leadership of the countries who we expect to lead an impartial negotiation. But at least you may agree that this solution is logical and it satisfies all parties involved in the conflict. To my knowledge, this is the only solution that makes logical sense.

Are you aware of any other logical solution? Please provide the link in a comment below.

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