Liberty, Democracy

On the Future Palestinian State

Almost everyone has by now accepted the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The new Palestinian state would be created in the territory west of the Jordan River (the parties have not agreed on the boundaries). I here avoid the many difficult issues raised by the two-state solution (see here for a particularly thorough treatment.) I just address a foundational issue.

When does a group have the right to create a state?  The answer commonly heard in the context of Palestine is “why, the Palestinians can create a state as soon as they recover the land that belonged to them and that has been unlawfully occupied by Israel.”  This answer treats territorial sovereignty as akin to property. Just as persons have property rights over land, so collective entities (called “peoples” in international law parlance) have title of some sort over land. If another collective entity (in this case Israel) unlawfully occupies that land, then the original owner has the right to eject the trespasser.

Now suppose that’s true, that collective entities have land rights, and that the land on which the Palestinians will establish their state is theirs. This does not mean that they are entitled to create any state whatsoever. The legitimacy of a state is subject to requirements beyond lawful title over land.   The literature on this is not uniform, but the most-cited requirements are respect for human rights and the rule of law. A group is not entitled to create a state that will enforce racial segregation, persecute dissenters, oppress women, and the like. More: there is a growing sense that democratic governance is a requirement of legitimacy as well. Perhaps these requirements are not very demanding, but I should note that none of the Middle Eastern allies of the Palestinians meet them.  Supporters of a Palestinian state that only care about the territorial claim would have to treat the North Korean state as legitimate, since there is no question that the North Koreans have title to that territory. This shows that you cannot be a supporter of human rights and simultaneously take the position that state legitimacy is defined only by the soundness of the territorial title. A sound principle, then, is that a collective entity has the right to create only a certain kind of state, a legitimate state, one that will respect the rights of its subjects.

Now I’m not saying that the Palestinians will create a tyrannical state. I don’t know, and I certainly hope not, although there are reasons to doubt that the Palestinian state will be any better than the objectionable regimes in the region. All I’m saying here is that Palestinians, like everyone else, are not entitled to create a tyrannical state..

 

  • CJColucci

    If there is a reason beyond pure assertion that a state can’t be both legitimate and bad, I’d be interested in hearing it.

    • Fernando Teson

      Good question. Writers are divided, but a majority thinks that legitimate states must meet a moral threshold; otherwise they are just criminal outfits. Of course, you can define legitimacy as having territorial title, or merely exacting obedience, and some have done just that. But if you think the state has to be justified, not just by its wielding sheer power or by occupying the appropriate territory, but by quality of governance, by notions such as rights or the common good, then there are legitimate and illegitimate states. For what is worth, in my own work I have abandoned the notion of legitimacy and adopted instead the idea of good states/bad states alongside a spectrum of institutional quality. On this view, I would say that groups are not entitled to create bad states.

      • Andrew Pearson

        Fernando: out of interest, what kind of view does that lead you to take regarding the (supposed) duties of citizens to obey their governing state?

        • Fernando Teson

          Andrew: another good question. The answer is long and convoluted, and philosophers are sharply divided about this. I can tell you my own view: there is no duty to obey the state, but there may be all-things-considered reasons for obeying some or most laws of the state. This is especially true of the better states, those with relatively good institutions. But in all cases, an obligation to obey the command is never based on the fact that the state enacted the command, but for other reasons. So I do not think there is a content-independent reason to obey the law. But the issue is very controversial, with many good thinkers (Raz, Shapiro) taking the contrary view.

      • TracyW

        How are you defining the group of writers from which you draw your majority? Is it over a particular time? How do you deal with writers who may be writing things not translated into English? Or not in academic journals? Does, say R.A. Heinlein’s writings count? And if so, given that he lived a long time and changed his mind a lot, which political views of his do you count?

        Why restrict this to writings? There may be illiterate people with considerable insight into these matters, especially in the remoter areas of Brazil or Indonesia?

        And how independent are these writers whom you surveyed? If the younger ones are dependent on peer review by established figures in the field, is there possibly a selection bias going on in the arguments you see?

  • idrather notsay

    It seems to me that there would, on the assumptions being investigated here, be two questions:

    1st Question: If another collective entity (in this case Israel) unlawfully occupies that land, then does the original owner has the right to eject the trespasser?

