Separation without separating

Amjad Atallah and Mickey Bergman step outside the confines of a two-state solution whose parameters are supposedly already well understood, and present a new approach that could conceivably meet both Palestinian and Jewish nationalist aspirations. In their outline for a plan, the two states would be defined more in terms of the political rights based on resident status than through an attempt to physically separate the two populations. As with any novel approach to resolving the conflict, its value hinges on a precursor that has yet to happen: a collective acknowledgment that the peace process aimed at a two-state solution has failed.

Introducing a permanent residency status into the toolbox of an agreement can lead to two national states, with two national polities, and clearly defined borders, while not forcing relocation or denial of political rights from those who want to remain in or return to their homes. In essence, separation without separating. Here is how it might work:

    1. Between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, there will be two national states with clearly defined, internationally recognized borders along the internationally accepted 1967 border.
    2. Each person living in this territory will be able to hold one of two citizenships: Israeli or Palestinian, regardless of which nation state is their place of residence.
    3. It is possible for a citizen of one state to reside in the other, under a clear mutually agreed upon formula between the two states, with a permanent residency status, as exists with a number of states around the world.
    4. Those permanent residents will be allowed to own property, pay taxes, abide by local laws and even vote in municipal elections. Their national political aspirations, however, will be exercised by voting in the elections of their national government.

This concept can allow Israeli-Palestinians to choose their nationality, while maintaining their property, residency and rights. It will allow Jewish settlers, who choose to remain in their homes to do so, while retaining their Israeli citizenship. It will allow Palestinian refugees the right of return, gaining Palestinian citizenship and residing in a location of their choice.

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