Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Federal/Confederal Solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian Conflict: Concepts and Feasibility

Daniel J. Elazar

Since the Six-Day War in June 1967, Israel has been struggling to find its appropriate role in areas historically part of the Land of Israel yet claimed and heavily populated by Palestinian Arabs. The outbreak of the intifada on December 9, 1987 showed that the status quo could not hold and that a solution sufficiently satisfying Israel's security concerns and burgeoning Palestinian national identification must be found.

While Israel was militarily successful in containing and, many claimed, putting down the intifada, it becaming increasingly clear to all concerned that what was necessary was a negotiated peace. Two years after the beginning of face-to-face negotiations between Israel, the Arab states, and the Palestinians at the Madrid Conference, in a sudden and unexpected development, Israel signed an agreement with the Palestine Liberation Organization as the representative of the Palestinians that included an agree-upon declaration of principles and provided for further negotiations to achieve Palestinian autonomy, first in the Gaza District and Jericho and environs, and ultimately an agreement on the final status of the territories in dispute and its implementation. That declaration of principles explicitly embodied federal arrangements, whether in the form of the confederation of the Palestinian entity to emerge with Jordan or in the form of joint authorities linking that entity with both Jordan and Israel. Whether or not this agreement is a continuation of the process begun at Camp David by Begin, Carter and Sadat fifteen years earlier or not, others can decide. What it does continue is the implicit commitment made in that earlier agreement that any resolution of the conflict would have to go beyond partition and separation to embody federal solutions in one form or another.

The Middle East is rich in history and in historical conflicts. Many of the battles being fought there are not new -- only the definitions placed on them make them appear that way. History has shown that the most permanent elements in the region are not the territorial entities of political states but the continuous existence of the specific peoples and ethno-religious communities tied together by common kinship and creed. The Jews have had a continuous recorded presence in the region for over 3500 years while the Arabs, the Copts, the Armenians, the Kurds, and the Maronites have histories of 1500 to 2000 years. In contrast, there is not a single boundary in the Middle East today that is more than 100 years old.

The Middle East is a mosaic of peoples not easily divided into nation-states, and certainly not ethno-religiously homogeneous ones as anticipated by modern European models of the state, considering the complexity of the historical interplay between peoples and territories. We cannot automatically translate European models of conflict resolution and political sovereignty to the region. The stalemate of the past 23 or 42 or 73 years testifies to the result. We must seek to find new and innovative solutions, unique political inventions meeting contemporary democratic and nationalistic standards to accommodate the peoples of Eretz Israel/Palestine. The people of the region must work out special status arrangements for each other across national boundaries without eliminating either the boundaries or the peoples.

Any successful solution depends upon how it combines the governance of people and territories, for there cannot be governance of one without the other. Even if the emphasis will be on peoples, it will be necessary to govern these peoples in their territories.

There are over 100 diverse models of interjurisdictional arrangements: mixed governments, power-sharing and the like presently in operation around the world. These arrangements can be used to guide the development of appropriate mechanisms for autonomy. In the twentieth century, government by the consent of the governed for identifiable peoples has been associated with self-determination. Yet many times self-determination has been used as a cover for internal tyranny, not for the advancement of democratic principles. Also, the concept of self-determination does not necessarily require the establishment of a totally independent and politically sovereign state.

The Palestinians, as individuals and as a group, need to be governed with their consent, which is not presently the case. They, too, have claims to the land, which they believe to be as legitimate as the Jewish claims. All will have to concede something somewhere.

According to studies made by the late Ivo Duchacek, of the 160-plus sovereign states in the world in the 1980s, only 10 or 11 were ethnically homogeneous. The other 150 ethnically heterogeneous states must reach some kind of intergroup accommodation. The choices range from extermination of ethnic minorities, to forcible assimilation into the majority culture, to serious and innovative efforts to foster and encourage the formation of multi-ethnic societies. All these options have been tried in the Middle East and all have been considered by various parties as possible solutions to the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict; none have brought peace.

Since 1976, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, through its Institute for Federal Studies, has tried to formulate constructive federal arrangements for the parties of the region that will recognize Eretz Israel/Palestine's pluralist and multi-ethnic character and the national aspirations of its peoples. We have developed eleven options designed to accommodate the interests of the involved parties, specifically Israel, the Palestinians and Jordan, by building new political arrangements based on federalist principles.

A solution based on federal principles is one that combines self-rule (or self-government) and shared rule (or federal government) over the territories in dispute. However difficult to achieve this may be, it is the only possible outcome which has a chance of success. A move in this direction requires recognition by all parties of the failure of the exclusive sovereignty model to provide the basis for an acceptable solution to the problem of Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Any accommodation based on power-sharing and limited autonomy for certain groups must be carefully balanced to at least minimally accommodate the security, nationalist and political interests of the participating parties -- without at least minimal satisfaction of vital interests, even the best laid plan is doomed to fail. While Israel, the Palestinians, and Jordan are the parties directly involved in any settlements, the interest of the Great Powers (particularly the United States) and Egypt and the other Arab states must also be taken into account.

For the three principal parties involved, security and national integrity provide the major impetus for their minimal interests:

For Israel:

  1. Peace secured by formal treaty.
  2. Security arrangements on its eastern border providing strategic depth, early warning against any possible enemy attack, protected airspace, control of vital roads for defense purposes; and minimum exposure to terrorist infiltration from the east.
  3. Maintenance of governance over a united Jerusalem as its capital.
  4. The continued right of Jews to reside in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza district.

For the Palestinians:

  1. Recognition of their national identity and practical political expression of that identity.
  2. Continuation of the special links with Jordan and the Arab world.
  3. Continuation of economic links with Israel.

For Jordan:

  1. Survival of Hashemite Jordan, including protection against possible extremist Palestinian factions.
  2. Formal and practical expression of the bonds between the Palestinians involved and the Hashemite Kingdom.
  3. Official status, duties and responsibilities in connection with the holy sites of the three religions.

The following four approaches are commonly viewed as possibilities for solving the conflict in the territories:

  1. Israel's withdrawal to pre-1967 borders (either fully or with the most minor territorial adjustments) and the establishment of a Palestinian state either separate or linked with Jordan.
  2. The extension of Israeli sovereignty (annexation) over the territories.
  3. Repartition of the territories to accommodate Israel's security needs (e.g., the Allon Plan) and allow separate political space for the Palestinians.
  4. Development of a form of shared rule over the territories by Israel and an Arab partner.

The first two options, involving total withdrawal or total absorption, run completely contrary to the non-negotiable interests of one, another, or all of the concerned parties. The third option, repartition of the territories on terms more favorable for Israel, has been firmly rejected by the Arab parties to the conflict, although it is acceptable to many Israelis. This leaves shared rule as the only viable alternative.

