Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Daniel Elazar Papers Index

Israel and the Middle East

Two Peoples--One Land:
Federal Solutions for Israel, the Palestinians, and Jordan


Daniel J. Elazar

The land known to Jews as Eretz Yisrael and to Arabs in recent times as Falastin is the home of two peoples -- Jewish and Arab -- with the latter defining themselves as Palestinians. At present it is divided among two states -- Israel and Jordan -- plus territories inhabited principally but not exclusively by Palestinian Arabs whose political fate has not yet been settled. These two peoples, weary of several generations of conflict, are now seeking a way to coexist and share the land between them for their mutual security and prosperity.

Since the time of the British Mandate, the leading elements on both sides sought coexistence and security through successive partitions of the land, between Palestine and Transjordan in 1921-22, and again west of the Jordan in 1947-48. Partition, however, has not brought an end to the conflict or sufficient satisfaction of the claims of all parties. Now it is time to find a way to share the land without an exclusive reliance on partition. This book is dedicated to the proposition that the only way to do so is through some form of federal solution which will secure for each party a polity of its own but in such a way that all three must share in the governance of the land's common goods. It is this writer's deep and considered belief that the federal option is the only option for peace.

Federalism combines self-rule and shared rule. It is a coming together of equals in such a way that they can remain separate yet be joined, as appropriate. The federal option rejects solutions imposed by force and conquest or the establishment of government through power pyramids. Rather it is based upon reflection and choice, and mutual consent among equals to establish a new governmental matrix within which all will find their place without foregoing their separate characters and cultures and their desire for independent development.

There are many different ways of combining self-rule and shared rule, offering greater or lesser independence for the partners to the federal bargain, more extensive or less extensive common institutions, and different degrees of separation and sharing depending on the function or task to be accomplished. Finding the appropriate federal option for Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, Israel and Jordan, is the most urgent task confronting the peoples in this land in their search for peace and comity. This book is one effort to advance the federal idea, explore the available options, and, where possible, advocate appropriate solutions to our mutual problem.

It is recognized that the achievement of peace in this shared land is a difficult, even daunting, task that requires strong commitment on all sides to a peaceful solution and the requisite political will to make the solution work. All of us are painfully aware of the conflicting claims of the parties to the conflict that until now have been considered by many to be so mutually exclusive as to permit of no compromise. All parties must recognize that however legitimate they believe their claims to be, none can be exercised fully and that the federal option allows all parties to preserve some fair share of their claim by sharing in its exercise with those who are today their antagonists. Once the parties are prepared to take this step, we are confident that they will find the way to make things work. If they are not prepared to do so, we fear that the conflict will continue indefinitely to the very great detriment of us all.

This book is unashamedly written from the Israeli point of view and reflects, first and foremost, Israeli interests in a secure peace that will enable the Jewish state to survive and thrive and to fulfill its Zionist mission. Saying that is not to say that it does not consider Palestinian Arab interests seriously. Quite to the contrary, the virtue of thinking federal is that in a true federal bargain all parties must gain. One who is seriously concerned with Israel's interests would have to be very foolish not to recognize that those interests are bound up with a fair response to the interests of the other people in this land. A federal solution is a way for all parties to try to have their cake and eat it too. Amazingly, that can be done and has been in many parts of the world. Given the conflicting claims with which we are dealing, it is the only way to do so in this case.

This book owes its existence to the many people who have been involved in the program of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs exploring federal solutions for Israel and the territories. That program has been one of the cornerstones of the Jerusalem Center since its founding in 1976. It was initiated at that time as a result of requests from Shimon Peres, then Israel's Minister of Defense, and Teddy Kollek, Mayor of Jerusalem, for studies that would identify all the possible federal options for a general solution and specific applications of the federal principle in the case of Jerusalem. I would like to acknowledge my gratitude to both for helping me take an idea on which I had been working for seven years at that time and bringing it into the policy process.

