Israel’s current Defense Minister and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak was plainly anxious to see me. “You’ve got to get down here right away, Barb, or I’m going to give this story to someone else,” he said over the phone. “I’ve always said that resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian impasse requires imagination, and I think I’ve finally come up with the perfect territorial offer for the Palestinians.”
When I arrived at his place, I found him poring over maps on his beautiful dining table made from the trunk of a 1500-year old olive tree. “Barb,” he said, “Bill Clinton and other friends of Israel in his administration thought I made a great offer to Yasser Arafat at the Camp David talks in 2000. But I think this one is absolutely irresistible.”
“How so,” I asked.
“First, the territory I have in mind for Palestine has everything: water, minerals, even access to the sea. And we would be willing to remove all the settlers and to assure that they won’t be bothered by such people at all.”
“Sounds good so far,” I said. “What’s the catch?”
Didn’t we offer the Palestinians almost half of a quarter of what used to be theirs, only to be refused because we wanted to keep their holiest city and the geographic and cultural center of their society?
“Why do you have to be so negative, Barb? Didn’t we offer the Palestinians almost half of a quarter of what used to be theirs, only to be refused because we wanted to keep their holiest city and the geographic and cultural center of their society? We know how unreasonable they can be, but we are prepared to be generous, and I think we’ve got an offer they can’t refuse.”
“Does it have anything to do with a severed horse head?” I asked.
“See? There you go again. Here. Take a look at this outline map of what I have in mind.”
I have to admit, the map took me by surprise. “Wait a minute, Ehud,” I said. “Do you mean to tell me that you intend to offer all of this to the Palestinians?”
“Absolutely. I told you we were prepared to be generous. What do you think?”
“And you’re prepared to remove all the settlers?”
“My word of honor. And the Palestinians will be able to live anywhere they want and build whatever they want.”
“I don’t get it, Ehud. How are Israeli Jews going to accept this – especially some of the right wingers that don’t think any of this land belongs to Palestinians?”
“As with everything else, Barb, it required a compromise. The extremists got what they wanted, but we were still able to make this offer. Here, take a look at this other map. As you can see, it didn’t require offering any of the land at all.”