The strength of federalism lies in its flexibility and adaptability. The model focuses on people, not states, as the repositories of political sovereignty and legitimacy, thus shifting the issue of sovereignty to a different plane. Moreover, proper use of federalism requires the provision of adequate guarantees to each entity through a constitutionalized commitment to shared self-rule. Federalism seeks to encourage unity and diversity together.

Federalism -- self-rule/shared rule -- involves both structure and process. A federal process must be combined with a federal structure to create a viable federal system or arrangement. A successful federalist process hinges on some sense of partnership among the participating parties based on a commitment to negotiated cooperation on issues and programs. There must be a commitment to open bargaining among all parties to achieve consensus or, at the very least, an accommodation which protects the fundamental integrity of all parties.

Contrary to some widely held opinions, federalism is more than modern federation. There are a number of different federal structures successfully functioning in the world today. In that sense, federalism can be understood as the genus and its various forms, species of the genus.

Table 1 presents the various forms of federalism extant today. The various structures can accommodate a wide number of political arrangements to help entities overcome multi-ethnic conflicts. These structures are not only political but can also be translated into the economic and religious realms.

Table 1


Modern Federation is the dominant federal arrangement in the world today because it can be easily harmonized with the modern nation-state. A federation is based on a constitutional division of powers within a single political entity between a federal (sometimes called national or general) government, and the governments of the constituent entities (states, provinces, cantons, etc.) with both having direct contact with the individual citizen. The federation requires a strong general government operating directly on all citizens who, in return, are entitled to equal political status and rights.

Confederation combines elements of shared governance with a strong and permanent commitment to the maintenance of primordial divisions through its constituent states. The constituent states retain the better part of their political independence, and they band together to form a joint government for quite specific and limited purposes (usually defense and foreign affairs). In a confederation, each constituent/partner maintains a comprehensive set of governmental institutions. The confederative authorities work through the government of the constituent polities rather than directly with the citizenry. Today's successful confederations, like the European Community, have been constructed from joint and overlapping functional authorities established by the constituent entities to handle specific tasks. The principal advantages of such an arrangement is that in multi-ethnic, multi-racial situations, the constituent polities are linked only insofar as they see the necessity to do so; otherwise they are separate. Issues of political status and political rights are handled on two levels: with primary relations among the states within the confederation; while individuals are citizens of their respective states.

Federacy is a constitutional extension of the principle of self-rule in that it provides adequate guarantees to the weaker entity while eliminating the necessity to deal with the sovereignty question (a preoccupation characteristic of modern European nation-states and conveniently exported from Europe through the rest of the world). The major benefit of such a structure is that it allows both political entities involved to preserve their independent institutional structures undiluted, while maintaining a common framework in areas of mutual agreement. As an arrangement, it can only be dissolved by mutual consent. Associated States have greater freedom to withdraw from similar arrangements since the decision to withdraw can be a unilateral one under terms set out in the initial agreement. The main drawback is that often this sort of arrangement is only transitional.

Consociation guarantees religious, ideological, and cultural differences, and autonomy, through a distribution of power among presumably permanent inter-generational groupings (religious, ideological or linguistic). While sharing in the governance of the whole state, these groups are able to ensure their particular ways of life through resources allocated from the state for self-maintenance.

Unions require the constituent polities to surrender their separate political character and institutions in return for a guaranteed share in the governance of the new whole. The constituent groups are guaranteed continued existence as sub-political or administrative entities with regional or municipal powers. This is distinct from a Constitutionally Decentralized State in that the state is formed from the subsidiary units. In a constitutionally decentralized state the state pre-exists the regions and constitutionally devolves some of its power to them.

Unitary States with Federal Arrangements consist of formerly unitary polities which make limited use of federal arrangements to accommodate ethnic, religious, linguistic or ideological differences within an existing population. Usually, this is articulated through autonomy arrangements for particular territories or groups.

Leagues and Partial Unions are also formed to provide for intergovernmental cooperation on a variety of issues without completely restructuring preexisting fundamental political arrangements. Economic unions provide two or more politically sovereign states with the opportunity to unite to form a common economy for mutual benefit. This may be done in specific spheres without formal linkages to any other sphere (e.g., Benelux). A league provides for less integration in a single sphere, but provides for intergovernmental sharing on a quasi-voluntary basis across several spheres (e.g., ASEAN or the Nordic Council).

Many polities combine more than one arrangement and many of these structures can accommodate a multiplicity of needs. What is crucial is that there really be a will to achieve a solution utilizing federal principles, whether it is based on a commitment to federalism or upon interests.

It is far from certain that the parties to the Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian conflict have the will to federate. Nevertheless, there is no reason to presuppose that they could not develop the will under the proper circumstances. The objective conditions for federal solutions prevail, although the events of this century make it difficult to achieve. The question remains, however, as to whether there is a sufficient cultural basis for making federalism work among these peoples.

In order to successfully integrate federalism into a given polity, a federal political culture must exist, or be developed, within the constituent population. Among the factors which must be developed are a commitment to democratic government, a willingness to accept pluralism and power-sharing, an agreement to resolve conflict through negotiation, and finally, a sense of self-restraint in pursuing political goals and in the exercise of power which reaches beyond the other tenets of democratic government to include a commitment to power-sharing.

Israeli Jews come from a long Jewish political tradition of federalism and a deeply federal political culture. A deep relationship between Jews and federalism can be traced back to the Bible: the first manifestation of God's covenant with Israel was the confederation/federation of the twelve tribes. Their federalism was reflected in the tribal federation and covenants of the Bible and through the federal political structures developed in most diaspora communities. Study of this dimension of the Jewish political tradition indicates how this federalist infrastructure has contributed to the Jews' predisposition toward constitutionalized power-sharing.

For the Arab world it is difficult to generalize. Different parts of the Arab world have had different historical and cultural experiences which have molded their individual political cultures. For example, Egyptian national existence has been based on a strong hierarchy and there is very little historical reason for a predisposition toward power-sharing. The Palestinian experience, on the other hand, has historically been based on a strong village and familial structure, providing for a large degree of institutionalized decentralization. The Bedouin experience has been very open to federalism due to the confederal links which exist among clans and tribes.

Nothing in modern political thought among Arab states resembles a theory of federalism. With the exception of the United Arab Emirates (essentially a Bedouin confederation in modern dress), all twentieth century experiments with federalism in the Arab world have failed. Islam is also a vital force in influencing modern Arab political thought. Muslim political theory emphasizes hierarchical and often personalized rule, with consideration for how to induce justice by hierarchical rulers, rather than how ruling hierarchies can be constitutionally limited. Furthermore, Islamic doctrine seems to almost prevent anything other than a superior-subordinate relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims. As dhimmi (protected inferior peoples), Jews and other non-Muslims were respected as "peoples of the book" in Muslim societies, yet they were not considered to be equals or potential partners for governance. Such covenants as there are in Islam are hierarchical, regulating and regularizing the relationships between superior and subordinate.

