Refugee Repatriation Expectation: Acceleration to Reconciliation or Mummification of Negotiation?


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It’s a debate that has raged since 1948. Some say there can be no peace unless descendants of Palestinians dispossessed when Israel was created are allowed to return to their ancestors’ lands, while some say there can be no peace unless Palestinians drop this demand. Can the disagreement be surmounted?

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This is a segment from The “On the Road to Perdition with Waze” Edition.

One comment on “Refugee Repatriation Expectation: Acceleration to Reconciliation or Mummification of Negotiation?

  1. Greg Pollock says:

    Is it really that surprising that a full right of return is absolutist when a large majority of Palestinians are either trapped in camps in Lebanon or in a stagnant economy in the West Bank (forgetting about Gaza), in both locations at the whim of other powers (often proxied by Palestinians)? The right of return is demand to lift the trap of their lives, imagining return as liberation, release which is freedom, potential, future. It is a plea to erase the past by changing the world overnight.

    The problem, then, is to provide tangible avenues toward greater life efficacy–and I think this requires a confederation or “condominium” with Israel, the only economy capable, admittedly slowly, of expanding horizons. But for a confederation to work there must be a clear sense in which all is not Israel’s largesse, and the only way to do that is have an entity with some power that is not a tool of Israel.

    I would consider a confederation focusing on economic transactions with its own tribunal, composed of both Israeli and Palestinian jurists, to rule on transaction disputes such as breach of contract and right of economic entry. This could be done incrementally, with a few cross border transactions, allowing more over time. For example, the US could invite joint venture applications, approving some with grant seed money. Both Israeli and Palestinian security could be required to vent those approved, with veto power for security reasons. Issues arising from confederation tribunal cases would be bindingly settled, beyond control of either Israel or the PA, both committed to honor the decisions. Suppose a Palestinian partner request to enter Israel for venture success but fails some Israeli condition. The tribunal would decide if s/he can enter anyway and under what conditions. The point is to find a way to evolve a body of law slowly, experimentally, with neither standard side able to veto at any place, save for exiting the agreement in toto.

    Such a confederation would have no political import otherwise in either side, nor need it be permanent. As economic conditions change, the confederation could be subject to periodic review allowing continuance, severance moving to Two States, or further integration (which I would see as unlikely). No grand solution is offered, so parties on either side should find it harder to play Apocalypse cards–grand solutions invite vetoes. Changes in socio-economic life would reveal new possibilities; all would admit the problem is difficult and full solutions elusive, yet economic hope, with connection across the divide, might grow. Let human growth determine what can happen next.

    There is no right of return in this save for a vague future which might become. Package deals have paralyzed both sides internally, and I simply no longer believe claims that “everything was almost decided.” Requiring full resolution invites multiple veto points. The problem then is to maneuver around such rather than inviting their play. Let peace and coexistence creep up on you.

    But what do I know?

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