Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Seventh State

Ehud Tokatly has discribed the model of federal Community Democracy that seems one of the best to me. He didn't intend to solve the conflict with the Palestinians, but only to solve the present disfunctions inside the state of Israel. But the same principles are valids too for solving the external conflict.
His main aims are to ensure the jewish and pluralistic character of the country and to fight corruption.
He has developed a very interesting concept of non territorial and voluntary communities. He is right in predicting that the protection of minorities will receive support from israeli Arabs and will remove future demographic threats.

In The Beginning, our forefathers were nomads who had neither a state nor a homeland. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob led a humble tribe on a voyage of vision among the nations, without written laws or formal institutions.

Only after their descendants came out of Egypt, received their constitution - the Torah, and entered the Promised Land, the First State of Israel was created. It began as a loose federation of twelve autonomous tribes, who formed temporary alliances when faced with external threats.

This structure changed completely when King David succeeded in uniting the Israelites around his royal capital of Jerusalem. The Second State became the mighty empire of David and Solomon, which shaped our national unity and the central role of Jerusalem and the Temple.

The Third State appeared after King Solomon, when the monarchy was split into two kingdoms, Judah and Israel. Later, they were both destroyed and our people were exiled from our land.

The Fourth State was founded when the exiles returned from Babylon. They set up a fragile autonomy under the rule of the Persian Empire, struggled to defend their settlements from hostile neighbours and managed to rebuild the Holy Temple.

The Fifth State was founded in the Hellenistic Era. The Hasmoneans' revolt, which started as a rebellion against religious oppression, led to the creation of the sovereign State of Judah. It soon became a monarchy that went through trials and tribulations until its final destruction in Roman times.

The Sixth State of Israel was founded in 1948, after many centuries of exile and persecutions. Modern Israel is defined as a Parliamentary Democracy, internationally recognised as the national home of the Jewish People.

The Seventh State must be born next, to ensure the wellbeing of the Jewish nation in its homeland. While the Sixth State has served a vital role in our history, its current conduct and structure may fail to secure the achievements of the Zionist enterprise.

Israeli society is going through a moral, social, cultural and political crisis. The old Zionist ideologies seem to have lost their meaning in today's reality and are slowly replaced by new trends that endanger the Jewish character of the State and the foundations of its democratic regime. The dubious conduct of Israel's political system in recent years is clearly leading to the creation of a less democratic regime with less commitment to the cause of Jewish national liberty.

A New Zionism is urgently needed for saving our national home. The Jewish State is dominated today by a small social group that has gradually adopted a Post-Zionist agenda. They control the civil service, our legal system, most mass media organs and most centres of economic power. Their influence presents a growing danger to Israel's very existence, since a confused, divided society would be unable to meet the challenges of the future.

While returning to fundamental Jewish and Zionist values is absolutely essential for our very survival, Zionism must also adapt itself to the changing realities of the New Age.

The Root Cause of many of our problems is the centralised regime in Israel. The unwritten constitutional structure of the Sixth State has allowed a tiny social group to take control of all the power centres. The ruling Oligarchy betrays the Zionist value of securing personal safety and freedom to every Jew, denies the democratic value of civil equality to all citizens, shows hostility toward Jewish tradition and defies even basic human morality in the public arena.

Recent opinion polls show that most Israelis are highly concerned about corruption in our political system. Many call for strict legal actions against corrupt politicians. Yet very few attempt to understand the root causes for the widespread corruption. Indeed, legal measures are important, but a deeper treatment is urgently needed.

Corruption is directly linked to the general problem of disrespect of law and order. Many Israelis tend to break the law when no police officers are present. The general atmosphere in Israeli streets tends to border on anarchy. In a way, Israeli politicians faithfully represent their public by bending the rules and acting dishonestly. The only cure for this is a fundamental change in our education.

But the deepest cause is the centralised character of our political system. Nearly every step that citizens take requires some involvement of the authorities. The various branches of government hold enormous powers and influence our lives on a daily basis. Politicians who get elected or appointed to these powerful positions often cannot resist the temptation to use their power for their own benefit.

Moreover, the centralised structure of the Sixth State leaves most Israeli citizens with little or no control of their daily lives. Israeli society comprises a large number of ethnic, religious, cultural and ideological groups. Many of these feel oppressed by the ruling culture and standards and thus, feel less loyalty to the State. The founding fathers wanted to create a place where every Jew would feel at home, yet today, many Israeli Jews feel rejected and humiliated in their own country.

The centralised regime is also directly connected to the huge social gaps in Israel. Private initiatives face tremendous obstacles and only few succeed in overcoming the difficulties. Moreover, favouritism and nepotism are widespread in our establishment and those who were born to the wrong social group stand little chance of improving their economic status. These corrupt standards can be found in all systems, from local authorities and government ministries to the Defence Forces and even the Supreme Court!

Unstable Government seems to be the most surprising of Israel's problems. Presumably, the centralised political system should have produced a strong executive branch, yet the Sixth State was ruled by 30 governments in its first 57 years.

However, a closer look at Israel's system would reveal that centralism contributes to instability when mixed with a majoritarian parliamentary system. Since our society contains many ethnic, religious and cultural communities, as well as a large number of ideological movements, their proportional representation in the Knesset creates a highly divided house with a multitude of parties and no clear majority. Each of these parties is committed to serving the vital interests of its voters. In a centralised system, this often means securing the voters' basic civil rights, such as equal resources for education, employment and the right for religious freedom. The need to form a parliamentary coalition forces the politicians to turn these democratic rights into bargaining chips in the political game.

The current political system in Israel could best be described as a highly offensive mixture of authoritarianism and anarchy. Many members of larger groups have little respect for the legitimate rights of minorities and instead of treating all citizens fairly and equally, force minority leaders to demand their fair share in return for supporting the ruling coalition. This reinforces the negative image of the minorities that are seen as blackmailers who demand bribes for their Knesset votes. When the small parties happen to represent Orthodox Jews, the public resentment often carries overtones that are strikingly similar to classical anti-Semitism.

This grim reality harms the democratic culture of our society, contradicts the basic Zionist goal of opposing anti-Semitism, leads to a terrible waste of funds on early elections and violates the fundamental civil liberties of many Israeli citizens.

Human Rights Violations are inevitable in the Sixth State's political atmosphere. The centralised system, dominated by a powerful minority, tends to treat individual citizens and minority groups as pawns in their power game. Many non-Jewish Israelis have protested for decades against ethnic discrimination. National security is hardly a true explanation for the unfair treatment of the Druze community, whose men have been serving in our army and police with great sacrifices.

A similar policy is now aimed against right-wing Jews, mainly the settlers, with an emphasis on religious Zionists. The same citizens, who were once acclaimed as brave pioneers, are now despised and grossly mistreated. The recent "Disengagement" operation has set a most dangerous precedent of a massive population transfer for political and demographic reasons.

No true democracy can accept actions of ethnic cleansing, yet Israel's legislature, judiciary and executive branches have all endorsed this policy. Since Israel has no formal constitution, politicians and judges feel free to interpret the "Basic Laws" according to their personal preferences. The Supreme Court's growing power allows its members to impose their views on the politicians, even when the latter faithfully represent the opinions of the overwhelming majority. Moreover, all three branches violated the Zionist principle of not uprooting Jewish settlements and seriously damaged long held Israeli foreign policies by questioning the legitimacy of our presence in Gaza and the West Bank.

The Solution is obvious. Changing the constitutional structure is vital for the very survival of Israel as a Jewish-democratic state. The Seventh State should adopt a system of government that would suit the new realities and serve the national goals of the Jewish Nation.

