New Road Maps to the Two-State

August 19, 2018

We will be here and you, Palestinians, will be there…Live your lives, improve your economy, create employment. The blocs under Israeli sovereignty will be part of the permanent solution. They will serve as recipients of settlers from outside the major blocs.” (Isaac Herzog)

Ever since the Six Day War in June 1967, innumerable plans have been put forward from the Left, the Right and the Center about what to do with the historic land – and its inhabitants – that suddenly and quite unexpectedly fell under Israel’s control – plans regarding ways to divide sc West Bank up or annex it to Israel, without imperiling the country’s Jewish majority.

A new analysis by Haaretz gives some content for implementing possible Leftist plans in West Bank. At the map by Haaretz  the two-state solution could be achieved with a minimal evacuation of Jews from the West Bank. The suggested numbers are 33 isolated settlements, fewer than 10 000 families and some 46 000 people.

 

For any Israeli government it is necessary to coordinate its actions with the mainstream settler community. According Fathom approximately 590,000 Jews living beyond the Green Line can be divided into three groups. The first group is the approximate 200,000 Israelis who live in the 12 Jewish neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem, which will undoubtedly remain under Israeli sovereignty in any agreement. The second group is some 300,000 settlers who live in the so called ‘settlement blocs,’ located west of the security barrier which are usually very close to the Green Line. The vast majority of these settlements are also likely to remain under Israeli sovereignty. Only the third group, comprising 90,000 settlers – less than 20 per cent of the entire population of those living beyond the Green Line – who live beyond the route of the security barrier, needs to be addressed at the present time.

 

Leftist approach

The main position of the Zionist Left has been spatial separation between Israelis and Palestinians – “they are there and we are here.”One of the first plans for the West Bank was submitted by then-Labor Party minister Yigal Allon. Allon’s basic idea was to give Israel defensible borders, while not significantly altering the demographic balance of the country. His plan called for Israel to annex most of the Jordan Valley – a ribbon some 15 kilometers in width from the Jordan River to the eastern slopes of the mountain ridge running through the West Bank – to serve as a buffer from attacks from the east. Israel would annex one-third of the West Bank, and give up the other two-thirds. The densely populated Palestinian areas from the mountain ridge to the Green Line would not be annexed, and would either form a Palestinian autonomous region, or – in a later revision of the plan – be confederated with Jordan, and linked to the Hashemite kingdom by a corridor near Jericho.

Allon+ Plan, put forward in 1995 by Benjamin Netanyahu

 

The guiding principle of Allon plan, as well most plans after that, was to retain the maximum number of settlers inside Israel in the minimal amount of territory. This principle is valid also with Leftist plans during last years.

Former Leader of the Israeli opposition – and Labor/Zionist Union – Isaac Herzog proposed to divide the land between the Israelis and Palestinians. Following a quote from interview of Isaac Herzog in Fathom:

I speak in a very frank and open manner. I believe that Israel must move for peace. We must move towards the division of the land between the Palestinians and us in order to maintain the future of Israel as a Jewish democratic state. We will be here and you, Palestinians, will be there…Live your lives, improve your economy, create employment. The blocs under Israeli sovereignty will be part of the permanent solution. They will serve as recipients of settlers from outside the major blocs.”

Politically, the idea “us here, them there” harkens back to Yitzhak Rabin, who used that as a campaign slogan in 1992. Later former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proposed a similar unilateral separation in the West Bank. Herzog’s plan seems likely to garner support among the centrist, center-left and even parts of the center-right Israeli voter base.

According Omer Bar-Lev ( MK for the Zionist Union)

If Israel wants to be a democratic state, which it does, then it has to either grant them full citizenship rights, which will subsequently destroy Zionism (one state for two nations) or separate from the Palestinians (two states for two nations). In that case, Israel can keep the Zionist spirit.” His steps include a halt to settlement construction beyond the main settlement blocs, passing a compensation law in the Knesset to grant generous compensation to settlers living outside the blocs who want to settle inside Israel, expanding Area B – the territory in the West Bank where the Palestinians have civil control, and Israel has security control – by another 20%, a move that would necessitate taking 20% from Area C, and the evacuation of some 35,000 settlers living in that part of Area C. Once separation is achieved, Bar-Lev hopes the sides will negotiate a final status deal. His map has Israel ceding 95% of the West Bank, and needing to evacuate a total of 70,000 settlers.

