Trending Topics:

Israeli liberals call for federation of two equal peoples

Israel/Palestine
on 25 Comments

Once again demonstrating that the discourse about the conflict in Israel is far ahead of the discourse in the United States, Uri Avnery’s latest column advocates a “federation” in historic Palestine, based on human rights, and involving, initially, two states drawn strictly on the ’67 lines with Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.  

Last week Haaretz published an article in which [Avraham] Burg proposed linking the “two-state solution” with a two-state federation. He used the metaphor of a building, the first floor of which would consist of human rights, the second floor would host the two states, Israel and Palestine, and the third the federation.

…Since Burg likened his proposal to a building, it follows that it must be built floor after floor, from the bottom up. That’s how I see it too.

The first floor is the two-state solution. This must be implemented first of all. Any idea about what may come after is meaningless without it.

This means the foundation of the State of Palestine along the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, as a free, independent and sovereign nation-state of the Palestinian people.

As long as this basic idea is not implemented, and the solution of all the connected problems (“core issues”) agreed upon, nothing else has much meaning.

The occupation is a bleeding wound, and it has to be healed in the framework of peace before everything else. There can be no meaningful talk about federation between oppressor and oppressed. Federation presumes partners of equal status, if not of equal strength.

Avnery says the original UN partition plan called for federation. And he cites a long history of liberals calling for federation. But he says he stopped using the word federation because it scared people, including Zionists:

In the course of time, I dropped the word “federation”. I had come to the conclusion that it frightened both sides too much. Israelis feared that it meant diminishing the sovereignty of Israel, while Palestinians suspected that it was another Zionist ruse to keep up the occupation by other means. 

Avnery adds: “But it seems clear that in a small land like historical Palestine, two states cannot live side by side for any length of time without a close relationship between them.” 

That underlines Ali Abunimah’s point, that Israel and Palestine are one country. One country, with two peoples in it. This was also the bottom line in tragic Algeria. Efforts to partition it, even by French President de Gaulle, were roundly rejected. How could you divide Algiers? Until there is more open discussion inside the France of this conflict, the U.S., of the visible living failure of partition– apartheid and Bantustans–and the alternatives to it, we will be driving this conflict toward an Algerian outcome, in which one expulsion replaces another. 

philweiss
About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

25 Responses

  1. seanmcbride
    seanmcbride
    August 10, 2013, 11:54 am

    If Americans called for a federation of two equal peoples — white and black — in the territory of the current United States, would that be an example of enlightened and progressive discourse? Are self-ghettoized ethnocentric states the wave of the future? Apparently Zionists think so. Within that conceptual framework and model, what would be the position of Jews in non-Jewish states?

    Once again, one is reminded that Zionism as an ideology and mindset is, at its core, radically out of sync with modern Western democratic values — and perfectly in sync with the 19th and 20th century European ethnic nationalist movements that produced Nazism.

  2. Russian Prussian
    Russian Prussian
    August 10, 2013, 12:08 pm

    I think a good example to think about for emulation is Benelux. Three countries (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg) with close ties but still sovereign.

  3. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka
    August 10, 2013, 12:21 pm

    Sounds like ‘separate but equal.’ No thanks. 1S1P1V

  4. Hostage
    Hostage
    August 10, 2013, 2:50 pm

    Avnery says the original UN partition plan called for federation.

    Yes, but Zionists have always refused to implement “The Plan For the Future Government of Palestine” contained in resolution 181(II). In October of 1947, Moshe Shertok spoke out against Palestinian national sovereignty in any part of Palestine and added that the Jewish Agency did not view the Economic Union of the Arab and Jewish states as being essential to the latter. http://unispal.un.org/unispal.nsf/9a798adbf322aff38525617b006d88d7/571b9a10c26738c7852569350055f202/$FILE/gapal20.pdf

    …Since Burg likened his proposal to a building, it follows that it must be built floor after floor, from the bottom up. That’s how I see it too.

    The first floor is the two-state solution. This must be implemented first of all.

    Great show us the map of the Palestinian State that your government is offering the Palestinians. It has rejected the UN Partition Plan, the 1949 Armistice lines (with DMZs), and the 4 June 1967 lines (with Israel already occupying the DMZs). In the meantime it opposes unilateral action by the Palestinians to join the New York Convention on Trade Arbitration, while enforcing the now-lapsed Paris Interim Accords that gave Israel control over the collection of customs, distribution of the revenues.

    • August 10, 2013, 5:47 pm

      I thought it is common knowledge that Israel did accept the UN partition plan. Am I wrong? Please enlighten. Also – what is the difference between the “the 1949 Armistice lines (with DMZs), and the 4 June 1967 lines (with Israel already occupying the DMZs). ” ?