Some contemporary Muslim thinkers have come to believe that the Arabs might, in fact, be predisposed toward some form of federalism because they are perforce a federal nation divided into peoples and states. This is reflected by such state names as the Egyptian Arab Republic and the Syrian Arab Republic and also by their belief that, like the Bedouin, Arab states wage war against one another without losing their sense of common nationhood (umma), even as they preserve their separate peoplehoods (wataniya).

Examination of the historical experience of the Palestinians allows some room for optimism. Traditionally, Palestinian society has been highly decentralized -- each village self-contained within the context of whatever external rule was imposed. Rule was shared among the various dominant clans (hamulot) and the leadership came from the heads of notable families. Adult males were able to participate in the governance of the village through their activity in the village militia. This system of governance prevailed through 1948 but it was replaced by more formal local government when these villages came under Jordanian, Israeli or Egyptian rule.

The Arabs as a whole (including the Palestinians and the Hashemite Jordanians) do not appear to be readily open to federal arrangements with non-Arabs, and especially with non-Muslims. But the Palestinians do have a history of informal power-sharing between the village and the state and, in view of the range of options and flexibility inherent in the various federalist options, it may be possible to construct an arrangement not in contradiction with Arab political culture, and, moreover, to adapt the Arab political heritage to a federalist solution.

The Argument Against a Fully Independent State

Why must there be a federal solution as opposed to the establishment of a fully independent, sovereign Palestinian state? Supporters of such a state argue on several levels. They say that Israeli military power is easily deployable against terrorist attacks or peace treaty violations that might come from such a Palestinian state. Yet, it is impossible to invade a neighboring state for what could be perceived in world public opinion as "trifling reasons." Even a military reaction to major violations may be impeded by objections from superpower friends (again, witness United States demands on Israel in the Gulf crisis) and, while military intervention may be called for, such operations cost precious lives and continual loss of life is unacceptable. Opportunity for retaliation is severely constrained by world public opinion and also by the fact that retaliation often provokes counterattack. While a state cannot go to war over every individual terrorist incident, each incident can bring about injury and often death.

Supporters of such a state argue that "unless we try, we will never know." The establishment of a Palestinian state would require Israel to withdraw from essentially all the territories it captured in 1967 on the grounds that no truncated West Bank Palestinian state could possibly satisfy the aspirations of the Palestinian Arabs. The ramifications of such a state are that:

-- Israel would give up all strategic depth.

-- The IDF would give up even minimum defensive positions.

-- Questions exist as to whether there would be room for positioning troops to secure main population centers.

Furthermore, once a state was established, widely recognized and admitted to the United Nations (as a Palestinian state is sure to be), Israel would have to withdraw from land it occupied in a war, even if it had been provoked, because states themselves, as political entities, are sacrosanct. This would leave a continuing threat intact and able to regroup. If, on the other hand, the Palestinians were permanently linked to Jordan, borders could be altered if military confrontation was called for, without threatening the existence of the state itself.

Supporters of a Palestinian state argue that the pleasures and responsibilities of statehood would deter the Palestinians from risking what they have gained in a state. Israelis hope that this will be the case. Yet there are many and varied examples of peoples for whom statehood has not brought moderation, but rather increased radicalism. Take two extreme examples: when Pol Pot took over in Cambodia, he embarked on a genocide of his own people, and Hitler, whose election was viewed as a reaction to the creeping power of the Bolsheviks, clearly did not become more moderate as a result of his acquisition of power. To suggest that moderation would occur among the Palestinians is nothing more than a hope at this point.

Finally, Israeli supporters of a Palestinian state argue that the formation of such a state would provoke internal troubles for the Palestinians as local leaders confront diaspora PLO leadership, thereby preoccupying them. Rather than being a compelling argument for the formation of such a state, this argument works quite the other way. Such internal dispute on the part of the Palestinian leadership could, in fact, lead to increased terrorist action against the Israeli people since such actions could serve to unite the disparate elements behind a common goal. This activity would be even more appealing as their right to statehood would be constantly upheld by the international community. Even if the Palestinian government were not committed to such a policy of violence, they would have a difficult time (and one might wonder if they would even have the inclination towards) controlling those factions among the population who were discontented with an agreement with Israel and wanted to continue "the struggle."

From a strategic point of view, these "irreconcilables" would have the ability to shoot missiles at airplanes at Ben-Gurion Airport (only 3 miles from the former Green Line) or into the heart of Tel Aviv. Beyond that, all Israeli coastal areas and the Jerusalem area (areas where six out of seven Israelis live) would be in the gunsights of individual terrorists. If the Palestinian leadership were preoccupied with an internal power struggle, it is even less likely that the Palestinian government would have the will or the wherewithal to control these "irreconcilables."

The lack of economic viability and the limited opportunity for independent development is also an impediment to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and it could provoke further radicalization of certain elements of the Palestinian population.

There is no doubt that the Palestinians do need some kind of territorial political entity to satisfy their legitimate group aspirations. There is also no doubt that it is also better, from a Jewish point of view, for Israel to separate from the Palestinian minority who will always be dissatisfied with their status unhappy as a minority in the Jewish state and who may, in time, demographically overtake the Jews, potentially threatening the Jewish character of Israel. The mass immigration of Jews from the former USSR will delay that possibility for a generation or two but it is still a real one. But with well over 250,000 Jews now living in what is defined by the world as the West Bank (half of them in the new Jerusalem neighborhoods built since 1967, and the other half scattered in the Judean and Samarian highlands and along the western border of Samaria), it is highly unlikely that these neighborhoods and settlements would be evacuated under any circumstances. If the Palestinians will not give up their claims to these territories and the Israelis will not leave them, some other solution must be sought, even by those who want to provide the maximum possible self-determination for the Palestinian Arabs.

No decision based on two states can be made without considering the Palestinian character of Jordan. The population of Jordan is more than 70 percent Palestinian. More Palestinians live in Jordan than in the West Bank and Gaza combined and Palestinians dominate the key economic and political positions outside of the army. Israel need not acquiesce to two Palestinian states, one east and another west of the Jordan river, each in a small land, especially since the PLO makes no secret of its grand ambition to take over the existing states on both banks of the Jordan and to consolidate them into one Palestinian whole.

Realities of Today

Over twenty years after the end of the Six-Day War, there are new realities which must be taken into account in the search for a viable solution to the problem of the land beyond the former Green Line. These new realities include:

-- the growth of the Jewish settlements

-- the web of economic integration and integration of public services (i.e., roads, water, electricity)

Growth of Jewish Settlements:

Since settlement of the territories began shortly after the end of the Six-Day War, there has been a marked change in the character of the settlers, reflective of the increased integration of the territories into Israel proper. In the beginning only the hardy ideologists settled the land. These were the young pioneers of the Jordan Valley, the Gush Emunim settlers in the Judean and Samarian heartland, or the sons and daughters of the Etzion Bloc "returning home" to land first settled by their families before the 1948 war. These settlers came to assert the right of the Jews to the whole of Eretz Israel.