According Israeli NGO Blue White Future  Israel should prepare for a reality of two states for two people,

  • by considering transferring areas east of the barrier to Palestinian control in a gradual, monitored and supervised manner. [Note that this part requires coordination and therefore is optional].
  • by enacting a law that allows for voluntary evacuation, compensation and eventual absorption of settlers presently residing on the eastern side of the security barrier, to encourage settlers who wish to relocate within the green line or within settlement blocs, regardless of whether an agreement with the Palestinians is concluded. and
  • by preparing a national plan for the absorption of the settlers who would relocate to Israel proper, whether before or after an agreement is signed. Such a plan should have urban, vocational, social, psychological and other appropriate components.

mideast peace process alternatives

 

Some alternatives?

“The one-state solution is not a solution, but a problem.” (Ori Nir)

The alternative plans from the Right range from extending Israeli sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria and encouraging the Palestinians there to leave, to annexing Area C, and giving the 80,000 Palestinians living there Israeli citizenship.

On the far Right of the spectrum is a plan articulated by former Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, who advocates a plan for Jewish sovereignty over Judea and Samaria that includes the following: Annexing all of Judea and Samaria and making sure that Jewish sovereignty extends everywhere. The Arab population would have the following options: Either emigrate voluntarily with the aid of a “generous emigration grant”; receive permanent residency – similar to Green Card status in the US – but be unable to vote.

A different approach has been proposed by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. Liberman advocates taking all of the land – excluding Gaza – from the Mediterranean to the Jordan and redividing it along demographic lines. In this plan, large Jewish settlement blocs would be drawn into Israel, and the area of the “Triangle” with its large Israeli Arab population would be penciled into a Palestinian state.

In addition there is the maximalist alternative plans from the Right – annex all of the territories Israel gained during the Six Day War – and also the maximalist plans of the Left: a complete withdrawal from all the territories. Few Israelis, nor I, advocate such a policy, so over the years there have been numerous variations on this theme.

Recently a new approach to the Jewish-Arab/Palestinian conflict was proposed by sc Federation Movement. Its Federation Plan or Federation Program presents a new approach to the Jewish-Arab/Palestinian conflict. The basic idea is

formulation of a common vision for the federal state by establishment of a federal government, and the division of the country into 30 cantons, 20 of which will have a Jewish majority and ten will have Arab majorities (one of which will have a Druze majority). At first place the federation idea sounds interesting as it seems to solve a basic dilemma in Israeli-Palestinian conflict: how Israel same time can survive as a Jewish state, have real democracy and keep – more or less – post-1967 boundaries especially in West Bank.

Sure there is also a zero-alternative, to do nothing else than keep “status quo”.  This alternative, however, is leading towards undemocratic “One-state” solution, which in my opinion is one of the worst scenarios.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle no one-state israel

My View

The final status agreement has been very close at least since Beilin-Abu Mazen understandings/agreement/plan (1995) where nearly all issues were agreed; The Olmert proposal (2008) was probably the last serious try. (both plans can be found from my document library ) The parameters of the end-game have been clear the whole time but despite of a number of negotiations the final agreement is missing.

clinton parameters

As possible solutions for Israeli-Palestinian conflict there has been besides 2-State solution also bi-national ‘One-State’ solution, partial solutions like Sinai and Jordan Options and different variations of ‘Three States’ solutions. One of course easy ‘solution’ is zero-option – ‘frozen conflict’ or ‘status quo’ scenario which can be implemented also through pseudo-talks. Today also unilateral actions – instead vain negotiations – can pave way towards some solutions.

In my opinion democratic One-state, Israel-Palestine federation or confederation based on cantons might work in theory but not in practice at least for decades. My argument is that even since early times of British Mandate first the Pan-Islamic and then pan-Arab rhetoric expressed fundamental ethnic and religious objections to Jews and for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. The history of repeated aggressions by neighbours have also created deep distrust among Jews about Palestinians. This kind of ecosystem and peoples’ minds are challenging to transform peaceful coexistence with eternal enemy; it might take decades and generations to change fundamental ethic values. Besides instead of Israel-Palestine federation or confederation I see Palestine-Jordan confederation much more better model.

