Thursday, December 8, 2011



Israeli scholar Lev Grinberg starts from a critique of the one- and two-state solutions to suggest an alternative vision including elements of both. The proposed formula is an Israeli-Palestinian Union with different layers of state institutions: a shared administration based on parity representation located in the unified capital of Jerusalem, two separate democratic nation-states, and seven provinces (or federal states) belonging to one of the two nation-states. The author sees this “1–2–7 states” vision of the future as a way of containing the conflict in the absence of an ideal solution.

The Israeli-Palestinian Union: The "1-2-7 States" Vision of the Future, by Lev Grinberg

Thinking outside the box: Alternatives to the one- and two-state solutions


Emphasis is mine.

IMAGINATION IS A NECESSARY but insufficient precondition for political change. Equally crucial are the political capacity to negotiate and compromise, a relatively even balance of power, and the authority (and popular support) to implement agreements. In addition to a lack of any shared vision, all these elements were absent in the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” of 1993–2000. Two charismatic leaders allegedly committed to the two-state solution, Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat, failed to agree on borders, postponed negotiations, and neglected to take steps to start decolonization. Their failure, compounded by subsequent developments on the ground, critically jeopardized the two-state solution’s future chances of success. The one-state scenario on the other hand has not even reached the table. In light of the obstacles in the way of these two most commonly mentioned solutions, this essay suggests an alternative vision of how to contain the conflict in the absence of reaching a “solution.”


Democratic political institutions are not designed to solve conflicts but to contain them through negotiations and legitimize the compromises made by the elites representing dominant and dominated groups. In the absence of agreed political institutions, violence becomes the basic expression of the conflict and a means to achieve goals. Dominant groups use state institutions to rule unilaterally, including by stepping up military repression, and dominated groups react by using violence aimed at achieving recognition of their leadership and claims.

Democracy is a specific set of institutions that developed in Europe in the nineteenth century as a result of increasing class conflict and the formation of nation-states. The two structural preconditions of democratization were a balance of power between dominant and dominated classes and a clear demarcation of borders (physical and symbolic) defining the potential citizenry. Without these preconditions, it is difficult to establish democratic institutions capable of containing conflicts, and without such institutions conflicts easily deteriorate into violence: civil wars, authoritarian regimes, or both. But while European states tended toward internal democracy, their expansion was at the same time based on disproportionate economic and military power relative to other regions of the world, and they used this power to impose nondemocratic institutions on these regions to rule them unilaterally. The struggle of the peoples dominated by Europe to gain recognition and inclusion in the polity could not be contained by these state institutions because they were imposed unilaterally by external colonial and imperial power.

With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the basic factors preventing its success were the power imbalance between the two parties and the inability to determine borders between the mutually influenced and penetrated Israeli and Palestinian political arenas. With regard to the latter, Israel’s own contradiction between democracy and colonialism—which it attempted to mask by way of a “dual democratic-military regime”—stands as a major obstacle. This dual regime, comprising a formal democracy within the 1949–67 borders and a military regime in the West Bank and Gaza,  involves two separate struggles: a democratic struggle for equal rights within the sovereign and recognized borders of Israel and a struggle to end the occupation in the Palestinian territories.

In addition to the Israeli and Palestinian political arenas, there is also a third arena of interrelations—an Israeli-Palestinian political arena—that includes individuals, groups, organizations, and institutions of both communities. Indeed, the peace process itself was really an attempt to coordinate and synchronize the opening of these three political spaces.  A key impediment to achieving this goal was the agreement under Oslo to start democratization (via Palestinian elections) combined with the decision to postpone the decolonization of the occupied territories (i.e., dismantle Jewish settlements, grant economic sovereignty to the Palestinians, and end military rule). A broader reason for the failure to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, then, was the complex interaction among the three political arenas, and this complexity will continue to be a crucial factor in the future. Two conclusions flow from this: Israeli power needs to be balanced by international intervention, and political institutions should be put in place that are able to contain conflicts by opening space for representation and mediation in these three political arenas.

To design the institutions necessary to contain the conflicts in the Israeli-Palestinian matrix, it is necessary to understand the specific tensions involved. This is a matter of institutional design requiring a new vision of the future. Whether or not the agreed institutions can be installed and consolidated depends on the political will of the elites and the popular support they can mobilize. It is true that the one- and two-state solutions are also visions of the future, but they do not sufficiently address the complexities of history and the Israeli/Palestinian societies’ present situation, nor do they account for the need to contain conflicts through facilitating institutions. In other words, neither provides for institutions that can work as containers of expected social conflicts.


    Until October 2000, the most popular vision for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was two separate nation-states. Since then, however, the one-state solution, understood as the promotion of one binational state, has been gaining popularity among Palestinian intellectuals due to the failure of the Oslo process.  Neither of these solutions, in my view, is viable in the present reality, necessitating a search for a new formula, possibly one that combines elements of both.

The two-state solution is based on the European model of nation-states, whereas the one-state solution is based on the European model of liberal democracy. But as mentioned above, neither model reflects the current economic, political, cultural, and military realities in Israel/Palestine or offers any plausible transition from the current dual military-democratic regime. Moving toward either scenario from the present reality would at best create tensions while being incapable of containing the tensions and conflicts inevitable after their implementation.

The two-state model involves a return to the pre-1967 borders (with minimal agreed territorial exchanges) and the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza connected by a passage that traverses Israeli territory. This solution assumes both a recognized border separating both states and military forces capable of controlling these borders and protecting their respective citizens. But the demarcation of borders and their effective defense seem almost impossible given the mutual penetration of populations in this relatively small piece of land, not to mention other particularly intractable issues such as sovereignty over Jerusalem and the holy sites.

Democracy and security represent two additional major obstacles to the two-state model. With regard to the former, this solution assumes that Israel is the state of the Jews,  yet some 18 percent of Israel’s citizens are Palestinians unwilling to accept their inferior status whatever agreements the PLO might sign. This means that the two-state solution maintains the national conflict within the borders of the Jewish state, which will be unable to contain it by the democratic means of equal representation. Security, meanwhile, is the primordial problem in Israeli discourse. The idea of an eternal and ahistorical insecurity, while rooted in the traumatic past of the Jews in Europe and the Holocaust, as well as in ancient religious texts, has been the national myth since 2000. Even before, a clear Israeli precondition in all negotiations has always been disarmament of the Palestinian state so as to rule out the possibility of any Palestinian military force capable of confronting the Israeli military. Moreover, given the unlikelihood that a Palestinian state could ever be allowed to attain real independence and sovereignty or autonomy, the Palestinian opposition would have good reason to continue violence against its powerful neighbor. In such a situation, it is not unreasonable to assume that after withdrawal from the occupied territories a revisionist Israeli political movement could win elections on a platform calling for the military reoccupation of the Palestinian state.

The one-state solution is ideologically opposed by most Israelis and, more importantly, by the Jewish state, which can easily obstruct it. Moreover, both national communities still prefer to remain autonomous, independent, and undetermined by the other, their lingering attachment to the two-state solution being based on the illusion that it will allow each to be rid of the other. Indeed, Palestinian advocates of the one-state solution sometimes seem to press the issue mainly to emphasize the antidemocratic nature of the Israeli military occupation and the Jewish state rather than with the aim of designing political institutions able to contain the conflict in the future.

The idea of one democratic liberal state can be very attractive in principle, but without conditions of deep mutual recognition between the two communities, formal democratic institutions cannot guarantee political stability. Instead of opening political space to new agendas in civil society common to Jews and Palestinians, the one-state solution, if implemented, could institutionalize their national mobilization against each other and neutralize potential space for shared interests. Indeed, in the charged mutual hostility characterizing Israeli-Palestinian relations, democracy itself could be a source of conflict, exacerbating the demographic race, strengthening mutual fears, and encouraging disputes over migration (the Palestinian right of return and the Jewish Law of Return). A democratic state without additional political institutions could only enhance the politicization of religion and the polarization of extremist ethno-national trends.


Looking beyond the present impasse, a major effort of institutional design is required to invent political frameworks capable of containing inevitable conflicts by agreed-upon rules that produce representation and dialogue. These institutions must embody the positive aspects of both the one- and two-state solutions and overcome their obstacles. It is not my intention to enter into details about the specific institutions, which need to be worked out by research institutions and think tanks before being negotiated and implemented, but it would seem obvious that a system responding to the above criteria would involve some creative combination of consociation, confederation, and federative institutions.