Toward the end of the 1970s, less militant supporters of the government's policy to absorb the territories joined the settlement movement. These were not ideological crusaders but people who saw personal benefit in moving to the settlements as well as an opportunity "to be of service to their people." A third group of people moved into the territories in the 1980s; settling principally along the western edge of Samaria "ten minutes from Kfar Saba." They wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to have better housing than they could afford elsewhere. It is this group (vastly outnumbering the first two) which has provided the most settlers.

In the late 1980s, the pace of settlement slowed due in large part to lack of funding, lack of Jews and the influence of the intifada. But the reality of this creeping integration still exists and, even if at a slower pace, settlement still continues.

Economic Interdependence and Public Service Delivery:

The present economic interaction between Israel and the territories takes the form of a common market incorporating industrial growth and agricultural development. The unusually high economic growth rate that was a feature in the territories until overwhelmed by political events was paralleled by substantial gains in economic welfare, reflecting a steep rise in the disposable income of the Palestinians and a shift in their occupational structure toward that of a more developed economy. Between 1972 and 1987 the percentage of Palestinians in Gaza owning a gas or electric cooking appliance rose from 6.5 percent to 87.1 percent. There was also a dramatic rise in numbers of people owning refrigerators (from 8.7 percent to 78 percent).

Since the mid-1980s the West Bank and Gaza Palestinians have made efforts to foster independent economic activity but they have proven disastrous. Citrus, their primary potential export, is a case in point. After winning the political battle to sell citrus directly to the European Community, the shipments did not arrive on time, the European agents hired by the Palestinians were incompetent, and the prices were far too high. Needless to say, the effort failed.

The integration of the public service systems including roads, electricity, water sources and communications lines is well-nigh complete. While political realities make almost anything possible in changing these systems -- including the governmental equivalent of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face -- separation would inflict great costs on the population. In sum, under any future political arrangement, Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza District should, for their own benefit, maintain close economic relations with both Israel and Jordan.

The Rise and Fall of De Facto Shared Rule

De facto shared rule existed among Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians in the territories between 1967 and 1987. During that period the Palestinians had almost complete internal self-government under the umbrella of the Israeli and Jordanian governments.

Under this arrangement, Israel controlled security and the economy and Jordan facilitated relationships between Judea and Samaria and the Arab world. Jordan also provided most Palestinians with citizenship and the Jordanian curriculum was used in Palestinian schools. Finally, Jordan provided the Palestinians with their second largest outlet for exports (after Israel) and facilitated trade relations with the rest of the Arab world.

The current legal system developed during that time from Jordanian legal foundations to incorporate substantial elements of Israeli law (both for Palestinians and for Jews). In recent years Israeli law has become especially binding on Israeli citizen settlers due to the institution of local and regional councils for Israeli citizens instituted beginning in March 1978.

The arrangement between Israel and Jordan was formalized in August 1986. It was disrupted at first by internal Israeli politics as Shimon Peres sought to regain the premiership just as Jordan and Israel had begun to take steps to give the arrangement a more permanent character. It was ended de facto a year later by the intifada.

Impediments to Success

What are the possible impediments to the adoption and implementation of a successful federal solution to the current conflict? They include: symbolic and emotional demands; timing; the problem of a federal political culture; the will to act; demographic concerns; fear and mistrust between Jordan and the Palestinians; and the problem of drawing borders.

One of the major obstacles to a federal solution is the potential failure to meet the symbolic and emotional demands of one or more parties (here, especially, the Palestinians). The Palestinians seek maximum symbolic satisfaction to the point where the symbols may even play more of a role than the reality. For a long time, Palestinian leaders rejected any solution that promised less than their dream of removing Israel and taking over all of Palestine. Now, some of those leaders have come to modify their views and to realize that a federal solution is, at the very least, the first step towards the establishment of Palestinian self-determination in a homeland of their own.

While some leaders view this as "selling-out," others perceive the federal plan as an opportunity to start the process of building toward an independent Palestinian state. It is this view that kept the Shamir government from agreeing to negotiation with the PLO. They believe (as on some level the Palestinians hope), that the federal framework would be at most cosmetic and it would pose an intolerable risk for Israel. They were not willing to risk Israeli security and being cut off from part of historic Eretz Israel, for a federated Palestinian state, even under the most controlled circumstances.

Timing is also a major issue for the successful resolution of the conflict. Even the best idea presented at the wrong time is doomed to fail. Historically, this has been the case. When the Jews were ready for partition, between 1937 and 1947, the Arabs were not. When the Jews were reconciled to acceptance of the 1949 armistice lines, the Arabs were not, leading them to launch the Six-Day War. Now, the Palestinians are finally ready for a repartition or a return to the pre-1967 boundaries but for the Israelis it is too late. In the period from 1986 to 1988, the signs were strong that all parties were converging on some sort of federal solution as the other options expired. Then the countries of the European Community and elements of the Israeli left publicly came out in support of a two-state solution. At that point, there was no reason for the Palestinians to ask for less, again destroying the momentum toward peace.

The political cultures of those involved, and their adaptability to federal solutions, is very important in the implementation and maintenance of any federal arrangement. Although some cultures might seem opposed, even antithetical to a federal system, culture, as everything, changes, and just as it molds laws and institutions, it is also molded by them and by circumstances.

The European Community provides a good example of a confederation where no member has a deeply rooted, clearly federal political culture. France has a political culture antithetical to federalism. Germany is an example of a country where there is a mixture of cultures but where the anti-federalist elements have been dominant. Spain has tendencies toward both centralization and anarchism, just as Belgium has tendencies toward ethnic exclusivism. Both Britain and the Netherlands, while the most predisposed toward federal arrangements, have rejected federalism for mild decentralization. Denmark has never contemplated any federal arrangement. Greece and Portugal are even more alienated from any federal political culture. And yet, in spite of this, the European Community is developing well and expanding its ties, from its start as a league, to a loose confederation and, soon, to an ever more united confederation or even a federation.

Leadership is another variable which must be taken into account when looking for a viable solution. There must be leaders bold enough to take the necessary steps at the right time. Often, an unsure public can be guided by persuasive leadership, and bold actions of good faith and negotiation at the right time can often make the difference between a successful solution and a stalemate. One of the most critical questions is whether there will be adequate leadership in Israel, Jordan and among the Palestinians all at the same time.

The demographic problem is another aspect of the conflict which cannot be overlooked because it very clearly has an impact on the situation both within the Green Line and in the territories outside. If not properly designed, a federal solution could link Israel with an Arab population larger than the Jewish population, especially if Jordan was to be included and the Palestinian refugees were to settle in the Arab state. Yet, without Jordan's participation, as has been mentioned previously, most Israelis believe that too much would have to be conceded to a separate Palestinian state and Israeli security would be jeopardized.

