As international leaders discussed the possibility of Mideast peace talks Thursday, scholars gathered on campus to discuss an alternative solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Alternative Palestinian Agenda, a peace plan written by UW graduate Nasser Abufarha, proposes creating a bi-national state instead of the more commonly discussed plan to create two separate states.
“Current realities dictate Israel and Palestine are not separate, nor separable,” Abufarha said.
The Alternative Palestinian Agenda suggests the creation of territories based on current demographics and population density, with joint control of Jerusalem. These territories would have their own legal, parliament and judicial systems.
A federal union would demographically represent the population of the new nation.
“I propose two sovereign states [within one country],” Abufarha said. “This would allow for normalization between Palestinians and Israelis, which would make room for politicalization between Palestinians and Israelis.”
Several scholars debated the Alternative Palestinian Agenda and the realities of the conflict between Palestine and Israel.
Bruce Saposnik, an expert in Jewish nationalism, voiced his fears that a bi-national state would put Jews in the minority.
“Inevitably, Jews would eventually become a minority in this state, consequently losing the ethnicity strived for,” Saposnik said.
He said the proposal was “a recipe for further conflict,” and a two-state plan would be better.
Mohammad Doughlah, UW life-science communication professor, addressed the conflict between the desires of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples and their leaders.
“I sincerely believe we are at a juncture of the Palestine and Israeli conflict where we can accurately describe both societies as victims of oppression,” Doughlah said. “The oppressors are their own leaders and other leaders who have appointed themselves so-called guardians of one side or the other.”
Doughlah also said these leaders have pushed agendas through violence and deception that are not in the best interest of either Israel or Palestine.
He said he believes there is hope the two groups could come to a resolution and, in fact, want to.
“The rhetoric we constantly hear about Palestine and Israel hating each other, not trusting each other is nothing more in my judgment but a simplistic and twisted reasoning which fails to differentiate symptoms of a problem and the root cause of that problem,” Doughlah said.