    Answer given these assumptions: Yes.

    2nd Question: Are there constraints on what the original owner has the right to do with the land?

    Answer: whatever we say here doesn’t impact the affirmative answer to the first question.

    Compare: on the parallel views about personal property, I have the right to stop you from stealing my stuff; any restrictions on what I can legitimately do with my stuff do not limit that right.

    • But they do. You cannot use your stuff to torture a person to death. So you cannot stop someone stealing your stuff by using your stuff to torture him to death.

      • Farstrider

        What idrather is positing is the scenario where the thief has stolen your stuff and you want it back. In that context, it is nonsensical to say X “cannot stop someone stealing your stuff by using your stuff to torture him,” because the thief already has the stuff, and therefore you cannot use it to torture the thief in order to get it back.

        idrather is properly pointing out two different questions: the right to get “your stuff” back and the limits of your ability to use that stuff once you have it back. These are necessarily two different questions that depend on two incompatible factual predicates.

        • Okay. I was responding to what idrather said, not to what idrather meant to say. I should have checked back on the earlier bit.

          • idrather notsay

            I am happy to accept recommendations for clarification, and I thank farstrider for doing the clarifying.

    • Fernando Teson

      Idrather: let’s say you are right and the Palestinians are entitled to eject the Israelis from the land. My point would stand: Palestinians still do not have the right to create a tyrannical state..

      • Farstrider

        I think the notion of a “right to create a state” is silly. States arise inevitably whenever a sufficiently large group of people exist in a place and compete for resources. You might as well discuss whether the Palestinians have a “right to gravity” or a “right to the sun rising in the East.”
        But even assuming that the state is not inevitable, once the Israelis are ejected (per your hypothetical) what can or should the Palestinians do? Must they remain stateless – but in possession of the land – until their proposed state meets some criteria? And must their proposed state meet all the criteria at the time of formation, i.e., must a fully Westernized democracy recognizing the full panoply of modern civil rights emerge fully formed from the region like Athena from Zeus’s forehead? Because if that is the requirement, then I suggest that no state was ever legitimate at its founding, and therefore, to single out the Palestinians as particularly unworthy of statehood is to impose a double standard.

        • TracyW

          Agreed. What’s more, I doubt any one has ever appointed Teson as the authority on who has the right to form a state.

          • Libertymike

            Whether “any one has ever appointed Teson as the authority on who has the right to form a state” is not the type of observation / argument I would expect from you.

          • TracyW

            It’s nice to know I can still surprise you.

          • Libertymike

            Wasn’t it Thornton Mellon who taught us that Vonnegut does not know shit about Vonnegut?

      • idrather notsay

        Thanks for the response. I certainly agree that *no one* has the right to create a tyrannical state.

        Of course, my worry is that many people see reasoning in this neighborhood as an argument against this or that specific claim in the region. But I shouldn’t paint you with that broad brush. Cheers…

    • TracyW

      On your first point, you just implied that the current Australian state has no right to exist.

  • Jeffrey Sachs

    How many states actually spring into the world, Athena-like, as fully formed democracies with entrenched participatory institutions and a culture of human rights? Just at an empirical level, it is the case that almost all states that are currently liberal and democratic started out as either autocratic or deeply flawed pseudo-democracies with limited suffrage, entrenched counter-majoritarian institutions, and deeply held illiberal values. Their progression toward democracy only took place in fits and starts, after many failures and cul-de-sacs. Expecting Palestine, with so much of its history and regional context working against it, to be the exception is a recipe for perpetuating the status quo. Which I suspect is precisely the point.

    • Farstrider

      How many states actually spring into the world, Athena-like, as fully formed democracies with entrenched participatory institutions and a culture of human rights?
      I just got done asking the same question below. And I agree with you that the answer is probably “none.”

      • Jeffrey Sachs

        Great appropriators of obvious but classic similes think alike.

  • Pingback: Fernando Teson on the Palestinian State | Policy of Truth()

  • Irfan Khawaja
  • Krinein_ev

    Tldr version: the dusky peoples of the earth must be ruled for their own good.

    • Libertymike

      Lame.

