Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace

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Confirmed Speakers


Yasmeen Abu-Laban Marc H. Ellis Michael Mandel
Ali Abunimah Omar El-Khairy Mazen Masri
Heribert Adam Vanessa Farr Zinaida Miller
Marco Allegra Leila Farsakh Dorit Namaan
Ariel Babinski Chaim Gans Paulo Napolitano
Abigail B. Bakan Giulia Daniele Dana Olwan
Omar Barghouti Jasmin Habib Reecia Orzeck
Bashir Bashir Jeff Halper Mazin Qumsiyeh
Meron Benvenisti Jeff Handmaker Dan Rabinowitz
Efrat Ben-Ze'ev Adam Hanieh Yacov M. Rabkin
David Berlin Micheline Ishay
Nadim Rouhana
George Bisharat Hazem Jamjoum Bruce Ryder
Michael Bloch Naeem Jeenah Stuart Schoenfeld
Mohammed Bouamri Tsvi Kahana Nimer Sultany
Nergis Canefe Orit Kamir Gershon Shafir
Na'ama Carmi David Kretzmer Noora Sharrab
R. Cheran Smadar Lavie Sammy Smooha
Jean d'Aspremont Ian Lustick Jennifer Todd
Uri Davis Michael Lynk Rafeef Ziadah


Yasmeen Abu-Laban

Department of Political Science, University of Alberta | Bio>>

Abigail B. Bakan

Department of Political Studies, Queen's University | Bio>>

Israel/Palestine and Apartheid South Africa: Implications of the Comparison for the "One-state Solution" in the Middle East

Although scholarly and political discussions highlighting the similarities and differences between Israel and Apartheid South Africa as settler-colonies go back many decades, since 2000 there has been a growing literature that draws parallels between the condition of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and the black population under Apartheid South Africa. Perhaps reflecting the inspiration of a post-Apartheid South Africa today, many authors representative of this new generation of work, including llan Pappe, Ghada Kharmi, Virginia Tilley, Salim Vally, and Uri Davis, also are proponents of a "one-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Drawing from the field of comparative politics in political science, this paper systematically assesses the utility of the Apartheid analogy and its implications for a "one-state solution." In light of state practices of differential treatment, citizenship and rights, and land access, we suggest that the analogy is essentially valid. It operates as a useful heuristic tool, and also supports an effective international mobilizing strategy. As we will detail, the comparison has been highlighted by major international political figures, including Bishop Desmond Tutu and United Nations Rapporteur John Dugard, and has attracted considerable media attention in both mainstream and alternative publications. Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid has carried the analogy into popular discourse. Moreover, there is now a significant international social movement that explicitly identifies the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Apartheid South Africa as an effective strategy for raising awareness and support for a movement for Palestinian human rights.

Our analysis does not, however, assume an exact correlation, a perspective consistent with comparative political science. Rather, differences and similarities are brought into sharp relief precisely through the comparative method. In this vein, we note that the notion of "apartheid" in both the South African and Israeli contexts has important implications for a one-state "solution." In particular, from the vantage-point of a wider analytical framework of comparing countries across geographic, political, and historical boundaries the case of Apartheid South Africa and contemporary Israel reflect differences in state ideology, their relationship with other states, and with international interest groups. It will be argued that post-apartheid South Africa, from such a perspective, offers both the promise of transformation and stability within a liberal democratic unified state model, but also the warning signs and limitations, and the need for continued measures to ensure equality and human rights.


Ali Abunimah
Fellow, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights | Bio >>

Challenging the Consensus Favoring the Two-State Model

For decades, but particularly since the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords, a consensus encompassing national leaders, international officials, academics, activists, media and non-governmental organizations, has asserted that the partition of Palestine into Israeli-Jewish and Palestinian states is the only possible solution to an otherwise intractable conflict. With the peace process seemingly moribund, and demographic parity between Israeli Jews and Palestinians looming, it has been increasingly common to hear the view that the two-state solution may no longer be viable. Critics have advanced arguments that a single state throughout historic Palestine is the way forward. While these arguments are gaining more attention, all major actors continue to adhere insistently to the two-state model.

The objectives of this paper are to challenge some of the central claims underpinning the two-state consensus and to critically examine existing models for resolving ethnic conflicts within unitary states with a special focus on how proponents of these models have or have not addressed the question of Palestine. I will argue that while any peaceful solution will be difficult, there is little evidence in existing conflict resolution literature to support the common contention that Palestine-Israel is a better candidate for partition, or a worse candidate for a unitary 'one-state' solution than other deeply conflicted places with which it is sometimes compared (for example Northern Ireland, the former Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka, Cyprus).

I will respond to the common claim that Israeli-Jewish and Palestinian ethno-national identities and solidarities are so fixed and oppositional as to preclude the possibility of radical transformation. I will argue that developments in Northern Ireland suggest that while ethno-national allegiances remain highly stable, the content and meaning that people attribute to them can change in ways that support a new ethos of equality and coexistence that previously seemed anathema.

Finally, I will examine how existing constitutional models and practices in other ethnically divided societies can inform the incipient debate among supporters of a "secular democratic state" versus a "binational state" in Palestine-Israel.


Heribert Adam
Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology, Simon Fraser University | Bio >>

South African Lessons for Israeli/Palestinian Peacemaking

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is analyzed with three interrelated goals: first to improve understanding of the reasons for the elusive solution in the Middle East by contrasting it with successful peacemaking in South Africa; second to critically probe analogies between the two situations and scrutinize whether the frequently used apartheid label fits Israeli policies; third, to draw specific lessons from the SA experience for alternatives in the Middle East. A SA-type Truth Commission is recommended for both Israelis and Palestinians to narrow the cognitive dissonance, to clarify the historical record and bridge the conflicting meta-narratives. Any potential compromise must be based on political literacy of a skeptical constituency in order to gain legitimacy for an accord between leaders.

Analogies with the South African case are increasingly applied to Israel/Palestine for two different purposes: to showcase South Africa as an inspiring model for a negotiated settlement and to label Israel a "colonial settler state" that should be confronted with similar strategies (sanctions, boycott) as applied against the apartheid regime. Both assumptions are problematic, because of the different historical and socio-political contexts. Peacemaking resulted in an inclusive democracy in South Africa, while territorial separation in two sovereign states is widely hailed as the solution in Israel/Palestine. However, with expanding Jewish settlements and the destruction of the Palestinian economy in the strangled occupied territories, either permanent warfare or the SA one state solution becomes the long-term de facto alternative. However, this bi-national common state with an eventual non-Jewish majority is overwhelmingly rejected in Israel as 'demographic suicide'.

Had Mandela been the Palestinian leader, the conflict would have long been resolved, US policy makers assert. This analysis questions such personalized magic in the absence of other South African preconditions for a negotiated settlement. In the asymmetrical power relationship, Israel has the capacity to reach a meaningful compromise, but has yet to prove its willingness. The fragmented Palestinian mainstream has the willingness, but lacks the capacity to initiate a fair settlement.

Marco Allegra

PhD Candidate, Political Science Dept. Turin University |Bio>>

Paolo Napolitano

PhD Candidate, Poltical Science Dept. Turin University |Bio>>

Two states or not two states? That is not the question (yet)

The start of the debate on the so-called “one state solution” represents a welcomed news for scholars, policy-makers and activists dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: after the 1990s - when the course of the Oslo process and the idea of a “two states solution" structured on the UN resolution 242 monopolised the attention of the public opinion - it is time again to reflect on the dynamics of territorial and institutional integration between Israel and the Territories occupied in 1967.
Nevertheless, we fear that such a debate risks to be focused only on the viable specific institutional outcomes - one state or two - missing, in this way, the most ambitious target, that is, understanding the dynamics that originated it. In a moment where the very nature of demos and boundaries in Palestine is difficult to define, and the decision-making process is dangerously kept in balance between impasse and chaos, we suggest that substantial attention should be given to the structural elements of the picture beside the institutional architecture of feasible polities.
The empirical measure of the viability of rival constitutional schemes could easily rests on shaky ground. Firstly, it is easy to point out that neither a two-state nor a one-state solution - and to be honest, no solution at all - seems to be in sight; in our opinion the Oslo process hardly represents both an "almost successful" negotiation and a viable model for the future. Secondly, we believe that each outcome has its own pros and cons - many of them depending on the proponents' preferences and on an arbitrary set of conditions - and, in both alternatives, the best-case scenario would represent an improvement of the actual situation.
We feel that a positive contribution to this debate could be focused on the dynamics more than on the outcomes and its institutional shapes. We will therefore try to present the two states / one state debate underlining what lies underground this discussion; to do so, we will analyze the constituent elements of particular dimensions such as national identity, decision-making process and representation, as well as the interaction among the different levels - international, regional, internal - involved in the discourse of conflict resolution.
For the sake of clarity we will structure our work dividing the debate into three parts: the Palestinian, the Israeli and the International framework. Nevertheless, our aim is not to determine the "Palestinian" or the "Israeli view" on the institutional options, but the constitutive debate at the institutional level, that is, the substrate ("the primordial soup") that enables the discussion about the different options. We will review the discourses elaborated by policy-makers, academics, institutionalized think tanks and party leaders, to discover to what extent the one state / two states debate reveals the hidden logic of the alternatives.


Ariel Babinsky

MA Candidate, Columbia University |Bio>>

Collective Memory and the Two State Solution

My desire to participate in this conference comes from the complicated reality in the region where I used to live, Israel, before I moved to the United States to pursue a Master’s degree at Columbia University.

I believe that to advance in life, one must become familiar with the past. Therefore, I assumed that studying the history of the region would serve as excellent preparation for analyzing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I chose to concentrate on the study and research of diplomatic relations, economic and military collaborations, and conflicts between national movements. But a shift occurred in my field of research. I realized that focusing only on political history could not provide a comprehensive understanding of this conflict. And thus, seeking to fully understand core developments in the region, and at least try to map a model of statehood, I delved into the social and cultural issues related to the heritage, religions and languages of Israel’s/Palestine’s inhabitants.

The roots of the conflict, and therefore those of the problem of mapping a solution, are in the concept of memory and its problematic tie to history. The collective memory of each of the two national communities, as well the collective history it shaped, is formed. For the one-state solution to work we would have to do the impossible - change a memory that created an identity around a narration used by ideology to justify, say, proprietary rights on a land. Any notion of a possible solution is somewhat too hopeful and naive, but the one that offers one state as a future resolution is utopian and unattainable in reality. I will explore, therefore, the only solution that, in my view, has the slight possibility of paving the way to peace and promising security to both the Israeli and the Palestinian communities. This is the two-state option, being the most realistic and least unfeasible solution to the problem and, if implemented appropriately, can end this protracted conflict.


Omar Barghouti

Independent Palestinian Researcher |Bio>>

A Secular Democratic State in Historic Palestine: Reconciling the inalienable rights of the indigenous with the acquired rights of the settlers

A secular, democratic unitary state in British Mandate Palestine is the most just and morally coherent solution to the century-old colonial conflict, primarily because it offers the best hope for reconciling the ostensibly irreconcilable -- the inalienable rights of the indigenous Palestinians, particularly the right to self-determination, and the acquired rights of the colonial settlers to live in peace and security, individually and collectively.

Specifically, the secular democratic state model is the only one among the most discussed alternatives that promises ethical coexistence between the natives and the settlers while laying out a mechanism for ending the three-tiered injustice that Palestinians have suffered from since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 on the ruins of Palestinian society: the occupation and colonization of the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967; the system of institutionalized racial discrimination to which the indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel are subjected to on account of being “non-Jews;” and the persistent denial of the UN-sanctioned rights of the Palestine refugees, especially their right to return to their homes of origin and to reparations. A two state solution theoretically and practically cannot address the second injustice or the third, the core of the question of Palestine. A bi-national solution, also, cannot accommodate the right of return as stipulated in UNGA resolution 194, and it infringes, by definition, the inalienable rights of the indigenous Palestinians on part of their own homeland.

Accepting the settlers as equal citizens and full partners in building and developing a new shared society, as called for in a secular democratic state model, is the most magnanimous offer any indigenous population, oppressed for decades, can present to its oppressors. For such a reality to be attained and sustained, however, the settlers must shed their colonial privileges and character, accepting justice and unmitigated equality. The indigenous, on the other hand, must be ready, after justice has been reached, to forgive and to accept the settlers as equal co-citizens, enjoying normal lives -- neither masters nor slaves.

By addressing the basic requirements of justice, the secular democratic state model has the best chance to ethically de-dichotomize and decolonize, or de-zionize, Palestine, thereby leading to a just and lasting peace that is anchored in international law and universal human rights and is conducive to ethical coexistence. Such a process of non-violent transformation requires a revitalized, democratized Palestinian civil resistance movement with a clear vision for a shared, just society and international support for Palestinian rights and for ending all forms of Zionist apartheid and colonial rule, mainly through boycott, divestment and sanctions, BDS, campaigns.

By emphasizing equal humanity as its most fundamental principle, the secular democratic state promises to transcend national and ethnic dichotomies that now make it nearly impossible to envision reaching any just solution to the most intricate dimensions of the question of Palestine.


Bashir Bashir

Research Fellow in the Gilo Centre for Democracy, Citizenship and Civic Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute| Bio>>

Politics of Reconciliation and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

This proposed paper seeks to explore the relevance of the politics of reconciliation as an approach to conflict resolution in the context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Unlike other mechanisms of conflict resolution, likely to be based on asymmetries and inequalities, reconciliation is not about managing conflicts in terms of restoring order and preserving the existing status quo. Instead, it represents a force that has the potential to generate social and political change based on cooperation, collaboration, and common concern for the society. The proposed paper aspires to identify the particular potential forms and orders that the politics of reconciliation may take in the case of the Palestinian Israeli conflict.

Thus far, the most discussed and celebrated solution for settling this conflict has been the - two states' solution. This solution enjoys considerable support among politicians, scholars and international players and institutions. The principles of reconciliation - which insist on coming to terms with the past through acknowledging historical injustices, offering apology and reparations for causing these injustices, and moving from a politics of hostility and blame to one of friendship and cooperation, coupled with the particular, local irreversible facts on the ground that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank have created - cast serious doubt on the viability of the two states solution. Accordingly, the proposed paper seeks to explore which solution to the broader Israeli Palestinian conflict is more consistent with the politics of reconciliation and its notion of restorative justice. More specifically, the paper aspires to examine whether the politics of reconciliation necessarily require a single and common state for the Palestinians (citizens of Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip) and the Israeli Jews. If so - which form of the one state solution- bi-national state, liberal secular democracy, and multicultural democracy- is most compatible with the politics of reconciliation?


