Iris Young Paper

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Over the course of the nearly 70 yearlong conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, two entirely different plans have been proposed numerous times as solutions to the conflict. The first solution, being the more popular and widely accepted, is commonly referred to as the two-state solution. This proposal calls for the establishment of a separate, sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza, and in some cases East Jerusalem which would live alongside the state of Israel. The second proposed solution to the conflict called the one-state solution calls for the establishment of a single state in what is now Israel/Palestine and would belong to no particular nationality or religious group. A third, but far less popular, alternative exists in which Israelis and Palestinians live together in a bi-national federation. Iris Young argues in favor of this third approach through her concept of sovereignty and self-determination. Taking sovereignty as the focus, I will critically evaluate the one and two-state models in terms of their viability and advocate Young’s proposal of a bi-national federation as the best solution to the conflict. In her article Self-determination as non-domination, Ideals applied to Palestine/Israel, Young differentiates between her concept of self-determination as non-domination and the more common concept of self-determination as non-interference. Self-determination as non-interference adopts state sovereignty as its model, and understands self-determination as one group’s control of a sphere, in which others have no authority. A key element of this model is the distinction between inside and outside. “For the group to be self-determining means primarily that outsiders do not interfere with the decisions and actions made by those governing institutions over what goes on inside the jurisdiction (Young, 144).” Young disagrees with this common conception of self-determination and she points out some of the problems with it. The main weakness of the self-determination as non-interference model that Young points out is the issue of domination. One of the main reasons that groups seek self-determination is to avoid domination by others. The self-determination as non-interference model does in fact address the issue of domination, but it is domination from outside that it addresses not domination from within. “A concept of self-determination that means primarily non-interference with the internal affairs of a sovereign government implicitly allows for domination within, to the extent that it forbids outsiders from interfering if they observe such internal domination (Young, 145).” As Young points out, the problem isn’t just that this model only addresses domination from outside and not from within, but it actually creates another problem which is that preventing outside interference can actually be harmful to the self-determining peoples because it would prevent outsiders from stopping domination from within.
To address the issue of domination that the non-interference model ignores, Young proposes her own model of self-determination which she understands as non-domination. On the non-domination model, self-determination means autonomy. According to Young, “the self-determining entity should be able to set its own ends and able to act towards their realization, within the limits of respect for and cooperation with other agents whom one interacts and with whom one stands in relation (146).” This conception includes a presumption of non-interference, but this presumption can be disregarded in order to prevent the domination of one unit by another and to prevent some members of a self-determining unit from dominating other members of that unit from within. The most popular approach to solving the Israel/Palestine conflict is to adopt the two-state proposal calling for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that would exist alongside the state of Israel, with each state having clearly