Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Daniel Elazar Papers Index

Israel and the Middle East

Some Possible Federal Solutions

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

Daniel J. Elazar

General Principles

The development of a self-rule/shared rule arrangement will require the utmost sensitivity to the needs of the various parties involved. It will have to deal with four principal factors: peoples (or nations), publics, territory, and states. Each of these four represents a separate element in the overall equation.

The two peoples involved, Jewish and Arab, must maintain the maximum degree of independence, since there is little to encourage them to share if that were not guaranteed. The Jewish majority in Israel wishes to preserve the Jewish character of that state and their own Jewish identity, and the Arabs wish self-determination to the fullest possible extent.

Whether as a public or as a people, the Palestinians must be given maximum feasible self-rule within a larger context of sharing. The Palestinian Arabs may have to accept an "entity" less symbolically satisfying than a politically sovereign state, but they will have taken a giant step toward self-rule, so that their chances for full partnership will grow as the federative elements are strengthened. The Arab states have been reluctant to give more than lip service to the idea of a separate Palestinian state -- and there is every reason to believe that they basically oppose it. This indicates that even if Israel were to agree to a full withdrawal, the West Bank Palestinians would end up tied to some larger Arab entity perhaps with even less opportunity for self-rule than Israel is now offering. Thus the Palestinian Arabs should not be too unsettled in the long run if their self-rule comes within a shared Jewish-Arab context. The spread of the Palestinian Arabs on both banks of the Jordan River augurs well for their transformation into the dominant force in the Arab state, sooner or later. The limited yet very real linkage with Israel on the west bank could protect them from the designs of other Arab states or leaders.

The territory now occupied by both peoples, on the other hand, should be subject to the maximum feasible shared rule, since the several claimants have legitimate claims to it. Israel has a historic right that has a certain status in international law, while the Palestinians have a right of occupancy, strongly supported in international politics. The only way to satisfy these conflicting claims is through sharing the territory in some way. The peoples in 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 they share rule with other peoples over the territory in which they all have vested rights.

Finally, Israel and Jordan will wish to maintain their own independence and status as politically sovereign entities. At the same time, they should be linked insofar as necessary to provide the structural and institutional cement for the arrangement. Thus, their separate existence would be guaranteed along with that of the Palestinian entity in a situation in which certain functions, such as control of water resources, tourism, a customs union, or whatever, would be handled by limited-purpose joint authorities.

If a solution is to be attained out of the momentum generated since Camp David, the various sides must be prepared to explore options along these lines. Although the initial forms may be less than any of the parties would wish, the doors will be opened to a developmental process that could transform the states and peoples of the entire land.

Eleven Options

The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has identified eleven basic options based on federal principles. While each of these options is treated separately, they are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Each is comprehensive and may be considered as a solution in and of itself; at the same time, each has various dimensions and can be adapted in various ways. Moreover, elements of each may be combined with others in any solution or implemented in stages. Each option is, in essence, a prescription for a final settlement. This chapter does not deal with the stages involved in reaching such a settlement which no doubt will have to be phased in. The options include some very favorable to one party or the other, and some that require substantial concessions -- even risks -- on the part of either or both. Each will be examined in the body of this chapter.

The eleven basic options are

  1. An Israel-Palestine federation.

  2. An Israel-Palestine confederation.

  3. A federation of multiple Jewish and Arab cantons.

  4. A Palestinian Arab state (or entity) associated with Israel as a federacy (on the model of Puerto Rico and the United States or the Aaland Islands and Finland).

  5. An Israel-Jordan confederation with the Palestinian Arabs fully incorporated into the Jordanian polity.

  6. An Israel-Jordan confederation with a Palestinian Arab partner federated with one or the other.

  7. Israeli incorporation of the territories with an internal consociational arrangement put on a constitutional basis.

  8. A totally non-territorial consociational federation within the entire area.

  9. Condominium: joint Israeli-Jordanian rule over the territories with the local authorities attached to one or the other for civil purposes.

  10. Various partial or sectoral federal arrangements such as a customs union, common market, joint special-purpose authorities, serving two or three states with the capability of being further expanded (e.g., to include Lebanon).

  11. Bifederate arrangements with different kinds of links between Israel, Judea, Samaria and Gaza or Israel and the territories with or without Jordan.

The options can be grouped into the following sets:

  1. Arrangements between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs exclusively, with a Palestinian entity (Options 1, 2, 3, 4).

  2. Comprehensive arrangements between Israel and Jordan (Options 5, 6).

  3. Arrangements involving Israeli absorption of the territories (Options 7, 8).

  4. Multilateral arrangements for special purposes, on a less than comprehensive basis (Options 9, 10, 11).

Each option must be considered in light of the following critical functional areas, judged according to the means to be used to resolve the problems attached to each functional area:

  1. Foreign relations
  2. Police and internal security
  3. Military and external defense
  4. Taxation
  5. Customs, exports, and imports
  6. Banking and currency
  7. Definition of citizenship and control of immigration
  8. Education
  9. Religious sites and services
  10. Ports
  11. Transportation
  12. Posts and telecommunications
  13. Electric power
  14. Water
  15. Tourism
  16. Health
  17. Environmental protection
  18. Economic development
  19. Regulation of commerce and industry

In implementing any particular option, the following critical steps will have to be taken, although not necessarily in the following order:

  1. Defining the critical functional areas to be assigned or reserved, in all or in part, separately or cooperatively, to each entity and to the general authority that will be established to serve them all.

  2. Defining the nature of common and separate political institutions, such as executive, legislative, and judicial bodies, including:

    1. The method of selecting officials;

    2. The assignment of powers and rules of procedure to each of the political institutions;

    3. Rules of suffrage and election;

    4. Scheme or representing residents of each entity and federal district, if any, in their own and the general political institutions;

    5. Assignment of responsibility for the resolution of conflicts between the political institutions of each entity, or between the entities and the general authority.