Meron Benvenisti
Bio >>

The Durable Status Quo

The debate over binationalism versus a partition into two states always resurfaces when frustration with the peace process intensifies, never manages to turn into a political discussion and instead remains a provocative academic topic. This is not only because the binational option is viewed by most Israelis as spelling the destruction of their state, and by most Palestinians as the end of their national liberation movement. Mainly, it is because the debate over the two alternatives is a moot argument, the sole value of which is in its very existence, and whose purpose is to obscure the robust and durable nature of the status quo.

A status quo is preserved as long as the forces wishing to preserve it are stronger than those wishing to undermine it and that is the situation today in Israel/Palestine. After more than 40 years, the Israeli governance system known as "the occupation," ensures the Jewish community's total domination without sophisticated planning, but in response to the genetic code of settler society. This status quo, which appears to be chaotic, is much sturdier than the conventional description of the situation as a temporary "military occupation" would indicate. The tensions that prevail in the area under Israeli control are so acute - and the power gap between the Jewish and the Arab communities so decisive - that there is no way to deal with these tensions except by means of military might.

Usually the emphasis is on the political and civil inequality and the denial of collective rights that the model of partition - or, alternatively a binational regime- is supposed to solve. But the greater, and more menacing, inequality is the economic kind that is characteristic of the current situation and will not be remedied by either alternative: the gigantic gap in gross domestic product per capita between Palestinians and Israelis, which is 1:20 in the West Bank and double in the Gaza Strip, as well as the enormous inequality in the use of natural resources (land, water). This gap cannot exist without the force of arms provided so effectively by the Israeli military apparatus, and even most of the Israelis who oppose the "occupation" are unwilling to let go of it, since that would impinge on their accumulated political and material privileges.

This seemingly unstable status quo survives due to the combination of several factors: fragmentation of the Palestinian community and incitement of the fragments against each other; mobilization of the Jewish community into support for the occupation regime, perceived as protecting its very existence; funding the status quo by the "donor nations," which cause corruption among the Palestinian leadership; persuasion of the neighboring states to give priority to bilateral and global interests over Arab ethnic solidarity; success of the propaganda campaign known as "negotiations with the Palestinians," which convinces many that the status quo is temporary and thus they can continue to amuse themselves with theoretical alternatives to "the final-status arrangement"; the silencing of all criticism as an expression of hatred and anti-Semitism; and psychological aversion toward the conclusion that the status quo is durable and will not be easily changed. Instead of continuing with the now quite routine discussion on binationalism versus partition, the long term repercussions (legal, political, economic etc.) of a durable-- rather than a temporary -- status quo should be studied.


Prof. Efrat Ben-Ze'ev

Lecturer, Dept. of Behavioral Science, The Ruppin Academic Center, Fellow, Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace, Hebrew University |Bio>>

Mental Maps of a Contested Territory: Spatial Perceptions of Citizens of Israel—Palestinian Arabs and Jews

Theoretical Background: Our understanding of any given conflict is closely associated with our subjective perceptions of the landscape; the way we imagine its size, its boundaries, its load capacity or its inhabitants. Our perceptions indicate our inclinations and fabrications. Henri Lefebvre described it in the Production of Space as follows: “How many maps, in the descriptive or geographical sense, might be needed to deal exhaustively with a given space, to code and decode all its meanings and contents? It is doubtful whether a finite number can ever be given in answer to this sort of question" ([1974] 1991:85).  Yet we can assume that people who belong to the same social group will produce similar maps, which will reflect their common upbringing. These can be defined as collective mental maps. Mental maps consist of a shared spatial perception established by social institutions such as the school curricula, media coverage, state ceremonies or knowledge acquired through family storytelling. While it is difficult to trace the effect of each of these bodies, the product of their educational processes, namely the mental maps that people carry, are more accessible.

Methodology: This study examines the mental maps of a group of Jewish-Israeli and Palestinian/Arab-Israeli students.  While previous inquiries into mental maps (in the context of the Palestine-Israel conflict) have been few and were often based on quantitative data, this study is anthropological in nature. We begin by collecting map-drawings from roughly 200 students to trace the characteristic partialities. We then choose a sample of students for interviews and focus groups, thus discussing the meaning of the maps that were drawn. 

Main questions and anticipated results: The study will focus on the ways interviewees grasp Israel's boundaries, its neighboring countries, "the Green Line" and the features of "the Occupied Territories," as well as the population in terms of numbers and origin. This study also queries visions of a future state, and specifically a one state or two state solution to the conflict, in light of geographical perceptions.

Our assumption is of an inherent contradiction in the common Israeli stance towards this question, especially among members of the generations born into the post-1967 reality: On the one hand, these Israelis tend to prefer the two state solution (and are quick to overrule the one state option) and, on the other hand, their spatial imagination is of a single geographical entity that stretches between Jordan and the sea. Such a perception, which is an outcome of Israel's educational policies and practices, deems much of the Palestinian population and landscape "white patches" (to use Meron Benvenisti's term). White patches are neither noticeable nor considered as significant. One aim of this study is to understand how these mechanisms of mental obliteration operate.  A pilot study had shown that Palestinian Arabs in Israel know its geography much better and fewer are their "white patches." However, despite the awareness of the Jewish neighbors, they describe a strong sense of alienation. We plan to discuss the relationship between knowledge and alienation, as manifested through geographical interactions.   

This study also questions how these groups envision a one state or two state solutions. We will ask about the population composition of a new entity, of its sensible boundaries, its capital, etc. The answers to these questions can reveal both the extent to which those examined have considered the practicalities of a future settlement and bring forth the visions of these populations.


David Berlin


The Problem with Solutions

The United Nations Partition Plan? The Yigal Alon Plan? The Sharon Plan? The One State Solution? The Two State Solution?  The Status Quo? Oslo? Madrid? Taba? The Saudi Plan?  The Geneva Accord? The Nusseibeh - Ayalon Referendum?  The Lieberman plan?   Each of these alternatives - even those that seem to be no more than   particular blueprints of the same basic design - still come out of the starting gates envisioning a very different set of problems and look down a very different stretch of track. Some blueprints promise to yield results only in the second decade; others can be used to navigate no further than around the next bend or only to that point where we hit the reef which the draftsman somehow forgot to display. And worst of all, each solution creates an artificial chunk of humanity - a chunk of humanity held together by no glue or maybe only by something very watered down.

For example, if we look at the supporters of the Two State Solution, one of the first things we note is that it includes sworn enemies: nihilists who wish to cut up the region for the same reason that the pretend-mother wished King Solomon to cut the baby in two; military generals who want a Palestinian State so that they might better be able to justify the use of napalm; and humanists who are committed to the rights and the dignity of two peoples. Or take the One State Solution: its supporters include Palestinians who believe that One State is the real “Final Solution”, thinkers like Tony Judt who conceive of states in general as anachronisms, and idealists who think we are all brothers and sisters.  Small wonder that none of these camps have achieved the gush of political will so necessary to nail any solution to the table.

Over the past several years I have been working on an alternative to such solution-based approaches. Instead of trying to fit unfittables into boxes that are not boxes, I try to slice the pie according to various ways of understanding the problems giving rise to the conflict.  I highlight five different ways of understanding the conflict:

a) The conflict is a myriad of small problems such as collateral damage in Gaza, trauma in Tel Aviv, etc. (this is the approach of many NGOs);

b) The conflict is part of a much larger narrative, such as the “Clash of Civilizations”, “Orient v. Occident” or “Class Conflict”;

c) The conflict is a result of bad politics and many crimes, follies and misfortunes;

d) The conflict is a chronic illness which sometimes becomes acute; and

e) The conflict is a problem of religion.

Taking this approach helps provide some clarity in relation to the demographical grammar. Some of the scales do fall off the lids when one takes this approach. But moving from a solution-based taxonomy to a problem-based approach has many other perks. But to get to those you will have to come to the session.  


George Bisharat

Professor of Law, Hastings College of the Law, University of California | Bio>>

Between Utopianism and Realism: Evaluating Obstacles to the One and Two State Solutions

The idea of creating a single, democratic state in Israel/Palestine in which all citizens enjoy equal rights has significant moral and political power, as it draws upon notions (particularly that of equality) that are fundamental to democracy. Democracy, in turn, is the form of government that has broadest appeal worldwide, and is particularly championed by and in the West. Opponents of a single state, accordingly, have a difficult time attacking the one state idea on moral and political grounds. Instead, a common criticism is that a single state, while attractive in the abstract, is "utopian" or "unrealistic," while the two-state solution, although imperfect and requiring compromises of principles, is "realistic" and attainable. Israeli political commentator Uri Avnery, in an essay published earlier this year, for example, took such a position.

On the one hand, I concur that prospective solutions to political conflicts should be "realistic," in the sense that they can actually be implemented and will achieve the objective of ending the conflict in question. However, I believe the construction of the one-state solution as "utopian" and the two-state solution as "realistic" establishes a false dichotomy. In fact, the two-state solution typically escapes subjection to the same standard of "realism" as is the one-state solution - this, despite the fact that we have six decades of empirical experience with attempting the partition of Palestine into two states that has brought nothing but continued conflict. What I will try to do, therefore, is to subject both prospective solutions to the same standard, and attempt to analyze the obstacles to each.

My preliminary sense is that both prospective solutions face significant obstacles - but that these obstacles are simply different. One way to articulate the difference between the two prospective solutions is that whereas the two state alternative entails "moving bodies," the one state alternative entails "moving minds."

The principal obstacle to the two-state solution is the Israeli "settlement complex" - by which I mean the actual settlements themselves, their associated physical infrastructure, the settlers, and the military and other official and unofficial institutions that support Israel's colonization of the West Bank. There is no indication that this complex is in any threat of dismantlement; on the contrary, it continues to propel colonization forward, under cover of perpetual negotiations that lead nowhere. Ultimately withdrawal is deterred by the threat that Israeli settlers might violently resist evacuation, and push Israel in the direction of civil war. Yet substantial, if not complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank is necessary for the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

I have argued elsewhere ["Maximizing Rights: the One State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Global Jurist, Volume 8, Issue 2, 2008] that both Palestinians and Israeli Jews have recognized rights of self-determination and sovereignty in Israel/Palestine, and that a one state solution cannot, as a matter of law, be imposed on the two peoples by any outside agent. Rather, the one-state solution can only be legally constituted as an exercise of the sovereign rights of the two peoples. This, obviously, implies that both peoples, at least through their duly designated representatives, must at some point adopt or approve the one state solution.

Thus, the principal (but by no means sole) obstacle to the single state solution is the opposition of the vast majority of Israeli Jews to surrendering the notion of a Jewish state in which Jews constitute a majority of the population and state institutions are tailored to serve Jewish interests first. The challenge here is to craft a strategy that will force Israeli Jews to reevaluate their commitments to an exclusivist state, and encourage their adoption of a truly democratic and egalitarian model in its place. It is hard to imagine that substantial shifts in Israeli public opinion could be effected except through non-violent means, and so I will explore the legal and peaceful means by which such shifts might be encouraged.

Other obstacles to the one state solution, including Palestinian opposition, and the international consensus in support of two states, will also be examined.

While achieving a single state solution may take decades, it is the disposition which offers the most hope for a just and therefore durable peace. Meanwhile, the two-state solution may continue to tantalize the international community, as it has for decades, while, like a desert mirage, continually receding with each step taken in its direction. Ultimately, we cannot know in advance with certainty whether either disposition can be achieved, although we should never underestimate the power of moral ideas to bring about fundamental and seemingly utopian change.


Michael Bloch

PhD Candidate, Political Science Dept. University of Geneva |Bio>>

Theoretical Underpinnings of the Binational State Model

Within the relevant literature, theoretical discussion of the binational state idea without focusing on a specific case is relatively rare and surrounded by a good deal of mutism. When occasionally mentioned though, it is in the most cases considered only a subcategory of the multinational state model or a precarious historical cross on its way to a "normal" Nation-State. I shall argue that the way in which the idea is normalized both in academic and political discourse, - very much in conformity with Michel Foucault's triple decree of prohibition, inexistence, and mutism (1976) -, translates in fact a tendency for partisanship. Hence, the idea is both dispelled in the form of a conceptual non-lieu and of everlasting utopia, subsuming an implicit argument of "it cannot, since it does not exist", or, on the other end of the spectrum, presented as a salvatory clause and only way out of a given conflict, stating that "it does not exist, since it should exist".
On the basis of the aforesaid diagnosis, the core proposition of the paper is to defend the binational state model as a genuine object of scientific inquiry, arguing that, from the theoretical point of view, it should instead be considered as a model in its own right (sui generis). The ultimate aim being the ideal typical discussion of the binational state idea, three operational definitions of binationalism are put forth, distinguishing the binational constellation, the binational setting, and the binational state construction.
As a second step, drawing on Michael Walzer's definition of 'true' and 'false' binationalism (1972), the need for mutual recognition and guarantee of respective sovereign and statefounding rights as an effective power symmetry condition is integrated into to the idealtypus. Consequently to symmetrical institutional power distribution, the ideal typical construction forecloses the possibility of an assimilative state model as the fear of discrimination and domination, including acts precluding the status quo such as colonization, or, in extreme cases, collective and individual disappearance, would tend to be further endorsed by way of reification rather than cleared from people's minds (Axel Honneth, 2007). Hence the need for bottom-up autonomy and a strong third power, that is to mediate legitimate national sovereign veto powers, and, at the same time, to guarantee the effective possibility of peaceful and ideally pre-negotiated separation.
Unfortunately, this ideal typical state, while conferring enhanced viability and stability to the state construction, comes at the expense of the basic democratic principle of equal weight of one's vote and with possible state repression against any other sovereign rights' claims with regard to its territory going beyond minority rights.


Dr. Mohammed Bouamri

Mohammed V University |Bio>>

Why One State Solution is Impossible

Since its establishment in 1948, Israel was and remains a bi- national state for two populations, two communities; the Jews and the Arabs, the Jews who came from the entire world, and the Palestinians who choose, for many reasons, to stay inside the Israeli boarders, in their lands, cities and villages. Israel considered them as Israeli citizens and gave them the Israeli nationality. After sixty years Israel failed, also for many reasons, to become a one state of all its citizens.

When the Zionists leaders from Herzl to Ben Gurion, decided to establish the Jewish state, they had a clear vision about this state and its principles and values, Israel is a Jewish and democratic state ruled by a Zionism ideology. Before 1948, those principles weren’t even negotiable. The Jewish state will be created to end the Jewish Diaspora, and the Zionism will be the official state ideology, also, the democracy will be the only way of ruling.

After 1948, The Zionist leaders succeeded in overcoming all the obstacles and created the Jewish state based on those principles; However, Israel kept a part of the Palestinian population inside Israel, and gave them the Israeli citizenship, they comprised 11% of the entire population of Israel in 1948. The Zionist political and military leaders continued applying the Jewish state principles without taking into consideration the real situation in land.

