A land for all

Gaza area bombed by Israel / Reproduction Telegram
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By THOMAS PIKETTY*

By turning a blind eye to violations of international law and prioritizing short-term financial interests, the European Union has contributed to weakening the Israeli left

The atrocities committed during the Hamas terrorist operation and the ongoing Israeli response in the Gaza Strip raise the question of political solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role that other countries can play in trying to promote constructive developments. Can we still believe in a two-state solution, made obsolete, in the opinion of many, by the extension of colonization on the one hand, but also, on the other hand, by a desire to deny the very existence of Israel and eliminate its citizens? , which has just taken on its most barbaric form with the murders and hostage-taking of recent days?

Can we still dream of a binational state, or is it not time to imagine an original form of confederative structure that allows two sovereign states to one day live in harmony? Such a solution is increasingly evoked by citizens' movements that bring together Israelis and Palestinians, such as the coalition One Land for All: Two States, One Homeland, which prepared innovative and detailed proposals. Often ignored abroad, these debates deserve to be followed closely.

The Palestinian territories have around 5,5 million inhabitants, of which 3,3 million in the West Bank and 2,2 million in Gaza. Israel has a population of just over 9 million, including around 7 million Jewish citizens and 2 million Arab Israelis. In total, Israel and Palestine have a population of more than 14 million inhabitants, of which around half are Jews and half Muslims, as well as a small minority of Christians (around 200.000).

This is the starting point for the movement A Land for All: the two communities are approximately the same size and each of them has good historical, family and emotional reasons to consider the land of Israel-Palestine as their own, the land of their hopes and dreams, beyond the arbitrary and intricate borders left by military scars from past.

Political solution

Ideally, we would like to imagine a truly binational and universalist State, which would one day bring together these 14 million inhabitants and grant everyone the same political, social and economic rights, regardless of their origins, beliefs or religious practices. But before we get there, we will have to go a long way to reestablish trust, in the hope that the terrorists' abject strategy has not annihilated that possibility.

the coalition A Land for All initially proposes the coexistence of two states: the current Jewish state and a Palestinian state that would succeed the Palestinian Authority created in 1994. The latter, already recognized as a state with observer member status at the United Nations since 2012, would finally exercise full sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza.

The novelty is that the two States would be linked by a federal structure that would above all guarantee freedom of installation between the two States, similar to the rules applied in the European Union. For example, current Israeli settlers could continue to settle in the West Bank, as long as they respected Palestinian laws, which would imply an end to summary expropriations. Likewise, Palestinians could work and settle freely in Israel, as long as they respected the rules in force. In both cases, people who chose to reside in the other State would have the right to vote in local elections.

The authors of the proposal do not hide the difficulties, but show how they can be overcome. In particular, they claim to be explicitly inspired by the European Union which, since 1945, has made it possible to put an end, through law and democracy, to a century of wars and bloodshed between France and Germany. They also refer to the complex case of the Bosnian federation created in 1995.

the coalition A Land for All It also insists on the fundamental role of socioeconomic development and the reduction of territorial inequalities. The average salary is less than 500 euros in Gaza, compared to more than 3.000 euros in Israel. The federal entity that will bring together the two States must establish common rules on labor law, water sharing and financing of public, educational and health infrastructure.

Does all of this have any chance of happening? After frequently relying on Hamas in the past to divide and discredit the Palestinians, the Israeli right now appears determined to destroy the terrorist organization. But after that, he will not be content with putting the lid back on and closing the observation towers in the Palestinian territories. It will be necessary to find interlocutors and relaunch a political process.

This is where the rest of the world has a role to play, in particular Europe, which absorbs almost 35% of Israeli exports (compared to 30% for the United States). It is time for the European Union to use its commercial weapon and make it clear that it will offer rules that are more favorable to a government that is guided by a political solution than to a regime that is thrown into rot.

By guaranteeing the Israeli right the same trade rules no matter what it does, the European Union has in fact encouraged colonization. By turning a blind eye to violations of international law and prioritizing short-term financial interests, the European Union has contributed to weakening the Israeli left.

But there is a lively and innovative left in Israel and Palestine, particularly among young people. These young people often found themselves alone in the face of the indifference of governments, both North and South, who colluded with an increasingly nationalist and cynical Israeli right. It is high time to support the side of peace and penalize the side of war.

*Thomas Piketty is director of research at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales and professor at the Paris School of Economics. Author, among other books, of Capital in the XNUMXst century (Intrinsic).

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves.

Originally published in the newspaper Le Monde.


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