Territorial disputes: the Israel-Palestine difference (Part 20) [Post 60]

The egalitarian shared sovereignty applied to territory in relation to the Israel-Palestine difference (cont.)

It is arguably a truism in international law and politics that an ultimate sovereign, with a common legal bond or system of norms, will govern one territory with population. 

  • What would happen if that one territory and population had two ultimate and hierarchically equal sovereigns (legally speaking) and, at the same time, two valid sets of norms?
  • Would it be possible, for instance, that Israel and Palestine had sovereign authority at the same time over Jerusalem?
  • If the answer were positive, what would the consequences be—in terms of territory, population, government and law?

The EGALITARIAN SHARED SOVEREIGNTY may rule out extreme situations such as:

  • Sovereignty of the disputed territories to be totally in the hands of only one of the claiming parties either Israel or Palestine.
  • Existing sovereignty should automatically continue, or that everything should remain in a status quo.
  • United Nations or any other party alien to the dispute. Several problems immediately arise.

United Nations (UN): although UN aims to grant sovereign equality among the States its own system reveals a contradiction: veto power in the Security Council is only granted to certain sovereign States. This may be translated (in the perception of at least one of claiming parties, either Israel or Palestine) as an unbalanced and unfair starting point to have negotiations, and with a predictable result.
Not only does the Security Council present these problems but also other UN organizations. Even the UN General Assembly, at first glance a fair environment for sovereign States to participate in, has been regarded as ineffective or irredeemably biased because of the different bargaining powers of its members. Finally, in cases of contested sovereignty over populated territories, stateless people are not UN members.

Other parties: in terms of other parties alien to the dispute (for example, the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, the Arab League) history is self-evident in demonstrating their policies in the region have been far from successful, have taken little care about the local population and their needs, and have been more (only) centred on their geostrategic domestic policies rather than taking Israel and Palestine into consideration.

In brief, in order to acknowledge the controversial features the EGALITARIAN SHARED SOVEREIGNTY advises to remove the borders and any checkpoints in the disputed territories. As we discussed when assessing population in the context of the Israel-Palestine difference, by applying the EGALITARIAN SHARED SOVEREIGNTY, the inhabitants of the disputed territories would be citizens of both sovereign states, they would have a common passport (an Israeli/Palestinian passport) valid in the disputed territories. In terms of religion, as the second pre-requisite recognizes basic non-political liberties, freedom of movement and residence would be adopted at a constitutional level. The lexically prior prerequisite of non-political liberties controls this.

A reminder to the reader: First, we have maintained in all these posts that Israel is de jure and de facto a state whilst Palestine is a de facto state. Israel would continue having de jure and de facto sovereignty over any non-disputed territories that are not part of the original difference. Israel and Palestine, therefore, would share de jure and de facto sovereignty only over the disputed territories. That means that Palestine would have de jure sovereignty recognition (and all that this implies). 

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, territory and defense.

Friday 24th January 2020

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @London1701

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