The solution I propose is an Israeli-Palestinian Union (IPU), which would include one shared administration based on parity representation located in the unified capital of Jerusalem, two separate democratic nation-states, and a minimum of seven provinces (or federal states) that would be part of either nation-state and would enjoy relative autonomy.  The vision of the “1–2–7” IPU is mainly based on my interpretation of the Israeli-Palestinian triple matrix of relations,  but it is also informed by models of the European Union (EU) and German federal institutions.

The separate governments of the two national states would administer everything that can be separated: land, education, health, police, local government, tourism, culture, religion, sports, and so on. The IPU government would administer everything that is indivisible: infrastructure, communications, water, energy, transportation, ecology, the sacred places, and Jerusalem. In contrast to the national states, where demographic changes would be democratically represented, the IPU institutions would be founded on the principles of parity and mutual veto. One of the main tasks of the IPU shared administration would be to erase the demographic fears fanned by democracy—namely, Jewish fears of the Palestinian right of return and Palestinian fears of Jewish immigration, territorial expansion, and displacement. During the early years, the IPU government would probably require the participation of an international body to mediate disagreements and foster compromise.

Two more complex issues are security and the economy: while violence would be the most likely factor to sabotage any political agreement, the second would probably be the economic gap between Israelis and Palestinians. These two areas would require the most creative efforts, supported by international institutions. With regard to security, it is highly improbable that a peaceful solution could survive without the total disarmament of all civilians, Jews and Palestinians, and the backing of a major international peace force, which would need to have a clearly defined mission, to protect Palestinians from Israeli military forces.

If the economic institutions are improperly designed and implemented, they could easily undermine political support for the agreements and ultimately derail the process. A major Israeli and Palestinian motivation in the initial peace negotiations was economic: Israelis wanted to participate in the globalized economy and Palestinians wanted stable jobs, investments, and growth.  Ultimately, Israelis achieved their goals, but the Palestinians did not.  Learning from earlier mistakes, all economic agreements would have to aim at closing the economic gap through state intervention and counterbalancing the power of Israeli technology, financial institutions, and industry. The dominant economic position of Israeli elites helps them benefit from “free markets,” whether these are “free trade zones” or “custom unions.”  The economic arrangements of the IPU must therefore consciously work against a direct link between identity and material welfare, or an explosive situation could arise.

The economic policy must be designed to counterbalance economic gaps, mainly between Israel and Palestine, but also within each national community. This is one of the main goals of the IPU administration and the seven regional states, which would be designed according to salient economic gaps between areas of the IPU. The central administration would collect taxes and allocate them within an equalizing logic. The model I have in mind is the German federal financial system. The principle is that the IPU administration would collect progressive taxes according to the wealth of distinct areas and would later redistribute them according to the number of citizens in each state and their needs. The social security system would follow the same logic in relation to individuals and families. All these systems would have to be very well planned at the technical, professional, and administrative levels and would need the advice of international institutions.

The division of each nation-state into three or more regional states would have not only an economic equalizing goal but also a pluralistic and representative democratic logic. The various regional states could have very different cultural and religious preferences and complex community relations. The differences between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Gaza and Ramallah, are examples of these internal national differences. The IPU’s division into regional states, the establishment of local parliaments, democratic deliberations in each state, and even local legislation, could be expected to open space to multicultural and multireligious communities, which might be ignored, repressed, or misrecognized within the two dominant identities.


    Throughout past Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Israel has been consistently determined to avoid any third-party intervention (except that of the United States), believing that such involvement would support Palestinian claims.  From this, I conclude that in order to reach an agreement, third-party mediation is precisely what should be done: without international intervention consciously aimed at balancing Israel’s power and reducing U.S. and EU military, economic, and political support, no fair and durable agreement can be achieved. In direct negotiations, no substantial Israeli compromise can be expected, and if Palestinian negotiators accept Israel’s conditions out of weakness and dependency, the implementation of the agreement will fail because other Palestinian actors will reject or sabotage it.

From 1992 to 2008 various U.S. administrations have supported the position of the Israeli moderates in the best case (Bill Clinton) or even converged with the most extremist Israeli government (George W. Bush).  The only times when international intervention played a positive role in Israeli peace negotiations (notably by balancing Israel’s powerful position) were related not to Palestine but to the Arab states. The first time was in the 1978 Camp David negotiations between Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat under Jimmy Carter; the second was when George H.W. Bush forced the Israeli government to participate in the 1991 Madrid Conference. In both cases, the interventions directly influenced internal Israeli politics, empowering actors supporting peace and compromise. In the Israeli-Palestinian arena, the need for intervention is even greater and obviously depends on the international context, not only local developments.

Since Barack Obama was elected president of the United States in late 2008, expectations of U.S. pressure on the Israeli government to negotiate a peaceful agreement with the PLO have mounted. International pressure on Israel is indeed a necessary precondition to balance its power vis-à-vis the Palestinians. However, if the pressure is to implement the two-state solution, it will almost certainly fail and might even enhance the Israeli tendency to impose unacceptable conditions on the Palestinians and later blame them for any failure. This has been Israel’s strategy since 1947, refined during the Oslo negotiations for the two-state solution, and most dramatically following the Camp David summit in 2000.

The general goal of negotiations must not be to establish two states or one, but to abolish Jewish supremacy over all the land and build political institutions capable of containing expected tensions in the future in the three separate political arenas of Israel, Palestine, and Israel/Palestine. Obviously, such a major step cannot be made in the present violent situation of Israeli military domination, economic strangulation, and nonrecognition of the elected government in Gaza. An interim hudna (truce) must be reached to change this situation and facilitate creative and constructive negotiations. The fundamental elements of a hudna could serve as the point of entry into the occupied territories for an international peace force, which would allow freedom of movement and economic development for Palestinians and start the dismantlement of Jewish settlements. Only after a truce is signed and the Palestinians and Israelis begin to feel some relief and trust in the possibility of reconstruction can a new future be imagined. Only then can we start thinking about how to build our shared future in Israel/Palestine.


1. For an expanded theoretical background of my interpretation of political institutions, conflict, and violence, see Lev L. Grinberg, Politics and Violence in Israel/Palestine: Democracy versus Military Rule (London: Routledge, 2009).

2. Lev L. Grinberg, “Israel’s Dual Regime Since 1967,” MIT Electronic Journal of Middle East Studies 3 (Spring 2008), pp. 59–80.

3.Dual regime is the basic concept; however, there are several specific forms of military domination in different areas. For example, conditions in East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip are very different from those in the West Bank. Each area is dominated differently.

4. For an interpretation of the Israeli-Palestinian triple matrix of relations, see Lev L. Grinberg, “A Theoretical Framework for the Analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” International Review of Sociology 1 (1994), pp. 68–89.

5. Jamil Hilal, Where Now for Palestine? The Demise of the Two-State Solution (London: Zed Books, 2007).

6. For a discussion of the reasons for the failure of the peace talks, see Grinberg, Politics and Violence.

7.Israel’s recognition as a Jewish state has already been raised in the negotiations, see Ian Lustick, “Abandoning the Iron Wall: Israel and ‘The Middle Eastern Muck’,” Middle East Policy 15, no. 3 (Fall 2008), pp. 30–56.

8.This is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s main argument against Palestinian independence: we already withdrew from Gaza and the Palestinians reacted with Qassams. This is obviously a propaganda manipulation, but it is expected to work as a mobilizing nationalist argument in the future, including against Netanyahu if he signs a withdrawal agreement as a result of international pressure.

9. The number of federal states would depend on political negotiations and the criteria used by the negotiators to determine their borders. The seven I refer to are Jerusalem, Beersheba, al-Khalil/Hebron, Gaza, Haifa, Ramallah, and Yaffa-Tel Aviv, the capitals of the federal states I envisage. There could be up to fifteen federal states if the areas were further divided according to economic gaps, demographic composition, and geographic obstacles.

10. See Grinberg, Politics and Violence.

11. See Amira Hass, Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land under Siege (London: H. Hamilton, 1999); Uri Savir, The Process: 1,100 Days that Changed the Middle East (New York: Vintage, 1999); Gershon Shafir and Yoav Peled, Being Israeli: The Dynamics of Multiple Citizenship (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

12. See Sara Roy, “Decline and Disfigurement: The Palestinian Economy after Oslo” in Roane Carey, ed., The New Intifada: Resisting Israel’s Apartheid (London: Verso, 2001); and Leila Farsakh, Palestinian Labour Migration to Israel: Labour, Land and Occupation (London and New York: Routledge, 2005).

13. See Lev L. Grinberg, “Economic Strangulation Ring: Three Turning Points in Forty Years of Economic-Military Control” [in Hebrew], Theory and Criticism 30 (2008).