The mutual fear and mistrust between the Hashemite rulers of Jordan and the Palestinians will obviously have a great impact on the success of any federated agreement. The Palestinians have often called themselves "the Jews of the Arab world" because of their grave mistreatment at the hands of their brethren. Their separate Palestinian identity was forged partly as a response to the other Arabs' lack of a willingness to absorb them, to treat them well, or even to support their cause beyond the bare minimum. The Palestinians have been periodically attacked and persecuted at the hands of other Arab states (including Jordan) because they have been viewed as a subversive force. Jordan is especially responsive to such agitation since the King realizes that Jordan is still viewed by most Palestinians as Eastern Falastin. Israel's interest is to link a settlement with a joint Palestinian-Jordanian agreement. Although the Palestinians are not happy with the prospect, it seems that they would accept it if there was no other choice.

Finally, although borders would be expected to remain open under a federal arrangement, they still must be agreed upon. In drawing the borders, someone wins and someone loses. Yet under a federal arrangement rights beyond the borders are designed to compensate for actual territorial loss. Who will have access to what? Under what conditions? The Jewish settlers living in the midst of the Arabs are a problem for both Jews and Palestinians, as are the Arabs in pre-1967 Israel. Here, amidst the complexity of the territorial situation, a win-lose situation is not constructive. What must be found is a win-win scenario. Eleven options for federal solutions are described in Table 2.

Table 2


The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has identified eleven possible federal solutions, parts of which, of course, can be combined with one another to develop even more options. While all of those solutions are in principle possible, some are extremely unlikely for all of the other reasons which effect the resolution of the conflict, while some are more possible and thus may be more likely. However, here we will list all eleven options with their implications and problems to be overcome before they can be implemented.

Option No.
Problems to be Overcome
1: Israel-Palestine Federation: Palestinian constituent state federated with Israel creating bi-state federation establishes a new primary political entity with one general government uniting two constituent or federated states each with its own political institutions plus substantive powers reserved for them and other powers assigned to the federal government. Both states share in the federal government with Jews and Arabs having equal opportunity to reach and hold key federal office. a) The current State of Israel would belong to a larger body (the federation). This involves a drastic change in Israel's political system and status.
b) Palestinians who agree will be alienated from other Moslem Arab states -- it must be "worth" this alienation.
c) Federation must allow both peoples to retain links to diaspora communities.
d) The solution must be mutually satisfying to each group in the context of conflicting ideologies of Zionism and Palestinian-Arab nationalism.
e) A two-state federation must be based on the full equality of each state -- this does not address the various imbalances between them.
f) Jerusalem could be a federal district and the seat of federal government. it could also serve as the seat of the individual state governments.
Both sides must want such a federation. This is problematic, especially since implicit in the creation of a new political entity of this kind is a common sense of nationhood.
  The inequalities between the two constituent states must be balanced or dispersed. A two-state federation in which one state is strong and the other weak can lead to frustration, repression, rebellion, and civil war.
  This plan does not provide for symbolic satisfaction for either side. Israeli Jews will not compromise the sovereign integrity of their present state and the Palestinians want more than would be offered them under this arrangement.
2: Israel-Palestine Confederation The constituent entities remain the primary political units and the general authority has only limited federal delegated powers. Many postmodern confederations are linked through specialized functional authorities rather than a single general authority to assure that where full or substantial powers are transferred in specific areas the transfer does not offer the possibility of extending the powers of the confederal body. An Israel-Palestinian confederation could include two states with permanent boundaries within one general authority or encompassing several joint functional authorities addressing issues common to both states dealing with economic relations and land and water resources. Even foreign affairs or defense could be handled in that way. a) Each state would design and operate its own political institutions.
b) The establishment of a Palestinian-Arab state would be irrevocable no matter what happens to the confederation.
c) The confederation could resolve symbolic demands and demographic problems since each state would have appropriate forms of symbolic expression -- flag, coinage, stamps, etc.
d) Jerusalem could be the seat of both capitals and of confederative institutions, possibly as as separate federal district.
e) A confederation provides greater autonomy for its constituent units.
There would have to be clear limits to the authority assigned to the confederal institutions.
  In a confederation it is relatively easy for each constituent state to secede unless there are provisions to prevent that.
3: Federation of Multiple Jewish and Arab Cantons
Eretz Israel/Palestine and the Golan would be divided into six to twelve separate cantons to be united under a common federal government. Each canton would have a Jewish or Arab majority and will be more or less autonomous. Two-thirds would be Jewish and one-third Arab, reflecting the country's overall population balance.

  A six-canton arrangement with Jewish cantons in the Galilee, the central coast, the Jewish settled portions of the central interior, and the Negev, and Arab cantons in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.
  A nine-canton system with Jewish cantons in the six existing administrative districts of the Ministry of Interior plus the Golan and Arab cantons in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.
  A twelve-canton system which would establish an Arab canton in central Galilee and eight Jewish cantons based on population, geography and territorial considerations.

