UNSC Parameters – Narrative Change / Jewish State
By Jerome M. Segal
University of Maryland
From the perspective of the Netanyahu government, it is of central importance that a peace agreement include Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, or as the nation state of the Jewish people, or some similar formulation. The necessity of such recognition, however, is specific to the Netanyahu government. It was not insisted upon previously, and might not be demanded by future governments.
The Palestinian leadership is dug-in in its emphatic rejection of such recognition. It is viewed as endangering the status of Israeli-Palestinians, as undercutting Palestinian positions in refugee negotiations, and as implying that the Palestinians were wrong to oppose the creation of a Jewish state.
Possibly Jewish state recognition can be obtained at the end of successful comprehensive negotiation, but seeking Jewish State recognition at the outset would ensure Palestinian rejection of the parameters.
1. Do not include Jewish state recognition within the parameters. Doing so will cast in stone an obstacle that might dissolve in the advent of a post-Netanyahu government. Satisfying the Netanyahu government on this issue should not be a priority as there is no likelihood that a Netanyahu-led government will reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians, and it is likely that it will reject UNSC parameters in any event.
2. Rather that putting Jewish State language into parameters the Palestinians are asked to accept, Jewish State language can be inserted into a UNSC resolution as a Security Council determination within the Preface (e.g. The Security Council affirms the right of self-determination of both the Jewish and Palestinian peoples, and the vision of two states, one Arab and one Jewish, living side by side, in peace and security.”)
3. Avoid formulations such as:
” Two states, Israeli as the homeland of the Jewish people, Palestine as the homeland of the Palestinian people”
“Two homelands for two peoples”
These formulations confuse the concepts of “homeland” with that of “state.” As attested in both the Israeli and Palestinian Declarations of Independence, a people’s homeland is a matter of its history and identity. It is not determined by diplomats. The two state solution does not create two homelands, it divides what is a common homeland into two distinct sovereignties.
4. Instead use a formulation that is doable and will offer significant movement by the Palestinians on one or both of the following:
a) That there is a Jewish people — Denial of Jewish peoplehood is a central premise of the PLO Covenant. Jews are viewed merely as people with a specific religion who are entitled to freedom of religion but not national self-determination or statehood.
b) That the Jewish people have an historic connection to Palestine. This is also denied in the Covenant, and is linked to Temple denial.
“The agreement will provide for two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security within the historical homeland of both the Jewish and Palestinian peoples. Both states will be democracies with full social and political equality for all of their citizens.”
This provides both recognition of Jewish peoplehood and of the historic connection of the Jewish people to Palestine. The PLO leadership is not dug-in in opposition as it is on Jewish state recognition. This affirmation does not adversely affect their position on refugees, and it does not undermine status of Israeli-Arabs. Indeed, it supports that status by making clear that even living in Israel, Israel’s Palestinian citizens are residing within their homeland.
Jerome M. Segal directs the Peace Consultancy Project at the University of Maryland’s Department of Philosophy.