This upcoming May 14 marks the 62nd anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel -- and the 62nd anniversary of the Israeli-Palestinian problem: the problem of two groups of people claiming the same land.
I have arrived at a permanent solution that, while rather radical and expensive, is nonetheless both humane and, I think, workable. The plan is this: we move Israel to Vermont. Basically, we sign a treaty with Israel setting a date for handing over Vermont to the Israelis, provided that the Israelis are willing to hand over Israel to the Palestinians at the same time. Since Vermont is a little bigger than Israel, there ought to be no problem fitting them all in (especially since the Palestinians, who make up about 20% of Israel's population, would be staying behind).
"But," you ask, "what about the people who already live in Vermont? What's going to happen to them?" That can be taken care of easily enough. The federal government will offer to buy the home of anyone living in Vermont, and also offer to pay the cost of their relocation to another state. Specifically, people who own their homes will receive a payment equal to their equity stake in their home, said payment to be no less than $10,000. Thus, if you own your $100,000 home free and clear, the government will pay you $100,000 for it, over and above your moving costs. If your home is mortgaged to the hilt and underwater, the government will pay you $10,000 to take it (and your mortgage debt) off your hands. If you rent, or have no home, the government will pay you a $10,000 Relocation Bonus for your trouble.
How much will this cost? According to the Census Bureau, Vermont has about 300,000 housing units, with a homeownership rate of about 70%. Typical value of a resident-owned house is $111,500, though of course many if not most of these houses are mortgaged to a greater or lesser extent, so call it 200,000 households worth $50,000 each, plus $10,000 each to the remaining 100,000 renter households, for a total cost to the government of $11 billion. This may seem like a lot, but bear in mind that the government currently pays Israel $2.7 billion a year in economic and military aid, a figure that is due to rise above $3 billion dollars a year by 2013. So, for the cost of four years of Israeli aid, we can solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem permanently.
And what about the Vermonters who don't want to leave? If they want, they can stay and become Israeli citizens, while still retaining their American citizenship. So they could still move if they decide they don't like being Israelis after all. However, any Vermont resident who remains after Handover Day would no longer be eligible for US government assistance. If they decide to move out of Vermont after Handover Day, they would pay their own moving expenses, and the US government would not buy them out or pay them any Relocation Bonus. Thus, Vermonters would have a considerable monetary incentive to git while the gittin's good. Also, any Vermonter who moves to the United States after Handover Day would relinquish their Israeli citizenship (unless they already had duel American-Israeli citizenship before Handover Day).
Since the Jewish population of Israel is currently around 5.6 million, there's going to be a bit of a housing shortage at first. However, if there's one thing Israelis are expert at, it's building houses. And while the climate of Vermont is not as clement as that of Israel, and the state is landlocked, these would be more than compensated by the fact that the Israelis would no longer be surrounded by (and living among) millions of hostile Arabs. Having the United States and Canada as neighbors would be child's play by comparison.
And that's my solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem. The Nobel Peace Prize committee can contact me via this blog.