The Union of Canaan

Johannes C. van Nieuwkerk
3 min readJan 8, 2024

I have a dream, one of sustainable peace in the Middle East, a new union of states; I call it the “Union of Canaan”.

I know that what I am going to say is controversial, but humanity has to find a way out of growing apart by conflict, we need to fully focus on addressing the issues that impact us all, such as climate-change, inequality and forced migration. For this we need to grow together or establish convergence as I name it.

In November, I was still calling for a safe humanitarian corridor in Gaza and a return home asap after a temporary displacement in order to dismantle Hamas.

By now, there is not much left to return to. Since there is no other option for Palestinians than to go to where they belong, indirectly, the IDF has been bombing Israel as a Jewish state. One can still imagine a two-state solution, but it is getting increasingly difficult.

My question is thus how a one-state solution could look like. What I am going to say is based on dialog or non-violent interaction as equals; this will lead to mutual understanding and empathy, replacing fear by trust.

Without such peace building, the maximum that can be achieved is a truce, no sustainable peace. Such peace of course has to grow and with the current levels of hatred seeded it will not be easy. But, looking at Europe after the Second World War, it is possible over time and this should be the target.

First, there will be a temporary relocation of Gazan civilians required and to create the space where resettled people can live in Israel. Nobody is waiting for an exodus to elsewhere and Palestinian people belong here.

Politically seen, the most “viable” seeming option would likely be to relocate part of the Palestinian population to the West-Bank and to relocate the Jewish settlers back to Israel.

However, this would create new walls, whereas people have to learn to live together as equals and to share their country of Canaan. Therefore, one needs, in my vision, to create autonomous communities which are in dialog with their neighbors and spread them over the entire territory.

Administratively, the country could become a “confederation” of such communities. If this model works and leads to sustainable peace, one can think about enlargement and create a union with the neighboring countries next.

P.S. 10/05/24 looking at the adopted UN resolution, it seems that the world community is still focused on a two-state solution. However, this does not necessarily collide with the above approach. For peace building, the most important is that no walls are built between the two states. This way, its citizens can develop the required reciprocal empathy by non-violent interaction, and replace their fear and hatred by trust and solidarity over time; this way generating sustainability of a truce, resulting in peace. A two-state variant could well mean that there is a nation of Israel and a nation of Palestine, both consisting of local autonomous and democratic communities spread over the entire territory of Canaan; both independently governed in a confederation model. These two confederations (The confederation of Israel and the confederation of Palestine) could then be sovereign members of all international bodies. On top of this, there could be a second cooperation between these two nations, being the Union of Canaan, similar to the European Union.