The next round in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations deals with the redeployment issue. The Israelis want redeployment from a minimum amount of territory in Judea in return for a maximum effort to meet their security needs. The Palestinians want a maximum re-deployment in return for security arrangements that they feel they can realistically live with given the Byzantine political realities facing their Palestinian Autonomy.

The real facts on the ground level are strikingly different. While both sides negotiate and argue about what percentage will fall under control of what group, the truth is that about 85% of what was Judea and Samaria is already under tactical control of the PA.

The Israelis have found themselves to be in a difficult tactical military situation. The only area that they control is the area that the IDF soldiers actually occupy, in their bases, or in the Jewish settlements.

The lifelines connecting the settlements and bases to Israel proper are patrolled by the IDF but not under their control. The terrorists can strike at any passing Jewish bus, civilian vehicle, or military transport at will and disappear back into the areas under exclusive PA control.

What then is the real issue? The real issue is simply a matter of political control. The main cause for conflict during this transitional period centers on the destruction of Palestinian housing. This housing was built without obtaining building permits from the IDF civilian affairs command. On the Jewish side, the freeze on all building or expanding of existing settlements is still in effect.

At the same time as the political debate continues, most of Judea and Samaria lie woefully underdeveloped and neglected. The utilization of it’s natural resources, water table, sewage treatment, and other ecological issues which affect all residents, Jewish and Palestinian alike, have yet to be addressed in a non-political atmosphere of grass-roots co-operation. The medical needs of the peoples living in this area are not being properly dealt with. No properly staffed and operated hospitals exist which can compete with the complex medical centers found elsewhere in the world. The reasons for this are mainly political. The finances, human resources, and the desire for co-operation in this area exist. There is, at this time, a window of opportunity, which can bring about the realization of a better life for all the peoples in Judea and Samaria. Politicians on both sides who neither live in the area nor understand the complex grass-roots survival issues involved, are closing this window.

What should be done is to create an internationally monitored housing authority, which would supervise two separate departments, one operated by the PA and the other by the Israelis. In the event of conflict of interests, a tribunal consisting of international authorities acceptable by all sides concerned would settle the issues. Under this plan, all houses presently in existence should be retroactively granted building permits.

All new Palestinian housing and expansion of the Jewish settlements should be left exclusively in the hands of this newly created housing authority. What this plan would do is allow for the natural commercial and industrial expansion of infrastructure in Judea and Samaria without political restrictions.

Jewish and Palestinian joint housing and business ventures should be encouraged to build housing and industrial parks, roads, hospitals, schools, and the necessary infrastructure to support hi-tech industries.

This program could well be called Industry for Peace, and there is no reason why the program couldn’t be moved forward in parallel to the political track.

For the man on the street, political realities usually take a back seat to the reality of health, security, welfare, and education. No matter how the political lines are finally drawn, the economic infrastructure, which will provide the bread and butter of co-existence, must be established_and established now.