09 July 2017

Peace in Israel & Palestine?

Every now and then I think it's important to air some ideas that everyone is going to hate. It's OK - I know that this blog post will anger everyone. I have lots of friends on all sides of the Israel/Palestine issue, including in the actual region itself, and I love them all dearly. But they are all going to hate this blog. Why? Because it is heresy to both Israelis and Palestinians. It cannot possibly work. It's a recipe for disaster. No-one is talking about it right now. It goes against all UN resolutions, declarations from the Israelis and declarations from the Palestinians.

But you know what? Living most of my life in Northern Ireland has taught me a number of things. One is that we are not all going to agree on everything, and some ideas that seem normal to me are utterly horrific to others, and vice versa. Another is that to get along (which is important), it is unrealistic - even nonsensical - to insist that the other person accept MY viewpoint on all matters, or even those that are part of my core. And yet another is that occasionally we need to think outside the box, even just as a thought experiment. Explore new possibilities. Follow ideas through to their conclusions. Imagine a different world - maybe even a parallel universe. So I offer this, just as I offered my Celtic Union of Scotland and Ireland, in that spirit - by all means hate it, but at least give it some thought. Chew it around a bit. Think - would it really be that bad if this came to pass? And if it did come to pass, how would we make a decent effort at it, so that at the very least things move to a better place?

So where are we now? The concept of separate states for Jews and Arabs is arguably dead in the water. How could it possibly work? There will always be Jews in the West Bank, and there will always be Arabs (Christian, Muslim, Druze) in Israel, and to evict people would be unconscionable. The ongoing strife and violence, which must inevitably flare from time to time, is making life intolerable for many many people. Maybe we need some new suggestions.

The proposal is this: A united state of Israel Palestine, with full rights for all citizens, regardless of religion or ethnic background. Anyone can live anywhere, without fear or favour. The West Bank and Gaza Strip and Golan Heights would be fully formally integrated as territory of Israel Palestine, and come under the full control of the central government in Jerusalem, which will be the internationally recognised capital.

Israel would cease to be a "Jewish state", but instead would be constituted as the Homeland of the Jewish and Palestinian People. A single national identity and single passport would be used (not "binational" status). Zionism would be regarded as a "completed project", rather than a goal, and everyone encouraged to move on with the new goal of building peace and prosperity for all.

The territory of Israel Palestine would be internationally recognised as of central importance to Judaism, Islam and Christianity. People with confirmed connections with the territory would be allowed to settle there, and purchase land legally from its owners. Historic misappropriation of land will be addressed by return of the land, or compensation.

Palestinian refugees, displaced by the 1948 and 1967 wars would be allowed to return, or offered significant compensation from an international fund. Existing refugee settlements in Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere will have considerable infrastructural and economic stimuli applied from the UN to establish them as viable and productive population centres in their own rights.

There would be full recognition of Israel Palestine by its neighbours and by the United Nations. A new flag incorporating the multiple strands of identity would be designed, incorporating Judaism, Christianity, Islam and secular themes. It would be recognised as a nation with peace and equal rights as its over-riding objectives. The equal status of Hebrew and Arabic as the official languages of the state will be affirmed.

Equality, whether you're Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Druze, Atheist, LGBTQ, straight, whatever - that has to be the foundation of any new reality. We've tried the "go our separate ways" thing. We've tried ethnic cleansing. We've tried illegal settlement. What we haven't tried is sharing, and forging a new united identity.

By all means hate on this suggestion. Put forward all the reasons why it can't work. Explain why it's offensive and pisses over the graves of generations of those who have gone before. Go for it. But at least think about it. It's a fantasy for sure, but sometimes we need to think about the fantasy, and let go of our cherished ideas of what WE want and what constitutes justice for US or revenge against THEM, in order to move forward. Think about it.


  1. Well said. As a friend of mine so eloquently put it, "Let's all play nicely together."
    Unfortunately, I don't think human nature will allow this wonderful solution to come to pass.

  2. I guess I would just like people to be talking about what a future might even look like - at the end of the day the responsibility lies with Israelis and Palestinians (and both)...

  3. The Jews might conceivably go for this based on numerous offers made over decades, but the Arabs still have to come to terms with the right of existence of the same Jews...