  • stevenjohnson2

    If this argument were valid, then the inescapable conclusion is that the Zionists/British were not justified in creating Israel. Which makes moralizing about Palestinians while ignoring this seem…dubious.

    If we are genuinely concerned with issues of democracy, or to phrase it better, social justice, then one state that fulfills majority rule in a society of equals is the best choice. That choice demands the destruction of the Zionist state. Fortunately that’s not at all the same thing as the destruction of Jews.

    • TracyW

      Well it was the UN that made Israel after the British gave up and withdrew.

      I have my doubts about justice requiring majority rule in a society of legal equals. That’s what Northern Ireland had, and the Protestant majority used their democratic power to serve themselves (eg access to state jobs and housing) at the expense of Catholics. And we all know how badly that turned out. So far power-sharing seems to be going a bit better. It’s striking how much the advocates of social justice ignore the desperate need in much of the world for ordinary justice first.

      • stevenjohnson2

        The majority of people in Ireland have historically been Roman Catholics. The state that was formed should have been secular with civil and political rights for all parts of the population. The notion of a majority in a society of unequals is problematic, as they say. But the IRA lost the civil war, so that was not the case.

        The notion that a local plurality of a larger nation has a right to form a state does not exist I think. And in practice it merely masks occupation by outside forces.

        • TracyW

          The majority of people in the Republic of Ireland are Catholic. But in *Northern Ireland* the majority in 2001 and before were Protestant. (2011 census has the two groups about equal.) That’s why Northern Ireland didn’t declare independence with the rest of Ireland in the first place – the Protestants there wanted to stay in the UK.

          As for local pluralities forming their own state, if the notion doesn’t exist then it’s hard to explain the history of the Republic of Ireland, or Switzerland, or Eriteria, or India, or Bangladesh, or the USA. And I wonder who the outside force is occupying the USA?

          • stevenjohnson2

            Sorry, but I thought the context was clear. I was talking about a local plurality within a nation, not a nation incorporated in whole or in part in the empire of another nation.

            I have no idea why boundaries drawn by empires are supposed to count in determining where a nation is or is not.

          • TracyW

            Yes, like the Republic of Ireland, or Switzerland, or Eriteria, or Bangladesh, or the USA (from the British Colonies in Canada.)

            When it comes to determining nations are, as far as I’m concerned the relevant question is what happens on the ground. If an empire can enforce the boundaries it draws between nations, then those boundaries count, if the empire can’t then they don’t. And all the arguments in the world about legitimacy and entitlements and rights are nothing compared to those fundamental facts of force.

          • stevenjohnson2

            I’ve come to believe that libertarianism as a whole is pro-imperialist, but I must say I’ve not quite expected such a shameless defense.

            Being a nation and being an independent state are not quite the same thing. Ireland was a different nation from England before they conquered the island, for instance. It’s the Protestants in the north who are the local plurality who’ve relied on imperial power to make a false claim to statehood.

            In addition to your ideological suppositions, your peculiar example suggest a fund of misinformation, or just plain lack of information. You don’t seem to be aware that Canadian nationality is a rather contentious proposition to this day, for instance.

          • TracyW

            You are mixing up a description of how the world is with a model of how the world should be, and doing so even worse than Teson, at least Teson admits that a state that a bunch of writers have labeled “illegitimate” could still exist, you appear to be arguing that if something shouldn’t exist (eg imperial power) then it doesn’t. I’ve been to both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, they are indeed different places with different sets of laws and different currencies and different parliaments.

            And your opinion here strikes me as rather insulting to the Irish. If your claim that Northern Ireland’s separateness to the Republic is false because it relies on imperial power then Northern Ireland must have been part of the Republic of Ireland since the 1920s and the IRA were a bunch of fools fighting and killing for what they already had. And Gandhi was nuts for thinking the British were running India. And Ho Chi Minh a lunatic for thinking the French were running Vietnam.

            You can contend about Canadian nationality all you like, it still is true that the American Revolution came about because a bunch of local pluralities in the British American colonies declared that they could form their own states even if the northernmost bits didn’t agree. Or are you now going to declare not only that Northern Ireland doesn’t exist, but also that Canada is part of the USA?

