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The Case for Parallel States: Excerpt from ‘One Land, Two States: Israel and Palestine as Parallel States’


Zionism has always been defined by its contradictions—a movement of national redemption and high moral purpose that from the start was openly predicated on a colonial enterprise that could not accept the presence of another people on what Zionists considered their ancestral homeland. Often Palestinians were simply made absent—at the start of the 20th century in the art of Nachum Gutman and writings of Israel Zangwill (the first Zionist to use the phrase “land without a people for a people without a land”); 100 years later, in the views of the majority of Israeli politicians who’ve governed the lives of approximately 10 million Israelis Jews and Palestinian Arabs during the Oslo era. Palestinians have always been and remain in this view a nuisance, a “renter” without permanent rights who did not “deserve to rule the country” since they had not made it modern and productive, as only (European) Jews could hope to do (as Israel’s founding prime minister Ben Gurion argued).

The core discourse of erasure and reinscription in which Palestinians have long been removed from the political, economic, historical and ultimately physical landscape of their homeland remains poorly understood by most Jews, either in Israel or the Diaspora. Even those who have taken the still difficult step of advocating for BDS, imagine that Zionism was a liberal movement that could have accommodated Palestinians, at least before the Occupation poisoned the Zionist soul. Thus Steven Levitsky and Glen Weyl argue in a recent Washington Post oped that Theodor Herzl was “repulsed by the Afrikaners’ ethno-religious fanaticism in South Africa, which led him to declare that ‘We don’t want a Boer state, but a Venice.'” And the authors said, “American Zionists must act to pressure Israel to preserve Herzl’s vision — and to save itself.”

Of course, Herzl’s vision wasn’t quite as these two “prestige” Jews envision it. He might have imagined a Venetian future for Palestine, but it was one largely without Palestinians. Instead, Herzl wrote that the Jewish state would be an “outpost of civilization against barbarism,” a goal to be achieved in good measure by buying up all the private land and leaving poor Palestinians to be “spirited across the border.” The rich ones (as described in his novel Altneuland) would then civilize themselves by selling all their land to Jews and joining the “Jewish society.”

Herzl’s vision of Palestine’s future wasn’t entirely wide of the mark. Hundreds of thousands of largely poor and working class Palestinians were indeed “spirited across the border” in 1948, 1967, and more slowly but steadily over the years since the Occupation began. A the same time, the Palestinian elite has, almost since Zionist first arrived on the soil of Palestine, sold land to Jews and otherwise used their position more often than not to strengthen their wealth and power at the expense of their fellow Palestinians. Thus we have the spectacle in the 1940s of Zionist Labor activists represent the Histadrut’s Arab labor union being forced to defend their support of Palestinian workers from wealthy Palestinians in Jaffa, who argued that their presence only served to give the workers dangerous idea about their “rights.” Seventy years later, the Oslo political and economic elite remain largely divorced from the broader Palestinian society, having been given all kinds of economic and political benefits by Israel in return for enabling the smooth perpetuation of the Occupation during the Oslo years.

These dynamics cannot but produce periodic outbursts of violence and greater than normal resistance by ordinary Palestinians, especially as Israel’s matrix of control grows ever tighter around the West Bank and East Jerusalem and, through the siege, around Gaza. Ultimately, these dynamics owe to the fact that well before Oslo, even before the first Intifada, Israeli settlements and the broader system they were enmeshed with were so integrated into Israel proper that any attempt to separate them, as Meron Benvenisti argued in the seminal West Bank Data Base Project argued in 1987, was already by then doomed to fail.

Oslo was not done in by the bad faith of Israelis or violence and irredentism of Palestinians. It was a stillborn peace precisely because the larger aims of the Israeli state, the reality of the settlement system, Israel’s role in the broader US imperium, and Palestinian broad weakness yet unwillingness to give up their nationalist aspirations and either leave or demand equal rights with Israeli Jews in a unitary or binational state, meant a territorially grounded two state solution was never going to come to pass.

Realizing these dynamics, a team of Israeli, Palestinian and international scholars, policymakers and activists began meeting in the mid-2000s to consider how a different conception of sovereignty, one no longer based on exclusive link between state and territory, but rather based on a direct relationship between the individual and her or his state wherever he or she lived in historic Palestine/Eretz Yisrael, could allow for an achievement of the majority of the national objectives and imperatives of both peoples in a non-zero sum manner.

Such a scenario, which we term a “parallel states” solution, rests on dividing sovereignty instead of territory, and builds upon two state structures, in parallel, one Israeli and one Palestinian. Both would coexist over the whole of the territory of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. From the start it was clear that, at least in theory, our idea could solve most of the outstanding conflicts between the two parties, allowing both peoples to “return” and live throughout the full breadth of the territory of the country and  claim sovereignty over it without upsetting the demographic balance and political viability of the individual, ethnically determined states.

In short, both Palestinians and Israelis could finally eat their nationalist and territorial cake, and still have enough left over to share with the other.

A utopian vision to be sure, but as the Oslo process slipped further into the diplomatic coma from which it will clearly never recover, and the alternative of increasingly violent occupation and political Apartheid or a moving towards a one state or binational solution increasingly came into view, this vision suddenly seemed less fantastical and in fact at least potentially practical, if the details could be worked out in a convincing manner.

This we have attempted to do with the publication last year of the book One Land, Two States: Israel and Palestine as Parallel States with the University of California Press, which details the findings of a half decade’s worth of joint research, discussions and debates in the areas of security, economics, diplomacy, international law, legal regimes and harmonization, and the role of religious and of culture more broadly in creating a new architecture for shared sovereignty yet politically independent life for both peoples on the same land. What follows is our broad introduction to our findings.

We offer them not so much as a set plan to be adopted by politicians as an intellectual and moral provocation, reminding all sides that even the most pessimistic and hostile realities can be overcome with creativity and a willingness to think outside the political, diplomatic, economic and cultural boxes in which both sides have for so long been trapped.

Chapter 1

One Land—Two States?

An Introduction to the Parallel States Concept

By: Mathias Mossberg

The conflict between Palestinians and Israelis has now raged for the better part of a century. Israel was established as a state in 1948, but the origins of the conflict go back much further, at least to the first days of the Zionist movement. Some say the conflict was born more than three thousand years ago, when Moses espied the green strip of Jericho from Mount Nebo, on the other side of the Jordan River; or earlier still, when Abraham first passed through the land of Canaan and rested in Shechem, close to today’s Nablus.

Cover of One Land, Two States: Israel and Palestine as Parallel States

Cover of One Land, Two States: Israel and Palestine as Parallel States

From the biblical period through the present day the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River has been the site of innu- merable conflicts over territory and the identities that have taken shape within it. As we go to press, prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians remain bleak despite yet another wave of U.S.-brokered diplomatic activity, primarily because a territorial division acceptable to both sides is not in sight. Israel continues to strengthen its presence across the West Bank, while remaining in control over many aspects of life in Gaza. Among increasing numbers of both Palestinians and Israe- lis the view is gaining ground that the time has run out for a traditional two-state solution—that is, a division of historic Palestine/Eretz Yisrael into two territorially distinct states.

If a two-state solution seems increasingly remote, a one-state solution remains unacceptable to the vast majority of Israelis for political and cultural as well as demographic reasons. A significant percentage of Palestinians is similarly not ready to give up the long-sought-after dream of a sovereign Palestinian state. Facts on the ground have led to loss of hope, and the belief is widespread that the two-state solution is dead. There is a growing debate about alternatives, and this book is a contri- bution to that debate.

The fundamental question that this book poses is whether it is possible to envisage a new kind of two-state structure that could meet some of the basic demands and desires from both sides. Could a concept with two parallel state structures, both covering the whole territory, with one answering to Palestinians and one to Israelis regardless of where they live, be envisaged? Could such a concept contribute to unlocking positions on key issues and thus opening up a way forward?

The contributors to this volume explore different aspects of this vision of a Parallel States structure, one Israeli state and one Palestinian, both states covering the whole area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. In such a scenario, military, political, and economic bar- riers would be lifted, and a joint security and defense policy, a common and equitable economic policy, and joint and harmonized legislation would replace existing divisions. Such a structure would allow both for an independent Palestinian state and for Israel to be both Jewish and democratic at the same time. It would bring an end to occupation and would permit free movement over the whole area for both peoples, as well as providing a vision for an end of conflict.

This vision of two states on the same land is, of course, only a vision. It may be that it is far too remote from present realities ever to be imple- mented or seriously contemplated as such. But considering the present lack of movement and of ways out of the present deadlock and even of ideas, more imaginative scenarios may have to be reflected upon. It can- not be excluded that such a discussion might reveal elements of solu- tions not previously considered, and thus indicate  other ways forward.

The international situation is constantly changing, not least in the Middle East, where the Arab uprisings have created a completely new situation across the region. Old truths are being questioned and new thoughts introduced, while long-stable balances of power, alignments of forces, and strategic principles and concepts have been challenged and even upended.

Today, neither sovereignty nor the role of the nation-state is what it was even a generation ago. Despite the ongoing political and ideological salience of the nation-state, in practice national sovereignty is now divided and circumscribed in unprecedented ways, while control of territory has lost its power to determine the shape, path, and speed of development or the broader well-being of peoples.

Developments in international law; the growth and proliferation of international institutions; and economic, technological, and political globalization have all contributed to creating more porous borders between states, as well as limiting a state’s capacity to exercise indiscriminate power. The concept of power itself is gradually gaining both new content and new dimensions. The scope of military power is increasingly challenged and complemented by economic, technological, and political power, as well as the power of information. Economic and political power no longer flow mainly from control of land.

But the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is like few others, stubbornly focused on control of land. Developments on the ground have in many ways gone too far to permit a workable territorial division of Palestinians and Israelis into distinct political entities. Physical and political obstacles continue to grow. Politically, the Israeli electorate is increasingly  skeptical, not to say hostile, to a deal with the Palestinians built upon the principle of dividing the land (Pedazhur 2012). The thirst of the Israeli right to settle more and more land remains unquenched. Physically, the web of Israeli roads and settlements on the West Bank is forming a geological sediment on top of the existing Palestinian society, and politically the Israeli “matrix of control” is slowly making substan- tial and sustainable development impossible for the Palestinians (Halper 2008). In Gaza, economic and social conditions remain miserable, while the recently celebrated  economic growth in the West Bank has been lim- ited to a few cities and is not built on a stable political framework or an autonomous economic foundation. The Palestinian Authority’s attempt to build a state under occupation has all but failed. Palestinians and other  non-Jewish citizens of Israel, despite their citizenship, continue to suffer discrimination in various ways.

Israel continues to control almost all the territory of what was once the Mandate for Palestine, and has so far not been willing to part with what Palestinians regard as the minimum necessary to enable the crea- tion of a territorially viable Palestinian state. Demographic develop- ments are making Palestinians a majority in the whole area of pre-1948 Palestine (Eldar 2012). A situation with a minority controlling more than 80 percent of the territory and suppressing the majority of the population is not sustainable.

The so-called peace process has brought neither peace nor process. That is, not only has it failed to provide peace, but its continued existence is also owed to the necessity of maintaining the “process” at the expense of a peace whose contours and implications none of the interested parties would likely accept (LeVine 2009: 180f.). The failed Palestinian attempt in 2011 to gain recognition at the United Nations has been characterized as the final burial. The new UN vote in 2012 to grant Palestine nonmember state status was an important Palestinian psychological and political victory, but it changes little in reality.

The present paradigm of dividing the land geographically has not worked, in spite of thirty years of continual efforts, numerous plans, and endless talks—or talks about talks—involving the two parties, the United States, the European Union, and large parts of the international community (Tyler 2012). And there are solid reasons why it is not working: physically there is not much left to divide, and politically the necessary political will has not been mobilized.

Put simply, a two-state solution seems no longer in the cards. A one- state solution most likely never was. In the view of the authors of this volume, it is time for a rethink. If the land cannot be shared by geo- graphical division, and if a one-state solution remains unacceptable, can the land be shared in some other way? Is it possible to imagine another way that can provide an opening out of the present deadlock?

It is into this situation that we introduce the concept of parallel states. Can one design a scenario with a new type of two-state solution: one Israeli state structure and one Palestinian state structure, in parallel, each covering the whole area, and with equal but separate political and civil rights for all? Such a scenario would mean decoupling the exclusive link between state and territory, and replacing it with a link between the state and the individual, regardless of where he or she lives. Two state structures, parallel to or “superimposed” upon each other, would thus cover the whole area of Mandatory Palestine.

The question of who should belong to which state could be addressed either by nationality or by choice or by some combination of both. Thus people in the whole area could be able to choose freely to which state they would belong, and at the same time have the right—at least in principle—to settle where they liked within the whole territory. Citizen- ship could then be the result of an individual’s  free choice or national- ity, and would follow the citizen throughout the territory.

Such an arrangement would likely lead, on the one hand, to a mainly Jewish-Israeli area consisting of the bulk of present-day Israel and a number of the larger Jewish settlements in the West Bank. But this area should also be open for Palestinians wishing to live there, initially perhaps in limited numbers, until the structure won general acceptance and confidence from both sides. Israelis living in this area would be under Israeli jurisdiction, but individuals living there could also be free to choose to belong to the Palestinian state, and thus to be under Palestinian jurisdiction.

In the same way, one could imagine a Palestinian area consisting of the West Bank and Gaza, and maybe parts of the areas in Israel where Palestinians now predominate. Such an area would, however, in the same way be open for Jews-Israelis—and others—who wished to live there, perhaps with corresponding numerical limitations  initially. These Jews-Israelis would be under Israeli jurisdiction and belong to the Israeli state, despite living in Palestinian-predominant areas. Dual citizenship could be an option in some cases, while differing levels of political rights could be elaborated, allowing Palestinians or Jews to participate in local or regional governance while maintaining national ties to their own state.

The application of such a structure to present geographic and demo- graphic realities might have to be complemented with the notion of separate “heartlands”: areas where present separation patterns remain and continue to be legally protected. These should be more limited areas around the major economic and security concentrations, such as Tel Aviv and Ramallah.

Thus, two parallel state structures could cover the whole area,  with separate heartlands but with soft and porous borders between them. Israelis and Palestinians could each claim their own state with its own special character and identity, but they would complement each other and not be mutually exclusive.

In such a structure, both states would keep their own national sym- bols and their own government and parliament, as well as maintaining distinct foreign policy and foreign representation. They could choose to join in a defense union, an economic union, or a customs union, or any combination of these, with one currency, one labor market, and joint external border management. Elements of this can, to some extent and in practical terms, be said to be in place today, even if one-sidedly and with strong forces pulling in different directions.

Of course, there would have to be joint, integrated, or in any case harmonized legislation in a number of areas, including areas like com- munications, road traffic, police, and taxation. In other areas, such as civil law and family matters, jurisdiction in many parts of the world has already followed religion rather than territory for hundreds of years, and such areas would thus not necessarily present a major problem, although admittedly parallel legal systems by definition involve complications.

The Parallel States framework would be an innovation in international politics, in international law, and in basic constitutional matters. The scenario would differ from both a federal and a binational system but would have elements of both.

Before outlining in more detail how such a scenario could be imag- ined, we need to take a look at some basic elements of the conflict, and also at recent developments in the understanding of sovereignty and what they mean in the present-day world.

back to basics

The contemporary conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is generally regarded as territorial at its core, with the key issues said to include land and borders, Jerusalem, settlements, and refugees. Yet defining the con- flict in these terms has not yielded meaningful progress toward a peace- ful resolution. A longer and deeper perspective is inevitable. The search for an end to the conflict must go back to its beginning (Agha and Mal- ley 2009).

