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In 1729 Jonathan Swift published his satirical "A Modest Proposal" to solve the problem of poverty in Ireland by breeding the children of their poor to be eaten. The following "modest proposal" may appear satirical only because the reality in our region is so surrealistic. And if this idea has not yet occurred to the Palestinians, despite the fact that it could very well advance their interests dramatically, it is only because nothing is more detested in these parts than common sense and coolheaded political realism.

This is the simple modest proposal, whose goal is to immediately end the cycle of bloodshed in the Middle East. The Palestinians should surrender to Israel. Yes - surrender. Not as a trick or a ploy, but as an immediate, genuine, honest and unconditional surrender on all fronts. And not clandestinely either - we need a full-fledged, flamboyant surrender with all the classic theatrical trappings, hands in the air, white flags, handing over of arms. The rationale is very simple. Because the conflict is being waged over the circuitous question of which of the two sides is the underdog at any given moment - after a terrorist attack, before a reprisal, after a closure, before a bombing, and so on and so forth - the real winner will be the weaker side, the side that first declares itself to be the official permanent underdog.

The first to surrender gets the prize. As far as the Palestinians are concerned, the moment of capitulation will be their moment of victory. After all, far more than all the years of violence, the moment of official surrender will - in a very short time and without firing a single shot - lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state with international backing and, lacking any other choice, with Israel's approval.

Let us imagine Arafat, or some other relevant leader, appearing on Palestinian television saying something like this: "Whereas we erred and opened fire; and whereas we now realize how absurd it was to even think that we could ever defeat Israel or subject its interests to our will; and whereas we have discovered that the armed struggle and terrorism not only mortally harm our population and our supreme national interest - the establishment of a Palestinian state - but in fact mainly serve the interests of Sharon's annexation and settlement government; we hereby solemnly declare our unconditional surrender. We say to Israel - you have won. You have smitten us leg and thigh. We surrender. Our hands are in the air. We place our fate in your hands. Do with us as you will..."

Can the dramatic and immediate effect of such as step, one that would shock the very foundations of the whole world and the region, be imagined? It would immediately topple the Sharon-Mofaz government and cause the collapse of the circular rationalizations of revenge, attack, reprisal, escalation, killings and settlement. To say nothing of the immediate improvement of the state of the population in the territories, which in any case is occupied by an iron hand - except without the humanitarian principles that apply to a state of surrender.

A hesitant white sheet hangs down from the besieged office of the chairman, and afterward - from all the homes in the refugee camps and cities of the West Bank and Gaza. All the Palestinian parties and terrorist organizations cast down their arms and march with their arms in the air toward Israeli soldiers - in view of the cameras of the foreign press... Is this a wet dream - or a nightmare for us? Not to worry.

"War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace," as Thomas Mann said, and because this escape is currently shared both by our leadership and that of the Palestinians, there is absolutely no chance of this modest proposal being accepted. Consequently, it can be published here without any fear.