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Proposal For Conflict Resolution in Israel

On the eastern short of the Mediterranean Sea, near the very cradle of civilization lies a land known by many names. However, the one name by which most will recognize it is the Holy Land. This area has been claimed by many over the past millennia. It has seen numerous wars both in antiquity and in the modern era, the rise and fall of empires both in antiquity and the modern era, and the founding of the three primary monotheistic faiths of our human race. It is currently the home of the only Jewish state in existence and yet also called home by one of the many stateless peoples of our time. True peace has not existed for any appreciable period time in the land since the founding of autonomous rule by the United Nations in 1948, and even to this day, a lasting conflict resolution is sought by the international community. One of the “poster children” for ethnic conflict in the modern era, the state of Israel faces a set of unique challenges which I believe can be solved by neither purely consociational nor incentive measures, but must be handled through a combination of the two, on multiple levels. All conflict resolution attempts have focused on a single type solution (partitioning of land) which has never reached implementation. The elements of this solution will be examined in relationship to the consociational and incentive theories and an assessment of the lasting benefit of this solution, should it be reached, will also be given.

Since the end of the British Mandate one approach has dominated the thinking of men attempting to diffuse this situation: partition. The original UN resolution, #181 of 29 November 1947, called for the creation of three distinct entities: A Jewish state, an Arab state, and an independent, internationally governed Jerusalem. However, interestingly, no one really knows if this type of solution will be a lasting solution because it has never been reached in this conflict. War broke out immediately after Israel claimed the role of the Jewish state and stated its independence and in this war (as well as subsequent others in the following decades) occupied more territory that it had originally been mandated to control. The most recent reincarnation of this partitioning idea - The Oslo accords of 1993, affirmed the approach of creating separate Palestinian-Arab and Jewish states and seemed to finally set the two peoples on a path toward lasting peace. However, 10 years later, due to many factors, the non-Jewish Palestinian people within the borders of land controlled by the Israeli state are in the midst of an intifada (uprising) which has lasted many months and claimed many lives on both sides of the conflict and it seems that no permanent peace solution is in sight.

The original resolution, # 181 contained many aspects which are in sync with Lijpharts consociational theory. Pre-determined segments (Jews and Arabs) were the basis of a system containing two separate states. These separate states gave each segment utter autonomy. However, within these state, Minorities were given not only equal protection under the law but an amount of autonomy as well. This is demonstrated by the statement that “The State shall ensure adequate primary and secondary education for the Arab and Jewish minority, respectively, in its own language and its cultural traditions. The right of each community to maintain its own schools for the education of its own members in its own language, while conforming to such educational requirements of a general nature as the State may impose, shall not be denied or impaired(emphasis added)”(Part 1, C, Chapter 2 #6).

Although politically separate, these two states were interconnected in important ways. They were mandated to be in economic union sharing a single currency and joint operation of transit services.(Part 1, D) The city of Jerusalem, claimed by both segments, was to be made in and of itself autonomous as well, but the legislature of the city was to be elected “on the basis of …proportional representation”(Part 3, C, #5). Although this proportionality wasn’t enforced in the entire “system” enforcing it here in only this one city in this case made a great deal of sense from a consociational point of view because this one city held the vested interests of both segments. The fore mentioned economic system would be based within the city to maintain the cities importance in everyday political life, while not giving it the psychological status of a “capital” city. This move does not necessarily align with consociational theory; however it doesn’t align with Horowitz’s models of democracy either. Nether segment was given specific veto powers in Jerusalem or within the states where they would be minorities; however the resolution covers nearly every issue which a group might legitimately wish to veto. These ranged from languages spoken to educational systems to access to utilities to religious practices (Part 1-3) and so this system fit with consociational theory. Thus the problem of an abused veto could, in theory, never occur.

This solution provided originally by the UN was much more consociationally oriented (though not truly consociational) than incentive with regards to the ethnic problems. These consociational aspects were spread out through a system of three interacting bodies rather than in one coherent state. Autonomy was guaranteed to the segments both as majority and minority populations within the region. However the populations were still bound together by economic concerns and concerns over the city of Jerusalem. It was in Jerusalem where proportionality came into place and because of Jerusalem that the two states would be forced to cooperate and in theory have more moderate governments which would serve the same purpose as a coalition.