Basic fears, concerns,  and aspirations of the two sides have to be addressed. Exploring these is likely to highlight different perspectives and concerns from Israelis and Palestinians, but also to reveal some fundamental elements common to both.

For Israelis, security is a sine qua non, and an existential issue. The quest for security was the basis for the establishment of the state of Israel, and the Jewish state satisfies the fundamental Jewish-Israeli need for Jews to be in charge of their own destiny, to have a place on earth secure from persecution, and to protect their own identity (see, e.g., Strömbom 2010). Closely linked to the Jewish identity is the Jewish people’s specific attachment to the Holy Land.

For Palestinians, the defining issue is not security as such but the loss of land—in itself a key security issue—linked to existential fears of an ultimate loss of identity. Palestinians feel a physical threat wherever they are, be it in Israel, the Occupied Territory, in camps, in neighbor- ing states,  or in the diaspora. Palestinians also have a need for dignity, equality, and justice—focused in particular on the issue of return and on a full recognition of the right to return.

In contrast to Israelis, many Palestinians early on did not in the same way consider statehood a primary objective, even if this appeared to be the case for several decades, particularly for the leadership of the Pales- tine Liberation Organization (see, e.g., Khalidi 1997: 19ff.). Palestinian nationalism and the drive for a nation-state found institutional expres- sion in the PLO in the late 1960s. As the peace process has waned, the notion of statehood has been receding for many Palestinians. They wish to get rid of Israeli occupation, but not necessarily to divide the land. Ending the occupation and implementing justice remain central, along with an abiding attachment to the land (Karmi et al. 2011; Klein 2010).

For both sides, basic issues are thus security, identity, and access to the land.  Most other issues can be subsumed under these basic catego- ries. To have a chance to succeed, the quest for peace must begin by imagining ways to ensure mutually satisfactory solutions to the follow- ing issues:

•     Is it possible to end the occupation and fulfill Palestinian needs of return in ways that can be harmonized with Israeli security needs?

•     Can a Palestinian state be set up, and a Jewish state preserved, while at the same time both peoples have access to the whole land?

•     Is there a way to think in terms of a new kind of two-state structure that could meet the most important demands of the two sides?

These are questions that need to be addressed in the search for ways forward, in place of the tired focus on geographical division of the ter- ritory. Instead of dividing ownership of the land horizontally into two different sovereignties, ownership could be divided vertically into dif- ferent functions, and the hitherto-exclusive link between statehood and territory loosened. Thus an alternative scenario is imagined, based on the principle of shared sovereignty and political authority. But let us first take a quick look at how the concept of sovereignty has come under debate, in academic circles and elsewhere, in the past few decades.

divisible sovereignty

In the world outside the Middle East, control of territory has ceased to carry the same meaning it once did, and also in the Middle East changes are taking place.  Economic and political power no longer grows only out of power over the land. Access to markets, technology, information, and the rule of law are equal—and often more important—elements creating economic and political power. Power has new contents, bor- ders are becoming porous, and states are no longer the only important actors. Many argue that sovereignty as we used to understand it is largely becoming a thing of the past.

The concept of sovereignty has eroded under the pressure of globalization. The impact of universal principles and universal structures sug- gests new dimensions in how states  relate  to one another and to their citizens. The role of borders is changing (see, e.g., Newman and Pasi 1998). People and goods can still largely be kept out—or in—but bor- ders no longer protect against ideas, modern communications systems, or modern weapons systems. Recent developments in various parts of the Middle East serve to underscore this point.

International law and principles have been perforating national boundaries, and various transnational structures limit both the legislative and the executive space of national political bodies. External influ- ence is increasing at all levels. Political leaders are now not only deemed responsible to their own people, but are also increasingly held account- able to international bodies  for their deeds. National economic sover- eignty is being undermined, and is in some cases little more than a for- mality, and even large countries can find their scope of action limited by international institutions. A growing body of international legislation and international administrative law is regulating ever-larger fields of national life (Kingsbury, Krish, and Stewart 2005).

The nation-state as we know it is no longer the undisputed final product of the international system. History did not end, as some have suggested, but the Westphalian era—characterized by the primacy of the nation-state—may be coming to an end, and the nation-state may in the future be regarded as a historical parenthesis stretching from the mid-seventeenth century until the twenty-first.

The erosion of sovereign political authority has affected both external and internal aspects of sovereignty. In both cases, sovereign space has been ceded to other actors than the nation-state as such: international institutions, transnational companies, major cities and organizations, and even private  citizens and other nonstate actors.

As a consequence, the indivisibility of sovereignty has come to be increasingly questioned (Krasner 2005). The “classical” view of Westphalian sovereignty—that sovereignty lies exclusively in the hands of states, is inherently indivisible and inherently territorial—is now much disputed. Scholars from a number of fields claim that this classical, traditional view of undivided sovereignty is in need of being critically rethought (Agnew 2004; Sidaway 2003). It is pointed out that the norm of indivisibility has throughout history served as a veil, hiding actual power relations. In reality, sovereignty has always been divisible, and the exercise of political authority has often been derived from several sources, both external and internal. Thus it is argued that Westphalian sovereignty has constantly been violated (Krasner 1999), and that “it is the myth of Westphalia, rather than Westphalia itself, on which today’s understanding of the principle  of sovereignty  rests”  (Lake 2006). Stephen Krasner has termed this state of affairs “organized hypocrisy” (Krasner 1999).

Several scholars have proposed a distinction between de jure and de facto sovereignty (Murphy 1996) and implied that de facto sovereignty differs from the pure de jure, “original” Westphalian notion. Some argue that discussions about  sovereignty have always concerned de facto sovereignty, and cannot be seen from an either-or perspective (Lake 2003). Exploring the concept of divisible sovereignty, Oliver Jütersonke and Rolf Schwartz argue that the current world order might be better described by transcending the Westphalian notion of indivisi- ble absolute sovereignty  and replacing it with one “that allows for the transferral of sovereign prerogatives  across multiple agents”  (Jüter- sonke and Schwartz 2007).

They, along with other scholars, also argue that divisibility of sover- eignty is nothing new, and that the pre-Westphalian understanding of sovereignty, as expressed by Hugo Grotius (in principle indivisible but with “a division sometimes . . . made into parts designated as potential and subjective”), is more open to the notion of divisibility. In the West- phalian era the idea of divisible sovereignty was manifested in several respects, in particular during the colonial  period with, for example, the Protectorate and Dominions system or the Mandate system of the League of Nations. The federal system of government found in many states is also heir to this politico-epistemological tradition.

In the present world, “new governance structures have emerged that reflect the de facto holders of sovereign powers within states” as well as power  asymmetries  between sovereign states, write Jütersonke  and Schwartz (2007). Scholars have come to speak of a “New Middle Ages” (Rapley 2006). Several elements point to a state of affairs in which sov- ereign equality and indivisible sovereignty are no longer the central pillars of statehood. Not only have new governance  structures and new international structures widened the spectrum of de facto power holders, but the content of power itself has also changed, acquiring new dimensions. All of this has led to an increasing fragmentation of public space, and in many cases situations in which the state no longer controls parts of its territory. In some cases this has gone as far as functional state failure, where “the state may continue to have international legal sovereignty, but the element of territorial control that defines Westphal- ian conceptions of sovereignty no longer applies”  (Jütersonke and Schwartz 2007).

They argue further,  following on the work of seminal twentieth- century explorations of the issue (cf. Henry Sumner Maine, as quoted  in Keene 2002: 107), that sovereignty is best understood as a bundle of sovereign prerogatives that can be delegated and disaggregated, and they offer examples such as security control, the provision of external security, the right to legislate, the right to pass judgment and to grant pardon, and the right to tax people. Such an understanding of sover- eignty differs from the traditional legal understanding based on the sov- ereign equality of states. For a further discussion of how sovereignty can be deconstructed and how this relates directly to the notion of par- allel state structures, see chapter 3 in this volume, “Parallel Sovereignty: Dividing and Sharing Core State Functions,” by Peter Wallensteen.

This view of sovereignty, as linked to the fulfillment of basic state services in the effort to guarantee and protect citizens’ basic human needs, is a backdrop to the debate about the introduction of the princi- ple of “Responsibility to Protect” in the international legal framework (ICISS 2001). The growing international acceptance of this principle constitutes a major blow to the traditional understanding of sovereign equality, what Krasner has named “conventional sovereignty” (Krasner 2005: 85), and points to a performance-based notion of sovereignty, where a state has to “earn” its sovereignty by fulfilling its obligations toward the people residing in its  territory (Jütersonke and Schwartz 2007).

This being said, it must be noted that when we look at current state practice the principle of indivisibility remains strongly held. An important aspect of this reality is that the political projects behind the intel- lectual construction of indivisibility are not taken into account. The idea of sovereignty, and with it the presumption of indivisibility, was born with the modern state, in the midst of political conflict and trans- formation. Jean Bodin, Thomas Hobbes, and others at the time sought to justify the creation of central authority in the wake of internal unrest and civil war, and “to legitimize and propagate a central secular state against the remnants of feudalism and the external vestiges of the uni- versal church.” Thus “the principle of sovereignty  was never meant as a description of practice nor as a foundation for a positive theory of international politics but as a normative ideal in the service of state- building” (Lake 2006).

In much the same way, in the present situation, the principle of indivisibility is asserted as part of a state-building process, on the one hand against the vestiges of colonialism, on the other against tribal or other subnational or transnational loyalties. Indivisibility was asserted  in opposition to rival theories and principles, in the Middle  Ages as now, and all the time in practice sovereignty remained divisible. “We ought not to mistake political programs for reality,” writes Lake (2006).

One of those who have taken the lead in developing a critique of the notion of the indivisibility of sovereignty is Jens Bartelson. In chapter 2 of this study—“Can Sovereignty Be Divided?”—he discusses the para- doxical relation between the ideal of indivisibility in theory and the recurrent division of sovereignty in political  practice, and suggests a reconceptualization of sovereignty in terms of the relationship between rulers and ruled. Bartelson suggests that whenever there is a mismatch between the claims to sovereignty made by a ruler and the subjects’ perception of that ruler’s legitimacy, sovereignty has to be divided to sustain  or restore legitimacy.

parallel sovereignty

Applying the preceding discussion and Bartelson’s comments on the division of sovereignty to the basic ideas of the Parallel States Project (PSP) could begin by addressing the dilemma that occurs when “recognition fails to take place because of the absence of a common allegiance among those subjected to governmental authority,” when “any claim to sovereign authority on behalf of the latter is likely to remain unrecognized and thus also unsuccessful.” Bartelson mentions several different solutions: secession, federation, regional autonomy, the special case of the European Union, and division along communal lines leading to parallel structures of government.

The two latter forms of solution—the EU model of division along functional lines and parallel structures of government—are examples of shared sovereignty. History shows many cases of shared sovereignty, such as federations like the United States and Switzerland, as well as condominiums. While a federation is characterized by vertically shared sovereignty, with different levels exercising different functions, a con- dominium represents horizontally shared sovereignty, with  two states sharing power over a certain territory, normally in borderlands between them. This model has applied to land areas such as Andorra and the Sudan, and to lakes and seas such as Lake Constance and the Caspian Sea, as well as to rivers such as the Mosel (Samuels 2008).

With sovereignty eroded and divisible, the exclusive and previously sacrosanct link between sovereignty and territory has begun to fade. In other words, sovereignty’s function as political authority may be divided into, on the one hand, the authority over citizens, and on the other, authority over the territory. Until now these two have been exclusively linked. The questions then arise: Is it possible to cut this previously exclusive, if now in many cases fading, link between sovereignty and territory? And is it possible to imagine political authority over a particular territory exercised in common by two actors, while at the same time those two exercise exclusive authority over their respective citizens? In such a case, the mutual links of loyalty between state and citi- zen would be retained, and thus the legitimacy of the state in relation to its citizens. The territory itself, on the other hand, would become objectified and able to be given over to common administration.

How would such a construct relate to the notion of self-determination, a crucial partner-concept to sovereignty, particularly in regard to the issues of “right to rule” and state legitimacy? In the previous century, liberation movements the world over contested Westphalian sovereignty and the legitimacy of colonial states.  In this way they success- fully contributed to the development of the right to self-determination of peoples as an international norm. This principle dates back to the American and French revolutions, and was revived after World War I and particularly after World War II, as a guiding principle in international relations in general and in the decolonization process in particular. It is an irony of history that many of the regimes that took power from the colonials turned to clinging even harder to the Westphalian sovereignty vis-à-vis their citizens, with often disastrous consequences for their peoples.

The principle of self-determination underwent a reassertion over the past fifty-some years. In effect it calls for the people’s sovereign rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights refers in Article 21 to the will of the people as the basis for the authority of government. In other words,  state sovereignty should  not derive its legitimacy from the control of a specific territory per se; the will of the people it claims to have under its control must also be respected and must be the source of the state’s  authority. As expressed in the International Covenants on Human Rights, the core of the international human rights law, “All peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development” (Deng 2010).

Self-determination is a principle that sets the framework for the people’s political rights. In exercising their right to self-determination, a people can “freely determine” their status and thus decide which status and form of government suit them best. There is consequently no contradiction between the right of self-determination and the choice of a different form of sovereignty, such as parallel sovereignty, and of a state structure other than the classical, traditional, territorially determined state.

The notion of parallel sovereignty is, in the context of other forms of organization of political power, a novelty in degree rather than in kind. The difference from a condominium arrangement is that parallel sovereignty denotes shared power not just over a specific territory between two states, but over the whole area covered by the two states. This can be regarded as revolutionary compared to the traditional notion of con- dominium, wherein common or joint sovereignty normally is exercised as an additional feature on the periphery, while exclusive sovereignty still reigns at home. But parallel sovereignty, or parallel political authority, can also in principle be regarded as yet another form of shared power, even if its application implies a specific set of institutional arrangements.

To a certain extent, it can be argued that a Parallel States structure is reminiscent of the European Union’s architecture, wherein the member states have voluntarily ceded layers of sovereignty  to a common supra- national level of government, while retaining other layers on an exclusively national level. A Parallel States structure could however be seen as an inverted EU model, wherein the two states retain separate superstructures on the top level and create a body of common elements thereunder.

The closest comparison from all the various peace proposals that have been made in the Israeli-Palestinian context is probably the Clinton parameters, and more specifically the ideas about Jerusalem. In these parameters, certain areas would be subject to Palestinian and others to Israeli sovereignty, divided along ethnic lines, while certain areas would have shared sovereignty.

In chapter 3, Peter Wallensteen deconstructs the notion of sovereignty, develops the notion of divided sovereignty, and divides sovereignty in practice  first into horizontal and vertical dimensions and then further into different government functions. He demonstrates that there are different ways of distributing the exercise of these functions between different bodies-states.

What, then, could a Parallel States  structure look like in practical terms?

parallel states—a provocation against conventional wisdom

In a Parallel States structure, sovereignty or political authority over the territory could be shared between the two states in layers, with a number of state functions being exercised separately and a number of functions performed in common.  State sovereignty could be primarily  linked directly with the individual, and only in a secondary way with territory. Citizens of both states could be free to move  and settle in the whole area, and internal physical barriers could be lifted.