            If you accuse someone of getting their facts wrong, you really need to identify at least one error in their actual facts, otherwise you just weaken your own position. If I had made an error of fact, you’d’ve referred to that, not made your vague statement about Canada’s nationhood being contentious, hah, as if there was a country in the world of which that wasn’t true!

            Basically, you can’t defend your thesis, and you know it. Give up, your attempts at strawmen are fooling no one.

          • stevenjohnson2

            Here’s one fact, I was explicitly talking about “he notion that a local plurality of a larger nation has a right to form a state does not exist I think,” in my very first comment. So much for the mixing up. I leave the straw men to your fevered imagination.

          • TracyW

            So not only do you mix up descriptive and normative statements, you also have blanked out the rest of your comments.

    • LLC

      But then, of course, we must decide just how far back we go to establish primacy. There was a time when the Jews/Hebrews did hold that land. And it was prior to the “Palestinians” (whatever that word actually means). So does that give modern Israel primacy, or are we obligated to try to track the descendants of the people from whom the original Israelies wrested it? And are we white Americans obligated to give the USA back to the Native Americans from whom we stole it? Seems to me that the fact that the Israelies did at least occupy that land before gives them greater claim to it than we have to the USA.

      • Lacunaria

        Unowned land and purchased land are also relevant, highlighting some reasons why actually forming a state to track individual and collective ownership is useful. Granted, the link is explicitly Zionist, but it raises interesting issues.

      • stevenjohnson2

        The Palestinians were people who could say that their family had lived in this village for the last six generations, then name them. Zionists were people who could say their remote unnamed ancestors lived somewhere around there. There is no equivalence here (except for the small Jewish Palestinian population.) Zionism purported to be a secular movement but in the end it’s claim to Palestine was founded on religious superstition (aka bigotry,) and deeds for land purchased from absentee landlords.

        • martinbrock

          These claims are ridiculous, but a particular Palestinian can claim ancestors on this land thousands of years ago as easily, and as defensibly, as a particular Jew. There was never a time when only Jews occupied the land.

        • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

          Only in your twisted, bizzaro world does living on land, without more, confer ownership, but actually purchasing land in a consensual transaction does not. Furthermore, while a small minority of Jews base a claim to Israel on religious ground, the vast majority base it on the fact that Jews purchased large parcels of land in the late 19th and early 20th century, and the obvious need for a refuge against violent anti-Semitism.

          • stevenjohnson2

            Your murderous hate has unhinged you so completely that even in your own perverted terms, it makes no sense.

            Choosing an arbitrary first, the notion that living on the land isn’t “more” is stupid. (By the way, the insistence that only your notion of property title is legitimate is both ignorant and morally vicious, exactly like racist practice on the US frontier.)

            Second, owning land does not constitute a claim to a state. (By the way, I’m the one who mentioned land purchases. How can you pretend you’re making a point?)

            Three, the Balfour declaration was a concession to Christian Zionism, which is wholly religious but utterly essential to the Zionist project. (By the way, Christian Zionism also contains a strong anti-Semitic component, where Zionism if favored also because it’s Jewish deportation.)

            Enough of this. Your pervasive dishonesty makes unpacking all your lies too long to do without getting paid. Internet commenting is a hobby not a life.

            No decent aware human being holds anything but hatred and contempt for Zionism.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            On a site authored and read by libertarians, you dismiss the idea that original appropriation must be accomplished through homesteading as “stupid.” Some might think that a little, well, stupid. You are free to reject Lockean notions of just acquisition, but you them must offer your own better model, which you do not.

            Yes, you acknowledge that the Jews purchase of land conferred ownership, but then fail to draw the obvious conclusion. By 1948, it was obvious that the Jewish and Arab communities could not live peacefully together, e.g. the 1929 Hebron massacre. So, after the Holocaust, the UN decided to offer both sides their own state in which they would each represent a majority in population and land ownership (there would have been far more Jews in Palestine at this moment had the British not strictly limited Jewish immigration from the mid-1930s onwards). The putative state of Israel accepted those terms, the Arabs did not.