  3. Defining such geographical boundaries as may be necessary.

  4. Specifying matters regarding the alteration and endurance of the general and Palestinian entities, if any, including opportunities and procedures for amendments, border adjustments, limitations on secession and emergency powers.

  5. Drafting and ratifying a constitution, defining document, or compact.

Specific Options

Option 1: Israel-Palestine Federation

This is the most orthodox federal solution. It proposes the creation of a Palestinian constituent state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip which would be federated with Israel to create a bi-state federation. This solution requires a partnership between separate peoples on the order of Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia but with the democracy characteristic of the United States or Switzerland. The principal dimensions of this option are that it would be a conventional federation, consisting of one general government uniting two constituent or federated states, each with its own political institutions plus substantive powers assigned and/or reserved from the list of critical functional areas. Both states would share in the federal government and Jews and Arabs would have equal opportunity to reach and hold key federal office.

Those who would design such a federation should be aware of the following critical issues:

  1. The federation would link the current State of Israel to a larger political body -- the federation -- with a sizable Arab population that is likely to grow further in absolute and proportional terms as a result of natural increase and possible immigration.

  2. The Palestinians who agree to such an arrangement are likely -- at least in the short run -- to find themselves alienated from other Arab or Moslem states; thus the arrangement offered to the Palestinians would have to be sufficiently attractive to them to be worth the cost of political alienation that they must pay. This, in turn, may pose problems with regard to the Jewish character of Israel.

  3. In order to appeal to each of the major communities involved, the federation must allow each to retain links to respective diaspora communities. Presumably, the Israeli partner will not forego its ties to world Jewry or the Jewish right of return. In a federation where there is a presumption of equality among the entities, the Palestinians would demand similar provisions.

  4. The burden of an Israel-Palestinian federation, in light of the above, is to provide ample measures of symbolic and tangible satisfactions to each entity in the context of what has been a history of sharp conflict between Zionism and Palestinian Arab nationalism.

  5. A two-state federation which must inevitably be based on full equality of the states to succeed, also works against Israel's desire to maintain its own Jewish identity. It does nothing to deal with the "demographic problem" produced by the differential reproduction rates of the two peoples that is one of the most important reasons for Israel's willingness to concede any control over the territories and will remain of concern in any partnership with the Arabs. It will either remain a threat or generate future conflicts if any kind of real or supposed population imbalance should result.

  6. Such a federation would require drastic changes in Israel's present political system.

  7. The status of Jerusalem would not be a problem under this arrangement since it could be established as a federal district and the seat of the federal government. It could be the seat of the two state governments as well if it were so determined by each of them.

A federation is characterized by the fact that it creates a new primary political entity, but in such a manner that the entities which constitute it continue to maintain their respective integrities. The history of federalism shows that it takes two to federate. That is to say, if the federation is to have any chance of success, both parties must be willing to accept the ties between them in the proper federal spirit and have a strong desire to live up to their provisions. This does not seem to be a realistic possibility under present conditions.

Moreover, inequality in such arrangements can be tolerated when the inequalities are more or less balanced or are dispersed among a number of units (as is the case in the United States or Canada). A federation of one strong and one weak unit can lead to frustration and repression, or rebellion and war, particularly when sharp ethnic and ideological differences are involved.

Nor would a federation provide the symbolic satisfactions of statehood that both Israelis and Palestinians seek. Israeli Jews are not about to give up their state and Palestinian Arabs insist that they want something more than a piece of a federation.

It is in the very fact of the new primary entity that the difficulties of federation of heterogeneous populations are to be found. Implicit in any primary political entity is some common sense of nationhood, with all that it implies. For a federation to succeed, there must be proper objective encouragements (e.g., problems of common defense) and a will toward federation as well. To summarize, historically, two-unit federations are particularly difficult to maintain, especially where the units are unequal in crucial ways and each unit serves a particular nationality.

Option 2: Israel-Palestine Confederation

The principal dimensions, critical functional areas, critical issues and critical steps to be taken, are similar to those involved in an Israel-Palestine federation. However, in a confederation, the constituent entities remain the primary political units, and the general authority has only limited federal derivative powers. Indeed, postmodern confederations have tended to rely on a network of specialized functional authorities to link the member states rather than a single general authority. That way, it is possible to transfer full or substantial powers in specific fields without opening the door to encroachment on one overall authority of the confederate units. Thus the specification of shared and reserved powers would leave more in the hands of the entities and less in the hands of the common authority or authorities.

Those considering an Israel-Palestinian or Israel-Jordan/Palestine confederation should think in terms of two or three states, permanently bound within one general authority or several joint functional authorities, which would be assigned responsibilities for dealing with issues common to both. Its assignments could include a minimum of functions, like regulation of economic intercourse and land and water resources between the two or three states. It could include a somewhat larger and more contentious list like foreign affairs and defense; and it could include -- in the first instance or in time -- more and more of the critical functional areas.

No doubt the confederation would be constructed with the minimum necessary responsibilities assigned to the general authority. The rest would be in the hands of the constituent units. Whatever the arrangement, it would be embodied in an appropriate constitutional document.

Each state would be left the tasks of designing and operating its own political institutions. In this case, one issue to be decided in negotiations would be the character of the Palestinian Arab entity recognized as the constituent unit and charged with the responsibility for establishing the permanent institutions. One major implication of this option is the creation of a Palestinian Arab state, a step that, once taken, would be well-nigh irrevocable no matter what the future of the confederation itself.

Properly worked out, a confederation could satisfy the symbolic demands and resolve the demographic problems of both parties if the will were there to resolve those problems. In that respect, this option offers far greater promise than federation.

The problem of Jerusalem could be solved in a manner similar to Option 1. The city could be the seat of the institutions of the confederation as well as the capital of one or both states. The capital district and holy places could come under joint rule of the two states.

The appeal of confederation is in its provision of greater autonomy for the constituent units. On the other hand, a two-unit confederation would confront many of the same difficulties as a two-unit federation, while a confederation of three equal units would likely leave Israel in a permanent minority position. Also, no federation or confederation could work unless all its constituent units were governed democratically or at least in a republican manner.

In practice, the federation-confederation distinction may not long survive in practice. Other than the consensus embodied in the constitution of the confederation, there are no clear standards to keep the architects from assigning more or less of a certain function to the general authority or the states; or to keep subsequent leaders from amending the structure to a shape that is more or less centralized in its allocation of powers. Nor, for that matter, would it be easy to prevent one unit from seceding, other than through the use of force, which, in the context of the Middle East, might well provoke outside intervention.

Option 3: A Federation of Multiple Jewish and Arab Cantons

Under this arrangement, Eretz Israel/Palestine west of the Jordan, plus the Golan would be divided into a number of cantons, united under a common general government, each of which (1) would be more or less autonomous and (2) have either a Jewish or Arab majority. No less than six nor more than twelve cantons should be considered, with the proper ratio to be two-thirds of the cantons dominated by Jewish majorities and one-third Arab. This would more or less reflect the population balance and allow for increases in population in both the Jewish and Arab cantons without disturbing the overall federal balance. So, for example, under a six-canton arrangement, the Jewish cantons could consist of the Galilee, the central coast, the Jewish settled portions of the central interior, and the Negev, while the Arab cantons would consist of the West Bank and Gaza.

Under a nine-canton system, Judea, Samaria and Gaza would each be separate cantons with Arab majorities, while the Jewish cantons could be based on the six existing administrative districts of the Ministry of Interior, more or less, plus the adjacent Golan, which would lessen the chances for the Galilee to shift from Jewish to Arab control.

Under a twelve-canton arrangement, it would be possible to carve out an additional Arab canton in the Western Galilee, thereby granting the growing Arab population in that part of the country greater autonomy. The eight Jewish cantons could be divided more or less on the basis of population and territorial and geographic features.

A cantonal plan such as this would require a drastic internal change in Israel's political system in the sense that the single Jewish state would be transformed into several constituent entities, each with greater or lesser internal autonomy for domestic purposes. These cantons would be given substantial local autonomy, particularly in the educational, cultural, religious and social spheres under a clear constitutional arrangement which could range from a fully federal one (as in Switzerland where the cantons are the basic units of domestic government) to a substantially decentralized system based on federal principles but still unitary in the locus of final authority) as in the Netherlands where the provinces are still subject to substantial national government control. The latter would probably not give the Arabs a sufficient feeling of self-government to encourage them to accept the plan, while the former probably would seem too fragmented for the Jews. On the other hand, both extremes have advantages in dealing with internal divisions which exist within the Jewish and Arab populations of the country.

The general government under this arrangement would have to allow substantial opportunities for an Arab role, and would have to become less clearly Jewish as a result. On the other hand, there is a long history of compromises in the Middle East with regard to the constitutional division of offices on a communal or sectarian basis which could be used to devise a plan for power sharing. So, too, with the division of functions. It is fair to conclude that those functions having to do with cultural and religious matters would be principally in the hands of the cantons, which would be free to provide special status for the dominant communities within them, and to develop relations with the other cantons of their community plus the members of their community outside the boundaries of the state.

For Jews, this might require giving the Jewish Agency renewed importance as a non-state instrumentality for promoting Jewish unity. This would go against the Israeli tendency toward centralization of authority which is problematic in the Israeli political system in any case. At the same time, it might be very useful in developing even stronger ties between Israel and the Jewish people. That is to say, the Jewish people could be tied more firmly to the Jewish cantons in institutionalized ways than they can be to a single Jewish state functioning as the sole repository of political sovereignty in the international arena. The same is true with regard to the Arabs in connection with the Palestinian diaspora or other Arab communities. In a very real sense, this state would be predicated, not only on the existence of two nations within its boundaries, but on the ties between the portions of those nations within the state's boundaries and the portions outside.

A major "plus" of the cantonal plan is that it can be implemented unilaterally within the boundaries that Israel chooses to fix for itself, once even the slightest agreement on the part of the Arabs involved is obtained. Provision can be made for constituent assemblies in each canton, with cantons being maintained as centrally administered territories until such constituent assemblies meet, and with a common constitution or basic law drawn up for the whole country at an appropriate time. On the other hand, it should be quite clear that no such solution can be simply imposed on the Arabs; there has to be sufficient consent on their part. Such consent would give them the autonomy associated with federated (as distinct from sovereign) statehood, at the price of living within a polity that will be dominated by Jews.

Under this arrangement, Jerusalem would either be divided among Jewish and Arab cantons or would become a federal district and the seat of the federal government.

Those who would design a federation of multiple Jewish and Arab cantons will have to take the critical steps specified at the beginning of this chapter. They should also be aware of the four critical issues identified at the beginning of this chapter, plus the additional controversy to be expected within the Jewish community over the issue of the division of the Jewish state. Particular care must be paid to the symbolic issue of dividing nations among several states, as well as to such tangible problems as:

  1. Creating an additional layer of officialdom -- that of the quasi-autonomous canton -- for a Jewish population already burdened by an expensive and cumbersome bureaucracy. It is possible that the change of governmental structure required in moving toward multiple cantons would present an opportunity for a massive reorganization of the various ministries toward more efficient formats. However, it is also possible that the product would just be additional cumbersome bureaucracies within the cantons, added to essentially unchanged state ministries.

  2. Creating an additional arena of policy makers, including perhaps elected cantonal officials to be added to the present municipal and general policy-making arenas. The whole set of elected policy makers may be more than is necessary for a small state, and may further lengthen and obfuscate the procedures for dealing with subsequent policy issues.

  3. The division of Israel into cantons will raise thorny problems of how to divide responsibility for the critical functional areas between the general authority and the cantons. Related to this issue there will be questions concerning the division of existing debt and the subsequent division of taxation among the cantons; and issues of tax equity and equality of service benefits between the cantons that are not so evident (on a geographical basis) in the present unitary state.