Israeli-Palestinian conflict roadmaps to peace

I referred two new leftist initiatives above and in my article Constructive Unilateralism: Leftist Approach to Israel-Palestine Conflict‘it’s in our hands’ by Omer Bar-Lev, an MK for the Zionist Union and ‘Constructive unilateralism’ by Blue White Future, leftist think tank – which both in my opinion are steps forward and also to the right direction as well including required new roadmap for better future. I don’t see constructive unilateral steps as goal but more as strategy and process which will lead towards a comprehensive agreement.

The new analysis by Haaretz (How Many Settlers Need to Be Evacuated to Make Way for a Palestinian State ) gives some content for implementing these possible Leftist plans in West Bank.  The map helps to prepare a national plan for the absorption of the settlers inside security barrier; it shows the settlements which will be evacuated from West Bank, it gives the numbers of settlers which helps to plan urban, social, vocational and other needs of operation and to allocate necessary funding and budgeting and all this regardless of whether an agreement with Palestinians is concluded or not. 

Related articles:

Peacemaking – a Holistic Approach

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Revised Hybrid Model as Solution

Palestinians Put Jordanian Option on the Table

Israel-Palestine Conflict: Regional Approach

Israel’s 5 Strategy Options Regarding West Bank After Abbas

Trump Presidency Brings Realpolitik Back To Mid-East

Constructive Unilateralism (II) as Solution to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Herzog’s Plan: Security Barrier Around the Major Settlement Blocs of West Bank

Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The ideal – maybe utopist – long holistic peace process by Ari Rusila

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The Causes of Israel’s Zionist Left Decline?

July 29, 2018

The Israel leftist movement has been in decline some four decades and especially since 2001. BESA center has recently publishe two pespective papers (by Gershon Hacohen in BESA and by Shmuel Sandler in BESA)which try to describe reasons for this decline.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen claims that spatial separation between Israelis and Palestinians – “they are there and we are here.” – as the main position of Left has been disastrous. Prof. Shmuel Sandler (emeritus) claims that the two-state framework has long been the preferred international, as well Labor party, solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, however, opting for that solution have been punished at the polls.

Zionist Left

The Israeli Labor Party is a social democratic and Zionist political party in Israel. It was was established in 1968 by a merger of leftist Mapai, Ahdut HaAvoda and Rafi parties. Since Israel independence 1948 all Israeli Prime Ministers were affiliated with the Labor movement and during the 1970s, the welfare state was expanded under successive Labor governments; but, despite its achievements, in the 1977 elections, Labor for the first time ended up in opposition.

In 1977-96, Labor was headed by two leaders: Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin. Labor won two elections during that period: in 1984 and in 1992. In none of the elections from 1977 through 1992 did Labor accept the PLO leadership as a partner in a peace process between the Jewish state and the Arab states; in stead the perceived partner was the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Future borders between Israel and its eastern partner were drawn according to the Allon Plan, which envisioned Israeli control over the Jordan Valley and strategic territories scarcely inhabited by Palestinians. The position of Labor changed after Oslo accords and Labor accepted the concept of a Palestinian state and Ramallah replaced Amman as the future partner.

Especially since 2001 the Israel leftist movement has been in decline, at least in elections. Following the October 2000 riots and the violence of the al-Aqsa Intifada, Ehud Barak (PM/Labor) resigned from office. He then lost a special election for Prime Minister to Likud’s Ariel Sharon. However, Labor remained in Sharon’s coalition as he formed a national unity government with Likud, Labor, Shas, Yisrael BaAliyah and United Torah Judaism, and were given two of the most important cabinet portfolios; Peres was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and Benjamin Ben-Eliezer was made Defense Minister. Labor supported Operation Defensive Shield, which was conducted in April 2002 against Palestinians in the West Bank. After harsh criticism that Peres and Ben-Elizer were “puppets” of Sharon and not promoting the peace process, Labor quit the government in 2003.

Prior to the 2003 elections, Amram Mitzna won the party primaries, and led the party into the election with a platform that included unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The party was routed in the elections, winning only 19 seats (its lowest ever), whilst Sharon’s Likud won 38 (40 after Yisrael BaAliyah merged into the party). Subsequently, due to internal opposition, Mitzna resigned from the party leadership, and soon afterwards was replaced by Shimon Peres. Despite being omitted from the original right-wing coalition, Sharon invited Labor into the coalition to shore up support for the disengagement plan.