Obviously it is conceptually demanding to imagine such a structure in practice, with two states existing in parallel on the same piece of land. To think in these terms is a provocation against both conventional wisdom and international law. There is no direct precedence in history, although parallel power structures and legislations were not uncommon in medieval Europe, as well as in the Ottoman Empire (Majer 1997). The closest historically proven model is the condominium. Two states covering the whole of the same piece of land is something else—the states’ structure, though similar in architecture, would, in important respects, have to be of a different character from the modern state as we know it.

The basic question is how two parallel sets of political agency could exist side by side and cooperate on the same territory. Such a structure would require a clear horizontal division of powers between the two states, as well as a vertical division between different state functions— with some functions exercised separately and some held in common— combined with some form of permanent bilateral negotiation mechanism to resolve issues as they arise.

The states could retain their national symbols, have separate political bodies, be responsible to their own separate electorates, and retain a high degree of independence both in internal and in international matters. But this independence would obviously have to be curbed by mutual regard for the other in a reciprocal manner. There could be two heads of state, two governments, two Parliaments, and two administrations.  Foreign policy is an area where one could imagine two separate policies and each state having its own international representation; but naturally a certain degree of coordination would have to take place in matters of common interest. There would have to be clear limitations on the authority that either state could exercise over the territory. Many state institutions could retain a “normal” character, but the scope of their power would have to be modified and take into account the power of the other, parallel, state structure.

A number of the questions that would have to be addressed are not unique for a Parallel States structure—they are relevant both in a one- state solution and—for some of them—in a two-state solution of the more traditional character. In this volume, focus has been directed particularly toward security, economic, and legal aspects, all of which present unique challenges.

security a key issue

Security and defense would be of paramount importance in a Parallel States structure, as well as in a more conventional two-state structure. This poses particularly vital questions, in that security is a basic need for each side in existential and concrete ways. To craft a common Israeli-Palestinian security strategy, outlining how Israelis and Palestinians could cooperate and ultimately join forces in a common security system, covering external borders as well as internal order, is a challenge that should not be underestimated.

A joint external security envelope, with a high degree of cooperation on external security and with joint or coordinated external border control, has to be envisaged. It is worth noting, though, that already today there are elements of an internal security structure that contains separate institutions and security forces, but also a high degree of coordination.

Because of the centrality of the security issue, two extensive chapters in this volume deal with it, one from each side. They each outline basic security needs, discuss the implications of a Parallel States structure for the realm of security, and outline  basic issues to be addressed in a joint security strategy.

In chapter 4, “Security Strategy for the Parallel States  Project: An Israeli Perspective,” Nimrod Hurvitz and Dror Zeevi discuss the preva- lent Israeli narrative and how it has shaped the Jewish identity and the sense of being under siege, with all of the consequent distrust implied. They outline Israeli threat perceptions, and discuss the risks and oppor- tunities of a Parallel States structure against this background. Hurvitz and Zeevi also analyze security concerns from an Israeli perspective, and discuss how to maintain the security of Israeli citizens in a Parallel States structure—envisioning a situation in which Israeli military capa- bilities are somewhat reduced over time, the Palestinian party develops some defensive capabilities, and a third, international military force is introduced, both to deter and to tackle threats.

In the corresponding chapter from a Palestinian perspective, “Palestinian National Security” (chapter 5), Hussein Agha and Ahmad Samih Khalidi discuss the basics of Palestinian national security, its needs, interests, and threat perceptions, as well as doctrinal elements such as “nonoffensive defense,”  and outline  Palestinian  strategic dilemmas. Agha and Khalidi relate Palestinian national aspirations to the Parallel States framework, and discuss how it addresses as a matter of principle many fundamental issues of the conflict. But they also note that it con- tains significant problems and raises a number of security issues, such as how to address the imbalance in military capability and create a system of constraints. It is worth noting that all the authors underline the need for a lengthy implementation period.

regional structure and “heartlands”

A Parallel States structure can be designed in different ways, but in principle the basic building block is the individual and the cement is the loyalty of the individual to the state. In its pure form, two state structures would extend in parallel over the whole  territory, with only the individual at the base. But of course in reality, there are a number of substructures between the state and the individual—regions, counties, cities, villages—each with its own administration.

A Parallel States structure could thus on the one hand be said to be a top-bottom creation, where the political architecture is constructed from the top. On the other hand it could also be seen as a bottom-up structure, where the building blocks are the local communities and the division at the top a logical consequence of their different composition.

The basic principle for deciding who should belong to which state is—like the rest of a Parallel States structure—something that has to be negotiated between the two parties. The division could be based on nationality or individual choice or some other mutually agreed-upon mechanism. The option of dual nationality must also be taken into account, and would  most likely play a substantial role—not  least regarding Palestinians who are currently Israeli citizens.

One possible architecture involves substructures being given the right to choose which state to belong to, on a regional level. This would most likely yield a rather broad patchwork of different allegiances.  Another possibility is to have local communities given the choice, which would provide a more fine-tuned patchwork. In both cases, the result would most likely follow rather closely existing population concentrations.

The question then arises, Would this not be the same as a classic territorial division, but on a different basis? Well, no, because these different regions or local communities would have no state borders between them, only their populations’ different allegiances. The two states’ powers would extend over the whole territory, to their respective citizens in the whole area, with the economy eventually integrated, and legislation and jurisdiction either unified, harmonized, or in many cases based on criteria other than nationality. Local communities would, for example, have powers over certain matters of regional import, whereas matters such as communications, roads, traffic rules, and the like would have to be unified or at least harmonized.

If a village were to opt out of belonging to a particular state— a choice that could be made by referendum or could be based on nationality—there must remain a possibility for individuals living in that village to choose to belong to the other state. One could imagine a system not unlike that in present-day Europe, where individuals living in a city or village can carry different passports, and thus have one national identity and another local or regional identity.

Regardless of the approach chosen, two distinct “heartlands,” each corresponding to population concentrations, would most likely be formed, building on present realities. One can picture a scenario with a Jewish heartland around the coastal plains, and particularly the area around greater Tel Aviv. Likewise, one can see a Palestinian heartland in areas around Ramallah and other  cities in the West Bank, as well as in Gaza. Jerusalem is a special case that would require its own approach (more on this later). Such heartlands could be given special characteristics and be of different sizes and shapes. They should in principle be thought of as different from, for instance, the core areas that are dis- cussed in the security chapter by Hurvitz and Zeevi, which exist mainly for military  purposes such as barracks and training areas.

Thus there is a continuum of different scenarios that could be envisaged, depending on how the question of administrative division was addressed. At one end there would be a total spread of two separate but parallel state structures over the whole territory, and at the other one could imagine two separate heartlands covering most of the territory, each with extraterritorial jurisdiction over its citizens in border areas and possible enclaves. The latter scenario would not be very far from some of the models discussed in certain previous negotiations and peace initiatives (Quandt 2005). To a certain extent it can be said to take its point of departure from the thinking behind the so-called Beilin–Abu Mazen Plan of 1996 but extending the notion of extraterritorial juris- diction to cover larger areas on both sides of a border, areas that would be subject to parallel jurisdiction. Such a construct could possibly be labeled “overlapping states.”

The situation of Gaza in a Parallel States scenario, as in any scenario, would require special attention. In comparison to a territorial division with two Palestinian entities, which would have to be physically connected one way or another, a Parallel States concept would by definition open up borders and make such a connection unnecessary, at least in the longer run. In a transition period, present borders and crossings might have to be retained temporarily, and could be lifted gradually.

Gaza occupies a limited but territorially contiguous area, and has a demographically homogeneous population of purely Palestinian origin. This makes Gaza a natural candidate to become a core area in a future Palestinian state, as well as in a Parallel States scenario.

Special attention to the specific problems of Gaza would be necessary, particularly in the economic arena. The Gaza economy would on the one hand have to be rapidly strengthened, and on the other especially pro- tected in order to have a chance to grow from its present level and not become a bottomless pit of poverty in an otherwise wealth-producing economy. These issues are discussed in the chapters on economy.

To the extent that the political and religious climate of Gaza is different from other Palestinian areas and Palestinians in Israel today,  special attention would also have to be devoted to these issues. The religious dimension is discussed in a special chapter.

economic structure

In spite of all their differences, the Israeli economy and the Palestinian economy can be said to constitute one macroeconomy. There are both institutional and real links among the various nodes of this system. The whole creates very unequal dynamics, largely characterized by a center- periphery  relationship. The integration that  many imagined  would occur in time has not taken place; nevertheless, elements of an economic union are present.  There is an external customs envelope, a common currency, and the remains of a joint labor  market, albeit with great obstacles, as there are also to the flow of goods.

One of the most important lessons of Oslo is that no sustainable economic development is possible without a stable political environment and a resolution of basic political issues. This lesson has, to a certain extent, been repeated in the past few years. Odds are that concepts such as Netanyahu’s “economic peace” will suffer a similar fate (Alpher 2008).

A Parallel States structure could build upon the remaining elements of economic cooperation, but also upon the basic principle of the free flow of goods and people between the different parts of the macroeconomy. The aim would be real integration between the Israeli and Palestinian economies, building upon their complementarities while avoiding the continued Israeli structural dominance that was written into the economic component of the Oslo Accords. Indeed, avoiding the risk of cementing present inequalities would be a crucial goal and component of any Parallel States structure. Palestinian development needs would have to be addressed in a realistic and comprehensive way.

Only if Israel’s economic supremacy (owing to its advanced state of development in all areas) is balanced with massive international sup- port directed toward Palestinian development can there be long-term prospects for a viable and sustainable joint Israeli-Palestinian economy. Should this be realized, prospects for long-term economic development in a joint economy under a Parallel States structure could be more promising than under division in a traditional two-state structure.

One area where  the developmental cost of taking a benign view of the realities of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory has been particularly evident is that of water resources. The uneven distribution of scarce resources is all too apparent, and the gaps appear to be growing. Sharing authority over common resources is a central pillar of a Parallel States structure, which makes such a structure particularly suited to deal with scarce natural resources such as water. Shared sovereignty over water resources is likely to lead not only to more equitable distribution of resources, but also to more efficient ways of using them.

In his chapter “An Israel-Palestine Parallel States Economy by 2035” (chapter 6), Raja Khalidi outlines components of Palestinian national economic security and underlines the need for a transfer of sovereignty to Palestinian institutions. He discusses how a Parallel States economy can apply to, and exploit, the concept of divisible sovereignty to create a more functional and equitable economic relationship between the two states, and concludes that the road to convergence could go through either initial separation—to allow a robust Palestinian economy to be built up—or integration to correct  the distorted economic union.

In a corresponding chapter from an Israeli point of view, “Economic Considerations in Implementing a Parallel States Structure” (chapter 7), Rafi Bar-El discusses the benefits and constraints of the forced openness that a Parallel States structure implies. To minimize the negative effects and the risk of economic colonization, he suggests development in two stages, with an initial period of independence and economic borders leading eventually to full openness. The two authors thus are not too far apart in their analyses.

legal integration and harmonization

Legal pluralism is nothing new. Two or more legal systems have existed side by side in several countries and regions throughout history. Medieval Europe is one example, with the Catholic church, princes and fiefdoms, the guild system, and other entities each exercising jurisdiction over their subjects regardless of location. The Ottoman Millet system had Muslim, Christian (both Armenian and Orthodox), and Jewish jurisdictions existing side by side, with the legal system following the individual regardless of location within the empire (Majer 1997). In the Middle East as well, civil legislation has  often followed religion, and parallel jurisdiction is a fact of life, including in Israel.

In a Parallel States structure, each state would have jurisdiction over its own citizens. This would probably be rather uncontroversial in areas of Jewish or Palestinian concentration, such as in the “heartlands” that would be likely to develop. In other regions—such as border areas between the two communities, in mixed neighborhoods, as well as in Jerusalem—a certain element of extraterritorial jurisdiction could be envisaged. A large part of the jurisdiction in these areas would have to be joint or at least harmonized. Each side could keep its court system, but a system of mixed courts might have to be developed to take care of clashes of jurisdiction and other conflicts likely to arise. All of this is complicated, but hardly impossible to solve, considering historical precedents and similar situations in other parts of the world.

A Parallel States structure is not inherently  designed to promote social, human rights, or gender issues. Obviously, by addressing the conflict as such the PSP aims to improve the human rights situation for those who are oppressed, be it by the other  side or by their own. As to gender issues, by suggesting changes in the legal system on both sides, the PSP offers an opportunity to introduce legislation that can promote change. These issues are further discussed in the relevant chapters.

Bearing in mind that the nature of the issues in the legal field is more technical than political, and so to say reflects the political choices to be made, we have decided to treat this area from a technical legal perspective, rather than from separate national perspectives. The chapter on law is thus a compilation of written and oral contributions from various participants throughout the course of the project.

jerusalem—one city

Jerusalem is a special case—in a Parallel States scenario as well as in any other scenario. Jerusalem as a political and religious symbol requires a carefully crafted system of government that takes into account the interests of the two sides, of the three religions, and of all other elements that together make up the city’s unique character. A system of parallel juris- diction seems particularly suited to satisfying the needs of both Palestinians and Jews, and perhaps Jerusalem might be seen as a microcosm that could serve as a laboratory for a Parallel States structure writ large.

Neither a renewed division of Jerusalem nor the continued domination of one side over the other can be a recipe for a sustainable long- term solution. The two communities will in all likelihood have to be given a more equal say in the running of their city, and more equal spaces to live and work there. A Parallel States scenario could provide the institutional structure for living together and organizing the limited space in the interests of both communities and of other stakeholders.

There is nothing in a Parallel States structure preventing both states from  having Jerusalem as their capital. The Israeli side already has its main political institutions in Jerusalem, and many previous proposals for a two-state solution have contained provisions for Jerusalem to be the Palestinian capital.

It would seem that an initial implementation of parallel sovereignty could be applied to Jerusalem. In fact, many of the various proposed solutions to the complex issue of Jerusalem have contained elements that are in some cases close to the Parallel States framework, and some

kind of joint administration is part of almost all proposed solutions, apart from those that involve one side’s total domination of the other. This applies in varying degrees to proposals such as the Beilin–Abu Mazen Plan, the Geneva initiative, the Clinton parameters, and more lately the Jerusalem Old City initiative, an academic exercise initiated by the University of Windsor in Canada. The Clinton parameters, with their mix of shared sovereignty both horizontally and vertically when it comes to the Old City and East Jerusalem, offer perhaps the closest comparison. A Parallel States scenario would, however, go much fur- ther than any of these proposals in creating a structure that would guarantee both access for all and the right to live in the city, as well as a long-term basis for security and the preservation of identity for both peoples and all three religions.

religion—from obstacle to peace to force for reconciliation?

It is clear that any discussion of parallel states must involve considerable attention to culture and religion, an issue that Mark LeVine and Liam O’Mara IV take up in their contribution to this volume. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict may have its origins in a nationalist conflict over land but it has always been significantly “culturalized,” and this is nowhere  more obvious than in the religious rhetoric on both sides. Only by appreciating the unique concerns of the different religious constituencies can their needs be addressed, and religious belief—Jewish, Chris- tian, and Muslim alike—potentially become a more positive force for peace and justice.

As LeVine and O’Mara point out, both Jewish and Muslim religious nationalist claims to the territory of Palestine-Israel revolve around the need for divinely grounded sovereignty over all the land. A Parallel States scenario, by removing the linkages among the individual citizen, specific segments of the larger territory, and sovereignty, allows both nations to imagine a sovereign community over the entire territory, but in a manner that is not exclusive of the other group’s claims to the same land.