14.Savir, The Process.

15. Rashid Khalidi, Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America's Perilous Path in the Middle East (Boston: Beacon Press, 2004).

16. Yoram Meital, Peace in Tatters: Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East (Boulder: Lynne Reiner Publishers, 2005).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Could the Nakba and Palestinian dispersion have been prevented in 1948?

Why the UN Partition Plan Wasn't Implemented

Could the Nakba and Palestinian dispersion have been prevented in 1948?

The conclusion of this article is:
"the acceptance of the 1947 partition resolution by the Palestinian Arab leadership could possibly have prevented the armed conflict and its tragic consequences."

I advise - in order to get a good view of the historical context to read:

1947–1948 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine

Emphasis is mine.
Why the UN Partition Plan Wasn't Implemented
An examination of whether or not the Palestinians and Arabs actually rejected the partition plan.
     by Moshe Ma’oz

The UN plan to divide Palestine into independent Arab and Jewish states and a Special International Regime for Jerusalem (November, 1947) had been preceded by a somewhat similar design in July 1937. At that time, the British Peel Commission recommended that Mandate Palestine be partitioned into a small Jewish state, comprising the Galilee, the Jezreal Valley and the coastal plain, and a large Arab state - the rest of Palestine united with Transjordan. Jerusalem, Bethlehem and a few other areas would remain a British Mandate zone.1
The major cause for the 1937 partition proposal, namely that Arab and Jewish interests could not be reconciled, was aggravated in 1947, after both parties rejected the 1946 recommendation by an Anglo-American committee to establish a bi-national state in Palestine under UN trusteeship. While the Jewish community accepted the 1937 and 1947 partition plans, the Palestinian Arab leadership, dominated by the Husseini family, rejected both plans categorically. Indeed, most Palestinians turned down the 1937 design, even though it designated only 20 percent of Palestine to the proposed Jewish state. Furthermore, the Palestinian leadership even rejected the 1939 British White Paper, which had promised them an independent state within ten years while limiting Jewish immigration and turning the Jews into a minority in an Arab Palestinian state.2
Why, then, did the Palestinian Arabs reject these schemes, in particular the 1947 UN partition plan? Undoubtedly, some moderate or pragmatic Palestinians were prepared to accept a small Jewish state in part of Palestine.3 But the Husseinis’ leadership - not democratically elected but backed by the Arab League - continued to intimidate its moderate brethren and to maintain its uncompromising position against the Jews. Even according to moderate Palestinian intellectuals, this leadership adopted an extreme policy vis-à-vis the idea of two states, thus grossly ignoring the will of the UN and the Great Powers, and leading the Palestinians into war and tragedy.4
Indeed, this militant syndrome of the Palestinian leadership significantly contributed to preventing a political solution to the Arab-Jewish dispute over Palestine in 1947, as in 1937. This syndrome was inspired by an intense Islamic and nationalist ideology, dominated by the Husseini family and in particular, Hajj Amin al Husseini, the charismatic Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Head of the Supreme Muslim Council. Denying the right of the Jewish-Zionist community to national self-determination even in part of Palestine, the Husseinis periodically used violence and terror against Jews, as well as against the moderate Palestinian Nashashibi faction that for many years cooperated with the Jewish community and acknowledged its national aspirations. But this moderate faction, although supported by many families and notables throughout the country, was not as organized, armed, motivated or influential among the younger generation as the Husseinis. Consequently, the moderate/pragmatic Palestinians were unable to neutralize the powerful militant Palestinian nationalist leadership or induce it to accept a political settlement.

Abdallah’s Annexation Plan 

The Nashashibis were politically supported by King Abdallah of Transjordan and also, for a period, by his patron - the British government in Palestine. But neither the British government nor King Abdallah helped the Palestinian moderates; in 1947, both objected to the UN partition resolution, while Abdallah also sought to annex Arab Palestine to his kingdom. As for the leaders of the other neighboring Arab nations, they shared, indeed molded and reinforced, the militant-negative Palestinian attitude to the 1947 resolution, as well as to the Jewish-Zionist national movement and political aspirations.
The uncompromising Palestinian-Arab and all-Arab positions toward Zionist aspirations and the partition of Palestine predominantly derived from fundamental Arab nationalist and Islamic religious concepts, namely, rejection of a Jewish national/political presence in Islamic and Arab Palestine. Muslim Arabs were ready to acknowledge a small apolitical Jewish religious community in Palestine, “a small community gently serving the Arabs and getting along with them beautifully,”5 but not a motivated, vigorous, fast-growing, European-oriented nationalist-Zionist community. Indeed, by purchasing large tracts of land, building villages and towns, and establishing autonomous and effective institutions, this community posed an increasing threat to Arab control over the character of Palestine. Numbering, in November, 1917 (the time of the Balfour Declaration) only about 10 percent of the total population (60,000 out of 650,000), the Jewish community in Palestine increased to almost one-third by November, 1947 (i.e., 600,000 out of about two million). Nevertheless, it was granted more than 50 percent of Palestine (a large part of that included the Negev desert).

Emerging Nationalist Aspirations

From the Jewish-Zionist viewpoint, it was vital to create a “national homeland” (initially with British help) and subsequently a state in part of Palestine, letting the Palestinian Arabs possess its other part. Driven by newly emerging nationalist aspirations to return to biblical Zion, on the one hand, and by European anti-Semitism on the other, Zionist Jews had emigrated from Europe to Palestine since the early 1880s, either ignoring the Arab presence or trusting that there was room for both of them in Eretz Israel. As Nazism ascended in Europe and the terrible Holocaust occurred, hundreds of thousands more Jews found refuge in Palestine, integrating into the Zionist yishuv, and determined to be masters of their own destiny. Already in May, 1942 the Zionist movement issued the Biltmore Program, which, inter alia, mentioned the Balfour Declaration’s (1917) reference to the, “historical connection of the Jewish people to Palestine,” and demanded, “that Palestine be established as a Jewish commonwealth,” which would absorb Jewish survivors of, “the ghettos and concentration camps of Hitler-dominated Europe.” The program also expressed, “the readiness and the desire of the Jewish people for full cooperation with their Arab neighbors.”6
Yet, unlike the Biltmore suggestion and contrary to the uncompromising Palestinian Arab position (and that of Jewish revisionists), the Jewish yishuv, led by David Ben Gurion, agreed in 1947 to create a Jewish state in part of Palestine. This pragmatic position, coupled with international sympathy for the Jewish plight and the backing of the two new superpowers - the US and the USSR - procured the historic UN resolution to establish a Jewish state and an Arab state in Palestine.
Even though the Jewish community in Palestine, not just its right-wing faction, aspired to obtain a larger share of the country, if not the whole of it, it realistically considered partition as a minimal or tolerable solution. Because of the demographic advantage of the Arabs vis-à-vis Jewish national aspirations, the yishuv mainstream rejected the bi-national solution. Given these factors, Palestinian and inter-Arab hostility on the one hand, and the plight of Jewish refugees on the other, partition was the only option, particularly since the international community, through the UN, approved it. The Jewish yishuv had been fairly prepared to establish a state in part of Palestine, having created a solid infrastructure of political, social, economic and educational institutions, as well as a well-trained paramilitary organization - the Haganah. Although the Palestinian Arab community was not as well organized as the Jewish-Zionist yishuv, it would have been capable of creating its own state in part of Palestine, in coexistence with a Jewish state.

British Self-Interest

But, as already indicated, not only did the Palestinian leadership reject the partition plan, the Arab states and Great Britain also objected to it, although they were certainly capable of inducing the Palestinian Arabs to accept the scheme. Britain not only objected to the UN partition resolution, it also refused to help implement it or even to permit UN observers to prepare the ground for the partition - rejecting official UN requests.7 This British refusal was largely motivated by self-interest - to avoid damaging its relations with the Arab states that had overwhelmingly rejected the 1947 partition. Furthermore, the Arab states - and the Arab League - had, in early 1947, already started military preparations to prevent the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. In late 1947, a pan-Arab “Liberation Army,” comprising volunteers from several Arab nations and commanded by regular Arab military officers, invaded Palestine in order “to nullify the UN partition resolution, to eliminate any remains of Zionism.... and to secure the Arabness of Palestine.”8 Simultaneously, irregular Palestinian Arab militiamen waged armed attacks on Jewish towns, villages and inter-city traffic. The Jewish Haganah and the “Irgun” retaliated. A civil war broke out in Palestine, which turned into an Arab-Israeli war on May 14, 1948, when the creation of the State of Israel was proclaimed and several Arab armies invaded Palestine. Initially, the survival of the newly born Jewish state was in jeopardy but eventually Israel defeated the Arab armies and the Palestinian militias and occupied more land than had been allocated to it by the 1947 UN resolution. For the Palestinian Arab community, this constituted a grave disaster (Nakba). About half of this community fled or was driven out by Israeli troops and became refugees in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere.


