Feb 10,2018 – JORDAN TIMES –
I suspect that while the international community is seemingly working in earnest for the two-state solution for the Palestinian conflict as the only just and sustainable solution for the Palestinian crisis, Israel’s planners could be contemplating another formula that would allow the Palestinians some form or another of self-rule in the West Bank, no more no less.
In Israel’s eyes, something along the lines of the Kurdistan experiment in Iraq is considered. It would allow the Palestinians the enjoyment of autonomy of sorts with, of course, limited jurisdictions on the local level, but no jurisdiction over defence or external relations with neighbouring countries and beyond. This way, Israel is perhaps thinking the Palestinians would enjoy some attributes of statehood but without necessitating the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the West Bank.
Under this diabolic scheme, Israel would go ahead and annex the West Bank formally and officially but without the fanfare of seeking to implement the one-state solution. This way, Israel must be thinking, it can “have its cake and eat it”.
As a matter of fact, much of such a plan is already implemented on the ground on the basis of the Oslo accord but without formal declaration. Many countries have opted for this autonomy idea to solve their domestic ethnic or other minority conflicts, such as Belgium, the Russian Federation and Spain.
A more benign arrangement for such a scheme could be found in the adoption of a federal system of government or even a confederation between Israel and the Palestinian state in the West Bank that could be more marketable and “digestible” under the prevailing conditions in the region. This way, Jerusalem can indeed become the joint capital for Palestine and Israel.
Judging by the bitter and frustrating experiences over the past half century of Israeli occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, I don’t quite see Israel withdrawing from the occupied Palestinian territories by peace negotiations.
Israel is needlessly obsessed with the Gaza precedent and fears that Hamas would eventually return to the West Bank with vengeance should its forces leave the territory. As long as war is not a viable option, the two sides may have to entertain some new ingenious ways to solve their seemingly “eternal” stand-off hitherto unexplored.
In any case, the two-state solution and the federation idea are not mutually exclusive as it would be conceivable that the two states living side by side in peace and harmony and driven by geographic constraints, would entertain some form of federation or another between them.
In other words, a variation on the ideal two-state model may have to be considered.