Thursday, 26 April 2018

Thinking confederation

Letter published in the Jerusalem Post, 26 April 2018

In  “Nevertheless, a confederation” (April 23), advocates from the Israeli-Palestinian movement A Land for All propose two sovereign states, Israel and Palestine, allied into a new legal entity – a confederation.  The state of Palestine would be based on the pre-Six Day War boundaries.

From the Israeli perspective such a solution, however much modified by land swaps, simply will not do.  Almost certainly Hamas, which is intent on Israel’s destruction, would gain power sooner or later, either through elections, or by way of a violent coup as it did in Gaza. The new state would become a Gaza-type launching pad for the indiscriminate bombardment of Israel. 

This in itself may not concern the leaders of the Palestinian Authority very much, but what does worry them very much is the prospect of losing power to Hamas. Like it or not, they would need stronger defenses against “the enemy within” than their own resources could provide.

 A much more robust approach is required in which both Israel’s security needs and those of a new sovereign Palestine are taken into account. One possibility (and US President Donald Trump’s peace team may be considering it) would be an initiative, backed by the US, the Arab League and Israel, that is aimed at bringing two new legal entities into existence simultaneously – a sovereign state of Palestine and a three-state confederation of Jordan, Israel and Palestine.  

   A confederation is a form of government in which constituent states maintain their independence while amalgamating certain aspects of administration, such as security or commerce.  A Jordan-Israel-Palestine confederation would be dedicated above all to defending itself and its constituent sovereign states, but also to cooperating in the fields of commerce, infrastructure and economic development, and also in administering Jerusalem’s holy sites.

Such a solution, based on an Arab-wide consensus, could absorb Palestinian extremist objections, making it abundantly clear that any subsequent armed opposition, from whatever source, would be disciplined from within, and crushed by the combined and formidable defense forces of the confederation.  

A confederation of three sovereign states, dedicated to providing high-tech security but also future economic growth and prosperity for all its citizens – here’s where the answer to a peaceful and thriving Middle East might lie. 

Neville Teller

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