However, we must ask if this partially connected state system could truly work today if it were implemented, and I believe the answer is no. In order for such a system to work, both parties must respect each other as human beings at the very least and though this respect was lacking when this solution was originally proposed. What recognition Israel holds as a state in the Arab world today was not achieved until decades after its independence. In fact, the PLO expressly called for the armed destruction of Israel in its charter of 1968 (Singer). However this call was rescinded with the Oslo accords (Singer). These accords did demonstrate that moves towards peace were possible, but these moves have not yet been carried out. The region is currently being rocks by a cycle of violence in which neither side is compromising. The members of the Palestinian uprising would never accept a state that was dependent economically on Israel because the distrust Israel. Stories of oppression and abuse from both sides fill the news media and are heard in everyday conversations. Thus another solution must be found.

Israel is an independent nation and designed from its inception to be a Jewish state. If an independent Palestinian state is not created, through simple emigration alone, Palestinian refugees could turn Israel in the 24th Arab state of the region (singer) which is obviously not an Israeli goal. Providing a country for the Palestinians would remove this as a problem. There is also international pressure from the West to create a state for the Palestinians. The Oslo and Camp David accords were mediated by western powers. Therefore a totally free and politically stable Palestinian state would be a beginning to the solution of this conflict. This state should be drawn along the borders of the already semi-autonomous areas. However, minority rights must be protected within each state in consociational style. Rights to religion, educational autonomy, and other basic needs are to be respected. Both states must formally ratify constitutions clearly laying out these protections under the guidance of a UN commission. It is also important that Israel relocate any settlers who have been placed since the year 2000, either to other settlements, or to territory within Israel proper.

A difficult aspect of the situation is the emotional current underlying the fact that this geographically miniscule land contains sites holy to billions of individuals in the world. It has different and conflicting meanings to the parties involved and this factor causes each ethnic group to behave in strong ways. This factor has also facilitated generations of distrust and bloodshed between the various groups It is no secret that both the Palestinians and the Jews wish Jerusalem to be the capital of their states. This is why I will borrow from the “Israel Peace bloc” movement and call for Jerusalem to be a dual capital. However, the only way for this to work is to incorporate some elements of consociationalism and some elements from Horowitz. Though the seats of government for both states should hold offices in Jerusalem, neither is to have any effect upon the city itself. Rather, the municipality should be governed by a board of governors consisting of both Arabs and Jews, elected on graduated ballots to ensure that there is responsibility to all constituents by all candidates. The heads of the different municipal offices are divided ethnically. The head of water department is reserved for an Arab and the head of the electrical department reserved for a Jew. Other offices are to be similarly divided, but representation within leading offices is to be proportional to the population. Other organizations including the police force are to be divided along proportional liens as well, based on the residential date annually.

Ethnic rights are to be respected with each group allowed to conduct education as it seems fit, subsidized by the City government and by their respective state. Neither state is allowed to interfere with the educational practices of the other state. Travel rights to all religious monuments are to be freely allowed. Immigration into the city of residents is not to exceed 10% of the starting population annually. This provision is to prevent one group from intentionally immigrating and attempting a de facto takeover of the government. Finally neither states military is allowed to enter the city under any circumstances.

The ethnic conflicts within the Holy land have no clear solution. The original solution was too idealistic and did not provide for a stable system in which the Arabs and Jews could operate. However, the compromise presented here contains elements which are designed to limit ethnic conflict in more comprehensive ways. Both sides are allowed to have Jerusalem, but Jerusalem remains self governed and semi autonomous- an idea that is neither consociational nor incentive based. But elements of incentive based elections are built in to augment the consociational proportionalities mandated in government. Minority semi-autonomy is granted to religion and educational practices. No grand coalition is built in with the hope that the graded ballots will serve to moderate the candidates elected.

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