A State of ALL its Citizens

The One-State Vision and Foundational Principles of a Republic in Historic Palestine

 

Preamble


I. We, the undersigned, Palestinians and Israelis, believe that the historic land of Palestine should be shared by all those who now live in it and its natives who have been expelled or exiled from it since 1948, and their descendants, regardless of religion, ethnicity, national origin or current citizenship status. Cognisant of the great changes in the Middle East including the recent Arab uprisings, we conceive of our movement as part of the drive towards democracy, accountability, transparency, equality and economic and social justice in the region. We intend to build a model state in the region, rooted in equal citizenship, popular democracy and institutional justice.

 

II. We, Palestinians and Israelis, united and enriched in our diversity, fully recognise the historic injustices inflicted on the indigenous Palestinian population, including the ethnic cleansing of the 1948 Nakba; support all those who are working to build a democratic, pluralistic, secular state (based on the separation of religion and state), that encompasses all of historic Palestine (currently the political entities of the State of Israel and the post-1967 Israeli-occupied Palestinian Territories); and honour all those who suffered for justice, equality and freedom in our land.


III. We reject the tragic 1947 UN Partition Plan, dividing the country into two entities, and the terrible damage it has wrought on the country; this Resolution was used by the Zionist leadership as an excuse for the forced expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes in the Nakba of 1948. Since then Israel has prevented the refugees from returning to their homes, and the international community has failed to enable their return.


IV. We recognise that for decades efforts to bring about a two-state solution based on a partition of the land of Palestine into a Palestinian entity in 22 percent of historic Palestine, and an Israeli one in 78 percent, have failed because they fell short of providing elementary justice. Based on a policy of separation, fragmentation and inequality, the two-state solution ignores the physical and political realities on the ground, and presumes a false symmetry of power and moral claims between an indigenous, colonised and occupied people on the one hand, and a colonising state and military occupier on the other. Indeed, ever since 1967, Israel has acted to make a two-state solution impossible by a range of illegal activities, chiefly the building of illegal settlements, confiscation of land, brutal repression of the Palestinian population, and the building of the Apartheid Wall. Moreover, Israel’s ongoing systematic discrimination against Palestinians, which includes practices such as forced transfer, settler-colonialism of the areas occupied in 1967, as well as in areas of Palestine after 1948, segregation, ghettoisation, and the separation wall (declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004), denial of citizenship and basic human rights and freedoms, is consistent with the crime of Apartheid as defined by the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid; http://untreaty.un.org/cod/avl/ha/cspca/cspca.html) and the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.


V. Seeking and working for a better future of security, equality and justice and equal opportunity for all, we believe in popular, non-violent resistance and support the creation of a movement committed to the establishment of the future Republic of Palestine that can serve and meet the aspirations and hopes of all of its citizens. This will be achieved in conjunction with the international campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the apartheid Israeli state, and has the potential to bring substantial pressure to bear on Israel and its supporters.


VI. Our new one-state movement brings together Palestinians and Israelis in partnership, supported by a global solidarity movement based on the principles and programme outlined below. We call on all those who cherish freedom, liberty, justice, equality, and democracy and reject racism and segregation to join us in building our movement. We believe this movement will change the face and future of the Middle East, and finally bring peace and security for the people in the Middle East, and for people around the world.


Founding Principles and Political Programme


We call for a Constitution for the Republic of Palestine based on the following principles:


1. Constitution and a Bill of Rights: The people of Palestine, Palestinians and Israelis, through their freely elected representatives, will adopt a Constitution and a Bill of Rights as the supreme law of the Republic of Palestine.


 2. Supremacy of Constitution: The Constitution will be the supreme law of the Republic, guaranteeing separation of powers (executive, legislative and judicial), and guaranteeing the rights of citizens vis-a-vis the state. The Constitution will be voted on by the citizens of the Republic of Palestine and adopted by a two-thirds majority, with constitutional amendments meeting the same requirements.


3. Bill of Rights and Citizens’ Charter: The Bill of Rights with its Citizens’ Charter will guarantee the rights and freedoms of all individuals in the state. Basic citizens’ rights include, among others, housing, health, education, employment, social and legal protection, freedom of movement, a ban on racial, religious and gender discrimination, and equal opportunity for all.


4. Truth and Reconciliation Commission: The Constitution will seek to redress the devastating effects of settler-colonial Zionism on the indigenous Palestinians, and other oppressed groups, such as Mizrahi Jews (“Arab Jews”), and to address the structural injustices, inequalities and divisions of the past. Inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of post-apartheid South Africa, it will promote truth and reconciliation between all the diverse peoples of Palestine.


5.  Jerusalem/Al-Quds: The City of Jerusalem will be the Capital of the Republic of Palestine and will be one city, open to and equally shared by all.


6. The Right of Return: The implementation of the Right of Return and reparations for Palestinian refugees in accordance with UN Resolution 194 is a fundamental pillar of peace based on justice and the benchmark of human dignity, liberty and equality. Palestinian self-determination will be addressed through full democratic rights and equality in a unitary state. The Constitution will establish the legal and institutional frameworks for justice, reconciliation and integration of the Palestinian returnees.


7. Fundamental Universal Rights: The Republic of Palestine will be founded on the principles of human dignity, human rights, equality and equal rights, freedoms and equal opportunities; supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law, universal adult suffrage, parliamentary democracy, freedoms of expression, religion, language, movement, residence and assembly, regular elections, democratically structured institutions, a multi-party system of democratic, non-racist, non-sexist government and the fundamental rights and freedoms as articulated and enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and United Nations Covenants.


