Over 500,000 Israelis currently live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in the territory that the Palestinians claim for their future state. Any realistic proposal for a final-status
agreement between Israelis and Palestinians attempts to include the majority of these Israelis within Israel's new borders by annexing many of these
neighborhoods and settlements into Israel. (The land annexed by Israel from the West Bank can be traded with the Palestinians for land from within Israel
proper - a concept referred to as "land swaps.")
But since the location of many settlements were chosen precisely because they would prevent the emergence of a contiguous Palestinian state, their
annexation would necessitate the creation of access roads, overpasses, "fingers,""umbilical chords," and "salamandering" around Palestinian cities to
connect them to Israel. So even the most optimistic proposals involve some disruption of Palestinian contiguity (not to mention the fact that the West Bank
and Gaza Strip will be territorially separated
So the real question is, how much contiguity is required for a viable Palestinian state? The conflict often boils down to drawing Israeli settlers into
Israel's new borders at the expense of Palestinian contiguity. Minor annexations into the West Bank can be relatively easy to justify if it means drawing a
large number of Israeli settlers into Israel's new borders. But how far is too far - and how many Israeli settlers are enough to justify deep annexations -
are subjective questions.
There have been many attempts by various civil society groups, scholars, and negotiators to answer these
questions by drawing their own proposed borders. A new tool created by the S. Daniel Abraham Center for
Middle East Peace and SAYA/Design for Change, in collaboration with The Atlantic, allows you to answer the question for yourself.
For the better part of the past decade, the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace has, together with experts in the region, developed a
comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian territorial database. Using Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies, it has gathered and created a vast trove of
data that allows precise and instant creation, analysis, and comparison of territorial scenarios - in particular, borders proposals for Israel and a future
state of Palestine.
The system has been used in the past by top policymakers directly involved in Israeli-Palestinian final-status negotiations. And now, as part of The Atlantic's "Is Peace Possible" special report, we're bringing that capability to
you. Constructed by SAYA, an architecture and design practice that specializes in "resolution planning" by applying
planning, design, and visual tools for conflict resolution and policy-making in disputed areas, this new interactive website gives you the opportunity to construct you own border proposal to meet the needs of
both Israelis and Palestinians. The challenge is to include as many Israelis as possible within Israel's new borders while still allowing for the creation
of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state. Former negotiators as well asnumerous scholars and NGOs have tried their hands at this task; now it is your turn.