What of the demographic situation? Even with free movement of population among regions and the difference in Jewish and Arab rates of reproduction, it is unlikely that the population balance would be altered within more than one canton under either system. Thus the Jewish character of the greater part of the federation would be assured while the Arab character of all areas with heavy concentrations of Arabs would be equally protected. On the other hand, if the Arab population should come to equal or surpass the Jewish population in the country as a whole -- a distinct possibility if a significant number of the Palestinian refugees are allowed to settle in the Arab cantons -- then a two to one cantonal division reflected in the operation of the federal government to preserve Jewish dominance will become untenable.

It may be argued that Israel is too small for a quasi-federal division of such complexity. In fact, the present cease fire lines give Israel an area two-thirds the size of Switzerland or the Netherlands. Moreover, the total population of the polity would be at least 5.5 million, not significantly less than Switzerland's static 5.9 million and is, in fact, nearly double the total population of the United States at the time it adopted its federal constitution.

Even more important, the size and population of the several cantons works out well. It can be assumed that any canton of over 300,000 people is politically and administratively viable. This minimum figure could be reached even under the twelve canton system. Moreover, under either of the systems there could be sufficient balance in area, population, and resources among the regions, both Jewish and Arab, to prevent any single region from dominating the federation.

While precise details as to the form of government to be used in such a political system would have to be worked out by the parties involved, a few general principles must be accepted as the basis for negotiations. There must be a constitutional allocation of powers between each governmental plane (e.g., foreign affairs and defense to the general government, religion to the regional governments) with some powers shared concurrently by both. The institutions of the general government should be designed to protect both the national rights of the majority people and the integrity of the minority people, as well as the civil rights of all individuals. A bicameral legislature would probably be most appropriate with the cantons represented equally in one house and according to population in the other.

Legislation could be initiated in either house and would have to be approved by both. The president and the executive council would be chosen by both houses sitting in joint session, the former for a fixed term and the latter either for a fixed term or for as long as it has the confidence of both houses. It would function as the federal cabinet and its members could be drawn from either house. Where the general government exercises its concurrent powers, every consideration should be given to decentralizing their administration to the cantonal governments.

The cantons would have legislative and administrative organs of their own to enable them to carry out their responsibilities and properly represent their people. Within the limits of the constitutional guarantee of a republican form of government for each, the cantons should have considerable flexibility in creating and adopting their governmental institutions including those of local government, in light of local circumstances.

The judicial system should combine general and regional concerns with local judges appointed from among local residents. The supreme court should have the power to decide questions arising from distribution of powers among the several jurisdictions.

Provisions could be made for intercantonal cooperation in achieving common objectives that would allow the several Jewish and Arab cantons to institutionalize collaboration among themselves where policy would dictate its advisability. Thus, for example, the national aspects of educational policy and administration could be transferred by the cantons to separate intercantonal authorities for Jews and Arabs or to a federal ministry of education with two divisions.

Once the plan is promulgated, representatives in each canton could assemble when ready to form a government and petition for recognition as an autonomous canton within Israel. The dual national aspects of the plan could even be implemented in the beginning by giving the Israeli Arabs their regional government under the twelve region system while encouraging the Arabs of the territories to move in the same direction. Moreover, the plan could be implemented without recourse to states outside of the area of Israeli control, whether Jordan, Egypt or Syria. Israel could act with a minimum of outside interference to resettle the Arab refugees and give the Arabs meaningful citizenship with real self-government.

The greatest drawback of this plan is the almost complete lack of symbolic satisfaction for the Palestinians whose cantons, no matter how powerful, would not have the international status or image of an independent state. Moreover, many Israelis would feel that Israel was endangering itself through such a radical decentralization. On the other hand, the religious issue could be diffused under such a system by entrusting policies regarding the public exercise and support for religion to be handled by the cantons.

This plan could possibly have worked in the years between 1967 and 1973 when the Arabs in the territories were still fragmented by regional and local identities and the old notables had the requisite authority. It is almost impossible to conceive of its implementation today. The Arabs would not accept it, even if the Jews would, which also is unlikely.

Option 4: A Palestinian Arab State (or Entity) Associated With Israel

Under such an arrangement, the portion of the territories not directly annexed by Israel would be constituted into one or more self-governing entities, with all the requisite internal institutions of governance, but constitutionally linked or associated with Israel in some specific and binding manner.

While there are certain general patterns common to federacy and associated state federalism, the very nature of the arrangement permits a wide variety of formulations offering many possible options for accommodating special local circumstances. At the same time, because of the newness of these forms in all but a handful of special cases, it is still unclear as to whether or not they simply represent a transitional phase on the way toward full incorporation, in some manner, or full separation.

On the other hand, even this ostensible drawback may offer real advantages to both Israel and the Palestinians, if their desire is to create a short term framework that will provide the latter with the viable option of self-government while allowing the former to maintain necessary security controls, leaving the long-range future of the relationship between the parties open to alteration. In essence, it provides for immediate institutionalization of a mutually beneficial arrangement without closing the door to future developments in several possible directions. No doubt Israel will insist that this be a federacy rather than an associated state arrangement, that is to say, that any subsequent changes that might occur would have to be by mutual agreement and that unilateral changes would be forbidden.

Under this arrangement Israel itself would remain politically intact and unchanged. It would continue to control all foreign affairs, defense and security arrangements for the entire territory with the free federated state of the Palestinians gaining internal autonomy in all other political, administrative, judicial and cultural matters under very limited general oversight (perhaps primarily judicial) of the Israeli government. Since the Palestinians will elect their own legislature, they will not vote for members of the Knesset. At the same time, they should be entitled to send one or more non-voting delegates to participate in Knesset deliberations on matters pertaining to them.

Under this option, a special plan would have to be devised for Jerusalem which we can assume Israel would insist on retaining in its entirety. On the other hand, the capital of the Palestinian entity could be located within the city with an appropriate status.