Could the Nakba and Palestinian dispersion have been prevented in 1948? As we may gather from the above account, the acceptance of the 1947 partition resolution by the Palestinian Arab leadership could possibly have prevented the armed conflict and its tragic consequences. But this would only have been possible if the leadership had been more pragmatic than ideological, as well as democratically elected, attuned to the political and economic interests of the Palestinian community, and not subject to the militant dictates of the Arab League.
The British government could have induced the Arab League and the Palestinian leadership to accept the UN partition resolution and helped both Palestinians and Israelis to implement it, as requested by the UN. Instead, they backed the alternative drawn up by King Abdallah and the Jewish-Zionist leadership in early 1947, namely that Abdallah would annex the populated Arab areas of Palestine, designated by the UN to become an independent Arab state, in return for his tacit recognition of the Jewish state.9 If implemented, such a strategy could possibly have prevented the 1948 War, but King Abdallah, concerned about alienating his government and people, as well as other Arab nations, withdrew from this tacit understanding to play a major role in the 1948 War. Ironically, only after the war, once the Palestinians had been vanquished, did Abdallah implement his previous plan by annexing the West Bank to his kingdom.
Finally, another plan that, if implemented, could have prevented the 1948 War was the UN proposal to create a federal state in Palestine, which was presented to the UN General Assembly as a “minority proposal” (versus the majority proposal, i.e., partition). This put forward the idea that an “independent federal state would comprise an Arab state and a Jewish state. Jerusalem would be its capital... Full authority would be vested in the federal government with regard to national defense, foreign relations, immigration... The Arab and Jewish states would enjoy full powers of local self-government and would have authority over education, taxation..., police..., social institutions.... The organs of government would include a head of state, an executive body, a representative federal legislative body composed of two chambers ... Election to one chamber of the federal legislative body would be on the basis of proportional representation of the population as a whole, and to the other, on the basis of equal representation of the Arab and Jewish citizens of Palestine...”10. However, as we know, this proposal was not even accepted by the UN, let alone by the Israelis or the Palestinians.
The two sides have been engaged since then (and even before) in a bitter and bloody conflict (except for several years of relative calm, following the 1993 Oslo Accords). This bloody conflict intensified significantly after September, 2000, following the collapse of the Camp David negotiations (July, 2000).
Mutual acts of violence involving great loss of life are likely to continue unless a political settlement is achieved between these parties. If the two sides wish to reach a political settlement, they should draw lessons from the pre- and post-1947 period, namely:
1) Militant positions, derived from extreme religious and/or nationalist ideologies, undermine mutual coexistence and peace settlements between Arabs and Jews.
2) It is essential to enlist the support of Arab nations, particularly Egypt, for an Arab-Jewish settlement in Palestine.

3) The international community, the UN and the Great Powers should intervene at crucial junctures, to suggest peace plans and give legitimacy to political settlements.
4) The principles of the UN partition resolution, or the UN “Federal State” solution (both passed in 1947) should be the basis of an Israeli-Palestinian settlement that takes into account the new realities, namely: either a two-state solution, as suggested by US President Bill Clinton on December 23, 2000, or a confederation between Israel and Palestine, with Jerusalem as capital of the confederation, as well as of the two states.

1 For the Peel Commission and the UN partition plans see Walter Laqueur and Barry Rubin. The Israel-Arab Reader (New York, Penguin Books, 1995), pp.48, 97ff (respectively).
2 Ibid. pp.54-64.
3 Cf. M.E. Yapp. The Near East Since the First World War (Hebrew edition, Jerusalem, The Bialik Institute, 1996), p.109; Eliahu Elyashar. To Live with Palestinians (in Hebrew, Jerusalem, 1975), p.1210.
4 Muhammad Abu-Shilbaya. No Peace Without an Independent Palestinian State (in Arabic, Jerusalem, 1971), pp.12-15.
5 Shukri al-Quwwatli, a Syrian leader, to Elias Sasson, a Jewish official, quoted to Moshe
Ma’oz, Syria and Israel: From War to Peacemaking (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1995), p.35.
6 See Laqueur and Rubin, op. cit., pp.66-67.
7 Yapp, op. cit., pp. 114-115; cf. Laqueur, op. cit., pp. 97-98.
8 Quoted in Ma’oz, op. cit., p.18.
9 Cf. Ilan Pappe. The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (London, Tauris, 1992),
10 Laqueur and Rubin, op. cit., pp.94-95.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Einstein support us!

I am sure that Einstein would have been our supporter!
Have a look to this interesting essay:


Here is a quote, emphasis is mine.

"Einstein’s Zionism would be barely recognizable today, because it did not include support for a Jewish state. He favored the creation of a “national home” that would welcome Jewish immigrants and foster Jewish cultural development within the framework of a bi-national state guaranteeing equal rights to Arabs. His model may have been Switzerland, which is divided into regions (“cantons”) where various nationalities enjoy autonomy. In 1938, for example, he asserted that he would “much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish state,”2 claiming that statehood was inimical to the “essential nature of Judaism.”
Einstein continued to oppose a Jewish state after World War Two. In testifying before an Anglo-American Committee on the future of Palestine in 1946, he called for an international trusteeship, free immigration of Jewish refugees and eventual independence under conditions of Arab-Jewish equality. However, by 1947, he accepted the necessity of partition and like nearly all Jews and progressive forces in the world, Einstein greeted the establishment of Israel in 1948. After Weizmann’s death in 1952, Einstein declined an offer to run for election for the honorary position of President of Israel.
He remained a supporter of Israel for the rest of his life, but continued to express misgivings about its failure to reach a settlement with its Arab neighbors and cautioned it against over-reliance on military force. At a time when no attention at all was paid to the plight of Arab citizens in Israel, who remained under military rule until 1966, Einstein warned “The attitude we adopt toward the Arab minority will provide the real test of our moral standards as a people.” "

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hannah Arendt “Non-nationalist” Nationalism

Gershom Scholem, Hannah Arendt and the Paradox of “Non-nationalist” Nationalism

Raluca Munteanu

Eddon Department of Political Science Yale University
Prepared for delivery at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, August 28 - August 31, 2003.
Copyright by the American Political Science Association
Authors: Munteanu, Raluca.

The opposition to the idea of Jewish sovereignty, which defined Scholem’s involvement in the Brit Shalom in the late 1920s and early 1930s, was a cause Arendt passionately embraced a decade later. The grounds for Arendt’s opposition can be easily gleaned from the historical analysis of the “Jewish Question” she puts forth in The Origins of Totalitarianism.

The solution this group envisioned to their paradoxical condition consisted in an attempt to redefine nationalism so as to eliminate what they considered its morally reprehensible aspects, notably the idea of sovereignty, and thus presumably deprive it of the potential to become an oppressive ideology.

The result was a “non-nationalist” conception of nationalism.

Arendt considered it ill-advised and nearly absurd for the Jews to want to create a nation state of their own, as this would recreate the very structure that, she thought, had failed, and had failed them, so dismally under the political pressures of the 20th century.

The “non-nationalist” nationalism of the Brit Shalom

The one group of German Zionists whose convictions throughout the 1920s and early 1930s mirrored Arendt’s, and for reasons very similar to hers, in 1925 formed an association known as the Brit Shalom, or Covenant for Peace. The goal of the Brit Shalom was to steer the Zionist Organization away from the imperialist interests Arendt so bitterly denounced and to foster Jewish-Arab cooperation and institution-building as an alternative.
Hannah Arendt, “Zionism Reconsidered” in JP, 153. 40 See Kedar, “Brit Shalom.”

UNSCOP minority report of 1947: a federated state

1947 Plan for a Federal State of Palestine

The likely Step 2 for the Palestinians is that they will ask the UN to re-­establish the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP). It will be remembered that in April of 1947 the General Assembly created UNSCOP, asking it to formulate a detailed plan for resolving the Palestine question.