A Parallel States vision allows citizens of all three faiths to live any- where they choose in the whole area, which means precisely that Jews have permanent access to the biblical heartland of the West Bank and Jerusalem, which is today the heart of Palestine. The covenantal promise can then be kept, but without disenfranchising and even dispossess- ing Palestinians, while the imagination of the territory of Palestine as a waqf (an inalienable charitable endowment under Islamic religious law) acquires a level of political viability it did not previously enjoy.

Indeed, a Parallel States arrangement can help members of all three faiths transcend the most xenophobic and chauvinistic tendencies of their identities without challenging their core ties to the land. When sovereignty is no longer equated with exclusive possession of the land, the core, religious-derived bond between the individual and territory becomes easier to see. Competition over the land need no longer be a dominant factor in sociocultural identity. By changing the nature of citizenship, a Parallel States framework could encourage the creation of a public culture that would bring Jews and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians, toward visions of a common good.

At the same time, as I explain in chapter 8 on the legal regime that would result from a Parallel States solution, the creation of two new state structures along the lines outlined in this book would encourage and even necessitate the creation of a new legal environment based on core international human-rights norms, principles, and laws. Such a grounding could be much more supportive of the fundamental rights of marginalized and even oppressed groups, such as women, Druze, Bedouins, and others than the present state and attendant legal systems are. At the same time, how- ever desirable this might be from  a normative liberal political position, imposing a much  more “European” or “Western” set of constitutional principles or laws on Jews and Muslims who are quite hostile to such regimes would threaten the broader Parallel States enterprise. Thus, this arena would be one of constant negotiation.

opportunities and challenges

A Parallel States structure could meet both Palestinian and Israeli aspirations to live and work in the whole area that was once the Mandate for Palestine. Moreover, it could allow for an independent Palestinian state, and for the Israeli state to be both Jewish and democratic at the same time (an increasingly difficult proposition under present circumstances). Such a structure could bring an end to Israeli military occupation and open up the whole area for free movement of people, thus addressing as a matter of principle both the Palestinian right of return and the issue of settlements, two of the most intractable elements of the conflict.

Most important, the Parallel States vision could provide a way to end the conflict, and thus alleviate past and current grievances, as well as reduce the potential for future friction and violence. Incentives on both sides to resort to violence would be significantly reduced, and a new regional political situation and new strategic geopolitical reality would likely emerge, most probably of a less confrontational character.

Of course, a Parallel States structure would also entail a number of problems and challenges, not least in the security sphere. Among these are how to balance the joint and separate security forces, and how to organize internal security, immigration, and border controls. An inter- national involvement would most likely be called for.

It is clear that a Parallel States structure requires a lot of confidence between the two sides—maybe more than other scenarios. The two peoples would have to live close together with different systems to regulate their lives and protect them. But any other scenario also implies living close together, thus still requiring a lot of mutual confidence. It is equally clear that at present there is an almost total lack of confidence between the sides. This may call for a period of interim measures. Some kind of long-term interim agreement, armistice or otherwise, might be required to provide the time and space for developing both confidence and more specific ideas about how to organize the future. But a vision going beyond short- and medium-term arrangements will certainly have to be developed to provide the necessary political energy to proceed.

parallel states as an alternative or complement to a territorially based two-state solution

The basic impetus behind the PSP is the lack of progress in the current peace process, or—maybe more accurately—the peace process that was. This does not mean, however, that the project necessarily has to be seen as challenging this process (to the extent that it still exists). Even if it is difficult to imagine, let us suppose that there might be progress toward a territorial solution, with two states next to each other. Would this make alternative thinking redundant?

The argument that a separation needs to precede any form of subsequent integration is a strong one, and cannot be dismissed lightly. Many Palestinians feel that they need to have their total independence first before starting to discuss other forms of living together with their neighbors. And it may be that separation is a necessary first step in any process that can move forward. But separation in itself does not solve all problems and leaves a number of the main issues unresolved, foremost that of refugees. There is also the matter of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and the uncertain future their inhabitants would face under many existing peace plans. Add to these the question of Gaza, and the links between the different parts of the Palestinian community, and the picture becomes even more bleak—not to mention when we include the situation of the Palestinians inside Israel. Thus the prospect that a separation as such, regardless of the specific proposal, will lead to the end of the conflict must be regarded as unlikely. It is difficult indeed to see that a territorial division can contain a fundamental vision for all these components that offers a better future.

And this is where the vision of parallel states comes in as one that could provide hope, even as a complement to other alternatives, since it is built upon the inevitable need to find a way for the two peoples to live together—something that many on both sides know they will have to do someday, perhaps sooner rather than later.


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Mark LeVine and Mathias Mossberg

Mark LeVine is Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine, a contributing editor for Tikkun, and a senior columnist for Al Jazeera. He is the author of Overthrowing Geography and the coeditor of Struggle and Survival in Palestine/Israel (both from UC Press). Mathias Mossberg served as Sweden's ambassador to Morocco from 1994 to 1996, and he has been involved in Middle East peace negotiations since the 1980s. He was part of the Swedish team that helped initiate the back-channel negotiations that produced the Oslo peace process. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow at Lund University's Center for Middle Eastern Studies in Sweden.

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134 Responses

  1. Parity on November 6, 2015, 12:11 pm

    The idea of parallel states as a solution to the current predicament has been conceived independently by at least four people, two of them Israelis. See for a detailed plan calling for two states on the same land with equal rights for all individuals, regardless of nationality, and bilateral governance on all matters of mutual concern. This plan has been up on the Web since 2005.

    • Mooser on November 6, 2015, 12:23 pm

      “for a detailed plan calling for two states on the same land”

      And if a plan like that didn’t exist, somebody would have to invent it.

    • marklevine on November 7, 2015, 5:56 pm

      We are familiar with this plan, however while it revolves around some of the same basic conceptions of shared sovereignty at the surface, the details are quite different. Our book has chapters dealing with many issues in significant detail as well as 2 of the leading theorists of sovereignty, Jens Bartelson and Peter Wallensteen, providing a detailed grounding for the concept of parallel sovereignty.

    • talknic on November 8, 2015, 10:22 pm

      ” two states on the same land with equal rights for all individuals, regardless of nationality,”

      Only Israeli citizens of 1948 have RoR to Israeli territory of 1948. Palestinian refugees do not.

      With equal rights? One state will get completely gratis, more than half the territory of the other and it will be allowed to dispossess some 78% of its own non-Jewish Israeli citizens by their not returning

      The same state is allowed to offer citizenship to Jewish people from Arab states while its dispossessed non-Jewish Israeli citizens are to be off loaded on to states they were never from and who for the most part have been generously hosting these non-Jewish Israeli citizens for 67 years

      • Parity on November 8, 2015, 11:27 pm

        Two states on the same land in this case means two states with identical borders and no territorial division–something never tried before. It is a new concept. Refugees could return to any part of the shared territory. Please read the above article or before commenting further.

      • Mooser on November 8, 2015, 11:36 pm

        ” Refugees could return to any part of the shared territory.”

        Ah, so there is a full right of return for Palestinians, and they can have their homes and land back! That’s great! Wonderful.
        That is what you mean, right?

      • talknic on November 9, 2015, 2:11 am

        @ Parity
        Ooops, my bad. I had meant to say — ‘One state will get completely gratis, more than half the territory of the other, it would be given the entire territory … ‘

  2. Boomer on November 6, 2015, 2:07 pm

    I don’t know what would be the best arrangement in Israel/Palestine, nor do I have a vote in that. I also don’t know what the future holds, but I expect that Israel will continue its practice of oppression and dispossession. Mr. Obama has evidently ruled out bold action, such as recognizing Palestine (or even passive inaction, such as withholding our veto at the UN.) None of those running to replace him provides reason to expect a different policy.

    Accordingly, I believe that the best arrangement that I can hope for, as a practical matter, is that the U.S. would acknowledge its responsibility for actively aiding and abetting the dispossession and oppression of generations of Palestinians. We have helped to evict them from their homes and homeland. We have refused to recognize Palestine, and thus have made them stateless people, “without the right to have rights.” We have armed and defended Israel to the point that it isn’t realistic to think it will give the Palestinians justice and dignity. Accordingly, it is only fair that we invite those Palestinians who wish to make a new home here to do so . . . and that we pay to make that happen.

    Some will say that this is a fantasy, but to me it seems more realistic than some of the proposals for a future Israel/Palestine that people imagine would somehow provide a just resolution there. After all, after the war in Vietnam, two million refugees left that country, with about half of them coming to the U.S. Many Americans felt that we had a moral responsibility to take them in. It seems to me that we have a similar responsibility with respect to the Palestinians.

    • Kris on November 6, 2015, 2:32 pm

      @Boomer: “Accordingly, it is only fair that we invite those Palestinians who wish to make a new home here to do so . . . and that we pay to make that happen. ”

      I think this is a wonderful idea. I wish every single one of the Palestinians would move here, with very generous help. Maybe all the Zionists would then move to Israel.

      The U.S. would be a much better place.

      • Boomer on November 6, 2015, 3:07 pm

        re, “The U.S. would be a much better place.”

        Yes, but even in my dreams, I don’t dare to dream for that.

      • italian ex-pat on November 6, 2015, 6:31 pm

        @ Kris

        . . . Maybe all the Zionists would then move to Israel”.

        You serious? Give up the good life here? With the Palestinians gone, the Zionist plan would be achieved, no longer any motivation to go there to dispossess the natives. Besides, who would be doing all the hard, menial labor?

    • Chu on November 6, 2015, 3:35 pm

      ‘and that we pay to make that happen.’

      I disagree, because it seems to allow the Zionists their intended victory of occupation and the US will continue to pay the price. The Zionists are the ones responsible for this, and their political arm twisting, not the US citizens.

      And what will be built in the US a few new towns with a disney-like inspired Al Aqsa, so the Palestinians can feel comfy and the Israelis can take over Jerusalem and rebuild their sacrificial temple?

      Sorry, but the Palestinians have dragged their feet, because they want to live where they’ve lived for centuries before the Zionists arrived last century.

      • Boomer on November 7, 2015, 6:43 am

        Chu, you make some valid points, cogently presented. I don’t suggest that you are wrong; I simply accept that the Zionists have won. I accept that they control the political class in the United States as well as Israel. The recent statement from the Obama administration that time has run out for a two state solution (which it claims to be its objective) seems a signal to fools like me who held hopes for something more from Obama. I accept that Zionists can block any action that they perceive to have a material adverse impact on them and their objectives. Given that belief (I assume you do not agree with it), I seek a constructive alternative that would be feasible. Offering the Palestinians a new home here seems an ethical and moral alternative. We get productive new citizens, they get rights as full citizens of a country where they can live freely and find new homes (something they lost in part due to our actions), and–yes–the Zionists finally get rid of the last impediment to their dream. Perhaps some other constructive alternative is politically feasible, but I don’t know what it may be.

      • diasp0ra on November 7, 2015, 6:52 am


        That will never work, and the vast majority of Palestinians would never accept that. There was a similar campaign facilitated by Israel before the second Intifada, where it gave Palestinians huge incentives to immigrate to Canada. This was with the full cooperation of the Canadian government, well I don’t think I need to tell you that it didn’t work.

        The solution to injustice is to fight injustice, not to leave the bad people alone and hope they don’t victimize someone else. Because they will.

      • Boomer on November 7, 2015, 8:55 am

        diasp0ra, I certainly don’t suggest that we force Palestinians to move here, simply that we give them the option. I expect that Israel will continue to kill, torture, steal from, and oppress those who stay. Based on the past 67 years of history, I see no reason the expect that will change. Neither do I believe that the U.S. is ready, willing, or able to change Israel’s behavior. I also expect that the U.S. will continue to block efforts by others to do so. Maybe my expectations will prove to be wrong. I will be happy to see a better outcome, if it happens.

      • MHughes976 on November 7, 2015, 9:48 am

        I’ve been saying for a while that there must be some mixture of compulsion and ‘compensation’ that would work in the sense of removing the big majority of Palestinians and I guess that many of the finest minds are working on softening Europe, now a likely main recipient, up for the purpose. But it would all be very expensive and the available money is nowhere near there yet. To that extent I disagree with Boomer: the game’s not over until it’s over and that last ditch still has to be crossed.
        The brutal ill-treatment could be regarded as an attempt to lower the average cost of persuading people to leave. Yet the bad reputation which Israel is gaining raises the price, making the ‘compensation’ that would be enough to ward off the dreaded Nazi parallels a little higher every day.

      • Boomer on November 7, 2015, 10:15 am

        @ MHughes976, ” it would all be very expensive and the available money is nowhere near there yet”

        Perhaps you assume that Israel will pay? That would be fair, but given Zionist control of our political class, I assume that the cost will be paid by the U.S. taxpayer. I also assume that the cost would be no more than we give Israel now. At today’s interest rates, $ 3 Billion per year for a generation would finance something on the order of $100 billion. $5 billion a year, which seems to be the new target for aid to Israel, would finance something in excess of $160 billion. These are not huge amounts in the U.S. budget (cheaper than fighting another war, cheaper than constantly increasing what we spend on “homeland” security), but enough to finance relocating quite a few Palestinians.

        I haven’t actually tried to estimate the cost, nor do I know how many would want to avail of the opportunity . . . I’m just suggesting that the magnitude isn’t overwhelming. To the extent that the military-industrial complex allowed it, there could be some reduction in what we give Israel (which does not need it), so the net incremental cost could be less.

        Obviously, not everyone would be happy about paying for this. I figure we owe it to the Palestinians. Israel may owe more, but we can at least do something to pay our own moral debt. (And in the meantime, on another topic, we need to pay some real compensation to the survivors of our terrible attack on the MSF hospital.)

      • MHughes976 on November 8, 2015, 9:36 am

        I don’t imagine that Israek would pay – I’ve mentioned once or twice that what ‘needs’ to come together for this purpose is Palestinian desperation, Euro experience of absorbing immigrants and American willingness to pay. One of the expenses would lie in paying off the recipient countries. The United States could of course take a bigger share off Euro hands, thus spending the money in a different way, but I think that there would have to be a lot of recipients.
        The Israelis have the power to pick all the Palestinians up bodily, sweeping away any resistance, and dump them wherever there is room. But the more brutal the procedure the higher the price charged by others who become part of it, coming on top of the expense of the physical effort of transportation. The covering propaganda exercise becomes more and more complex and prolonged, therefore staggeringly costly by itself.
        There are all sorts of reasons for preferring a pretended consensus, but even that costs the huge sums that the Palestinians could charge – and here they would have some bargaining power – for even pretending to consent and accept those heartfelt good wishes for a new life elsewhere.
        I hope and expect that things will work out better than this but it’s not impossible that this point will be reached.
        The Palestinians are very much still there, clearly not because Israel thinks there is moral reason to let them stay. (I am not saying that Israelis have no morality, but that it is a major moral point with them that non-Jewish people are not there by full right (birthright)). They must still be present because of economic reasons, ie general inability to pay the costs of removal. That last ditch has still to be crossed before the Zionists can really have won.
        Neither Boomer nor I can put a figure to it, but I’m sure it’s on the backs of many envelopes in government offices, so far always assessed as just too much.