      • Shingo
        Shingo
        August 11, 2013, 6:08 am

        I thought it is common knowledge that Israel did accept the UN partition plan. Am I wrong?

        No, you are wrong in assuming they had any intention of sticking to it. Ben Gurion said that the partition was only a temporary stepping stone towards conquering all of Palestine.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        August 11, 2013, 6:43 pm

        I thought it is common knowledge that Israel did accept the UN partition plan. Am I wrong? Please enlighten.

        Yes, you are mistaken. The representatives of the Jewish Agency, a strictly advisory body, stated for the record that it found both the UNSCOP majority and minority reports unacceptable to the Jewish people. The spokesmen said that they would only recommend adoption of either (by Vaad Leumi), subject to reservations that have never been withdrawn. They conditioned acceptance on being granted immediate control over immigration and on further discussions of the constitutional and territorial details of the UN plan. In particular, the spokesmen said that no plan that failed to incorporate Western Jerusalem into the Jewish State would be acceptable. See Yearbook of the United Nations for 1947-48

        It’s 60 years later, and both Israel and the Jewish Agency for Israel are still reserving their positions on the issue of legal equality in a “future constitution” and the incorporation of Jerusalem and other territory into the Jewish State. See for example the note in the FRUS which cited the statements of Rabbi Silver to the Ad Hoc Committee when he explained the Jewish Agency’s conditional acceptance, subject to further discussions on the constitutional and territorial provisions. link to digicoll.library.wisc.edu

        The declassified Minutes of the People’s Council and Israeli historians have long since revealed that Jewish officials never accepted the internationalization of Jerusalem, the plan for Economic Union, or the boundaries of the Jewish state as stipulated in the UN plan. See for example David Tal, War in Palestine, 1948: strategy and diplomacy, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 071465275X, page 471.

        Rabbi Silver insisted on behalf of the Jewish Agency that the UN plan was not an integrated one and that the establishment of the Jewish State did not depend upon the implementation of the other parts of the plan regarding the establishment of the Arab State and Corpus Separatum. He tried to justify that absurd position on the basis of a misrepresentation of the remarks made by the US representative to the UN who had no authority to modify the plan. By definition, an offer to accept a scheme to establish only a Jewish state, would have been a counter-offer or counter-proposal, not “acceptance” of the plan.

        US Ambassador Austin addressed Rabbi Silver’s claims for the record during the 271st Session of the Security Council. He pointed out that the Palestine Commission was tasked with the implementation of “the whole plan” as envisaged by the General Assembly. Nothing in Jessup’s remarks or the text of the resolution implied that the plan for economic union or partition could be fulfill by establishing only one of the two states. Austin said:

        This essential unity of the General Assembly recommendation was emphasized by the Chairman of the Palestine Commission in his statement to the Security Council on 24 February [253rd meeting]. I quote from that very able statement:
        I have put some stress upon the words ‘plan of partition as it has been envisaged by the General Assembly’ since it is with the implementation of this plan that our Commission has been entrusted. It is quite natural and legitimate for interested parties to concentrate their efforts preponderantly, if not exclusively, on such parts of the plan as are intended more especially for their sake. The Commission is not in such a position, its duty, according to its terms of reference, is to provide for the implementation of the whole plan which has been conceived by the General Assembly. . . .

        The plan proposed by the General Assembly was an integral plan which would not succeed unless each of its parts could be carried out.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        August 11, 2013, 7:08 pm

        Also – what is the difference between the “the 1949 Armistice lines (with DMZs), and the 4 June 1967 lines (with Israel already occupying the DMZs). ” ?

        Ben Gurion unilaterally declared the armistice agreements null and void. He subsequently declared Israeli sovereignty over the Demilitarized Zones that had been created under the terms of the Syrian armistice agreement and occupied them on a unilateral basis in the 1950s, e.g. See the maps and discussion here in Shlaim’s Iron Wall. http://books.google.com/books?id=CW7GbiUkri0C&lpg=PA69&ots=BXRB6HD70e&pg=PA69#v=onepage&q&f=false

        So, there are major differences between the UN recognized armistice lines of 1949 and the 4 June 1967 borders. Those differences have never been the subject of any mutual final agreements with the Syrians or Palestinians.

    • ToivoS
      ToivoS
      August 10, 2013, 9:20 pm

      Well Hostage you have just nailed the problem with Avnery’s proposal. I was about to say something similar but there is nothing much to add. This federation notion relies on first achieving a two state solution. I wish it would happen but rational observers know it won’t. Israel will not give up the settlements of Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim and Modi’in Illit: these are obvious deal breakers. There is no way that the Palestinians can give away those territories. Arial itself sits on top to the major WB aquifer — there is no way that the Palestinians can surrender their water rights.

