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The new framework presented in the “Two States in One Space” project proposes the creation of two independent states that enter into a voluntary union with greater flexibility and cooperation than the separation paradigm. This offers a more realistic response to the history and the present, and allows for a resolution that includes less sacrifice and trauma than other models. In such a vision, Israel and Palestine would exist as two sovereign nation states. Israel on 78% of the land and Palestine on 22%. Jerusalem would remain one urban space and a capital for two countries. Evacuation of over a hundred thousand Jews would be prevented. A real answer to the Palestinian refugee issue would be given. A guaranteed Jewish state with a Jewish majority would also be ensured.
The papers we present to you in this book are the product of political deliberation, scholarly research and fact- based soul- searching of Israelis and Palestinians working to ignite political imagination, their own, and that of their national collectives. In their research and deliberations, the groups found sustainable political frameworks that open up the horizon, and offer possibilities to get over the current impasse. While the political structures, concepts, mechanisms and programs offered in these papers are hopeful and encouraging, each group identified significant obstacles that must not only be acknowledged directly, but also demand further research and deliberation into their possible solutions. Overall, research is necessary to develop mechanisms and institutions that will replace the less inclusive and more repressive ones that exist today in every field of governance, as well as further understanding of the social and economic gaps that exist and possibilities to mediate them. We briefly outline the obstacles encountered by the research groups, mostly linked to the existing asymmetry between the two groups and indicate the type of research needed to promote the suggested models and solutions.
The Citizenship group concludes that the model they offer introduces multiple categories of political membership, which entails both political promise and internal obstacles. Citizenship becomes exclusionary for the resident minority, as it privileges the political agency of citizens. The citizens can participate in political decision- making that shapes the society s/he lives in at the national level, including distribution of resources, while the resident is prevented from influencing political decisions at the national level that impact his/her life in many aspects. Moreover, the model currently does not include a mechanism of becoming citizens for future generations born to residents, which has raised grave concern particularly among constitutional lawyers.
These obstacles lead us to an internal conundrum of the proposed model: on the one hand, granting the basic political rights to vote and be elected is critical to a resident whose permanent life center is in the other state. On the other, granting these political rights will blur the distinction between the territorial sovereignty of the two states and give rise to fears that the demographic population changes will threaten the core values of each state.
The right of Return group stressed the importance of regulating the distribution of new or returning resident populations, which demands further research and development of administrative mechanisms. The group recommends considering not only population quotas for residency, but cautiously determining geographic distribution of new resident populations. The regulation of returning population, particularly of Palestinian refugees exercising their right of return, will be a demanding task. Studies show that ethnic population after conflicts attempt to return to areas in which they will be an ethnic majority or significant minority, which is precisely a major fear of the existing majority, which must be addressed and managed.
Members of the security research group focused on the pre- existing gap in capabilities between the Israeli and Palestinians. Indeed, the existing asymmetry in the Israeli and Palestinian security sectors would simultaneously contribute to reinforce the Israeli reluctance to relinquish control and consider the security partnership with Palestine under terms of equality, while also encouraging— at best — a state of dependence and, at worst, undermining the process of state-building on the Palestinian side. In this sense, future research on the topic needs to delve further in processes and mechanisms to address the present gap in capabilities while still preserving the equality and sovereignty of both parties.
The research group on governance sees the a-symmetrical power relations between the two countries, as well as deep social and economic gaps, pose a significant challenge. While joint governance institution might be a key toward transcending and transforming these very structures, a more detailed mapping of the existing gaps is needed. In addition, this challenge would necessitate the careful design of relevant institutions and processes, from economic agreements; through state intervention to strengthen the Palestinian social protection net; to bi-national or regional development cooperation and international investments in Palestine.
Second, processes of decentralization and strengthening of local authorities proposed in our paper, including the establishment of metropolitan or regional-local governance, would require research into the political and geographical demarcation of these institutions.
This is particularly crucial in regards to the Israeli settlement in Palestine, where issues of local governance are particularly complex. Lastly, the socio-psychological infrastructure of the conflict and deep mistrust among the two societies might hinder the possibility to develop, establish and maintain any joint governance institutions. Further research is required into possible national policies and processes aimed at addressing this underlying structure.
The research group on Holy Sites and Jerusalem see the main obstacle that needs further research and deliberation is the question of restorative action in the urban scale, particularly issues of housing and infrastructure that will address the current a-symmetry. Finally, a major gap that demands resources is reaching a consensus regarding policing arrangements in the holy sites
In retrospect, we now can say that task that we have taken upon ourselves was more than a project of this scope and funding could handle. The project builds extensively off of so much work that has been done already but reflects the realities on the ground, which pose the greatest obstacles to realizing the original vision. Instead of attempting to erase such obstacles, we envision and put forward creative suggestions for adapting to them while preserving the vital components of the still-necessary aspect of separation. Therefore, this vision still includes the most vital component of most plans, which are two sovereign nation states, each on the pre-agreed 78%/22% of the land. However, the implication of freedom of movement and what we see as a first step of agreeing to go towards a union, required significant changes and adaptations. An Israeli - Palestinian union raised new premises, issues, challenges and, perhaps most importantly, advantages that have to be taken into account. A union, which will naturally require a high degree of ongoing and lasting cooperation, also requires us to consider a vast number of relationships, interactions, influences, and multi-faceted issues which will have to be undertaken if this plan is to be adopted.