Territorial disputes: the Israel-Palestine difference (Part 3) [Post 43]

The Israel-Palestine difference has many issues at stake. “TERRITORIAL DISPUTE” is the usual nomenclature used by legal and political sciences to refer to these kinds of conflicts. Yet, the label does not show the complexity this and many other differences have. This is not only a question about territory but includes people, government and law, domestically, regionally and globally. There are many remedies that could be applied. The previous post presented a series of articles which summarise the situation and the official position of Israel and Palestine.



Today’s post centres the attention of one of these parties: people. What do Israelis and Palestinians want?

A Joint Poll (published on 25th January 2018) conducted by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research (TSC), Tel Aviv University and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in Ramallah, with funding from the European Union (EU), the Netherland Representative Office in Ramallah, and the UNDP office on behalf of the Representative Office of Japan to Palestine.

Key Results (my capitalisation):

  • Support for the TWO-STATE solution stands at 46% among Palestinians and Israeli Jews. In June 2017, 53% of Palestinians and 47% of Israeli Jews supported that solution. Among Israeli Arabs, support for the two-state solution stands today at 83%.


  • Other solutions considered (fewer people agreed): one state with equal rights, one state without rights, and expulsion or “transfer.”


  • 40% of Palestinians and 35% of Israeli Jews (a three-point increase from the June survey) support a PERMANENT PEACE AGREEMENT package, along with 85% of Israeli Arabs.


  • The skepticism about the package appears closely related to serious doubts about FEASIBILITY.


Mode details available at:


It does result interesting to know what Israelis and Palestinians think about this territorial dispute. In particular, because they are the ones that live in that region and therefore, any decision affects them directly (and their future generations). This study (like any other) has a main flaw: although it gives us a glimpse on what Israelis and Palestinians may think about the territorial dispute, it remains questionable to argue that this is what most of them want. After all, like any study, it is based on a sample. Yet, as an interpretative tool it is indeed thought provoking.

It would be desirable to have a more in depth questionnaire including clear conceptual references for the respondents, a broader sample, and a more in detail analysis. For instance, a suggestion: to define clearly how the two-state formula would materialize? I propose to follow the EGALITARIAN SHARED SOVEREIGNTY model in which both parties (Israel and Palestine) would be equal sovereigns with implications related to territory, people, government and law. The formula secures in theory and in practice equal standing for both Israel and Palestine in many senses (some of them previously presented when we introduce Kashmir, the Falkland/Malvinas islands, and Gibraltar as case studies in this series about TERRITORIAL DISPUTES).


Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @London1701

25th April 2018


  1. So you are going to propose a confederation? If so some background:From the Zionist left the most popular plans are confederation plans. Here is an example.http://jerusalem.fnst.org/sites/default/files/uploads/2017/01/19/israeli-palestinianconfederationpdf.pdfSample pro-confederation opinion: http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/02/02/confederation-the-one-possible-israel-palestine-solution/Sample anti-confederation opinion: https://972mag.com/an-israeli-palestinian-confederation-not-so-fast/120139/


  2. Hi Jeff,No. It is something different. A Confederation (or a Federation) “shares out” sovereignty. Hence, not all parties get a say on everything about internal and external affairs.I propose both Israel and Palestine to be situated equally as sovereigns sharing rights and obligations.For example, the second article you refer to entitled “An Israeli-Palestinian confederation? Not so fast.” I quote a paragraph from that article below to briefly show what I meanThe article says:”So what are we to do? Two States One Homeland proposes a confederation based on 1967 borders, freedom of movement, and joint institutions. The settlements will remain under Palestinian sovereignty, the settlers will be able to keep Israeli citizenship, and a similar number of citizens of Palestine will be able to live as residents in Israel.”Borders already imply separation. I do not agree with that for several reasons. Freedom of movement: it all depends. If they refer to something similar to the European Union fundamental freedom (one of four, together with free movement of goods, capital and services) that is not enough. The EU gives plenty of evidence with Brexit. Dividing the issue between settlements and others, and granting sovereignty to only one party is once again fragmenting the issue (but in a different form now).I envisage both with equal standing. I mean both equal sovereigns in what has to do with rights and obligations. I agree joint institutions are key. I would call them shared institutions with a proviso: EQUAL weight for both sides when creating, executing and applying law.I hope I have been able to offer a more clear picture of what I mean. It requires more detail (I know). I did my best to put together the key elements I refer to that make the Egalitarian Shared Sovereignty different. By acknowledging both parties equal standing both Israel and Palestine secure equal treatment to ALL people in relation to political and non political liberties. It too offers a reciprocal “controls and checks” system. And many other advantages.Best regards.


  3. I think both parties would love a no borders solution. Permanent relinquishing all claim has been one of the very tough sticking points for both sides. The word “Jew” is just an old French form of Judean. Most of Judea was on the Jordanian side of the armistice lines. The majority of the ancient ties to Palestine for the Jews are on the Palestinian's side of the 1967 border. Conversely the majority of Palestinians came from the Israeli side. Their tribal villages don't exist anymore but if they did they would be in Green Line Israel. I'll wait for your plan. I will say this though. I don't think you will find that equal on all aspects of the law really meets either people's needs. Two examples. The Israeli-Arab economy is right now heavily subsidized by the Jewish economy, sort of affirmative action. That has incidentally increased under Netanyahu even though he says really quite mean things about Israeli-Arabs. In most countries that would be incredibly controversial in Israel it isn't. The Jews don't mind much and of course the Israeli-Arabs like subsidy. They typical “who gets what and who pays” plays very little part in this struggle. OTOH shared control of the IDF would I think be a non-starter for the Jews. They would rather have war. Though perhaps there is a way to construct that you wouldn't get the reaction of “hell no, never!”. But I'm not sure that's a deal killer. Most Israeli Arabs don't really mind Jewish control of the IDF. Most Jewish men do 3 years in the army, mostJewish women 2 years. Israeli-Arabs have the option of civilian service (technically they can join the IDF, though few do outside specific ethnic subgroups, though this number is increasing rapidly). Jews have reserve duty for decades. From the Israeli-Arab perspective they get a first class defense, they get a head start on their careers, and they don't die in wars. Again a very unequal situation that I'm sure neither side would desire equalizing.


  4. Thanks for this. Another very interesting comment. I'm about to post the next part.In answer to this comment, the example you offer about their economy is exactly what I have in mind with the Egalitarian Shared Sovereignty.In terms of the IDF, indeed. I see your point. Yet, it would not be an issue since the shares of sovereignty I propose are ideal in terms of right and obligation. With this in mind, the power would be share in the sense both parties would have to agree to make joint decisions. I do not mean that both parties have the obligation with each other to bring the other to equality (in your example, I do not mean Israel would have to share the IDF necessarily). I mean any decision that affected the areas in which both parties are sovereign would have to be taken jointly.Best regards.


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