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Palestinian - Israeli Impasse -
Exploring Alternative Solutions to the Palestine Israel Conflict

By Various Palestinian and Israeli Authors

Edited by: Dr. Mahdi Abdul Hadi


360 pages, August 2005
© PASSIA Publications
ISBN # : 9950-305-11-X

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In 2004, when it became clear that Palestinian-Israeli relations had reached a deadlock – there had not been any serious negotiations for over three years, an “Intifada culture” was prevailing, and daily lives were determined by the Israeli re-occupation of Palestinian cities, military in­cursions, and closure policies - PASSIA initiated a new project entitled Palestinian-Israeli Impasse - Exploring Solutions to the Palestine-Israel Conflict, in a search for the light at the end of the tunnel.

Stuck in a conflict that has been continuing for more than a hundred years, in which scores of mediators and proposals were unable to de­liver a solution, and left with the equally unsuccessful more recent initia­tives (e.g., the Clinton parameters of 2000, the Taba talks of 2001, the road map of 2002-3, the Nusseibeh-Ayalon Plan and the Geneva Ac­cords of 2003), common analysis had it that it was becoming increasingly likely that confrontation and bloodshed would continue and even inten­sify in the absence of any practicable alternatives.

As also the international community had proven unable to bring about a settlement consistent with international law and UN resolutions, an in­creasing number of voices claim that the two-state solution – a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel as pursued in various forms over the last five decades – had been effectively pre-empted by the deliberate policies and strategies of recent Israeli governments.

Against this background, PASSIA embarked on this project with the in­tention to promote serious dialogue and discussion about the various options facing the two communities over the course of the next few years, and to ex­amine whether, or to which degree, the two-state con­sensus is “dead,” what lies ahead if the status quo would last for another ten years, and what alternative proposals could or should be con­sidered. The project combined research (position pa­pers) and dialogue sessions (roundtables in which the papers were presented and dis­cussed) with an array of Palestinian scholars, intellectuals, members of government and of various political factions, NGO activists, and profes­sionals as well as Israeli academics and activists.

The papers included in this volume look at the reasons the two-state solution has failed to succeed until the present day and con­sider what prospects for future success or failure it still has, thereby looking at the issue from various angles (historical, conceptual and religious aspects; implications for the refu­gee question, Jerusalem, the settlement issue and the future geography of Pales­tine/Israel) .

The various proposed approaches to solve the Palestinian-Israeli impasse explored in this volume were provoked by a number of concrete questions, such as whether there is still a possibility for a (short-term or permanent) two-state solution; how the two-state solution should be reevaluated, given that all recent breakthroughs in the reconciliation process of inter-communal or ethnic disputes (Northern Ireland, South Africa, Bosnia) have been based on federal, consociational, and autonomy arrange­ments, and not on partition; and what kind of practicable models could be envisioned for the Palestinian-Israeli case.

For those papers that support the idea of a one-state solution, the pos­sibilities of maintaining separate cultures, heritages and identities while holding equal citizenships and rights in a democratic political system on one open territory are considered very seriously. By exploring these and related issues, the PASSIA team aimed to assess the positions adopted by different national, religious, secular and other groups on the various formulas as well as the greatest obstacles to each of them.

It is hoped that this volume will further contribute to the objectives of the project, which were to stimulate debate among people from different backgrounds and political affiliations on alternative agendas to overcome the current status quo and provide a forum for open discus­sion and exchange on those and related topics.

Jerusalem, May 2005

Dr. Mahdi Abdul Hadi
Head of Passia


Paper Abstracts:

Nick Kardahji, Dreaming of Co-Existence: A Brief History of the Bi-National Idea

Nick Kardahji offers an account of the evolution of the concept of a bi-national state as a solution to Zionist and Palestinian ter­ritorial claims. He begins by differentiating a bi-national solution (which emphasizes the equal representation of groups) from a one-state solu­tion (which em­phasizes the equal representation of indi­viduals). He ana­lyzes the differ­ence between notions of “partition” and the “bi-national” under the British Mandate, exploring the UN Partition Plan of 1947 as well as the motives and interests of both sides for and against separa­tion. He then looks at the differences between cultural and nationalist Zionism and their support for or rejection of a bi-national state (specifically the ar­guments of Judah Magnes, Arthur Ruppin, Chaim Kalvarisky and organi­zations such as Hashomer Hatzair and Brit Shalom). Arab advocates of bi-na­tionalism during the Mandate, he argues, were very marginal and in­cluded Ahmed Khalidi, Musa Alami and Fauzi Hus­seini. He docu­ments the end of the bi-national movement in 1948 with its absolute rejection by the Zionist victors and the dominance of a two-state paradigm by Palestinians after 1988. His paper includes an appendix with detailed in­formation about individuals, movements and propos­als that advocated for a bi-national state.