Decentralisation must be the first goal. Classical Liberalism has always strove to minimise the influence of the authorities and empower the individual citizen, the family cell and the voluntary community. This approach is also inspired by the legacy of Judaism, where personal free will, traditional family values and strong community ties shaped our moral strength and ensured our unique identity.

A Governmental Reform should be our second object. The failed majoritarian, parliamentary system must be replaced with a more democratic structure that would allow for a more stable government, and at the same time, enhance equality and fair representation of all social groups in our society.

The Constitution of the Seventh State should express the above principles, as well as guarantee the character of Israel as the Jewish national homeland. It must be a binding, written constitution that would leave no room for subversive interpretations that might endanger either the democratic standards or our national values.

The Community Democracy concept is proposed as the constitutional structure for the Seventh State and the political goal of New Zionism. It is not a new ideology, but rather, a practical solution based on well-tested precedents. It has no intention of changing human nature, but rather, it aims to adjust the political institutions to human realities in our times. The model has been endorsed by experts in political science and constitutional law.

Federalism is one of the most important concepts of Classical Liberalism. It seems to answer most of Israeli society's needs and offer solutions to most of the problems described above.

Federal states successfully distribute the power between the central authorities and those of the autonomous member states, provinces or regional units. The Community Democracy is a federal system that would decentralise Israel's political system and transfer much of the central government's power to autonomous communities.

However, unlike existing federal states, the Seventh State would not be divided into autonomous geographical regions, since Israel's various communities are rarely concentrated within distinct territorial boundaries. The Community Democracy is a federal state that comprises autonomous communities that are not necessarily defined in geographical terms. Indeed, some of the communities may wish to exercise their autonomy in specific regions (e.g. Ultra-Orthodox neighbourhoods, Kibbutzim or Arab towns and villages), but most other Israelis would reject the idea of moving into segregated areas that may seriously damage our national unity and even lead to ideas of secession. These considerations also apply to the rejection of adopting an electoral system based on territorial constituencies, which would leave many communities with little or no representation and increase their sense of alienation.

Non Territorial Communities may also reflect more faithfully the social realities in today's democratic countries. While traditional federalism evolved in an era when local communities had distinct political interests and cultural traditions, many of the communities in today's society are dispersed in many locations and most areas have extremely diverse populations. Granting autonomy to non-territorial communities may greatly improve our society and empower individual citizens.

The non-territorial nature of the proposed communities would mean that joining or establishing communities would only be possible on a purely voluntary basis. Having joined the community out of free choice, each member would have a much deeper commitment to society.

It is recommended that a special law would strictly prohibit any type of coercion or unfair temptation in recruiting new community members. The national law must also ensure that all communal institutions observe proper standards and avoid corruption.

The voluntary membership would also allow each individual to join several communities at the same time. For example, one may wish to join a certain professional association, another religious community and a third community for its cultural services. Thus, each citizen's personal freedom would be greatly enhanced.

The Pluralistic Nature of the Community Democracy system may contribute to an important change in Israeli public life. Obviously, no single formula can miraculously solve all our problems, but non-territorial federalism can dramatically reduce the power of central government and thus, decrease both corruption and discrimination of cultural and ideological communities.

The model is based upon both Liberal, democratic traditions and on our national heritage. Federalism and pluralism are as much Liberal values as they are typical of Jewish life, from the ancient alliance of the twelve tribes, to the present solidarity and mutual respect between Jewish communities with different cultural customs. The equal status for all communities would provide all the existing social groups with the opportunity to lead their lives according to their chosen values. This should also contribute to reducing the current tensions between various ethnic groups, religious groups and secularists, nationalists and cosmopolitan citizens and more.

Each Community would be allowed to set its own regulations and institutions. The Knesset would disallow only extreme cases where a special majority would vote against customs that are considered exceptionally cruel or unacceptable.

New Communities would be accepted as members in the Union with the consent of all existing communities, much like the procedure in the US Senate. This would secure the interests of minority groups and protect them against the tyranny of an accidental majority. It would specifically prevent the creation of an artificial majority that would strive to change the Jewish character of the Seventh State of Israel.

All official communities would receive equal resources and equal representation in all branches of the central government. This would require more structural changes in the federal government.

The Governmental Reform should focus on the democratic structure of all central authorities. Most importantly, the three branches of government must be separated and strengthened to provide proper checks and balances. The current Sixth State has only one institution that is democratically elected - the Knesset - while all other branches are selected by the Knesset Members. The mutual dependency between the judiciary, legislature and executive branches eliminates any significant checks and balances and allows for distortions in representing the will of the citizens.

The Executive Branch should be elected by the people in a separate ballot. The presidential system would allow for stable government, eliminating the need for the present parliamentary coalition, including its rising corruption and improper tactics.

The President and Vice President should be elected personally in general and direct elections (unlike the American system of the Electoral College that suffers from many flaws). If no candidate wins 50% of the votes, a second round would determine which of the two leading runners is appointed to the office.

However, one must caution against adopting a presidential system without the other reforms. Stable government without federal decentralisation and parliamentary reforms can produce an Israeli president similar to the Syrian ruler, rather than the American example.

The Legislature should be divided into two chambers, to reflect the federal system. The Knesset's upper chamber would be the House of Delegates. Each community, regardless of its size, would receive two seats in the upper chamber and thus, secure the interests of all minorities against possible oppression by the majority. Each community would choose its delegates according to its own rules, customs, values and choices. Since all citizens would be free to join any community, there would be no danger of coercion.

The upper chamber would have the power to approve or reject any legislation passed in the lower chamber, which would be named the House of Representatives. The lower house would express the principle of "One Man One Vote" and the equal representation of all citizens.

The optimal democratic justice would be achieved through the balance between the majoritarian mechanism of the Knesset's House of Representatives and the protection of minority rights in its House of Delegates. Both chambers would be free of political considerations in securing a parliamentary coalition and thus, employ the checks and balances vis-a-vis the judiciary and the executive branch.

An Electoral Reform should be introduced along with the constitutional changes. The elections to the Knesset's House of Representatives must integrate the advantages of both the Proportional Representation and the regional systems.

While the current Israeli system secures the fair representation of most minorities, it grants huge powers to political parties, encourages corruption and fails to nurse a personal commitment of politicians to their voters. On the other hand, the regional system cultivates personal accountability, but its "Winner Takes All" rule often produces hideous distortions where slim minority votes win an absolute majority.

Proportional Representation must remain the basis for the Knesset's House of Representatives' electoral system. Denying fair, democratic representation from many small social sectors may present Israel with grave dangers. Marginalised communities can only blemish our democratic record and weaken the sense of social solidarity and national unity. Some extreme groups may well turn their energies into subversive and even violent channels.

For the same reason, the "Threshold Percentage" should be cancelled altogether. Since this proposal eliminates the need for parliamentary coalition, there is neither need nor justice in denying representation from small social groups.

Personal Elections, however, must be integrated into the current system. Several methods exist in Western democracies for mixing the two aspects. It seems that the best system for Israel would be to provide the voters with ballot forms that carry both the party name and a list of candidates. Since the voters would decide who would be elected to the Knesset, politicians are likely to do their best to win the support of the citizens.

Moreover, it is highly likely that the old parties would be gradually replaced in the new federal system by the new autonomous communities. This would contribute to the daily, personal contact between the electorate and its representatives.

Funding The Elections must also undergo a comprehensive reform. The new law must prohibit all forms of private funding. All candidates in all federal elections should receive equal resources from a central budget. To qualify for this budget, each candidate would have to produce a list of several thousands of supporters, which would be checked and verified by the Central Elections Committee.