This plan can be implemented whenever the Palestinians themselves are ready to take the steps necessary to constitute such a state, after which the necessary constitutional arrangements can be worked out between them and the Israeli government. It has the great advantage of providing as much or more self-government for the Palestinians as any of the other plans while least changing the Israeli status quo, particularly in connection with Israel's security interests and the Jewish character of the state. Moreover, there is simple precedent for its successful implementation since similar arrangements have evolved for similar reasons -- namely, the necessity for autonomy based on cultural differences within an overall political situation where both separation and full federation of equals is precluded -- in other parts of the world.

The difficulties with this plan are the same as those described in connection with any of the others. First there is the problem of obtaining Arab cooperation. Moreover, despite all the benefits of this form of political association, some real concessions are required from Israel. First and foremost, once a Palestinian Arab entity is created in any or all of the territories involved, it will be a new and permanent fact of life. Then there are the special problems of size and proximity. Even though Israel would be the dominant partner in the association, it would be closer in terms of population, size, and geography to the other entity than is the case in any existing example of federacy. (Most existing examples are islands physically separated from the federate power, often by considerable distance.) Finally, the likelihood of an irredentist movement, which may arise from a combination of groups within the territories and from neighboring countries, may transform this option into a vehicle for the expression of more radical demands.

Option 5: Israel-Jordan Confederation with the Palestinian Arabs Incorporated into Jordan

Similar critical issues and critical steps, including the distribution of similar critical functional areas as were specified in relation to Israel-Palestine federation in Option 1 above would have to be taken in relation to any proposal for an Israel-Jordan confederation, taking into account that the confederal nature of the proposal assumes greater powers assigned to Israel and Jordan and lesser to the general authorities. In other words, the confederation itself would be weaker than its Israeli and Jordanian constituent states, but it would have to have at least some common political institutions with some substantive powers.

The following points ought to be considered by those attracted to a proposal for an Israel-Jordanian confederation with the Palestinians incorporated into Jordan:

  1. The constitutional linkage of a pluralistic, competitive and frequently contentious democracy with a near-absolute monarchy.

  2. The lack of precedent for a successful confederation involving populations so different on the several dimensions of culture, religion, and political institutions.

  3. The permanent linkage of Israel with an even larger number of Arabs, which may bring about an Arab majority in the confederation within a relatively short time.

  4. The status of Jerusalem could be resolved by making it the seat of the confederation authorities, perhaps with some part of it given special status as a federal district.

On the other hand, the appeal of a confederal agreement between Israel and Jordan -- presumably with free access of the populations to each part of the confederation -- might lessen the problems of defining precise boundaries within the larger confederation, and would avoid the problem (for Israel) of a distinct Palestinian entity. This, of course, would make it undesirable in the eyes of most Palestinians.

Another version of this option would be the establishment of a binding league linking the two states, something less than a confederation in comprehensiveness but equally binding in its more limited sphere. Such a league could be based on a common market and security community plus certain common technical functions.

Option 6: Israel-Jordan Confederation with a Palestinian Entity Federated with One or the Other

This proposal is similar to Option 5 except that federal relations -- with the attendant political institutions and division of critical functional areas -- would be developed for an Israel-Palestine or a Jordan-Palestine federation within the outlines of the larger confederation.

In this case, the following issues will require careful consideration, in addition to those outlined in 5a-5c above:

  1. The additional problems of border definition involved with three rather than two constituent entities.

  2. The additional layer of institutions that may facilitate intrigue, the confusion of the population, and delay in the formulation and execution of policy objectives.

  3. The creation of an explicitly Palestinian entity may encourage irredentism.

On the other hand, this would go far to solve the Palestinians' need for their own entity and would diffuse the demographic problem for Israel. It would also make possible the redrawing of the borders west of the river to provide for Israel's minimum security needs, still allowing the vast majority of the Palestinian Arab population to be out from under Israeli rule.

While no doubt this arrangement logically would seem to be best if there were a Jordanian-Palestinian federation confederated with Israel than the other way around, the second possibility should not be ruled out entirely. As long as Jordan is under Hashemite rule, the Palestinians might prefer a stronger link with Israel.

The problem of Jerusalem would be solved by making it the seat of the confederation. If the Palestinian entity were to be federated with Israel, it could also be the federal capital for both and the seat of government of the Palestinian entity as well. If the Palestinian entity were to be federated with Jordan, some arrangement could be made to enable it to give its seat in Jerusalem some special status.

Option 7: Israeli Incorporation of the Territories with an Internal Consociational Arrangement on a Constitutional Basis

Option 8: A Totally Non-Territorial Consociational Federation Within the Entire Area

These two options can be treated together because they would closely coincide under any realistic effort to implement them. What they would involve is the incorporation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan on a basis that would give either the Arabs thus incorporated (Option 7) or all the Arabs on both sides of the Green Line, including those already Israeli citizens (Option 8) self-government for certain purposes on a non-territorial basis, what has been termed consociationalism in contemporary political science.

Consociational arrangements can range from sharp separation of functions among the consociational constituents to situations in which the constituents are represented in proportion to their numbers or interests in functions that are managed or administered in common, or some combination of both. Under such arrangements, the population of Israel would be divided according to community -- Jewish, Muslim, Christian plus smaller communities, or Jewish, Arab, and Druse plus small communities - there are several possible variations. These communities would have the authority to function as communities in matters of religion, culture and education, with appropriate institutions to provide for the carrying out of the functions assigned to each, and appropriate means of raising or obtaining the revenues to carry out those functions. The general government of the state would be so organized as to provide for the representation of each community as such, and the participation of its members in the governance of the state as a whole.

Under such an arrangement, for example, the principal offices of the government might include some formula for their division among the several communities. In all likelihood, it would be desirable to add a second chamber to the Knesset for the representation of the communities, with powers that might range from simply consultative to real. Ministries would have to be reorganized to provide for communal representation where necessary or appropriate.

