One State, Two States, Three States, Four – or More? & The Language Question

Say the US now agrees & the UN Security Council resolves to recognize a Palestinian state. What happens next?

Do the Arab Palestinians & the Jewish Israelis then hold referenda to decide whether they want two states or one?

What if one side decides one state & the other decides two?

If one side decides one state because it feels it has a demographic majority which will give it superior power over the minority, then the other side should not agree, unless it feels it will relatively soon have, and retain, a demographic majority.

Or three states? I have a vague memory that maybe Sayed Kashua once suggested something like this, anyhow, now Arad Sharon has suggested it (in a post on Facebook): a secular non-nationalist state of all its citizens of Tel Aviv & Haifa, with “room for anyone who believes in peace, the rights of the other, public welfare, & proper relations with the peoples of the world, without difference of race, religion or nation”; a nationalist-Messianist state of “Jerusalem & its periphery”, for “those who prefer to continue with Bibi and a government of the extreme right & to go on engaging in nationalism, graves of the forefathers, religious/nationalist Zionism, etc.”, & a “state of Palestine to be established in the territories occupied in ’67 & in Gaza”.

Or maybe four? Cantons rather than states, maybe: secular,  Arabic-speaking; secular, Hebrew-speaking; religious, Islamic; religious, Judaic? So maybe more – add a Christian canton, a Druze canton? & maybe Arabic-speaking & Hebrew speaking yogic cantons, Rasta cantons, etc., etc. ? Mightn’t a cantonal system based on life-styles be an interesting civic innovation?

Still, however far I take such imaginative flights, I come back to the language difference.

So, say a majority on both sides agree on one democratic state of all its citizens.  Then, I imagine, this would have to be a truly bi-national state, with equal rights of national self-determination for all citizens.

Why this proviso? The lines in the meme below (I felt I just had to make it a meme) should make it clear. I thinks that if we can imagine a resolution for this issue, we can then go on to the next, which in some sense is its corollary – the right of return.

palestrine crop

So: two equally independent national cultural autonomies in one state, with equally (per capita?) resourced independent national school systems, cultural institutions?

Or one educational system in which classes are held in both languages?

Or: everyone will have to learn the language of the other?

Maybe a federation of two states makes more sense ? Like Canada, say, or Belgium – in principle (because in practice I hear things don’t always go so well there). You can choose to live in the Hebrew-speaking part or the Arabic-speaking part. You can move freely through all the land. The federal laws apply to all residents of the federation. The state laws apply to all residents of the states. Sounds OK so far.
The federation will have an army but the states will only have police? I can’t see either side agreeing to this. & with other shit happening in the Middle East, surely every state needs an army.

So first there’d have to be trust between the majorities on both sides. There’s the rub. Can such trust be built upon what exists now: the mutual fear, resentment, suspicion, hatred, etc., etc.?
Perhaps, through committed interactions between people from both sides, even while the majorities & their leaders are pulling in the opposite direction. It would have to build into a ground swell of people who are unwilling to continue maintaining the status quo…

I again think Jewish Israelis who want to advance a solution might want to think along the lines of a Sulha Party, like the one I imagined in The Sulha Party Poem.

But hey, I don’t know, I’m just imagining…

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