Voluntary work for candidates would be allowed, but cash contributions would be illegal. Candidates who would use their own money for electioneering would face criminal charges and be barred from federal politics for life.

The Timing of the various elections should be spread apart. Many Israelis feel today that their voices are only heard once every four years. Once the Knesset is elected, the politicians forget about the citizens and break all their promises. It is highly likely that more frequent elections would improve the quality of our public life.

Therefore, it is suggested to separate the elections as follows: On year 1 of the four year cycle, Members of Knesset would be elected to the House of Representatives, for a four year term. On year 2, the public would vote for Mayors and delegates to Local Authority councils, also for four years. On year 3, a new President would be elected for four years. On year 4, community members would elect their delegates in the Knesset's House of Delegates.

This would also allow for "corrections" in mid-term and increase the politicians' awareness of public moods and demands.

The Local Authorities should also be strengthened in the Community Democracy. Since the autonomous communities would not necessarily be territorial, the regional aspects of civilian life should be handled more efficiently by viable authorities.

The Judiciary is probably the branch that needs reform more than all others. Recent reports have shown that most positions of power within the judicial branch are held by an alarmingly small social group. Nepotism and favouritism are widespread and there is no proper supervision by external elements. Therefore, it is proposed to reform this branch on two levels:

The Autonomous Communities would be allowed to operate their own courts. Just like the member states in the US have their own legislatures and court systems, the federation of communities would allow each member community to open its own courts for its own members. The legal basis for this exists even today, where any citizen is allowed to take his / her case to voluntary arbitration.

The difference between the present situation and the communal proposal is that the future courts would enjoy the recognition and the financial support of the State. This reform is highly important since many Israeli citizens feel today that the judges rule according to values and mentality that is completely alien to them.

Naturally, laws that concern public order, transportation and criminal cases would continue to be handled by the police and the federal courts.

The Federal Courts would be also transformed. Their conduct would be watched more closely by the Knesset and their freedom to interpret (and often - to distort) the letter and spirit of the Knesset's laws would be dramatically limited. Political issues would be taken away from the courts, so that they cannot continue to sabotage Israeli democracy by forcing the politicians to act against the wishes of their voters.

Moreover, all member communities would have the right to send representatives to the committee that appoints judges. Israeli courts must begin to reflect the social and cultural diversity of our public. Restoring the citizens' trust in the judicial system is probably one of the most urgent goals in our social situation.

The National Budget of the Seventh State should reflect the values of the new constitution. Instead of the wild, corrupt bargaining that leads today to discrimination and injustice, the Community Democracy would be based on totally equal funding of each community, according to the number of its registered members.

In the 1970's, Dr. Yaakov Hisdai proposed a simple method for equal funding of all civilian fields (education, welfare, culture, religion, sports etc.). This proposal adopts his concept and integrates it into the Community Democracy model.

The federal government would continue to collect taxes from all citizens and divide it into two chapters: The National Budget would fund all federal institutions, while the Citizens' Budget would be transferred to the autonomous communities via the individual citizens. Each eligible citizen would receive vouchers for the services and freely choose the communal institution to supply the actual service. For example, parents would receive an "education voucher" for each of their children, then choose a community school and register their children in exchange for the voucher. The community school would then receive funding from the federal ministry of education according to the number of vouchers it submits. Naturally, all vouchers would be totally equal in value and all children would be funded justly.

All Civilian Affairs would thus be controlled by the citizens. The people would be free to decide which cultural institution is subsidised with their tax money, how their religious services are managed, which educational standards their children receive and so on. There is little doubt that this method would minimise corruption, reduce the control of central government over our daily lives, cultivate each citizen's sense of responsibility and encourage private and communal initiatives.

The Advantages of the Community Democracy proposal go far beyond a mere improvement on the electoral system.

It has a realistic chance of gaining the support of most Israelis, since it would grant more freedom to each individual and each social group.

Therefore, the joint vision has a better chance of restoring our sense of social solidarity and national unity.

The model is perfectly in line with Liberal-Democratic principles, yet it allows traditional communities to better fulfil their values and aspirations.

Decentralisation is likely to contribute to relax cross-cultural tensions and reduce discrimination, corruption and waste of public resources.

The non-territorial communities would allow all social sectors to better control their lives, without forcing anyone into social or ethnic ghettos.

Reducing central powers would cultivate a sense of personal responsibility and encourage many citizens to start social, economic and cultural initiatives.

The irreversible constitutional declaration that Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish Nation, regardless of the population's majority, should secure the Jewish future in this land. The communal representation in the House of Delegates should protect all minorities against the tyranny of the majority and thus, remove any future demographic threat.

This in itself could greatly improve the chance for peace and remove all fears of population transfers. Many Arabs would support this proposal, since the freedom and prosperity under true Israeli democracy would never compare to the Palestinian Authority's corrupt dictatorship.

Impractical Utopia - is the most common objection to this proposal.

However, most of the proposal's ingredients are as old as Western Democracy and have a long proven track record. Experts have found the new combinations between the traditional elements more than possible and likely to gain success.

Moreover, the concept of non-territorial federalism cannot be regarded by Jews as innovative. Jewish communities have practised this very idea for thousands of years with great success. Today's new technologies can only enhance this legacy.

But above all, the real answer to the sceptics should be the famous quote from Dr. Theodor Herzl:

If you will, it is no fairy-tale!

Ehud Tokatly, 12/January/2006

Monday, May 17, 2010

Two Peoples - One Land

A very interesting book by Daniel J. Elazar:
Federal Solutions for Israel, the Palestinians, and Jordan

Here is the preface (emphasis mine):

The land known to Jews as Eretz Yisrael and to Arabs in recent times as Falastin is the home of two peoples -- Jewish and Arab -- with the latter defining themselves as Palestinians. At present it is divided among two states -- Israel and Jordan -- plus territories inhabited principally but not exclusively by Palestinian Arabs whose political fate has not yet been settled. These two peoples, weary of several generations of conflict, are now seeking a way to coexist and share the land between them for their mutual security and prosperity.

Since the time of the British Mandate, the leading elements on both sides sought coexistence and security through successive partitions of the land, between Palestine and Transjordan in 1921-22, and again west of the Jordan in 1947-48. Partition, however, has not brought an end to the conflict or sufficient satisfaction of the claims of all parties. Now it is time to find a way to share the land without an exclusive reliance on partition. This book is dedicated to the proposition that the only way to do so is through some form of federal solution which will secure for each party a polity of its own but in such a way that all three must share in the governance of the land's common goods. It is this writer's deep and considered belief that the federal option is the only option for peace.

Federalism combines self-rule and shared rule. It is a coming together of equals in such a way that they can remain separate yet be joined, as appropriate. The federal option rejects solutions imposed by force and conquest or the establishment of government through power pyramids. Rather it is based upon reflection and choice, and mutual consent among equals to establish a new governmental matrix within which all will find their place without foregoing their separate characters and cultures and their desire for independent development.

There are many different ways of combining self-rule and shared rule, offering greater or lesser independence for the partners to the federal bargain, more extensive or less extensive common institutions, and different degrees of separation and sharing depending on the function or task to be accomplished. Finding the appropriate federal option for Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, Israel and Jordan, is the most urgent task confronting the peoples in this land in their search for peace and comity. This book is one effort to advance the federal idea, explore the available options, and, where possible, advocate appropriate solutions to our mutual problem.

