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.
CHAPTER VII RECOMMENDATIONS (III)
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.
PLAN FOR A FEDERAL-STATE
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/
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.
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.
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.)