      Of course, Kerry is planning on paying Abbas huge sums of money if he would do so, it is impossible to imagine any peaceful outcome if he did. I have tremendous respect for Avnery, but I think his life’s work has been a major failure.

      This failure will leave Israel facing the Algerian option — namely a major political/military crises that will result in millions of European Jews emigrating back to their ancestral lands in either Western Europe, the US or other Western outposts. It will not be a pleasant outcome.

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew
        August 10, 2013, 10:45 pm

        ToivoS- Aside from the technicality that if European Jews leave Israel most of them will not be heading back to where they came from (Eastern and Central Europe), but mostly to the English speaking countries of Canada, US, Australia and to a lesser extent England (only included because they speak English there), I am curious as to what you think will happen with the nonEuropean Jews, where will they go? Will they be happy in “Algeria”? Will they be happier in “Algeria” than the Copts were under Morsi? Answer: No. They will have to find somewhere to live as well. But your omission of them is glaring.

      • ToivoS
        ToivoS
        August 11, 2013, 3:57 am

        My omission may be glaring to you but the Sephardi Jews were not included in my summary. I would hope that they would find a home in what is now called Israel and if an effort is made to that end then it should be possible. If the US can extend the natural life of the state of Israel by many decades, we could use our super power status to ensure that the Arab Jews would find a home in Palestine.

      • OlegR
        OlegR
        August 11, 2013, 9:38 am

        ToivoS dear you speak of Sephardi Jews as real concrete and separate
        entity within the State of Israel 40 years ago you might have been right.
        Now you would be wrong.

      • Erasmus
        Erasmus
        August 11, 2013, 10:27 am

        Re : … will not be heading back to where they came from (Eastern and Central Europe), but mostly to the English speaking countries of Canada, US, Australia and to a lesser extent England….

        That may well be a.o. the underlying reason why Anglo-Saxon governments and other European countries are so staunch Israel-Firsters………

  5. Citizen
    Citizen
    August 10, 2013, 3:19 pm

    RE: “the France of this conflict.”

    What’s ironical is that the US is not really trying to cement American colonies in former mandate Palestine. The US has no such connection, as the French did in Algeria. The US, including all 98% of Gentile Americans, through their representative government, is trying to cement Jewish colonialization, which comes from around the world, and given most of the 2% of Jewish Americans refuse to live there. The USA is reduced to supporting colonial takeover of a foreign land AFTER Nuremberg in 1945, and after the 4th Geneva Convention, Algeria, and apartheid S Africa, and the end of Jim Crow. This is not only a giant travesty of justice, and a trashing of lives lost in WW2, but it’s a cancer on America that is lethal. The moral and strategic absurdity of it all is only outweighed by the pure selfish reality of it all. This makes the US public, the US rank and file, the US tax payers, the biggest fools of all time in world history.

  6. joer
    joer
    August 10, 2013, 3:55 pm

    …or else they could start a state with 10 million equal people. Of course, some effort would have to be made to mitigate the fact that half of those people were robbed of everything by the other half. And there would be some psychological adjusting while former enemies are forced to mix on a daily basis-but it’s better than the endless fighting and cruelty.

  7. yishai
    yishai
    August 10, 2013, 4:56 pm

    Phil, this short piece is great, thanks as always! The Algeria analogy is pretty perfect. The France in this situation, the US, is just great.

  8. dbroncos
    dbroncos
    August 11, 2013, 12:09 am

    The US relationship with the Zionist colonial project is more similar to the English and their colonies than it is to France and Algeria.

    The English didn’t confuse their colonies with Britain. Britain was Britain and the colonies were colonies. Integration, to say nothing of intermarriage, with the natives in the colonies was forbidden. Colonial enterprises were profit driven business ventures that benefitted mostly Brittish elites.

    By contrast the French thought of Algeria as part of France. Thousands of French citizens moved to Algeria – the new French frontier. Losing Algeria meant much more than conceding heavy losses in a business venture or losing tax revenues or prestige or strategic advantage over rival nations. Abandoning their colonial pretentions in Algeria was a much more emotional ordeal for the French than abandoning India or America was for the English.

    The idea of a Jewish State is an emotional concern for only a small minority of Americans. If US support for Israel ended tomorrow it would only matter to a small minority of Americans and to a tiny minority of Zionist millionaires and billionaires who are single handedly propping up US support for Israel.