It is recognized that the achievement of peace in this shared land is a difficult, even daunting, task that requires strong commitment on all sides to a peaceful solution and the requisite political will to make the solution work. All of us are painfully aware of the conflicting claims of the parties to the conflict that until now have been considered by many to be so mutually exclusive as to permit of no compromise. All parties must recognize that however legitimate they believe their claims to be, none can be exercised fully and that the federal option allows all parties to preserve some fair share of their claim by sharing in its exercise with those who are today their antagonists. Once the parties are prepared to take this step, we are confident that they will find the way to make things work. If they are not prepared to do so, we fear that the conflict will continue indefinitely to the very great detriment of us all.

This book is unashamedly written from the Israeli point of view and reflects, first and foremost, Israeli interests in a secure peace that will enable the Jewish state to survive and thrive and to fulfill its Zionist mission. Saying that is not to say that it does not consider Palestinian Arab interests seriously. Quite to the contrary, the virtue of thinking federal is that in a true federal bargain all parties must gain. One who is seriously concerned with Israel's interests would have to be very foolish not to recognize that those interests are bound up with a fair response to the interests of the other people in this land. A federal solution is a way for all parties to try to have their cake and eat it too. Amazingly, that can be done and has been in many parts of the world. Given the conflicting claims with which we are dealing, it is the only way to do so in this case.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Where is the Plan B?

More and more people all over the world understand that in case of failure of the "Two States for two peoples solution", we should have already  prepared a "Plan B" to save the situation. Otherwise we risk falling deep into chaos.
Only in Israel this evidence meets a skepticism from all sides:
if you talk about it, the left will suspect you to try to escape from the two-state solution - to which it continues to believe with religious fervor - and the right will accuse you of treachery to Zionism, to give up the all country to the Arabs.

Viewed from Boston everything gets much clearer (emphasis mine):

It's time to consider alternative paths to peace

(Rina Castelnuovo/New York Times )
A man walks down the Israeli side of a divided highway around Jerusalem in 2007.

By Sasha Polakow-Suransky
May 16, 2010

“I think this is a very big deal,” President Clinton declared to a group of American Jews and Arabs after the legions of photographers left the White House grounds on Sept. 13, 1993. However, Clinton warned, it would take commitment and hard work to guarantee that the historic Israeli-Palestinian Accord signed that day would “truly be a turning point.”

It has been almost 17 years since Yasir Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin shook hands in the White House Rose Garden, setting in motion a process that was supposed to end the conflict for good. The agreement Clinton envisioned was relatively simple: Two states for two peoples. Israel would largely withdraw from the territories it has occupied since 1967, while retaining a few large settlement blocs within the West Bank and compensating the Palestinians with a similar amount of land from Israel proper. This two-state solution respects the fundamental tenets of Zionism — by allowing Israel to remain a Jewish-majority state — and satisfies moderate Palestinians’ nationalist ambitions by creating a national home for 4 million stateless Palestinians. It has guided western policy ever since.

But the two-state solution has not worked, and there is a growing fear that it never will, despite the resumption last week of indirect talks. Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 only to see the Islamic fundamentalist party Hamas take control of it, sending rockets into Israeli cities across the border. Meanwhile, Israel has continued to expand settlements in the West Bank, making the possibility of a territorially contiguous Palestine seem more remote than ever. With over 300,000 settlers in the West Bank today — compared to just over 100,000 in 1993 — many analysts on both sides believe that the settlements have become too entrenched and inextricably tied to Israel proper for the government to realistically evacuate all or most of its citizens, even if Israeli forces withdraw. Still, because negotiators on both sides and officials in Washington are so well-versed in two-state diplomacy and have been working for years to bring such a solution about, it remains the default option even as logistics conspire to make it impossible.

“Everyone agrees that we are very likely reaching a point where the two-state solution finally becomes impossible,” says Israeli journalist Dmitry Reider. “But they simultaneously refuse to discuss any ideas about what to do once we get there.”

But if the two-state solution fails and there are no meaningful alternative plans on the table, the prospect of all-out violence looms. Secular Palestinian leaders, discredited for failing to deliver statehood, would likely be discarded in favor of extremists. Meanwhile, Israel might simply opt to impose a border unilaterally, a move that could jeopardize its existing peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt and provoke violent Palestinian resistance. This would likely take Israel and its neighbors back to the state of on-and-off war that existed during the 1970s. With Plan A on life support and a grim future on the horizon, the time has come to consider alternatives, as unorthodox as they may be.

The most popular of these alternatives — one country for two peoples — strikes fear into the hearts of Israelis and committed Zionists worldwide. They have long dreaded the idea of a single state for both the Jews and the Palestinians, for reasons of simple demographics: If Jews become a minority, the Zionist dream is over. The Israeli government is acutely aware that if it does not relinquish control over the West Bank and the Palestinian population expands, Jews will eventually become a minority governing over a majority and the “apartheid” label that Israel’s critics have long sought to tag it with will begin to stick. In February, Defense Minister Ehud Barak presented the dilemma facing Israel in stark terms: “As long as between the Jordan and the Sea there is only one political entity, named Israel, it will end up being either non-Jewish or non-democratic....If the Palestinians vote in elections, it is a binational state; and if they don’t vote, it is an apartheid state.”

If Barak’s first scenario comes to pass — a state that is democratic but not Jewish — there would be several possible ways to organize it. One would be a consociational democracy, a la Switzerland, with autonomy for regional and linguistic minorities and proportional representation of all groups. Another would be a Belgian-style federation of Jews and Palestinians in which each community has an autonomous government but a strong central government exists to resolve issues affecting both communities. Or there could be a purely majoritarian democracy: one person, one vote, and a single, centralized government.

Support for some kind of single-state solution is growing among Palestinians and even being grudgingly considered by some Israelis. Although the Palestinian Authority officially remains in favor of two states, Palestinian Authority negotiator Ahmed Qureia suggested as early as 2004 that Palestinians would “go for a one-state solution in which the Palestinians have the same rights as Israelis” if the alternative required settling for small noncontiguous pockets of land. An April poll conducted by An-Najah National University in Nablus revealed that only 28 percent of Palestinians are prepared to accept an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, as envisioned in the two-state model; many are instead entertaining the idea of demanding voting rights within Israel.

Even though that strategy terrifies most Zionists, some notable right-wing Israelis are starting to break the one-state taboo as well. Likud Party Knesset member Tzipi Hotovely has been pushing for a plan that avoids the evacuation of West Bank settlements, granting Palestinians Israeli citizenship if necessary. And on April 29, the Likud Party Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin told the Greek ambassador that he “would rather see Palestinians as citizens of this State than partition the land.”

Others propose the reverse: allowing Israeli settlers to stay in Palestine. There would be two states, but no one would be required to move when the borders are drawn; the settlers could simply become minority citizens of the new state. Permitting settlers to remain in West Bank enclaves — even if those areas become part of Palestine — would allow Israel to avoid that drama of uprooting its own citizens from their homes. Many Palestinians bristle at the notion of rewarding Israel for decades of settlement expansion, which they regard as illegal. These moral objections notwithstanding, high-level Palestinian officials are taking the idea seriously. Qureia, the lead Palestinian negotiator, has explicitly proposed such an arrangement. He told the Israeli daily Haaretz in 2009, “Those residents of Ma’aleh Adumim or Ariel who would rather stay in their homes could live under Palestinian rule and law, just like the Israeli Arabs who live among you. They could hold Palestinian and Israeli nationalities. If they want it — welcome.”

