Rafi Gassel

Israelis and Palestinians are both indigenous and why that matters

picture of Caesarea taken by author

Both Palestinians and Jews have thousands of years of history in the Levant region, this is an objectively true historical fact that is often denied by advocates of the Jewish and Palestinian people in order to try to win points for their case. This however does a great disservice to both groups and makes solving the Israeli Palestinian conflict impossible. However, I would posit that accepting these facts, that both people are in fact indigenous to the same land is the key to being able to unravel one of history’s most complex conflicts.

The Israel/Palestine conflict is one of the unique situations of conflict in the world. It is the only conflict I can think of where both sides accuse each other of colonialism and at the same time both claim to be the indigenous population of the land. The Jewish people claim to be the descendants of the original Judahite and Israelite inhabitants of the land and the Palestinians also claim to be the descendants of the original inhabitants of the land.

Compare that situation to the one in the country of New Zealand. In New Zealand the original native Maori people correctly believed themselves to be the first human population on the Islands and to be of Polynesian origin. The white people of New Zealand correctly identified themselves as descendants of the British and Dutch colonists and clearly recognized that they had come from Europe and that the Maori had arrived there first. In New Zealand there was no conflict of narrative similar to that in Israel-Palestine. While not without its challenges, the New Zealanders ultimately found a way to live together in dignity and equality even after centuries of colonialism and conflict.

In the Israel-Palestine case not only do both sides think that they are the true natives, but even worse they think that the other side is lying themselves about being native to the land as a sort of excuse to steal the rights to the land. Not only do they each think that the other side is lying about having origins in the land, but that they are also denying the origins of the other side in order to discredit the other side’s claim. In effect both sides believe the others to be dishonest about one of the most personal things in the world, their sense of identity.

With this conflict of narrative it is completely impossible to find peace in any form, as there is no room for trust when you each think that the other side is lying about who they are. I suggest that the key in accepting the truth and understanding it as a common narrative that tells the story about how both the Jewish and Palestinian people are in fact co-indigenous to the land of Israel-Palestine.

In a 2020 study put out by Tel Aviv University called The Genomic History of the Bronze Age Southern Levant it was shown that both Jews of many types, including Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews and Palestinians share the majority of their ancestry with over 90 samples of ancient DNA extracted from remains found in Israel-Palestine and surrounding areas from over 3,000 years ago. There have been a plethora of studies showing that all the major Jewish groups share a common pool of paternal ancestry going back to the ancient Levant region (see, The genetic variation in the R1a clade among the Ashkenazi Levites’ Y chromosome, Doron Behar, 2017), with maternal ancestry coming from a mix of local populations in the diaspora and some Levantine ancestry (see, Counting the Founders: The Matrilineal Genetic Ancestry of the Jewish Diaspora, Behar, 2008). Whereas Palestinians show a majority of both paternal and maternal ancestry coming from the Levant with a minority of paternal ancestry coming from the Arabian peninsula (see, The Y Chromosome Pool of Jews as Part of the Genetic Landscape of the Middle East, Nebel, 2001) as well as a majority of maternal ancestry coming from the Southern Levant (see, Y-Chromosome and mtDNA Genetics Reveal Significant Contrasts in Affinities of Modern Middle Eastern Populations with European and African Populations, Danielle A. Badro, 2013) .

Just to address those that might say ‘who cares about DNA, that is what the Nazis did’, no, the Nazis didn’t even live in a time when the structure of DNA was discovered, which happened in 1953 by James Watson and Francis Crick. The Nazis made up now disproven mythological stories based on limited historical and archeological information and believed that the Aryan people where a genetically pure master race. We know now thanks to modern ancient DNA research that this is patently false and that European populations are made up a mix between the early European hunter gatherers, Anatolian agriculturalists and the Step Pastoralist also known as proto-Indo-Europeans. Genetic information is now used by historians and archaeologists around the world to help more accurately piece together the past and generate an accurate historical picture.

What we now know thanks to ancient DNA studies is that around the period where both the Jewish and Arab peoples are first seen historically in the Levant region there was a major migration of population likely from what is now Syria into the Southern Levant, between 2500 BCE and 1500 BCE and by around 1500 BCE about half of the ancestry of the population seems to be made up of the immigrant population. The population of the Southern Levant as of 1500 BCE can be found making up the majority of the descendants of both the Jewish and Palestinian people today.