Before the last elections in 2014 Labor, headed by Yitzhak Herzog, and Hatnuah (the Movement party), headed by former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, formed new list – Zionist Union – but this could not to make comeback to power. Following the exit of MK Yitzchak Herzog from the Knesset, to become the chairman of the Jewish Agency, Tzipi Livni replaced Herzog as the new head of the opposition but new Labor leader Avi Gabai would continue to be the Zionist Union’s candidate for Prime Minister.

Spatial separation

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen claims that ever since Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, it has been axiomatic among Israeli decision-makers that spatial separation between Israelis and Palestinians is a vital Israeli interest, even if not accompanied by a peace agreement. In line with this thinking, Israelis have been repeatedly promised that the implementation of spatial separation, including the removal of Jews from these territories and the construction of a security fence, would reduce daily friction and create a safer and more stable security situation.

Mr Hacohen asks where a more workable security situation has developed Is it in Gaza after the unilateral disengagement thirteen years ago where complete separation has been effected, or in the West Bank, where Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s vision of partial separation prevails?

Mr Hacohen claims that since Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, the Israeli security forces have been conducting regular counterterrorism activities throughout the West Bank as a matter of course. Generally authorized by the Central Command and the Shin Bet without the need for the approval of the political echelons, this routine activity has given the security forces freedom of action and operational flexibility, which, together with other factors, has ensured relative calm and stability in the West Bank. However in stark contrast, the total spatial separation between Gaza and Israel as of the summer 2005 disengagement has denied the IDF freedom of action beyond the border fence. Not that the IDF’s overall capabilities have been reduced, but by transforming the Strip into an ineradicable terror entity that can exact a heavy price from invading Israeli forces, Hamas has succeeded in placing a strategic “price tag” on a wide range of activities short of overall confrontation. It is no secret that the balance of costs, risks, and opportunities that accompanies the decision to act in Gaza has become infinitely more complex since the disengagement.

israel-palestine conflict

No separation = One-State solution

I addition the border fence enables Hamas to grow stronger and to organize safely under its protective wing. Hamas has managed to build a regular military force comprising battalions and brigades, armed with a large below-ground rocket/missile arsenal and supported by an effective command and control system. None of this would be possible without the full realization of the Israeli leftwing concept of “they are there and we are here.”

Two-state framework as cause of Israel’s Zionist Left Decline

The low standings of the Zionist Camp list, formed before the last elections in 2014 by Labor, headed by Yitzhak Herzog, and the Movement party, headed by former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, floated a new demand for change at the top. According Shmuel Sandler the Labor party is thus once again challenging its newly elected chairman, Avi Gabai. But if Labor leaders want their party to become a real contender for the office of Prime Minister and an alternative to Likud rule, they should replace their partner for a durable solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict rather than replace their own leaders.

Labor has replaced eight chairpersons in the past twenty years. According Shmuel Sandler the leadership of Labor refuses to recognize is that its main problem is not who leads the party but its identification with the failed Oslo process, which installed the PLO leadership in Ramallah and Gaza (before its loss to Hamas in 2007). A short analysis of the 40 years since Labor’s defeat in 1977 after having ruled Israel since its inception – a turning point in Israel’s political history – shows that the problem is not one of leadership but of political identity. Because it is identified with Ramallah’s behavior and demands in any future settlement, Labor has suffered repeated electoral punishment.

New Leftist approach

Throughout two decades of the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process,” direct negotiation has been perceived as the only paradigm that can lead to an agreement “Two-State solution as its final aim. The failure to reach an agreement has given excuses to the rejectionists and extremists on both sides, allowing them to blame the other party for failure to progress, and destroying the belief within the respective societies that an agreement is possible in the foreseeable future.

Israel’s Left as well sc international community and Arab League have supported Two-Sate solution The final status agreement has been very close at least since Beilin-Abu Mazen understandings/agreement/plan (1995) where nearly all issues were agreed. The Olmert proposal (2008) was probably the last serious try. (both plans can be found from my document library ) The parameters of the end-game have been clear the whole time but despite of a number of negotiations the final agreement is missing.

