By Fakhry Abu Shakra – Amman
And Now, Where to Mr. President:
After the failure of years of relentless negotiations, which our leaders hoped will produce an independent Palestinian State, it is high time to accept the fact that Zionism never intended to give us a state and never meant to retain the word Palestine on the map. Your recent move to get the UN to accept Palestine as a non-member was a remarkable achievement and shall be registered as a turning point in the history of the Palestinian struggle for independence and statehood. This triumph, important as it may be, will not by itself restore the land that was stolen nor will it dismantle the settlements that were built on it. Foremost of all, it will not remove the half-million settlers that occupy confiscated land.
It is said that the Palestinian Israeli dispute is insoluble, because there is no solution that meets the aspirations of both parties. Is that true or are we simply ignoring the search for a solution and promoting only the Two-State Solution? This option is now dead and can never be resurrected and we, therefore, should move on.
Without going into the debate of who is the rightful owner of the Land of Palestine, let us instead look at the facts as they are now.
We have two parties that claim ownership and sovereignty over the land of Palestine. One claims that it was given to them by God the Almighty and is, therefore, rightfully theirs no matter what. The other stipulates that it has inhabited this land for the past 5,000 years and it thus is theirs. The solution can only be found in one of two options: either one party can eliminate the other, which is not realistic in the 21st century, while the other option is to have the two live together and share this land.
We are searching for a practical way of coexistence between these two parties. A solution that enables each citizen to have a dignified life with all his rights protected – a life of freedom and equality, where no one will ever be persecuted or humiliated.
All citizens shall have the same right to live in any part of the country they choose to. This One- State Solution is by no means a new concept. It has been talked about many times, yet shot down early on.
The problem lies with the shape of this One-State Solution and how one finds a formula that appeals to both sides and can be put into action.
In my opinion, this can only be achieved by a federation or a confederation that follow five main steps. First, the declaration and recognition of a Palestinian State by all major powers, including the state of Israel, according to United Nations’ resolutions and Security Council acts. Second, the declaration of a federal or con-federal state comprising the two states of Israel and Palestine. The name of the new federal state shall be the Holy Land State. Third, the capital of the federal state shall be Jerusalem. Fourth, the Gaza Strip, although part of the federal state, shall be given a special status and turned into a free zone within the federal state. Fifth, each state shall have its own government and parliament and the federal state shall have a parliament elected by all the population of the Holy Land State.
Gaza will have a fixed number of seats, whether in the state parliament or in the federal one, which shall not be dependent on a population count, as the rest of the country. The laws and taxes in the free zone shall be attractive to render Gaza as the Hong Kong of the Mediterranean.
This basic proposal shall be an interim solution for the next 30 years and shall then be reviewed and modified as needed.
It is understood that no racist laws or by-laws shall be enacted by either state, and that all laws that hint of discrimination shall be abolished.
The two states, Israel (with a majority of Jewish citizens and a minority of Arabs) and Palestine (with a majority of Arabs and a minority of Jews) shall form a balance that protects each party from the fear of demographic domination.
It is envisaged that a federal state lasting for 30 years of transition, which is roughly equal to one generation, should be able to produce a new community that can live together in harmony and peace for future generations to come.
One can easily see the advantages for each party in adopting such a solution. The Israelis shall be accepted as an integral part of this world and shall enjoy all the benefits of travel, trade and safety in Arab and Muslim states. For the Palestinians, peace and prosperity awaits with a better future for their children.
We are hopeful that an interest is developed among the young communities of both Israelis and Arabs to achieve these objectives and make a solution possible. It may prove difficult to convince active right-wing groups on both sides, but the majority of us need to live in peace and create a life for our children and grandchildren and not be intimidated by rightists and terrorists from both Israel and the Palestinians.
There is no more room for racism and hatred and killings. The current status of no solution and continuous occupation and takeover of Palestinian is a recipe for disaster with unforeseen consequences. Our Palestinian leaders have struggled for generations to get what the international community calls their right, but have failed so far and we understand the odds are still against them.
We believe that our proposal should be implemented immediately after the acceptance of Palestine as a non-member state.
It is time to look for another solution and drop the demand for a Two-State solution, resulting in two countries that do not trust each other and shall always harbor hatred and despise in their hearts, a solution that can be hardly called just and final.
One last important problem to solve is the issue of refugees. This is a problem that must be solved regardless of the nature of the final solution. We believe that the wording accepted and stated in the Arab Peace Initiative (2002) can form the basis for a just solution.
This outline of a solution is for us to read and contemplate. Once the basic points are accepted, a full study can be carried out and a detailed proposal put at the table for all to discuss and modify if needed.
Finally, Israel must decide whether it is a foreign state implanted in the heart of the Arab world or is it a state that was created to give the Jews a home and protect them from future discrimination and massacres.
We hope that those peace-loving Israelis shall chose to live with us and share the land and the future.
– Fakhry Abu Shakra is an independent political analyst based in Amman Jordan. This article was contributed this article PalestineChronicle.com.