Another interesting study was done on the Semitic family of languages in 2009 ‘Bayesian phylogenetic analysis of Semitic languages identifies an Early Bronze Age origin of Semitic in the Near East’. In this study they showed that the Central Semitic languages of Arabic, Ugaritic, Hebrew and Aramaic all converge around 4500 years ago and then seem to diversify as these groups left their original homeland in what is now Syria. With Arabic being the first to leave around 4500 years ago and being the most similar to the original Central Semitic, followed by Ugaritic around 4,000 years ago and the Hebrew which differentiated from Aramaic around 3,500 years ago and then leaving Aramaic as the final form of Central Semitic still found in the original region of Syria.

The Oldest confirmed Hebrew inscription goes back to the 10th century BCE (an even older inscription has been found and its dating is still under debate) found near the Elah Valley in Israel. It calls for worshiping the God of Israel and supporting strangers, widows and orphans and the poor. The oldest mention of the people of Israel is from the Merneptah Stele from 1250 BCE, where then King Merneptah of Egypt boasted of having defeated the Israelites in Canaan.

The Gezer calendar (c. 925 BCE )
Istanbul Archaeology Museum

The oldest Arabic inscription in the world is found in the deserts of what is now Southern Jordan. The Bayir inscription has been dated to the first half of the first millennium BCE (500-1000 BCE) and is written in a Canaanite script and says ‘o Malkom, Qomash and Qaous in you we seek refuge’, these were the Gods of the of the people of Ammon, Moav and Edom respectively. The earliest mention of the Arab people are The Kurkh Monoliths, the second of which was made in the year 852 BCE and describes King Shalmaneser the Third of Assyria’s battle with a coalition in the Levant which included Aram, King Ahab of Israel and King Gindibu the Arab.

The Bayir Inscription
Source: Dr Ahmad Al Jallad, Harvard PhD Linguist

By 450 BCE the Arab Kingdom of Qedar spanned most of today’s Southern Israel and Jordan and this was latter supplanted by the Arab Kingdom of Nabataea which build several famous cities in the Negev desert of Israel including Shivta, Avdat, Nissana, Mamshit and Khalasa which are all archaeological parks in Israel today, The Kingdom of Nabataea was conquered in 106 CE by the Romans and turned into the Roman province of Arabia Petrea.

In addition to the genetically verified ancestry, the Arab people have roots in the region of the Southern Levant going back at least 3000 years and likely when you take into account the Genetic and linguistic evidence even 4500 years ago linking them to the early settlers of the Arava valley who mined copper at sites like Wadi Faynan in Jordan and Timna in Southern Israel. Interestingly, the Akkadian term for the people who lived in ancient Syria from where the Hebrew and Arabs came called them the ‘Martu’ which means ‘westerner’, the term Arav means both west and evening as in the place the son sets. This region was also called ‘Eber Nahara’ which means ‘across the river’ which is where we get the term Hebrew as well.

Strabo, a first century historian wrote in his book Geography that the Idumeans, who in the Bible are thought to be a Hebrew speaking people, where of Nabatean (Arab) origin and that they made up the majority of the population of Judea at the time and had adopted the Jewish religion under the Hasmoneans. Additionally some Nabateans and Iturian Arab people had also adopted Judaism during the Hasmonean period when the whole kingdom adopted Judaism. The Talmud also records Ishmaelites who adopted Judaism living in an around the holy land during the period between the fall of Jerusalem and the rise of Islam. It is really only after the Islamic period when a clear distinction can be made between Jews and Arabs, prior that there had been a wide spectrum between where Jews ended and Arabs began.

The Arab and Jewish people can both trace their ancestry in the region of the Southern Levant for at least 3000 years, both in terms of ancestry and in terms of cultural genesis. As well, within the authentic traditions of both people, they consider themselves to descend from two brothers (Isaac and Ishmael) who were both born in Hebron about 3700 years ago. Both Jewish and Arab cultures are as native to the land as other indigenous peoples throughout the world. Both have deep roots in the region and share ancestry with one another.

To say that either one is not indigenous would be a significant double standard when compared to other indigenous people throughout the world. For example if a Native American from one part of America is standing in a different part of America than their original tribal lands, one would not say that they are no longer indigenous to America. If a Seneca person is in Oklahoma where their people were displaced during the Trail of Tears, as opposed to Florida where they had originally settled, they would still be considered a Native American.