In six months time, UNSCOP galvanized public attention and produced its majority and minority reports. It traveled to the Middle East and received testimony from Ben Gurion and Chaim Weizman. It refused to let Menachem Begin testify. It visited the displaced persons camps in Europe. It heard from governments around the world and solicited Palestinian views.
Foolishly, the Palestinians boycotted UNSCOP.
UNSCOP unanimously recommended an end to the British Mandate, but divided on what should come next. The majority report called for two states, one Jewish and one Arab; it detailed the border and spelled out the structure of an international regime for Jerusalem.

The minority report called for a federated state. UNSCOP's reported back to the General Assembly, and in November 1947, the majority report was enacted as UNGA Resolution 181, the historic Partition Resolution.

UNSCOP federal minority proposal:


1. In the course of the informal meetings of the Committee to explore solutions, a working group was set up to deal with the federal-State proposal.

2. The Working Group in the Federal State Solution (Sir Abdur Rahman, Mr. Emezam, Mr. Simic, and Mr. Atyeo) formulated a comprehensive proposal along these lines and it was voted upon and supported by three members (India, Iran, and Yugoslavia) at the forty-seventh meeting of the Committee on 27 August 1947.

3. The federal-State plan is herewith reproduced.


Justification for the federal-State solution

1. It is incontrovertible that any solution for Palestine cannot be considered as a solution of the Jewish problem in general.

2. It is recognized that Palestine is the common country of both indigenous Arabs and Jews, that both these peoples have had an historic association with it, and that both play vital roles in the economic and cultural life of the country.

3. This being so, the objective is a dynamic solution which will ensure equal rights for both Arabs and Jews in their common State, and which will maintain that economic unity which is indispensable to the life and development of the country.

4. The basic assumption underlying the views herein expressed is that the proposal of Other members of the Committee for a union under artificial arrangements designed to achieve essential economic and social unity after first creating political and geographical disunity by partition, is impracticable, unworkable, and could not possibly provide for two reasonably viable States.

5. Two basic questions have been taken into account in appraising the feasibility of the federal-State solution, viz., (a) whether Jewish nationalism and the demand for a separate and sovereign Jewish State must be recognized at all, costs, and (b) whether a will to co-operate in a federal State could be fostered among Arabs and Jews. To the first, the answer is in the negative, since the well-being of the country and its peoples as a whole is accepted as out-weighing the aspirations of the Jews in this regard. To the second, the answer is in the affirmative, as there is a reasonable chance, given proper conditions, to achieve such co-operation.

6. It would be a tragic mistake on the part of the international community not to bend y every effort in this direction. Support for the preservation of the unity of Palestine by the United Nations would in itself be an important factor in encouraging co-operation and collaboration between the two peoples, and would contribute significantly to the creation of that atmosphere in which the will to co-operate can be cultivated. In this regard, it is realized that the moral and political prestige of the United Nations is deeply involved.

7. The objective of a federal-State solution would be to give the most feasible recognition to the nationalistic aspirations of both Arabs and Jews, and to merge them into a single loyalty and patriotism which would find expression in an independent Palestine.

8. The federal State is also in every respect the most democratic solution, both as regards the measures required for its implementation and in its operation, since it requires no undemocratic economic controls, avoids the creation of national minority groups, and affords an opportunity for full and effective participation in representative government to every citizen of the State. This solution would be most in harmony with the basic principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

9. The federal-State solution would permit the development of patterns of government and social organization in Palestine which would be more harmonious with the governmental and social patterns in the neighbouring States.

10. Such a solution would be the one most likely to bring to an end the present economic boycotts, to the benefit of the economic life of the country.

11. Future peace and order in Palestine and the Near East generally will be vitally affected by the nature of the solution decided upon for the Palestine question. In this regard, it is important to avoid an acceleration of the separatism which now characterizes the relations of Arabs and Jews in the Near East, and to avoid laying the foundations of a dangerous irredentism there, which would be the inevitable consequences of partition in whatever form. A Federal State solution, therefore, which in the very nature of the case must emphasize unity and co-operation, will best serve the interests of peace.

12. It is a fact of great significance that very few, if any, Arabs, are in favour of partition as a solution. On the other hand, a substantial number of Jews, backed by influential Jewish leaders and organizations, are strongly opposed to partition. Partition both in principle and in substance can only be regarded as an anti-Arab solution. The Federal State, however, cannot be described as an anti-Jewish solution. To the contrary, it will best serve the interests of both Arabs and Jews.

13. A federal State would provide the greatest opportunity for ameliorating the present dangerous racial and religious divisions in the population, while permitting the development of a more normal social structure.

14. The federal State is the most constructive and dynamic solution in that it eschews an attitude of resignation towards the question of the ability of Arabs and Jews to co-operate in their common interest, in favour of a realistic and dynamic attitude, namely, that under changed conditions the will to co-operate can be cultivated.

15. A basis for the assumption that co-operation between the Arab and Jewish communities is not impossible is found in the fact that, even under the existing highly unfavourable conditions, the Committee did observe in Palestine instances of effective and fruitful co-operation between the two communities.

16. While it may be doubted whether the will to co-operate is to be found in the two groups under present conditions, it is entirely possible that if a federal solution were firmly and definitively imposed, the two groups, in their own self-interest, would gradually develop a spirit of co-operation in their common State. There is no basis for an assumption that these two peoples cannot live and work together for common purposes once they realize that there is no alternative. Since, under any solution, large groups of them would have to do so, it must either be taken for granted that co-operation between them is possible or it must be accepted that there is no workable solution at all.

17. Taking into account the limited area available and the vital importance of maintaining Palestine as an economic and social unity, the federal-State solution seems to provide the only practical and workable approach.


The undersigned representatives of India, Iran and Yugoslavia, not being in agreement with the recommendation for partition formulated by the other members of the Committee, and for the reasons, among others, stated above, present to the General Assembly the following recommendations which, in their view, constitute the most suitable solution to the problem of Palestine. 

I. The Independent State of Palestine 

It is recommended that

1. The peoples of Palestine are entitled to recognition of their right to independence, and an independent federal State of Palestine shall be created following a transitional period not exceeding three years.

2. With regard to the transitional period, responsibility for administering Palestine and preparing it for independence under the conditions herein prescribed shall be entrusted to such authority as may be decided upon by the General Assembly.

3. The independent Federal State of Palestine shall comprise an Arab state and a Jewish state.

4. In delimiting the boundaries of the Arab and Jewish states, respectively, consideration shall be given to anticipated population growth.

5. During the transitional period, a constituent assembly shall be elected by the population of Palestine and shall formulate the constitution of the independent Federal State of Palestine. The authority entrusted by the General Assembly with responsibility for administering Palestine during the transitional period shall convene the constituent assembly on the basis of electoral provisions which shall ensure the fullest possible representation of the population, providing that all adult persons who have acquired Palestinian citizenship as well as all Arabs and Jews who, though noncitizens, may be resident in Palestine and who shall have applied for citizenship in Palestine not less than three months before the date of the election, shall be entitled to vote therein.

6. The attainment of independence by the independent federal State of Palestine shall be declared by the General Assembly of the United Nations as soon as the authority administering the territory shall have certified to the General Assembly that the constituent assembly referred to in the preceding paragraph has adopted a constitution incorporating the provisions set forth in II immediately following.

II. Outline of the structure and required provisions in the constitution of Palestine

(The provisions set forth in this section are not designed to be the constitution of the new independent federal State of Palestine. The intent is that the constitution of the new State, as a condition for independence, shall be required to include, inter alia, the substance of these provisions.)

It is recommended that

As a condition prior to the grant of independence, the constitution of the proposed independent federal State of Palestine shall include, in substance, the following provisions:

1. The governmental structure of the independent Federal State of Palestine shall be federal and shall comprise a federal Government and the governments of the Arab and Jewish states respectively.

2. Among the organs of government there shall be a head of State and an executive body, a representative federal legislative body, a federal court and such other subsidiary bodies as may be deemed necessary.

3. The federal legislative body shall be composed of two chambers.

4. Election to one chamber of the federal legislative body shall be on the basis of proportional representation of the population as a whole.

5. Election of members to the other chamber of the federal legislative body shall be on the basis of equal-representation of the Arab and Jewish citizens of Palestine.

6. The federal legislative body shall be empowered to legislate on all matters entrusted to the federal Government.

7. Legislation shall be enacted when approved by majority votes in both chambers of the federal legislative body.

8. In the event of disagreement between the two chambers with regard to any proposed legislation, the issue shall be submitted to an arbitral body. That body shall be composed of one representative from each chamber of the federal legislative body, the head of State, and two members, other than members of the federal court, designated by that court for this purpose; these members shall be so designated by the court with regard to Arabs and Jews as to ensure that neither the Arab nor the Jewish community shall have less than two members on the arbitral body. This arbitral body shall first attempt, to resolve the disagreement by mediation, but in the event mediation fails, the arbitral body shall be empowered to make a final decision which shall have the force of law and shall be binding.