This solution would require drastic internal political changes in Israel.
  It would provide substantial local autonomy for each canton, especially in the educational, cultural, religious, and social spheres under a clearly-defined constitution.
  The arrangement would be fully federal as in Switzerland where the cantons are the basic units of domestic government.
  Alternatively, it could be constructed as a decentralized system based on federal principles but still a union, similar to the Netherlands where there are eleven provinces to which the national government delegates most domestic functions according to national standards.
In the latter case, the Palestinians will not believe that they have been given enough self-government to join; while the former is too fragmented an arrangement for the Jews to accept.
  The general government must allow for substantial Arab participation and become less clearly Jewish.
  There must be a general division of responsibilities and offices in the general government as well and freedom for independent functions within the cantons. Cultural and religious matters, including special rights for the dominant majority, will be determined by the canton within a general framework of protection for individual and group rights. The cantons will be able to develop relations with other cantons of their community and diaspora communities outside the state. For example, the Jewish Agency could increase its power to coordinate stronger ties between the Jewish cantons (Israel) and the Jewish people.
  This plan can be implemented unilaterally by Israel within whatever borders chosen with less than full agreement on the part of the Arabs involved as long as there is sufficient Arab tacit consent; it cannot be imposed.
  Jerusalem would be divided among Jewish/Arab cantons or become a federal district and seat of the federal government.
  Opposition from the Jewish community over fragmentation is to be expected.
4: Palestinian Arab State (or entity) Associated with Israel
Israel would annex territories needed for its security and in the area not directly annexed by Israel one or more self-governing entities would be established with all requisite internal institutions but constitutionally linked/associated with Israel in specific and binding ways.
At the very least, associated statehood provides an opportunity for flexibility in a transitional phase toward permanent association, full incorporation, or full separation. This option recognizes the necessity for autonomy based on cultural differences within an overall political situation where both full separation and full federation of equals is precluded.
 It provides for immediate institutionalization of a mutually beneficial arrangement, without closing the door to future developments in several possible directions. Israel retains intact and unchanged its control over foreign affairs, defense and security for the entire territory.
  The Palestinian federated state gains internal autonomy in all domestic political, administrative, social and cultural matters under very limited general oversight of the Israeli government (primarily judicial).
 The Palestinians could send non-voting delegates to the Knesset but would not vote for MKs since they would have their own legislature.
  Jerusalem would require special status.
 This option can be implemented whenever the Palestinians are ready.
  This option brings the least change to the Israeli status quo, especially with regard to the security and the Jewish character of Israel.
The difficulty of obtaining Arab cooperation.
 The necessity for concessions from Israel -- the creation of any Palestinian Arab entity is new and permanent (irrevocable).
 The size and proximity of the entity. While there are precedents for such an arrangement, they never have been tried between two polities so close in population at such close geographical proximity. There remains the possibility of the Palestinians transforming this arrangement into a platform for more radical demands.
5: Israel-Jordan Confederation with Palestinian Arabs incorporated in Jordan
Under this option, the confederation itself would be weaker than the Israeli and Jordanian constituent states but would have some common political institutions with some substantive powers.
  The constitutional linkage of a pluralistic, competitive and frequently contentious democracy with an absolute monarchy is not possible. Jordan would have to change its regime. There is a lack of precedent for successful confederation among such different cultural, religious, and political institutions.
  The option would require the permanent linkage of Israel with an even larger number of Arabs, virtually assuring an Arab majority in the confederation as a whole.
  The status of Jerusalem would remain a problem although it could become the seat of the confederation.
  The appeal of this option is that a confederation with free territorial access to all the citizens of its constituent states would lessen the problems of defining precise boundaries within the confederation as a whole. It also could avoid a distinct Palestinian entity although that would be objectionable to the Palestinians unless Jordan were to become a Palestinian state. Another version of this option would establish binding arrangements linking the two states, less comprehensive than a full confederation but equally binding in a more limited sphere; e.g., a common market, security arrangements, and certain technical functions.
6: Israel-Jordan Confederation with Palestinian Entity Federated with One or the Other Similar to Option 5 (with the same problems) plus:
  -- additional border problems with three rather than two constituent entities;
  -- an additional layer of institutions;
  -- creation of an explicitly Palestinian entity.
  This option would diffuse the demographic problem and fulfill Palestinian aspirations for their own entity, yet would allow redrawing of the border west of the river for Israel's security needs. Jordan would become a Palestinian state, at least de facto, with or without a Hashemite ruler.
  Jerusalem could become the seat of the confederation. If the Palestinians chose federation with Israel, it could be the federal capital for both.
7: Israel Incorporation of the Territories with an Internal Consociational Arrangement on a Constitutional Basis
  8: Totally Non-Territorial Consociational Federation within the Entire Area
  Both of these options involve incorporation of Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and the Golan on the basis that would give either the Arabs thus incorporated (#7) or all the Arabs on both sides of the Green Line, including those already Israeli citizens (#8), self-government for certain purposes on a non-territorial basis, what has been termed consociationalism in contemporary political science.
There are several broad variations in consociational forms either involving sharp separations of functions or shared administration or some combination.
  The population of Israel would have to be divided into communities: e.g., Jewish, Muslim, Christian or Druse and small communities, each having authority over religion, culture, education, with appropriate institutions to carry them out and to raise revenues to supplement general funding.
  The general government would have to be organized to provide for representation and participation of each community in the overall government. The principal offices of government would be divided among the communities and rearranged internally for community representation.
  Jerusalem would be the capital of the whole state and the seat of the consociational authority.
Such an arrangement may require different classes of citizenship, generally viewed as unequal/undemocratic. Different classes of citizens allow differing relations between people and territory.
  Such an arrangement would allow Israel to maintain clear control over the Land of Israel (all territories) while still allowing Arab self-government. At the same time, the absorbed Arabs would have equality, thus raising questions about preserving the Jewish character of the state.
  The option would preserve Palestinian national aspirations without giving them an independent state. This could pose problems for both sides.
  Some way must be found to make the arrangement appealing to all parties.
  There are problems of design and implementation -- no historical precedent for such an arrangement in this region other than Lebanon.
  The centralized nature of the Israeli welfare state would have to be modified.
  The absorption of a large, potentially restless minority with the potential of becoming a majority in an untested model is problematic.
  This option depends on a delicate balance among the partners (demographically and ideologically). Changes in demography, ideological commitment, new elements introduced can cause the collapse of this system.
9: Condominium -- Joint Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian Rule over Territories with Local Authorities Attached to One or the Other for Civil Purposes
  This plan would keep the administered territories within Israel's security orbit, while recognizing the Palestinian Arabs' right to political status there. The economic links with the East Bank would be formalized, local affairs would be left to the residents of the territories, Israeli and the Arab state (Jordanian) civil jurisdiction would be divided along municipal boundaries with the residents of each municipality choosing the state with which to affiliate.
It is assumed that all the Arab cities/towns would choose to remain municipalities of the Arab state with substantial internal autonomy. Gaza would affiliate with the Arab state, giving it a sea outlet to the west.
  The Jewish cities and settlements in the Etzion Bloc, Judea, the Samarian hills, the Jordan Valley, the Samarian foothills and the Gaza region would choose to be linked to Israel, probably through their regional councils.
  A variant on this arrangement would be that groups of contiguous municipalities form regions to be attached to Israel or Jordan. This would give more visibility to the Palestinians and also would give more security to Israeli settlements.
  Governance would be by municipal authority and agents of the mother state. Each state would apply its own laws, administrative arrangements, and standard of service.
  Vacant state lands would pass to Israel (for protection). In exchange, the Arab state would be given a formal presence/rights in Jerusalem, especially at the Muslim holy places. Other territory not included within or otherwise separated from the boundaries of existing towns/villages would be administered by the condominium authority and open to settlement by Jews or Arabs according to agreed-upon procedures.
  The state affiliation of new settlements would be by jointly established procedures including the choice of citizenship. This option would allow Palestinians to preserve their national identity and pan-Arab ties and would not jeopardize Israel's security or identity.
  There would be a condominium council, principally as a coordinative body but also to enact ordinances for condominium areas under conditions established by the two states. Funds would come from the budgets of the two states and local taxes. Residents of the territories will pay taxes to their state of citizenship and to the municipality in which they reside.
  The territories would be demilitarized with safeguards for Israel. Military control ultimately will be joint, with a symbolic Arab military presence at the beginning that in time will develop into a joint command.
  There would be substantially free movement of Jews and Arabs into and out of the territories.
  The right of all residents to freely choose citizenship affiliation and to live within a communal framework giving that citizenship meaning would be protected.
  There would be substantial economic integration of Israel, Jordan, and the territories.
  There would be provision for solving the refugee problem in part by opening territories for resettlement.
This plan requires the participation of Jordan as such or as a Palestinian state.
  The Palestinians would have to find their symbolic satisfaction in the Arab state.
  Both sides must surrender rights to exclusive rule over any part of the territories in return for a share in the whole.

