Friday, July 03, 2009

Two states, one state, or "condominial" arrangement?

This Quaker Monthly dispatch (from PIAG, Ann Arbor Friends Meeting) focuses on various ideas for the resolution of the Israel Palestine conflict. Joe Volk, of the Friends Committee on National Legislation, reported in a recent conference call that President Obama is convinced not only that a resolution of the conflict is long overdue, but that U.S. security depends on it.

Obama and many others, including Israelis, Palestinians, U.S. Jews, and leaders of Arab countries in the region, believe that a two-state solution is the most realistic and desireable. The "One Voice Movement," with "over 650,000 signatories in roughly equal numbers both in Israel and in Palestine, and 2,000 highly-trained youth leaders" advocates this approach.

Yet many are convinced that time is running out for a two-state solution. 60 Minutes (Jan. 25, 2009) explains this view in text and video.

Others believe that a one-state solution is more in accord with recognized human rights standards. The reasons this approach is more reasonable and just are laid out by Palestinian-American activist Ali Abunimah in his visionary book, "One Country" and in an op-ed written by an unlikely, but rather eloquent advocate for peace: Libya's Muammar Gaddafi.

But creative, "outside the box" ideas could be even more likely to break the stalemate. One such solution, by political scientist Russell Nieli, advocates a "condominial" arrangement: two ethnically-defined states within one bi-national settlement community. There would be two constitutions, two judicial systems, two sets of laws, two flags, yet anyone, Palestinian or Israeli, would have the right to live anywhere within the territory of either state. Each state would "take care of its own" in terms of their people's econmic, cultural, religious, and welfare needs. Everyone, Israeli and Palestinian, would have a "right of return," including, of course, the Palestinians forced out in al Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. (Pictures show the human face of this 1948 tragedy.) Goods and services would move freely across state boundaries. The sharing of water resources would be regulated by the U.N. Palestinian armed forces would be restricted (though Israeli forces would not -- one of the main problems with this arrangement, as I see it). A complete explanation can be found in Nieli's article, "Finally, a New Idea: The Marriage of a One-State and a Two-State Solution," in Tikkun Magazine (July-August, 2009).