Nick Kardahji was a Palestinian-British researcher at PASSIA (2003-4) and is a graduate of the University of Sheffield.


As’ad Ghanem, The Bi-National Solution for the Israeli-Pales­tin­ian Crisis: Conceptual Background and Contemporary De­bate

As’ad Ghanem argues in this essay for a bi-national solution that would resolve inter-group conflict through granting equality to all population groups. He begins with a conceptual background of the ways in which group-dominated states deal with their non-dominant groups through extermination and group purification, expulsion and transfer, domination without democratic rights, control by granting partial democratic rights or, alternatively, through the granting of equality for all groups. He ex­ plores the differences between territo­rial partition and the elimination of group dominance either through a federation/confederation system or through granting the same freedoms to all individuals. He turns to the particular case of the domination of the Jewish majority over Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and argues that the only viable and realistic solution is a bi-national state given the unlikelihood of the following: full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza, a shift in the Israeli po­si­tion to grant full independence to a separate Palestinian state, a sepa­ration of common resources, dismantling the settlements and inte­grating them into a separate Palestinian state, resolving the Jerusalem question and the right of return in two separate states, and any terri­torial com­promises by hardliners on either side. He offers a model for Israeli-Pal­estinian relations in a bi-national system which would equalize relations between Israelis and Palestinians and would require changes in the orien­tation within the two nationalist movements and towards the interna­tional community. A bi-national state would also require, he ar­gues, a broad coalition of both parties, a right to veto on the part of both parties, fair representation of both groups and internal autonomy for each group.

As’ad Ghanem is a political scientist at the University of Haifa.


Gary Sussman, The Viability of the Two-State Solution and Is­raeli Unilateral Intentions

In this essay, Gary Sussman explores the mounting debate over the vi­ability of the two-state solution. He analyzes the ongoing Israeli set­tle­ment expansion, the separation wall, changing democratic trends in favor of the Palestinians, international opinion regarding Israel and the notion of separation, and, finally, the idea of unilateral separation. The focus of his analysis is the impact of Israeli unilateral actions – be it the wall, set­tlements or disengagement upon Palestinian and inter­national opinion regarding the desirability of a two-state solution. His main argument is that none of these factors alone imperils the two-state outcome, but when combined could have a dramatic impact on Palestinian support for the two-state outcome. He claims that Israeli unilaterialism and a demo­graphic trend that favors Palestinians could trigger a dynamic whereby Palestinians abandon their 15-year long endorsement of the two-state idea. As a result of these demo­graphic trends and the requirement of Palestinian consent for Israeli international and regional legitimacy, he argues that a bi-national so­lution is the most realistic option to move forward.

Gary Sussman is based at Tel Aviv University.


Salim Tamari, The Dubious Lure of Bi-Nationalism

Salim Tamari argues in this paper that, while at the conceptual level bi-nationalism raises interesting possibilities for examining new di­mensions of extraterritorial nationalism and ethnicity, at the level of practical poli­tics the concept can be counterproductive and escapist. He thus pro­poses a continued struggle for Palestinian independence. He illustrates the drawbacks of the two-state solution and the rea­sons for its erosion, going on to argue for the structural dependency of Israel and Palestine. However, he claims that the advocates for a bi-national solution have been too simplistic and unrealistic in their approaches, holding their po­sitions without assessing the repercus­sions of a regime created from two antagonistic national groups with established infrastructures and unbalanced power differentials. Fur­ther, those advocates are very mar­ginalized and cannot mobilize a constituency around them, the Palestini­ans and Israelis themselves. A bi-national solution, he contends, would demand that the Palestinians give up their right to independence without guarantees that Israeli hostility towards them would cease.

Salim Tamari is the Director of the Institute of Jerusalem Studies in Jeru­salem.