            When someone, in light of the Holocaust, and the widespread prevalence of virulent anti-Semitism, labels Zionism as beyond the moral pale, it reveals something quite important about them. The assertions I make here and above are backed up by citations here: http://naturalrightslibertarian.com/2015/04/lies-damn-lies-and-israel/. I am delighted that you have given me the opportunity to spread the truth about the Israel–Palestiniian conflict. Thanks.

  • martinbrock

    I don’t know what “entitled” means outside of a specific system of entitlements. You say, “Palestinians are not entitled to create a tyrannical state,” but you don’t specify a system.

    If states are small enough, an inalienable right to exit the jurisdiction of a state (implying an inalienable right to life or a right not to be killed by a state before exiting) seems sufficient to ensure that individual choice constrains the rules enforced by states. This right to exit permits individuals to vote with their feet for the systematic entitlements of their choice. Hardly any existing state is small enough by my reckoning, but that’s a separate issue.

    So I favor a minarchy with an extremely limited system of entitlements, entitling groups of people to specific resources governed by standards of their choice while entitling individual persons to inalienable rights to life and liberty, “liberty” describing this right to exit one of the groups at will subject only to exclusion from the use of resources governed by a group’s standards. We could call these groups and their resources “micro-states”, but I prefer “free communities”.

    An individual is entitled to “property rights” (rights individually to exclude persons from specified resources) insofar as the persons constituting a community agree to respect some formulation of individual property rights. Individuals are similarly entitled to gender equality and other norms, but no authority outside of free communities forces either gender equality or individual property rights on any community. The principal constraint on a community’s standards is the willingness of individuals to remain within it.

    If you mean only that Palestinians may not create a state or states violating this right of individuals to exit, then since I accept this system of entitlements, I can agree. Of course, the system raises questions regardless of its apparent simplicity, but it raises fewer questions than the system you presume without specifying it.

  • TracyW

    You speak very strongly of entitlements and rights, which raises the question, if the Palestinians set about setting up a tyrannical state how do you propose to stop them?

    And, if the choice was between the current situation, and a two-state solution where the Palestinian state was tyrannical but the attacks on Israelis stopped and peace broke out, would you really oppose that hypothetical Palestinian state?
    It’s been over 70 years of conflict in that part of the world, peace with a tyrannical state doesn’t strike me as something inherently worse than the current situation.

    • Kurt H

      Right now, Palestinians live under tyranny and are frequently subject to mass violence. A tyranny without frequent warfare would be a net improvement for them.

  • TracyW

    On thinking about it some more, I find myself noting the arbitrariness of this “entitlement to form a state” thinking. Apparently there is a literature which agrees that respect for human rights, etc, is necessary. Presumably 300 years ago a similar European literature would have agreed that a group was only entitled to set up a state if it was a Christian state. And a Chinese literature would have agreed that a legitimate state would have to be Confucian. And 500 years ago the Europeans would have been mandating a monarchy, not that tyrannical idea of a democracy.

    Note that Teson doesn’t attempt here to persuade the Palestinians that they would be better off under a liberal democratic state that has equality before the law, instead Teson just asserts what standard the Palestinians should be living up to, supported only by a reference to a group of literature that I very much doubt was written by a Palestinian constitutional convention, and then promptly rejects the (hypothical) Palestinian state for failing to live up to the values Teson has imposed.

    Does this work both ways? If there’s a Palestinian literature saying that a state must be Islamic to be legitimate, will Teson call on all the governments of Europe, the Americas, and most of Asia to disband?

    • martinbrock

      Academic philosophers are paid apologists for one political faction or another? I never would have guessed.

      • TracyW

        It’s not really apologism though. Apologists, paid or otherwise, try to persuade others of a position. These philosophers appear to have just decided they’re the rightful judges and are handing down their rulings to Palestinians and all the rest of us lesser mortals. We will of course be properly grateful to be blessed with their philosophical wisdom.

        • martinbrock

          It’s more like apologetics. The academics believe what they rationalize, but they’re nonetheless paid by their congregation.

  • LLC

    I assume that “almost everyone” carries the “almost” in order to allow for the absence of the governing bodies of the Israelies and the Palestinians (slim margins of the citizens in polls not withstanding).

  • Kurt H

    Not everyone agrees with a two-state solution.

