Israel and Palestine Conflict
The conflict between Israel and Palestine is the quintessential struggle of the modern age. The Israeli-Palestinian war claims uniqueness for its persistence and never-ending demand for attention. Palestine includes the contemporary state of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It stretches from the Mediterranean Sea in the West to the Jordon River in the East and from Lebanon in the north to the Gulf of Aqaba and the Sinai Peninsula in the south . Israel comprises of eighty percent of the territory designated Palestine after the First World War. According to the right-wing Revisionist Zionists and the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the region of Palestine also includes the territory of Hashemite Kingdom of Jordon. While the population of Israel in 7.3 million, the number of Palestinians residing in the territories of Palestine is 4.3 million . Since 1948, the conflicts between Israel and Palestine claimed over 150,000 casualties.
The struggle for control over some or all the territories of Palestine marks the beginning of two nationalist movements against each other. The nationalist movements bear a remarkable resemblance to one another, each constructing a historical narrative that traces the unbreakable lineage of the nation over time. The adherents of the Israel-Palestine conflict demand sovereignty over the designated territory of Palestine as they consider Jerusalem, which lies in the inland of the territory as the holy place . For Jews, Jerusalem is the capital of David and Solomon’s kingdom and the Western Wall, which is the only leftover of the second temple. For Christians, it is the site of Passion and Crucifixion. For the Muslims, Jerusalem is the place from which Prophet Mohammad ascended to heaven. The early empires shared three major characteristics. First, they did not interfere in the day-to-day lives of the citizens. Second, they expected the citizens to pay taxes and tribute without rebelling against the imperial control .
During the first phase of the Israel-Palestine war, which lasted until the United Nations brokered truce on the 11th of July, 1948, neither of the two nations gained an upper hand . In fact, the Israelis found themselves in suffrage on all fronts due to lack of suitable aircraft and resources to confront the Egyptians in the south. While the Arab forces failed to bring the Israelis to their knees, the breakage of the truce on 8th July led the Israelis to go on the offensive to devastating effect. The second phase of the war interrupted by the second truce between the 18th of July and 15th of October dragged the war into 1949 . During this period, the war largely became an Israeli mopping operation. The terror continued and involved the assassination of Count Bernadotte, whom the Israelis thought was in the favor of the Arabs. The Grand Mufti and the Arab Higher Committee decided to form the Government of All Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital and Gaza as the seat of the government headed by Mufti .
After the War of Independence between Israel and Palestine, Ben-Gurion incorporated certain policies that were direct and straightforward in approach. He strengthened Israel through immigration, irrigation, industrial development, education and hard manual work. On the other hand, the Israelis claim that a Palestinian nation never existed before the later-twentieth century. Until then, the administrative district of Palestine had no distinctive national, religious, social, historical and cultural traditions. The British mandate, which reintroduced the ancient concept of Palestine as a distinct entity and offering it future independence boosted the national movement. The rest of the territories acquired in 1967 are still under the control of Israel. During the war of 1967, a new wave of Palestinian refugees escaped from the Gaza strip and the West Bank, which accounts to over 250,000 people . Even today, there are more than three million Palestinian refugees residing in these areas under Israeli occupation surrounded by Israeli settlements.
The US-Israeli relations that strengthened after Israel’s military victory in 1967 made the country omnipotent. The then-defense minister Ariel Sharon led Israel to create a new order in the Middle East destroying the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The first Palestinian uprising between 1987 and 1993 brought a change to the Israeli society, which discovered that the military occupation of the Palestinian land had a heavy price . On the Palestinian side, the struggle for independence demands the explicit recognition of Israeli’s right to exist in its pre-1967 borders. In 1988, the Intifada Meeting of the Palestine National Council called the partition of historical Palestine into two independent states. The struggle for partition became a joint venture involving both Israel and Palestine involving several Israeli opposition groups. In October 2000, the second Intifada Meeting of the Palestine National Council led to the second Palestinian uprising. Although a majority of the Israelis show no more interest in the war of occupation, the Israeli political and leadership drives the greed for land, water resources and power in Palestine .
The Oslo Accords of 1993 brought hope that Israel would withdraw from the occupied territories and lead to the formation of a new Palestine state. The Israeli peace camp turned the Oslo spirit of reconciliation into a sophisticated form of maintaining the occupation. The Oslo Accords set false expectations accepting the partition of a historical Palestine, in which a Palestinian and an Israeli state would coexist along the lines of the pre-1967 borders determined by the United Nations resolutions of 181, 242 and 338 . Combined with the victory of the reconciliation line in Palestine, many Palestinians felt that the two-state solution would settle the Israel-Palestine conflict. However, during the Oslo negotiations, Israel insisted that it would not dismantle any of its settlements in Gaza during the interim period of five years. Though the Palestinian negotiators agreed to the condition, they demanded compensation for alternative housing facilities.
The worst thing that happened after the Oslo Accords was the Taba negotiations, during which Israel presented actual maps for Gaza, which left a majority of settlements under the full control of Israel. Israel insisted that the settlements would be in groups of three blocs with lands between the individual settlements. The blocs account to over one-third of the Gaza strip, which shocked and angered the Palestinian negotiators . Surrounded by electronic fences and military posts, Palestinian Gaza resembles a prison ghetto. Until Oslo, it was possible for the Palestinian Gaza residents to obtain exit permits to visit their relatives in the West Bank, which seized with the Oslo negotiations . The Palestinians have no way to escape as the food, electricity and fuel are entirely under the control of Israel. The present day Palestinians live with the hope that Israel would one day withdraw and end the occupation leading to the emergence of a new Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
Gelvin, James L. The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War. Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Reinhart, Tanya. Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948. Seven Stories Press, 2011.
Ross, Stewart. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Hachette UK, 2010.
Tessler, Mark A. A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Mark A. Tessle, 1994.