An even more radical idea has been put forward by Swedish diplomat Mathias Mossberg and UC-Irvine professor Mark LeVine. They do not believe giving settlers Palestinian passports would solve anything. The two propose creating overlapping states between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, delinking the concept of state sovereignty from a specific territory. There would be an Israel and a Palestine, but rather than divide the land, the two states would be superimposed on top of one another. The plan would permit individuals to live where they wish and choose their political allegiance. This, they argue, would resolve the seemingly intractable questions of how to divide the holy city of Jerusalem and whether to allow Palestinian refugees “the right of return” to their old communities.

It is a creative and theoretically attractive solution because it doesn’t require forcing people from their homes or drawing new borders. However, their plan overlooks the near-total lack of trust between the two communities and is vague on the maddeningly complicated questions of jurisdiction that would arise, for example, in the case of a crimes involving both Israelis and Palestinians. Former US ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer regards the idea as a waste of time, arguing: “This is not a conflict where untried experiments in political science should be tried on the ground.”

With the two-state solution on life support and the Palestinian Authority and Hamas still at odds in their respective fiefdoms, Israeli government officials are contemplating a three-state model. The plan would essentially formalize the current status quo of a Hamas-ruled Gaza, a nominal Palestinian Authority state in most of the West Bank, and Israel within its 1967 borders plus a few annexed settlement blocs. James Zogby of the Arab-American Institute insists that this would never be sustainable because Palestinians would not allow Gaza to remain “a reservation of poverty, despair, and anger.” Still, with no sign of a reconciliation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, and the refusal of Hamas to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, some in the Israeli government believe maintaining the status quo is the easiest option.

Last week, Israelis and Palestinians resumed so-called proximity talks, with American mediators shuttling back and forth because the two parties will not meet each other face-to-face. None of these ideas will likely be on the agenda. The United States is still a firm believer in the peace process, and the two-state solution remains an article of faith in Washington and among regional experts.

But as facts on the ground gradually extinguish the possibility of a two-state deal, the unorthodox options deserve consideration, if only as a glimpse into what the future may hold. Moreover, the specter of a one-state solution could soon be invoked as a threat in negotiations if Palestinians do not see a viable independent state on the horizon.

Meanwhile, officials like Barak, who warn ominously that Israel will sink into apartheid, are doing little to encourage the territorial concessions necessary to steer Israel away from that perilous course. Pleased with a booming economy and an absence of suicide bombings, the Israeli government appears to be in no rush to seal a comprehensive deal, believing that the status quo can hold for several years. But not forever. Ironically, when that time comes, the Israeli officials who talk of three states as a stopgap measure and claim they are working to create two coexisting side-by-side in peace and harmony, could soon find themselves left with only one — the scenario they have always dreaded.

Sasha Polakow-Suransky is a senior editor at Foreign Affairs and author of ”The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa.”

Alternative Political Approaches - a shorter review

Howard Cort is a retired social planner who is convinced that to best solve a major public policy problem, all alternatives must be considered.
He has made a good review of various bi-national, federal and confederal proposals made in the past:

Alternative Political Approaches To Israeli-Palestinian Coexistence. It is worth being studied carefully!

He has written a shorter review wich I reproduce here:

Alternative Political Approaches to Israeli-Palestinian Coexistence: Selected plans

By Howard Cort
November 23, 2008

Believing that to best solve a major public policy problem, all alternatives must be considered, I began studying alternative political approaches to Israeli-Palestinian coexistence. I prepared a draft paper, which is being regularly revised and is available at the above website. Here are some examples of political approaches mentioned in the paper, followed by some sources for comparative analysis.

Alternative Palestinian Agenda Nasser Abufarha's detailed "Proposal for an Alternative Configuration in Palestine-Israel" characterizes the configuration as "a Federal Union that guarantees access to the whole space of Palestine-Israel, and at the same time protects the national identity and cultural expression of both societies through sovereignty over designated territories based on the natural landscape and current demographics of this shared space." Thus some parts of Israel that are predominantly Arab would fall under Arab sovereignty and some parts of the West Bank that are primarily Israeli would fall under Israeli sovereignty.

Parity for Peace Esther Riley's Parity for Peace is a condominium solution calling for two states on the same land, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, each with its own flag, song, holidays, head of state, legislature, and representation in the United Nations. The legislatures could legislate on matters not affecting the other population, such as marriage, but for matters affecting the common territory, the two legislatures would come together to make the laws. Each state would have equal power regardless of demographics, thus ensuring that each nation had enough power to protect its interests but not enough to dominate the other. To ensure equal application of the law, government institutions would be fully integrated, with positions of power rotated between the two states. Refugees would be compensated for their losses and have the right of first refusal to buy back their properties. Clerics would coordinate religious sites, and a publicly funded program would aim to reconcile the two peoples.

USIP Ervin Kedar calls for a condominium named the United "State of Israel" and Palestine (USIP). Palestinians and Jews could claim the whole area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River as their state. The right of return of both Jews and Palestinians would be respected and people could live anywhere they wanted. Each state would have its own legislature and have separate laws, administrative departments, courts, and police units, and separate brigades in the USIP armed services. Coordination would come through the USIP Condominium Council, with equal representation from both sides. The policies of the council would be enforced by a joint Israeli-Palestinian National Guard. Under the tab Peace Voices in

The Israeli-Palestinian Confederation Josef Avesar calls for a coalition of representatives from Israel and the Palestinian territories (or state) that would act alongside the existing Israeli and Palestinian governments. The confederation would serve as a mechanism for establishing projects of mutual benefit. Israel and Palestine would be divided into 300 districts, each sending one delegate to the confederation legislature. Fifty-five percent of the Israeli legislators and 55 percent of the Palestinian legislators would have to agree in order for any measure to pass. The governments of both Israel and Palestine would have a veto over any confederal legislation, even if the relative sizes of their populations change.

Two States—One Nation Kamal Nawash proposes creating a confederation of two sovereign states—Israel and Palestine—united by a government with limited powers. The confederation (which he calls a nation in the sense that the United States of America is a nation) would be called the United States of Israel and Palestine. Although the states would be geographically distinct from each other, Israelis and Palestinians would be able to live and work anywhere in the confederation, but their votes would count only in the state in which they had citizenship. Each state would have equal representation in the national parliament, regardless of the size of its population. The president or prime minister would be elected by the parliament, and because no one could get more than 50 percent of the votes without votes from the other side, no extremist could win. In time, the states could decide to turn more powers over to the national government, as happened in the USA.

Binational Confederation Presented as a "species of binationalism," Jerome M. Segal proposes a three-state confederation comprising a Jewish State of Israel, an Arab State of Palestine, and a Binational State of Israel-Palestine, each state having veto power in the confederal government. The binational state would be created by land ceded by Israel and Palestine from their areas of "original sovereignty" as defined by Segal: Israel's would be the territory it controlled before the 1967 War, and Palestine's would be the West Bank and Gaza, but not East Jerusalem, which would be under confederal sovereignty. All adults would have to choose which member state to have citizenship in, and it would be possible for them to hold citizenship in two or even three states if they met the respective eligibility requirements All citizens of the member states would be able to work, travel, and own property anywhere in the confederation.

Comparative Political Analyses
The Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs has published a book on alternative solutions to the conflict (Dr. Mahdi Abdul Hadi, ed., Palestinian-Israeli IMPASSE: Exploring Alternative Solutions to the Palestine-Israel Conflict (Jerusalem: PASSIA Publications, August 2005).
The Arab World Geographer has an issue devoted to the viability of the two-state solution and possible alternatives (8, no. 3 [Autumn 2005]). The Palestine-Israel Journal of Politics Economics and Culture has a special issue entitled "Future Options" (14, no. 2 [2007]. HopeWays presents and categorizes a number of options under the tab Peace Voices.

