The type of solution – one state, two state, confederation, etc. – is relevant for the degree of our involvement in the peace process: one solution may depend on the “leaders” only; for another, the democratic vote of citizens may be enough.
Let us analyse this question together.
First, try to answer those questions:
- which are the different solutions possible?
- which is the best solution in you eyes?
Now, let us form groups, one group by type of solution. Each group will answer those questions:
- how much empowered are the citizens in my case?
- do you prefer to let the leaders decide, or should the civil society decide?
The different solutions
- Geographically Separated States
Separation along the lines of June 4, 1967:
- Separation with some land swaps
- Coterminous States (States with Identical Borders)
wo states superimposed on one another, parallel sovereignty. Both individuals and geographic units (cantons) would have free choice as to which state to belong to.
- Condominium: “In international law, …a condominium is a political territory (state or border area) in or over which two or more sovereign powers formally agree to share equally dominium (in the sense of sovereignty) and exercise their rights jointly, without dividing it up into ‘national’ zones.
Separate legislatures. The legislature of each state could legislate for its citizens in narrow matters such as marriage, but for all matters concerning the common territory, the legislatures of the two states would come together, 50-50, to make the laws.
Coordination will come through a Condominium Council, or by rotation in one government.
- Centralized Unitary State
- State with Strong International Governance
- Consociational State, federations
As described in Wikipedia, a consociational state is “…a state which has major internal divisions along ethnic, religious, or linguistic lines, yet nonetheless manages to remain stable, due to consultation among the elites of each of its major social groups.
- Decentralized Unitary State
“The political power of government in [unitary] states may well be transferred to lower levels, to regionally or locally elected assemblies, governors and mayors (‘devolved government’), but the central government retains the principal right to recall such delegated power.”
Unitary or federal government: “A bi-national state is a state made up two nations whose constitution recognizes both as state-forming nations, irrespective of their size. The constitution of such a state can be unitary or federal, as long as it is based on two nations being legally recognized as state-forming nations.”
Central government: “A federation is a union comprising a number of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central (‘federal’) government. In a federation, the self-governing status of the component states is constitutionally entrenched and may not be altered by a unilateral decision of the central government.”
Federal government: “In a bi-national state, Jews and Palestinians would coexist as separate communities in a federal arrangement. Each people would run its own affairs autonomously and be guaranteed the legal right to use its own language, religion and traditions. Both would participate in government in a single parliament, which would be concerned with matters of supra-communal importance, defense, resources, the economy, and so on. Such a state could be modeled on the cantonal structure of Switzerland or the bi-national arrangement of Belgium. In the Palestine/Israel case, the cantonal structure would be based on the present demographic pattern of the country where densely populated areas like the Galilee would become Arab cantons, and Jewish ones like Tel Aviv would be Jewish cantons, and so on.
Weaker central government: “…an association of sovereign states or communities, usually created by treaty but often later adopting a common constitution. Confederations tend to be established for dealing with critical issues, such as defense, foreign affairs, foreign trade, and a common currency, with the central government being required to provide support for all members.”
- Regional confederation: Various plans have been proposed, including for Palestine/Israel/Jordan; Palestine/Israel/Jordan/Lebanon (and possibly Syria); and a wider Confederation of Middle Eastern States, economic integration facilitating a solution to the refugee problem.
Citizens of the member states would have the right to live and work anywhere they wanted within the confederation but as citizens of their own countries.
Isfalur (Israel, Falastin, and Urdun) – A Benelux Scheme
- Confederation with shared, rotating head of state
- EU membership, or USA membership.
To what extent each type of plan affects the direct power of the people versus the power of governments?
The One state solution, in a unitary state or a federal state is the more empowering:
Palestinians and Israelis, decide by their democratic vote, and that is enough:
- no need for negotiations about dividing the land, dividing Jerusalem, refugees, security, settlements, water, etc.
- no dependence on mediation by any international facilitator.
- no risk that any extremist could torpedo the negotiations: there is no need for negotiations at all! The majority will decide, and the majority is moderated and peace seeking.
The problem with the one state solution is that each of the two peoples will try to impose its identity on the whole state.
Having opted for the federal solution, Palestinians and Israelis will recognize that the true culprit in 1948 war and the Naqba was nation-state nationalism and its incapacity to compromise on territory, not the peoples themselves. They will easily forgive to each other their fear to be dominated by the other and their violent reaction to it.
As soon as there will be a majority for the Federation in the public opinion, a referendum will be conducted in both countries.
The implementation of the federal structure is flexible, and can adapt itself to different scenarios in case a two-state solution or a one-state solution is first implemented, willingly or not.
The federal solution does not contradict the two-state solution: the federation would appear never the less to be necessary in order to allow the borders between the two countries to stay opened, and its ability to institutionalize cooperation would be more than welcome.
It is true whether Israel would proceed to a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank, or a negotiated solution would be implemented first -against all odds – in the narrow time window still left.
In case of a single unitary state – probably resulting from an Israeli annexation of the Occupied Territories – the federal structure will allow to solve the demographic and identity problem, while granting administrative autonomy to both peoples on an equal basis, transforming occupation into a true cooperation.