When Israel accepted the Palestinians as citizens, it was an occasion for the Zionist leaders to reconsider the state principles of the Jewish state to become a state of all its citizens; we could find some of these revisions in the declaration of independence of Israel, and many other measures and laws. As a matter of fact Israel and the Israeli prefer to live in a Jewish state for only the Jewish people, Israel refused to become a really democratic and secular state. After sixty years, Israel failed to change their principals, even after the Arabs become representing 20% of Israeli population, and after the signing of Oslo accord with the PLO and all the negotiations and the peace process with the Palestinian and several Arab states.

This paper aim to explain why one state as a solution of Israeli Palestinian conflict is impossible and remain quit unexpected. This paper will cover three issues; three challenges face Israel to accomplish this solution, the Democratic challenge, the Zionism challenge and the demographic challenge.

I will analyse from the Israeli Arabs experience of co-existence in one state along sixty years, if there’s any chance for a one state solution, if Israel didn’t change its principles for sixty years with its Arab citizens, why should it do it now? I will work on three issues, first, the democracy, is their any chance for Israel to become a real democratic state instead of an Ethnic democracy like Sammy Smooha claim? Second, the Zionism, Is their any chance for Israel to become a post-Zionism state? Third, the demographic challenge, will the Israeli accept one day to become a minority?


Nergis Canefe

Associate Professor, Dept. of Political Science, York University | Bio>>

The Future of Palestinians in Refugee Camps in the Middle East: Citizenship, Belonging and Memory

This paper will examine the long-term living conditions and multi-generational dynamics of Palestinians who were settled in refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. The emphasis will be on their status as denizens, and compare and contrast the strategies of integration employed by Jordan versus permanent exclusion and formalized discrimination used by Lebanese polity. It looks at the politics of belonging and memory as variables that determine Palestinian refugees' sense of being denizens as opposed to citizens and their sense of perpetual statelessness. The paper will also look at the situation of Palestinian migrant workers in the Middle East and Europe and provide a brief examination of diaspora politics within that specific context.

The paper will provide a unique intervention to the debate on the two state peace process as well as the possible constitutional dimensions of a future single state from the lens of Palestinian refugee communities situated outside of Israel and the Occupied Territories. It will examine the critical question of substantive effects of protracted refugee communities on the politics of the one state option. Palestinian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon neither entirely benefit from equal citizenship rights nor have been extended protection regarding their socio-economic well-being for decades. Therefore, they constitute some of the most pronounced embodiment of the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its huge human costs. The paper will take this observation one step further and engage in Palestinian refugee visions of rightful belonging, secure future, and settlement of past injustices at a personal as well as communal and societal levels.


Na'ama Carmi

Adjunct Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Haifa University| Bio>>

Palestinian Return and Resolution of the Israel/Palestine Conflict

There is no doubt that a solution must be found for the Palestinian refugees. However, the Palestinian demand that all refugees be allowed to return to Israel itself has proved to be a major obstacle to a political agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. In the eyes of Israelis of all political persuasions this demand is probably the most loaded issue, and its rejection is one of the few points of consensus that remains among Jewish citizens of Israel.

Many Palestinians argue that return is an individual right that cannot be waived on their behalf by their leaders. But the argument that the right of return is well-based in international law is far from clear-cut. It is doubtful whether such a right derives from article 12.4 of the ICCPR; the Refugee Convention is not relevant; the oft-cited UNGA Res. 194 does not recognize a “right”, let alone create one, besides the fact that it does not have binding status.

More importantly, Israel cannot be under a duty to enable Palestinian return, as it would inevitably result in abrogation of another people's right, both as individuals and as a collective. Neither can one acknowledge the right on a symbolic level, without enabling its implementation, as is sometimes suggested in this context.

Even if the return demand were well-based in law, were the two parties to the conflict to reach an agreement that would be internationally acknowledged, the agreement could abrogate such rights-claims. This was accepted by the UNSG in his plan for Cyprus.

Supporting the demand to return means seeking to abolish the State of Israel as a state where the Jewish people exercises its recognized right to self-determination, and to change the state's character radically. Whether this is the explicit goal of the supporters of Palestinian return or "just" its inevitable outcome, it means asking a state to dismantle itself, and giving up its national character as preferred by most of its citizens. May such a request be legitimately posed to a sovereign state?

A political solution must be found for the Palestinian displaced persons.  One of the many advantages of a two-state solution is the possibility of return to the Palestinian state. 


R. Cheran

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Windsor |Bio>>

Internal Self Determination  as an Alternative to Unitary State:

The Case of Tamils in Sri Lanka

The ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka has a history of sixty years. The first thirty years from 1948 were characterized by mass peaceful agitation coupled with parliamentary politics by the leaders of minority Tamil political parties. The major demand of all the Tamil political parties in this period was a form of federalism that would have accommodated minority aspirations to a significant degree. Failure of the peaceful attempts to engage the political process within Sri Lanka resulted in the emergence of armed struggle spearheaded by the Tamil Tigers over the past thirty years. More than 150,000 people have been killed in the civil war that has ensued.

Tamils are 18 percent of Sri Lanka’s population while the majority Sinhalese form 74 percent of the population. Sri Lanka has been a highly centralized state and any demand for even a minor form of devolution was met with vehement opposition by the majority Sinhalese community and its political leaders. To complicate things further, the Muslim population of Sri Lanka (approximately 7 percent), even though Tamil speaking, began to demand an “autonomous region” within Sri Lanka. Hence the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka has become a tripartite scenario involving Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims. While a single, unified or unitary nation-state model has become untenable and inappropriate for addressing the ethnic issues of Sri Lanka, the difficulty persists as to what kind of model can address the multiple demands of three ethnic groups that claim ownership of and representation in the same territory?

In 2002, Norway facilitated a peace process between the government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers. The Tigers accepted the international request to abandon their demand for a separate Tamil state. As an alternative, with the support of their diaspora intellectuals, the Tigers proposed a unique model for addressing the conflicting and multiple claims of Tamils and Muslims. The alternative was called an Internal Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) based on the creative notion of internal self-government for minority nationalities. This paper elaborates on the notion of internal self-determination and the ISGA model and offers some preliminary observations regarding its potential applicability to the case of Israel/Palestine.


Jean d'Aspremont

Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow, the Amsterdam Centre for International Law, University of Amsterdam |Bio>>

The Incompatibility between Contemporary International Law and the Potential Solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Can contemporary international law accommodate any of the possible solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict? While the settlement of the long-lasting Israeli-palestinian conflict still seems far in sight, this question needs to be addressed with a view of anticipating the possible changes to the current international legal framework that such a settlement could require.

It is uncontested that under modern international Law, Palestine is entitled to self-determination. Even Israel - although it has severely impeded its exercise of that right according to the International Court of Justice - has not questioned its existence. Self-determination is classically understood in this context as the right to create an independent (and democratic) State. International law nonetheless leaves other options to those territories that are considered self-determination units. Indeed, instead of creating an independent State -  i.e. the option that has prevailed during the decolonization period -, it is also possible for the territory concerned to enter into an association with another State or to integrate itself in another State.

The general legal framework thus makes room for various solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as far as Statehood is concerned. In particular, self-determination allows both the one-State and two-State solutions. While these two options certainly fit into contemporary international law, their factual consequences may still prove inconsistent with some of its most fundamental norms. Indeed, even though international law provides for the right of Palestine to determine itself, it does allow all the consequences triggered by the exercise of such a right.

A final agreement that would give the possibility to Palestine to exercise its right to self-determination with a view to creating one single State embodying Israel and the Palestinian territories would entail difficulties pertaining to the political regime of that State. Indeed, it is likely that the new State (or the State continuing that of Israel) will be endowed with discriminatory institutions resting on a (veiled) regime of apartheid. Should Israel eventually espouse a one-State solution - a possibility that still seems far-fetched today -, it is very probable that the structure of the State will not put Israeli and Palestinian citizens on the same footing. Such a discriminatory regime echoing the illegal regime of apartheid in South Africa or South Rhodesia would be at odds with the classical prohibition of apartheid in contemporary international law.

A more classical exercise of self-determination that would lead to the creation of a new State of Palestine besides Israel (the two-State solution) would not be without legal problems either. Such a State would be an aggregation of two main strips of territories, each of them with some enclaves possibly separated by Israeli security zones and former colonies. That the territory of a State be split in several parts is however not unprecedented (e.g. Azerbaijan, Pakistan before the independence of Bangladesh or the short-lived United Arab Republic). More unique is the fracture of the territory - especially in the West Bank - caused by the probable remaining Israeli enclaves. The future State of Palestine would therefore be beset by a two-fold fragmentation. Such a twofold fracture of the Palestinian territory could raise serious doubts about the internal effectivite of the new State. Indeed, it is not certain that the Palestinian government could properly wield its power on such a fragmented territory. This lack of internal effectivite should however not be exaggerated as this can be offset by the external effectiviteprovided by the universal recognition of the new entity. In that sense, the new State, however fragmented and unusual its configuration may be, could still fit in the classical blueprint of Statehood if it enjoys an almost unanimous recognition.

While not be incompatible with the classical criteria of Statehood, the two-State solution would nonetheless trigger severe difficulties with respect to the procedural legal requirements attached to the exercise of the right to self-determination. Indeed, as was indicated by the International Court of Justice in its advisory opinion on Western Sahara, a people entitled to self-determination must be consulted through a binding referendum. This requires that a referendum be organized on the manner in which the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people is exercised, and, in particular, that the two-State solution be accepted by the Palestinian population. In the light of the current political landscape in Palestine, it is not entirely certain that a two-State solution that could be agreed upon by the parties would eventually be backed by the population of Gaza and that of the West Bank. It is not at all improbable that they reject an agreed two-State solution. Likewise, it is not unconceivable that, taken as a separate unit, the population of Gaza or - although this would be less likely - that of the West Bank rejects a final settlement aiming at the creation of two States. This means that realizing the two-state solution would probably come at a price of a denial of the procedural requirements of self-determination and would accordingly be at odds with one of the most fundamental principles of international law.

It is true that the one-State solution could also be rejected by the Palestinian population. This is however far less likely than a rejection of a settlement based on a two-State solution. Such an incompatibility with international law thus seems limited to the two-State solution. One should not exclude a rejection of either solution by the Israel population if it were consulted. However, under international law, only the Palestinian people must be consulted through a binding referendum for the Israeli population is legally not a self-determination unit in this context. Overlooking the opinion expressed by the Israeli population would accordingly not be at odds with any international obligation.

Although self-determination permits either the one-State or two-State solution, it is thus far from certain that contemporary international law is fully amenable to any of the potential solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If this really is the case, legal advisers of all ministries of foreign affairs and international organizations as well as international legal scholars should urgently start to ponder the adaptations to the current international legal framework that the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will require.


Uri Davis

Professor, Institute of Area Studies, Israel Studies Programme, Al-Quds University; Honorary Research Fellow, Middle Eastern& Islamic Studies, University of Durham; Arab & Islamic Studies, University of Exeter |Bio>>

Land, Zionist National Institutions, and the Right of Return of the Palestinian Refugees

The Zionist movement was established at the First Zionist Congress convened in the Swiss city of Basle in 1897.

Assuming as first normative point of departure that in the early debate between the "Spiritual Zionist" school of the Zionist movement led by Ahad ha-Am (Asher Ginsberg) and the "Political Zionist" school of the Zionist movement led by Theodor Herzl, Ahad ha-Am was correct and Herzl was wrong, the Paper aim to consider one aspect underpinning the initial success of "Political Zionism", namely, the historical role of the Zionist "national institutions", notably the World Zionist Organization (WZO), the Jewish Agency for the Land of Israel (JA) and the Jewish National Fund (JNF), in establishing in the country of Palestine some fifty years later the apartheid State of Israel and effectively controlling 93 per cent of its territory.

Assuming as second normative point of departure that the body of all UN resolutions relevant to the question of Palestine taken as a whole represent an important defence of Palestinian rights, and, subject to the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the standards of international law, constitute the best available frame of reference for a just and lasting solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Paper submits that the paradigm of a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is compatible with the above, offering the better prospects for a for a solution to the said conflict that is relatively more compatible with universal values.

In the context of the above, informed by the lifetime work of Salman Abu Sitta and encouraged by the precedent of the anti-apartheid BDS assisted transformation of the apartheid Republic of South Africa into a Republic governed by a democratic constitution, the Paper aims to consider what might happen in a one state model with regards to the land effectively controlled and/or registered in the name of the said Zionist “national institutions”, and further submits that given the variety of models relevant to the implementation of the right of all 1948 Palestine refugees and their descendants to return and to the titles of their vast properties inside the State of Israel, notably their inheritance rights, the implementation of these rights need not result in a single family currently registered as "Jewish" citizens of the apartheid State of Israel being arbitrarily evicted from their homes.


Marc H. Ellis

University Professor, Director, Center for Jewish Studies, Baylor University| Bio>>

Can the Imagined and Real Jewish Civil War Point Beyond the One State/Two State Dichotomy? Unraveling Jewish Particularity as a Path of Solidarity

For some years now the question of a one-state and two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been discussed.  In the past years, the one state solution has been in eclipse; now it has returned.  This return is of great interest, yet at the same time it is fraught with problems.  The problem of the one-state political viability is first and foremost, as no political expert in the world believes in its possibility whether in the near or distant future.  Further problems are also in abundance, including the discourse that attends its assertion.  If there is no possibility of a one-state solution, at least in its democratic formulation where Jews and Palestine form a secular democratic state of equal citizenship and joint sovereignty, then why the discussion?

To ponder a solution that will not become reality is a sign of the frustration about what might have been accomplished - a two-state solution, with Israel and Palestine as two separate and adjoining states – and which most agree now will also not come into being.  Israel has gone way too far in its expulsion of Palestinians, appropriation of Palestinian land and settlement for anything resembling a real two-state solution to become a reality.

But could this political failure lead to something else, at least in the near run, that is an unraveling of the contemporary understanding of Jewish particularity in a way that might create a bridge of solidarity for the future? That bridge needs others, including Palestinians, who in this failure also pursue their own unraveled particularity.  Could unraveled particularities in solidarity with one another become a future for Israel/palestine?


Omar El-Khairy

PhD Candidate, Sociology Department, London School of Economics and Political Science| Bio>>

The Virtualisation of Palestinian Sovereignty: The City State Solution

Despite the growing attention that the one or two state debate is garnering within academic discourse, there is a concurrent trend of increased detachment from the more recent 'facts on the ground'. This is undoubtedly a crucial time to re-explore alternative political futures in the region, and the one state or two state discourse is an insightful starting point. However, in order for it not to be purely self-serving, it is important for this debate to be contextualised within a clearer and more up-to-date genealogy of the occupation's architecture - an architecture that has undergone a number of significant changes in recent years. This paper, therefore, will attempt to disentangle the increasingly three-dimensional nature of the occupation, which has only served to blur the facts of occupation in Israel/Palestine. This will hopefully help lay the foundation for a better discussion on whether a two-state solution or a single constitutional democracy in Israel/Palestine offers the most promising path to future peace and security in the region.

