3 in 1 State Solution for Middle East Peace

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Another excerpt from the chapter on the Arab-Israeli conflict from my book "How Canada Could Rule the World"
The whole chapter can be found at

Submitted: February 04, 2012

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Submitted: February 04, 2012



Many do not want to see a division of the land they consider holy, anymore than a mother would agree to have King Solomon slice their baby in half. I am a bit confused though how it is people always assume that God’s definition of politics is the same as their own. The modern notion of the nation-state is only around 200 years old, and do we think that the boundaries of the land of Abraham coincide with the ones drawn out for the post World War I British mandate? Are we so egotistical that we assume that if we draw a line on a map, that we also draw one in God’s eye?


I have to wonder if the two-state solution would be one of those agreements that everyone was happy with, or that no one was happy with. Both the Palestinian and Israeli sides would prefer a unified state that ideally would be known either as Israel or Palestine. Some hope for an agreement of a shared state that will be secular in nature, but that will probably appeal more to whomever feels like they will be able to dominate it, just as a North American Union would appeal more to the U.S. than to Canada.


If the choice is seen as between Jewish rule, and non-Jewish rule, most of the support for a secular state might come from non-Israelis. There are already plenty of countries that are secular, as well as many Muslim countries trying to enact Sharia Law. But if there were to be any country that had their laws influenced by Jewish teachings, it would either be Israel, or no-one.


Just because a single state is established, with the stated intent of being secular, and equal for all, does not mean that it will be. Israelis might still have economic dominance in a single state, just as white South Africans do after apartheid. And once the concrete walls are replaced by glass ceilings, there might be a lack of willingness to see the need for affirmative action. There could also be the possibility of eventual Arab dominance, at which point the demand for maintaining a secular state might become less popular. What if the Palestinian equivalent of Robert Mugabe came to power?




From a Zionist standpoint I could understand wanting to keep all of the territory Israel captured in 1967 (Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, West Bank, and the entire Sinai Peninsula). The territory of the Arab world would still be much larger. That might seem fair to the Israelis, but like the dream of preserving apartheid, it is simply not possible.


Even if a Greater Israel were to exist, it would no doubt find the need to designate a portion of the territory they claimed as an autonomous region for Palestinians. South Africa tried this with the Bantustans, but ultimately failed because it kept them too small and dependent. The only hope for being able to sustain a Greater Israel would be if the self governing region granted to the Palestinians was so large that it was like a dual state. The Israelis would have to grant an equal partnership status to the Palestinians, like the Austrian Empire had to give to the Hungarians. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a modern example of such a dual state, shown on maps as being one country, but in two halves that are each pretty much sovereign in all of their affairs, so that the different population groups can feel represented, with the capital city straddling the boundary between them, much like has been envisioned for the future of Jerusalem.


Starting from an Arab nationalist standpoint, I can see wanting to consider all of this land in its entirety as theirs. They must face the fact however that every attempt at destroying the Israeli state has proven self-destructive. If they want to see all of this land as part of a Greater Palestine, they must be willing to accept that Arabs will not make up the majority in all parts of it. Even without Israel, Arab countries have already been using Extra National Perceptions to perceive places with non-Arab majorities as a part of their nation, like the Darfur region of the Sudan, or the Kurdish regions in northern Iraq.


Likewise, Israelis have also been using Extra-National Perceptions even when they don’t count the West Bank as a part of Israel. There is an Arab majority in the Northern Province of Israel where Nazareth is located. Both Israelis and Arabs have already proven that they are able to accommodate the other, without having to sacrifice their own identity.


Thanks to the use of Extra-National Perceptions, It might be possible for the Palestinians to have a state, and to define its borders as encompassing all of the area and for Israelis to simultaneously do the same. What do you call this two-in-one state? Different languages use different words to describe the same thing. Peace is Shalom in Hebrew and Salaam in Arabic. Therefore, call the country “Palestine” in Arabic, and “Israel” in Hebrew. As for the rest of the world, they can call it “Susie” for all I care.



It is easy for parishioners of a Unitarian church in North America to dream of Israelis and Palestinians living together in harmony, hand-in-hand skipping through a field of daisies. We need to take off those rose-colored glasses. Unlike the U.S.-Canadian border, a border shared by Israelis and Palestinians is likely to be a tense one.


That is why I propose that there be some kind of buffer-zone between the two halves. The UN has such a buffer between the Greek and Turkish communities of Cyprus. However, if there was going to be a no-mans land between the Israelis and Palestinians then a lot of people would have to be displaced from what is already a small territory. That is why like the Green Line in Cyprus, this territory should be a place where people from both nations can live together as true equals.


This is where I think the idea of a secular state shared by Israelis and Palestinians could be useful. It would be easier to sustain the secular nature of such a state if there is a Jewish state to one side, and an Arab-Muslim state to the other, to accommodate those who see secularism as intolerable.


Everyone living within the secular state buffer zone would have dual Israeli and Palestinian citizenship. People in either the Israeli or Palestinian states would have the option of dual citizenship. However, Hebrew would be the primary official language in the Israeli state, Arabic would be the primary official language in the Palestinian state, and both would be given equal status in the secular state. Israelis in the buffer zone could be free to consider themselves and their land as a part of Israel, and Palestinians could be free to see themselves as a part of Palestine.


This is not to say that there would no longer be any Arabs living in Israel, or Jews living in Palestine, but they would have to accept that they are in the minority, and see the prudence of encouraging a spirit of coexistence with their neighbors.


Whoever lives in the buffer zones should be devoted to peace. Considering the mentality of some Israelis, particularly settlers, it is perhaps best if some do relocate. Hopefully other Israelis with a stronger commitment to progressive politics could find a home here, so that the best of both sides could be represented.


The buffer zones also help create an opportunity to at least partially accept the demand for a right of return. Of the millions of Palestinian refugees, surely there are enough who can prove that they are willing to coexist with Israelis, that a number that is at least equal to the number who were originally expelled in 1948, could be invited to live in the secular middle-state.



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