The Israel-Palestine difference and “What do people want?”
Within Israel and Palestine, there may be internal divisions, for example domestic political parties wanting a different outcome. What should we do about it?In the case of negotiations about the sovereignty over the disputed territories between Israel and Palestine we have 8,852,180 Israelis and 4,816,503 Palestinians (2,935,368 in the West Bank, 1,881,135 in the Gaza strip, 426, 533 in Jerusalem, and the rest in other areas). There are several political parties in Israel and in Palestine. Internal divisions are highly likely, I include below several links in which you may find more information about the population and the political parties in Israel and Palestine.
It is evident that even though individuals may have similar needs and interests, each may have an individual plan of life. For the purpose of this blog series TERRITORIAL DISPUTES I am going to assume that Israel and Palestine (as two different groups of people) have each a “State plan of life.” In relation to the disputed territories (Jerusalem, Gaza, West Bank, etc.) Israel and Palestine seem to have the same plan of life: each wants the exclusive sovereignty (de jure and de facto). I remind the reader we covered the concepts of STATE and SOVEREIGNTY in previous posts.
In order to avoid confusion about what a “State plan of life” means, it is important to distinguish between an individual or personal interest (that of each Israeli or Palestinian) and the interest of each claiming party as a whole (that of Israel as a whole and that of Palestine as a whole).
Each of the claimants (Israel and Palestine) is a community of people. The individuals in these claiming parties have both common and conflicting interests. But although each claiming party is formed by many different individuals with different interests, each of these claiming parties has as a collective group a common interest for the purpose of this series: sovereignty over the disputed territories. Thus, this same element (the disputes territories) is the centre of this particular conflict of interest.
It follows from this that the political parties in Israel and Palestine may too have different plans for the disputed territories. How do we put these different plans together to move into negotiations?
In order to answer the question, it is crucial to distinguish what Israelis and Palestinians want and what their respective political parties “seem” to want. We covered “issues at stake” before on this TERRITORIA DISPUTE series. The reader may remember that domestic POLITICAL PRESTIGE is one of the reasons why TERRITORIAL DISPUTES remain in a political and legal limbo. To assume all political parties want the best for their people is not realistic (and naïve). Domestic political prestige is an important motivator to start and maintain TERRITORIAL DISPUTES. For more details about political prestige and TERRITORIAL DISPUTES follow the link below (the author deals with the Sino-Indian border dispute yet the key arguments and the conclusion are applicable to the Israel-Palestine difference).
How do we know what Israelis and Palestinians as a whole want? That is to say, regardless of each individual in Israel and Palestine, and each individual political party, how do we know what each of these two populations want in regard to the disputed territories?
The answer is as simple as complex. Both Israel and Palestine have to follow a referendum or a similar procedure. However, not any referendum will answer the question. A referendum of this kind should acknowledge the many pitfalls previous international examples had (I covered the referendums in the Falkland/Malvinas islands, Gibraltar, Brexit, and Catalonia in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017, respectively, on this blog).
To continue the discussion here we have to make use of the elements at hand now. With the information available that covers Israel and Palestine it is possible to assume both Israelis and Palestinians are finally open to reach a peaceful and permanent solution. Many studies demonstrate this point. As an example:
“Polls have shown that certain circumstances surrounding a hypothetical agreement are positively correlated to levels of support on both sides. For instance, more than one poll has shown that if Netanyahu were to accept a two-state solution – even the Arab Peace Initiative – Israeli public opinion would follow. At the same time, Palestinian support for the Arab Peace Initiative has consistently polled higher than other proposals, and one very reputable poll conducted by the Brookings Institution in late 2013 found that Palestinian support for a two-state solution very similar to the six-point plan above would jump by almost twenty percentage points (to nearly 60 percent) if Israel announced it accepted the plan.”
Having answered question 1, the attention shifts now to population, territory, government and law (questions 2, 3, and 4). From tomorrow, we are going to assume Israel and Palestine conducted negotiations and decided to settle the difference by means of the Egalitarian Shared Sovereignty.
NOTE: This post is based on Jorge Emilio Núñez, “Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty: International Law and Politics,” London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020 (forthcoming)Previous published research monograph about territorial disputes and sovereignty by the author, Jorge Emilio Núñez, “Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue,” London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017.
NEXT POST: The Israel-Palestine difference and “What do we do with PEOPLE living in the disputed territories?”
Wednesday 15th January 2020
Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez