Washington, D.C. - Our Soldiers Speak, a group that includes former brigadier generals from the Israeli Defense Forces, has a proposal for how to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is neither a two-state solution, nor a one-state solution. It is a New State solution.
During a panel discussion moderated by Our Soldiers Speak Founder Sergeant Benjamin Anthony, five former IDF generals, Amir Avivi, Nechemya Sokol, Eli Ben-Meir, Shmuel Tzuker, and Gershon HaCohen, shared their proposal with attendees at a hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
Right now, they explained, no solution on the table solves the geographical challenge of the Gaza Strip in relation to Judea and Samaria. Their plan would make it an "integral part" of the solution. It must be addressed first, the generals insisted.
What they suggest is an independent, sovereign state for Palestinian Arabs in Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula. The plan would include new infrastructure such as an airport. Building this kind of local identity can help prevent ISIS from winning more hearts and minds, the generals explain.
Asked about the Palestinians' resistance to any kind of peace deal, Ben-Meir offered a hopeful response.
There has been a "huge change" in the Middle East in the past two years, he said. What's more, the international community "has an interest" in solving the problem. The refugee crisis, for instance, has begun to overwhelm European countries.
Anthony was adamant to explain that the plan in no way includes the forced transfer of a population. That is a "red line" for them. Further, no IDF forces would be present along the borders.
During the Q&A portion, attendees expressed their doubts about the plan, but the generals admitted they are not expecting the relevant parties to agree to a deal right away. They expect to hear "no." But, it is a first step - and the time is ripe.
"We need to move now," Avivi said.
Sokol said his son is now working on the same effort he's been trying to resolve for 30 years. He, like his compatriots, doesn't want to keep passing along the obligation to fix the Israeli-Palestinian issue to future generations.