9. The head of the independent federal State of Palestine shall be elected by a majority vote of the members of both chambers of the federal legislative body sitting in a joint meeting convened for this purpose, and shall serve for such term as the constitution may determine.

10. The powers and functions of the head of the independent federal State of Palestine shall be as determined by the constitution of that State.

11. A deputy head of State shall be similarly elected, who shall be a representative of the community other than that with which the head of State provided for in paragraph 9 above is identified. The deputy head of State in his regular activities and during the absence of the head of State, for whom he shall act, shall exercise such powers as may be delegated to him by the head of State. He shall also act with full powers for the head of State in case of his incapacity, or following his death, pending the election of a new head of State.

12. The executive branch of the federal Government shall be responsible to the federal legislative body.

13. A federal court shall be established which' shall be the final court of appeal with regard to constitutional matters. 

14. The federal court shall have a minimum membership of four Arabs and three Jews.

15. The members of the federal court shall be elected at a joint session of both chambers of the federal legislative body for such terms and subject to such qualifications as the constitution may prescribe.

16. The federal court shall be empowered to decide (a) whether laws and regulations of the federal and state governments are in conformity with the constitution; (&) cases involving conflict between the laws and regulations of the federal government and laws and regulations of the state governments; (c) all other questions involving an interpretation of the constitution; and (d) such other matters as may be placed within its competence by the constitution.

17. All decisions of the federal court shall be final.

18. Full authority shall be vested in the federal government with regard to national defense, foreign relations, immigration, currency, taxation for federal purposes, foreign and interstate waterways, transport and communications, copy-rights and patents.

19. The constitution shall forbid any discriminatory legislation, whether by federal or state governments, against Arabs, Jews or other population groups, or against either of the states; and shall guarantee equal rights and privileges for all minorities, irrespective of race or religion.

20. The constitution, having regard for the customs of the people, shall be based on the principle of the full equality of all citizens of Palestine with regard to the political, civil and religious rights of the individual, and shall make specific provision for the protection of linguistic, religious, and ethnic rights of the peoples and respect for their cultures.

21. The constitution shall include specific guarantees respecting freedom of conscience, speech, press and assemblage, the rights of organized labour, freedom of movement, freedom from arbitrary searches and seizures, and rights of personal property.

22. The constitution shall guarantee free access to Holy Places, protect religious interests, and ensure freedom of worship and of conscience to all, provided that the traditional customs of the several religions shall be respected.

23. Arabic and Hebrew shall be official languages in both the federal and state governments.

24. The constitution shall include provisions which shall (a) undertake to settle all international disputes in which the State may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered; and (b) accept the obligation of the State to refrain in its international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

25. There shall be a single Palestinian nationality and citizenship, which shall be granted to Arabs, Jews and others on the basis of such qualifications and conditions as the constitution and laws of the federal State may determine and equally apply.

26. The Arab state and the Jewish state shall enjoy full powers of local self-government, and may institute such representative forms of government, adopt such local constitutions and issue such local laws and regulations as they may deem desirable, subject only to the provisions of the federal constitution.

27. Each state government shall have authority, within its borders, over education, taxation for local purposes, the right of residence, commercial licenses, land permits, guiding rights, interstate migration, settlement, police, punishment of crime, social institutions and services, public housing, public health, local roads, agriculture and local industries, and such aspects of economic activities and such other authority as may be entrusted to the states by the constitution.

28. Each state shall be entitled to organize a police force for the maintenance of law and order.

29. The constitution shall provide for equitable participation of the representatives of both communities in delegations to international organizations and conferences, and on all boards, agencies, bureaux or ad hoc bodies established under the authority of the State.

30. The independent federal State of Palestine shall accept, as binding all international agreements and conventions, both general and specific, to which the territory of Palestine has previously become a party by action of the mandatory Power acting on its behalf. Subjectto such right of denunciation as may be provided therein, all such agreements and conventions shall be respected by the independent federal State of Palestine.

31. The constitution shall make provision for its method of amendment, provided that it shall be accepted as a solemn obligation undertaken by the independent federal State of Palestine to the United Nations not to alter the provisions of any part of the constitution or the constitution as a whole in such manner as to nullify the provisions herein stated as a prior condition to independence; except by the assent of a majority of both the Arab and Jewish members of the federal legislative body.

III. Boundaries of the Arab and Jewish states in the independent Federal State of Palestine

It is recommended that

The boundaries of the respective Arab and Jewish states in the independent federal State of Palestine shall be as indicated on the map attached to this report.168/

IV. Capitalization 

It is recommended that

The General Assembly of the United Nations shall invite all States whose nationals have in the past enjoyed in Palestine the privileges and immunities of foreigners, including the benefits of consular jurisdiction and protection as formerly enjoyed by capitulations or usage in the Ottoman Empire, to renounce any right pertaining to them to the reestablishment of such privileges and immunities in the independent federal State of Palestine.

V. The Holy Places, religious interests and Jerusalem

A. Religious interests and Holy Places it is recommended that

Since the Holy Places, buildings and sites appertaining to whatever religions, and wherever located in Palestine, must be recognized as of special and unique interest and concern to the international community, the following principles and measures should be fully safeguarded as a condition for the establishment of the independent federal State of Palestine.

1. Millions of Christians, Jews and Moslems abroad, as well as the inhabitants of Palestine, have a proper and recognized interest in the preservation and care of sites and buildings associated with the origin and history of their respective faiths. The sacred character of the Holy Places shall therefore be preserved, and access to them for purposes of worship and pilgrimage shall be ensured in accordance with existing rights.

2. In the interests both of the followers of various faiths and of the maintenance of peace, existing rights in Palestine enjoyed by the several religious communities shall be neither impaired nor denied.

3. The incorporation in the constitution of the independent federal State of Palestine of provisions of the nature proposed in the preceding paragraph are designed substantially to allay the anxiety which is manifested in many quarters concerning the future status of the Holy Places, religious buildings and sites and the preservation of the rights of the communities in Palestine following the establishment of an independent State of Palestine.

4. The establishment of an adequate and impartial system for the settlement of disputes regarding religious rights is essential to the preservation of religious peace in replacement of the Palestinian administration which exercised such authority under the mandate. Specific stipulations designed to preserve and protect the Holy Places, religious buildings and sites and the rights of religious communities shall be inserted in the constitution of the independent federal State of Palestine and shall be in substance as follows:

(a) Existing rights in respect of Holy Places, religious buildings and sites shall not be denied or impaired.

(b) Free access to the Holy Places, religious buildings and sites and the tree exercise of worship shall be secured in conformity with existing i rights and subject to the requirements of public order and decorum.

(c) Holy Places, religious buildings and sites shall be preserved and no action shall be permitted which may in any way impair their sacred character.

(d) If at any time it should appear to the Government of the independent federal State of Palestine, or representations to that effect should be made to it by any interested party, that any particular Holy Place, religious building or site is in need of urgent repair, the Government shall call upon the religious community or communities concerned to carry out such repair, and in the event no action is taken within a reasonable time, the Government itself may carry out the necessary repairs.

(e) No taxation shall be levied in respect of any Holy Place, religious building or site which was exempt from taxation under the law in force on the date on which independence shall be granted to the State of Palestine.

5. In the interest of preserving, protecting and caring for Holy Places, buildings and sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth and elsewhere in Palestine, a permanent international body for the" supervision and protection of the Holy Places in Palestine shall be created by the appropriate organ of the United Nations. A list of such Holy Places, buildings and sites shall be prepared by that organ.

6. The membership of the permanent international body for the supervision of Holy Places in Palestine shall consist of three representatives designated by the appropriate organ of the United Nations, and one representative from each of the recognized faiths having an interest in the matter, as may be determined by the United Nations.

7. The permanent international body referred to in paragraphs 5 and 6 above shall be responsible, subject to existing rights, for the supervision and protection of all such Places, building and sites in Palestine, and shall be empowered to make representations to the Government of the independent federal State of Palestine respecting any matters affecting the Holy Places, buildings and sites or the protection of religious interests in Palestine, and to report on all such matters to the General Assembly of the United Nations.

B. Jerusalem

1. Jerusalem, which shall be the capital of the independent federal State of Palestine, shall comprise, for purposes of local administration, two separate municipalities, one of which shall include the Arab sections of the city, including that part of the city within the walls, and the other the areas which are predominantly Jewish.