Despite the progress of the one or two state debate into public discourse, the trends at international, national and local levels are leading to a very different reality. Aside from the numerous factors that are oft mentioned - from the unceasing settlement expansion and the construction of the wall in the West Bank to the continued isolation of Gaza - there is a simultaneous project at work with an even more drastic endgame - the city state solution. The ground(s) for such a solution are being cleared, and the necessary parallel processes have not only gathered pace since the Oslo Accords, but have also coincided with more general regional and geo-political strategies in today's 'war on terror'. The focus of this paper will be on the multi-layered attempts of the Quartet and other influential international governmental and non-governmental organisations in implementing such a strategy. Over the last few years there has been an increase in international donor spending on security, but more recently this has started to coincide with attempts to revive the economic and social life in strategically chosen areas - this is particularly noticeable in Jenin and Nablus in the north, Ramallah in the heart of the West Bank, and Bethlehem in the south. For example, a recent joint Israeli-Palestinian Industrial Park is being developed in the North. While in the south, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced a plan for a new industrial zone in Bethlehem.

These are just a few examples of a larger trend, initiated by international governmental and non-governmental actors, and implemented by local governmental and corporate/consumer industries, that is aiming to neutralise spaces and populations through economic and social development. Such processes are therefore drastically reshaping and remapping the central question of Palestinian sovereignty, particularly in the West Bank. This paper is thus an attempt to fundamentally track such contemporary trends in order to be able to articulate more fully alternative political futures in Israel/Palestine.


Dr. Vanessa Farr

Senior Social Development and Gender Advisor, UNDP Programme of Assistance to the People of Palestine |Bio>>

"All the men are terrorists and all the women are victims: The impacts of narrowed gender identities in post-incursion Gaza"

Feminist anti-war theorists have long speculated that the construction of gender identities is central to the normalization of armed violence. In particular, men's identity/ies as warlike need to be constructed in contrast to women's identity/ies as sufferers, while 'women and children' are usually aligned in a process that denies children their right to protection as minors and infantilizes women, refusing them agency as adults. Feminist postcolonial theorists have examined how the added dimension of racial exclusion combines with gender ideologies to disempower subject peoples, while socialist analysis gives insight into how class divisions can also be manipulated to create the optimum conditions for violent social unrest.

The complex impacts of these multiple constructions of identity are little understood in the occupied Palestinian territories. While increasing attention has been paid to how women are socially and politically excluded from decision-making on peace and security, much less work has been done to understand the effects on men of narrowed social construction of their identity, especially in Hamas-controlled Gaza; and little has been said about the combined impacts of class exclusion, racism and sexism in constructing a Palestinian identity that facilitates the ongoing Israeli occupation as well as exacerbating internal political divisions. Drawing on extensive field research conducted in the Gaza Strip, this paper will examine both Israeli and Palestinian manipulation of individual and collective identities in the Gaza Strip during and after the last incursion and speculate on the longitudinal social and political impacts of this process.


Leila Farsakh
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Political Science, University of Massachusetts at Boston | Bio >>

The Economic Underpinnings of the One State Solution in Israel/Palestine

The one state idea as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not new. Brit-Shalom proposed it already in 1920s and 1930s, and the PLO offered its version of it in 1968. However, the idea continues to be largely rejected by the main political forces in Israel and by the international community, whose UN resolution 181 and UNSC resolution 242, made partition, rather than unification, its verdict on what constitutes the basis for a viable solution to the conflict. It was also abandoned by the Palestinians with their Declaration of Independence in 1988 and the initiation of the Oslo peace process with Israel in 1993. Yet, 15 years after Oslo, the Palestinians are not closer to the establishment of a viable independent state. Israeli domination over the West Bank and Gaza deepened rather than ended, as Palestinians became fragmented in economically and politically unsustainable population enclaves controlled by Israeli checkpoints. The failure of the Oslo peace process to provide an acceptable solution to issues of sovereignty, land and refugees which are at the heart of the conflict, has made many Palestinians and Israelis call for abandoning the 2 states solution and opting for a one state structure in Israel/Palestine.

The aim of this paper is analyze the economic underpinning and prospects of a one state solution. It seeks to fill a lacuna in the growing literature on the one state idea which so far has focused on its political and its moral dimensions, without addressing the extent to which economic realities will impinge on its success or failure. The first part of the paper will revisit the economics of the peace process and analyze the extent to which it destroyed the viability of a 2 states solution. It will explore how the Palestinian economy has been rendered incapable of establishing the basis of a viable Palestinian state, while the Israeli economy succeeded to integrate and prosper in the global economy. The second part of the paper will examine the role of key economic factors in helping create the economic conditions for a one state solution in Israel/Palestine. These include the role of trade and the extent to which Israel is interested in trading with the Palestinians, the economic role of Israeli settlements in the West Bank as linkages between the Israeli and Palestinian economies, and the nature of labor market integration occurring and likely to occur across the Green Line. The last part of the paper will analyze the role of the international community in fostering integrative or separatist economic development in the area, given that it is the main trading partner of Israel and largest donor of the Palestinian people.


Chaim Gans

Professor, Faculty of Law, Tel-Aviv University |Bio>>

Ethno-cultural Nationalism, Sub-statist Self-determination, and a Two-State Model for Israel/Palestine

The view that I argued for in my book The Limits of Nationalism is that the right to national self-determination of ethno-cultural nations such as the Jews, the Palestinians, the Serbs, or the Slovaks should in principle be sub-statist rather than statist. Prima facie, this view implies that the solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be one state in which both groups enjoy sub-statist self-government. However, in A Just Zionism: On the Morality of the Jewish State, I argued for a two-state solution, one in which the Jews are the dominant group, and another state in which the Palestinian group is dominant. Nevertheless, I believe that each one of the two groups ought to interpret their right to self-government in the state in which it is the majority group as a sub-statist right. Accepting this position would be of practical significance mainly (but not only) with regard to the Jewish state, in which a significant percentage of Palestinians will continue to reside. In my paper, I will argue for these theses and elaborate on them. I will first explain why, from a moral and constitutional point of view, ethno-cultural nations must interpret their right to self-government as sub-statist. I will then argue for the claim that in the case of the Jews and the Palestinians, this should be implemented in two separate states. Finally, I will briefly explain the practical implications of these positions with regard to the territorial, demographic and institutional realms.


Giulia Daniele

PhD Candidate, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna di Studi Universitari e di Perfezionamento, Pisa, Italy |Bio>>

A Single Israeli-Palestinian Land: Coexisting from a Gender Perspective

Different identities and boundless glances, overwhelming walls and invisible bridges, past tragedies and present permanent conflicts: a deep-rooted inextricability between histories and lives of the two peoples, Palestinians and Israelis, is more and more a reality on the ground. The concept of co-existence1 becomes an essential starting point in the dialogue and recognition process in which both are considered at the same time as enemies and common actors within each national narrative.

This argument represents the necessary preliminary statement to focus on the current debate related to the viability of the two-state or a single state solution, analyzed through a gender-based perspective. Taken cognizance of the need to consider alternative peaceful models to the Israeli Palestinian question2, above all the daily life of both populations has to be explored. In particular, the gender issue and the preservation of women rights assume an emblematic value in order to give voice to the oppression of Palestinian and Israeli women, even though victims on different levels and strengths.

Especially since the beginning of the al-Aqsa Intifadah, the worsening of the conflict has dramatically deteriorated the human rights condition concerning the most vulnerable sectors of the society. In the forty-year occupier/occupied relationship (also described like colonizer/colonized), on the one hand, Palestinian women are victims on two fronts (closely related), subjected both externally to the Israeli military occupation and internally to the traditional patriarchal customs, while on the other, Israeli women, stressed by the myth of the national security, have to face toward a militarized aggressive climate inside their own community.

As an alternative interpretation key for the discussion on the one-state solution, the research paper is based on the hypothesis of the national-political impact on women as gendered beings. Employing the academic literature and the biographical narratives, the study will start from a micro approach, that is the analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian women’s activism, to reach the macro approach of the feasibility of the one-state

Jasmin Habib

Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Waterloo| Bio>>

Israel/Palestine Cyberactivism: Memory, History, Place

This paper addresses some of the novel ways in which members of the Palestinian community have engaged and reclaimed history, employing the Internet to assert an autonomy denied the stability of geography and the continuity of land, as mourned by 

Edward Said in After the Last Sky. While oral histories of Palestine have become much more prevalent and their place in the historiography of Palestine is invaluable, the focus of this paper is on Palestinian-centred activism that has emerged through the globalizing   technologies of the Internet. Neither entirely celebratory of community nor cynical about its contemporary ability to exercise autonomy, the paper presents arguments for appreciating how Palestinian transnational advocacy groups (or what I call TAGs) have used cyberactivism to enter history in ways that are populist as well as political, symbolic as well as strategic, interactive as well as fixed, though not entirely or necessarily dialogical. My purpose is to argue that TAGs reinforce existing feelings of community in a Palestinian diaspora that is dispersed geographically. They give the community a means of expressing hope and of developing ways to continue living together as a community. They also take advantage of the capabilities of information and communication technologies to organize place-based politics and activism. This place-based politics is increasingly coordinated throughout the diaspora, a possibility that also tends to reinforce community. TAGs reterritorialize a national community, strengthening dense social relationships across dispersed spaces by reclaiming history.  My focus is on a number of   transnational Palestinian-centred cyberactivist sites, including alternative media sites, that were designed to generate discussions of the Palestinian narrative in the public sphere including: Al-Awda: The Coalition for the Right to Return, Palestine Remembered, Electronic Intifada and Zochrot.

Writing against what they characterize as Zizek’s “tendentially conservative” politics, Andrew Robinson and Simon Tormey argue that “transformative politics should be theorized ... as a process of transformation, an a-linear, rhizomatic, multiform plurality of resistances, initiatives and, indeed, acts which are sometimes spectacular and carnivalesque, sometimes prefigurative, sometimes subterranean, sometimes rooted in institutional change and reform and, under certain circumstances, directly transformative” (2005, 104-5). This observation moves us away from political sociological treatments of TAGs, shifting the analysis from effect and resource mobilization toward process and praxis. This is the realm of autonomy, where communal identity is renegotiated. Robinson and Tormey observe that, “it is important that radicals invoke ‘utopias.’ Through enacting utopia, we have the ability to bring the “no-where” into the “now-here” (2005, 105). While the Palestinian struggle for the right of return plays itself out against a Zionist backdrop that continues to deny that excursion, TAGs suggest that another world is emerging despite the political regimes that are in place to silence its inheritors. Zochrot and Palestine Remembered are two key sites for observing these creative productions, through which people within historically opposed communities reimagine their boundaries in the name of global justice.

Jeff Halper

Coordinating Director, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions |Bio>>

Working Around the Occupation: Towards a Two State-Plus Approach - A Middle East Economic Confederation

As in a Dr. Seuss book, discussion of possible solutions to the interminable Israeli-Palestinian conflict seem caught in a "one-state/two-state" ditty. If, as I suggest, a genuine two-state solution has been rendered impossible by the sheer magnitude of Israel‘s "facts on the ground" and by a lack of international will to pressure Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories, if a one-state solution is, at least in the immediate future, a practical non-starter, and if we eliminate Israel‘s official "Israel Plus-Palestine Minus" apartheid solution as simply unacceptable, then only one other option remains: a loose regional economic confederation.

A "Two-State Plus" solution, as I call it, this approach envisions a two-stage process in which self-determination is disconnected from economic viability. Less elegant than the others, more complex, more difficult to present in a soundbyte, it is also far more workable. Like the European Union, it preserves a balance between national sovereignty and the freedom to live anywhere within the region. Rather than eliminating the Occupation, it neutralizes it by compensating the Palestinians‘ readiness to compromise on territory with the economic, social and geographic depth afforded by a regional confederation. Not only is a confederational approach just and sustainable, it offers a win-win solution as well.

In contrast to the two-state solution which is limited in scope, technical in conception and unable to address many of the underlying issues of the conflict, the "two-stage" approach emphasizes processes -- of peace-making, trust-building, economic development, the establishment of strong civil societies, and reconciliation leading to a genuine resolution of the conflict. Its outlines are straightforward and transparent.

Stage 1: A Palestinian State Alongside Israel

Recognizing that Palestinian demands for self-determination represent a fundamental element of the conflict, the first stage of the confederational approach provides for the establishment of a Palestinian state. This meets the Palestinians‘ requirements for national sovereignty, political identity and membership in the international community. Statehood, however, does not address the crucial issue of viability. If it were only a state the Palestinians needed, they could have one tomorrow "the mini-state" offered by Barak and Sharon. But the issue is not simply a Palestinian state. Their greatest fear is being locked into that state, into a Bantustan, into a prison-state that cannot possibly address the needs of their people, now or in the future.

The "two-stage" approach offers a way out of this trap, even if the Israeli presence is reduced but not significantly eliminated. The Palestinians might be induced to accept a semi-viable state on something less than the entire Occupied Territories (with or without some territorial swaps) on condition that the international community guarantees the emergence of a regional confederation within a reasonable period of time (five to ten years). So while the first stage, the establishment of a Palestinian state on most of the Occupied Territories (including borders with Jordan, Syria and Egypt) addresses the issue of self-determination, the second stage, a regional confederation, would address that of viability. It would give the Palestinians a regional "depth" in which to meet their long-term social and economic needs.

Stage 2: A Regional Confederation

Following upon the emergence of a Palestinian state, the international community would broker a regional confederation, a loose economic association of Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon reminiscent of the European Community before it became a Union. Over time, Egypt and other countries of the region might join as well.

The key element of this approach is the ability of all members of the confederation to live and work anywhere within the confederation‘s boundaries. That breaks the Palestinians out of their prison. Rather than burdening the small emergent state with responsibilities it cannot possibly fulfill, the confederational approach extends that burden across the entire region. It also addresses the core of the refugee issue, which is individual choice. Palestinians residing within the confederation would have the choice of becoming citizens of the Palestinian state, retaining citizenship in their current countries of residence or leaving the region entirely for a new life abroad. They could choose to return "home" to what is today Israel, but they would do so as Palestinian citizens or citizens of another member state. Israel would be under no obligation to grant them citizenship, just as Israelis living in Palestine (Jews who choose to remain in Ma‘aleh Adumim or Hebron, for example, former "settlers") would retain Israeli citizenship.

