federalism is a two-state solution

I've learned a great deal by discussing the middle east conflict with Jonathan - and he and I have developed a delicate dance around the issue of whether a two-state solution or a binational union is more beneficial to the long term interests of the Jews and the Palestinians. Jonathan wrote a long series on why he thinks a binational union would not work, (parts I and II) which are also essential reading as a precursor to the discussion.

I think that a lot of the disagreement might stem from a different idea of what a binational union might look like. Seeing as the model is based on the federalist vision of sovereign and separate "states' united under a federal umbrella, I am beginning to think that the two-state solution as favored by Jonathan is not that different from the binational union after all - the Proposal itself characterizes the United States of Israel and Palestine as such:

This proposal outlines the political and territorial configuration of two sovereign states, but in one political and economic union, namely the Federal Union of Palestine-Israel. This reconfiguration is based on the current demographic distribution of both populations and the need to accommodate the returnees from the exiled Palestinian population.

Under this arrangement, areas predominantly inhabited by Palestinian are recommended to be included in a Palestinian state and areas predominantly inhabited by Israelis are recommended to be included in an Israeli state. Areas that are lightly populated and can sustain population are recommended to be included in the Palestinian state in order to accommodate Palestinian refugees. Jerusalem would fall under a separate shared district and would constitute the capital of the Federal Union of Palestine-Israel.

The Palestinian state would include the population of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Galilee (al Jalil) in the north, the centrally located areas known as the Triangle, and the Bir es Saba� region in the south. The Palestinian state would absorb the bulk of exiled Palestinians based on a new territorial configuration that reflects the current demographic distribution of Israelis and Palestinians. Similarly, the Israeli state would comprise those areas where Israelis compose the majority population. Each of the states would have sovereignty over its territories and have its own legislative council. Residents of each state would fall under the jurisdiction of that state regardless of their ethnicity.

Note that the Jewish State in the United States of I-P would still be the true Jewish homeland (to address Uri Averny's main concern). And that the existence of the State of Palestine would also serve to defuse the Right of Return as Jonathan pointed out. But the one facet of the plan that I find the most compelling is how the binational union addresses the question of Israeli security - both internal and external, in a way that the two-state solution does not.

The most immediate threat to the average Israeli is internal. The Proposal tackles the issue head on:

Once the issue of sovereignty and Palestinian national and civil rights have been addressed and resolved, and equitable relations between Israelis and Palestinians have been achieved, the real threats to peace will have been removed and the remainder of the security concerns will be the normal work of the Israeli and Palestinian police departments.

One of the first to define the concept of law was the great Arab philosopher Ibin Khaldun in the fourteenth century. In his definition, the law is the set of measures to be enforced for the protection of man. When the laws in the country are in this spirit, the application of the law and maintaining order is feasible.

This is essentially a restating of the great axiom, "without justice there is no peace." - and part of ensuring the security of the citizens is to ensure that the citizens see justice. Can anyone doubt that a Palestinian state that is totally separate from Israel, with its borders controlled by the IDF, its land encroached by the
Apartheid Wall, and the territory cris-crossed by Israeli highways feeding Israeli settlements, would not perceive any true sovereignity? That there would be no sense of justice? Creating cantons is not the answer - from the Israeli security perspective - because it only boxes the injustice and hatred and allows it to continue to fester.

The only way to ensure that the Palestinian state is not a bantustan in all but name - and to ensure that the primary national goal of New Palestine is not revenge upon its dominating neighbor, is to join the Israeli and Palestinian concerns and aspirations. All parties in teh conflict are rational actors - therefore the solution must equate the self-interests of both parties.

Once this is achieved, then internal security becomes more a matter of police action rather than a military response. The Proposal describes the internal security arrangements that would be needed:

Israeli Police Force: An Israeli police force in the Israeli state would handle all security matters at the state level and be responsible to enforce the law and maintain order in the Israeli state.

Palestinian Police Force: A Palestinian police force would be formed in the Palestinian state and recruit members from residents in the state of Palestine. This department would handle all security matters at the state level in the Palestinian state and be responsible for law enforcement and maintaining order in the state.

District of Jerusalem Police Force: A District of Jerusalem police force would be formed and recruit its members from the District of Jerusalem and be responsible for all security matters in the district.

Bi-state Police Bureau: A Bi-state Police Bureau would be formed and recruit its members from citizens of both states as well as from the residents of the District of Jerusalem and would handle security matters that have a bi-state dimension. The Bureau would also serve as a channel of coordination between the three police departments mentioned above. This Bureau would be formed, administered, and funded by the Federal Union.

Bear Arms: The bearing of arms would be prohibited for residents of both states and as well as the District of Jerusalem with no exceptions.

Note that the Bi-State Police Bureau is key here. Serving the interests of both states, and staffed by members of both communities, it will have a real unifying effect on the political cast of the regional police forces.

And what bout external security threats?

Federal Army: The federal union would maintain an army that is unified and recruit its members from both the Israeli and Palestinian state as well as the district of Jerusalem. The army would defend the international borders of the country against any external threat.

Bi-state Intelligence Service: The federal bureau would maintain a bi-state intelligence service and recruit its members from residents of both states and the District of Jerusalem. This service would monitor and provide information on any external party that poses a threat to the country or either state. This service would be formed, administered, and funded by the Federal Union.

Unified Army: Under this format, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) would be merged with a Palestinian force in one army. This army will not be perceived as a threat to the security of the nations of the region and will not be the target of hostilities by the regional countries, nor can this army be used to terrorize its citizens.

Again, note the deliberate mixing of the power structures. By joining the identities of both Palestinians and Israelis into a new federal identity, it achieves a great deal of unity without detracting an iota from the separate cultural and religious identities. And that is the glue that holds a society together. All of this joint identity maneuvering is absent from the pure two-state solution, and that is why it would fail.

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