Territorial disputes: the Israel-Palestine difference (Part 22) [Post 62]

This series introduces TERRITORIAL DISPUTES and attempts to solve them as a matter of ideal theory. That means we conduct a theoretical experiment to evaluate what reasonable people would decide given some facts. When we addressed Kashmir, we centred the attention on population (religion, ethnicity, etc.). When it was the time to deal with the Falkland/Malvinas islands, we focused on territory (borders, natural resources, etc.). In turn, with Gibraltar, the analysis was about government and law.

The Israel-Palestine difference if the first case study in this series to introduce all the elements by means of applying the EGALITARIAN SHARED SOVEREIGNTY. So far, we have covered population and territory. It is time to address government and law. By considering government and law, we complete the assessment of our current understanding in legal and political sciences of a “sovereign state.”

Post 6: Territorial disputes: State and its elements. Law

Government can be defined as a person, group of people or body that create and apply the law for the population in a given territory. Together with population and territory, it completes the necessary elements that constitute a minimal political and societal organisation. Government offers some controversial features in any TERRITORIAL DISPUTE. The following posts will review some of these features using the Israel-Palestine difference to show their implications. The focus will be only on the specificities about power share. The main reason to proceed this way is that power sharing has many different implications, and amongst other sub-elements law.

Government and law:

The globe offers a wide spectrum of examples in which although the form of government differs, in all cases they are still States. There is no controversial feature at this point. In the particular context of this TERRITORIAL DISPUTE (Gibraltar), this sub-element does not offer controversy either. However, other sub-elements part of any government may not be so straightforward.

If sovereignty is not shared, then it is clear who elects representatives and chooses them (the inhabitants if the territory is independent or the inhabitants as part of a sovereign State). What happens when sovereignty is shared? Then, there are two different issues: a) representatives and administration; and b) law. It follows from this that the two most challenging practical issues raised by shared sovereignty in relation to government seem to be: 

·       What sort of governmental arrangements shared sovereignty requires;


·       How governmental authority can be shared and yet be workable.


In order to work out the principles of the EGALITARIAN SHARED SOVEREIGNTY through these authorities and institutions in Israel-Palestine, it seems reasonable to think of either granting participation in all the institutions to every claiming party or to divide the institutions amongst them (Israel and Palestine). In other words, the two ways in which sovereignty may be shared, in principle, are:


·       The relevant parties are all members of an institution that possesses some form of sovereignty (for example, legislative sovereignty).  They “share in” sovereignty by participating in its exercise. For example, they are all members of the legislature.  This form of shared sovereignty does not divide sovereignty itself (the sovereignty of the institution remains undivided).

·       The relevant parties divide sovereignty amongst them; i.e. they “share out” sovereignty.  They might do so by each having sovereignty over a different sphere. Alternatively, they might have overlapping authorities or identical authorities.


Tomorrow’s post will start the assessment of these two options and combine both (the EGALITARIAN SHARED SOVEREIGNTY and the elements mentioned above) to offer a potential ideal solution.


NOTE: based on Chapter 7, Núñez, Jorge Emilio. 2017. Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue. London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group.


Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @London1701

22nd May 2018

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