This addresses Israeli concerns about the integrity of their state. In such a confederation, even a major influx of Palestinian refugees into Israel would pose no problem. It is not the presence of the refugees themselves that is threatening to Israel. After all, 350,000 foreign workers and an equal number of Russian Christians reside in Israel today. The threat to Israeli sovereignty comes from the possibility of refugees claiming Israeli citizenship. By disconnecting the Right of Return from citizenship, the refugees would realize their political identity through citizenship in a Palestinian state while posing no challenge to Israeli sovereignty, thus enjoying substantive individual justice by living in any part of Palestine/Israel or the wider region they choose. And since a confederational solution does not require the dismantlement of settlements - although they will be integrated - it is not dependent upon "ending the Occupation", the main obstacle to the two-state solution. It will simply neutralize it, rendering all the walls, checkpoints, by-pass roads and segregated cities irrelevant.


Jeff Handmaker

Lecturer in Development, Human Rights and Governance, Institute of Social Studies | Bio>>

Swallowing the Bitter Bill: A Socio-Legal Approach to Resolving the Impasse Between Israel and the Palestinians

Efforts to bring about a just and sustainable peace between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people have failed because of two main reasons. First, these efforts have mostly been conducted outside the realm of international law and human rights, an approach that was insisted upon by the International Court of Justice in its historic Advisory Opinion of July 2004. Second, peacemakers have usually reduced their understanding of the situation to a "conflict", and very often a "religious" one, between two seemingly symmetric groups, ignoring the colonial underpinnings of this confrontation.

The relationship between both parties is, fundamentally, an impasse between conflicting national narratives. The Zionist-Israeli national narrative maintains Jews need exclusive protection in Israel and, for many, in the occupied Palestinian territories as well and are consequently entitled to dominate Palestinians in order to achieve this goal. The Palestinian national narrative maintains an end to colonial domination, the return of confiscated lands and properties and full equality under the law and are consequently entitled to vigorously resist Israel's oppressive policies and its occupation and annexation of their lands and property.

This paper discusses a way out of this impasse and building a single, secular democratic state based on respect for equal rights. The analysis and conclusions in this paper draw, firstly, on state practice as well as substantive jurisprudence and the mechanisms of international law. Secondly, the paper takes this normative / doctrinal approach a stage further, drawing on socio-legal theory and in particular a legal consciousness approach, to better appreciate the social potential - and challenges - of realising a secular democratic state in Israel-Palestine.


Adam Hanieh

Lecturer, Zayed University, Dubai |Bio>>

The Regional Economy and Paths for Statehood in Israel/Palestine

Critical theoretical approaches towards understanding the economy of the West Bank and Gaza Strip typically focus on the relationship between the Israeli and Palestinian economies Notwithstanding the important insights contributed by these analyses, a focus solely on the characteristics of the relationship between the Israeli and Palestinian economies can obfuscate other important theoretical questions. Specifically, by narrowing our analytical lens to the spatial focus of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, we can lose sight of broader regional processes that no less shape the reality of state formation in these areas. The central argument of this paper is that consideration of state formation must be embedded in an analysis of changes in the broader Middle East regional economy.

Following the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the Palestinian economy was tightly circumscribed by the system of movement restrictions that gave Israel control of the flows of commodities and labour power in and out of Palestinian areas. Industrial zones are being established at the edges of these areas where Palestinian labour will operate as an adjunct to the Israeli economy while remaining geographically separate. These developments, however, are situated within a developing economic configuration premised upon deepening regional integration.

This paper demonstrates that economic integration - confirmed by the various bilateral agreements between Israel, Jordan, Egypt as well as the US-backed Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA) - will profoundly shape the character of Palestinian state formation. Contrary to dominant assumptions, these regional agreements severely circumscribe options for Palestinian statehood. The possibilities of either an independent Palestinian state or a democratic, unitary state are being undermined by these regional shifts. This paper concludes with recommendations for how the framework of a single state solution could be conceptualised within an alternative regional arrangement.

Hazem Jamjoum

Communications Officer, Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights | Bio>>

The Rights of Palestinian Refugees between One-State and Two-State Solutions

The main purpose of this paper is to assess the one and two state solution proposals in light of their strengths and weaknesses towards the implementation of the rights of both peoples in general, and particularly the rights of Palestinian refugees.

The first section of the paper begins by mapping the rights of Palestinian refugees under various international legal treaties and mechanisms, including international humanitarian law, human rights law, the law of state succession and UN resolutions. This is followed by an examination of the right to self determination of the Jewish people, often used as the counter-argument to Palestinian refugee rights, with a discussion of how apparently conflicting rights can be weighed under international law.

The second section of the paper provides the historical and political context of these 'conflicting rights', from the initial mass expulsion of Palestinians in the 1948 war to the present day institutionalization of the Israeli apartheid regime.

The third section of the paper is an evaluation of the one-state and two-state solution models in light of the discussion in the first two sections. An outline of each of the two models is given, describing the variants within each of the models, and assessing the positive and negative aspects of each for the implementation of the rights of both peoples, with a focus on Palestinian refugee rights.

A central conclusion of the paper is that the one-state solution would greatly facilitate the implementation of the rights of both peoples as compared with the two-state solution model. A two-state solution, however, does not negate Palestinian refugee rights; that even if two states were to be created on the land of mandate Palestine, the individual and collective rights of Palestinian refugees, and the Israeli and international obligation to ensure the implementation of these rights would remain unchanged.


Naeem Jeenah

Afro-Middle East Centre, PhD Candidate, Dept. of Political Science, University of Witwatersrand | Bio>>

Salim Vally

Senior Researcher, Education Policy Unit, Faculty of Humanities, University of Witwatersrand | Bio>>

The National Question and a future Israeli/Palestinian state and society: Comparisons with South Africa

While the one-state vs two-state debate with regard to Palestine and Israel has waged in earnest since the partitioning of British Mandate Palestine into two entities by UN General Assembly Resolution 181, only recently have protagonists of the debate been adding substance to what both options might practically mean. This paper aims to enhance the discussion on the substance. In particular, it will focus on the challenges to both options that will be posed by the national question.

The "national question" has been debated for decades. While, initially, it was framed as a European question of national self-determination / independence, it later also focussed on national unity / cohesion in Third World liberation struggles. In the context of the post-apartheid South African state and future Palestinian-Israeli statehood, the National Question focuses on issues such as: how the notion of "nation" is constructed, who is regarded as part of the "nation", what role ethnicity, class, language and religion play in defining the nation, the kind of recognition or protection different groups within the new "nation" might seek, and the possibility - in each context - of a unified or cohesive "nation".

The South African struggle against colonialism and apartheid aimed - even across ideologically divergent organisations - to create a new post-apartheid state that would be (using the term used in the Palestinian-Israeli debate) a "one-state solution", which would incorporate all the "homelands" and allow no autonomous or self-governing territory (in any configuration) for any group. That objective was achieved within the framework of a democratic state with equal rights for all citizens and a constitution with a strong bill of rights based on individual rights.

Despite this success, and 14 years after South Africa's first democratic election, a most critical issue around which the anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggles were waged "the national question" has yet to be resolved. The South African constitution ignores the issue. It has also been ignored politically and socio-economically. The results of this non-resolution are increasingly being witnessed and experienced by South Africans - in their daily lives as an ongoing struggle against racism and impoverishment, and as occasional flare-ups that cause the country to take notice before it is again relegated to the backburner in favour of unifying rhetoric. The most recent of these flare-ups was xenophobic violence that consumed parts of the country early in 2008, and which forced many South Africans to ask deep questions about the nature of their state and the notion of a South African nation.

The national question, for South Africa, should have been addressed during the negotiation process preceding its first democratic election. An attempt at resolution at that stage would have placed the problem squarely on the agenda of all political parties and the nation. The euphoria following the election gave a false sense of unity that pushed the question into the far recesses of the nation's consciousness.

Following the South African example, we argue that in the Palestinian-Israeli case, for both models of statehood, a critical issue that will determine success or failure will be the national question. It can be the one question whose non-resolution might spell disaster for either model. This question must be addressed during any "negotiations" for a resolution of the conflict and not left for later. If delayed, the disastrous consequences for Palestinians and Jewish Israelis could plunge the region into a deep and long-lasting morass. The one-state model, we argue, allows greater possibilities for the resolution of the National Question. This paper explores some ways in which the issue might be addressed and resolved - from constitutional options to political solutions.


Islamic Approaches to the Question of Palestine

Naeem Jeenah, Afro-Middle East Centre, PhD Candidate, Dept. of Political Science, University of Witwatersrand | Bio>>

The notion of an Islamic state is not an uncontested one within contemporary Islamic thought. Whether the forms of Islamic governance that characterised the early Prophetic and post-Prophetic Muslim empire resembled the form of nation states as understood today is doubtful. What, then, does it mean to refer to those forms of governance and to use them as justification for an ‘Islamic state’ in the 21st Century? Are comparisons between an ‘Islamic state’ that might / could exist today to the Islamic governance from the 7th Century onwards correct and / or useful, either in terms of defining a new political model or in terms of determining forms of struggle and steps towards achieving such models? What does an ‘Islamic state’ mean and what would it represent?

These questions – and their implications for Israel-Palestine – will constitute one of the focuses of this paper. The paper will argue that, in order for the notion of an ‘Islamic state’ in the 21st Century to bear any resemblance to past models of Islamic governance – particularly those that Islamists deem to be exemplary, such notions must emphasise objectives and values rather than specific political and legislative structures and forms. Any idea of a state that is based on ‘shari’ah’ must focus mainly on the objectives of the shari’ah, and cannot be obsessed with prohibitions and punishments. This is especially true in a multicultural society, the kind of society that was unfamiliar to most of those that ruled the Islamic empire of the past. It is, thus, particularly true in a single state that covers all of British Mandate Palestine and which seeks to present itself as an ‘Islamic state’ that is governed by the ‘shari’ah’, as is argued for by most Islamists.


Micheline Ishay
Professor and Director of the International Human Rights Program, Graduate School of International Studies, University of Denver | Bio>>
David Kretzmer
Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Law, Hebrew University | Bio>>

Reclaiming Human Rights: Alternative Paths to the Israeli Palestinian Conflict.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams,” Eleanor Roosevelt reminds those who have lost faith. Today, among Israelis and Palestinians, there are few who can imagine a hopeful future, as many have lost track of their guiding stars, their dreams drowned in sorrow and anger.  True, the international community remains formally committed to a two-state solution, based on the pre-1967 borders, but there are a growing number of people who doubt the viability of such a solution. Bi-national, non-national, federal or confederative arrangements are appealing for those in search of creative alternatives. However, the obstacles to such arrangements appear no less daunting than those in the way of a two-state solution. Yet those who believe, as we do, both that the two-state solution is an illusion, which serves to perpetuate the present system of occupation, and that a one state solution looks at the moment like a view of utopia, must come up with a third vision of the future.  Our paper is an attempt to base such a vision on universal human rights principles.

The future, we should also remember, belongs to those who confront present realities. In the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt’s visionary and practical human rights approach, this paper makes three related arguments. First, it reaffirms the centrality of universal and comprehensive human rights, as a standard for evaluating any final arrangements. Second, after considering how group and individual rights would be reflected in ideal-type two state and one state solutions, it attempts to reconcile these rights in a hybrid vision that combines elements of both ideal types.  Third, it argues that human rights, in addition to providing guidance toward a durable peace, may also help us assess practical measures to minimize chances of failures during a transition.  A sustainable transition will be critical to any solution, including the hybrid approach that we will explore in this paper. Past approaches to peace, unfortunately, have regarded human rights, at best, as a marginal concern.  Hence, we wish to place human rights in the center.  Central to our thesis are the indivisibility of rights and the notion that protection of economic, social, civil and political rights is a component of security.


Tsvi Kahana
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, Queen's University | Bio >>

A Constitutional Transition to Bi-Nationalism - Practice and Theory

Supposing that the State of Israel decides to follow the idea of bi-national state, what type of constitutional changes will it then have to make? While impossible to answer in full, this paper will explore themes arising from this question, in terms of constitutional theory, constitutional design, and sociology of law.

In terms of constitutional theory, the paper will ask what we should understand the constitution of Israel to be composed of. Much like Canada, Israel does not have one document entitled "the constitution" but, rather, several statutes entitled "Basic Laws" and several other statutes of constitutional importance. The constitutional status of these various laws is not fully clear. However, in order to explore the extent and nature of the required constitutional change, it is first necessary to understand what the constitution is composed of. The paper will introduce the general contours of Israeli constitutional legislation and explore necessary constitutional changes.

In terms of constitutional design, the article will draw on literature on and case studies of transitional justice and constitutional transformation (such as South Africa), examine their applicability to the case of Israel, and point at the necessary pre-conditions for a peaceful constitutional transition into a fully bi-national state.

Finally, in terms of sociology of law, the article will look at the relationship between constitutional change and political change. It is generally accepted that constitutional change (or constitutional crisis) reflects and follows political change (or political crisis) and not the other way around. However, it is also the case that constitutional crisis could lead to political crisis. Having in mind this complex, multi-directional cause and effect relationship, the article will look at the many failed previous attempts to create a constitution for the state of Israel and ask: if Israelis were never able to arrive at a consensus to pass a constitution that would not make any radical changes to the status quo, is it likely that they would ever agree to make constitutional changes as radical as changing the nature of the state?


Orit Kamir
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Hebrew University | Bio >>

Can Two Honor-Based Cultures Unite Under "Human Dignity" or "Equality"?

One aspect of both Israeli and Palestinian societies that is frequently overlooked is that they are both deeply invested in their respective honor norms. The two honor codes differ on some important points (such as the construction of gender roles), while complementing each other in others (most importantly: the feud mentality). Contemporary Israel, defining itself as a Jewish-Democratic state with a large Palestinian minority, has been attempting to modify its honor-based culture by constitutionalizing Human Dignity as its central value. The Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty has been the Bill of Rights since 1992, and is believed by many to have signalled significant transformation, not merely legal, but also social and cultural.

Dignity seems to be an appropriate value for honor-bound societies attempting to restrain their honor mentalities. Post World War II (Western) Germany adopted Dignity as its fundamental value, as did post-apartheid South Africa. Dignity seems to be an appropriate and useful "antidote" for the honor traditions that prevailed in both these countries.

But (Western) Germany is a Nation State, and not a state attempting to unify two distinct ethnic groups, each cherishing its own unique honor codes. In South Africa, the black majority is not an honor-bound culture, and the main honor culture that requires restraining is that of the white minority.

Can a dignity-based constitution work for a state attempting to bring together two ethnic groups, each entrenched in its own honor mentality? Would an equality-based constitution better serve such a goal? Would both groups benefit from a "cooling off" period as independent nation states, in which they would struggle to modify their respective honor cultures?

