On Jan. 15, Partners for Progressive Israel (PPI) sponsored a webinar erroneously entitled “Beyond Two States: Is Confederation the Solution to the Israel-Palestine Conflict?” All three speakers are Israeli citizens: Galia Golan is a professor emerita at Hebrew University and a longtime left-Zionist peace activist; Thabet Abu Rass is currently the co-CEO of The Abraham Fund Initiatives and a former leader of the Adalah Israeli-Palestinian civil rights organization; while the moderator is Dahlia Scheindlin, a well-known public opinion polling expert.
Unfortunately, the web connection with Mr. Abu Rass was almost constantly going bad, but it was apparent from what did come through that he is very much a moderate. It was almost immediately clarified that the “Two States One Homeland” initiative under discussion is NOT meant to be an alternative to the two-state solution; Ms. Scheindlin did not always seem to absorb this point in her otherwise very able performance as moderator. Prof. Golan carefully explained that it’s an approach to implementing a two-state solution. It differs from the previous prevailing assumption that an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel has to mean separation — a “divorce” as the late Amos Oz liked to say.
The central point is for an agreed upon number of non-Israeli Palestinians to obtain permanent residence status in Israel, and for Israeli settlers in the West Bank to remain as permanent residents in Palestine, while being citizens of the state other than where they live. Correcting (within brackets) some obvious errors in its rather rudimentary English-language website, and leaving aside the other details listed there, this is how this central idea is expressed:
. . . both states will recognize the right of their citizens to move, travel, visit, work and trade in all parts of the land;
e. At the same time, both states would agree on a proportional number of citizens of the other state who would live in their territory and would receive the status of permanent residents. This agreement would allow Israeli citizens, including those living today in [the] area allocated to the Palestinian state, to receive a status of permanent residents in Palestine, provided they agree to live peacefully with their neighbors under Palestinian [sovereignty]. This agreement would allow Palestinians, including those who will be naturalized in Palestine, to have a status of permanent residents in [Israel], provided they agree to live peacefully with their neighbors under Israeli sovereignty.
f. The permanent residents who will live in the state which is not their state of citizenship, would be obliged to respect the law of that country, live in peace with their [neighbors], and avoid actions that threaten the security of their state of residency or the safety of its citizens;
g. The Israeli permanent residents in Palestine will implement their right to vote for parliament in Israel and the Palestinian permanent residents in Israel will implement their right to vote for parliament in Palestine . . . .