Experts reflect on current state of Israeli-Palestinian relations

A Palestinian-Israeli confederation could be a solution to some of the problems of the Middle East, according to a leading proponent of the peace process.

Speaking at an event yesterday at Regent’s University London, Dr Yossi Beilin said that an economic confederation between a Jewish state and an Arab state could help solve difficult issues such as security and settlements.

Yossi Beilin speaking at Regent's
Dr Yossi Beilin (right) speaking at Regent's University London next to event organiser Professor Yossi Mekelberg

He also suggested that the establishment of such a confederation could be an enabler of a two-state solution, which takes into consideration the changing circumstances since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.

'There are people who are afraid of peace,' Dr Beilin told a packed audience in the University’s Tuke Building. 'Those who believe in the importance of peace have to convince the others that peace is better. Confederation might be more than just symbolic – it might actually solve problems and could be a solution.'

Dr Beilin was the initiator and architect behind the Oslo Accords as well as the Geneva Initiative. As a member of Knesset for twenty years, and the former chairman of Israel's Meretz party, he held ministerial positions in the governments of Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak, including acting as justice minister between 1999 and 2001.

At Thursday’s event, he described the concept of a confederation as ‘two sovereign independent states under one roof’, and gave as an example the union of Serbia and Montenegro which lasted from 2003 to 2006.

He said: 'The real problem for an Israeli PM, more than the thorny issue of Jerusalem and the refugees, is that of settlements. Politically, it is very difficult to evacuate the settlements. The solution might be easier when there is a joint umbrella for the two states.'

The event was organised by Regent's University London in partnership with the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Programme at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs. The MENA Programme undertakes high-profile research on political, economic and security issues affecting the region.

It was chaired by Professor Yossi Mekelberg, International Relations and Social Sciences Programme Director in Regent’s Faculty of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences. Prof Mekelberg is also a Senior Consulting Research Fellow with the MENA Programme.