Among my first partners in the effort was Ira Sharkansky of Hebrew University, with whom I worked on the development of the eleven federal options, and David Clayman who, as the first Director-General of the Jerusalem Center, helped facilitate our work. After we identified the eleven options, we launched a systematic effort to explore them through a series of conferences held jointly with the Department of Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University through the Senator Norman M. Paterson Chair in Intergovernmental Relations, which I have the honor to hold, and assisted by the Bar-Ilan Institute of Local Government. The conferences resulted in a series of books which laid the groundwork for the entire enterprise. I would like to thank all the contributors to those volumes who helped me in my education: the late Benjamin Akzin, Gabiel Ben-Dor, Yehuda Ben-Meir, Leonard Binder, Aryeh Bregman, Moshe Drori, the late Ivo D. Duchacek, Fried Esterbauer, Francine Friedman, Zvi Gitelman, Nathan Glazer, Ilan Greilsammer, the late Louis Guttman, Robert M. Hawkins, Martin Heisler, Dan Horowitz, Eliahu Kanovsky, Jacob M. Landau, Fabio Lorenzoni, Alexandre Marc, Robert Melson, Emile A. Nakhleh, Benjamin Neuberger, Elinor Ostrom, Vincent Ostrom, Shimon Peres, Robert Pranger, Rozann Rothman, Shmuel Sandler, Stephen Schechter, Dan V. Segre, Moshe Shokeid, Shlomo Slonim, Rephael Vardi, Myron Weiner, Alex Weingrod, and Raanan Weitz.

In the course of those conferences the American Enterprise Institute joined us as a partner to help facilitate the exploration and to communicate the results to the Arab world. I would like to thank Robert Pranger and William Baroody, Jr. of AEI for their assistance. The principal published product of that joint effort was Judea, Samaria and Gaza: Views of the Present and Future, whose contributors Moshe Drori, Elisha Efrat, Hillel Frisch, Abraham Lavine, Sasson Levi, Mordechai Nisan, Shmuel Sandler, Jehoshua Schwarz, and Rephael Vardi have my thanks.

After laying the groundwork, the Jerusalem Center sponsored a Study Group on Israel-Arab Peace that issued its report, Shared Rule: The Only Option in June 1983. The members of the Study Group were Gabriel Ben-Dor, Yehuda Ben-Meir, Moshe Drori, the late Haggai Eshed, Yehezkel Flomin, Marcel Korn, Jacob Landau, Yosef Lanir, Ehud Olmert, Dan V. Segre, Shmuel Sandler, Zalman Shoval, and myself. In addition we benefited from the advice and counsel of Yitzhak Modai, Yehuda Ben-Meir, Ehud Olmert, and Yaakov Landau.

As in everything I do, I owe a great debt of gratitude to my colleagues at the Jerusalem Center and Bar-Ilan; especially Shmuel Sandler, who has worked with me in an effort to develop concrete and practical applications of one or another of the federal options as appropriate, and Hillel Frisch, who has been the Center's eyes and ears in the territories for many years. Both also made a notable contribution to the advancement of this project through their book Israel, the Palestinians and the West Bank: A Study in Intercommunal Conflict, and continue to accompany me on this long road toward a federal solution to the conflict.

My graditude also to Zvi R. Marom, the Jerusalem Center Director-General, and its staff, Andrea Arbel, Projects Coordinator; Mirjam Dorn and Pam Sher, our secretaries, make all of this possible. I owe a very special debt of gratitude to Mark Ami-El who has accompanied this manuscript from first to last and Ellen Friedlander, my able research assistant who undertakes the many unglamorous but vital chores that turn a manuscript into a book.

My gratitude also to the Center for the Study of Federalism at Temple University, its staff, and my colleagues there. Nothing I do that deals with federalism is done without my benefiting from their counsel and assistance.

Adar II 5749
March 1989

Elazar Papers Index / JCPA Home Page / Top of Page