Features of the Plan:
  This option has maximum flexibility.
  It provides for variable levels of Israel/Palestinian/Jordanian control or joint authority control. Joint authorities can vary in make-up.
  The implementation of this option can be by stages and the details do not have to be settled at once.
  There are possibilities for different arrangements for Arab and Jewish local areas.
  Outside of the territories there is a minimum of mutual involvement.

10: Various Partial or Sectoral Federal Arrangements such as a Customs Union, Common Market or Joint Special Purpose Authorities Serving Both States This option has the greatest flexibility. It could incorporate substantial parts of most preceding options.
  It may invite widened participation, for example, with part or all of Lebanon, Jordan and the territories in a common market or various special authorities.
  The arena of shared decision-making can be wide or narrow.
  It is a vehicle for joint development of water resources, economic development or religious sites, common efforts to promote tourism.
  It could provide joint administration of segments of Jerusalem.
  It could include provisions for a general authority with varying functions as in #9.
  Limited joint projects have special appeal in early stages of formalized cooperation and can deliver benefits without foreclosing options on overall boundaries, political institutions, or division of critical functional areas.
-- Symbolic satisfaction
-- Boundaries between the states
-- Role of the Palestinians
11: Bilateral Federal Arrangements with Different Kinds of Links between Israel and the Territories or Jordan
  Israel could formulate different bilateral arrangements with any of the partners within the area to be served, e.g., one boundary for water resources development, a different one for economic development, another for control of communicable diseases, and another for security. The institutional mechanisms can vary also.

The Best Alternative?

Is there a best solution? There is no single best solution under all circumstances. What is proposed here is what we believe to be at this time the most viable and pragmatic solution with a chance of successful implementation and sufficient fail-safe mechanisms to minimize the risks that must be taken by the parties in question if there is to be any solution.

From Israel's point of view, as has been articulated previously, a proper federal solution would provide the Jewish state with peace, appropriate security guarantees, provide protection for the Jewish settlements in the territories, and a share in the land's common resources (particularly water resources). These are three absolute necessities in the minds of virtually all Israelis, however they interpret the way to achieve them.

For the Palestinians, there remains a strong interest in being linked in some way with their brethren east of the Jordan river, located in territory which, according to the original League of Nations mandate and the PLO platform, should be part of any Palestinian state. When the PNC recognized Israel's right to exist in its statement in Algiers, it made no concessions whatsoever with regard to Jordan's right to exist independently of the proposed Palestinian state. In spite of that, Arafat is reluctant to accept Jordan's offer of federation because the Palestinians know that by accepting even a simple confederation with Jordan they will remain at the mercy of the Hashemite rulers and the Jordan army which has crushed them before and has promised to do so again if necessary. Despite recent developments in Jordan, Hussein has little or no commitment to republican, not to speak of democratic, ideals. Jordan, indeed, should be even more Palestinian than it is.

For Hussein and his Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, a federalist solution offers an opportunity to regain a foothold west of the river including a presence in Jerusalem at least (having some connection with the holy sites located there). The advantages of obtaining access to a port directly on the Mediterranean (which would come with Gaza) would also hold great appeal to Jordan.

In the interim, the only way in which a Palestinian link with Jordan would protect the Palestinians is if Israel were involved as a third party. An Israeli counterbalance to the Hashemite ruler would be a powerful guarantee of Palestinian self-government. The Palestinians, to gain a reasonable measure of self-determination, must accept a federal solution and find the appropriate partner or partners for it. Since neither Israel nor Jordan is acceptable alone, perhaps the Palestinians can be brought to realize that what is good for them is a combination of both -- just as Israel has come to realize that, since it will not be allowed simply to absorb the territories, such an arrangement would be the lesser of two evils for it. Since Jordan has no other option, it will have to come to the same conclusion.

It seems that given the considerations of the minimal absolute needs of each of the parties involved, at this juncture the best solution possible would encompass a Palestinian-Jordanian federation in new boundaries that reflect Israel's security needs, overlaid by a confederation with Israel.

A Palestinian-Jordanian federation would mean one overarching general government for all of the Arab-governed territories on the east and west banks of the Jordan river, divided into two or more constituent states, at least one of which would be controlled by the Palestinian Arabs west of the Jordan river. Israel's role would be primarily to act as a guarantor that both sides live up to their federal obligations as determined by the peace settlement and the parallel constitutional negotiations between King Hussein and the Palestinians. The integrity of the federation will be important because the federation will be viewed as one Arab state (albeit with two or more constituent entities) in the realm of international affairs.

While the Jordanian-Palestinian federation takes hold, Israel (territorially adjusted to include the State of Israel and segments of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza needed for security purposes or so extensively settled as to be appropriately part of the Jewish state) would be integrated into the arrangement through a confederal arrangement with the Jordanian-Palestinian federation. In a confederation, the states that come together can preserve their full political and juridical characters while establishing certain permanent joint bodies to serve their common needs (as opposed to a federation where one overarching general government rules a single polity.

This arrangement would guarantee Israelis access to the territories that they give up and will also give them a share in critical decisions concerning water rights and other common concerns. Among the tasks that could be entrusted to the confederal administration would be security in the former administered territories (other than the local police), control and distribution of water resources, economic and fiscal coordination including the maintenance of an open labor market and the promotion of economic development. The functions of the confederation could be conducted by the confederal governing institutions directly, or they could be assigned temporarily (or permanently) to one state or the other. For example, Israel could be made solely (or principally) responsible for security matters for a set period, after which, if things worked well, security could become a shared function.

Such a confederative structure could be governed through a council whose members would be appointed by the parties involved, either through the two states or, perhaps more effectively, by Israel and each of the federated states of Palestine/Jordan. If the former, voting could be on the basis of parity. In the case of the latter, voting would have to be weighted so that the Israeli vote would equal that of the Arabs. The capital of this confederation would be located in Jerusalem and the Arab presence in Jerusalem could be acknowledged in an appropriate manner. Moreover, any territorial concessions which might be made would be based on an allocation of jurisdiction rather than decisions on ultimate sovereignty, either indefinitely or for an interim period.

Such a federation-confederation combination as proposed here would fulfill all of the fundamental concerns of the involved parties. The Palestinians would get their state, albeit a federal state rather than an independent sovereign one, but they would also be guaranteed a share in the governance of the shared Arab state. Jordan would have a continued standing west of the river. Israel would get secure borders, recognition by its Arab neighbors, and a continuing constitutional relationship with those parts of the historic Land of Israel not within its full political jurisdiction. Most of all there would be peace, a concept which by now the vast majority of the people involved seriously want.

A Possible Governmental Structure

The confederation would comprise two spheres of government: political and administrative. The principal organ of the political sphere would be the Confederation Joint Council (CJC), which should be composed of an equal number of Israeli and Jordanian/Palestinian representatives. Each state -- Israel and Jordan/Palestine -- would select its own representatives (although at least half of the Palestinian/Jordanian delegation should be composed of Palestinian residents of the territories). The representatives on the council would serve at the pleasure of their appointing governments. The council would appoint a secretariat and, for day-to-day business it would be linked to Israel through the Prime Minister's office and to Jordan/Palestine through an appropriate counterpart. The council would be the only body whose jurisdiction would be simultaneously territorial, functional, and personal. It would be directly responsible for four functions within its sphere of competence: enactment of ordinances and by-laws, budget and fiscal management, planning, and legal coordination.

