A Better Deal

Since it seems the current US Administration and the now-forming right-wing government in Israel have both agreed that the “two-state solution has failed,” to quote Jared Kushner, I’ve taken it upon myself to come up with my own “deal of the century.”

Screenshot 2019-04-27 at 10.42.03I propose the establishment of a new federated single state that hearkens back to the original territory that comprised the British Mandate following World War I. The Federation of the Levant will consist of 3 states, which will be independent and interdependent.

The 3 federated states will be:

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

The State of Palestine

The State of Israel

A special status will apply to the Municipality of Jerusalem / Al Quds.

This proposal will address the following issues:

  1. Federal and State Governments and their Powers
  2. State Borders
  3. Citizenship
  4. Rights of Residency
  5. Freedom of Movement
  6. Freedom of Religion and Conscience
  7. Military Defense

Federal and State Governments and Their Powers

Each of the three states will have its own democratically elected government designed according to its own choosing. Each state government will have jurisdiction over policy areas such as: economic policy, education, roads and infrastructure, mass-transit, ports and airports, policing, arts/culture and sport, tourism, courts of law, military defense in coordination with the federal government, and some areas of foreign policy.

The federal government of the Federation of the Levant (FOTL) will consist of a unicameral parliament and a ceremonial presidency, modeled in part on the E.U.’s parliament in Brussels. It will have jurisdiction over policy areas such as: common currency, natural resources, environmental stewardship, some areas of foreign policy, national insurance, health services, the postal service, national parks, holy sites, co-existence education, and possibly more (e.g. policing) as agreed upon by the governments of the three states. The presidency will rotate according to a fixed schedule, among candidates representing each of the recognized religious/national groups living in the FOTL.

State Borders

The borders of Israel, Palestine, and Jordan will be established according to the 1949 Armistice Green Line, as regards Israel and Palestine, with the exception of Jerusalem/Al Quds, which will operate under a special set of rules. The borders of Jordan will remain as they are today. The respective parties may choose to agree to negotiated land swaps in establishing the state borders. Jerusalem/Al Quds will be a city of open borders and mutually agreed upon state sovereignty in specific areas.

Citizenship

Some basic principles:

  • Anyone who is a citizen of any of the three states is also a citizen of the FOTL.
  • Each citizen of the FOTL can be a citizen of only one of the three states.
  • The state in which a person resides does not have to be the same as the state in which that person is a citizen.

The following rules will apply to eligibility and rights for citizenship in each of the three states:

  • All current Israeli citizens, whether they are Jewish or not, will have automatic citizenship in the State of Israel. At the time of the implementation of the FOTL, Jews living in Palestine or Jordan can continue to reside there, and they can automatically claim Israeli citizenship or request Palestinian or Jordanian citizenship, though those governments are not obliged to grant it.
  • Palestinians, no matter where they live in the FOTL, can continue to reside where they live, and will have automatic citizenship in the State of Palestine. If they held Israeli or Jordanian citizenship prior to the implementation of the FOTL, they have the right to retain that citizenship, but cannot also hold State of Palestine citizenship.
  • Jordanians who are not Palestinian refugees or their descendants can continue to reside wherever they live in the FOTL and will have automatic citizenship in the Kingdom of Jordan. At the time of the implementation of the FOTL, Jordanians who are not Palestinian refugees or their descendants and who live in Palestine or Israel can request citizenship in either of those states, though those governments are not obligated to grant it.
  • Members of the Druze, Bedouin, Baha’i, and other minority communities can continue to reside wherever they live in the FOTL, and will have automatic citizenship in the state of their residence.

Rights of Residency

There will be two legal categories regarding the right of individuals to reside in any of the states of the FOTL: Automatic Right of Residency and Right to Arbitration Regarding Residency.