This might require different classes of citizenship, a position that is generally rejected out of hand as unequal and undemocratic. In fact, just about every country has different classes of citizens. Even the United States, which takes the most egalitarian possible view of citizenship, has at least seven classes of citizenship in practice: 1) regular citizens who are citizens of both their state of residence and the United States and who vote for both state and federal officials; 2) citizens who reside in the District of Columbia, who vote for President of the United States, have a non-voting representative in Congress, and vote for local officials but are not fully represented in Congress and cannot elect their own state officials; 3) citizens who reside in Puerto Rico, the Northern Marianas, and the territories, who vote for state and local officials but cannot participate in federal elections; 4) Indians who live on reservations, who in addition to voting for federal, state, and local officials in the states in which their reservations are located, vote for their tribal officials; 5) Americans living abroad who have rights of citizenship, some of whom can vote by absentee ballot in whatever elections they are entitled to vote according to categories 1-4 and some of whom cannot, depending on the laws of their respective states; 6) Americans living abroad who do not maintain residences in the United States and cannot vote in any American elections; 7) American citizens who live in unincorporated territories (e.g., Guam and the Virgin Islands) who can vote in local elections but have no share in federal elections of any kind. There are also resident aliens who live in the United States, must pay taxes, and serve in the United States army if called up, but who cannot vote.

Each of these classes of citizenship presents its own form of relating people to territory and government. Israel might have to develop a variety of relationships that fit its own situation. For example, in line with the permanency of peoples and the transience of political boundaries, Israel and the other states of western Asia normally allow permanent residents of their cities to vote in municipal elections whether or not they are citizens of the state.

Such arrangements would allow Israel to keep clear and undiluted control over all areas of the traditional land of Israel presently in its hands, while at the same time providing for real self-government on the part of the Arab minorities. On the other hand, it would involve Israeli absorption of all the Arabs in the territories on the basis of equality, relying upon the consociational structure to maintain the Jewish character of the state over the long run. The Palestinian Arabs would be able to preserve their national aspirations, but without a state of their own. To the extent that statehood has become an indispensable aspect of national self-determination, this would pose a problem.

The problem of Jerusalem could easily be resolved since it would be the capital of the entire state and could be the seat of the consociational authorities as well.

Those attracted to these options should take account of the following critical issues:

  1. The need to make either arrangement appeal to the Palestinian Arabs of the territories and important external groups, Arab and non-Arab. In particular, there would be a need to avoid the appearance of a "solution" imposed unilaterally by Israel.

  2. The lack of substantial experience with either of these options under the conditions which prevail locally minimizes the advice which experts can offer with respect to critical steps which are necessary, including the character of administrative or political structures needed, or the division of critical functions among the various administrative or political entities. These problems of design and implementation might be especially severe in Israel because it is a welfare state offering a full range of social services and maintaining wide-ranging economic controls in a more or less centralized manner. Communitarian consociationalism was easier in a simpler age, before the development of the pervasive state. In contrast, the primary extant examples of these federal models -- the Netherlands and Switzerland -- developed before the emergence of the modern social service state -- there the services developed slowly along with the integration of diverse populations, even serving as cement for their integration.

  3. The option anticipates the absorption of a sizable and potentially restless minority with the potential of becoming a majority in due course, into an innovative entity, whose institutions have not been tested in any comparable setting other than Lebanon with respect to their ability to enforce controls or satisfy tangible and symbolic demands.

The only similar example of a consociational polity of this character was Lebanon, prior to its civil war. Lebanon's experience is not reassuring, to say the least, and is an excellent guide to the pitfalls inherent in the consociational option. Consociationalism seems to depend on a very delicate balance among the consociating partners, a balance that combines both demographic and ideological features. If the system becomes unbalanced for some reason, changes in demography, changes in ideological commitment, or the introduction of some new and disturbing element, it is likely to collapse. In Lebanon the collapse brought about an apparently unending civil war. But even in the Netherlands when the original pillars ceased to be relevant to a substantial portion of the population, the consociational system collapsed, albeit in a more friendly manner that allowed reintegration of the polity along other lines. In the last analysis, except where it has been combined with territorial federalism as in Switzerland or Austria, consociationalism has been no more than an interim solution to otherwise very threatening political and social cleavages. Consociational arrangements taken alone have had a life of approximately two generations, no more.

Option 9: Condominium -- Joint Israeli-Jordanian/Palestinian Rule Over the Territories with the Local Authorities Attached to One or the Other for Civil Purposes

Joint rule (condominium) would involve shared Israeli-Jordanian authority over the territories as a whole, while different regions or each municipal jurisdiction (local authority) could be attached to either Israel or Jordan for civil purposes, according to the choice of its population.

Shared Israeli-Jordanian/Palestinian rule could be established over the administered territories as part of an overall settlement that recognizes the rights of both Jews and Arabs to separate states in historic Eretz Israel/Palestine. At the same time they would share the area in which both have an important stake. This plan would keep the administered territories within Israel's security orbit, while recognizing the Arabs' right to political status there. The economic links between both banks of the Jordan would be formalized, and local affairs would be left in the hands of the local inhabitants.

Under this solution, the territories as a whole would be placed under joint Israeli-Jordanian/Palestinian administration, while local administrative functions would be handled by the residents of the territories. Two ways of doing so suggest themselves. Either Israeli and Jordanian civil jurisdiction could be divided along municipal boundaries, with the inhabitants of each town and village choosing the state to exercise civil governmental powers over them, or contiguous municipalities could form regional bodies or cantons that would then be attached to Israel or Jordan for civil purposes as an intermediate arena to give more visibility to the Palestinians and more security to the Israeli settlements in the territories.