Friday, May 14, 2010

La solution fédérale

Le conflit israélo-palestinien est essentiellement un conflit entre souverainetés territoriales.
Territoire palestinien morcelé, Palestiniens devant traverser le territoire israélien entre Gaza et la Cisjordanie, familles éclatées entre les divers territoires, frontières et points de contrôle, droit au Retour de plusieurs millions de réfugiés palestiniens qui met en danger la majorité juive en Israël, près de 250,000 colons dans les implantations juives en territoire palestinien, 20 % de citoyens israéliens palestiniens qui pourraient demander leur autonomie ou leur rattachement au futur État palestinien, impossible partition de Jérusalem, tels sont les pièces d'un puzzle territorial impossible à construire.

Séparation politique - non territoriale
Israéliens et palestiniens savent très bien qu'il y a largement la place et les ressources pour que leur deux peuples puissent vivre ensemble sur le territoire entre mer et Jourdain en bonne entente, et même développer une coopération fructueuse. Mais ils ont d'abord besoin d'être séparés et indépendants pour pouvoir panser les plaies du passé, et pour pouvoir ensuite collaborer en tant que partenaires libres et égaux. Toutefois, les deux peuples sont si intriqués l'un dans l'autre que la solution de séparation par partage territorial est difficilement praticable et réserve d'innombrables sources de conflit pour le futur. Cette solution a surtout le tort de transformer le contrôle du territoire en moyen de contrôle de l'autre, et de faire de la domination du territoire un enjeu vital.
Je propose ici une solution qui permet aux deux peuples de se séparer politiquement sans partition territoriale, et de rendre leur existence indépendante du territoire, comme c'était le cas pour les Arabes nomades et les Juifs en exil.

Plus de "problème démographique"
Imaginons qu'un Palestinien puisse vivre où il veut sur le territoire d'Israël, tout en étant un citoyen palestinien qui vote pour le gouvernement de l'État palestinien. En quoi sa présence personnelle, individuelle, à Jaffa ou Haïfa me dérangerait-elle? En rien, puisque ne votant pas pour la Knesset, il ne risque pas de renforcer un camp arabe qui risquerait de devenir majoritaire et de prendre le pouvoir en Israël. Ainsi, la présence personnelle physique de citoyens palestiniens résidant en Israël ne met pas en danger le but fondamental du sionisme: assurer au Peuple Juif l'indépendance nationale, lui garantir que son sort ne dépend pas d'un autre peuple.
Même si un nouveau quartier arabe palestinien se développait dans l'une des villes israéliennes, en jouissant d'une autonomie communautaire entière dans la gestion de ses affaires municipales, en quoi cela me gênerait-il dans ma vie quotidienne d'Israélien? Et si cette population palestinienne devenait de plus en plus nombreuse, et même majoritaire dans certaines régions, en quoi cela me ferait-il problème si ces Palestiniens continuent à être des citoyens palestiniens qui votent pour leur gouvernement et non pour la Knesset? Quels que soit leur nombre et leur autonomie communautaire, des citoyens palestiniens de l'État de Palestine résidant en Israël ne mettront jamais en danger la majorité juive de la Knesset, et le caractère juif de l'État d'Israël.
Ce qui fait peur, c'est qu'une communauté palestinienne importante puisse demander ensuite son rattachement à l'État palestinien, entamant d'autant le territoire israélien. C'est la métaphore généralement employée du salami: découpé tranche après tranche. Ce qu'il faut voir, c'est que le danger réside dans le caractère territorial du rattachement, et non dans son caractère politique, qui ne gène personne. Or, ce danger existe déjà, au moins dans la tête de nombreux Juifs israéliens, en ce qui concerne les citoyens arabes palestiniens d'Israël.

La solution idéale est que les deux États israélien et palestinien perdent tout caractère territorial et que leur souveraineté n'ait par essence qu'un caractère purement personnel: la souveraineté s'applique alors aux individus et non au territoire. Autrement dit, la loi de chaque État, à l'image de la Halakha et la Shaaria`, soumet et libère chacun de ses citoyens personnellement, et non le territoire où il se trouve. Des Arabes peuvent alors vivre au milieu de populations juives, des Juifs peuvent vivre au sein de populations arabes, chacun détenant la carte d'identité délivrée par son gouvernement, sans mettre en danger la souveraineté nationale de leur voisin: chacun peut librement circuler et résider où il veut tout en restant soumis aux lois et aux modes de vie que son peuple à librement choisi. Le "danger démographique" disparaît alors. Cette notion détestable, qui fait à la naissance de chaque bébé innocent dans un peuple, résonner le tic tac de la "bombe démographique" pour l'autre peuple, cette notion haineuse n'aura plus de raison d'être. Chacun des peuples peut alors appliquer le droit au retour de ses exilés sans inquiéter l'autre. Loi du Retour pour les Juifs, Droit au Retour pour les Palestiniens, ne pourront être entravés.

Certes, me direz-vous, si vous m'avez suivi jusqu'ici, nous avons à présent deux États non territoriaux, à souveraineté personnelle, sur un même territoire commun et sans frontières intérieures. Tout cela est parfait, mais comment défend-on ce territoire d'Eretz Israël - Palestine de la souveraineté territoriale gourmande de ses voisins, comment s'assure-t-on qu'un des deux peuples ne réussira pas à dominer l'autre, comment allons-nous gérer ce territoire, les terres publiques, les routes, les réseaux d'énergie et de communication?
La solution la plus forte réside dans la création d'un cadre juridique commun souverain sur le territoire: une fédération, qui seule possèdera la souveraineté territoriale. Le territoire sera défendu, géré et détenu par la Fédération israélo-palestinienne. L'armée de défense du territoire devra comporter à terme des unités palestiniennes et israéliennes travaillant sous une direction commune, postées sur l'ensemble des frontières. Ne pas avoir seul le contrôle des forces de défense est certainement le plus difficile élément du compromis à accepter, car il sera assimilé par chacun à une grave atteinte à sa souveraineté nationale. Cette difficulté provient d'une confusion idéologique: dans un État de droit, c'est la Loi qui est instrument de la souveraineté, et non l'armée. L'organe exécutif de la loi, qui la fait respecter, est la police, et non l'armée. Ainsi, certains croient qu'en retirant son armée des "Territoires", Israël "donne" quelque chose aux Palestiniens, mais on ne peut donner ce que l'on ne possède pas! Les "Territoires" sont des territoires détenus militairement, ils n'ont jamais été annexés par l'État israélien. Seule l'annexion, élargissant la validité de la loi nationale aux territoires annexés, donne à l'État propriété sur ceux-ci, non l'occupation militaire. Ceci montre bien que c'est la loi qui réalise la souveraineté, et non l'armée. Le caractère territorial de la souveraineté nationale contribue à cette confusion: contrôlant le territoire, on croit le posséder et y avoir étendu sa souveraineté, alors qu'on ne fait que l'occuper et y imposer son ordre militaire. Il n'y a de souverain que choisi ou au moins accepté par son peuple.
Les forces militaires seront donc une armée de défense fédérale, associant unités israéliennes et palestiniennes, pur instrument de défense - selon l'idéal originel de Tsahal - dont le but est uniquement la défense des frontières extérieures.
Il existe une solidarité naturelle qui unit les Palestiniens et les autres peuples arabes de la région. Pour répondre aux soucis sécuritaire des Israéliens, la direction de l'armée ne deviendra paritaire que de façon progressive, à mesure que des traités de paix auront lié les Etats arabes à la Fédération.
L'ordre et la sécurité intérieure seront assurés par des forces de police exclusivement: police israélienne, police palestinienne, polices municipales aux pouvoirs renforcés, et police fédérale comprenant des unités mixtes.
L'attribution de compétences et de pouvoirs élargis aux municipalités et mairies de quartier sera un moyen efficace de limiter les frictions entre les deux peuples.