Fadi Kiblawi, Towards a Sustainable Solution: Alternative Con­structions for an Israeli-Palestinian Peace

In his essay, Fadi Kiblawi outlines a method to reach a sustainable final solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by first examining the limita­tions of the current situation, suggesting alternatives, assessing the value of constitutional resolution and finally advocating for a bi-national solu­tion. He claims that the two-state solution is not feasible because it would preempt the right of return of refugees, would le­gitimize popula­tion transfers, and would not be able to resolve the problems of the settlements, the separation wall and Jerusalem. He suggests that escaping the current impasse would require a replace­ment of the Palestinian Au­thority, a transformation of international consensus on the conflict and a redistribution of the balance of power. He then explores historically and in the contemporary con­text the process of defining a constitution of a prospective solution which would consider land, border, economic and political issues, including the right to return, land reform and Jerusalem. He finally advocates for a constitutionally defined federal system with distinct separation of powers between executive, legislative and judicial branches within a unitary state.

Fadi Kiblawi is a student at George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C.


Nasser Abu Farha, Alternative Palestinian Agenda – Proposal for an Alternative Configuration of Palestine/Israel

Nasser Abu Farha offers in this essay an alternative configuration of Pal­estine/Israel that would consist in a bi-national state of two sover­eign states in political and economic union, the Federal Union of Pal­estine-Israel. He begins by evaluating the relative concerns and aspi­rations of Israelis and Palestinians and the failure of the two-state solution. He moves on to argue for the necessity of reconfiguring the notion of state­ hood in Palestine-Israel on a federalist model that is based on the current demographic distribution of both populations and the need to accom­modate the Palestinian right to return. Finally, he explores in de­tail the borders and demographic distribution of the two separate sov­ereign states while elaborating what their political and economic union would require. He argues that this solution re­spects the concerns and aspira­tions of both parties.

Nasser Abu Farha is a Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Anthropology at the Univer­sity of Wisconsin. He is a native of Jalame in the West Bank.


Sari Hanafi, Finding a Just Solution for the Palestinian Refugee Problem – Toward an Extra-Territorial Nation-State

Sari Hanafi attempts to resolve the problem of the Palestinian refu­gees’ right of return by reconfiguring the very notion of the nation-state itself and formulating a model for an extra-territorial state. He argues that the current nation-state model, based on the “trinity” of nation-state-terri­tory, is in deep crisis and that a new model of na­tion-state must be con­ceptualized based on flexible borders, flexible citizenship and some kind of separation between the nation and the State. This model of the “ex­tra-territorial nation-state” is structural and transitions between a terri­torially-based nation-state and a ‘de-territorialized’ one. Hanafi distin­guishes between residency and citi­zenship, arguing for the extension of citizenship to Palestinian refu­gees.

Sari Hanafi is a sociologist and the former Director of the Palestinian Dias­pora and Refugee Center (Shaml) in Ramallah. Cur­rently he is a Visiting Associate Professor at the American University of Beirut.


Ian Lustick, Thinking About the Futures of Palestine with the Pasts of Others: Implications for the Settlements in a Two- or One-State Solution

Ian Lustick begins his essay with a theoretical investigation of predic­tions and future-oriented thinking based on more or less likely out­comes of situations and events. He suggests that we must look at the pasts of other peoples to illuminate possible Palestinian futures, tak­ing as exam­ples the Kurds, Armenians, Jews, Algerians, South Afri­cans and the Irish. He goes on to consider the implications of the settlements in a one- or two-state solution, arguing that one isn’t necessarily more realistic than the other for resolving the issue.

Ian Lustick is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsyl­vania.


Asher Susser, Confederation Options in the Palestine-Israel Con­flict

Asher Susser explores the historical ties and identity-based differ­ences within Israel, Palestine and Jordan and assesses the impact of disengage­ment of each party on this triangle and possible confedera­tion. He ar­gues that an Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian confederation is currently im­possible, but that this doesn’t preclude a confederation between Pales­tine and Jordan, a solution that would be dependent solely on Palestinian and Jordanian political will and decision-making.

Asher Susser is the Director and Senior Research Fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies and an Associate Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University.


Jeff Halper, Thinking Out of the Box: Towards a Middle East Un­ion

Halper first documents the way in which the Sharon administration cap­tured and controlled the West Bank and East Jerusalem, creating a Jew­ish-controlled state throughout the “Land of Israel.” He outlines the elements necessary to constitute a just peace: the national ex­pression of two peoples, viability, a just resolution of the refugee is­sue, regional peace, and mutual security for both parties. He rejects the traditional two-state solution, a two-state solution favoring Israel and a bi-national or one-state solution, advocating instead for a re­gional confederation. This regional confederation would emerge in two stages: 1) the estab­lishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, and 2) a regional confederation leading to a wider Middle East Union.

Jeff Halper is an anthropologist and Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.