Automatic Right of Residency

People of different identities and ancestries, whether they currently live in the FOTL or not, will have an automatic right of residency according to the following rules:

  • Palestinians, wherever they live in the world, will have the right to residency and citizenship in the State of Palestine.
  • Jews, wherever they live in the world, will have the right to residency and citizenship in the State of Israel.
  • Hashemites, Palestinians, Druze, Baha’is, and Bedouins, wherever they live in the world, will have the right to residency and citizenship in the Kingdom of Jordan.
  • At the time of the implementation of the FOTL, any people living anywhere within the FOTL will have the right to maintain their residency where it is. Their rights and options regarding citizenship in one of the three states are explained above.

Right to Arbitration Regarding Residency

The following rules will govern Palestinians and their descendants living anywhere in the world who became refugees from 1947 onward:

  • Individuals and families will have the right to an arbitration hearing in response to petitions for redress for losses of property and money. Petitioners may seek either or both of the following forms of redress:
    • residency within the State of Israel with the choice of citizenship in either Israel or Palestine;
    • monetary compensation for lost property and wealth.
  • Arbitration hearings will be conducted by a network of multi-faith, multi-ethnic boards consisting of representatives of all of the recognized communities of the FOTL and several representatives from countries with no historical ties to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Israelis will comprise 40% of the board, Palestinians 40%, and other members the remaining 20%.
  • In each case, the arbitration board will presume that petitioners who are listed as Palestinian refugees by UNRWA have a valid claim of some sort. The boards will balance the value of self-determination and security for Jews in the State of Israel with the value of the rights of the petitioners to redress for losses of property and livelihood.
  • In each case, the arbitration boards will offer an option of monetary compensation alone to the petitioners, though the boards may also offer a decision in favor of residency and some form of property restoration within the State of Israel. The boards will ordinarily offer more generous monetary compensation to petitioners who decline to seek residency and/or property restoration in Israel.
  • In each case, the petitioners will agree at the outset that the decision of the arbitration boards will be binding and final.
  • The boards will seek to render judgments on cases affecting 250,000 people per year for 20 years. The boards will be empowered to award residency rights in the State of Israel to a maximum of half of each year’s petitioners. If the percentage of each year’s petitioners seeking residency in Israel exceeds that limit, a lottery will determine which of the petitioners above that limit are not awarded residency. Those petitioners will have the option to accept a monetary compensation offer alone, or to reenter the following year’s class of petitioners.
  • Petitioners seeking monetary compensation alone will have a fast track for concluding their claim. Petitioners who seek monetary compensation alone retain the right to residency and citizenship in the State of Palestine.

Freedom of Movement

All citizens and legal residents of the FOTL will have complete freedom of movement and travel throughout the FOTL. The EU model will serve as a guide.

Visitors from outside the FOTL will have to follow each of the three states’ laws regarding visas and border security.

Freedom of Religion and of Conscience

All citizens and legal residents of the FOTL will have complete freedom of religion and  the right to freedom of personal beliefs, including the right to hold no religious beliefs. No government or religious entity may infringe on any individual’s rights of religious freedom throughout the FOTL.

The Kingdom of Jordan’s government may maintain an enfranchisement of Islam as the primary religion of the state, but it must protect and respect the rights of worship, peacable assembly, and freedom of religion throughout the Kingdom.

The State of Israel’s government may maintain its partial enfranchisement of Judaism as the primary religion of the state, but it must protect and respect the rights of worship, peacable assembly, and freedom of religion throughout the state.

The State of Palestine’s government may choose to enact a limited enfranchisement of one or more religions, but it must protect and respect the rights of worship, peacable assembly, and freedom of religion throughout the state.

Military Defense

  • The Kingdom of Jordan will be responsible for defense of its borders with Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.
  • The State of Israel will be responsible for defense of its borders with Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt, and for naval defense of the Federation.
  • The State of Palestine will be responsible for defense of its border with Egypt.
  • The Federation will have a joint military force responsible for counter-terrorism, peacekeeping along state borders within the FOTL, and defending Federation airspace. The joint military force will also be responsible for security of all holy sites and the old city of Jerusalem/Al Quds.
  • The FOTL will be a nuclear-weapons-free federation.

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