These are the questions that I would like to examine in the context of the discussion of Israel/Palestine, one state or two. Having researched and analyzed Israel's Jewish honor culture for a decade now, I would like to try to think whether a Jewish-Palestinian state could assist in advancing the "Dignity revolution" that the state of Israel is attempting, thus enabling the joint project, or whether the still predominant Israeli Jewish honor culture would preclude, or at least hamper significantly, the possibility of a two-nation democratic state.


Smadar Lavie

The Hubert H. Humphrey Distinguished Visiting Professor, The Islamic World and the Middle East, International Studies, Macalester College| Bio>>

Two States or One? Mizrahi Feminism, the "Peace Process," and the Struggle for Palestine

A two-state solution, combined with the flat denial of the Palestinians' right of return, is calculated to preserve Israel's Ashkenazi-Zionist hegemony. Yet in the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, Ashkenazi Jews have been a demographic minority since the mid 1980s. Given the Arab-European, Mizrahi-Ashkenazi-Palestinian rifts in the pre-1967 state of Israel and the territories it occupied in 1967, a one-state solution would be an Arab majority solution. From the Mizrahi perspective, the Ashkenazi feminist "peace camp" critique and activism, whether on behalf of the two states solution or even on behalf of the one state are limited, if not counterproductive. Nevertheless, if Mizrahi feminists dare advocate a One State Solution, they would alienate their Right-wing Mizrahi communities and be prevented from carrying out their projects to aid Mizrahi women.

The Israeli regime has nearly finished building the Wall - an integral part of the "two states for two peoples" solution, which has already demonstrated that it has to be maintained by cyclical war rituals and bloodletting. Paradoxically, there is now a vivid comeback of the one-state scenario, Israel/Palestine, as the only reasonable long-term solution for the Question of Palestine. It is estimated that in the one state that might be called Israel/Palestine, 90% of the citizens will be of non-European origin. Half of them, women.

Ian Lustick
Chair, Dept. of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania | Bio >>

Thinking the Unthinkable:  Perhaps There is No Solution

The main argument of "one-staters" is that the "two state" solution for negotiating an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and with it the wider Arab-Israeli conflict, is "passe"-that events have overtaken the prospect of dividing the land between two peoples. The main argument of the "two-staters" is that however great the difficulties of achieving a two state solution, they pale in significance to the obstacles confronting the one state idea. This paper will explore the possibility that both of these options for ending the conflict are passe because each assumes a negotiated solution is itself possible. Prolonged deadly conflicts do end; but usually without negotiations. The hypothesis I will entertain is that political, cultural, and psychological conditions in Israel, among Palestinians, and within the Muslim Middle East more generally are no longer supportive of a negotiated solution. If so that would imply that despite the greater justice that can reasonably be associated with a one state solution, and despite the greater range of support that can now be mobilized for a two state solution, neither can be confidently advanced as a path to peace. One possible conclusion is that generations may be required to incubate another opportunity as promising as the one that was lost in the 1990s, and that the Israeli experiment, in light of the country's nuclear arsenal and opportunities to leave the country enjoyed by its elite, may end with either a bang, a prolonged whimper, or both.


Michael Lynk

Associate Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario| Bio>>

Partition, Federalism and the Future of Israel/Palestine

The immediate post-war era witnessed the end of empire and the winning of independence by most of the colonialized territories in Asia and Africa. A great debate arose over the competing concepts of partition and federalism, particularly in lands with diverse populations. For some countries, partition was proposed and implemented based on the Northern Ireland precedent, such as in India/Pakistan and Israel/Palestine. In Palestine, the 1947 United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) issued a majority and a minority report on its future. The majority report recommended two separate states -- a Jewish and a Palestinian state. The minority report called the majority report's recommendation "impracticable, unworkable and could not possibly provide for two reasonably viable states", and instead proposed a federal state.

Looking at the UNSCOP minority report with fresh eyes more than six decades later, the federal concept articulated by the minority report may be a worthy starting point for imagining a viable future for Israelis and Palestinians. Given the intractable nature of the current trajectory between Israel and the Palestinians, with either the continuation of the present model of dominance or an impoverished Palestinian statelet being the two most likely and undesirable outcomes, a new conversation about the future of Israel/Palestine is necessary. Building upon a concept of fruitful co-existence allows for the greatest expression of rights, the best answer to the shadows of history and for the most stable and hopeful of futures. Federalism is a durable and flexible governance structure that can build around the political accommodations required for different peoples to live together within a single territory.


Michael Mandel
Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University | Bio >>

What Does International Law Have to Say About the Question of One State or Two?

International law has been rather two-faced with the Palestinians. On the one hand, its institutions have often vindicated their claims. The Security Council in numerous binding resolutions, the General Assembly in numerous non-binding ones, the Secretariat in numerous pronouncements and the International Court of Justice in a startlingly comprehensive judgment in Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, have all condemned many of Israel's policies and practices as illegal and invalid. On the other hand, these same institutions have been unwilling or unable to enforce even the clearest of their prescriptions, so that, notwithstanding these vindications, the Palestinian people seem further from self-determination than ever.

So what does international law have to say about the subject of this conference? And why should we care?

On the question of what international law says, this paper will seek to demonstrate that, by now, there is little doubt that the Palestinians have a legal right to insist on the two-state solution, with the border on the Armistice Lines of 1949, also known as the Green Line or the pre- June 1967 borders. The ultimate status of Jerusalem may be open to doubt, but there is no question that the Palestinians have the right to insist that Israel renounce its sovereignty and occupation of the Old City and East Jerusalem and to dismantle its separation barrier.

The question for the status of the one-state solution can be seen to involve two contrasting scenarios. The first involves Israeli compliance with the requirements of international law by a complete withdrawal to the Green Line. In that eventuality, could the Palestinians insist on a one-state solution covering all of Mandatory Palestine? This paper will argue that there is no basis for this in international law. Israel is a member state of the United Nations and thus a legally recognized sovereign state, and sovereignty, within limits, still remains the bed-rock of the international legal system. In fact, the same international law arguments that require Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories entitle it to sovereignty within the Green Line.

There is a strong argument that the Palestinian refugees of the wars of 1948 and 1967 have a legal right to return, with full citizenship, to their places of origin; but even if this should also apply to the descendants of such refugees (a difficult case to make out, where the refugees themselves have died), its real effect on the demographic make-up and future course of the state is extremely speculative.

This scenario also depends on a complete withdrawal by Israel to the Green Line, or to mutually-agreed alternative borders, something which is far from given. A more realistic scenario, or at least one that is worth considering for its implications on the question of this conference, is the refusal of Israel to give up its occupation, either literally, or in the practical sense of refusing to relinquish effective control (as in the case of the Gaza Strip). This paper will argue that, in that scenario, the Palestinians have a powerful international law argument for full citizenship. This is based on the right of self-determination, the crime of apartheid and many other international human rights doctrines and instruments. Naturally, with over 5 million Palestinians living in Israel, the Gaza Strip, Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied West Bank, not to mention millions more in the Palestinian diaspora, this would spell the end of the Jewish majority and the idea of Israel as a Jewish state.

So, this paper will argue, Israel's withdrawal to the Green Line is a peremptory requirement of international law; indeed, failure to comply with it constitutes the supreme international crime of aggression. But, in addition, failure to withdraw carries with it the obligation to concede full citizenship to Palestinians living in the territories annexed by Israel, either de jure or de facto (the paper will also examine variations on this scenario, for example a partial withdrawal that leaves a less than viable Palestinian entity).

The paper will conclude by addressing the question of why anyone should care what international law has to say about this situation, given the demonstrated failure of international law to protect the recognized rights of the Palestinian people for at least sixty years. The paper will argue that, while the concrete effect of international law on international relations is extremely difficult to discern, international law in fact figures heavily in the arguments of both sides to the conflict, as it does in many contemporary conflicts. Each side devotes substantial efforts to defending its position as being in complete harmony with international law. Neither side says international law is irrelevant. Even without answering the theoretically very thorny question of whether they are wasting their time in doing so, it seems beyond question that there is intrinsic value in trying to bring some clarity to this debate. Furthermore, international law arguments can be seen as not only instrumental but also as expressive, either a continuation of the conflict by rational means, or even an end in themselves. Both of these points will be illustrated by the approaches taken by the various sides to case before the International Court of Justice on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.


Mazen Masri

PhD Candidate, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University |Bio>>

The Land Question

As in any other conflict between settlers and natives, control over land has been a central aspect of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. The control over land has occupied a very high level of importance within the Zionist movement. Since its inception, terms such as gea’ulat ha karka “redemption of the land” and kibuoush ha adama, “the occupation of land” which should be done through kibosh ha avoda “occupation of labour” has been used consistently to describe the colonial land policy of the Zionist Movement. The same principles guided the land policies of Israel, both in dealing with its Palestinians citizens, Palestinians refugees, and the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. This could be seen very clearly in the number of laws and military orders that were issued to control the land and prevent restitution to the original owners.

This paper will briefly describe the methods that were used in order to carry out the policy of dispossession. The paper will focus on all of the areas of historic Palestine (Israel within 1967 borders, the West Bank and Gaza Strip), explaining the differences between the legal status of each area and the complications that were created over time.  The paper will argue that as part of a peace settlement, it is crucial that the land question be solved in a manner based on the notions of justice, dignity and equality, and based on principles of reparation. These principles should be upheld whether in a one state model or a two state model, and should be upheld for of all of the affected categories, whether they are refugees, Palestinians in Israel or the occupied Palestinian Territories.

The paper will also discuss some of the main challenges in dealing with the land question in the context of peaceful settlement for the conflict.


Zinaida Miller

Visiting Fellow, Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University |Bio>>

Cautionary Tales of Transitional Justice

In the contemporary moment, it has become impossible to imagine a state transition of any kind without the intervention of a “transitional justice” mechanism to serve the vaunted goals of healing, reconciliation, an end to impunity, and an accounting of past misdeeds. Unsurprisingly, discussion has already begun about the applicability of transitional justice mechanisms to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In my paper, I will offer some suggestions for technical considerations for possible transitional justice mechanisms in Israel/Palestine. I will also, however, attempt to tell a cautionary tale about the illusory temptations and occasional pitfalls of transitional justice in its many incarnations - and particularly with applicability to Israel/Palestine. By examining the possible goals of a transitional justice mechanism in light of either a one-state or two-state resolution to the conflict, I hope to highlight the complex stakes involved in transplanting these institutions to Israel/Palestine in particular.

Transitional justice has come to be associated on an operational level with choices made among a series of institutional approaches to investigating or addressing the downfall of one regime and the ascendance of the next (or the transition from conflict to peace): international or national trials, truth commissions (or other truth-seeking mechanisms), reparations, or administrative purges. Drawing on several country contexts, I focus on four main technical considerations for the construction of a mechanism: (1) the circumstances of transition; (2) institutional mandate; (3) public support/involvement; and (4) the role/format of the final report or judicial decisions. Within and beyond this four factor framework, I offer some reasons for concern with regard to the construction of a transitional justice mechanism for Israel/Palestine. In particular, I argue that transitional justice often becomes entangled with an aspirational discourse of coexistence or reconciliation that -while well-intentioned- can tend to “paper over” underlying inequalities. For example, transitional justice mechanisms have historically failed to take into account issues of structural violence and resource redistribution. There have been concerns in certain country contexts about gender inequity; in other areas, scholars have noted the selective narratives told by truth commissions.

We should include transitional justice among the options as we discuss a future transition in Israel/Palestine. However, we should take for granted neither the necessity of such institutions nor their ability to fulfill their own stated goals. Policymakers and grassroots activists should consider what the stakes of success or failure are. Is a transitional justice mechanism in Israel/Palestine meant to aid in the achievement of short-term, tolerant co-existence among populations? Long-term reconciliation? Legal accountability? Historical revelation? The enactment of a culture of human rights? Will the mechanism raise impossible hopes or become so narrowly focused that the larger context is missed? Whose interests will be served through the establishment of particular sorts of transitional mechanisms?

Transitional justice has become globally “fashionable” in the past twenty years, a seemingly necessary response to any major political transition. Yet pressure by international organizations to formulate mechanisms in particular ways, and common reference to “lessons learned” in other areas should make us question the global implications of the enterprise. Thus, I offer both proposal and critique, suggesting that while past institutions and scholarly literature can offer insights for Israel/Palestine, we should be cautious in our application of these lessons to this particular context.


Dorit Namaan
Professor, Dept. of Film and Media, Queen's University | Bio >>

Re-imagining Israel: Israeli documentarists and the Palestinian Nakba

The Israeli cultural sphere has for the most part aligned itself with general leftist discourse in Israel, that is, it assumed the Palestinian issue can be solved should a Palestinian state be established in the West bank and Gaza strip. Such Israeli discourse avoided any uncomfortable questions about the Nakba, about the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees, and more generally, about the historical fact that the 1967 occupation is but part of the problem. Despite evidence that the Zionist leadership pre 1948 has aspired for control and separation of the communities, the general Israeli historical narrative claims that the 1948 war was imposed on Israel, and with it the inevitable partition. Along those lines, Israeli art and culture rarely addressed the conflict critically until after 1967. The focus of fiction films in particular, has often been on the occupation machine, on militarized conflict, and on Israeli leftist men, encountering Palestinian resistance to the occupation, often while falling for a beautiful Palestinian woman.

At the same time, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Israel's creation in 1998 (and partly as a positive fallout of the Oslo process and the New Historian debate), the term 'the Palestinian Nakba' has entered Israeli discourse and opened up a cultural and media discussion. Indeed, in the past ten years we have seen some tentative gestures towards acknowledging the Palestinian past of what is generally agreed upon as Israel. Two recent novels (Homesick and The Dajani Estate), and a few documentary films (Rt. 181, Happy Birthday Mr. Mograhbi, House, House in Jerusalem, Wadi, Grand Canyon, The Inner Tour) address this past in various ways. These cultural texts attempt to excavate a systematically erased and denied history, and are met with ambivalence and anxiety by the left, while co-opted for a right wing argument ("the whole of Israel is an occupation, not just post 1967 borders"). While the authors of the (highly popular) novels both rejected the idea of the Right of Return in interviews, the filmmakers of the aforementioned films probe the question of justice and the possibility of Israel to exist in its current configuration. The films portray a national, racial and ethnic complex space, which occupies more than singular narratives, and all films ask questions about how to simultaneously contain these multiple existences.