Citoyenneté fédérale commune et égalitaire
Une commission paritaire israélo-palestinienne gérera conjointement les terres publiques et les ressources en eau, en assurant équitablement le développement urbain et agricole des deux populations.
Tous les domaines relevant de la gestion du territoire dans son ensemble: environnement, voies de communications, réseaux d'énergie et d'information, seront du ressort de l'administration fédérale.
La protection sociale, la santé et tout ce qui relève des droits de l'homme en général sera de ressort de l'Etat fédéral; une commission économique fédérale devra veiller à réduire les disparités économiques entre les deux peuples.
L'administration fédérale contrôlera le droit d'entrée et de résidence sur le territoire fédéral.

Jérusalem sera à la fois la capitale politique de la fédération et des deux États non-territoriaux. La municipalité fédérale coordonnera l'action des différentes mairies de quartier juives et arabes en harmonisant leur développement. Ce schéma pourra être le modèle de fonctionnement des différentes villes mixtes du pays.
Jérusalem résume aujourd'hui tous les conflits entre les deux peuples, et sera le symbole vivant de leur résolution: à la fois capitale fédérale unifiée et double capitale de deux États - Yéroushalayim-Al Quds - Jérusalem symbolisera l'unité dans le respect des différences, sans mur ni barbelés.
Nous aurons alors peut-être le privilège de voir se réaliser la prophétie selon laquelle toutes les Nations monteront à Jérusalem pour étudier son exemple de paix et de justice.


Israel demographic problem and its federal solution

The real danger for the State of Israel future is more demography than terrorism. In the most peaceful ways - making babies - Israeli Arabs will become the majority in a few decades and will turn Israel in an Arab state. Military might and readiness to self-sacrifice won’t protect us.
Perhaps there will be a huge influx of immigrants from the United States? But we don't rely on miracles!
The solution of splitting the land into two territorial states is also not proving feasible. Palestinians don't want the Bantustan they have been "offered" at Oslo. More, neither Jews nor Arabs have completely renounced the idea of living in the entire area called Eretz Israel/Palestine. Even if a Palestinian State would be created in the 1967 occupied territories, it couldn't be militarily independent because of Israel security concerns.
Nor is this territorial separation a solution for the future: it won’t prevent Israeli Arabs becoming a majority inside Israel within some fifty years from now.
If the Israel territorial state wants to keep its Jewish character, it will have to relinquish more and more pieces of its own territory: first Galilee, than North Negev… Or it will have to expel Manu military Palestinian Israelis from its territory.

Outside, Palestinian Arabs in growing numbers, starving in a Third World Palestinian state at the doors of a wealthy Jewish state could not be held back forever by frontiers and barbed wires.
What is even worse is the danger presented by separating the two populations: a totally Jewish ‘enclave’ would be a prime target for weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein has not fired his missiles on a mixed Jerusalem, but on the pure jewish Tel Aviv…
One bi-national state is not a solution either. Neither Jews nor Palestinian Arabs are willing to sacrifice their national identity.
So what is the solution?

I think the only solution left is a political, non-territorial separation.
True, it means creating a political structure of a new kind. However, the Jewish People present a problem unheard of in the annuals of mankind - a people claiming its right over its land after an absence of two thousand years. A unique problem that requires a unique solution.

I suggest that Israel and the Palestinian Authority should become a federation of two independent, non-territorial states - one Jewish and one Arab. The two national states will govern human beings, not territory; the sovereignty of their national law will apply on their own citizens only, and not on the territory, like Halacha and Shaaria always did. Territorial sovereignty will belong to the Federation only.
Jews and Arabs could live anywhere in the territory of the Israel-Palestine Federation but could only vote for their own government. In that way, the Jewish state would always comprise 100% Jews, no matter how many Palestinians live among them. The same is true for the Palestinian state: it will always count 100% of Arab citizens, no matter the number of Jews living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The federate government, composed of an equal number of Jews and Arabs, would ensure a just distribution of land and natural resources. The awful "demographic problem" won't exist anymore, and the Law of Return for the Jews, and the Right of Return for the Palestinians would be equally implemented for both peoples by the Federal Government.
Territorial continuity would be preserved; both economies would be interdependent and would benefit from each other. Zahal would become the Israel-Palestine Federation Defense Forces and will be composed of israeli and palestinian units. With the signature of peace treatises with all arab states of the region, there will not be any obstacle left for the direction of the army to reach full parity. And Jerusalem would have special status as the Federation Capital.

This solution may seem utopian today but I can’t envisage any other solution - except waiting for the coming of Messiah.
It would be proposed to the Palestinian Authority instead of a separated territorial state.
In case they wouldn't accept, Israeli Jews and Arabs from Israel and Jerusalem could anyway implement it inside Israeli territory. Nothing would prevent more Palestinians areas from the military-occupied territories to join the Federation later, causing no demographic problem because they will be counted as Palestinian citizens, not Israeli citizens. It will give Palestinians an attracting alternative to Abbas small and poor state.

The need for a Jewish State appeared with the rising of Nation-states in Europe in the aftermaths of the French Revolution. Because Nations became sovereigns instead of kings of flesh and blood, it became impossible for two Nations to dwell in the same state: there cannot be two sovereigns for one power. In reaction to this problem, the Zionist Movement creates its own Nation-state for the Jewish people. Of course, it has only inversed the problem, the Jewish Question turned into a Palestinian Question, which is exploding literally in our faces.

The problem with the Israel nation-state, like with any nation-state, is that it doesn't suit Jewish identity: anyone can become both a citizen and a member of the French or American People by being born on French or American territory; an “Israeli People” cannot be defined this way as Israel contains two historical peoples, the Jewish people and the Palestinian-Arab people. And you don’t become a Jew by being born in Eretz-Israel. Jewish identity is not dependent on territory, so it can't absorb strangers that live on the same territory.
Arab identity, in its abrahamic-nomadic roots, has quite the same structre as the jewish one.
We can’t escape the need to give this fact a political expression. This is what this conflict and this solution are about.


United States of Israel/Palestine

The Free Muslims Coalition, founded by Kamal Nawash, has reached nearly the same conclusions as ours. Their terminology is somehow different, proposing a "two states in one federal nation" solution, when we are speaking of a "two nations in one supranational federation" solution.

I'll simply copy/paste here their position:


No issue has the same global impact as the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. During the cold war, the United States and the Soviet Union twice raised their security alerts and aggressively challenged each other over this conflict. The oil embargo of the 1970s was inspired by the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Numerous militants, terrorist groups and governments around the world which seek legitimacy place the Palestinian/Israeli conflict at the forefront of their agenda. And while the Palestinian/Israeli conflict is not the cause of terrorism, solving this conflict may transform the political landscape of the entire Middle East and expose the various agendas of numerous violent groups who leach on this conflict to win the hearts and minds of emotional and unsuspecting people.

Because of the global impact of this conflict, the entire world must do all it can to bring peace between the Palestinians and Israelis. Towards that end the Free Muslims propose the following:

Today there are three solutions to this conflict. The Israelis and Palestinians can kill each other; they can separate by creating two separate nations; or they can create one nation made up of two people. Presently, the only solution being discussed is a two state solution. This solution is based on separating both people into two separate and sovereign nations. While the Free Muslims support any solution that brings final peace to both Israelis and Palestinians, we believe there are serious problems with the two state solution that may not bring long term peace to both people.