The Cree and the Blackfoot are both Native American tribes who’s traditional tribal territories are adjacent to one and other, they share a significant amount of common ancestry and culture as there was a lot of intermarriage between the tribes. If a Cree is standing in Blackfoot territory no one would consider them non-indigenous.

The Mexica were the indigenous people of the Valley of Mexico, for which the modern country gets its name. They were the rulers of the Aztec Empire. The Mexica, a Nahuatl-speaking people, established Tenochtitlan, a settlement on an island in Lake Texcoco, in 1325, they had immigrated there from the north, from what is now the region of New Mexico in the United States. No one would consider them to be non-indigenous to the country that bears their name.

Critics of the indigenous status of Palestinians will often cite that the name Palestine is not as ancient as the name Israel. While the oldest example of both of the names in the context of the southern Levant come from the Merneptah stele from 1250 BCE, people will say that modern Palestinians are not direct cultural inheritors of the ancient Philistines. Which is accurate, as the ancient Philistines were conquered and dispersed by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II towards the end of the 7th century BC and from that point forwards no people in particular claimed to be their descendants, though it is possible that both Jews and Palestinians may have some trace ancestry coming from them. However, since the Philistines themselves came from a small community of immigrants from the Greek Islands that mixed with a much larger local Levantine population, it would be difficult to accurately determine this. (See, Ancient DNA sheds light on the genetic origins of early Iron Age Philistines, Feldman, 2019)

However, the name Palestine stuck around even after the fall of the Philistine polity as can be seen by the 5th century BCE when the Greek Historian Herodotus used it to describe the region. It has been posited that this version of the name is actually a Greek translation of the name Israel, as Palestine has a lot of similarities to the Greek word for wrestler palaistês, and according to the Biblical folk etymology the name Israel means ‘wrestles with God’.

But I don’t think it matters what the source is. Even if you take the argument that the name only goes back to the Roman period following the Bar Kochba Revolt, when Emperor Hadrian names the region Syria Palestina. That would still be 400 years before the Franks established a kingdom in France, 800 years before the Rus founded a Kingdom in Russia, 4 times older than America has been called America and 1300 years before the Mexica had made it to Mexico. No one would consider those illegitimate names of countries and peoples today, again another double standard applied to Palestinians by supposed advocates of Israel. Palestinians, or the Arabs of Palestine, should have as much right to use this name as any other and it certainly has antiquity in the region.

Why is it important that we acknowledge that both Jews and Palestinians are indigenous to the Southern Levant? Couldn’t we just say that both people are immigrants? The fact is that both sides already claim to be indigenous to the land. In the 1990s starting with Yasser Arafat claiming that the Palestinians are descendants of the Canaanites and Jebusites, and even saying that we are all descendants of the Prophet Samuel. Clearly history was not his strongest subject but I appreciate the sentiment. Obviously this was an attempt to compete with the long standing Jewish claim of being from the land of Israel and having been dispersed by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Romans, Crusaders and others.

Palestinians often use the term Canaanites in order to compete with Jewish claims, as in the Biblical narrative the Canaanites were supposed to have been conquered by the Israelites and thus giving the Palestinians an older claim to the land and even more as eternal victims of the Jewish aggression since the days of Joshua. The choice of Jebusites, who in the Bible are the native people of Jerusalem, is to try to gain a stronger claim to the holy city. These claims are obviously dubious as starting in the period of the Hebrew Kingdoms around 3000 years ago, there is no record of anyone in the region south of modern Lebanon referring to themselves as the Canaanites. We have coins from the Phoenicians using the name Canaan, so clearly they still called themselves Canaanites, but in the region of Israel and Judah this was not the case. The last source outside of the Bible for the use of the term Canaan for the land of Israel-Palestine can be found in the Amarna letters from the 14th century BCE.

Modern scholars and archeologists have long doubted the Biblical narrative of a violence conquest of the whole land that became Israel and Judah and now it is widely accepted that the Canaanites were largely absorbed into the people of Judah and Israel as well as integrated into the Philistines along the Southern coastal plain. So it is not like there were Canaanites living here all along during the period of the Hebrew commonwealths that were being subjugated by the Jews for a thousand years only to finally be liberated by the Roman destruction of Jerusalem.