    • seanmcbride
      seanmcbride
      August 11, 2013, 9:41 am

      dbroncos,

      The idea of a Jewish State is an emotional concern for only a small minority of Americans. If US support for Israel ended tomorrow it would only matter to a small minority of Americans and to a tiny minority of Zionist millionaires and billionaires who are single handedly propping up US support for Israel.

      The vast majority of Americans have never visited Israel, have no links to Israel, and barely think about Israel at all.

      That is why it is so bizarre that overheated discussions and arguments about Israel so much permeate the American mainstream media and proceedings of the US Congress.

      Americans have many issues of much greater importance on their minds — and it is likely they will eventually express their resentment about having Israeli issues forced on them in such a disproportionate and inappropriate way by what is essentially a very small self-obsessed ethno-religious nationalist cult.

  9. MHughes976
    MHughes976
    August 11, 2013, 5:22 am

    A federation surely negates the idea of 2 independent sovereign states. There would be 1 independent state with 2 subsets not independent but on some important matters bound to take decisions in common.

  10. German Lefty
    German Lefty
    August 11, 2013, 5:27 am

    One country, with two peoples in it.
    The Jews are NOT a people. Therefore, it’s one country with one oppressed people and a whole bunch of supremacist foreigners.

  11. gingershot
    gingershot
    August 11, 2013, 9:18 am

    The faux Peace Process should continue only if ‘Parallel Track ICC Adjudication’ continues as well – DESPITE the whole Kerry Mission being specifically organized around destroying the ICC involvement in order to save Apartheid Israel such that it can fight again another day

    Israel is continuing to build new settlements apace, in the MIDST of these negotiations. I feel vicarious embarrassment for the Palestinians, if Abbas himself is no longer capable of being embarrassed

    Why then, pray tell, should Palestine not CONTINUE to pursue ICC involvement at the SAME TIME as any further or continuing talks with the obvious continuing criminality of the Israelis, as well?

    What’s the matter – can’t Palestine walk and chew ICC gum at the same time?

    This game Abbas is playing with the US and Israelis is just no longer credible

  12. Naftush
    Naftush
    August 11, 2013, 11:10 am

    If the talkbackers would break out of their closed-loop yearnings for the emigration of masses of Israeli Jews and a bloodbath against the rest, they might find that mainstream Zionists in the Mandate era weighed various federation/confederation ideas and proposed them to the country’s Arab leadership–to no avail. A professor at Tel Aviv University (now semi-retired), Yosef Gorny, much a part of today’s mainstream, documented this in his book, From Binational Society to Jewish State: Federal Concepts in Zionist Political Thought, 1920-1990, and the Jewish People.

  13. giladg
    giladg
    August 12, 2013, 8:12 am

    What’s holding you up Philip?

    Once again Philip ignores the elephant in the room. The Arabs in the region count nearly 120 million. Most of the Muslims in the region believe that Jews cannot have their own state. Many radical Muslims, including the Iranian leadership believe that Jews should not control their historic capital, Jerusalem, in any way or form. As the Arabs and Muslims have waged all out war with the intent of wiping Israel off the map, and on multiple occasions, this inconvenient fact for the Palestinians, cannot be forgotten. This means that there cannot be a situation where Jews place their security in the hands of others. Has anyone seen how the Sunni’s and the Shiites are going at each other in Syria? So the Avnery’s of the world have not been able to understand and see this elephant, nor do they want to. According the Avnery, Jews will be safe and will not have to worry about extreme forms of violence being directed at them. Even if we see Muslims carry out such violence, as well as parts of the Koran calling for the killing of Jews.They think they are helping the situation but in fact they are making it worse. They should be publicly pushing the Palestinians to recognize the special connection that Jews have to the same places they are after as well. Once you get past this point, then peace may be possible. All other roads result in violence and death.
    The Palestinians allow themselves to be used as pawns in a regional chess game, and the masters of the game care very little for their long term interests. In fact the Palestinians are highly disliked by their Muslim brothers, and this is well known. It is high time that the Palestinians stop listening to the Mubarak’s of the world (Mubarak advised Arafat not to agree to the Clinton plan at Camp David 2000), nor should they listen to the radical Muslims who want chaos and bloodshed before their lost prophet thinks of returning.

  14. hellsbells
    hellsbells
    August 18, 2015, 12:38 am

    Oh course. One state, one equality, one democracy. An opportunity to heal a rift between worlds. Perhaps with the scope for some reasonable variations in levels of religious compliance with certain standards based on the choices of the people that live in those regions.

    Give people limited and reasonable scope variations. Just like not every beach in Australia is a nude beach.

Leave a Reply