      • MHughes976 on November 8, 2015, 9:44 am

        I didn’t address Boomer’s point that current levels of spending on Israel would cover the costs of the grand population transfer. Maybe they would but I think that in the aftermath Israel would still be demanding the familiar huge sums to forestall Iranian vengeance etc..

      • RoHa on November 8, 2015, 11:08 pm

        “I am not saying that Israelis have no morality”

        Though the evidence points that way.

      • Boomer on November 9, 2015, 6:18 am

        MHughes, clearly we are on the same side, with no significant disagreement. Personally (in what I admit seems likely to remain a fantasy), I’d prefer to have the U.S. invite those Palestinians who want to leave to come here, rather than foist them off on Europe (though the UK does have a special responsibility too). For one thing, I think they would be an asset to our society. For another, I think it is our moral responsibility. Having “generously” given the Palestinians’ land to Jews from Europe, the UK and the US should offer them a new home. (I assume that Israel exists as a racist state, and nothing will change that.)

        An added benefit of such a response would be to explode the heads of certain bloggers:

      • Chu on November 9, 2015, 11:04 am


        Nice idea in theory, but it assumes that Palestinians have lost (which they haven’t) and that the US government and their 50 states should absorb the people that the US & the seedy co-opting zionist agents have indirectly helped destroy for more than 60 years.

        And if Israel gets this wish of eradicating all Palestinians, do you think their ‘security needs’, will end there? Look forward 50 years and we’re sure to hear more of greater Israel muttering, ‘we need to press on and take more of the Golan, parts of Jordan’, etc. When you feed this beast it only gets hungrier, as it should have been slayed at Camp David.

        Israel doesn’t have the political capacity to actually write a constitution after 60 years, and they are obviously treated with kid gloves with their ad nauseam holocaust industry. Without Uncle Sam, Europe and zionist propaganda throughout the west, they would be finished. All they do is take, never giving (only to their political agendas). The zionists have created their own unhealthy state in the middle east, twisting political arms to achieve their ends, meaning they don’t have any real allies in the world. At this point, Israel should have one real ally in the region, but it doesn’t. Go figure…

        After 60+ years, a nation like Japan has rebuilt itself and moved on from WWII, but the Zionists (still fighting what seems to be WWII) make all these claims about being great, but don’t produce much value in the world to show their success. They still milk the West for all they can, and can’t even pretend that they are a western democracy in today’s world. The rubber never meets the road when it comes to Israel, it’s become a over-nurtured disaster that every politician is afraid to touch.

    • Kay24 on November 7, 2015, 6:57 am

      What is this hold that Israel has over us, and why does no American leader ever go against them?

      Zionists have bragged about their “control” over us, and that we are a nation that can be “easily moved”, which show much influence they have over our leaders, in every sector. We are being used and abused by the parasitic, greedy nation, and we let them. I understand why Israel is one of the most disliked nations in the world. Their leaders are devious, dishonest, and evil, the majority of their people want apartheid policies and want the violence against the Palestinians to go on, what does it say about them?

      • on November 7, 2015, 7:15 am

        Phil or Adam, do you guys ever go through these comments on your site? How does comments such as this which is filled with antisemitic code words and masked hatred bypass your moderation?

        Somedays the comments here are among the most enlightened things you’d find on the web, other days you end up reading comments not too different from those in Stormfront.

        P.S. Kay24 why don’t you just come out and admit your disdain for Jews? You are still entitled to your prejudices, just don’t be a coward about it. Moderator you are welcome to delete this post too, after all I should know better than voice my disagreement towards antisemitism here on Mondoweiss.

      • marklevine on November 7, 2015, 6:00 pm

        Israel has no hold over the US. US defense contractors have a hold over the US. Most US military aid goes right to US arms makers and never leaves our shores. Israel has a central piece in a trillion dollar imperium, at the core of which are massive arms sales and aid to Israel, Egypt, the Gulf countries, Pakistan, and on and on. It is not the tail that wags the dog, sadly, but very much the dog that wags the tail.

      • Kay24 on November 7, 2015, 10:56 pm

        a4tech, you seem to be relatively new here. It must be hard for you to try and play the anti-semitic card here. Frankly it does not work. I do not have to admit to anything. I have been commenting here for a while now, and everyone who has been here for a while know where I stand in this matter, and as long as Israel keeps perpetrating crimes on civilians, steal their lands, and keep them under military occupation, I will criticize it, condemn it, and say so, without being bashful or a coward. I also think the zionists who are responsible for these policies deserve much criticism too. It is not my problem that you read comments and come up with the most ridiculous assertions, maybe you have been trained to see things that are not there. You do not have to respond to any of my comments, like it, or agree with me, feel free to give it a pass.
        You seem overly “sensitive” to what is being said about Israel, but hearing what comes out of the mouths of Israeli leaders, calling for Gaza to be flattened, and Palestinians to be put in concentration camps, you might consider why Israel keeps getting criticized so much, and why it is one of the most disliked nations in the world.

        Antisemitic code words, now that is a new one. I guess the old accusations have been overused and not working anymore.

      • Sibiriak on November 7, 2015, 11:30 pm

        Kay24: Antisemitic code words, now that is a new one. I guess the old accusations have been overused and not working anymore.

        “Parasitic and greedy” are old antisemitic accusations. The biological metaphor of Jewish parasites infecting an otherwise healthy host nation has a long and sinister history.

        But in your example, its not about using those hoary antisemitic themes to demonize all Jews ; its about using them to demonize Zionists .

      • Mooser on November 7, 2015, 11:33 pm

        “Phil or Adam, do you guys ever go through these comments on your site? How does comments such as this which is filled with antisemitic code words and masked hatred bypass your moderation?”

        Gee “a4tech” what would you think of a comment which says:

        Hitler opposed slavery, imperialism and neocolonialism that a vast majority of readers here directly or indirectly benefitted from. Hence their cognitive dissonance. See more at:

        That’s one of yours, “a4tech”. So the readership here is worse than Hitler? The anti-slavery, anti-imperialist and anti-neo-colonialist Hitler!

      • RoHa on November 7, 2015, 11:48 pm

        Anti-Semitic code words?

        Let’s see.

        Used and abused.
        Most disliked.

        What horrible slurs are being concealed behind these euphemistic code words?

      • Mooser on November 7, 2015, 11:51 pm

        “P.S. Kay24 why don’t you just come out and admit your disdain for Jews?”

        Excuse me, “a4tech” why do you think it’s anybody’s job to protect you from “disdain for Jews”?

        Now, you have your legal rights and can’t be assaulted, or discriminated against, but “disdain”? Sorry, “a4tech” people are allowed to look at what the Zionists have done and are doing and feel “disdain”. And express it, too.

        Better get used to it, a4tech, there’s gonna be quite a bit headed our way.
        Hey, this will make you feel better: Nobody can talk any worse about Jews than they do about, oh African-Americans, or Muslims. Wouldn’t that be fair?

      • Keith on November 8, 2015, 12:44 am

        MARK LEVINE- “It is not the tail that wags the dog…”

        No, of course not. The dog and tail are one. Israel is an integral part of empire.

      • Kris on November 8, 2015, 1:15 am

        @a4tech: “How does comments such as this which is filled with antisemitic code words and masked hatred bypass your moderation?…P.S. Kay24 why don’t you just come out and admit your disdain for Jews?”

        Please be specific; what “antisemitic code words” are you accusing Kay24 of? Every single thing that Kay24 says in her comment is true and readily verifiable; use google and check for yourself.

        And please explain what “masked hatred” you are identifying in her comment. You seem to be accusing Kay24 of antisemitism, so please identify exactly where you are seeing this antisemitism. Do you think “Zionist” means “Jew”?

        If I hate the Zionist regime, just as I hate the Nazi regime, the Pinochet regime, the Pol Pot regime, and the apartheid South African regime, am I guilty of antisemitism? Are we required to give Israel a pass because it is Jews there who are responsible for all these crimes against the Palestinians?

      • Kay24 on November 8, 2015, 7:27 am

        Thank you Kris, I especially like your last paragraph. It shows how ridiculous these accusations are. “Coded anti-semitism” must be the new buzzword that has been cranked out to stop the criticism against that shining beacon of light in the ME.

      • Mooser on November 8, 2015, 12:16 pm

        How to avoid “coded antisemitism”? There’s only one sure way!

      • Chu on November 9, 2015, 11:38 am

        a4tech: (“As a Muslim, even I can sense the latent anti-semitism in Allison’s so called campaign for justice for Palestinians, however subtle it may be.”)

        Your first comment here says that you are Muslim, As you showed up during the Weir/JVP debate.

        Are you really a Muslim, or another Robert Werdine?

  3. Chu on November 6, 2015, 3:50 pm

    Was it Hertzl’s dream or other Jews centuries before who wanted to reestablish Jerusalem as the Jewish State?

    In 1799 Napeolean “published a proclamation in which he invites all the Jews of Asia and Africa to gather under his flag in order to re-establish the ancient Jerusalem. He has already given arms to a great number, and their battalions threaten Aleppo”
    It seems here that someone else was also yearning for some return to the holy land, all the while lobbying Napolean.

    Was Israel more about a long term dream of Jews in Europe, than a refuge for post WWII? It seems like it’s the grass is always greener from where you stand.

  4. inbound39 on November 6, 2015, 4:13 pm

    Seems to me this plan is no different to other plans Zionists have floated over the years. It is just another attempt to legitimize the illegitimate and to retain as much of the stolen goods as possible. What is always forgotten by these people is that the UN has stated time and again that by Israel changing the facts on the ground by force does not mean Israel will be allowed to keep any of these changes….in fact they change nothing. Nor was there any intent to ever reward Israel for its wrongdoing by allowing it to retain any of what it has acquired illegally.

    • Mooser on November 7, 2015, 2:17 am

      Seems to me this plan is no different to other plans Zionists have floated over the years. It is just another attempt to legitimize the illegitimate and to retain as much of the stolen goods as possible.”

      Couldn’t agree more.
      And a complete amnesty for Israel’s war crimes, atrocities and human rights violations, both individual and governmental, seems to be implicit in it.

      • marklevine on November 8, 2015, 4:47 am

        there is no amnesty implicit in this plan. while ultimately it is up to both sides to determine how to punish those guilty of war crimes, of which israeli officials far outstrip palestinians by any measure, a truth and reconciliation commission, or an agreement by both sides to submit to ICC jurisdiction and allow their people to face trial would certainly be the most favorable outcome in my opinion. this is not very likely, sadly, but there is nothing in the plans here that advocates or hopes for such an outcome. as with most things, justice to a certain degree will be determined by negotiations.

      • Mooser on November 8, 2015, 12:17 pm

        “sadly, but there is nothing in the plans here that advocates or hopes for such an outcome.”

        Stern Gang, Irgun, today’s IDF and Israeli government.

      • DaBakr on November 9, 2015, 9:11 pm

        And once again it is illuminated upon that what is most desired here by many is not peace in the region or I/P. What is truly desired by many here is the ultimate punishment for Israel’s existence from ’48-present. But this is already a widely known truth to Israelis

      • talknic on November 10, 2015, 3:48 am

        @ DaBakr ” What is truly desired by many here is the ultimate punishment for Israel’s existence from ’48-present”

        Strange. There are no UN/UNSC resolutions concerning Israel for any of its actions within its self proclaimed borders of 00:01 May 15th 1938 (ME time)

        “But this is already a widely known truth to Israelis” Are they the same Israelis who think there were no borders proclaimed by the State of Israel?

      • eljay on November 10, 2015, 7:35 am

        || DaBakr: And once again it is illuminated upon that what is most desired here by many is not peace in the region or I/P. What is truly desired by many here is the ultimate punishment for Israel’s existence from ’48-present. But this is already a widely known truth to Israelis ||

        Justice, accountability and equality are “ultimate punishments” only to the guilty. Poor little colonialist and supremacist Israel… :-(

      • Mooser on November 10, 2015, 11:59 am

        “What is truly desired by many here is the ultimate punishment for Israel’s existence from ’48-present. But this is already a widely known truth to Israelis.” “Dabakr”

        Well, perhaps “marklevine” and/or “Parity” can explain to Israelis that their “parallel states” plan is not ” the ultimate punishment for Israel’s existence from ’48-present”.
        But I doubt it, “Dabakr”, I’m sure most will feel about the “parallel states” plan as you do, that it is “the ultimate punishment”.

    • marklevine on November 8, 2015, 4:50 am

      well, i can tell you most of the people on this research group are not zionists (although several of the israelis certainly are). and no one forgot what the UN has said; however, the UN saying something–or part of the UN, the GA which has no enforcement power–and facts on the ground changing are two very different things. this proposal is based on a recognition of a specific reality: that there already is a one state solution on the ground, that israel has pretty much all the power, that the int’l and local factors (including increasingly the arab states that support israel–egypt, saudi, etc.) clearly point to no significant pressure on israel that would force it to enable the creation of a territorially and economically viable palestinian state, and that palestinians, while weak, are not weak enough simply to disappear, as israel’s leaders and a large share of the population wish would happen and are increasingly trying to make happen. in this situation, new thinking and ideas are imperative to find a way out. this is one attempt. more would most certainly be welcome.

      • ritzl on November 9, 2015, 1:32 pm

        Mr. Levine,

        FTR, Zionism is a racist ideology. Are you saying you crafted this approach in collaboration with racists and did not disclaim that association (just wanted to point out the AW/IAK double standard)?

        Do you guys think that crafting a novel solution in collaboration with racists, to a problem caused and perpetuated by racism, is going to result in something other than more, if subtler, racism. I mean are the racists going to advocate for anything other than their historical privilege?

        Were any/a commensurate number of Palestinians involved in this project?

  5. RoHa on November 6, 2015, 8:14 pm

    I’ll need to study this in more detail, but my first thoughts are (a) two national governments for a single territory could be – um – interesting, especially given the history of hostility between the groups those governments represent*, and (b) if Israeli Jews were prepared to accept an arrangement in which Arabs had equal rights to the land, surely they would accept a single state arrangement.

    (*In the Anglo-French Condominium of the New Hebrides, the main activity of each government was blocking or undoing anything attempted by the other government. )

    • inbound39 on November 7, 2015, 6:40 am

      There is virtually a Single State in process now. Doesn’t appear to be working too well. As I have stated on previous occassions no mental health professional would advise to people engaged in long term abuse to remain in the same house together. There are reasons for that. And we are seeing it in action currently. Too much harm has been done by Israel for the Palestinians to simply forgive and forget and it is too much of a stretch for any sane person to expect them to do so. Two seperate states is the only answer….independent of one another with borders monitored and protected by an International Force for as long as necessary.

      • marklevine on November 8, 2015, 4:42 am

        your analogy of a couple in an abusive relationship is not at all accurate when applied to two national communities living in a small land. where are they going to separate to? rabin had the same discourse–divorce. but it was never in the cards simply because they were never “married” to begin with. this is not a domestic situation. this is a national conflict involving millions of people and government structures and hundreds of billions of dollars in economic incentives to the most powerful companies on earth who profit from the occupation and the regional system of war and misery it helps underpin. moreover, this solution IS a 2-state solution. it is the only 2-state solution left. but if you can figure out how to get israelis to withdraw from most of the west bank, give back east jerusalem free of massive jewish settlements, dismantle the matrix of control, stop stealing all the resources, and get out of the settlements, then i will be the first person to support you.