Modern Jewish people as we have seen from the genetic data share as much ancestry from the ancient Canaanites as do the modern Palestinians. As well there is not really a cultural contiguity between the ancient Canaanites and the modern Palestinians. But that doesn’t mean that they are not native to the land.

We can see from the Genetic, linguistic and historical record that both the Jews and the Arabs descend from a mixture of previous indigenous people, called the Natufians, who had lived in the region from 15,000 years ago and where possibly the first humans to live in permanent settlements and the Semitic speaking immigrants who migrated to the region from Mesopotamia during the Bronze age. These people can sometimes collectively be referred to as the Canaanites however the name Canaan was primarily used for the people who lived along the northern coastal plain particularly in Lebanon the Canaanite language language family includes Hebrew and not Arabic. With Arabic being more similar to ancestry Semitic suggesting that actually the Arab immigrants arrived to the region from Mesopotamia prior to the Hebrew speaking ones, representing an earlier wave of Semitic immigration.

As we already have shown, the Arab people have deep roots in the region and there is no reason that Palestinians have to reinvent their identity in order to identify as indigenous. The most common ancestor narrative among Palestinians is that of the Qedarite tribe, Qedar is according to the bible and local folklore the 2nd son of Ishmael who is also the ancestor of the Prophet Muhammed. Families such as the Barghouti, Tucan, Zadani, Nashishibi, Tamimi and many more.

The Second most common ancestor narrative among Palestinians are the Azd clans who claim Naba’ot the first son of Ishmael as their traditional ancestor. These include families such as Jarrar, Ayoub, Haddad, Qumsieh, Khoury and many more. The third most common are the Qatanite clans who claim Qatan (Yokktan) son of Eber (also a biblical character) as their ancestor and these are the tribes that traditionally came from the Southern part of Arabia families such as Abd al-Hadi, Nimr and Nussaiba. There are even a number of Palestinians who have a tradition of having Jewish or Samaritan ancestry and there are a number of customs found among Palestinians that appear to have a Jewish origin.

The Arab identity is clearly the dominant culturally authentic Palestinian identity. The reason why this is often accentuated by Israel advocates and de-emphasized by some Palestinian advocates (usually those living in the west) is that the idea of Arab identity originating in Arabia has a lot of cultural precedents. In spite of what we now know archaeological and historical about the origins of Arab culture being linked to the Southern Levant, with the first Arab settlement in Southern Arabia of Qaryat Al-Fawz being established in the 4th Century BCE by Nabateans.

The reason that what we call the standard Islamic narrative, the history of the origin of Islam as described by Al Bukhari in the 9th century, is that at that time there had been a conflict within the Islamic world between the Umayyads who rules from Damascus and the Abbasids who rules from Iraq. At one point the Umayyads had control over the land of Israel-Palestine and most likely had religious pilgrimages to the holy sites in the region whereas the Abbasids controlled Mecca and held the Hajj pilgrims there. Ultimately the Abbasids defeated the Umayyads and looked to legitimize the holy sites in Mecca as superior to those in Jerusalem.

The Dome of the Rock had previously been described as the Tomb of Adam and that place of the origin of the world and the location of the sacrifice of Isaac in Jewish and Christian tradition and Ishmael in Islamic tradition. Similar legends were written by Al Bukhari about Mecca making it the location of Adam and the place of Abraham and Ishmael. With these legitimation legends came the idea that this was also the location of the origin of the Arabic language. Islamic legends claim that Ishmael himself was a non-Arab speaker and moved from the holy land to Mecca in his lifetime (around the 17th century BCE) and there the Qatanites taught him Arabic.

The opposite is historically true, with the Arab speaking Ishmaelite tribes (the Qedarites, Nabateans and other Southern Levantine tribes that claimed Ishmael as their ancestor) coming from the Southern Levant and native Qatanite tribes of Southern Arabia being originally speakers of other South Arabia Semitic languages and not Arabic. Up until the 6th century shortly before the dawn of Islam the Arabic speaking people where a small Christian minority in the South of the Arabian Peninsula with over 1000 years of history of Arab kingdoms in the Southern Levant at that time.

The reason that supporters of Israel focus on the traditional Arab narrative of an Arabian origin is to suggest that Arabs come from Arabia and Jews from Judea. This they try to argue is proof that the Jews are the real native people of the land and that the Arabs are recent immigrants. This is how we get to a situation where Arabs are trying to adopt a Canaanite narrative story to compete with the Jews over who is the most ancient natives of the land and in the process losing touch with thousands of years of valuable Arab heritage in the region.