One provocative view to issue

Both analysts – Hacohen and Sandler – claim that Two-State and spatial separation between Israelis and Palestinians as the main position of Left are the causes of Israel’s Zionist Left decline. My conclusion differs from theirs. From my point of view the new Leftist approach has wide support in Israeli political map besides in Center-Left also in Center and Center Right which support makes its implementing realistic in future. In addition already partly implemented spatial separation with help of security barrier has decreased dramatically suicide bombings from West Bank. Sure behind the border Hamas can build more easily its military capabilities than in West Bank as Hacohen says but as seen during “Great Return March” campaign from April 2018 the IDF (Israel Army) has effective countermeasures and civilians mostly could continue their civilian routines. In West Bank situation is worse as the security barrier and spatial separation are not so ready than with Gaza.

I agree with Sandler that the political identity of Israel’s Left is has been connected with Two-State solution, however not anymore identified with Ramallah’s behavior, as Sandler claims, nor with traditional roadmap of peace process. It is clear that to solve Israel-Palestine conflict a new approach to the peace process is needed; and recently Israel’s Left has done exactly that.

Spatial separation and constructive unilateralism

Already 2012 then Defense Minister Ehud Barak, leader of the Labor Party until January 2011, said that Israel should consider imposing the borders of a future Palestinian state, becoming the most senior government official to suggest bypassing a stagnant peace process.

Leader of the Israeli opposition – and Labor/Zionist Union – Isaac Herzog has proposed to divide the land between the Israelis and Palestinians. Following a quote from interview of Isaac Herzog in Fathom :

I speak in a very frank and open manner. I believe that Israel must move for peace. We must move towards the division of the land between the Palestinians and us in order to maintain the future of Israel as a Jewish democratic state… If we reach an agreement to separate from the Palestinians, this will be a victory for Zionism.

According Omer Bar-Lev – MK for the Zionist Union – Israel must give equal rights to all human beings living in the borders of the country. To keep the Zionist vision alive, Bar-Lev proposes that Israel has to separate from the Palestinians. His conclusion:

If Israel wants to be a democratic state, which it does, then it has to either grant them full citizenship rights, which will subsequently destroy Zionism (one state for two nations) or separate from the Palestinians (two states for two nations). In that case, Israel can keep the Zionist spirit. Then, it is for the Palestinians to decide to create their Palestinian State, which is in their interests and they will make their own decisions.

Bar-Lev calls his program as ‘it’s in our hands.’ According him to achieve separation,

the best way to do it is through an agreement with the Palestinians, for sure… However, the probability of both sides, simultaneously, producing leaders who can make that strategic decision, and that strategic compromise, is very low. Israel cannot put its future in the hands of the other side. If we had a partner, then great, we should make an agreement and move forward and sign a two-state solution. However, even if the other side is not prepared to do so, Israel has a lot of steps it can take to begin the separation from the Palestinians.

The plan titled “It’s in Our Hands,” by Omer Bar-Lev calls for Israel to unilaterally define its own borders to ensure its security, would keep control of all of Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley and bequeath about 60 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians, evacuating 35,000 Jewish settlers — less than 10 percent of the total. This plan might be provocative but for me it seems to be realistic tactic towards two-state solution.

Palestine-Jordan confederation, Three-state option

Spatial separation with Jordanian and Sinai options

An Israeli NGO Blue White Future,(“BWF”) is a non-partisan political movement founded in 2009 and seeks to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a “two states for two peoples” solution by facilitating the relocation of settlers so that all Israel’s citizens reside within secure permanent borders that guarantee a Jewish majority. According BWF  a constructive unilateral move is a move by either party that helps to further the achievement of two states, and is in line with the two-state vision as described in the many blueprint proposals for a two state solution. A constructive unilateral move will not become an obstacle once the parties resume negotiations.

Israel should prepare for a reality of two states  for two people, most notably by declaring that it does not have claims of sovereignty over most of the occupied territories, and by planning and acting accordingly, including preparing for the relocation of settlers residing east of the separation barrier to Israel proper. Specifically, its policy should include the following components:

Israel should consistently strive for a permanent agreement according to the principles of the Clinton parameters and other like-minded proposals, while pursuing an unconditional track, independent of any progress that may take place through negotiations.

Israel should refrain from building new settlements and from expanding existing settlements east of the separation barrier and in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Construction could continue in the settlement blocs and in the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

Israel should enact a law that allows for voluntary evacuation, compensation and eventual absorption of settlers presently residing on the eastern side of the security barrier, to encourage settlers who wish to relocate within the green line or within settlement blocs, regardless of whether an agreement with the Palestinians is concluded.