During the Clinton administration, the Palestinians and Israelis spent nearly ten years trying to hammer out a deal based on the two state solution. That peace process ended in total failure. Immediately after the failure of that peace process, Israelis and Palestinians blamed each other for the failure; and the rest of the world took side with either the Palestinians or the Israelis.

However, neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis are to blame for the failure of the Clinton era peace talks which were based on the "Oslo agreement." What caused the failure of the peace talks maybe the solution it self rather than the parties. The consequences of creating two separate nations by dividing Israel and Palestine were and still are difficult pills to swallow for both Israelis and Palestinians. It is a fact that both Israelis and Palestinians have religious, historical and emotional attachments to every square inch of the land that includes Israel and Palestine. The sooner the Palestinians and Israelis understand this reality the sooner they can solve their conflict.

From the point of view of many Israelis, the two state solution is difficult because they would have to give up their religious and historical attachments to the West Bank and Gaza which they call Judea and Samaria. Many Israelis simply cannot fathom giving up the West Bank and Gaza and maybe they should not have to. From the point of view of the Palestinians, the two states solution is difficult because they have historical, religious and emotional attachments not only to the West Bank and Gaza but also to Israel which they call the lands of 1948 after the year they lost it to present day Israel. These are the facts and realities that the Palestinians and Israelis have to deal with to solve their conflict.

In light of these facts some may think that a solution to this conflict is impossible. Not true. The Palestinian/Israeli conflict can be solved like any other conflict as long as the parties think outside the box and as long as no one uses violence or terrorism to effect political change.

In light of the attachments that both parties have for the same territory, the solution is not in separating but in coming closer together. Many Israelis and Palestinians seem to agree that the land they call Israel/Palestine is indivisible. Thus, the solution lies in keeping the land that Israelis and Palestinians call home as one nation while at the same time providing each side with the security and the individuality the parties would have if they had their own separate nations.

What is being proposed here is a Two State-One Nation solution based on equality, freedom and civil rights for both Israelis and Palestinians. The idea behind this solution is that there will be two sovereign states similar to New York and New Jersey that together make one nation similar to the United States of America. However, rather than being a federation it would be a confederation. The main difference between a federation and a confederation is that the states in a confederacy have much more sovereignty than in a federation.

What is being proposed here is not entirely new. What is new about the two state-one nation solution is that it achieves the benefits of being one united nation while reserving for both Israelis and Palestinians the security and independence of being two separate nations.

To illustrate this point further, note that after occupying the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Israel could have annexed and integrated those territories into Israel by providing the Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. However, Israel did not do this and instead chose to treat the West Bank and Gaza as if they were part of Israel physically without providing the Palestinians in those territories with citizenship, political rights or civilian rule. Among the reasons Israel did not integrate the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza into Israel is because Israelis were afraid of a demographic problem. The Israelis feared that if they gave the Palestinians equality, political and civil rights that the Palestinians may one day out number the Israelis and vote Israel out of existence. While we understand this concern by Israelis, those Israelis who fear giving the Palestinians equality and civil rights assume that they cannot give the Palestinians equality and at the same time have a Jewish state. This is a false assumption. The territory that includes Israel and Palestine can be one nation where the Palestinians have equality, political and civil rights and at the same time be a safe heaven for Jews from all over the world.

This can be done by creating a confederation of two states united by a federal type government with limited powers. The country can be called the United States of Israel and Palestine. While both states should have the right to limit immigration and migration within their borders, the principles of the nation should be based on the free movement of labor and people. To the extent that Israelis move to Palestine and Palestinians to Israel, we can avoid the demographic consequences of the migration by having their votes count in their respective state regardless of where they live. This approach will totally avoid the demographic fear that Israelis have by making certain that migration of people does not dilute the political power of Jews or Palestinians in their local and state politics.

As to the national government, Israel and Palestine shall each contribute 50% to the national parliament regardless of their populations. With this solution, the Israelis do not have to fear political dilution from potential demographic changes and the Palestinians do not have to fear political dilution from the Israelis.

As to the President or Prime Minister of the national government of the United States of Israel and Palestine, they should be elected by the national parliament. Being that the parliament is divided 50/50 no Palestinian or Israeli can win without support from parliamentarians of the other side. This will guarantee that no Palestinian or Israeli extremist can become president of the United States of Israel and Palestine.

Initially, the national government should have limited powers similar to the United States government in the early days of the Union. As time progresses and both Israelis and Palestinians feel more comfortable with each other, they may chose to give the confederation more authority. In essence the early days of the national government of the United States of Israel and Palestine should resemble an entity more like the European Union than the U.S. federal government.

On economic matters, Israel and Palestine shall act as one nation with no exception. They shall have the same currency, no tariffs and complete free trade. The early days of the national government or confederation shall be to bring jobs and economic prosperity to both Israelis and Palestinians. This should be an easy task. A peaceful Israel and Palestine acting as one nation would be a gold mine the likes of which the world has never seen. A nation that is the birth place of western civilization and immensely revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims, religious tourism alone will guarantee a healthy economy in perpetuity.

However, the economy will have more than tourism to secure its prosperity. A nation of Palestinians and Israelis at peace with their neighbors shall have unlimited opportunities. The technical know-how of Israel, the available capital in the Arab world and a geography that is at the intersection of three continents can produce an economic power house that is second to none on a per capita basis. Moreover, a peaceful nation made up of Palestine and Israel at peace with their neighbors will not only bring economic prosperity to that nation but also to the entire Middle East.

This solution may not be perfect. However, this proposed solution may be the only solution that will give the Palestinians and Israelis most of what they want while at the same time allows both people to keep their individual identity and live as one nation. Moreover, with this solution, Jerusalem becomes a non-issue and borders become less relevant. This solution will basically take Israelis and Palestinians back to the time before the first intifada (uprising) began in 1987 with the only difference being that the Palestinians will have rights and equality that they never had under the occupation. As proof that this solution can work is the fact that Israel has one million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and they are not demonstrating, throwing rocks or blowing themselves up. Why is this? The only difference between Palestinians who are citizens of Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza is that one group has freedom, political and civil rights while the other has nothing. Israel did not recognize the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza as citizens. They were put under military rule, and they were segregated in everyway.

To summarize, the Free Muslims are asking the Palestinians to reach out to their Israeli and Jewish partners and say the following:

"We understand why the state of Israel is important to you. We are fully aware of the persecution that Jews suffered throughout history and the necessity of having a safe heaven for Jews. We also understand that Jews have historical and religious ties to Israel/Palestine. We believe that every Jew shall have the right to move to Israel and become a citizen immediately. We also welcome Jews to visit and to reside in the West Bank and Gaza. We want the Palestinians and Israelis to live together as neighbors, friends and countrymen. In return, what we want is freedom, liberty and equality for the Palestinians. Will you meet us half way?"

The Free Muslims are also asking Israelis and Jews to reach out to their Palestinians Partners and say the following:

"We understand why Palestine is important to you. We are fully aware of the suffering the Palestinians have experience over the last 100 years and the necessity of having a safe heaven for Palestinians. We also understand that Palestinians have historical and religious ties to Israel/Palestine. We believe that every Palestinian shall have the right to move to Palestine and become a citizen immediately. We also welcome the Palestinians to visit and to reside in Israel. We want the Palestinians and Israelis to live together as neighbors, friends and countrymen. In return, what we want is permanent security, liberty, equality and the total freedom to be Jews. Will you meet us half way?"