A political framework for a new approach to Israeli-Palestinian coexistence provides for a joint country called Israel-Palestine having equal rights for all, separate geographical areas for the two peoples, the ability by individuals to live anywhere in the entire country (within practical limits) either as a citizen or as a legal resident, firm security guarantees for both peoples and substantial autonomy for both peoples.
By Howard Cort
Benefiting from an extensive review of existing plans and approaches toward Israeli-Palestinian coexistence, the following political approach provides for (a) a joint country called Israel-Palestine having (b) equal rights for all, (c) separate geographical areas for the two peoples, (d) the ability by individuals to live anywhere in the entire country (within practical limits) either as a citizen or as a legal resident, (e) firm security guarantees for both peoples and (f) substantial autonomy for both peoples :
1) Israel-Palestine would be two geographically separated states, each having a section of Jerusalem. The entire country would be divided, by joint-state determination, into roughly equal geographic areas, with those areas having a majority of Israeli citizens becoming Israel and those areas with a majority of Palestinian citizens becoming Palestine.
2) Each state would have its own parliament, with joint parliamentary action for issues requiring a joint decision and covering the entire land.
3) Individuals would choose their citizenship, either Israeli or Palestinian, and their legal residence within the borders of either Israel or Palestine. Citizenship and legal residence would not necessarily coincide.
4) All persons choosing Israeli citizenship would be eligible to vote on all national Israeli matters (e.g., religious holidays, education and criteria for immigration), whether legally residing in Israel or Palestine. All Palestinian citizens would similarly be eligible to vote on all national Palestinian matters, whether legally residing in Palestine or Israel.
5) There would be an overall constitution, decided upon by joint passage by both legislatures and a citizen vote of 55 percent of all Israeli citizens and 55 percent of all Palestinian citizens. The constitution would require that each state maintain a 55 percent majority of its own citizens by whatever necessary laws or regulations, NOT INCLUDING REMOVAL.
6) The constitution would allow all Palestinian refugees living outside Israel-Palestine to return (with compensation) to either Palestine or Israel, either as citizens or as legal residents. Within Israel, however, Palestinian citizens could not become more than 45 percent of the Israeli citizen population. Similarly, all Jews from Israel or other lands would have a right to legally reside anywhere in Israel-Palestine, but Israeli citizens could not exceed 45 percent of the citizen population within Palestine.
7) All Arab refugees from Israel-Palestine, would receive compensation from an international fund composed of equal funds from Israel, the United States and the European Union (EU). All Jewish refugees from Arab lands would receive compensation from an international fund composed of equal funds from the Arab League, the European Union and the United States.
8) All infrastructure (e.g., roads, bridges and water resources) would be open equally to all citizens and residents in Israel-Palestine.
9) The positions of president and vice-president would be rotated, one two-year period with an Israeli president and a Palestinian vice president and the next two-year period with a Palestinian president and an Israeli vice president.
10) Joint-state laws (e.g, concerning personal benefits allocation and foreign relations) and regulations (e.g., those concerning overall health, safety and traffic) would be determined by passage of 55 percent in each legislature. Should gridlock occur, the matter could go to the people, where a majority of the voting population in each state would have to approve for passage to occur.
11) There would be an international defense force for the first twenty years, so as to ensure that it not be used against either state. During that twenty-year period, each state could maintain it’s own police-defense force, but would be constitutionally unable to take action outside it’s own state.
12) The defense force command center would be housed in a small, central, nonresidential, international section of Jerusalem that would also house agencies charged with administering joint laws and regulations.
13) Following the twenty-year period, there could be a joint Israeli-Palestinian defense force, via an Israel-Palestine Constitutional Amendment.
14) All individuals of a certain age and above, whether citizens or legal residents of the state in which they live, would be eligible to vote on all municipal matters where they reside, with the exception of Jerusalem.
15) In Jerusalem, all citizens and legal residents living in the city, of a certain age and above, could vote for municipal council members representing their section, and vote in all popular referendums confined to the area where they reside. All issues of a joint nature would require passage by 55 percent of both municipal councils.
16) There would also be a citywide mayor elected by one national citizenry and a vice mayor elected by the other national citizenry, with the positions to be rotated every two years.
Howard Cort is the founder and director of Political Approaches to COexistence (PACO).
1) This proposal does not deal with the psycho-social steps that would be necessary for acceptance and implementation – which are. however, introduced in Rabbi Michael Lerner’s “Embracing Israel-Palestine”.