JPS has always sought to provide a forum for discussion and productive debate on emerging trends in thought regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict and its peaceful resolution. It is in this light that JPS offers the following two pieces, without comment or endorsement, in the hope that they might inspire serious academic discussion, perhaps even within the pages of JPS. The editors welcome responses (they may be sent to jps@palestine-studies. org), although for space reasons we cannot guarantee that all of them will be published.
In recent years, faced with a stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Israel's continued creation of facts on the ground, many have started to question whether it is still possible to implement a viable two-state solution, which is the peace process's stated goal. A number of alternative ways forward in the conflict have therefore been suggested that go beyond the usual one-state solution. As part of an exercise of "thinking outside the box," JPS is running two essays that suggest unconventional frameworks for dealing with the conflict.
The first essay, by Swedish diplomat Mathias Mossberg, places the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the context of a discussion of the concept of sovereignty and its erosion and outlines the basic elements of a "parallel states" structure as a possible vision for the Israeli-Palestinian future. This scenario is currently being studied in the Swedish government-funded "Parallel States Project" at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University. The project, launched in 2008, gathers Israeli and Palestinian academics and thinkers along with international experts to explore the implications of a parallel states structure involving two distinct states, Israel and Palestine, and distinct institutions sharing sovereignty over the entire area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. The project does not pretend to provide solutions or build a model, but to explore the issues and develop the questions that would arise from such a scenario. The project intends to present a first report at a conference in Lund in September 2010.
The second essay, by Israeli scholar Lev Grinberg, starts from a critique of the one- and two-state solutions to suggest an alternative vision including elements of both. The proposed formula is an Israeli-Palestinian Union with different layers of state institutions: a shared administration based on parity representation located in the unified capital of Jerusalem, two separate democratic nation-states, and seven provinces (or federal states) belonging to one of the two nation-states. The author sees this "1––2––7 states" vision of the future as a way of containing the conflict in the absence of an ideal solution.