2. The Arab and Jewish municipalities of Jerusalem, which shall jointly comprise the City and capital of Jerusalem, shall, under the constitution and laws of the federal Government, enjoy powers of local administration within their respective areas, and shall participate in such joint local self-governing institutions as the federal Government may prescribe or permit, provided that equitable representation in such bodies is ensured to followers of such faiths as may be represented in the community.

3. The Arab and Jewish municipalities of Jerusalem shall jointly provide for, maintain and support such common public services as sewage, garbage collection and disposal, fire protection, water supply, local transport, telephones and telegraph.

C. Irrevocability of provisions

The independent federal State of Palestine, irrespective of the provision made in paragraph 31 of section II of these recommendations for amendment of the constitution, shall undertake to accept as irrevocable the above provisions affecting Holy Places, buildings and sitesand religious interests.

VI. International responsibility for Jewish displaced persons

1. The Jews in the displaced persons camps and the distressed European Jews outside them, like the other homeless persons of Europe, constitute a residue of the Second World War. As such, they are all an international responsibility. But the Jews amongst them have a direct bearing on the solution of the Palestine problem, in view of the insistent demands that they be permitted freely to enter that country, and the Arab fears that this permission will be granted.

2. Although the Committee's terms of reference would not justify it in devoting its attention to the problem of the displaced and homeless persons as a whole, it is entirely justified in recommending to the General Assembly a prompt amelioration of the plight of the Jewish segments of. these groups as a vital prerequisite to the settlement of the difficult conditions in Palestine.

3. Therefore, it is recommended that

The General Assembly undertake immediately the initiation and execution of an international arrangement whereby the problem of the distressed European Jews in and outside the camps for displaced persons, of whom approximately 250,000 are in assembly centers, would be accepted as a special concern of extreme urgency for the alleviation of the Palestine problem, and by means of which a number of those Members of the United Nations not already over-populated would accept within their borders a proportionate number of Jewish refugees, with Palestine accepting its share in accordance with the recommendation on Jewish immigration set forth in VII immediately below.

VII. Jewish immigration into Palestine

1. Jewish immigration into Palestine continues to be one of the central political questions of that country.

2. The solution of the problem of Palestine is rendered more difficult by the fact that large numbers of Jews, and especially the displaced and homeless Jews of Europe, insistently demand the right to settle in Palestine, on the basis of the historical association of the Jewish people with that country, and are strongly supported in this demand by all of the Jews encountered by the Committee in Palestine.

S. It is a fact, also, that many of the Jews in Palestine have relatives among the displaced Jews of Europe who are eager to emigrate to Palestine.

4. While the problem of Jewish immigration is thus closely related to the solution of the Palestine question, it cannot be contemplated that Palestine is to be considered in any sense as a means of solving the problem of world Jewry. In direct and effective opposition to any such suggestion are the twin factors of limited area and resources and vigorous and persistent opposition of the Arab people, who constitute the majority population of the country.

5. For these reasons, no claim to a right of unlimited immigration of Jews into Palestine, irrespective of time, can be entertained. It follows, therefore, that no basis could exist for any anticipation that the Jews now in Palestine might increase their numbers by means of free mass immigration to such extent that they would become the majority population in Palestine.

6. With these considerations in mind, It is recommended that

The problem of Jewish immigration into Palestine be dealt with in the following manner:

(a) For a period of three years from the effective date of the beginning of the transitional period provided for in the solution to be applied to Palestine, even it the transitional period should be less, Jewish immigration shall be permitted into the borders of the Jewish state in the proposed independent federal State of Palestine, in such numbers as not to exceed the absorptive capacity of that Jewish state, having due regard for the rights of the population then present within that state and for their anticipated natural rate of increase. The authority responsible for executing the transitional arrangements on behalf of the United Nations shall take all measures necessary to safeguard these principles.

(b) For the purpose of appraising objectively the absorptive capacity of the Jewish state in the independent State of Palestine, an international commission shall be established. Its membership shall consist of three representatives designated by the Arabs of Palestine, three representatives designated by the Jews of Palestine, and three representatives designated by the appropriate organ of the United Nations.

(c) The international commission shall be empowered to estimate the absorptive capacity of the Jewish state, and in discharging this responsibility may call upon the assistance of such experts as it may consider necessary.

(d) The estimates of the international commission, made in accordance with subparagraphs 6 (a) and 6 (c) above shall be binding on the authority entrusted with the administration of Palestine during the period referred to in sub-paragraph 6 (a).

(e) The international commission shall exist only during the period of three years provided for in sub-paragraph 6 (a); and its functions and activities, other than those relating to its liquidation, shall automatically cease at the end of that period.

(f) Responsibility for organizing and caring for Jewish immigrants during the transitional period shall be placed in such representative local organization as the Jewish community of Palestine shall decide upon.

(g) Priority in the granting of Jewish immigration certificates during the transitional period shall be accorded to orphans, survivors who are of the same family, close relatives of persons already in Palestine, and persons having useful scientific and technical qualifications.

Testimony of David Ben Gurion

CHAIRMAN: I might put some questions, and that is the same question that we put to Dr. Weizmann. What about a federal state? I do not imply by that we are specially interested in a federal State. We just want to explore the possibilities.

Mr. BEN GURION: I am ready to answer that now if you want. We will not consider any settlement which excludes complete independence and equality as a nation with Arabs in this country. If in any way a settlement is made where we are not in a nation, and which would deprive us of equality as a nation, we will have to be against it, because we consider two things as vital for our very existence and our human dignity, the belief that the Jew has self-respect as a people and as human beings, and these two vital issues are these: one, the right of the Jew who is unhappy, uncomfortable, oppressed, discriminated against-or for any other reason cannot stay where he is and there is economically a place in Palestine for him-that he should have a right to come and settle here; and the second is that the Jewish people as a whole, in their own country, should have the same status as any free people in the world. If the world will abolish separate sovereignties, we will bless it, because if the human family were to be one, even then the world cannot abolish self-government-but whatever regime there will be in the world for any other free nation, we claim for our people-not less and not more. We will be against any discrimination against the Jewish people, but if you will ensure our independence and equality as a nation, which also includes Membership of the United Nations, for the welfare of those who are in the country and for the welfare of our neighbours, it will be necessary-we believe that it will be necessary that the Jewish State, and I told you yesterday what we mean by Jewish State where Jews are in the majority and are all equal-that such a State should cooperate with the neighbouring States. We are the first to welcome it, even if that cooperation will not limit itself merely to economic, social and cultural matters.

If our neighbours are willing to cooperate politically as a regional organization, we will welcome it, and ties will be created between these and the neighbouring States, as agreed upon between them freely, and as desired by the United Nations. This may be the main consideration, but the condition is we should be an equal partner and that we should have mutual interest which should be desired by the United Nations.

So an independent Jewish State does not exclude it being part of a larger Jewry, the cooperation either of sympathetic States or Middle East States or any other foreign States. It does not exclude. It is possible that what we need is this cooperation, essential for our really endless work.

CHAIRMAN: Do you give preference to a federal State or a partition scheme?

Mr. BEN GURION: We want to have a State of our own, and that State can be federate if the other State or States is or are willing to do so in the mutual interest, on condition that our State is in its own right a Member of the United Nations.

Mr. LISICKY: (Czechoslovakia): I presume that Mr. BEN GURION has listened to the statement of Dr. Weizmann, which was acknowledged with enthusiastic applause by the public. This statement favours a partition of Palestine into two states. I should like to hear the opinion of Mr. BEN GURION on this scheme-not his personal opinion because it is more or less known, but the opinion of the Jewish Agency. I am not asking for an immediate answer. I should prefer very much a considered opinion of the Jewish Agency after deliberation. If I may ask, I should like to see included in this considered opinion the point of view of the Jewish Agency on the possible federate scheme of these two States-a Jewish State and an Arab State-in Palestine after the partition. I do not mean any rigid federation, but rather a sort of loose confederation, a sort in which the independent character of the Jewish State should be completely set forth. I put the question, but I am not asking for an immediate answer.

Mr. BEN GURION: I will make two remarks on that. One is that Dr. Weizmann is thought so well of by the Jewish people and occupies such a place in our history and among us that he is entitled to speak for himself without any public mandate. You heard his views. I also had the pleasure of listening to them. As you do not insist on my giving you the answer now about the scheme of partition. I will not do it, but I will tell you what we told the Government last year and this year while we believe and request that our right, at least to the Western part of Palestine should be granted in full and Western Palestine be made a Jewish State, we believe it is possible. We have a right to it, but we are willing to consider an offer of a Jewish State in an area which means less than the whole of Palestine. We will consider it. But I am glad you do not want me to give a complete scheme.

