Palestinians and Israelis: Options for Coexistence
In the current efforts to achieve a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, a practical challenge facing the peace negotiators is how the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as a political community, can pursue their right to self-determination and in what context. That is, what kind of political entity would satisfy their desire for self-determination and under what conditions? The ideal, of course, would be to be able to propose one or more solutions under traditional international law, such as an in- dependent state with full, unhindered sovereignty. But Israel would reject such proposals and refuse to participate in talks with sovereign statehood as a prior objective. The aim of this paper, then, is to explore various options for a Palestinian entity that have been proposed in recent years and that have some chance of acceptance, as part of a final settlement, by the Palestinians-those inside and the PLO-and by Israel and Jordan. These options include: an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; a federation with Jordan; a confederation with Jordan; a unitary state in Israel and the occupied territories based on the canton system. In addition, a brief discussion will address the recent proposals for an interim arrangement to precede a final settlement.
Emile A. Nakhleh is the John L. Morrison Professor of international studies and chairman of the government and international studies department at Mount Saint Mary's College, Emmitsburg, MD.