Citizenship and Borders

Haaretz reports that 55,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem with Israeli identity cards will be blocked from directly accessing the municipal core by the new wall–and a comment by Yossi Sarid at the end of the article makes a good point:

“the government decision proves again that the occupation can’t be swallowed, but nor can it be spit out. The occupation is stuck like a bone in Israel’s throat and is strangling it.”

I agree–and would extend the remark further. It is simply time Israel draw a border, a defensible border, and give a choice to all of its citizens no matter their ethnicity: take compensation and decide whether you want to move or stay–but know that, once you make that decision, there is no turning back, making one eligible for, and responsible for, all of the rights and obligations that go with being an Israeli citizen (army service for example).
If the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem would like to stay in their homes with their compensation, so be it, but it would cost them their citizenship–and the same could go for Jewish residents in Gaza if they would like to stay there.
And to take this one step further, I would support that border being drawn on demographic lines–allowing self-determination for both Jews and Arab according to their own choice, respecting the fact that Jews who would like to be part of a Jewish state would move to live within that state, and Palestinians who would like to live in a Palestinian state could live there–but allowing for cross-over based on pure choice and permitted by citizenship. Invariably, someone will claim that this is a racist position–but it isn’t. What such a drawing of borders would do would be to give people the choice to define themselves as they wish–instead of damning them, as the Kurds are damned in Turkey and Syria and Iraq and Iran, to live in a state whose borders were drawn arbitrarily by the force of arms.
Citizenship should be a choice, not a cement block around the ankles, and borders should be able to reflect the desire of many in this region to determine their own destiny according to their own cultural and philosophical standards. The right of a Palestinian State to exist as a reflection of the Palestinian sensibility is just as fundamental as the right of the Jewish State to exist according to its own sensibility. It is time to free Palestine from Israel, and Free Israel from Palestine. Only as free peoples can we become good neighbors.


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