At the same time this is also used to demonize the Jews over the massacre of the Canaanites which modern scholars have determined is largely fictional in order to promote the Jewish monotheistic religious ideology and separate from the traditional Canaanite religious traditions. Most scholars now either describe the rise of the Israelites as a religious/political movement within Canaanite society or describe the Israelites as Pastoral Nomads who spoke a Canaanites language who immigrated to the central mountain ridge region from what is now Jordan and integrated with the local agriculturalist Canaanite population to form the Iron Age Israelite and Judahite peoples.

In Jewish tradition the Canaanites who were left in the land where ultimately absorbed into the Israelite people during the time of Solomon when then where invited to help build the Temple of Solomon, they are not mentioned as existing at a later period with the exception of the book of Ezra where some Canaanites are listed as part of the returning Jewish people who returned from the Babylonian Exile, so clearly they had long become part of the Jewish people within Jewish thought. There is a story in The Talmud (Sanhedrin 91a), where the descendants of remaining Canaanites, who were living in Africa and came back to reclaim the holy land, summoned the Jews before Alexander the Great to act as the judge in the case.

The Quran doesn’t mention K’naan, but it does mention a 4th son of Noah who died in the flood named Yam, many Muslims believe this to be the same character as K’naan. There is also a Nigerian tradition that the Yaruba are the descendants of the K’naan, there is also a separate Islamic tradition that the Berbers of North Africa are the descendants of the K’naanites. But, there is no authentic Islamic tradition of the K’naanites remaining in the holy land and being the ancestors of the Palestinian Arabs, that is a modern claim and one which I would argue does more harm that good for the Palestians, as it is a very a historical claim with no authentic tradition supporting it and therefor makes a type of strawman on Palestinian identity that can easily be refuted and then Israel supporters can claim that Palestinians are not a real people and don’t have any real connection to the land of Israel/Palestine.

So, I suggest that Arab Palestinians focus on their authentic Arab heritage and that the Israel supporters acknowledge that Arab history has at least 3000 years of antiquity in the region and that we can all look by to the traditional Jewish and Islamic narrative of Issac and Ishmael, the two brothers born 13 years apart in the city of Hebron as our authentic and shared origin story. It is one of the unique conflicts in the world where both people believe themselves to be the descendants of 2 brothers from 3,700 years ago. That is both an authentic identity with millennia of tradition and cultural connection to the region and a bridge between the Jews and Arabs with their common ancestor the patriarch Abraham. As we can see with the Abraham accords the common Abrahamic ancestry tradition is a successful common narrative for Jews and Arabs to bond over.

In 2003 Natan Shransky formulated his ‘three Ds’ approach for determining what should constitute antisemitism. Delegitimization, Demonization and Double Standards. Delegitimization refers to rejecting the idea that the Jewish people are a real people and entitled to self-determination and entitled to a place in their ancestral homeland. Demonization is the idea that the Jews are up to no good, that they are conspiring to do evil and is a form of dehumanization to justify discriminating against them and Double Standards are applying unreasonable standards of behavior and expectations of them that are not applied to other similar peoples and situations.

I would argue that we should apply the same 3 Ds test to anti-Palestinianism as we apply to antisemitism and treat this with the same level of severity. It is quite common for advocates of Israel to Delegitimize the Palestinians and claim that they are not a real people with a real claim to self determination and to live in their ancestral lands. They are often demonized and dehumanized, thought of as tools of radical Islam and of anti-Jewish conspiracy to steal the homeland of the Jews, and invented people bent on the destruction of the Jews. Finally, Double Standards, that are applied to them that as I pointed out throughout this paper, are not applied to native peoples or really any other people anyways in terms of being a legitimate people entitled to self determination and to live in their native lands. In fact in this regards the Jewish and Palestinian peoples are some of the most frequent victims of attempted delegitimization of any people in the world.


So, what is the point, what does indigenous mean and what is the point of defining a group of people as such? James Anaya, the former Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to the UN to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues from 2008 to 2014, defines Indigenous Peoples as “living descendants of pre-invasion inhabitants of lands now dominated by others. They are culturally distinct groups that find themselves engulfed by other settler societies born of forces of empire and conquest“.

