ICAHD Director Jeff Halper recently concluded a two-week speaking tour in the UK. The tour followed a successful Palestinian-Israeli brainstorming at Ilan Pappe’s Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter, where the One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC) was formally established. ICAHD UK Director, Daphna Baram, also took part in the Exeter meeting. Jeff took part in initiating the project and will play an active role in supporting it. Embarking on the road towards one state is the main theme of the ICAHD UK 2018 conference on 19 May. The Exeter statement included below is a draft being circulated for comments, with the intention of having a final version by September.
By Jeff Halper
I believe that we have come up with a very workable program that bridges many of the fundamental differences between Israelis and Palestinians. In brief, our program consists of 8 points:
- One Democratic State shall be established between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River (historic Palestine/Israel) as one country belonging to all its citizens, who will enjoy equal rights, freedom and security. No group or collectivity will have any privileges, nor will any group, party or collectivity have the ability to leverage any control or domination over others.
- Palestine/Israel shall be a constitutional democracy in which all of its citizens shall enjoy equal rights to vote, stand for office and contribute to the country’s governance.
- Palestine/Israel will strive to be a welfare state. The land of the State and its basic resources shall belong to the people as a whole, to which all citizens have equal access.
- No State law, institution or practices may discriminate among its citizens on the basis of national or social origin, color, gender, language, religion or political opinion, property, sexual orientation or other status. A single citizenship confers on all the State’s residents the right to freedom of movement, the right to reside anywhere in the country, and equal rights in every domain. All mechanisms of governance, law enforcement and security shall be thoroughly integrated on the basis of individual merit, including the military and internal security and police forces.
- Within the framework of a single democratic state, the Constitution also protects the collective rights of Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews. Constitutional guarantees will ensure that all languages, arts and culture can flourish and develop freely.
- In accordance with UN Resolution 194, the State recognizes the right of Palestinian refugees – those who currently live in Palestine/Israel, all those who were expelled over the past century as well as their descendants – to return to their country and to the places from where they were expelled, to rebuild their personal life and to be fully reintegrated into the country’s society, economy and polity.
- The State shall nurture a vital civil society in which common educational institutions, civil institutions such as marriage, and both the Arabic and Hebrew languages will be encouraged. The State will not establish or accord special privilege to any religion, but shall provide for the free practice of all religions.
- The State shall uphold international law and seek the peaceful resolution of conflicts through negotiation and collective security in accordance with the United Nations Charter.
After the Exeter meeting I went on the speaking tour of the UK in order to present the ODSC plan and to solicit responses, which were very supportive. Now the work begins. There IS a just and do-able political path to a political settlement in Palestine/Israel, and it would contribute greatly to stability in the wider Middle East and globally. This initiative gives ICAHD a clear visionary direction and an end-game for which to advocate, an initiative in which I hope we leading role.
Jeff Halper will be touring the UK again in May. If you’d like to host a talk, please get in touch directly with him firstname.lastname@example.org