      • inbound39 on November 11, 2015, 1:01 pm

        Mr Levine I disagree with your reply vehemently. What was the Partition Plan? Why can the Partition Plan not be re-applied? The Jewish Provisional Government agreed to it when offered and also declared Israel’s borders according to it and defined by it. Why is it not acceptable now? Is it because it would mean Israeli’s would be required to relinquish territory they had illegally settled? Is it because Israel has poisoned it’s own water table with military waste and requires Palestinian water? Why has Israel never paid Palestinians for water use? I’d had to see that bill for Israel after seventy years!

        I have often said as others have also that settlers need not leave the territories if they become Palestinian citizens subject to Palestinian Law. If they do not want to do that then given Israel acted illegally then Israel can bear the cost for repatriation to Israel proper. And furthermore it is misleading to state it is the only Two State Solution left…..Israel was created by the stroke of a pen at the UN……Palestine can be created similarly right now…..nothing to stop it. Nothing stopped the UN carving Israel out of Palestine did it?

        It is not up to me or anyone else to fix the problem Israel created for itself by acting illegally. It has ignored every Resolution designed to rectify the war and misery it has created. It has reneged on implementing Resolution 194 which it agreed to do in return for Full UN Membership. Maybe you would agree to Israel suspending its membership for failing to fulfil its commitments. All you are floating is a massive con job to float a get out of jail card for Israel and its politicians. I am not buying….nor will many others. Ultimately Israel will extinguish itself if it maintains its current track and will have only itself to blame. It had the opportunity to act legitimately and chose the opposite. When does Israel accept personal responsibility for its actions…..when?

    • Boomer on November 7, 2015, 9:11 am

      I’m not sure, but perhaps this means something like “they can have their flag, their anthem [but nothing of significance].”

      • MHughes976 on November 7, 2015, 9:31 am

        I’m minded to free-ride on RoHa’s study, not being sure that I have the patience to read carefully through what looks so like a tissue of contradictions. I rather agree with Boomer about the insignificant flag.

      • marklevine on November 8, 2015, 4:43 am

        please read the story before you comment. or better yet, read the book, then you can be sure that this is not what this plan means.

      • inbound39 on November 11, 2015, 1:07 pm

        Yes Boomer…..if people are going to clamour that Israel has a right to self defence that more than Israel, Palestinians have a right to self defence also….after all it has been Israel invading and illegally stealing from Palestinians since 1948. How on earth can an Occupier legitimately claim self defence when it is the belligerent aggressor?

    • marklevine on November 8, 2015, 4:39 am

      You are assuming there is another plausible way for these two peoples to live in the same territory. There will not be a territorial division unless the balance of power changes enough between the two sides, AND US support for israel erodes significantly enough, to force israel to relinquish the majority of the west bank territory it controls. there is no plausible scenario of this happening any time soon. but if you have a better alternative, i’m very happy to hear it. second, a parallel states solution is NOT a single state solution. that is the whole point. it allows for the realization of national aspirations and rights to territory to each people without infringing on the basic rights of the other. a single state or binational state only has one authority over the entire territory and thus is open to conflict over demography fi it is at all democratic. thus your argument that if they’d accept this israelis would accept a very different one state solution than the colonial version which of course exists now. again, there is no evidence of this. however, we have talked with many settlement leaders, as well as hamas and other nationalist palestinian leaders (ie, outside the plo/pa/fatah circles, and have gotten wide support, at least in principle from both sides. that cannot be said for a one or binational state solution.

      • Mooser on November 8, 2015, 12:33 pm

        .“… there is no plausible scenario of this happening any time soon.”

        Don’t threaten us, please.

      • DaBakr on November 9, 2015, 9:32 pm


        My gut reaction to the idea, without reading the book, is naturally that’s it’s highly implausible and unlikely for any num number of reasons. Israeli power being only one of them. The changing situation along Jordan, Israel, Syrian, etc borders and IS/rising Iran is another.

        And, I should be upfrontt that when commenting to your work on AJ long time back I never appreciated anything you had to say, to put it mildly.

        But this time I feel you should be commended for, at the very least, trying to come up with ideas that are controversial but out of the box. After all, it’s not like most Zionists don’t know we are locked into permanent battle with our intimate neighbors and and fellow citizens. we are not willing to make them disappear except in the same type of pipe dreams Palestinians have of going back to’47.

        At least there are some who are looking for unconventional solutions to intractable war. This parallel state may not be the ultimate solution for either people it’s possible it could be rearranged or rethought to something more workable, though what that is is beyond my logic based outcomes. But there is always hope. Congratulations for at least trying(& if you want to consider me as a typical die-hard center-right Zionist-that I would ever conceive that I might one day compliment you -or this effort- as entirely unbelievable- you can draw your own conclusion from this)

      • Mooser on November 10, 2015, 11:16 am

        “My gut reaction to the idea, without reading the book, is…/…you can draw your own conclusion from this)”

        ‘Ah, finally’ say “marklevine” and “Parity” with a sigh of relief, ‘Somebody we can talk to’!

  6. Kay24 on November 7, 2015, 6:46 am

    Netanyahu shows arrogance yet like a leech is coming to the US to beg for MORE aid.
    He insults the President yet is treated like royalty by Americans. These zionists are full of BS and act like they own the US. Shame on all Americans who keep tolerating this dirt bag, and who keep taking the insults, and dishing out more. Disgusting lot. We do have a sicking relationship with these parasites.

    Juan Cole article:

    “But don’t worry. Israeli skinheads can spit on the US commander in chief all they want from the prime minister’s office, and he’ll just get out a hanky, wipe off the spittle, and meekly ask how much he should write the check for.”

    • Boomer on November 7, 2015, 9:03 am

      Harsh words, but they seem to be accurate.

      • Kay24 on November 7, 2015, 10:19 am

        Not harsh enough to halt the poison. Here is another accurate article:


        “When he comes to Washington next week, Netanyahu is a man on a mission. His mission? To make it clear to Israelis that he is still the “master” of America. Unfortunately, Democrats and Republicans, alike, will serve as his enablers.

        Netanyahu will meet with the President. This time there will be no real pressure to stop settlements and make peace. Instead, we are told that Israel is in line to receive a dramatic increase in US aid–possibly as high as $4.5 Billion a year. Netanyahu will then be honored at an event hosted by the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute. And in order to reassure to Israelis that the “master” can still dominate US politics, the Prime Minister wrangled a speaking engagement at the liberal Center for American Progress and secured a glowing op-ed written by Hillary Clinton who pledged that, if elected president, she “would reaffirm [the] unbreakable bond with Israel–and Benjamin Netanyahu.”

      • Boomer on November 7, 2015, 12:43 pm

        @ Kay24 re Mrs. Clinton’s pledge “that, if elected president, she “would reaffirm [the] unbreakable bond with Israel–and Benjamin Netanyahu.”

        Did she also pledge to fellate a donkey, or is that simply understood without needing to be stated explicitly?

    • Sibiriak on November 7, 2015, 12:47 pm

      Juan Cole: “But don’t worry. Israeli skinheads can spit on the US commander in chief all they want from the prime minister’s office, and he’ll just get out a hanky, wipe off the spittle, and meekly ask how much he should write the check for.”

      Yep, meekness, that’s what defines the American ruling class.

    • inbound39 on November 11, 2015, 1:16 pm

      Kay, I find it just as despicable as you do. I find it astounding that the American Government is failing to see how it is being percieved overseas and how that ultimately erodes and extinguishes Americas SuperPower Status. Without Global support America is under threat and it is losing support weekly by cosying up to Netanyahu and his State Terrorists. Within the year I predict it will come to a messy end. It cannot go further. There is a revolution bubbling beneath the surface and I sense Netanyahu sees that and is being more upfront and going for broke trying to gain as much as possible before it caves in. He does not care about Americans or anyone else.

      • RoHa on November 11, 2015, 6:24 pm

        “I find it astounding that the American Government is failing to see how it is being perceived overseas”

        I recall that, in the early 60s, the US embassy in Indonesia had no-one who knew Indonesian, so they hired Indonesians to translate the news for them. Since the Indonesians were well brought-up, they were too polite to offend their employers by accurately translating the invective. The Americans had no idea how much they were disliked.

        I recall an economics conference in Tokyo. The British Ambassador gave a lecture in Japanese. The US Ambassador used an interpreter.

        I recall that, at around the same time, there was an international trade exhibition in Tokyo. There were quite a few young Americans living in Tokyo who could speak good Japanese, but they were not given jobs as hosts for the US exhibit. The reason offered was that they could not be employed by the US Government because they had lived too long in a furrin country. English speaking Japanese were employed instead.

        I recall reading that, a few years ago, the Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon had a PhD in Arabic Literature. The US Ambassador had contributed to the president’s election fund.

  7. Ossinev on November 7, 2015, 6:53 am

    Three words immediately leap extremely vigorously to mind = CLOUD CUCKOO LAND

    • Mooser on November 8, 2015, 6:31 pm

      Yes, almost exactly as Aristophanes described it.

      • RoHa on November 8, 2015, 6:53 pm

        Though I thought of the original humans as described by Aristophanes in the Symposium.

  8. Ossinev on November 7, 2015, 10:04 am

    Thanks for the link to and the featured “debate”. As ever with the slimeball Dershowitz it is never a debate it is a monologue followed by a series of constant interruptions or grunts. Whenever he is in mid monologue and a fellow panelist interrupts he then complains about being interrupted and not allowed to finish his “response”. I am surprised at two things 1) That either the host or one of the panelists or co debaters or hosts he has encountered hasn`t yet got to the end of their tether and simply said “will you STFU !”
    and/or 2) someone hasn`t put his lights out live on television.

    Of the two I certainly favour the second scenario.

    One can only hope

    BTW He claims to “have visited Gaza” during the debate. Is he saying that he has actually been INTO Gaza which I find extremely hard to believe or that he has “visited” it by observation from the Israeli side of the ghetto fence. Would love to know when and how exactly.

  9. Parity on November 7, 2015, 12:15 pm

    If the national governments each have control over cultural events and areas of life, like marriage, that will at least give each national group the right to have these events, which is not the case now. Each government could have its own laws on matters that do not pertain to the other national group, such as marriage (interfaith marriages could be handled by the condominium government. But the most important thing is that each government would have equal power on matters affecting both populations. Thus equal rights by individuals to resources could be enforced. Sure, there may be gridlock; we also have gridlock, so a condominium government may not be worse. A mechanism could be created for breaking gridlocks.

    Will the Israelis give up power for peace? Not likely without tremendous international pressure. But if both sides get most of what they want (Israel: land and security; Palestinians: land, freedom, self-determination, security, the right to return) and the sacrifice of sharing the land is equal between the two national groups, this may be the best deal.

    Those people not willing to live with this kind of government, whether Israeli or Palestinian, should be allowed to move to, and become citizens of, other countries as long as they give up irredentism.

    Do read Parity for Peace ( It is not long.

    • marklevine on November 7, 2015, 6:02 pm

      Yes, in our plan this is in fact the case. National identities and values are realized through the individual states, which are particularly focused on these issues. But without the conflict to define each identity, there is the possibility for more moderate values to take hold, particularly Israel, which as we all see is pretty much going farther off the rails with each passing day.

    • annie on November 8, 2015, 5:14 pm

      Will the Israelis give up power for peace? Not likely without tremendous international pressure. But if both sides get most of what they want (Israel: land and security; Palestinians: land, freedom, self-determination, security, the right to return) and the sacrifice of sharing the land is equal between the two national groups, this may be the best deal.

      it’s irrelevant what the best deal is if there’s no mechanism in place to force israel’s hand. it’s not enough to say ‘Israelis will not give up power for peace without international pressure’ without mentioning what that pressure will look like. your site asks:

      2. What is to persuade Israel, which now has the upper hand, to agree to the terms of this proposal?

      but none of your answers offer compelling suggestions at all. ie ‘Israel will gain respect in the international community’ is not a suggestion for pressure. it’s merely a statement of what may occur if israel were to flip decades of behavior and suddenly do a turn-about face.

      nor does a claim such as ‘Fairness is a key value in Judaism’ amount to effective pressure. obviously, whatever key values fairness informs in judaism, it’s not the kind of fairness that supersedes supporting apartheid for the (vast) majority of israelis.

      appealing to a people’s sense of fairness to bring about peace only makes sense when both parties share identical or similar concepts of the meaning of fairness.

      • inbound39 on November 11, 2015, 1:21 pm

        It’s just a nice way of legitimizing Apartheid.

  10. Qualtrough on November 7, 2015, 11:06 pm

    Sounds like what they are proposing are two separate but equal systems. Where have I heard that before?

    • marklevine on November 8, 2015, 11:18 am

      that is not what we are proposing at all in the sense that you mean a racist american style system of one group dominating another. please read again and listen better.

      • Mooser on November 8, 2015, 12:25 pm

        ” that you mean a racist american style system of one group dominating another.”

        catch up, Mark, America passed Civil Rights laws. What you refer to is not an “american system”
        And “separate but equal” was a failed legalistic evasion, not a system. If I am not mistaken, it was mentioned by the Court to show that it didn’t exist.

      • tree on November 8, 2015, 4:32 pm

        that is not what we are proposing at all in the sense that you mean a racist american style system of one group dominating another. please read again and listen better.

        Mark, from your very own writing above:

        “It is into this situation that we introduce the concept of parallel states. Can one design a scenario with a new type of two-state solution: one Israeli state structure and one Palestinian state structure, in parallel, each covering the whole area, and with equal but separate political and civil rights for all?” – See more at:

        “Separate but equal” is exactly what you are proposing in reality, and , as Mooser pointed out, such a system is inherently not equal. The Israeli Jews have been dominating the Palestinians since 1948. They have the pre-existing structures of state and the means to enforce them. Palestinians do not. Even with an assumption of considerable goodwill on the part of Israeli Jews, which is certainly a fantasy assumption, such an imbalance will simply reinforce the dominance of Jews under such a system. Not to mention that the plan itself offers infinite possibilities for extending the “peace process” by millenia through all the “negotiations” that would be required for such a complex and detailed system.

        The emphasis should not be on “separating”(hafrada) or “dividing”, or treating this as merely a land dispute. The core of the problem is extreme inequality on the basis of ethnicity/religion. Israel and Israelis need to be pushed into accepting, begrudgingly or not, the concept of equal rights under the law for Jew AND non-Jew.

        One state or two is irrelevant. The reason that one state is unacceptable to Israeli Jews is the same reason why two states have never come about, and that is because Israel holds the power and it does not believe that the Palestinians must be accorded the same protections and rights as Jews. It will never agree voluntarily to a two state solution and will never agree to a “power-sharing” system where they don’t control the real power.

      • Mooser on November 8, 2015, 4:51 pm

        Thanks, “tree” If this has to be explained to him, that “separate but equal” isn’t and never was,
        and that land area and resources can’t be magically doubled, or even magically divided, and that power never can be, he’s selling a bill of goods.

      • MHughes976 on November 8, 2015, 4:51 pm

        There is nothing separate about two organisations operating on the same territory with many of the same matters of concern.

      • tree on November 8, 2015, 6:17 pm

        There is nothing separate about two organisations operating on the same territory with many of the same matters of concern.

        Of course there is. If there was no separateness, then it would be one organization (or in this case, state). They may have many of the same general “matters of concern” in this plan but their perspectives are separate and different. Their separateness actually reinforces and solidifies this difference.