On the question of federation I made it clear before that it-depends really on what you mean by the word "federation." When you say "federate State," you mean that the Jewish State would be an independent State. I will give you an example, in Australia, for instance. Although Australia belongs to the Commonwealth of Nations, Australia is independent. When England makes war, Australia may remain neutral; and when Australia makes war England need not make war. It has its own representation and its own representatives, although it is tied up with a larger group in a free commonwealth.

If you mean that the Jewish State should be federated with other states while remaining an independent State with Membership, than we are perfectly willing. In fact, we would welcome it if this were for the benefit of all the peoples in this region and if this were the desire of the United Nations. But if you mean that there would be a federate State as, let us say in the United States we-here there are forty-eight states-New York is a state, but really it is one state; the United States is as much a single State as France, or as the United Kingdom, although there is Wales and Scotland and England. If you mean the Jewish State should be a part of a federate State as New York is a part of the United States, that is a denial of the Jewish State and Jewish independence. We would be against this. Such a scheme as this means not a Jewish State.

Mr. LISICKY (Czechoslovakia): I think you did not hear when I spoke about a loose confederation.

Mr. BEN GURION: I say we will be ready to enter not a loose federation, but a much closer federation with free and equal status as a free and equal people, whether confederate or federate. This does not preclude the federation of a Jewish State with some of the neighbouring States.

Back to the Future: Is There a More Equitable Palestinian-Israeli Solution in UNSCOP's "Minority Plan"?

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, January/February 1999, pages 44, 98

Beyond the Oslo Accords

Back to the Future: Is There a More Equitable Palestinian-Israeli Solution in UNSCOP's "Minority Plan"?

By Issam Nashashibi

Prof. Norman Finkelstein defines colonial conquest as implementing any of the following four strategies: Extermination, Expulsion, Encirclement and Exploitation. A colonialist would choose an alternative strategy when the preferred option could not be implemented due to improving world moral standards or logistical difficulties.

For example, in conquering North America, Extermination gave way to Expulsion and Encirclement in Indian reservations. Facing the logistical difficulty of expelling the majority black population of South Africa, the white regime resorted to Encirclement and Exploitation strategies through implementing Apartheid.

Zionism and "Manifest Destiny"

In Palestine, David Ben-Gurion's vision of Zionism, which was similar to the white man's "manifest destiny" of conquering North America, gave way to a strategy combining Extermination and Expulsion in 1947-1948. This was consistent with Zionist solutions starting with Theodor Hertzl through the numerous Zionist plans to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from Palestine—a policy that continues through such means as the confiscation of Jerusalem ID cards from Palestinians. Having failed to completely "auto-dispossess" from Palestine, non-Jewish Palestinians found themselves Encircled and Exploited, victims of Israeli Apartheid, as citizens of Israel and later as an occupied population in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

The current Zionist strategy of Encirclement and Exploitation has been manifest in all the Israeli agreements with the Palestinian Authority. Thus it will most likely be at the core of any future agreement, even if it leads to a Palestinian state on whatever portion of the West Bank the Israeli government agrees to evacuate. Israel's Labor Party has called for a Palestinian state in most of Gaza and 50 percent of the West Bank, while Likud is calling for reducing the West Bank area available to the Palestinians to 25 percent.

This conclusion is also confirmed by even "leftist" Zionists such as Jerome Segal, a founder of the Jewish Committee for Israeli-Palestinian Peace. In a Feb. 6, 1988 Los Angeles Times article, he wrote: "Ironically, of all the alternatives, an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza is the one solution that best serves Israeli security....A Palestinian state would be the fullest possible satisfaction of the demands of Palestinian nationalism....

"It would win the support of the PLO and is the only likely basis on which the PLO would formally abandon the right to return to the land and villages lost in 1948....Only the PLO can compromise in the name of the Palestinians....

"A Palestinian state would be a demilitarized mini-state. It would be completely enclosed by Israel on one side and Jordan on the other.....The foreign policy of such a mini-state would be dominated by its links to the Israeli economy and by its national security realities. In the event of a war, its very existence would be in jeopardy.....Israel would not be seriously threatened if hostilities broke out......For Israel, a Palestinian state is not a charming prospect. It is simply better than the alternatives."

Having reaffirmed that Zionism, in any of its hues, is as compatible with the restitution of Palestinian rights as the racist KKK was with the U.S. civil rights movement of the '60s, Diaspora Palestinians like Professors Edward Said and Naseer Aruri have called for a binational state—an idea advanced by Arab member of the Israeli Knesset Dr. Azmi Bishara in his call for Israel to be a "state for all its citizens."

While a binational state (probably similar to Belgium) option has been absolutely rejected by the architect of the "peace process," Shimon Peres, and is completely ignored by the Palestinian Authority, it remains a Palestinian alternative that is gaining support amongst Palestinians and their friends. However, is that the only alternative?

Another may be available in the 1947 United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) report that led to the Palestine partition plan of U.N. Resolution 181. The report's Chapter VII, known as the Minority Proposal because it was only supported by India, Iran and Yugoslavia, is the proposed plan for a Federal State.

The Federal State proposal was born of the frustration with the built-in bias in UNSCOP's constituent members as demonstrated by calls for a Jewish, instead of Zionist, state; and an Arab, instead of Palestinian, state in Palestine.

The Federal State plan called for one country whose capital is Jerusalem.

Six Palestinians, including the late Dr. Khalil Budeiri and Mr. Mufid Nashashibi of Seal Beach, CA, eager to preserve the unity of Mandatory Palestine, proposed the concept that became known as the Minority Opinion to the UNSCOP's Yugoslav alternate representative Dr. Joza Brilej, who visited Jerusalem in 1947.

If parties to the present peace process fail to agree on an equitable two-state solution, maybe it is time to revisit the Federal State plan. To summarize, the plan called for one country whose capital is Jerusalem. This country would be composed of a "Jewish" and an "Arab" state that have full self-government and limited borders that take into account respective population growths. The people would elect a transitional assembly that would declare its independence after the U.N. certified that it had formulated a constitution that met the following Federal structure:

Three governmental branches: a bi-cameral legislative, the executive and a Federal court system. The Federal authority would include defense, immigration, foreign relations, currency, taxation and interstate commerce.
The Legislative branch, empowered to legislate all Federal matters with a majority vote, would be composed of one body with members elected on the basis of proportional representation while the second body would be of equal Jewish and non-Jewish representation.
The Federal executive branch would be responsible to the Federal legislative body and would include a head of state and a deputy. The head of state, with powers determined by the constitution, would be elected by a majority of a joint meeting of the legislature. The deputy head of state would be similarly elected and would be from the community other than that of the head of state.
The Federal court, with members elected by the legislature, would be the final court of appeal with a minimum membership, reflecting the population balance at the time, of four Arabs and three non-Arabs. This court would judge on the constitutionality of all state and Federal laws as well as other matters placed within its competence by the constitution.
The constitution would forbid any discriminatory Federal or state legislation and would guarantee equal rights and privileges for all citizens irrespective of race or religion. The constitution would also include specific guarantees respecting the freedom of conscience, speech, press, assembly, organized labor, freedom of movement, freedom from arbitrary searches and seizures as well as rights of personal property. It would also respect custom and protect the political, civil and religious rights of the individual with specific protection provisions for linguistic, religious and ethnic rights and culture.
The constitution would guarantee access to the holy places and freedom of worship and would recognize both Hebrew and Arabic as official languages with a single nationality and citizenship.
Despite, or maybe because of, its advantages as a democratic state with equal rights for its citizens, the Federal plan was not recommended. Having witnessed the failure of the partition plan to achieve the goal of two states, it may be time to consider the Federal plan. Many of its provisions are already incorporated in Israel's basic law.

Some may argue that given the current momentum to implement the Oslo accords, a plan such as this or a binational state may not be practical. However, before venturing too far down this nay-saying path, let us recall Haim Weizmann and his drive to establish the Zionist state.

Despite the obstacles of an overwhelming non-Jewish indigenous population and a Turkish ruler who refused to sell Palestine, Weizmann was able to turn the tables. Perhaps it is time to adopt his attitude and turn the tables again.

Issam Nashashibi is a Palestinian-American activist in California.

(According to international law, a state must have four qualities: a defined territory, a defined population of similar identity, a functioning, accepted government, and the ability to enter into international agreements. The Palestinians have all four.)