Understanding The Israel-Palestine Conflict

  • SumoMe

“Even if you give us heaven,we won’t give Palestine…….” said a Palestinian when asked how dear his nation was to him.

As the Sun rises over the Temple mount in Jerusalem, the people of Jerusalem & Gaza wake up from sleep with new hope in their heart.The long wait for peace and justice has somewhat weakened this hope but they have not stopped dreaming of a better tomorrow and the peaceful solution of the biggest humanitarian crisis facing the World today with no solution in sight. As I write this article news came that Israeli government has approved the plans of construction of 700 homes in West bank for new settlements. The issue of Palestine intoxicates the minds of Arabs in a manner which no drugs can do. It is the glue that unites them and at the same time the biggest challenge and crisis that lies in front of them demanding a fair solution. It is the biggest blunder we make by not giving due importance to history, to know the root causes of a problem before searching for its solutions.

The Palestine problem became an international issue towards the end of the First World War with the disintegration of the Turkish Ottoman Empire.Palestine was among the several former Ottoman Arab territories which were placed under the administration of Great Britain under the Mandates System adopted by the League of Nations pursuant to the League’s Covenant.

All but one of these Mandated Territories became fully independent States, as anticipated. The exception was Palestine where, instead of being limited to “the rendering of administrative assistance and advice” the Mandate had as a primary objective the implementation of the “Balfour Declaration” issued by the British Government in 1917, expressing support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”.

During the  years of the Palestine Mandate, from 1922 to 1947, large-scale Jewish immigration from abroad, mainly from Eastern Europe took place, the numbers swelling in the 1930s with the notorious Nazi persecution of Jewish populations. Palestinian demands for independence and resistance to Jewish immigration led to a rebellion in 1937, followed by continuing terrorism and violence from both sides during and immediately after World War II. Great Britain tried to implement various formulas to bring independence to a land ravaged by violence. In 1947, Great Britain turned the problem over to the United Nations.

The illegal immigration ships started to arrive on ports of Palestine in large numbers.

After looking at various alternatives, the UN proposed the partitioning of Palestine into two independent States, one Palestinian Arab and the other Jewish, with Jerusalem internationalized .One of the two States envisaged in the partition plan proclaimed its independence as Israel and in the 1948 war expanded to occupy 77 per cent of the territory of Palestine.Israel also occupied the larger part of Jerusalem.Over half of the indigenous Palestinian population fled or were expelled.Jordan and Egypt occupied the other parts of the territory assigned by the partition resolution to the Palestinian Arab State which did not come into being.

The relationship between the two were normal before 1948 but it all changed after that. Jews took logical refuge in the holocaust for establishment of Israel and fight for it for the survival of their Race. Palestinians were disposed of their home and land, around 7 lakh people became refugees in their own country in Gaza – which now looks like World’s biggest prison.The war lead to uprooting of a common villager who is emotionally attached to his little farm and house.Palestinians are oldest people in their land.British who ordered and planned for making of Israel were regarded as betrayer by both parties later on. “It was an impossible idea of one nation promising other, land of the third”. The Arab land was sold for Jewish settlement which sow the seeds for future confrontation.The increased persecution of Jews in Europe lead to more immigration in Palestine.The three years of War with British broke the spirits of Arab society.Jews of Israel formed ‘Haganah’ to defend themselves under the magical leadership of David ben gurion who laid the foundation of a jewish state in a Arab land.

The knowledge of holocaust increased the need and demand of a separate state in minds of Jews to protect their future.The British withdrew political support from Israel to save relations with Arabs.

In the 1967 war, Israel occupied the remaining territory of Palestine, until then under Jordanian and Egyptian control (the West Bank and Gaza Strip). This included the remaining part of Jerusalem, which was subsequently annexed by Israel. The war brought about a second exodus of Palestinians, estimated at half a million. Security Council resolution 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967 called on Israel to withdraw from territories it had occupied in the 1967 conflict.In1974,the General Assembly reaffirmed the inalienable rights of the Palestinian    people to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty, and to return.

Events on the ground, however, remained on a negative course. In June 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon with the declared intention to eliminate the PLO. A cease-fire was arranged.PLO troops withdrew from Beirut and were transferred to neighboring countries after guarantees of safety were provided for thousands of Palestinian refugees left behind. Subsequently, a large-scale massacre of refugees took place in the camps of Sabra and Shatila.

In December 1987, a mass uprising against the Israeli occupation began in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Methods used by the Israeli forces during the uprising resulted in mass injuries and heavy loss of life among the civilian Palestinian population.

The questions can be raised as to Why should the people of Palestine pay the price of Holocaust? Why should they pay for the price of a crime they have not commited.The use of reasons like holocaust and that of “promised land written in Torah(holy book of jews)” by Zionist raises some questions.

Since 2003, the Palestinian side has been fractured by conflict between the two major factions: Fatah, the traditionally dominant party, and its later electoral challenger, Hamas. Following Hamas’ seizure of power in the Gaza Strip in June 2007, the territory controlled by the Palestinian National Authority (the Palestinian interim government) is split between Fatah in the West Bank, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The division of governance between the parties has effectively resulted in the collapse of bipartisan governance of the Palestinian National Authority.

