Israel at the Crossroads
by Evan Freund
Dates: June 1,2,4,6,7,9,2021
Israel was created by an action of the United Nations in 1947 as a haven for Jews leaving Europe during and after World War II. The United Nations has set the basic principles for a negotiated peaceful settlement with the Palestinians who had lived there prior to 1947 (known as the “land for peace” formula) by its resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). Starting as a sliver of its current territory, over the years the new nation successfully fought neighboring countries and thereby secured control over a much larger territory now known as greater Israel from the Jordanian border to the Mediterranean. Israel has also occupied the Gaza territory that was originally part of Egypt, and the Golan Heights, formerly part of Syria.
In subsequent years, territory retained by Palestinians to the east, bordered by the west bank of the Jordan River and known as the West Bank, has been traversed and divided by roads to communities built and settled by Jewish Israelis. The creeping annexation of the Palestinian territories in the West Bank has gone far enough that a practical “two state” solution is no longer possible. Yet lack of representation of the Palestinian population in Israel breeds ongoing resentment. Many Palestinians refuse to accept Israeli citizenship even when offered, in solidarity with others displaced. Until this trajectory is interrupted, Israel will continue to annex the West Bank bit by bit. Periodic revolts by Palestinians are inevitable. An apartheid state relegating a minority to subordinate status will never be peaceful.
Currently the Israeli government controls every aspect of economic life, communication, and commerce in both the Jewish and Palestinian areas. It controls public welfare in Palestinian territories through direct and indirect policies such as transit and trade privileges. The State of Israel has exclusive authority for international security policy, and a nuclear arsenal.
At this juncture, the international community, through the UN Security Council is called upon to intervene in order to change the hopeless dynamic currently in play. It is past time for the United Nations to recommit to the establishment of Israel as a multicultural and multi-ethnic democracy for peace in the region.
The UN Security Council should repartition Israel and establish a federal government with representation for both the Jewish and Palestinian communities in separate states within Israel and with oversight by the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations.
The Trusteeship Council, one of the main organs of the UN, was originally established to supervise the administration of trust territories as they transitioned from colonies to sovereign nations. It is well positioned to supervise the transition of a divided Israel to a fully independent federated democracy with both Jewish and Arab constituencies democratically represented. A peace agreement sponsored and guaranteed by international authority is the only path forward. As the Economist Magazine reports in its May 29th issue on the Israeli and Palestine:
It need not be a binary choice between one state and two. Some Israelis and Palestinians talk of a confederation that would split the difference. Both communities could fulfil their national aspirations, but with shared institutions and a porous border. Both Mr Abbas and Reuven Rivlin, the outgoing Israeli president, have expressed openness to such an arrangement.
Given the current weak system of global governance that now exists, and the lack of oversight provided, only the United Nations Security Council can guarantee the rights of anyone to representation. The world needs a democratically governed united federation of nations with standards of democratic representation as well as the authority to make and enforce humanitarian world law and resolve disputes. It is the only way to end war and global violence, environmental devastation, widespread human rights abuses, and global health crises.
The law of force must be replaced with the force of law.
Evan Freund, M.A., Political Science, is a Board Member of Citizens for Global Solutions Education Fund, a Washington DC organization advocating democratic global governance.