To begin with, it is necessary to look into the history of both Israel and Palestine. At first a look will be taken into the history of the State of Palestine. In the 19th century Palestine was a province of Ottoman Empire. In 1850 its population was around 4% Jewish, 8% Christian and the rest were Muslim. There was no conflict between the communities and everyone lived peacefully. The State of Palestine was proclaimed on 15th November 1988 by the Palestine Liberalization Organization’s (PLO’s) National Council in exile in Algiers which unilaterally adopted the Palestinian Doctrine of Independence.
It claims the Palestinian territories and has designated Jerusalem as its capital. Even though Palestine was a state that existed earlier, because of historic events of the Arabs and the fact that Britain stood on the side of Jews, the land was divided and the areas constituting the State of Palestine have been occupied by Israel since 1967. The people of Israel trace their origin to Abraham, who established the belief that there is only one God, who is the creator of the universe. Abraham, his son Yitzhak (Isaac), and grandson Jacob (Israel), are referred to as the patriarchs of the Israelites.
All three patriarchs lived in the Land of Canaan, that later came to be known as the Land of Israel. The State of Israel was founded on 14th May 1948 in Palestine which then was the Arab land. Its capital is Jerusalem and Israel is the world’s only Jewish-majority state. As anti-Semitism – prejudice against or hatred of Jews – in Europe increased, the leading Jewish figures came to the conclusion that Jews need a State of their own. Basically it was history’s legacy that created divisive issues between Palestinians and Israelis. Judea, home of the Jews in ancient times, was conquered by the Romans and renamed Palestine.
Palestine was later conquered and inhabited by Arabs for over a thousand years. The Zionist movement arose to restore the Jews to Israel, largely ignoring the existing Arab population. Following the Balfour Declaration in 1917, Palestine was granted to Britain as a League of Nations mandate to build a national home for the Jewish people, since anti-Semitism was growing and without a state of their own Jews would always be persecuted. Palestinians were not consulted in this matter, which is one of the reasons that the Arabs resented the Jews coming in to take their land.
Led by Grand Mufti Hajj Amin El Husseini, Palestinians rioted repeatedly and later revolted, creating a history of enmity between Jews and Arabs in Palestine. Britain stopped Jewish immigration to Palestine. Following the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis, pressure on Britain increased to allow Jewish immigration to Palestine. In the 1917 Balfour Declaration the British government had said that a „national home for the Jewish people would be founded in Palestine, while preserving the civil and religious rights of non-Jewish communities there”.
The second part of the deal was not put into practice. In 1947, the United Nations, to whom the British handed over the whole problem because they couldn’t manage to take care of it, partitioned the land into Arab and Jewish states. The Arabs did not accept the partition and war, called the Intifada (the uprising), broke out. The Jews won a decisive victory, expanded their state and created several hundred thousand Palestinian refugees. The Arab states refused to recognize Israel or make peace with it. Wars broke out in 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982, and there were many terror raids and Israeli reprisals.
During these wars the Israeli forces out numbered the Arabs by three to one. By the end of the war in 1947, Israel had occupied seventy eight percent of Palestine and three quarter of a million Palestinians had been made refugees. After the 1967 conflict it seized the remaining twenty two percent, including the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However because international law states it is illegal to occupy territory through war, theses occupied areas do not belong to Israel. Each side believes different versions of the same history. Each side views the conflict as wholly the fault of the other and expects an apology.
In 1993 there was a process started to put an end to decades of confrontation and conflict and strive to live in peaceful coexistence, mutual dignity and security. This process was called the Oslo Peace Process (OPP). There are six main causes for the Palestinians and Jews to be in such a conflict: * Land * Palestinian refugees wanted to go home, but Israel declined * Water – Israel is taking more water resources to itself, though it should be distributed fairly * Settlements – small units of houses protected by special guards that are both in Israel’s and Palestine’s territory * Borders and security Jerusalem – as the capital for both countries, Jews rule it in majority, though it should be done equally. The principles of agreement and the overall framework of the OPP’s negotiation were the following: * Israel recognized the existence of the Palestinian political side and recognizes the Palestine Liberalization Organizations (PLO) * PLO recognized the right of existence of Israel. * Israeli agreed on the autonomy of the Palestinian occupied territories.
It called for a five-year transitional period in which Israeli forces would withdraw from occupied territories and a Palestinian Authority would be set up, leading to a permanent settlement. It was signed on the White House lawn in September 1993 in the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. After the Oslo agreement, Yasser Arafat returned to Palestinian territory, the Palestinian Authority was established and Israeli withdrawals began.
However, the agreement was denounced by hardline Israelis and Palestinians as a sell-out and it did not take hold. The former general Ariel Sharon was Israeli prime minister – he announced that Israel would leave the Gaza Strip and would build a wall and fence to defend itself against suicide bombers and separate the Palestinian territories from Israel. Sharon expelled nearly ten thousand Jewish settlers from twenty one settlements In Gaza and the West Bank and by 2005 Israeli soldiers had left the Gaza strip for the first time in decades.
This infuriated the Israel right wing who split into divisions to try and oust Sharon, significantly though, he was popular with the Israeli people with over eighty percent of the electorate backing his plans. Some believe this was the closest the Palestine and Israel conflict came to any sort of settlement and peace. However when Sharon’s party was succeeded by the more aggressive and pro-Israeli Likud party, led by the incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu, any chance of a treaty vanished and tension resurfaced. Basically the result was not satisfactory.
Palestinians rejected the OPP and there was no final settlement. Everything was secretive, the public didn’t know of all the negotiations and discussions going on and it was the mistrust of the parties between themselves that led to the rejection of a peace settlement. But still Israelis and Palestinians are trying to unite to define the problem. Even though Jews got their own state as the Balfour Declaration stated, it is questionable whether it was worth all this – wars, killings, loss of territory, continuous fighting over resources like water and so on.
Speaking about the character of this conflict it is safe to say that is is not just an ethnic conflict that reaches into history, but also a conflict regarding borders, territory and resources. And as mentioned before, Jews got their state and it is a powerful democratic society with a high standard of living and it is considered a hi-tech industry, its borders have still not been fixed and, above all, it has not and in the foreseeable future will not reach a settlement with the Palestinians.
It is powerful but it is not at peace. ——————————————– [ 1 ]. http://www. mongabay. com/history/jordan/jordan-the_palestinians_and_the_palestine_liberation_organization. html [ 2 ]. http://www. science. co. il/israel-history. php [ 3 ]. http://lifeprogram. org/LIFE_in_Israel. html [ 4 ]. http://news. bbc. co. uk/2/hi/world/middle_east/7381315. stm [ 5 ]. http://www. mideastweb. org/nutshell. htm [ 6 ]. http://news. bbc. co. uk/2/hi/middle_east/7385301. stm [ 7 ]. Ibid.