    For example, the Israeli government has certainly never acted like it wants one. The status quo, where the Palestinians are disenfranchised subjects living in Bantustans, seems just fine to a whole lot of Israelis.

    Given that the IDF has complete military control of all of historic Palestine, Israel is the ruler of all of it (including the so-called Palestinian State). As such, the question is not whether it is legitimate to create a non-democratic Palestine, but whether Israel can claim to be legitimate when they have 3 million adult residents who are denied the right to vote for the government that rules them.

    Any theory of legitimacy that questions the form of a hypothetical future West Bank / Gaza nation would surely call into question Israel’s legitimacy right here in the present.

    • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

      Fernando structured his post to sidestep the merits of this conflict, but you apparently cannot pass up an opportunity to misrepresent the truth. In fact, in both 2000 and 2008 Israel offered the Palestinians 95% of the West Bank for their state. These negotiations are well documented, and the sources are here, including Al-Jazeera, http://naturalrightslibertarian.com/?s=lies. Also, only some 200,000 Palestinians live under Israeli rule in the West Bank (known as Area C), the remainder live under PA civil authority, also documented in my link. The rest of your mythical “3 million,” to the extent they are permitted a meaningful vote, vote for Hamas in Gaza or Fatah in the West Bank.

      • Kurt H

        Nope, they offered them the opportunity to continue living in cordoned-off Bantustans patrolled and encircled by the IDF. If that’s what you call sovereignty, I’ve got some beachfront property in Arizona to sell you. Israel has complete control of the entire area including Gaza and the West Bank. They just have ceased direct administration in a portion of those areas.

        • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

          Are you really this dull? How does 95% of the territory that the PA requested for its state constitute a Bantustan? The 5% Israel would retain is contiguous to the 1949 cease fire line. It is uncontroversial that the PA walked away from both the 2000 and 2008 offers over the so-called right of return. Not the imaginary issue you are raising. And “complete control” is just daft. The PA has political control in Areas A and B, where the vast majority of Palestinians live, although Israel controls security in Area B. Also, Gaza borders Egypt, you know?

          • Kurt H

            No, I’m just not an apologist for Israel. This allows me to see reality clearly. The deals offered did not return East Jerusalem, and contain numerous security caveats where the IDF could shut down internal travel corridors for security reasons. True sovereignty of a second state has never been offered by Israel at any point.

            As for the present, Israel tightly controls travel in the West Bank through dozens of checkpoints. Yes, the land with homes and apartments is administered by the PA, but these areas are all surrounded by IDF checkpoints. There is no reasonable way to consider the West Bank anything but occupied territory.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            No, you’re not an apologist, but a person who irrationally hates the sole Jewish state. What you say about E. Jerusalem is not true, as detailed in the link I provided. This was offered. The security steps Israel has taken are a proportional response to the massive wave of suicide bombing, shootings, and now knifings perpetrated by Palestinians. Any other liberal democracy would defend itself as Israel has done, and in all probability, much more harshly. I suggest you read and absorb the link, with citations, I provided.

          • Kurt H

            It is technically true that the 2000 deal would have allowed free movement *under normal conditions*, but can you really call a country sovereign when their neighbor would reserve the right to close their borders and several major roadways whenever they felt threatened? And keep in mind that this sham independence would only be fully achieved after 20 years(!) under that plan. So, not surprising that the Palestinian negotiators rejected it.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            At that point you have just gone over the cliff. You make wild assertions about cantons, E. Jerusalem, etc., and when proven utterly false, just move on to other silly, false claims. If you look at the historical record of Palestinian terrorism, including the horrific Hebron massacre of 1929, Israel’s precautions are entirely reasonable. And, btw, as documented in my link, the Palestinians NEVER made a counteroffer to any of the Israeli proposals. l suggest readers consult my link for useful background on the roots of this conflict.

          • Kurt H

            You haven’t proved shit with your misleading propo posts that use percentages to obscure the actual lived reality that you support. I’m sorry that your ability to see people as fully human stops at the green line, but resistance to occupation is not a justification for continued occupation. Period. If you think otherwise, turn in your libertarian card, because you clearly aren’t one.

