Fancy yourself as a bit of a peacemaker? If so, you’ll probably have some fun playing with a new interactive tool that lets you carve up the West Bank and deliver a two-state solution leading to the creation of an independent Palestine, and hopefully, a long-lasting peace in the Middle East.
Not that your task is an easy one, to be sure. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has dragged on for more than 60 years with no apparent end in sight, with the two sides seemingly gridlocked with their negotiations, leading to a bitter stalemate perpetuated by violence on both sides.
Fact is, Israel/Palestine is a mess, and it’s getting messier by the day as Israeli settlements continue to encroach into Palestinian territory in the West Bank.
The biggest stumbling block to a long lasting solution is that there is no easy way of drawing up a border to make two viable states. At present, around 500,000 Israelis are currently living in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. In order to come up with a realistic peace plan agreeable to both sides, it’s necessary to draw new borders containing the majority of Israel’s settlers, whilst ensuring that a Palestinian state remains a feasible proposition.
Not nearly as simple as it sounds, especially for the likes of your average Joe who knows next to nothing about how complex the geography is on the ground.
To remedy this, and perhaps invite some more ideas as to how this deeply complex stalemate can be resolved, the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace and SAYA/Design for Change have come up with an interactive map that allows users to carve up Israel as they see fit, taking into considerations the acceptable demands of both sides.
Inevitably, many of the Israeli settlements within the West Bank are going to have to be annexed to Israel proper in order for their side to accept the plan. As a compromise, Israel is willing to donate largely uninhabited land within Israel proper to an eventual Palestinian state. This principle, known as the “land swap” has already been agreed by both sides – but the major sticking point continues to be exactly where the line should be drawn and which settlements can be annexed, and which must eventually become a part of Palestine.
Numerous groups have attempted to carve up the West Bank in the past, not just Israel and the Palestinians, but also the UN and other civil society groups. Now, at last, you can actually have your say on the matter.
It sounds complex, but the way the tool presents everything makes your task far easier. It relies on on something called Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, and contains a vast amount of data to help you in your mission. A demo/tutorial explains how to navigate the map, read information about each settlement, and then arbitrarily assign each one to Israel or Palestine, whilst taking into account the reasonable demands of each side. Each time you assign a particular settlement to one side or the other, the GIS technology will quickly analyze and compare the up to date territorial scenario as you attempt to balance both people’s interests.
The map also comes integrated with the most recent border proposals by Israel, the Palestinians and the UN, so you can compare your own state-building efforts with theirs. Once you are satisfied with your two-state solution, you can save your final map, print it out, or share it on Facebook and Twitter.
So is a final resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict possible? Time for you to be the judge!