Arie Lova Elia, Isfalur (Israel, Falastin, and Urdun) – A Benelux Scheme

Arie Lova Elia argues for a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces to the pre-1967 borders of Palestine. Further, he contends that the three states – Israel, Palestine, and Jordan – will slowly merge into a consoli­dated or confederative relationship with one another called Isfalur. Isfa­lur would have four regional enterprises – the Northern Water Project, the Jordan Rift Project, the Dead Sea Project and the Arava Project – which would make consolidation economically bene­ficial for the three countries.

Arie Lova Elia is a former MK and General Secretary of the Israeli Labor Party.


Yehoshua Ben-Arieh, Trilateral Land Exchange between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt: A Solution for Promoting Peace between Israel and the Palestinians

In his paper, Yehashua Ben-Arieh proposes a three-way exchange of territory between Israel, Palestine and Egypt as a way of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The article first outlines the basic premises of this plan as well as the pros and cons for each of the three parties. Ben-Arieh then discusses the basic principles underlying the plan. He con­cludes by offering a draft agreement for the land swap to be signed by the three parties and representatives of the international community, primarily the United States, the European Union and the United Na­ tions.

Yehashua Ben-Arieh is a Professor of Geography at the Truman Institute at Hebrew University, Jerusalem.


Mousa Burayzat, Federation versus Confederation in Jorda­nian-Palestinian Politics

Burayzat’s paper takes a historical approach to Palestinian-Jordanian rela­tions, evaluating the effects of Jordan’s previous attempts to bro­ker peace, the regional context and Jordanian disengagement from Palestin­ian affairs in 1988 on current and future relations. He as­sesses the mer­its and demerits of a confederal approach to solving the Palestinian ques­tion over and against a Jordanian-Palestinian fed­eral approach, encour­aging more close cooperation between Pales­tine and Jordan and the abandonment of a reliance on an Arab con­federal structure. However, he claims, it is crucial that genuine col­laboration and cooperation be es­ tablished between Arab states on the Palestinian question, and that fed­eral and confederal solutions to the problem should be explored more fully.

Mousa Burayzat is the Jordanian Permanent Representative to the United Na­tions in Geneva.


Ahmad Abu Lafi, Islam and the Bi-National State

Abu Lafi gives an historical account of Islamic governance, turning to the early foundation of the Islamic state in Medina and defining more broadly the nature of the Islamic state based on the Islamic creed. The constitu­tion and laws of such a state would be derived, he con­tends, from the Qur’an, the Sunnah, and what they have referred to: reasoning by anal­ogy (Qiyas) and recognized consensus on the part of scholars (Ijma’). He describes the Islamic state as a unified system under the authority of an individual Muslim ruler and which extends to all residents of the state equal rights. For this reason, a bi-national state would only conform to Islamic law if it was unified, Muslims and non-Muslims living equally under one Muslime ruler and abiding by Islamic laws.

Ahmad Abu Lafi is a Lecturer at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem.


Thomas G. Fraser, Partition as a Solution to Political Division: The Cases of Ireland, India and Palestine

Fraser’s essay contextualizes the partition of Palestine historically with the partitions of Ireland and India, respectively, as a British Im­perial solu­tion to political division. He explores the evolution of Irish nationalism and the key factors which motivated partition as well as the details of the partition agreements finally outlined. Moving to the Indian context, he examines the ideas of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the gradual support for Muslim self-determination in a separate state, an idea which moti­vated and followed through the partition of India and Pakistan. He finally looks at proposals under the British Mandate and UNSCOP to partition Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states.

Thomas G. Fraser is Provost at the University of Ulster.


Jan de Jong, The End of the Two-State Solution – A Geo-Political Analysis

De Jong’s looks at the geographical effects of the Separation Barrier Israel is currently erecting in the West Bank and argues that its construction of the ‘Barrier’ – along with the ongoing settlement policy - will fatally prejudice all remaining pros­pects for viable Palestinian statehood. He explores the Israeli disengagement plan and its system of segregating Palestinian land and infrastructure from Israeli-controlled land and infrastructure, particularly in relation to the Israeli system of roads and tunnels in the West Bank, the expansion of settlements and outposts, the annexation of Jerusalem from Palestinian control and their combined effect on the economic viability of a separate Palestinian state and creation of a Bantustan-like structure for Palestinian cities. He then outlines what would be necessary for an economically viable Palestinian state and the possibilities of a Labor-Likud compromise on that state. The text also contains eight colored maps.

Jan de Jong is a Geographer and Land Planning Expert .




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