In the administrative sphere, as many mixed authorities as are necessary would be established to administer those functions in the territories best shared by Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians on a trilateral or bilateral basis. Included among such functions would be security, immigration and naturalization, holy places, foreign trade and tourism, refugee rehabilitation, land and water resources and development, banking and currency, and posts and telecommunications. The management of each of these authorities should be vested in boards composed of representatives of the constituting parties. Since each functional authority serves different constituencies, each should have jurisdiction over all people and territories served by its particular function.

Security needs for the confederation should move gradually from Israeli dominance toward parity among the parties. The movement toward parity of responsibility should be a gradual one, contingent on the stability of and relations between the governments. Gradually, these areas could become free of heavy artillery and tank units. In the final stage, both sides could maintain specially trained joint or mixed units to keep order. Local order should be maintained by the police force of the Palestinian federated state (with the possible assistance of a joint force developed by the confederative government).

Economically, the integration of the territories with Israel and Palestine/Jordan should be maintained and even strengthened. This process would be economically beneficial to all parties and would also increase the interdependence of the constituting states within the confederation. Economic development could be used as a tool to strengthen common interests among the parties involved and it would maintain the mutual interest in maintaining the status quo.

How Do We Get There from Here?

Any of the three participating parties could initiate discussion of such a plan. Even Egypt or the United States could offer their good offices to present such a plan. The most essential component of moving toward this negotiated solution is recognition of the parties involved and a willingness to sit down at the table to hammer out a solution.

For some time, both sides have known that Israel and the Palestinians must sit down in direct, face-to-face negotiations, and that the role of the Palestine Liberation Organization will have to be resolved. While most of the center-right majority in the Israeli government rejected their direct participation for many years, so too did much of the center-left. The Palestinians, for their part, unswervingly declared the PLO to be their sole legitimate representative.

The announcement of an Israel-Palestinian agreement negotiated by representatives of the Israel government and the PLO in the names of their respective constituent publics in August 1993 and the signing of that declaration of principles on the White House lawn on September 13 of that year have now put those questions behind us. We now have an agreed-upon framework within which to publicly conduct negotiations to agreed-upon, if ambiguous, goals and targets. The declaration itself is full of ambiguities and it will require much negotiation to reach agreement on concrete steps, but the process is underway.

The end result of the negotiations should be a covenant between the parties which (1) states and recognizes the claims of each; (2) agrees on how those claims will be exercised; (3) establishes appropriate authorities for the governance and adjudication in the territories and between the parties; and (4) fixes the new boundaries of the Palestinian entity to be formed. Accompanying this covenant should be an agreement regarding the stages of implementation of Palestinian self-rule within the shared rule framework and the procedures for moving from stage to stage. This covenant should be the cornerstone of the evolving constitutional relationship among Israel, the Palestinians, and Jordan, and in due course could become the source of sovereignty over the territories.

Following the negotiation of a suitable agreement, the implementation of the shared-rule arrangement must be carefully handled. I would propose that the development process should involve three stages, beginning with administrative autonomy, moving into condominium and ultimately evolving into a complete shared-rule arrangement. The principle of a staged arrangement could be agreed to at the outset but the actual move from one stage to the next would be contingent on the agreement of all parties that suitable progress has been made to warrant such a move.

In the first stage, a representative administrative council could be established in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza region and the military government would be withdrawn. The Palestinians at that time would obtain internal autonomy within the framework of Israeli rule. They would then formulate their own instrumentalities of government and develop an indigenous political leadership.

To manage the territories, a council would be elected by the Palestinian Arab residents of the area (or if this stage were to be implemented in different areas at different times, regional councils would be elected to administer the territories under their jurisdiction). This council would control such functional departments as education, construction and housing, agriculture, health, labor and social welfare. The heads of the departments would be nominated from among the members of the council and jurisdiction would be limited to the Palestinian Arabs or to the municipalities they control, since the primary purpose is to give the Palestinians a scope for self-rule.

At some point during the first stage, Jordan could be invited to join with Israel in establishing a condominium council. This council could assume supreme responsibility for overall legislative, planning, budgeting, and judicial functions for Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza region. It would have equal Israeli and Jordanian representation, with the Palestinians guaranteed full representation within the Jordanian delegation. This would become the supreme authority for the home rule council. At that point, certain joint functional authorities could be established on a bilateral (Israel/Jordan or Israel/Palestinian) or trilateral (Israel/Jordan/Palestinian) basis to give the Arabs a larger governing role.

For the Palestinian Arabs, this condominium arrangement would be a further step in taking on an equal role in determining their own future. For the Israelis, it would involve relinquishing exclusive control over certain powers in return for great legitimation of its authority in the territories on a shared-rule basis. For Jordan it would formally restore a political role west of the Jordan river. Successful implementation of the condominium would fully establish power-sharing as the authoritative basis for a long-term solution and also begin to develop the mechanism and techniques necessary to translate principle into practice. When all are agreed, they can move on to a more permanent solution.

The nature of the final stage, while under a shared-rule confederated framework, would be purposely be left open to provide flexibility for the development of a model that would accommodate the realities of the times. This model would most likely encompass a broad shared-rule arrangement with a confederation of two or three states or, more narrowly, there could be an agreement to continue the condominium or a federal arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians, with functional cooperation with the third party. Time, events, and the relationships involved will no doubt point to the appropriate model.

Hope for the Future

There has never been a better opportunity for doing this than now. The U.S.-led Allied victory in the Gulf, the clear signal that Israel has sent regarding its rejection of an international conference or simple separation of the West Bank and Gaza from its domain, and the new spirit of compromise, however murky it may be, to be found among the Palestinians, offer previously unparalleled opportunities for moving ahead. Let us hope that there will be sufficiently imaginative statesmanship among all of the parties to do so.

Finally, if, under this plan, the Palestinian Arabs may have to accept an "entity" less symbolically satisfying than a politically sovereign state, they will still have taken a giant step toward self-rule so that their chances for full partnership will grow as the federative elements are strengthened or as their power grows in the Arab state. While Israel may have a historical right to the territories, which has a certain status in international law, the Palestinians nonetheless have a right of occupancy, another strongly supported position in international politics. The peoples of the Middle East have never depended upon territory to legitimize or to maintain their existence; they only use it as a form of accommodation. They can enjoy self-rule as peoples at the same time that they share rule with other peoples over the territory in which they all have vested rights. Let us hope that now, in this time of opportunity, the parties involved will recognize their goals and also their limitations, and will come to the table ready to seek a shared solution, amenable to all of the peoples involved.

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