      • ritzl on November 9, 2015, 1:17 pm

        Good one tree. And the path from separate but equal (or “equal but separate” or whatever words are used to describe the concept) to even the first step of civil rights legislation is mass demonstrations/unrest (aka “intifada”). Same as today.

        Compound that natural process with the fact that this arrangement is meant to legitimize an unbalanced and unchangeable situation of with renaming pen strokes and paper shuffling (Exhibit A: “equal and separate” as opposed to “separate but equal”), thus removing all potential external pressures to make it work — assuring an intifada to protest the legitimized imbalance and the SoS reactions we’ve all seen from the Jewish-Israelis (“no partner for peace” and variants that seem more than enough to placate studiously disinterested foreign observers).

        I was going to say “dead end,” but it’s probably a non-starter. Wirhout some new and significant change mechanism in this somwhere anything that gives the feckless international community MORE cause to ignore Israeli Apartheid (Hafrada) is far worse than the way it is now (where the existing mechanisms are all defined, stark, in-play, motivating, and actionable, i.e. genocide, expulsion, or inarguable, river-to-sea, criminal Apartheid).

        Great discussion, you all.

      • Kris on November 9, 2015, 3:44 pm

        And this, from “Parity for Peace in Israel/Palestine, Two States on the Same Land, with Bilateral Governance,” at :

        As in other institutions of international governance, for example, the General Assembly of the United Nations, each state would have equal power regardless of the size of its population. Each nation would thus have sufficient power to protect its interests but not enough power to dominate the other state.

        Jews would no longer have to worry about demographics. They would retain enough power to ensure that Israel remained a haven for Jews and a place where Jews would never again be at the mercy of a government that chose to discriminate against them.

        Some mechanism, such as international arbitration, could be worked out if there were a true deadlock between the two states, but on the crucial issue of human rights (“Never again!”), it can be assumed that international arbitration would decide in favor of human rights. ((my emphasis))

        Arbitration instead of a court of law? Heads up, everyone: arbitration is not your friend.

        “It can be assumed that international arbitration would decide in favor of human rights.” This assumption is based on what?

        And what about rhetoric like this:

        12. With so much fear and hatred between the two peoples, wouldn’t it be better to wait before trying to share the land and its governance?

        Palestinian terrorists believe that if they terrorize the Jews, they will leave, and the Israeli government believes that if Israel continues to exert its will, Palestinians will eventually submit or go away.

        But the price of holding onto the dream of hegemony and thinking that it can be achieved by force is not only morally unacceptable in lost lives and human rights, it is also unsustainable. Violence breeds more violence.

        The whole plan is written in language like this that assumes the problem is the Palestinians, not the colonialist Jews. Seriously?

      • marklevine on November 9, 2015, 8:50 pm

        you are completely misunderstanding what separate but equal meant in the US context . it was the basis for segregation and keeping people separated and preventing them from entering certain spaces, while this is the basis for integration and sharing territory. they couldn’t be more different in meaning, even if the words are the same.

      • Mooser on November 10, 2015, 11:04 am

        “you are completely misunderstanding what separate but equal meant in the US context . it was the basis for segregation and keeping people separated and preventing them from entering certain spaces, while this is the basis for integration and sharing territory. they couldn’t be more different in meaning, even if the words are the same.

        Who am I going to believe? You? Or my lying eyes? ROTFLMSJAO! They are your words, you used ’em, you just described what they mean and now you want to tell us they don’t mean what they do? Please!

        And please don’t tell me what “separate but equal” means in the US. I’ve lived here half a century and I can easily see what it meant. Naturally, Israelis being so demonstrably better than Americans, it means something different in Israel.
        And if course, if “separate but equal” turns out to mean the same thing in Israel as it does all over the world, it’ll be the Palestinian’s fault.

        Oh, BTW, there’s a more basic problem with the plan. When has Israel, the Zionists, ever, ever demonstrated that they can be trusted? You completely leave that out of the plan.

    • MHughes976 on November 9, 2015, 10:03 am

      My thought was that the two authorities would often impinge on each other, therefore would need some kind of rule binding both – either nothing changes until both agree or one is dominant or there is a higher authority to which appeal can be made. That would allow them to be different but not really to function in separation.

      • marklevine on November 9, 2015, 8:47 pm

        there are several chapters in the book the provide details of how the two states would function, the manner in which laws would be harmonized, how conflicts would be adjudicated, etc. the fact is that there are already many situations in which various levels of law operate in the same territory and where there are conflicts between the laws, over time mechanisms are worked out to resolve them.

      • MHughes976 on November 10, 2015, 1:19 pm

        I’m not persuaded of the merit of reading several chapters until I’ve seen some summary indications of how the questions raised here would be answered.

  11. Mooser on November 8, 2015, 12:36 pm

    I agree, Boomer. The Israelis must have discovered some high-tech way of doubling the land area and resources of the entire Land of Palestine! This is utterly fantastic. I can’t wait til my yard is twice as big.

    • inbound39 on November 11, 2015, 1:30 pm

      You got it Mooser….I think we just exposed Mr Levines grand scheme for an undercover Greater Israel….the one that is not there but is there….the Claytons Greater Israel….LMLWAO.

    • Mooser on November 11, 2015, 2:13 pm

      I keep on being reminded of an old joke:

      Q: Did I see you beating a woman last night?
      A: That was no woman, that was my wife!

      • inbound39 on November 12, 2015, 3:43 am

        Lol Mooser….it is very similar. They aren’t hurting anyone they are doing God’s work……He gave them Israel….not the Palestinians.

  12. eljay on November 8, 2015, 12:58 pm

    I advocate two secular and democratic societies next to each other:
    – Israel – the Israeli state of and for all of its Israeli citizens, immigrants, expats and refugees, equally; and
    – Palestine (assuming this is what it wishes to be called) – the Palestinian state of and for all of its Palestinian citizens, immigrants, expats and refugees, equally.

    I don’t see how this concept of parallel states – which allows for Israel to remain a “Jewish State” primarily of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews – differs from the blueprint Zio-supremacists advocate.

    • Mooser on November 8, 2015, 1:43 pm

      “I don’t see how this concept of parallel states – which allows for Israel to remain a “Jewish State” primarily of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews”

      Oh, “eljay” you always were a Luddite! You’ve heard of “parallel universes” haven’t you?
      Well, “parallel states” are so much smaller than an entire universe! Should be a snap.

      • eljay on November 8, 2015, 6:11 pm

        || Mooser: Oh, “eljay” you always were a Luddite! You’ve heard of “parallel universes” haven’t you? Well, “parallel states” are so much smaller than an entire universe! Should be a snap. ||

        This idea sounds more like “Blurred Lines”, only with less twerking.

      • inbound39 on November 11, 2015, 1:51 pm

        I am sitting here in awe of the audacity of Zionists who try every which way possible to maximize their illegal gains and attempt to float another complex con job denying Palestinians what they have ALWAYS had a right to. Their own State. What intrigues me is if we look at the history of Israel as a land going back centuries it has always fallen due to Israeli arrogance and Israeli failure to walk in humility. It seems after three thousand years the lesson has still not been learnt. The modern State of Israel was given to Israeli Jews by a gracious World as a means of putting right and making amends for the tragedies of WW2. Before the Sovereignty papers were dry these same Israeli Jews were planning domination of areas outside their borders. There is hardly a State in the Middle East that has not been meddled with by Israel or bombed or attacked by it. Since 1948 Israel has marched in arrogance before the World and making excuses for its attrocities and lawbreaking. No agreement with Israel will work while it remains arrogant and entitled. It will crumble because nothing it has built has had a solid foundation. It has been built on lies and deception and nowadays with modern technology, fooling the people of the World has become an impossible task. Israel’s self destruction is a ticking clock. Just a matter of time and it will disappear as it always does….until the lesson of humility is learnt.

    • Parity on November 8, 2015, 2:35 pm

      Parity for Peace differs from “the blueprint Zio-supremacists advocate” by having a different power structure: Zionists would no longer have supreme control of the land, not even the 51 percent that Jabotinsky envisioned as the possible end result, once the Palestinians were willing to accept a Jewish state. The power structure between the two states would be 50-50. This would take away the demographic concerns that prompt Israel to get rid of the Palestinians and replace them with Jews so that Israel can be at the same time Jewish and “democratic.” In fact, under Parity for Peace, Arab Israelis would belong to the Palestinian state, because that is the state that would best represent them and their culture and aspirations. They would not have to move to be part of the Palestinian state, because the entire land would be “Palestine” or “Israel,” depending on how one wanted to identify it.

      There are variations on this concept. You can read about some of them on the website Approaches to Coexistence.

      Although a one-person one-vote solution may seem more democratic, in the case of Israel/Palestine, one must now also consider the relative wealth of the Israeli Jews and the Palestinians. A power structure of 50-50 from the onset would mitigate the corrupting influence of wealth. Dividing power this way would be, at least, a good place to begin. Parity for Peace enables changes to be made if both nations agree to these changes in separate plebescites.

      • Kris on November 8, 2015, 3:11 pm

        @Parity: “Although a one-person one-vote solution may seem more democratic, in the case of Israel/Palestine, one must now also consider the relative wealth of the Israeli Jews and the Palestinians. A power structure of 50-50 from the onset would mitigate the corrupting influence of wealth.”

        Uh, huh. One-person one-vote not only seems more democratic, it is more democratic. Soon the Palestinians will be the absolute majority in Israel/Palestine, the world has seen through Israel’s “peace process,” and the jig is up. Naturally, the Zionists now suggest that “one-person one-vote” is not really that democratic.

        It is laughable to claim that one-person one-vote, which is the standard for democracy everywhere else in the world, should not apply to one people, uniquely–the Palestinians.

      • Kris on November 8, 2015, 3:21 pm

        Parity, from your website:

        4. How can such a tiny area absorb the return of Palestinian refugees, especially considering the shortage of water and the Jews’ own need to have Israel be a haven for Jewish refugees?

        As part of an overall settlement, other countries could offer citizenship to Palestinian refugees, reducing the number of refugees returning to Israel/Palestine. Israel is currently using workers from many different countries. With the end of the conflict, Palestinians could just as easily fill these positions and the foreign workers sent home. As stakeholders in Israel/Palestine, Palestinians might feel motivated to reduce the size of their families, as has happened with other families around the world when their economic and political conditions improve.

        Israel’s recruitment of Jews to Israel for demographic purposes would no longer be necessary, because Israel would have 50 percent of the power regardless of the size of its population. Israel could continue to be a haven for Jews who are persecuted, but perhaps only a temporary haven. The best course of action is to work for human rights for Jews and other minorities in every country of the world so that there is no need for a haven. Anti-Semitism arising as a response to Israel’s policies would be reduced if there were a fair settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute.

        The whites in apartheid South Africa would have loved to have 50% of the power regardless of the size of their population. The whites in the U.S. southern states would have loved this arrangement, too.

        Neither Jews nor anyone else gets to impose their supposed “need” for ethnic/religious/whatever supremacy on other people.

      • Mooser on November 8, 2015, 5:56 pm

        “As part of an overall settlement, other countries could offer citizenship to Palestinian refugees…”

        Oh, that’s how we get room for “parallel states”, by denying the RoR to Palestinians. I’m so disappointed, I thought it was a hi-tech quantum-ray thing which drew energy from a parallel universe I could use to double the size of my yard.

      • eljay on November 8, 2015, 6:15 pm

        || Parity: Parity for Peace differs from “the blueprint Zio-supremacists advocate” … ||

        …in all kinds of nifty ways except for one: It fails to do away with supremacist “Jewish State”.

      • Mooser on November 10, 2015, 11:08 am

        ” It fails to do away with supremacist “Jewish State”.

        Read what he says, that’s just part of the perfidy. Notice, the entire plan depends on Israel being the same monster it is. In fact, the plan garauntees the power.

        It’s not even a pig in a poke. It’s a bill of goods with a tube of lipstick.

    • Kris on November 8, 2015, 3:04 pm

      eljay, this is an awesome plan!

      The Zionists get to keep all they have stolen, and also get to avoid having to carry out some kind of “final solution” which would force them to have to “shoot and cry” as per usual. The Palestinians get to give up everything in exchange for rhetoric.

      The kid who has taken his brother’s best Lego pieces gets to keep them, and the kid whose Legos have been taken will be allowed to remain in the playroom, possibly without being beaten up.

      • eljay on November 8, 2015, 6:16 pm

        || Kris: eljay, this is an awesome plan! … ||

        Yup. It’s got the purtiest shade of lipstick.

  13. Parity on November 8, 2015, 3:24 pm

    Look at the United States. We have one-person one-vote. Then look at the role that wealth plays in supporting candidates that reflect their positions and hurting candidates that do not. Look at the role that wealth plays in shaping public discourse that in turns shapes elections. When there are great disparities in wealth, the wealthy have more power than their numbers would suggest. That’s why Parity for Peace stipulates a 50-50 power relationship from the outset.

    • Kris on November 8, 2015, 3:33 pm

      You have already agreed that Israeli Jews control much more wealth than the Palestinians, and now you want to disadvantage the one strength that the Palestinians have (besides justice) –their numbers.

      You are pretending that it is more “democratic” for the Israelis to control more wealth and ALSO to control 50% of the power despite having a smaller population. Not even a child would fall for this.

      As you wrote, “When there are great disparities in wealth, the wealthy have more power than their numbers would suggest.”

      • Parity on November 8, 2015, 3:52 pm

        Israelis do not “control” more wealth; they already have it. The Israelis would not be able to contribute to the elections of Palestinians (and the reverse would also be true). Israelis, with their wealth, might dominate the media, but there would also be a free and fair Palestinian media and Palestinians don’t need the media to tell them what they are experiencing. They are assured that 50 percent of the power in the condominium government will be Palestinian so that Palestinian rights are protected.

        How would the South or South Africa be different if black people had enough actual power to protect their interests?

      • Kris on November 8, 2015, 5:19 pm

        Parity, the “wealth” the Israelis “have” belongs to the Palestinians. That is the problem. Your scheme appears to be a way to make sure the Israeli Jews get to keep what they have stolen.

        I myself think the Palestinians should all move to the U.S. and Europe, and get away from the poisonous Zionist fascists. But it is not up to me. If the Palestinians want to try to hold on to what is theirs, and reclaim what has been stolen from them, it’s their call, and I will support them.

        I think plans like yours, focused on maintaining Israel as a place where Jews are privileged, are cynical and offensive in the extreme.

      • Mooser on November 8, 2015, 6:39 pm

        “How would the South or South Africa be different if black people had enough actual power to protect their interests?”

        You have no idea how Constitutional Civil Rights are supposed to work in America, do you? The government is supposed to “protect the interests” (the legal rights) of all citizens.

        By the way “Parity”, what you are proposing looks a lot like a set-up. Who gets to judge when the Palestinians have “enough power”

      • Parity on November 8, 2015, 11:42 pm

        Sure, in theory the government is supposed to protect all its citizens equally, but where wealth disparities exist, rich people get to hire better lawyers, make bigger contributions to politicians, and so on. Actual power is different from constitutional power, as we can well see.

        If you read the above article and/or Parity for Peace, you would see that parallel states doesn’t mean side by side. It’s more like “overlapping.” It’s like looking at a computer screen and switching from one window to the other, yet looking at the same screen. This is the analogy made by Israeli peace activist Deb Reich, who coined the term “parallel sovereignty.”