Under the first option, all the Arab cities and townships on the West Bank would no doubt choose to remain Jordanian municipalities with substantial internal autonomy, while those in the Gaza Strip would choose to be attached to Jordan, giving that country a sea outlet of its own to the west. The Jewish settlements in the Etzion Bloc, the Samarian hill country, the Jordan valley, the Samarian foothills, and those in and around the Gaza Strip would form the basis for several regional councils under Israeli jurisdiction or would be attached to existing regional councils west of the pre-1967 "green line." Kiryat Arba (Jewish Hebron), Maale Adumim, Ariel, and other Jewish urban settlements would become cities under Israel law and control.

Governance of the residents of the territories would largely be in the hands either of the municipal bodies or of agents of the mother state located within the municipal boundaries. Hence there should be no special problems in connection with the structures or the functions of those bodies. Each state would apply its own laws, administrative arrangements, and standards of service within the municipalities attached to it.

The vacant state lands could, in the main, pass under Israel's control to give it added protection. Jordan, in return, would be given a formal presence and certain rights in Jerusalem, especially over the Moslem holy places. Other territory not included within (or otherwise separated from) the boundaries of existing towns or villages would be administered directly by the condominium authority and opened to settlement by either Jews or Arabs (perhaps including Palestinian refugees). The creation of new towns and villages based on differences in national citizenship would be handled by Israeli and Jordanian authorities through a set of procedures to be established by joint agreement.

Another variant of this option would be to institute an autonomous Palestinian administration in the territories, to establish a condominium council to which it would be responsible, and to set up other functional authorities on a bilateral (Israel-Jordan or Israel-Palestinian) or a trilateral (Israel-Jordan-Palestinian) basis to handle such general tasks. The condominium council would be responsible for legislation, overall planning and budgeting, and judicial functions. It could be composed of equal Israeli and Jordanian representation, with the Palestinian Arabs guaranteed representation in the Jordanian delegation. Security, immigration, and citizenship issues could be handled through a bilateral authority, and economic development and resettlement of refugees through a trilateral authority. Israeli or Jordanian citizenship would be a matter of individual choice, and municipal functions would be handled by existing local authorities.

Those who live in the territories -- and it is expected that they will come to include an increasing number of Jews -- would be able to choose as individuals between Israeli and Jordanian citizenship. At the same time, they could maintain or establish self-governing local communities attached to the state of their citizenship. Such an arrangement has the advantage of avoiding the problems of a separate Palestinian state or of incorporating by fiat a million reluctant Arabs into an equally reluctant Israel as full citizens. It would allow the Palestinian Arabs the full right to preserve their national identity and pan-Arab connections, and it would not jeopardize the Jewish identity or security of Israel.

The technical tasks of effecting such an arrangement -- as distinct from the political problems -- are not great. The condominium council would have a small staff to handle he governmental functions entrusted to it. The primary tasks of the council would be coordinative, though it should also be empowered to enact ordinances for the condominium area under conditions established by the lawmaking bodies of the two states. funds for maintaining the condominium would come from the budgets of the two states, and responsibility for them would be decided by formula. Residents of the territories would pay taxes to their respective states of citizenship and to their municipal governments, as would any other citizens. If so determined, they could pay a share of their state taxes directly to the condominium authorities for internal use.

The following five goals must be achieved by any workable plan based on this approach:

  • demilitarization of the territories, with sufficient Israeli military control to guarantee Israel's security and perhaps a symbolic Jordanian military presence on the West Bank or even in time a joint command;

  • substantially free movement of Jews and Arabs into and out of the territories, which should be open along present lines;

  • the right of all residents of the territories to choose freely Israeli or Jordanian citizenship (which the Jordanians could define as Palestinian), and to live within a communal framework that gives that citizenship meaning;

  • substantial economic integration of Israel, the territories, and Jordan;

  • provision for solving the refugee problem by opening the territories to to at least some of those who wish to resettle in them.

This plan has many advantages and, using a little imagination, would be workable. Clearly, it requires the cooperation of Jordan as well as the Palestinians. Indeed, the involvement of the Palestinians is necessarily contingent upon Jordanian participation. Since the condominium plan offers Jordanians an opportunity to return in some measure to all of the West Bank, perhaps it will be persuasive. The plan provides an opportunity to solve the Palestinian question without establishing yet a third small state within the original boundaries of the land of Israel. The involvement of Jordan in a permanent arrangement would keep alive the traditional ties between the east and west banks of the Jordan River, and it would protect Israeli security. In sum, it is a workable program for a real solution if the Palestinians will accept the expression of their desire for statehood through Jordan or a Palestinian state whose center is east of the Jordan River.

The distinctive features of this option include:

  1. Maximum flexibility. Negotiators can choose to concentrate on changing substantive features of what is the status quo, or, more simply, make more explicit various of the arrangements that have already been worked out in practice with respect to joint administration of the territories or local autonomy within them. This approach to federal-like arrangements invites bargaining on both tangible and symbolic issues, or some combination of the two. It is susceptible to minimum or gradual changes in practice, with maximum change in appearance.

  2. Related to this flexibility is the opportunity to vary the levels of Israeli, Palestinian, or Jordanian control -- or control placed in the hands of joint authorities or local authorities -- from one critical functional area to another. Security can be assigned largely to Israel, for example, education and welfare to the local authorities, and regulation of commerce could be assigned to one or more joint authorities. Furthermore, the authorities may vary in the extent to which they are composed of Israeli, Jordanian or local representatives.

  3. Arrangements need not be settled or made explicit once and for all time. Various arrangements can be established for a limited time period -- requiring a formal act to extend or revise; others can be designed so that control gradually shifts from, say, Israeli to local or Jordanian hands; while some other functional areas may be set up in a manner that favors continuation of whatever division of authority is instituted (e.g., by requiring an extraordinary action like agreement of Israeli and Jordanian heads of state to amend the arrangement).

  4. The possibility of different arrangements for local areas inhabited by Arabs and those settled by Jews since 1967.

A principal feature of this option might be a variety of joint authorities, each dealing with one or more of the critical functional areas. The multiplicity of authorities could have a number of advantages:

  1. It would be possible to tailor the authority responsible for each functional area to the peculiarities of geographical boundaries, citizen demand and Israeli-Jordanian-local control of the authority, as appears appropriate.