            As for a counteroffer, the Palestinians came in with the massive concession to give up on the right of return. It’s not their fault that the Israelis decided that a generous offer to keep stolen goods wasn’t good enough for them.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Thanks for the clownish name-calling. Please document where the Palestinians offered to give up the right pf return. I’ll be waiting. Funny thing, though, Al-Jazeera in its coverage of the 2008 negotiations (again, see my link) never mentioned that. How odd.

          • Kurt H

            They came into the process ready to affirm the 1967 borders (more or less). What other way could that be achieved, other than by a waiver of return?

            That is all beside the point, since your original objection was to the fact that Israel has military control over all of historic Palestine. This is not disputable. Everything else is just you trying to say, yes it is an occupation, but that is totally OK because the Palestinians have rejected several bad deals.

            I’m sorry that the Palestinians have not groveled at the feet of their oppressors enough to earn a few more scraps. They really should apologize for that. /sarc

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Okay, you’ve just shown that you will say anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid conceding that you have made yet another demonstrably false claim. The ’67 borders have NOTHING to do with the right of return, nothing. Israel and the PA could agree to these borders AND allow all the refugees to return to their pre-1948 homes. Or, agree to new borders, and not allow a single refugee to return. They are entirely unrelated issues. The PA has held out for both a return to the 1949 cease fire line AND the right of return. This would mean the end of Israel as a liberal democracy, and a refuge for the Jewish people. Readers can judge for themselves which side is obstructing peace. I’m done, but happy to have had the chance to expose all your misrepresentations.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Here is Al-Jazeera’s (the ARAB news agency) summary of the August 2008 proposal made by Prime Minster Barak to President Abbas, http://transparency.aljazeera.net/en/projects/thepalestinepapers/20121821046718794.html. The interested reader will look in vain in Al-Jazeera or elsewhere for a summary for any counter-offer made by Abbas. Indeed, remarkably, there has never been a definite proposal made by the Palestinian leadership for resolving this conflict. Now what possible explanation could there be for this?

          • Kurt H

            Also, here’s an offer made a little over a year ago, just so we can be clear that there have been definite proposals made, and they have been rejected.

            http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/PA-says-US-rejected-Abbass-peace-plan-374491

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Okay, One last round. These are the demonstrably false “misrepresentations” (really lies) you have made so far: 1. prior Israeli proposals were for Bantustan (refuted by Dennis Ross), chief US negotiator; 2. No Israel proposal for E. Jerusalem (refuted by same source); 3. Palestinians had given up the right of return; when challenged for documentation, you could of course provide none, and your lame answer was refuted by the laws of logic. Now we add to this list lie no. 4. I said there has never been a Palestinian proposal for “resolving this conflict,” and the best you can come up with is a PA demand that Israel withdraw to its ’67 borders in three years, receiving nothing in return. This “proposal” is NOT a comprehensive peace proposal. It says nothing about refugees, Jerusalem, security guarantees, final borders, international recognition, etc. So, it’s just lie #4.

            Finally, you say this “Still, why would a right of return cause Israel to cease being a liberal democracy? People move to and from and buy and sell land in democracies all the time.” I’m not sure this is clever enough to even be a lie. 4.5 million Palestinians wouldn’t end liberal-democracy in Israel because every other Muslim-majority country in the Middle East resembles Canada, right? Well actually they are all hell-holes, where rights go to die. As you have made clear, you object to Israel as a Jewish state within ANY borders, and yo should have just admitted this at the start, rather than lying about Israel’s actions. Now I am afraid I am out of time to argue with someone who has proven himself completely unconstrained by the facts and unable to harness the power of logic.

          • Kurt H

            1) One can easily go to the controversies section of Dennis Ross’ wikipedia page and see that he is not to be considered an unbiased source.
            2) Your own source indicated that only designated Arab neighborhoods of E. Jerusalem would be included.
            3) A lack of a physical return of refugees to Israel proper has always been a key concept of the two-state solution.
            4) You are moving the goalposts. Also, there is the Arab Peace Initiative, supported by the PA, although not Hamas. So, it is simply not true that no offers have been made.
            ***
            5) You seem to think that Arabs inherently can’t do democracy — which is contradicted by the large number of Arab Israelis. If you are saying that this only works because they have a Jewish majority to keep them line, then I can conclude that you are a bigot.