      • Mooser on November 9, 2015, 12:16 am

        “Actual power is different from constitutional power, as we can well see”

        Sure, and if we institutionalize and normalize those differences, it’ll make the powerful wealthy people all happy and they will be nice to us? Let’s give them by law what they used to at least have to break the law and spend money to get? Nah, I’ll pass.

        “It’s like looking at a computer screen and switching from one window to the other, yet looking at the same screen. This is the analogy made by Israeli peace activist Deb Reich, who coined the term “parallel sovereignty.”

        It is? That was the anology made by Deb Reich? Well, in that case, next time you see him, you can tell him from me that he is an ass.

      • Mooser on November 9, 2015, 4:02 pm

        “Israeli peace activist”

        I hope that doesn’t turn out to be quite as much of an oxymoron as “liberal Zionist”.

  14. Parity on November 8, 2015, 5:52 pm

    Annie, I think your criticism of Parity for Peace’s not proposing enough incentives to make Israel give up power is valid. The site badly needs updating. It has not been touched since August 24, 2009 (if you look at the end of the website). The writer (me) is computer-challenged, has forgotten how to edit and upload, and is focusing on trying to change public opinion in the United States to the point where Israel will have to give up power or land.

    • Mooser on November 8, 2015, 6:08 pm

      “Lines that are parallel meet at infinity,
      Euclid repeatedly, heatedly urged,
      until he died, and thus, reached that vicinity –
      in it, he found that the damned things diverged.”

      Piet Hein

    • Mooser on November 8, 2015, 11:30 pm

      “The site badly needs updating. It has not been touched since August 24, 2009 (if you look at the end of the website). The writer (me) is computer-challenged, has forgotten how to edit and upload, and is focusing on trying to change public opinion in the United States to the point where Israel will have to give up power or land.”

      Good choice! A cross-country train and whistle-stop stem-winders are the only real authentic way to reach the American people. Don’t even worry about the computer up-loading and editing. That fad will pass.

    • Parity on November 8, 2015, 11:49 pm

      Parity for Peace was conceived and written ten years ago. At that point, persuasion by stressing the advantages for each side seemed possible. Now pressure against the dominant power is necessary.

      • diasp0ra on November 9, 2015, 7:22 am

        The thing is, Israel has always been the dominant power no matter how they wanted to masquerade the relationship between the PLO and Israel.

        People can call it negotiation, cooperation, but it really was domination and subordination since the PA’s inception. In the end, it’s Israel that benefits from the status quo, not the PA. The PA has huge incentive to become a “state”, but at the same time they can’t really agree to Israel’s horrible terms.

      • Mooser on November 11, 2015, 2:18 pm

        “Parity for Peace was conceived and written ten years ago.”

        And you’ve been cruising along on it ever since, to the point of forgetting how to edit and upload? Hmmmm…

    • annie on November 10, 2015, 3:48 am

      Annie, I think your criticism of Parity for Peace’s not proposing enough incentives to make Israel give up power is valid.

      actually i didn’t mention incentives esther because i don’t think there are any incentives that will “make israel give up power”. think carrots and sticks. one is an incentive and one is a form of pressure/punishment or threat.

      Palestinians don’t need the media to tell them what they are experiencing. They are assured that 50 percent of the power in the condominium government will be Palestinian so that Palestinian rights are protected.

      how are they assured of 50% of the power? what mechanisms would be in place to assure this power? what body will oversee this transition? who will force israel to accept this plan? the goodwill of the israeli people? please! what good is a plan if the people with power do not accept it and agree to relinquish their power?

      Israelis do not “control” more wealth; they already have it.

      your statement implies people who have wealth do not control it. israelis certainly control more wealth. and they would not have all the wealth they have had they not robbed and pillaged palestine. how are you going to remove settlers from all the prime palestinian real estate? or in your parity for peace plan do they all get to remain on the hilltops? how is that parity?

      The Israelis would not be able to contribute to the elections of Palestinians

      why? who is going to tell them to stop “contributing” by arresting palestinian legislators. your entire plan is based on this assumption that because it could work people will agree to it. people rarely agree to relinquish power. life doesn’t work like that. your plan is a fantasy. how well it works on paper or conceptually is irrelevant without a way to enforce it (probably from the outside). israel will not even agree to end the occupation. and now you want them to agree to a 50/50 power sharing agreement?

      frankly, you’d be better off trying to sell your plan to outside powers. try convincing them to boycott divest and sanction israel. impose an international protection force surrounding palestine. round up settlers and force them out of the settlements. something like this. you have to impose a solution on israel, like a marshal plan. they will never agree to any of this willingly.

      speaking of incentives, what possible incentive could you offer israel to end the occupation? no amount of “site updating” is going to change the situation. nothing fundamental has changed since “August 24, 2009”.

      The writer (me) is computer-challenged, has forgotten how to edit and upload, and is focusing on trying to change public opinion in the United States to the point where Israel will have to give up power or land.

      it’s going to take a lot more than changing public opinion in the United States to get Israel to give up power or land. and definitely not limited to “incentives”. good luck.

  15. Palikari on November 8, 2015, 7:17 pm

    I want to read this book.

    I’ll wait till it’s available online for free.

    • kalithea on November 9, 2015, 2:42 am

      Yeah, like you want any other solution than the large one you and your comrades are indulging in right now.

    • John O on November 9, 2015, 4:59 am

      Why wait? Just steal a copy. No different.

  16. kalithea on November 9, 2015, 2:55 am

    Please post my edited comment and not the other.

    There are several things that bother me about this plan. I know you mention that it would be up to the parties to agree on punishment for crimes committed; and obviously the greatest crime of all was the Nakba; but there were many others successive and cyclical massacres, demolitions, land theft, destruction of farmland and orchards and a slew of other crimes including the collective punishment of Gaza’s civilians and it’s laughable to think that Zionists would even consider admitting to such egregious crimes, which IMO include war crimes and crimes against humanity, or suffer whatever sentence, punishment or penalties are imposed on its future parallel state, and this is an essential criteria for such a plan to work, because it deals with assuming responsibility for serious crimes, the law/justice and the healing process. So right off, Zionists have to sacrifice something big for this plan to be realized.

    You can’t just give Zionists everything they want; a Jewish State and not have them pay that price; that’s fantasy.

    Another thing that bothers me is how you suggest the RoR of Palestinian refugees be handled; that there aren’t enough resources for everyone, bla-bla-bla. When I speak of justice for the worst crime suffered by Palestinians, the Nakba, I mean Zionists have to give up something very big, not just count on their friends in the U.S. and Europe to open their doors to these refugees. No way! First of all, why should Europe always be the one to bear the burden of America’s and Israel’s failed, and unjust policies? Already they’re taking in Syrian and Iraqi refugees by the tens of thousands when the U.S. and Israel had a hand in what is happening in Syria and what happened in Iraq! So forget Europe. It would have to be the U.S. that absorbs the largest quota of Palestinian refugees and one can’t ask Jordan, Lebanon and other countries in the region because they did their part for decades, and besides, Palestinians would end up being second class citizens there or worst and why should they resign themselves to such a fate when their rightful land and their full rights are next door? That ain’t gonna happen!

    So the RoR is a big obstacle to your plan, because one can’t just ship them around like cargo; these are the victims of the Nakba; they deserve much better.

    I find your plan to be so unrealistic; even more unrealistic than a one-state and two-state and much less just if each of the other plans were achievable through pressure and your plan suffers from the same flaw: pressure must be applied against Zionists to achieve this. So if that’s the case why not apply that same pressure towards a plan that is more just to Palestinians?

    Finally, and I haven’t really studied your plan in detail but my sense here is that this plan has another flaw that can’t be by-passed. The fact that Zionists have achieved so much wealth/power both in Israel and especially in the U.S. and because the U.S. government is so corrupt and biased in favor of Zionism, any point of conflict and misunderstanding would be a disadvantage for the Palestinian side and a loss for them, because you know and I know that Zionists will exploit the weaknesses that Palestinians have accumulated in not having been allowed to experience sovereignty when Zionists have acquired decades of experience to milk the situation in their favor.

    Zionists will exploit Palestinians in so many ways that will disgust me even more because Palestinians will have given up so much that they fought and struggled and died for to accept an unknown system that doesn’t privilege them in any way because Zionists are way more cunning and ruthless from years of experience, and as I mentioned, having powerful allies they will always have the upper hand.

    So my last point is that I feel that not only is this plan patronizing to Palestinians but in fact it seems to me that it actually will end up ripping them off. Don’t make your naivite their loss.

    Your plan would work in a perfect world, but then in a perfect world there would be no need for it.

    There is no plan where justice is no factored in and Zionists are running from justice because they feel entitled to what they have done.

    So I say we apply pressure on Israel so that real justice can happen and we all know what needs to happen.

    Oh and another thing, now that we are so close to the de-legitimization of Zionism where Zionists are going to have a lot of explaining to do; why on earth would we give them a way out that will benefit them? Why not watch Zionism sink into this Apartheid and then slap the sanctions, because there is no way the Western world should or will tolerate another Apartheid state. There is too much to gain from Israel’s downward spiral, and I don’t write this lightly. I’m sickened by the suffering I’m witnessing and proud of the courage and resilience Palestinians are demonstrating. Zionists brought this outcome on themselves with their greed, depravity and corruption and now they must correct what they have done and pay a price.

    • inbound39 on November 12, 2015, 3:52 am

      Kalithea….he forgets that Israel agreed to implement Resolution 194 in return for Full UN Membership. Either Israel is honest and will keep to its agreement and allow ROR or it will step down from the UN and turn in its membership for failing to honour its agreement.

    • marklevine on November 12, 2015, 4:46 pm

      You are mistaken. A full implementation of the RoR for Palestinians anywhere in the territory of pre-1948 Palestine is the maximum anyone could give them, with the exception of reparations for crimes committed. While that is certainly a possibility and would be just, as would be trying all those on both sides who have committed war crimes, these are post-solution scenarios. The most important thing is to get a solution that produces a situation of sovereignty for Palestinians and stops the occupation. This plan does that.

      • Mooser on November 12, 2015, 5:50 pm

        “This plan does that.”

        Absolutely, this plan does that. Israel won’t, but this plan does.

      • Kris on November 12, 2015, 6:15 pm

        @marklevine: “A full implementation of the RoR for Palestinians anywhere in the territory of pre-1948 Palestine is the maximum anyone could give them, …”

        Does this include all of the Palestinian refugees? More than seven million people?

        A Palestinian refugee is any Palestinian who fled, was expelled, or was forced into exile from his/her home in the area of historic Palestine or who has been refused reentry to their home in historic Palestine after having traveled abroad during the period between 1948 and today.[i] The Palestinian refugee population now includes over seven million people.

        The largest group of Palestinian refugees is made up of Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes as a result of the partition of historic Palestine in 1948 as well as their descendants. As of 2014 this included approximately 5 million refugees who are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and an additional one million Palestinians who were displaced in 1948 but who could not or did not register with UNRWA for assistance.[ii]

        The second largest group of refugees is made up of those Palestinians who were displaced for the first time from their homes and communities in 1967 as well as their descendants. There are approximately one million Palestinian refugees from 1967.

        The third group of Palestinian refugees includes Palestinians who have been internally displaced, i.e. Palestinians who were forced to flee their homes or villages in 1948 and 1967 and who were not allowed to return to their homes, but who remain present in either Israel or the occupied Palestinian territories. At present there are approximately 350,000 Palestinians who live within the post 1948 borders of Israel and who hold Israeli citizenship who were displaced from their homes in 1948 and who are still not allowed to return to their historic homes, villages, and land – all of which are located within Israel’s post 1948 borders. An additional 130,000 Palestinians are people or the descendants of people who were internally displaced in the occupied Palestinian territory as a result of the 1967 War.[iii]

        Finally, there are an unknown number of Palestinians who have been expelled from or refused return to the occupied Palestinian territory since 1967. This includes people who have had their ID cards and residency rights revoked, people denied family reunification, and people who have been deported and exiled.[iv] This is a process that is ongoing in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel through the processes of land confiscation, forced displacement, home demolition, and the revocation of residency rights.

      • gamal on November 12, 2015, 7:21 pm

        ” “This plan does that.”

        “Absolutely, this plan does that. Israel won’t, but this plan does”. Mooser

        “Israel won’t, but this plan does”.”

        Actually Just a little bit, I am in awe, who is taking Mark home, is he ok, 6 words, its all over, after a whole bullshit decade, Mooser no he’s had enough, no further retorts, that used to be a Liberal Humanist Poster Boy, look at it now.

      • annie on November 12, 2015, 7:21 pm

        these are post-solution scenarios. The most important thing is to get a solution that produces a situation of sovereignty for Palestinians and stops the occupation. This plan does that.

        this plan has neither produced a situation of sovereignty for palestinians nor stopped the occupation, albeit that’s what it’s designed to do. but it too is a post solution scenario. a nice one but without an effective plan to coerce the parties to agree to it or implement it there’s no more practicality to it than a plan to fully implement RoR for Palestinians anywhere in the territory of pre-1948 Palestine with full reparations for crimes committed against them.

        A plan to get a solution that produces a situation of sovereignty for Palestinians and stops the occupation would need to include a demand for israel to comply from an outside party willing to force compliance if they didn’t.

  17. echinococcus on November 9, 2015, 4:54 am

    One more (old) white flag to add to X% or Y% then half than a quarter of Y% of the invaded land, the Bantustan municipal administration, the ideal single-state with equality (yarright!) of armed invader and slave, to be created with the consensus of all including the genocidal invader (to be visited by the Holy Spirit –oops! the J-Spirit– in the night before), the Saudi plan and this plan and that plan, first and foremost the installment plan…

    There is no justice in legalizing the presence of genocidal invaders from nowhere. Period. The UN legalization of the existence of the Zionist entity itself is injustice. And we should know one thing, after all the experience: the sense of injustice lingers on and passes on from one generation to the other. You can get all the resolutions you want, even one as loony as this one. There still remain only two real solutions: genocide or justice. That’s what the Native Americans and the Algerians get. The former shows that indignation against injustice continues even after a successful genocide.

  18. YoniFalic on November 12, 2015, 8:43 pm

    Such a stupid article. The authors ignored reality and should be ashamed of their drivel.

    In the 21st century white racist Eastern Europeans are practicing genocidal 19th century style colonialism, in which white racist European invaders destroy or expel the natives and move in more white racist European settlers as well as some favored non-Europeans to serve the white racist Europeans.

    The conflict can only be resolved by removing the invaders, trying the genocidal leadership as well as international supporters at the ICC, and returning the country to the natives.

    The vast majority of Israeli invaders practice a fake Judaism that consists of völkisch narcissism, Holocaust obsession, and state worship.

    When I realized during Operation Cast Lead that I had been brainwashed, I used my American citizenship (!תודה, אבא) to attend university in the USA.

    I am still working on purging my brain of all the vile ideas with which I was indoctrinated, but LeVine and Mossberg really know absolutely nothing about the invaders or are in total denial. Every student in my class at Blich was a self-righteous vicious racist including me.

    Any solution that leaves the genocidal invader population intact in Palestine is simply a non-starter.

    • echinococcus on November 12, 2015, 10:45 pm

      I wanted to thank you for being the almost only commenter here to state clearly what justice requires. Certainly the only one from younger generations.

  19. Boomer on November 13, 2015, 8:52 am

    At 972 Amjad Iraqi asks “Can we call it one state and be done with it?”

    It is an interesting essay, which may be relevant here, but I found the comments equally relevant (and depressing, if they are representative of Israeli attitudes.)

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