  2. Multiple institutions can produce an overlapping of commitments and loyalties to various webs of economic, social, and administrative interaction. These may deter the development of clear and similar "we" vs. "they" alignments across all functional areas. While an Israel vs. Jordanian and Palestinian alignment may occur in one authority, for example, the drift toward general hostility may be blunted by harmony in other authorities, or by various combinations of Israel and Jordanian vs. Palestinian, Israel and Palestinian vs. Jordanian, or by shifting alignments from issue to issue.

  3. With reference to the critical issues introduced in the beginning of this chapter, the option of multiple joint authorities would avoid the issues of explicitly linking a large and growing Arab population to Israel, or of establishing a Palestinian entity as such.

  4. In contrast with these appeals, however, the option of multiple joint authorities offers only minimum symbolic gratification to those Palestinian Arabs, Israeli annexationists, and others wanting simple and permanent solutions that have widespread political "sex appeal." In this connection, its architects must pay special attention to the political appeals of the multiple joint authorities to Palestinians and others, like Americans and other Westerners who would test such arrangements against their own conceptions of a political settlement. In order to satisfy such concerns, the joint authorities could offer opportunities for local elections in the territories. These could select both the executives and council members of local authorities, as well as select local representatives to the joint Israeli-Jordanian authorities. For some authorities, as indicated above, the local component of the membership might be sizable -- perhaps a majority. Were steps like this taken, the architects of the joint authorities could legitimately claim to be preserving the economic and social benefits that have developed in the territories since 1967, while providing a measure of political freedom of expression that, in fact, is not available elsewhere in the Arab world.

There would be a need for a general authority with some capacity to integrate the authorities dealing with functional areas. This general authority may be assigned functions ranging from simply transmitting information about policies, performance, and citizen response among the functional authorities, to a formidable set of powers that may include overall planning and control over the allocation of funds to the various functional authorities. Such a general authority could also be given a role in approving new tax policies for the populations covered by the functional authorities; approving and arranging for debt issues; or establishing new functional authorities in response to demand. The general authority itself must be designed with an eye toward both political and administrative considerations. The important issues include the composition of its membership, their selection, and the nature of its professional staff (secretariat), if any, to aid the members in their tasks, and the means of financing its activities.

The appeal of this option is that it can be designed to take advantage of the economic and administrative arrangements that have evolved since 1967, and which have integrated the territories economically with Israel as well as (or more than) with Jordan. To be sure, it will be no simple task to develop and implement the political formulations that, on less emotional terrain, would normally accompany those economic realities. However, no one concerned with bringing about a political solution with respect to the territories -- whether it be federal or otherwise -- can overlook the economic integration that has developed between Israel and the territories since 1967. To make political arrangements that run counter to these economic realities would be to invite severe dislocations in the territories.

Condominium, or joint rule, has been used historically in situations where the extreme territorial separation that lies at the basis of the modern nation-state is not susceptible of solving particular political problems. Condominium may be particularly helpful in solving political problems in the Middle East, where fixed boundaries have traditionally been the exception rather than the rule, and where the governance of ethno-religious communities that extend across territorial boundaries is a perennial problem.

Option 10: Various Partial or Sectoral Federal Arrangements Such as a Customs Union, Common Market, or Joint Special-Purpose Authorities Serving Two or Three States

This option does not require detailed description except to say that its flexibility is sufficient to incorporate substantial parts of most of the preceding options, and then some. It is consistent with federal arrangements between Israel and Palestine, confederal relations between Israel and Palestine and/or Jordan; or the formalization of some of the ongoing practices that have evolved between Israel, Jordan and the territories. Furthermore, some of its features may invite wider participation, as -- for example -- the inclusion of part or all of what is now Lebanon plus Jordan and the territories, in a common market or a special-purpose authority dealing with such functions as water or electricity.

As in Option 9 above, the shared decision-making that is formalized can be made narrow or wide: ranging from the joint development of a particular water resource, economic opportunity, or religious site; common efforts to promote tourism; the joint administration of the Old City in Jerusalem; or the joint support of institutes for economic planning, or research and development in industry and agriculture. Also as in Option 9, there might be a provision for a general authority, with functions ranging from providing officials of the various federal arrangements with a forum for consultation and the exchange of information to the more elaborate functions of controlling certain resources or establishing new sectoral federal arrangements.

Such limited joint projects as envisaged in this option may have special appeal in the beginning stages of formalized cooperation, insofar as negotiations and implementation can lead to the actual delivery of benefits to each side without facing or foreclosing options on the difficult matters of overall boundaries, the design of political institutions, or the division of the more sensitive of the critical functional areas.

Option 11: Bilateral Federal Arrangements With Different Kinds of Links Between Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, or Jordan

This option offers additional flexibility beyond that in Options 9 and 10. The initiative would lie with Israel to formulate bilateral arrangements with one or several of the above partners, with the area to be served varying with the arrangement at hand. There may be one set of boundaries for an agreement on shared planning and financing of economic development, for example, and another set of boundaries for an agreement on water development or the control of communicable diseases. Likewise, the institutional mechanisms to oversee the arrangement could vary with the functional area. For example, there might be a committee of Israeli and local administrators charged with the implementation of health regulations over a certain territory, while Israeli Knesset members might serve on a joint commission with locally elected representatives for economic development.

A related feature of this option is the possibility of negotiating with or without Jordan as a partner. It thereby frees Israeli negotiators from dependence on Jordanian cooperation.

A Final Point

The issue of Arab and world appeal would be crucial for the success of any of these options. It would not be necessary to satisfy all or even most members of the world community with the quality of Israel's offers, but for any option to be pursued seriously it would require substantial correspondence to the democratic traditions of Israel and other Western democracies. That means that the parties to any arrangement would have to genuinely consent to it and genuinely share in its implementation.

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