In this presentation I will focus on Rt. 181 (Michel Khleifi and Eyal Sivan) and Happy Birthday Mr. Moghrabi (Avi Mograhbi), especially as they start to tentatively consider a shared geographical space. Since the nation is primarily imagined culturally (Anderson) and since teleological historical narratives are crumbling down (I'd like to use Edward Said's wonderful Beginnings here) the emergence of such texts is actually crucial for the ability of Israelis to conceive of their nation differently, and to consider the axiomatic notion of partition as the best possible resolution paradigm for the conflict. I will examine the different aesthetic choices these filmmakers make in order to carve a space that can accommodate these conflicting and multiple narratives, and suggest a new imagined space.


Dana Olwan

PhD Candidate, Dept. of English, Queen's University| Bio>>

“Anti-racist Student Activism and the One-State Solution”

In the past few years, the one-state solution has become a dominant rhetorical strategy for activists aspiring towards a just solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the process, comparisons are often drawn between the histories of racism, segregation, and the eventual peace-processes that took place in South Africa and Northern Ireland. These comparisons draw practical historical links to an earlier period of resistance to Israeli occupation, but also recognize the extraordinary impediments to any two-state process given the growing depth and breadth of the occupation. As the call for a one-state solution understandably gathers momentum on university campuses, we need to consider the role/s student activists committed to anti-racist principles and politics can play in supporting this solution. Moreover, we need to examine the connections between anti-racist politics, solidarity efforts, and the one-state solution. How, for example, does the discourse of one-state permit student activists to potentially destabilize dominant and powerful myths of a democractic and just Israeli state and society? How can Palestinian solidarity activists use the one-state solution option to make links with indigenous solidarity struggles? And perhaps even more importantly, what are the limits of the one-state discourse for university campus activists in pursuit of anti-racist politics?


Reecia Orzeck

Assistant Pofessor, Dept. of Geography, University of Vermont |Bio>>

Equality, Justice and Possible Models of Statehood

At a conference whose stated goal is to address “the question of whether a two-state solution or a single constitutional democracy in Israel/Palestine offers the most promising path to future peace and security in the region,” this paper’s intervention is to insist that implementing a two-state solution that promotes “democracy” and “human rights” requires more than simply awarding sovereignty to the Palestinians: it requires transforming Israeli law and practice toward its non-Jewish residents. The paper begins by excavating the arguments against ethnic and religious discrimination employed by the leaders of the Jewish Agency for Palestine in their condemnations of the British White Paper of 1939- a document that placed restrictions on Jewish immigration and Jewish land ownership in Palestine. The paper then discusses two types of discrimination occurring in present-day Israel and the challenges to them.  The first is the legal discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel with respect to land ownership; the second is the practical discrimination against East Jerusalem residents with respect to municipal infrastructure and services.  Not surprisingly, the rhetoric of those working to rectify these injustices bears a strong resemblance to the Yishuv leadership’s demands for equality and justice during the period of the White Paper.  Both groups appeal(ed) to the political and legal authorities of their time to see the promise of liberalism realized. Insofar as the Israeli state claims to adhere to the precepts of liberalism, none of the official justifications of discrimination can successfully answer its critics. This paper concludes by arguing that final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians present us with a rare opportunity to insist on the implementation of the laws and practices that fulfill the highest standard of justice, whether within two states or within one, and that this opportunity should not be forsaken.


Yoav Peled
Professor, Dept. of Political Science, Tel-Aviv University | Bio >>

One State or Two? The View from Transitional Justice

Transitional justice aims at providing moral and judicial guidelines for the transition from "barbaric" societies, that do not respect human rights, to "minimally decent" ones, that do (Rajeev Bhargava; "minimally decent" because for Bhargava no capitalist society can be truly decent.) It assigns the greatest moral value to the transition itself, foregoing punitive and compensatory measures that are deemed essential by other conceptions of justice. Because successful transition is the highest moral good for transitional justice, it must take into account the real relations of power between the two sides, as well as their core interests and values. (In this sense it is a very "political" conception of justice.) Thus, in South Africa it was realized that equal citizenship and some sort of historical reckoning were essential requirements for Blacks, while immunity from prosecution for state crimes and no redistribution of wealth were essential for Whites. The result was majority rule and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Can a similar mechanism be found in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? This is the most crucial question that needs to be discussed in trying to evaluate the chances for a peaceful resolution of that conflict. In this paper I argue that both the two-state option that guided the Oslo process, and the one-state option, that has become increasingly popular since the demise of that process, are deficient from the perspective of transitional justice.

The Oslo process faltered, for various reasons, long before it reached the issue of the right of return of the Palestinian refugees. But, if for no other reason, it would have faltered over that issue. For the Palestinians, Israeli recognition of the right of return is an essential requirement for reconciliation, while for the vast majority of Israeli Jews, including the staunchest devotees of the Oslo process, it is a taboo. The Geneva Understanding, the most far-reaching bilateral document outlining the two-state solution, denies the Palestinian refugees the right of return to Israel and has therefore no legitimacy among the Palestinians.

The one-state solution is in reality a misnomer: Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories in effect constitute one state already, but it is a state where a very large minority of the inhabitants is denied all citizenship rights (and others are accorded less than equal rights, to various degrees). The issue, therefore, is one of equal citizenship, not of constituting one state. The problem of effecting a South Africa- style solution of one-person-one-vote in this case, is that for the vast majority of Israeli Jews such an arrangement would mean the end of the Jewish state, and they would rather fight (or emigrate) than accept this solution. This political reality cannot be ignored or circumvented by clever legal formulae, so from the point of view of transitional justice this is no option at all.

What transitional justice would mandate in this situation is a solution that could reconcile the Palestinians' right, and just demand, to live as free and equal citizens in their own state, with the fear of Israeli Jews of being overwhelmed demographically by the Palestinians. I would argue that the Northern Irish model may provide useful guidelines for finding such a solution. This model is based on three key elements: consociation, the constitutionally-grounded involvement of the two sides' "motherlands," and a larger political formation - the EU - encompassing both sides. Applied to Palestine/Israel, this could mean maintaining a unitary political formation west of the Jordan, with a complex form of sovereignty lying in a body composed of Palestinians, Israeli Jews, the Arab League, and the US, with very close association to the EU.


Mazin Qumsiyeh

Professor, Bethlehem University | Bio>>

One State: Durable and Achievable Peace

Those who think the conflict in Israel/Palestine is intractable have failed to read history. Britain and France fought many wars, including the 100-year war (it actually lasted over 120 years). The Berlin wall tumbled, Europe is being unified, and apartheid South Africa is no more. Palestine is actually one of the few places left where military occupation and colonization has persisted in its active form into the 21st century. Many believe it is still possible to move forward with a Jewish state on 78 per cent of historic Palestine and a new state of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza (occupied in 1967, making up 22 per cent). Yet, among Israelis and Palestinians, there is a growing and justified disillusionment with the two-state "solution" as a viable means of stabilizing the situation let alone achieving a long lasting peace.

Israeli Jews, after a number of immigration waves, number 5 million, and Palestinians within the Green Line number 1.3 million. In the proposed Palestinian "state" in the WBG (including East Jerusalem) over 3.5 million Palestinians live intertwined with the nearly 0.5 million settlers. Thus, without refugees allowed to return, the number of non-Jews is roughly at parity with Jews in the area of 84,000 square kilometers which now has an Israeli infrastructure imposed on top of a Palestinian remaining cantons throughout the country. Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere make up an additional 4 million people.

With the WBG already crowded with refugees (population density is four times that of Israel), will it be possible to bring more refugees into this 22 per cent of historic Palestine? And what does the "Jewish character" of the state mean? Does that include maintaining laws that Amnesty International labeled as highly discriminatory against non-Jewish citizens? Would security needs of Israeli Jews be served by the envisioned two-state solution (unequal, unbalanced, with what Dr Jeff Halper called a "matrix of control")? In this paper, we will demonstrate that a partition into two sovereign and viable states is rendered impossible by the inability to separate natural resources, by Israel's security demands, by population and economic realities, and on moral and psychological grounds. The incredible economic possibilities in multiethnic, multireligious and multicultural societies with basic human rights protected are now internationally recognized. By thinking outside the boxes of tribalism and ideological nationalism, we start to consider the incredible opportunity offered by coexistence. In the age of weapons of mass destruction, only justice and equality are guarantees of safety and security. Inhabitants would do well to divert resources from war and fences to peaceful coexistence and development in a pluralistic democracy, with equality and human rights for all. Considering the ingenuity and high level of education of Israelis and Palestinians, the country could become a technology and service Mecca of the Middle East. It can become a bridge between the West and the Orient. All other alternatives have already proven to be dismal failures.


Dan Rabinowitz

Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology, Tel-Aviv University and Central European University|Bio>>

The Third Option: A Shari'a State?

The military conflict in Gaza in January 2009 and, in particular the political negotiations that followed in its aftermath, demonstrated clearly that Hamas is a movement that aptly marries long term vision with mid term strategy and short term tactics. The conflict suggests that what Hamas desired - and to a large extent attained - was to create a new reality whereby Gaza’s effective daily contact with and dependence on Israel is considerably reduced. This goes hand in hand with another (temporary) trajectory which interests Hamas: reducing the feasibility and potential for tightening contacts and cooperation with the West Bank, thus leaving Egypt as the sole potential corridor for commerce, finance and political links of Gaza with the outer world. These dynamic are clear reflections of Hamas’s chief political objective in the immediate run: to proactively construct as many obstacles on the path of a two state solution or a confederacy with Israel as a separate entity.

This reading of Hamas and its strategy suggests that the debate between those still aspiring to a viable independent Palestinian state alongside Israel and those subscribing to a unitary secular state in Palestine/Israel must now accommodate a third political program: one with a long term vision of one Shari’a state in the whole of Palestine, at work in the immediate run to buttress its foundations in the Gaza strip. This could of course have significant implications on prospects of reconciliation as seen and acted on by the USA under Obama.


Yakov M. Rabkin

Professor, Dept. of History, University of Montreal |Bio>>

Evolution of Jewish Identities and Its Effects on the One-State Solution

The fate of the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean is affected not only by political and military considerations, but also the evolving role of the state of Israel as a source Jewish identity. This paper will review different Jewish attitudes towards the Zionist project and, later, the Zionist state. It will show how and why the religious nationalist right replaced the secular left as the bulwark of the Zionist enterprise, and how this transformation extended support for the state of Israel as a Jewish state beyond the political Zionist circles to include some traditionally non- and even anti-Zionist groups of Jews. On the other hand, it will look at processes among secular Jews, for many of whom Israel as a Zionist state has become the only remaining pillar of their Jewishness. Finally, the paper will examine the question as whether Judaism constitutes an obstacle to the one-state solution.


Nadim Rouhana

Professor, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University | Bio>>

Beyond the One State--Two States Debate

This paper examines the compatibility of two-state solution with basic concepts of reconciliation in protracted social conflict: seeking just solution -- at least in terms of attainable justice; facing historic responsibilities; examining history and historic truths; and achieving political and constitutional restructuring that guarantees democratic governance. It will be argued that reconciliation is the best safeguard for long lasting peaceful relations between Israelis and Palestinians and that for reconciliation to be achieved the four components mentioned here should be addressed.

The paper will then examine if a two-state solution responds to these components. In order to do so, the paper will take as a point of departure a two state-solution based on “political realism” as broadly defined as possible. So it will be based on a solution that falls between the Clinton parameters offered in December 2000 and the Geneva Accord reached by a group of Palestinians and left-wing Israelis in 2003. The paper will show why such a two state settlement falls short of achieving reconciliation and why it cannot last in the face of a possible change in power relations in the region. The paper will then define what vision is compatible with reconciliation and show why the One State - Two States debate limits the possibilities for defining such a vision.


Bruce Ryder

Associate Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University| Bio>>

Ivan Rand, UNSCOP and Federal Proposals in Israel / Palestine

The Canadian member of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), Justice Ivan Rand, is widely acknowledged to have played a leading role in forging the majority report recommending partition of Mandatory Palestine into Jewish and Palestinian states. The UNSCOP minority report, supported by the members of 3 states, recommended a binational federal state. The majority report became the basis of the UN partition plan adopted by the General Assembly in Resolution 181 in November 1947. Rand was honoured by Zionist organizations until his death in 1969, and remains celebrated by Zionists for playing a leading role in the founding of Israel.

A close look at UNSCOP’s deliberations and report reveals that it is a mistake to understand the committee as having split between the opposing poles of partition and federalism. The majority and minority reports proposed similar arrangements in a confederation and federation, respectively. Rand’s contributions to UNSCOP contained many direct textual echoes of the Canadian constitution. He argued that the difference in substance between the majority’s confederal proposal, and the minority’s federal proposal, was modest. In either case, Rand wrote, “Palestine will remain one land in which Semitic ideals may pass into realization.”

No pragmatic peace proposal then, or now, can ignore the need for governance structures to address issues of common concern. From the perspectives of functional pragmatism, justice or realpolitik, federalism / confederalism is a necessary component of any model that promises an enduring and viable settlement in Israel/Palestine. Federal or confederal models can accommodate the equal rights to self-determination of Jews and Palestinians and address regional isues that span and transcend the boundaries of Israel/Palestine. Con/federalism offers a spectrum of flexible possibilities that can be tailored to respond over time to the shifting and sometimes paradoxical needs to both accommodate and defuse national aspirations and identities. Not all models of con/federalism promise a just and lasting peace: integrationist and transformative models should be favoured over those seeking to promote ethnic segregation and to preserve existing power differentials.

The division of contemporary debates around the poles of one state or two states is not helpful because a viable, just resolution will inhabit the space between them. The 1947 partition vs binational federation debate, like the contemporary one state vs two states debate, fails to highlight the most salient issues. Whether a peace agreement takes the form of a federation or a confederation of federations – that is, “one state or two” – is less important than that it take place on the basis of a recognition of equal collective and individual rights.

Moreoever, the “one state solution”, for many Jewish Israelis, and many diaspora Jews, announces a new “final solution”, particularly in the “one state for all of its citizens” version that includes no recognition of national rights. The deep existential fears of Israeli Jews, grounded in their history of persecution and catastrophe, prevent them from relinquishing a majority Jewish state by consenting to be a minority, eventually, in a single state. Similar memories of catastrophe and fears of continuing domination by the Israelis haunt the Palestinian imagination. Uniting a coalition of progressive Israelis and Palestinians around one of the poles of one state or two states is not a promising task in the current circumstances when the areas of convergence on both sides around either option are so small. A coalition of progressive Israelis and Palestinians, and of their diasporas and supporters around the world, is more likely to form around a call for equal national and individual rights in a federal or confederal state.


Stuart Schoenfeld
Chair, Department of Sociology, Glendon College, York University | bio>>

Nature Knows No Boundaries?

