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By Susie Heron-Halliday
On the 22nd November 2017 the Henry Jackson Society was delighted to welcome Benjamin Anthony and Brigadier-General Amir Avivi to speak at the House of Lords about their idea for a new state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. The event was chaired by Baroness Deech. Benjamin Anthony is the founder of Our Soldiers Speak, which is an NGO that provides briefings and analysis on the challenges faced by the Israel Defence Forces in asymmetrical combat situations. He continues to serve on an annual basis in the Israeli Defence Forces as a combat reservist. Benjamin is a veteran of the Second Lebanon War (2006), as well as two major encounters in the Gaza Strip: Operation Pillar of Defense (2012), and Operation Protective Edge (2014). Brigadier-General Amir Avivi is a Senior Policy Advisor with the Miryam Institute. He has over thirty years of experience with the Israeli Defence Forces, previously serving as Head of Auditing and Consulting Department. Throughout his career, he also filled various command positions in the Corps of Engineers, and was the aid-de-camp for the Chief of the General Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces.
Benjamin Anthony began by explaining that when proposing a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, we must ask ourselves a few questions: does the proposal being considered have evidence to suggest it would be successful?; is the solution practical?; does the solution have the best intentions for the people living there?; would the people who put forward the solution be willing to have their children live there? Benjamin emphasised, before handing over to Amir Avivi, that there does need to be an establishment of a sovereign and thriving Palestine.
Brigadier-General Amir stressed that there needs to be a fresh solution to the conflict, and that we must be open minded and put aside our preconceptions. He discussed the situation in Gaza at the moment, and argued that Gaza has been forgotten. He is also deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza currently, because they are our (Israel’s) neighbours and we should be concerned. Both Amir and Benjamin used maps to highlight issues of space, borders and land throughout their discussion. They both called for people to reimagine the borders, and emphasised that there needs to be more land brought to the table. There is simply not enough space at the moment. However, both men argued that they are against moving anybody anywhere against their will. This was important. Instead, people in the West Bank should be offered incentive packages to move. Although, Amir Aviv did state that they anticipate the amount of people willing to move would be relatively low.
The floor was then opened up for questions. During the answer portion, Amir Avivi spoke about the younger generation in Palestine, who are fed up of the current situation and want change in the region. He spoke about his experiences living in Israel alongside two million Israeli Arabs, who all live together relatively peacefully, and is friends with many. He also spoke about his wife, who often works with the Israeli Red Cross. Which offered the audience an inside look into what life is like in Israel. Both Benjamin and Amir, whilst answering questions, were quick to reiterate that if there is to be any solution, we need to be realistic and take a multitude of issues into consideration. The event ended on an optimistic note, and Amir and Benjamin both remain hopeful for the future and their ‘new state solution’.
The Henry Jackson Society would like to thank Brigadier-General Amir Avivi and Benjamin Anthony for their interesting take on a potential solution to the Israel-Palestine situation