Gaza War

The Gaza War—known as Operation Cast Lead and the Gaza massacre in the Arab world, was a three-week military conflict between Israel and Hamas that took place in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel during the winter of 2008–2009.

Between 1,166 and 1,417 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed. More than 400,000 Gazans were left without running water, while 4,000 homes were destroyed or badly damaged, leaving tens of thousands of people homeless; 80 government buildings were hit.

The situation in Gaza is a “human dignity crisis” in the Gaza strip, entailing “a massive destruction of livelihoods and a significant deterioration of infrastructure and basic services”. Fear and panic are widespread; 80 percent of the population cannot support themselves and are dependent on humanitarian assistance. The International Red Cross said the situation was “intolerable” and a “full blown humanitarian crisis.” The importation of necessary food and supplies continues to be blocked even after the respective ceasefires.

A hallmark of the conflict has been the level of violence witnessed for virtually its entire duration. Fighting has been conducted by regular armies, paramilitary groups, terror cells and individuals. Casualties have not been restricted to the military, with a large number of fatalities in civilian population on both sides

Gaza abuses by Israel troops

One account tells of a sniper killing a mother and children at close range whom troops had told to leave their home.

Another speaker described what he saw as the “cold blooded murder” of a Palestinian woman. According to one Soldier testimony “The climate in general [was that] lives of Palestinians are much, much less important than the lives of our soldiers”. Academy director Dany Zamir told public radio “[The testimonies] conveyed an atmosphere in which one feels entitled to use unrestricted force against Palestinians,”

Current issues in dispute

The following outlined positions are the official positions of the two parties; however, it is important to note that neither side holds a single position. Both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides include both moderate and extremist bodies as well as dovish and hawkish bodies.

Many Palestinians nowadays believe that Israel is not really interested in reaching an arrangement, but rather interested in continuing to control the entire territory from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. As proof of their claims, they point to the expansion of the Jewish settlements during the terms of the Israeli left-wing political parties, the argument that it has always been Israel which has conquered territory which belonged to Arab countries, that the IDF entered Palestinian towns during the intifada, as well as quotes of Israeli right-wing leaders and religious leaders who have expressed their support in a Greater Israel and in implementing a population transfer.

On the other hand, many Israelis nowadays believe that the Palestinians’ true intentions are to conquer the Palestine region entirely and that their official claims are only a temporary strategy. As a proof to their claims, they note the rise of the Hamas, which has called for the takeover of all parts of Israel, incitement against Israel made in the Palestinian schools’ textbooks and to the Palestinian political violence made against Israeli civilians within the Green Line borders.

Jerusalem

The border of Jerusalem is a particularly delicate issue, with each side asserting claims over this city. The three largest Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—include Jerusalem as an important setting for their religious and historical narratives

The Western Wall sometimes referred to as the Wailing Wall or simply the Kotel and as al-Buraaq Wall in Arabic,is an important Jewish religious site located in the Old City of Jerusalem

The Temple Mount also known as Mount Moriah and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary is a religious site in the Old City of Jerusalem. Due to its importance for Judaism and Islam it is one of the most contested religious sites in the world.

The Temple Mount contains the holiest site in Judaism. Jewish Midrash holds that it was from here that the world expanded into its present form, and that this was where God gathered the dust he used to create the first man, Adam. The Torah records that it was here that God chose to rest His Name and Divine Presence, and consequently two Jewish Temples were built at the site

The Noble Sanctuary is the third holiest site in Islam, revered as the destination of Muhammad’s journey to Jerusalem, and the location of his ascent to heaven. The site is also associated with all the Jewish biblical prophets who are also revered in Islam. The site is the location of the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, the oldest extant Islamic structure in the world.

Controlled by Israel since 1967, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim sovereignty over the site, which remains a major focal point of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

An eye on solution or just an illusion !

As of now, a majority of both Israelis and Palestinians, according to a number of polls, prefer the two-state solution over any other solution as a means of resolving the conflict. Moreover, a considerable majority of the Jewish public sees the Palestinians’ demand for an independent state as just, and thinks Israel can agree to the establishment of such a state. A majority of Palestinians and Israelis view the West Bank and Gaza Strip as an acceptable location of the hypothetical Palestinian state in a two-state solution. However, there are significant areas of disagreement over the shape of any final agreement and also regarding the level of credibility each side sees in the other in upholding basic commitments. A handful of academics advocate a one-state solution, whereby all of Israel, the Gaza Strip, and West Bank would become a bi-national state with equal rights for all. Although things are more complicated in this part of the world then they appear to be.

As said by a Palestinian :

“The greatest Zionist and Israeli crime against me and six million other Palestinians is that they have deprived us of living in our ancestral homeland, Palestine, as citizens of our independent undivided Palestinian State. Even if u give us heaven,we won’t give Palestine…….”

There have been many wars in the past Big wars, small wars but it seems the war of 1948 has still not ended.

The solution lies in the fixing of borders, fair solution of  Jerusalem and access to it of all and solving the problems of refugees in Gaza who are asking Questions every day to us.

The World waits for a Solution…and also people of Gaza…

Pulkit

[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rustystewart/300021362/]

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