The Eastern Mediterranean will continue to have increasing levels of environmental stress, which will lower the quality of life for all its inhabitants.  The most recent report of the IPCC forecasts that this already dry region will become dryer. Regardless of political arrangements, increasing population and consumption demands put pressure on land, food, natural areas, energy demand, sewage facilities, and of course water.  A few examples - the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, the sewage lagoon in Gaza, highway construction north of Jerusalem - illustrate how serious the situation is. Steps towards either a one-state or two-state peace will have to consider how to deal realistically with this increasingly critical situation.

Advocates of two state solutions will have to confront existing inequities in control over resources.  One state advocates will have to confront the very different discourses about the environment in each national group, and implications of those different discourses for conflict over the environment as a continuing source of intense internal hostilities.  Projections of a continuing status quo will incorporate into their dire prediction the mounting environmental costs of continuing hostilities and lack of coordinated environmental policy.  Some idea of political responses to the environmental crisis acceptable to both sides might be found in the work of organizations that bring Palestinians and Israelis together to examine environmental issues and develop regional environmental policy.  

Friends of the Earth Middle East, the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and the Environmental unit of the Israel- Palestinian Centre for Research and Information survived the collapse of the cooperative initiatives that took place after the outbreak of the Second Intifada.  These environmental “orphans of Oslo,” through the proposals for cooperation they have developed and the working relationships they model, may hold some lessons for establishing political arrangements.  These lessons involve to some extent structural arrangements - such as proposals for regional integrated water management - but even more so, highlight process challenges involved in bringing Palestinians and Israelis into joint or coordinated activities of any kind.  Mistrust, fear, and contradictory narratives can be confronted.  Joint cooperative activities are possible but require the investment of considerable resources into process in order to be successful.


Gershon Shafir
Director, Institute for International, Comparative and Area Studies, University of California at San Diego | Bio >>

Capitalist Binationalism in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

A little known and never carefully analyzed response to the outbreak of the Arab Revolt in April 1936 was a binationalist blueprint offered by a coterie of Jewish leaders in Palestine. They are referred to in Ben Gurion's memoirs as "The Five," intimating that they undertook this initiative strictly as individuals. In fact, in contrast to most other Mandatory binationalist programs which were put forth by socialist or liberal bodies and individuals, this blueprint bears the hallmark of the leading entrepreneurs in the Yishuv who sought Middle Eastern markets and, consequently, economic cooperation with the Palestinians. Their proposal floundered on the opposition of the Labor Zionist movement and the indifference of the Palestinian leadership. The paper relies on hitherto unused archival sources and its goal is to examine the circumstances for the conception of binationalist blueprints and their political as well as economic aspects.


Noora Sharrab

MA Candidate, Political Science Dept., York University |Bio>>

A Critical Look at the Middle East Peace Process

One of the most contentious issues in the international community has been obtaining peace in the Middle East. Peace through peaceful means between equals; in which it embraces a freedom and equality for both peoples, not just one. On August 20, 1993, the Oslo Accords, was inadequate and ineffective in bringing about a peace for over 50 years of conflict between Palestinian and Israelis. In order to further understand the dynamics and provide a raison d’être to why Oslo failed, it is fundamental that we first address the commonalities and dynamics that surround the issues within the conflict. In doing so, this paper will first provide a conceptual framework which will facilitate in our understanding of the dynamics of peace within conflict resolution research. By examining the failures of the Oslo Accords and looking at all the variables within the conflict that affects the attempts towards peace, this paper will identify the ways in which peace is structured in the Palestinian- Israeli conflict and how this has impacted past, present and future attempts at peace. Secondly, in addressing the failures of Oslo, this paper will also analyze how the affects of globalization provided a motivation towards developing peace through systematic changes and transformations of the world system within the conflict. In essence, Oslo as a framework or agreement for peace ultimately failed, to a large extent, because it neglected to be an inclusive solution that incorporated the root causes of the conflict. Essentially, and most importantly, this paper will concentrate on the lack of equality presented in the negotiating tables, as it failed to address the root causes of violence – such as sovereignty, security, borders, right of return of refugees, settlements, and water control. Instead, the peace process was overwhelmed by rhetorical statements held by officials and media reports that were unknown and unfamiliar to the actual documents of the peace agreements. As a result, in an attempt towards searching for peace in one of the most deep-rooted conflicts in the Middle East, Oslo as a main formula or principle, provided an insufficient solution to the region, but was it enough to set the ground work for future talks between Palestinians and Israelis?

Effectively, this paper proclaims that any means of peace, whether it be one state or two, be initiated with an end to propaganda and a culture of violence and racism. Inevitably bringing about a peace that is not based on exploitation, annexation, or the continuing occupation that perpetuates terror and hatred unto both fragile societies. Previous peace efforts illustrate the need and urge to address some of the most fundamental issues about the Israeli-Palestinian Issue. Using the theoretical models provided in peace research, negotiations and peace agreements can only be effective if both parties adhere to the agreements; noting that the subordination in the midst of negotiations results in the inefficacy of a resolution. There needs to be an assertion in means of understanding and coherence towards each other in order to bypass many cultural, traditional and historical biases of one another. By using globalization as an incentive towards peace and maintaining and abiding by the fundamental morals and ethics through a neutral international observer, peace within Israel and Palestine can be achieved.



Sammy Smooha

Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Haifa | Bio >>

The Position on Two-State Solution of the Palestinian-Arab and Jewish Citizens in Israel

The claim in favor of one-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can considerably be strengthened if the Israeli segment of the Palestinian people (1.1 million, one-seventh of the world Palestinian population, 16.5% of Israel's citizen population) rejects Israel and its minority status in it and if Israeli Jews are amenable to renouncing their commitment to Jewish state.

National public opinion surveys of Arabs and Jews over many years demonstrate that this is not the case and both sides evidently prefer a two-state solution. To cite just a few highlights from the Fall 2007 surveys of the Index of Arab-Jewish Relations in Israel, 83.8% of the Arabs and 70.4% of the Jews favored the settlement of "two states to two peoples", 79.4% and 43.1% respectively agreed that "the pre-1967 boundaries will be the boundaries between the two states with an option of land swaps", 60.7% and 59.7% consented to the idea that "the Palestinian refugees will receive compensation and be allowed to return to the state of Palestine only", 72.2% and 50.8% thought that "after the full implementation of these principles, all the claims of both sides will end and the conflict between them will be over", and 52.5% and 73.1% reasoned that "Israel should integrate into the Western world more than into the Arab and Moslem states in the region". Arab citizens also accept the Israeli Jews' right to self-determination and Israel's legitimacy: 70.0% concurred that "Jews in Israel are a people who have a right to a state", 77.5% maintained that "Israel has a right to exist", and 63.0% held that "If there were a referendum regarding a constitution that defines Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and guarantees Arabs full civil rights, I would support it". Jews endorse Arab minority rights but insist on keeping Israel Jewish and Zionist: 76.3% agreed that "Arab citizens have a right to live in the state as a minority with full civil rights", 90.1% approved that "Israel has the right to be the state of all the Jews in the world, and not only the Jews of Israel", 93.9% reckoned that "it is justified that Israel keeps a Jewish majority", and 89.5% asserted that "the Jews should have the right of control over the state".

Arab and Jewish attitudes should be put in broader context and are subject for change with substantive change of context. The context for the Israeli Arab attitudes is Palestinian-Arab nationalism and world public opinion which call for a Palestinian state side by side with Israel, growing realism that Israel is here to stay, and increasing awareness of the vital benefits of life, even as a minority, in Israel as an independent state (the gains of a modern way of life, a welfare state, a democracy, and a protection against Islamist rule). These strong stakes in the system led the Israeli Palestinian elites to issue in 2006-2007 four documents stating their vision of a two-state solution and demanding that pre-1967 Israel become a binational state. Yet, Arab attitude change is conceivable if the broader contexts change because Arabs have clear interest in getting rid of their minority status in a Jewish-Zionist state. On the other hand, Jewish attitudes are anchored in Zionism that enshrines a sovereign Jewish state, in the international community' legitimacy and support of a Jewish state, in the belief in Israel's survival and vitality, in the great benefits bestowed upon Jews by the Jewish state, in the fear of losses of Jewish gains, and in the danger of instability of a single-binational state. In Jewish eyes, retention of the Jewish state undoubtedly outweighs the supreme Jewish values of Greater Israel (Eretz Yisrael), democracy, peace, and even national security. The shift of public opinion among Jews, after the year 2000, from a minority to a majority supporting a two-state solution, confirms the decided precedence of a single, separate and smaller Jewish nation-state alongside a Palestinian nation-state.

It is concluded that Israelis, first and foremost Jews but also Arabs, hold strong attitudes, firmly grounded in deep contexts and are resistant to change, that reject the one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.


Nimer Sultany

SJD candidate, Harvard Law School| Bio>>

Justice and the Indeterminacy of Constitutional Design

1. Fetishism of Sovereignty

Israeli and Palestinian conventional "peace camp" celebrate 1967 as mutable, while 1948 remains outside serious deliberation. In other words, 1967 is categorized as "political" while 1948 is categorized as "a-historical"; 1967 is the variable, 1948 is the constant. Nevertheless, 1967 is no less mystified than 1948. In addition, both camps see sovereignty as their ultimate end: "Jewish state", "two-state solution", "one-state", etc.

I will argue that 1967 and 1948 are not so different; both are variables. "Reality" and "History" are human productions. There is nothing natural, immutable or deterministic about them. In this sense, both 1948 and 1967 are barriers created by human beings, and as such can be removed and recreated. Moreover, statehood should be perceived as a means to an end and not necessarily an end in itself. The question is what ends it serves eventually.

2. What's your Conception of Justice?

Any constitutional design (one state, bi-national state, two-state, etc.) will have to be judged on its merits, mainly: the desirability of the conception of justice it endorses or expresses, and the likelihood to promote that conception of justice (for instance: does one-state promote restorative justice? Does bi-nationalism promote redistributive justice?). Thus, one-state, two-state, bi-national visions as slogans lack any particularity and can have multiple institutional expressions. Hence these visions should be concretized by their supporters before judged.

3. The Promise of Concreteness?

Yet, this concreteness does not promise much. The constitutional design as such will produce no determinate results. Lessons from comparative constitutionalism teach us that same structures/procedures can produce different results in different places and times; and different structures/procedures might produce similar results in different places and times.

4. Is Justice Possible?

Finally, I will argue that current conceptions and examples of transitional justice, in which an authoritarian state is transformed into a liberal democracy, do not provide adequate answers to problems of injustice. South Africa, as an example, endorsed the one-state solution (while arguably representing neither restorative justice nor redistributive one) and it is questionable if the injustice was seriously addressed. The reformist case-by-case application of impersonal rules by supposedly "neutral" arbiters within a system that is institutionally "indifferent" to citizens' conceptions of the good is unable to address atrocities on a massive scale.


Jennifer Todd

Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin, Director, Institute of British-Irish Studies |Bio>>

One State or Two? Anticipating Opportunities for and Obstacles to Identity Shift

Institutions and constitutions are only as good as the way they function. Communal coordination patterns can ‘convert’ formally democratic institutions into instruments of ethno-religious dominance, or institutionalised ethno-religious quotas into ways of overcoming divisions. Does a two-state settlement in Israel/Palestine eternalise division, or create the high fences that make for good neighbours? Does a one-state settlement allow a blurring of boundaries or will it re-ignite conflict and violence? Much of the literature on appropriate forms of constitutional and institutional settlements (in Israel/Palestine and more generally) focuses on security safeguards, protection of rights and fair distribution of resources (cultural, political and economic). But there is another set of issues which arise even when institutions meet the best security, rights and equality standards. How will those institutions be taken by the once-opposed populations? Will they encourage individuals to move away from oppositional understandings, particularistic values, identities which demean their opponents? If not, the best of institutions can reproduce conflict, and the implementation of the best of agreements be delayed until it is too late. My paper focuses on processes of identity-shift (including change of understandings and values associated with ethno-national and ethno-religious distinction), and the obstacles to it.

The paper uses the conclusions of recently completed comparative research to sketch some typical trajectories of identity change away from opposition and the obstacles that individuals face negotiating these processes of change. The case looked at in most detail is contemporary Northern Ireland - where there is presently institutional support and incentives for such change. Despite the very different international and regional context, the Northern Ireland example provides a useful comparison and model for discussion of settlement in Israel/Palestine. First, the ethno-religious and political diversity and complexity within each of the opposed populations, and thus the potential for identity shift, is comparable. Second, the 1998 settlement structure in Northern Ireland has aspects of a one state settlement (Protestants and Catholics, unionists and nationalists co-govern on the basis of equality in Northern Ireland) and aspects of a two state settlement (the 1920 partition of the island remains, albeit with clear democratic procedures whereby unification could occur). By identifying both incentives and obstacles to change away from opposition, I will attempt to move to a more precise assessment of conditions which favour success or failure of the one/two state solutions in Israel/Palestine.


Rafeef Ziadah

PhD Candidate, Political Science Dept., York University |Bio>>

From ‘One-Secular-State’ to ‘Two-State-Solution’: Tracing the Transition inside the PLO

In the post-Oslo peace process period it is almost forgotten that the historical demand of the Palestinian national umbrella group, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), was for a ‘secular-democratic-state’ that encompassed all of historic Palestine.  This paper will assess future implications for a solution to the Palestinian / Israeli conflict in light of the historical transition inside the PLO from the ‘secular-democratic-state’ model to a ‘two-state-solution’ model.

The first section will focus on the emergence of the one state demand as one that united the various Palestinian factions.  Its theoretical and ideological underpinnings within the PLO will be analyzed. 

The second section will trace the transition and eventual acceptance of a two state solution that led up to the Oslo negotiations.  The section will begin by historically situating the acceptance by the PLO of UN resolutions 242 and 338. The aim is to contextualize the shift towards a two-state model within an international context and the broader political economy of the Middle East that pressured the PLO to change its position including: the 1973 war, the negotiations between Egypt and Israel and the push from the Soviet Union and the US for the PLO to negotiate. 
The final section will focus on the internal dynamics and challenges within the PLO, starting with the acceptance of  ‘self-rule’ or a ‘national authority’ on part of Historical Palestine (namely the Gaza Strip and West Bank) as a ‘transitional stage’ towards a one-state solution. The 10 Point Program (proposed by Fatah) in 1974, allowing the PLO to accept a staged solution is considered as a turning point towards the two-state model. The history of the opposition to this view within the PLO (from factions such as the PFLP) will be discussed. 
The paper will argue that a combination of international pressure, contextual change, and the triumph of a faction associated with the 'transitional stage' model within the PLO led to its acceptance of a two state solution. A shift that began as a tactical manoeuvre to keep the PLO relevant instead became a strategic decision that led to the Oslo process. The paper will further argue that similarly, changes in the current political situation and other factors may result in changes in the position regarding the questions of one state or two.



Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council