Opinion

A new proposal for confederated states (without any idea of how to get Israel to comply)

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Dov Waxman and Dahlia Scheindlin have a proposal up at the Guardian exploring the idea of a “confederal approach” to the one- versus two-state question in Palestine/Israel. They call this the “two-state solution 2.0”.

First read their ideas, and note what’s glaringly missing — anything to change current Israeli policy:

[T]here is another way. It combines elements of both one-state and two-state solutions. It is a confederal approach, proposing two sovereign states, with an open border between them, freedom of movement and residency, and some limited shared governance….

The 1967 ceasefire lines would be the basis for a border, but a different kind of border, not today’s 9m concrete wall, but one aimed at allowing people on both sides to cross freely, to visit their holy places, to work, shop, socialise – in short, to breathe.

…..While each state would decide its own citizenship policies, including laws of return, citizens of one state could be permitted to live as residents in the other (as in the European Union), with each state setting limits on the number of non-citizens granted residency.

This would open up a new way of addressing the intractable issue of Palestinian refugees. Israeli Jews adamantly oppose the right of return of Palestinian refugees to Israel proper because they view it as bringing about the end of Israel’s Jewish majority; Palestinians just as resolutely insist on it – indeed it has become the symbolic centrepiece of their national struggle…. In a confederal approach, however, Palestinian refugees who wish to return could live in Israel as residents, but would exercise their full citizenship rights, such as voting in national elections, in Palestine.

De-linking citizenship and residency also helps address the thorny problem of Jewish settlers, who number more than half a million in the West Bank and East Jerusalem…

….. a confederal approach envisions a united Jerusalem as the shared capital of two states….

….a confederation is the idea of establishing some joint institutions and legal mechanisms to facilitate cooperation between the two states, not only in security matters but also in areas such as economic development and management of shared resources….

However far-fetched it may appear, it is the most realistic approach because it accommodates the demands of Israelis and Palestinians for national self-determination…..

I appreciate their creativity and (clearly) positive intentions. However, Waxman and Scheindlin say it is the “most realistic approach” without offering any suggestions on how to get Israel to accept this proposal. Israel is in the driver’s seat; why would the government change a thing?

I think it’s unrealistic and irresponsible, at this juncture, to discuss an “approach” without discussing implementing acceptance.

The two are addressing a British audience and say, “people no longer know what to do about it”.  Yes, we’ve certainly run the gamut on what to do, without applying outside pressure and interference (sanctions for example).

Let’s imagine every person in the US and the UK read this and agreed with it and Palestinians embraced it whole-heartedly — then what? Do you think Israel would agree? Why do they think Israel will change its conduct one iota? And what does that mean for Palestinian human rights? What difference would it make, in practical terms, if we all loved the proposal but the Israeli government didn’t? It just becomes another idea to chew over for years and years — pushing any resolution down the road.

The discussion we should be having is what the global community needs to do to force Israel to comply to a plan — because if they (the global community) are unwilling to do that — new ideas are just an exercise in futility. What conversations should people be having with their elected officials to get them to act — to “approach” making Israel comply with a change of course? Because this article does not go near addressing that “approach”.

Waxman wrote a few years ago it was “too much to expect” that American Jews could bring peace to Israel/Palestine, and I agree with him. That leaves the rest of us.

On a final note, Bradley Burston has had it up to here, again, this time with supporters of BDS.

I’ve had it up to here with the bludgeoning, exclusivist tactics of BDS activists, who attack with immediate and snarkily supremacist condescension any suggestion that there might be other ways to fight occupation.

He thinks the movement is full of mean people who think Israelis are “incapable of listening to reason…all alike, all of them stonehearted, all of them hateful, all of them worthy of being hated.”

No, we’re tired of just deploring the occupation and doing nothing. We’ve tried everything else. Now it’s our turn to do what our governments won’t, after decades. The “approach” we’ve chosen is Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Live with it.

I do appreciate the efforts of Waxman and Scheindlin. But at this point any idea for a solution needs to include at least a notion about Israeli compliance.

Thanks to Ofer Neiman

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1S1P1V. No other way.

I think Burstein’s playing both sides, one minute he’s fuming about zionist policies and the next minute he’s whimpering oww! BDS hurt my feelings and I’m not gonna play anymore! Neither is the BDS movement Mr. Burstein – get used to it. It’s the only thing now that’s having any… Read more »

yes, the most realistic approach is BDS…
thanks for the article Annie
Happy Mother’s Day

Annie (1) You have it wrong that the article is addressing a British audience. This is extracted from a longer piece published in the Washington Quarterly. (2) “I think it’s unrealistic and irresponsible, at this juncture, to discuss an “approach” without discussing implementing acceptance.” That is a somewhat strange argument… Read more »

This is not actually a new proposal, in fact, if you read the UN Partition Plan carefully, freedom of transit was included as well as a full economic union. http://mondoweiss.net/2015/08/independent-sovereign-palestine/ Uri Avnery has been talking about a confederation for years, having initially discussed it with Yasser Arafat. It is clear… Read more »