Israel should prepare a national plan for the absorption of the settlers who would relocate to Israel proper, whether before or after an agreement is signed. Such a plan should have urban, vocational, social, psychological and other appropriate components.

mideast peace process alternatives

My conclusion

From my perspective both Israeli Leftist initiatives – ‘it’s in our hands’ by Omer Bar-Lev and ‘Constructive unilateralism’ by Blue White Future – are steps forward and in my opinion also to the right direction – especially as the prevailing Israel’s Right-wing policy in my opinion is keeping due security reasons discriminating status quo in West Bank and leading towards “de facto” undemocratic “One-State” option, which would destroy Israel as ‘Jewish homeland’. This new Leftist approach can gain more ground in near future as today there is a trend to make regional solution in cooperation between US, Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia as Palestinian Authority will be bystander if needed. Related to Gaza there is a good possibility to make at least a ‘Cold Peace Solution’ with Hamas and at best long term development plan by implementing sc Sinai Option with Egypt.

So what are the causes of Israel’s Zionist Left decline if not the ideas of spatial separation or previous identification to old “Two-States” solution? Honestly I don’t know, but I would seek the answer from wider trend e.g. in Europe where the Left-wing parties have lost elections decades after the basics of Western well-fare societies were built in -70’s mainly by them. Last decades the voters have also found more response to their needs from populist movements who are giving simple answers to practical issues – Israel, especially inside security barrier the West Bank scenarios are secondary questions. In Israel it is clear that the increasing population between pre-67 green line and Jordan river opposes with Right-wing parties “Two-State” solution with pre-67 lines, in my opinion Israel’s Zionist Left should clarify its new Leftist approach to peace process and what it means to awerage population in Israel.

My related articles:

Constructive Unilateralism: Leftist Approach to Israel-Palestine Conflict

Herzog’s Plan: Security Barrier Around the Major Settlement Blocs of West Bank

Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Cold-Peace-Solution by Ari Rusila


Federation Plan As New Approach To Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

December 15, 2017

Throughout two decades of the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process,” direct negotiation with aim of ‘Two-State’ solution has been perceived as the only paradigm of international community and it has been the main option for Israeli and Palestinian authorities. The outcome has been a serial of repeated failures reaching peace agreements and implementing e.g. Oslo accords, combined with varying levels of violent confrontations. There is deepening lack of trust between Israelis and Palestinians and more blaming the other party for failure to progress, and destroying the belief that an agreement is possible in the foreseeable future. The bottom line: Two-State solution and the roadmap towards it seems to be the dead end at least in the short term and sure with its outdated version.

As possible solutions for Israeli-Palestinian conflict there has been besides 2-State solution also bi-national ‘One-State’ solution, partial solutions like Sinai and Jordan Options and different variations of ‘Three States’ solutions. One of course easy ‘solution’ is zero-option – ‘frozen conflict’ or ‘status quo’ scenario which can be implemented also through pseudo-talks. Today also unilateral actions – instead vain negotiations – can pave way towards some solutions.

Recently a new approach to the Jewish-Arab/Palestinian conflict was proposed by sc Federation Movement. Its Federation Plan or Federation Program presents a new approach to the Jewish-Arab/Palestinian conflict. The plan calls for a transformation of Israel’s system of governance into a federal government, such as is found in the USA, Canada, Switzerland and 25 others countries. This will be a progressive regional system whereby the State of Israel is divided into cantons (empowered provinces), which enjoy a great degree of independence in managing their affairs.

 

The Federation Program

According their webpage The Federation Movement is a public ideological movement which advocates a new political approach in order to achieve regional stability and prosperity. The key points of The Federation Program/Plan are following:

  • Application of Israeli law to Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley (the West Bank)

  • Obtaining broad international consensus to leave settlements in place

  • Granting of Israeli citizenship and rights to Palestinian residents of the West Bank who are interested

  • Formulation of one single common constitution, accepted by the majority of Israelis as well as the Arabs of the West Bank

  • Formulation of a common vision for the federal state

  • Establishment of a federal government, and the division of the country into 30 cantons, 20 of which will have a Jewish majority and ten will have Arab majorities (one of which will have a Druze majority).