            6) As for my opposition to a “Jewish State” — I think we should all reflect on the situation here. We are on an English language political blog with a primarily American audience and the word “libertarians” in the title. That I have to DISCLOSE my support for secular democracy, and opposition to states having explicit religious or ethnic identities is fucking amazing. That you seem to support such a blatant violation of core liberal principles is a perfect example of the massive double standards maintained by Israel apologists.

          • Kurt H

            It seems like you’re going to run off in a huff. Which is fine, since you want to bicker about technical details rather than admit the obvious reality of an ongoing military occupation.

            But first, we both know that the point of a two-state solution is precisely to keep the Palestinians out of Israel proper. There might be compensation for lack of a physical return of land, but the whole point is to obvaite the messy business of having people move back.

            Still, why would a right of return cause Israel to cease being a liberal democracy? People move to and from and buy and sell land in democracies all the time.

            Now it *would* probably mean an end to the explicitly Jewish character of the State of Israel. But, being as I am a full supporter of separation of church and state, that’s not really a loss. In fact, it’s a win for liberty to get rid of the theocratic component of that government.

            Finally, there is the matter of a “refuge for the Jewish people” — but since that would include basically any democratic country on Earth, I’m not sure exactly how the Israeli occupation is making the world safe for Jews right now. Kind of the opposite, actually.

  • Craig J. Bolton

    This essay and the comments and questions following it are based on the notion that there is a collective entity that has ownership (sovereignty) over a certain territory. Once you accept that premise it is difficult to see just where the boundaries are to that entity exercising its sovereignty. That has, of course, been the debate between classical liberals and others for at least 300 years. I don’t see that this essay advances that debate by simply pointing out that it is there with respect to “Palestine.”
    . .

    • martinbrock

      The boundaries of an individual’s sovereignty over a territory aren’t much clearer. We tell these Lockean stories about adding value with our labor, but our titles to property don’t actually record this labor, and people were never entitled to land this way as a matter of historical fact. States granted these titles for many reasons, and Lockean principles sometimes influenced particular states, but even the most liberal states are far from Lockean purists.

      In Georgia (in the U.S.), I’ve seen records of the lotteries granting title to occupied land preferentially to military veterans. Individuals participating in a lottery could express a preference for particular parcels, and descriptions of the parcels referred explicilty to the land’s occupation. Land with an existing trail (“indian trail”) to a body of water was more highly coveted. Some land was already cleared for agriculture, but its inhabitants couldn’t even participate in the lotteries.

      These records can only be the tip of an historical iceberg belying Lockean mythology. Our Lockean myths are useful to us in the way that Christian mythology is useful to Christians, but they’re no more historical.

      • Craig J. Bolton

        It seems to me that this is an entirely different question. And your use of terms is curious. Defining title to a particular parcel of land is simple once a sovereign has established authority over that land. You ask the sovereign. Of course, any “morally based” story as to acquisition of land is historically false. Land titles have regularly shifted around over time without voluntary exchange being involved.

        • martinbrock

          Whether the sovereign is an individual person or some committee exercising the authority of a state, I don’t see the difference. A winner of these lotteries was never sovereign, because the state of Georgia was sovereign and remains sovereign over the land. A winner of the lottery is only entitled to exercise the authority on behalf of the sovereign. All property holders are agents of the power enforcing their property rights, and this power is never an individual in a free society. It is the collection of persons freely respecting the rights.

  • Irfan Khawaja

    Anyone still remember the first line of this post? I guess it just has to be tweaked a bit to be brought up to date: “Almost everyone has by now accepted the two-state solution for the Arab-Israeli dispute”–“almost everyone,” except for the Israelis, the Americans, and the Palestinians. But don’t expect the Tobias Simon Eminent Scholar at FSU’s Law School to backtrack at all on his confident dogmas about what “almost everyone” believes. I mean, he’s a specialist in international relations, right? How wrong could he be? And it’s not like anyone is keeping score….

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/15/world/middleeast/benjamin-netanyahu-israel-trump.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=a-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news