How much more suffering must Israelis and Palestinians endure before they consider an alternative path toward peace?
The recent violence in Jerusalem as well as the last war in Gaza between Israelis and Palestinians is a vivid reminder: The Israeli and Palestinian governments are incapable of making peace with each other.
They seem to agree on one thing: that the other is at fault. Each side, either explicitly or implicitly, wants recognition by the other that they are innocent victims, that the other side is wrong or has acted unfairly or unjustly, and demands that the other relinquish crucial aspects of its identity.
Concentrating on a pragmatic approach that will benefit both peoples, yet not impinge on the sovereignty of either the Jewish State or its Palestinian counterpart, may lay the groundwork for peace, by focusing on joint decision independent third government for the people of Israel and Palestine. The Israel Palestinian Confederation (IPC) believes that one possible solution involves electing a confederation government comprised of Israelis (both Jewish and Arab) and Palestinians.
Approximately 12.5 million people live in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, of whom six million are Jews and five and a half million are Arabs. Dividing the entire region into 300 districts apportioned by population should result in a legislature divided approximately 60/40 in favor of the Israelis. However, if the relative birth rates of Palestinians to Israelis maintain their current ratio, in the not too distant future, Palestinians will outnumber Israelis.
The legislature will tackle issues that the Israeli and Palestinian governments, for internal political reasons, find difficult to address. To encourage consensus and to prevent the majority from riding roughshod over the minority, confederation legislation requires a yes vote by 55% of the Israeli and 55% of the Palestinian Parliament members. The separate Israeli and Palestinian governments will be given a veto power.
This supermajority voting requirement coupled with protections for the minority, as well as veto power for the Israeli and Palestinian governments, will foster cooperation, since any legislation promoting the national aspirations of one side at the expense of the other will easily be blocked. As a consequence, the representatives will concentrate on initiatives that improve their constituents’ lives.
The IPC believes that confederation legislation reached by consensus will discourage the governments from exercising their vetoes. If legislation has wide popular support among the two peoples, it may be untenable for the one government to veto the legislation without undermining its own legitimacy.
In this sense, a confederation will serve as a bridge between the Palestinian and Israeli governments
Because neither the Israeli government nor the Palestinian Authority is likely to willingly relinquish its monopoly on governance, initially, the Israeli-Palestinian Confederation will have to hold a private election. This also will establish the independence of the body, showing that it is not a tool of either the Israelis or the Palestinians.
Direct representation elections for Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank are nothing new. Israel has been a functioning parliamentary democracy throughout its existence and the latest Palestinian elections have been recognized as honest, open, and free.
While there is now no mechanism for the Palestinians and Israelis to solve daily and long-term issues for the benefit of both sides, and there are no rules to resolve conflicts when they erupt, the confederation, once effective in demonstrating that Israelis and Palestinians can govern together, will become the de facto authority to establish rules to settle issues, solve problems, and enhance working and living relations between and among the peoples of the region.
The idea of a confederation is widely accepted around the world. It is designed to achieve a mechanism of cooperation while preserving the identity and special needs of its states.
Common legislation could pass to enhance the life of the Israeli and Palestinian people in many areas including roads, natural resources, tourism, and security. A confederation government would act as a mediator between the Palestinian and Israeli governments.
The confederation is not a one-state solution. The Israeli government and the Palestinian government remain sovereign and independent of each other. The division of land between the Israeli and Palestinian states will remain subject to negotiations between the two governments.A confederation is not tied to the ultimate outcome of such negotiations. A confederation is necessary whether the Israelis and Palestinian agree on the division of land or not.
A confederation is a third government designed to enhance the life of the Palestinians and Israelis, much like the European government is designed to enhance the life of the Germans and the French, for example.
A confederation government will be an independent entity common to both Israelis and Palestinians. It will utilize a dimension which has been clearly neglected in the conflict. It will develop and independent and flexible tract to achieve peace.
Up to now peace discussion focused mostly on the divisions of land between the Palestinians and Israeli governments. This approach ultimately failed mainly since the governments were too weak and the area is too small. The combination of shared holy places and natural resources in this tiny area made a resolution almost impossible. The confederation government will approach the issues on the basis of people, not strictly on the division of land. It will address the daily lives of the Israeli and Palestinian people. Each representative to the confederation will mostly focus on benefiting his constituents from his own district. This new mechanism of passing legislation is likely to encourage agreements between representatives based on the interests of their constituents. Israeli and Palestinians representatives would find themselves on the same sides of issues.
The Palestinian and Israeli governments who ultimately possess the veto power would watch for the national interest of their people. They will be justified in exercising their veto power when a significant national interest is threatened. However, they may face national and international pressure if they attempt to veto reasonable legislation.
For a free copy of the book Peace: A Case for an Israeli Palestinian Confederation (which explains in detail how the IPC will work), send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
To watch a video illustration or to read more go to: http://ipconfederation.org/