  • Establishment of an additional house of representatives in the Knesset: the Council of Cantons.

  • Foster reciprocal and collaborative relations between Jewish cantons and Arab and Palestinian cantons.

  • Economic and social reconstruction of refugee camps in the West Bank and Jerusalem and Bedouin settlements in the Negev

  • Obtain international recognition and support for the application of Israeli law in the West Bank, the granting of citizenship to West Bank Palestinians, and Israel’s transformation into a federal state

  • Promotion of joint economic developments with neighboring countries, primarily Jordan and Egypt

  • Maintaining the Gaza Strip as a separate entity.

  • The Jewish population will maintain its unique relationship with the Jewish diaspora, while the Arab population will develop similar reciprocal relations with the Arab and Muslim worlds. The Druze will enhance their special relationship with the Druze population in Syria and Lebanon.

Overview

The Federation Movement believes that the enactment of Israeli law in Judea and Samaria and the bestowing of citizenship rights to their residents is the only realistic solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict that does not entail displacing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. It believes that a federal government between the Mediterranean and the Jordan will provide all residents with security, peace, and economic and social prosperity.

The plan calls for a transformation of Israel’s system of governance into a federal government. The implementation of the federation plan entails formalizing the status quo. The State of Israel, together with the West Bank, but excluding Gaza, are already in practice one federal bi-national state: The IDF and other Israeli security forces control the West Bank; The Israeli Shekel is the coin used in the Palestinian Authority; 85% of the West Bank’s agricultural and industrial products is sold in Israel; 300 thousand out of 800 thousand Palestinians who work are employed in Israel and in Jewish settlements; approximately half of the Palestinian Authority’s budget is funded by taxes levied on Palestinian workers in Israel; about 300 thousand Palestinians in East Jerusalem hold Israeli residency cards, which allow them to work and move through all of Israel freely; more than 400 thousand Israeli Jews live in approximately 160 settlements throughout the West Bank.

Each canton – empowered province/autonomous district – will have its own government and representative council, which will legislate local law and administer education, local government, policing, planning and housing, and the like. The federal government will oversee matters of security, foreign relations and macro-economics. The Knesset will be expanded to include, in addition to the legislative assembly of today, an assembly of representatives from the cantons. The cantons’ high level of administrative autonomy will enable each canton to manage life in accordance with that canton’s population profile, the only limitation being the constitutional obligation to maintain the civil rights of all the citizens of the federation.

According an interview in Fathom The Federation Movement claims that the Israeli political system remains for all intents and purposes neutralised when it comes to a political resolution of the conflict: neither the Right which mostly objects to the two-state solution, nor the Left which will probably be too weak to implement the required withdrawal of about 30,000 households from the West Bank should it regain power in the near future, will likely be willing or able to garner the required majority in the Knesset or whip up the necessary public support to carry out such a major national undertaking and the traumatic measures it entails.

Another option raised in Israel, a unilateral withdrawal, is politically just as unlikely to materialise as is a negotiated two-state solution. After the 2005 Gaza withdrawal precedent, where Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, it is highly improbable that Israel will give up territory or remove settlers and settlements without getting anything tangible in return from the Palestinians, even if strategic thinking and common sense would call for such a move to keep the two-state solution alive.

So – according Fathom – The Federation Movement believes that their approach does have advantages, especially when looking at the alternatives, a continuation of the status-quo or an apartheid state. The biggest advantage is that political implementation appears easier since there is no need for a formal agreement, there is no need for a large scale withdrawal of Jewish settlements and the economic well-being of the whole area will improve substantially after a period of adaptation.

 

The context

There is a strong believe that regional cooperation based on the Riyadh declaration will soon led to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The American – President Trump’s – plan will most probably, or according most optimistic view, be made public even before X-mass 2017, and it will be of a regional nature. It will emphasize regional cooperation against radical Islamists and Iranian ambitions. The United States will lead cooperative measures and consultations with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations should take place within this context to bring about regional peace. This is an ambitious plan, yet according to the American diplomat, a feasible one; it does not impose or rule out a two-state solution.

There is speculations that the American plan includes a Palestinian state with limited sovereignty, providing that all of the West Bank remains under Israel’s security control. The US administration will put forth plans aimed at solving the outstanding issue of the Palestinian refugees by settling them in the countries they reside in. A major emphasis will be placed on economic investments for the Palestinians, as well as regional cooperation, anti-terror measures and normalization of relations between the Arab states and Israel, on the basis of the 2002 Saudi peace initiative.