8. Equality and Citizenship: The Constitution will be founded on the principle that all people who live in historic Palestine as well as Palestinian refugees who realise their right of return will have equality of citizenship and equality of stake. Equal citizenship will have the result that the existing apartheid-based and discriminatory laws and demographic racism will be abrogated, together with the whole institutional system of Zionism. Our Constitution will ensure a state founded on the principles of equality of citizenship, equality between women and men and non-domination and equality in civil, political, social and cultural rights for all citizens and a fully integrated society based on democratic values, economic and social justice and fundamental human rights; lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law. All citizens will be equally entitled to the rights and benefits of citizenship; and equally subject to the duties and responsibilities of citizenship. All organs of the state, including the courts, police and administration of justice shall represent all the people of the land and shall defend, protect, and preserve the principles of equality and democracy. The laws of the state shall provide all citizens with equal access to security, housing, work, welfare, public lands, education, health care, leisure, cultural expression and all the basic requirements for living in dignity and freedom.

 

9. Cultural Diversity and Multiculturalism: The Constitution will recognise and celebrate the diversity of religion and culture of the new society, and the distinct linguistic and historical traditions of the country, consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


10. Public Land: The public land of the state shall belong to all its citizens, who shall have equal access to it and benefits from its use. The owners of private property expropriated from Palestinian refugees, and Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza shall be given the choice of the restoration of their property or reparations for themselves or their descendants. Consistent with the principles of the Constitution and  international law, the Jewish National Fund shall be disbanded and assets held by this entity or the Israel Land Authority returned to its rightful owners, and what is left will be held in common, or distributed thorough fair and agreed mechanisms.

  
11. Economic Justice and Affirmative Action: In the new state, economic and social justice requires addressing unfair distribution of resources that resulted from a long history of inequality and racism. Subject to universal equality under the law, remedial economic measures (including affirmative action) shall be undertaken to redress past injustices, remove segregation and allow equal opportunity. Such programmes would ensure social harmony and remove the possibility of maintaining unfair privileges by one group acquired through historical segregation and monopolies on use of land, water and others resources


12. Separation of Religion and State: The Constitution will establish a non-sectarian democratic state based on the principle of separation of religion and state, its governing institutions based on the principle of “one-person, one-vote”. There will be no specific privileges or privileged rights accorded to any ethnic or religious group or individual. Ethnic, religious, cultural or national minorities shall be protected by law, but not assigned any specific rights.


13. Religious Freedom and Religious Sites: The right to religious practice shall be guaranteed by the state. Religious institutions shall be voluntary, totally separate and independent from the state, and shall receive no financial support from it. All residents of the state shall be free to practice their religion and to worship at sacred sites without impediment or discrimination. The state shall ensure that all religions enjoy equal standing before the law, and that no religion impedes or has supremacy over the other.


14. Civil Marriage and Family Law: The civil law of the state shall reign supreme and shall be the ultimate reference in any disputes arising between citizens and between citizens and religious institutions. The state shall require the registration of all religious and civil marriages and civil unions under principles of law that are non-discriminatory as between marriage and civil partners, irrespective of gender, religion, ethnicity, or any other aspect of identity. The state will permit adjudication by religious authorities (including courts) of disputes between partners who agree to such adjudication. The state itself will be guided in matters of family law by the fundamental principles of equality under the Constitution. The state constitutional court shall be the final arbiter for all legal issues arising out of family law, marriages, divorces and inheritance.


15. United Nations Charter: The Constitution will promote the quality of life and welfare of all citizens and free the potential of each person; build a united and democratic Palestine able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations and as a member of the United Nations. The state shall uphold international law, and at all times seek the peaceful resolution of conflicts through negotiation and with regard to collective security in accordance with the United Nations Charter.


16. Official Languages: The Constitution shall recognise the distinct historical, linguistic and cultural traditions of Palestine. The official languages of the Republic will be Arabic, Hebrew and English. Recognising the status of the official languages of our people, the Republic must take practical and positive measures to advance the use of these languages and support a mutli-lingual educational system.

 
17. State Education: The state shall guarantee free primary and secondary education for all children. Schools and curricula shall teach pupils the historical heritage of their country and region, so that they may grasp, respect and appreciate the origins and historical experience of their fellow citizens, strongly reject racism and doctrines of segregation, honour human rights, protect human freedoms, and guard the peace, rights and security of all the people in the country and the world. Education and vocational training shall not be segregated in any way that impedes equal access of all citizens to employment and other opportunities to fulfil their talents and hopes.

 
18. Abolition of Capital Punishment and Outlaw of Torture: Within one year of the creation of the new state laws will be passed outlawing capital punishment and prohibiting torture in any form.


19. Immigration Policy: The state shall operate a transparent and non-discriminatory immigration policy, and provide a refuge for those seeking asylum from persecution, especially racial or ethnic persecution.

  
20. Nuclear-free Zone in the Middle East: The state shall seek and actively contribute to the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East that shall also be free of all weapons of mass destruction. Israel’s weapons of mass destruction, including but not limited to its arsenal of nuclear weapons, inherited by the Republic of Palestine shall be dismantled or destroyed under the auspices of the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) within one year of the creation of the new state. The state through its Constitution shall include and incorporate limitations on the state to engage in wars and conflicts outside its borders.


Drafting Committee (in individual capacity)


1. Dr Oren Ben-Dor, University of Southampton, Southampton

2. Prof. George Bisharat, UC Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco

3. Prof. Haim Bresheeth, University of East London, London

4. Dr Ghada Karmi, European Centre for Palestine Studies, Exeter University, Exeter

5. Mr Sami Jamil Jadallah, International business consultant, Fairfax, VA

6. Prof. Nur Masalha, SOAS, University of London, London

7. Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh, University Bethlehem, Bethlehem