Mr. José R. Martínez-Cobo, Special Rapporteur on Discrimination against Indigenous Populations in his Study of the Problem of Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations that was submitted to the UN defined Indigenous peoples as follows; “Indigenous communities, peoples, and nations are those that, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing in those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop, and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems”

I say that both people qualify as, “living descendants of pre-invasion inhabitants of lands now dominated by others”. As both the Jewish and Palestinian people have roots in the region going back thousands of years. They are “culturally distinct groups that find themselves engulfed by other settler societies born of forces of empire and conquest” As both groups suffered domination and persecution by outside powers for many centuries, including significant events of ethnic cleansing


Until now, only the Negev Bedouin have been officially recognized as Indigenous peoples by the United Nations thus far. This has been criticized both by Israel supporters who dispute the Bedouin’s claim to indigeneity, and those on the Palestinian side who argue that recognizing just one group of Palestinians as indigenous is not fair to the rest of the Palestinians and is a type of “fetishizing” of nomadic cultures.

The current common argument that each side uses that they are the real indigenous population and the other is not, is a weaponization of the concept of indigenous used as propaganda to delegitimize the claim of the other side. Doing this gives each side a false sense of confidence in their side of the conflict that is detrimental to actually resolving it. Each side believes that their side has been here since time immemorial and that they have seen many empires come and go and that this conflict is just one more in a series where foreigners are trying to take their land and they will prevail now just like we prevailed in the past.

In order to break this cycle the solution to the conflict must be based on the principle of Mutual Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Status. The 2007 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Is structured as a United Nations resolution, with 23 clauses and 46 articles. In most articles, an aspiration for how the State should promote and protect the rights of indigenous people is included. These rights include the Rights of self-determination of indigenous individuals and peoples, rights of indigenous individuals and people to protect their culture through practices, languages, education, media, and religion, including control of their intellectual property, the rights of indigenous peoples to their own type of governance and to economic development. They also include a number of protections including the right to health, the rights to Land ownership, including reparation, or return of land and the right to preserve their natural environment

As a self-described Zionist, I have often looked as Zionism as the indigenous rights movement of the Jewish people. When I think about what I really want from a Jewish state, I am thinking about a state in Israel/Palestine that recognizes my rights, the rights of the Jewish people, as an indigenous person according to the description found within the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I now say that what I am looking for as a Zionist is a state that recognizes my indigenous rights and that I would like for that state to also recognize those same rights for the indigenous Palestinians who live here as well.

What is Mutual Recognition of Indigenous Rights in the Context of Israel-Palestine means recognizing that both peoples have deep roots in the land and have both at various points in history been subjected to domination and persecution due to forces of imperialism and conquest. That both people have a right to live in the land and practice self-determination, preserve their culture and heritage in connection to the land and practice self governance in context of their traditional culture in accordance with the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In addition to the rights of all people to equal citizenship in a modern democratic system in accordance with accepted international standards, including those described in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (1966) and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).

This concept can be utilized by any Israel or Palestinian supporter looking for a peaceful outcome to the conflict or even for those who are just looking for better relations between Jewish and Arab citizens in the State of Israel. Whether you support 2 states, or some type of political union such as a Federation or Confederation, finding a common narrative and mutual respect is always the place to start.

I personally find as a support of mutual recognition of indigenous rights for Jews and Palestinian Arabs that the ideal solution is some kind of multinational federal state such as Belgium or Switzerland that would allow for autonomy, decentralization and self determination of both the Jewish and Palestinian people while at the same time recognizing and respecting the deep historical and cultural connection that these two indigenous people have with the land of Israel-Palestine. For more information about Federal solutions to the Israel-Palestine conflict you can see The Federal Forum, a project by the Israeli NGO Challenge.

Once both sides can come to a mutual understanding that both of them have deep roots in the region and an inherent right to be here and to have self determination in this land, then we can start finding win win solutions for our issues based on mutual understanding and respect as fellow natives in one of the most ancient, beautiful and fascinating parts of the world.

About the Author
Rafi is a biotechnology professional living in Jerusalem with his wife and three children. Rafi immigrated to Israel from the USA. He now manages a biotechnology business in the field of genetic sequencing located in Jerusalem. Rafi is also a peace activist in the Israel-Palestine space promoting federalism and collective rights.
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