 

My view

At first place the federation idea sounds interesting as it seems to solve a basic dilemma in Israeli-Palestinian conflict: how Israel same time can survive as a Jewish state, have real democracy and keep – more or less – post-1967 boundaries especially in West Bank. In my opinion democratic One-state, Israel-Palestine federation or confederation based on cantons might work in theory but not in practice at least for decades.

My argument is that even since early times of British Mandate first the Pan-Islamic and then pan-Arab rhetoric expressed fundamental ethnic and religious objections to Jews and for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. The history of repeated aggressions by neighbours have also created deep distrust among Jews about Palestinians. This kind of ecosystem and peoples’ minds are challenging to transform peaceful coexistence with eternal enemy; it might take decades and generations to change fundamental ethic values. Repetitive variations of influence, education, indoctrination, culture and internationalization have grafted wide ecosystem of Palestinian nationalism – new post-1967 Palestinian national identity; which in turn appeals to latent anti-Semitism.

BICOM research team published on 31st March 2017 a policy paper proposing a new “hybrid” approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace-making. The dialogue analysed and critiqued four models for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking: Bilateral negotiations focused on agreed parameters; a regional framework; constructive unilateralism; and Israeli-Palestinian confederation.

A consequent absence of a peace process might create the conditions for the emergence of a new paradigm to replace the defunct “two-state solution.” This new paradigm I call as [revised] “hybrid” approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace-making. (More in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Revised Hybrid Model as Solution )

The difference between Herzl’s generation and post-1948 generations was a first-hand understanding of what the absence of a Jewish state means for Jewish survival. The state represents the difference between autonomy and servility, indeed between life and death. In my opinion Israel-Palestine confederation model would be too close one-state solution which would destroy Israel as “Jewish” state. Instead of this model I see Palestine-Jordan confederation – which I call as [revised] “hybrid” approach – much more better alternative.

I agree with Blue White Future co-chairmen Gilead Sher and Orni Petruschka who argue  that the two-state solution is in political trouble but it is still achievable and imperative to the respective parties. However a different paradigm is needed, one that is not based solely on bilateral negotiations towards a fully-fledged Permanent Status peace agreement and thus does not require mutual trust as a necessary condition for progress.

According Sher and Petruschka a more realistic target – than a comprehensive agreement – is a ‘divorce’ two-state agreement between the parties, focused on phased separation between the sides and an absence of violence.

Instead of moving towards an agreement to two states, we need to define our goal as moving towards a reality of two states, and to advance gradually towards that goal. This approach consists of constructive steps that each side can take, independently of the other, in order to advance a situation – both on the ground and in the political realm – which is closer to two states.

My conclusion is that now is the right moment to explore the regional alternative based on maybe soon coming American plan. From my point of view “regional peace process” can be implemented by Egypt, Jordan and Israel and instead of Arab Peace Initiative be based on Sinai and Jordan options. If there is no progress during coming months then the best way forwards from my perspective is Israeli unilateral actions hopefully based on “Constructive Unilateralism” approach.

In long term and in ideal world also with Israeli-Palestinian conflict – a deeper holistic approach is needed to make more sustainable solutions.

Sources:

The Federation Movement and Fathom

 

Related background papers:

Fathom has published an eBook – Two States for Two Peoples – a collection of  essays and interviews drawn from the pages of Fathom focused on the two-state solution and how to reinvigorate it. To download the eBook, click here.

The new “hybrid” approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace-making by BICOM

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 425, March 15, 2017: Becoming Part of Jordan and Egypt: A Palestinian Economic Imperative By Prof. Hillel Frisch; View PDF

 

Related articles:

Peacemaking – a Holistic Approach

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Revised Hybrid Model as Solution

Palestinians Put Jordanian Option on the Table

Israel-Palestine Conflict: Regional Approach

Israel’s 5 Strategy Options Regarding West Bank After Abbas

Trump Presidency Brings Realpolitik Back To Mid-East

Constructive Unilateralism (II) as Solution to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Herzog’s Plan: Security Barrier Around the Major Settlement Blocs of West Bank

Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


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