Nearly 200,000 of the 700,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank would have to be relocated to Israel to create a viable Palestinian state, according to an Israeli lawyer from whom the UK foreign secretary, Lord Cameron, has sought advice on his visits to Israel.
Cameron has said he realises reaching a two-state solution would be tough, but he has not spelled out the practical consequences in terms of borders, including the need to persuade so many Israelis to relocate.
Cameron acknowledged his debt to Daniel Seidemann in giving evidence to a Lords select committee last week, saying he always seeks his advice when he visits Jerusalem.
In an interview with the Guardian, Seidemann said: “If Israel has the will, or capacity, to relocate 200,000 settlers from the West Bank and Jerusalem, a two-state solution is a viable option. If it does not have the will, the two-state solution is dead. The number might be better than most people think, but it is quite daunting.
“If you can annex incrementally, you can deoccupy incrementally.”
The remaining settlers would remain on land swapped between Israel and Palestine. Leaving settlers under Palestinian sovereignty would be unacceptable to both sides, he says.
Cameron first met Seidemann in 2007 when he was Conservative opposition leader and they often went up to the Mount of Olives to look across to the West Bank, home to large Israeli settlements such as Ma’ale Adumim, a city of 40,000.
Although Cameron, a strong supporter of Israel, takes advice on Israel from many sources, his repeated conversations with Seidemann shows his willingness to take a range of guidance, and his regard for the 70-year-old lawyer’s knowledge of the geographical mechanics of the occupation.
When they first met, Seidemann calculated that only 100,000 Israelis would need to be relocated. He