Israel-Palestine Conflict, History, Causes, Solution Explained

Israel-Palestine Conflict : The Burning Issue 2021

Israel-Palestine Conflict, History, Causes, Solution Explained

The Israel-Palestine conflict is one of the world’s longest-running and most controversial conflicts. It is a conflict between two self-determination movements - the Jewish nationalist project and the Palestinian nationalist project, in the same territory. The issue is again in the news due to recent rocket attacks conducted by Hamas (a militant group) on Israeli territories. In retaliation, Israeli airstrikes are targeting the Gaza strip.

Background of the Israel Palestine Conflict:

Following the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948, the Arab League decided to intervene on behalf of Palestinian Arabs, marching their forces into former British Palestine, beginning the main phase of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.

Arab–Israeli War,1948 :

The overall fighting, leading to around 15,000 casualties, resulted in cease-fire and armistice agreements of 1949, with Israel holding much of the former Mandate territory, Jordan occupying and later annexing the West Bank and Egypt taking over the Gaza Strip, where the All-Palestine Government was declared by the Arab League on 22 September 1948.

Six day War,1967 :

The 1967 Six-Day War exerted a significant effect upon Palestinian nationalism, as Israel gained military control of the West Bank from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt.

Camp David Accords,1978 :

• The Camp David Accords were a pair of political agreements signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on 17 September 1978.

• The Camp David Accords established the so framework for peace in the Middle East and brought about the end of simmering conflict between Egypt and Israel.

• They also called for the creation of Palestinian state in the area known as Gaza and on the West Bank of river Jordan.

Intifada (uprising) against Israel Occupancy :

First Intifada, 1987 :

The tension between Israel and Palestine escalated with Israel’s increased settlement in West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip fomented the riots begun in 1987, known as the first intifada.

Second Intifada (2000-05) :

In 2000, a more violent Palestine Uprising started and a large number of civilians died on both sides. This is known as the second intifada. As a defensive measure, Israel constructed a West Bank Barrier along West Bank to separate Israel and Palestine settlements.

What led to recent crash?

• In October 2020, an Israeli court ruled that several Palestinian families living in Sheikh Jarrah—a neighborhood in East Jerusalem—were to be evicted by May 2021 with their land handed over to Jewish families.

• In February 2021, several Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah filed an appeal to the court ruling and prompted protests around the appeal hearings

• On May 10, after several consecutive days of violence throughout Jerusalem and the use of lethal and nonlethal force by Israeli police, Hamas launched hundreds of rockets into Israeli territory.

• Israel responded with air strikes and later artillery bombardments against targets in Gaza, including launching several air strikes that killed more than twenty Palestinians. Israel has expanded its aerial campaign and struck targets including residential buildings, media headquarters, and refugee and healthcare facilities.

Israel-Palestine Conflict and Stand of USA :

For decades, the U.S. has played a partisan role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, its credibility as a mediator had long been questioned by Palestinians. The United States has been criticized by the OIC (Organization of Islamic cooperation) and other Arab organizations, for vetoing most Security Council decisions critical of Israel.

• It became involved shortly after World War II, joining the United Kingdom in a 1946 inquiry that recommended one hundred thousand Holocaust survivors relocate to Palestine, which would be neither a Jewish nor an Arab state.

• The United States then became the first country to recognize Israel as a sovereign nation in 1948.

• In 2018, the Trump administration canceled funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency, which provides aid to Palestinian refugees, and relocated the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a reversal of a longstanding U.S. policy.

• Biden calls for separate Israeli and Palestinian states with borders resembling those that existed before the 1967 war; this territory includes the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and parts of East Jerusalem.

Arab’s Fight Against the Israel (1948-49) :

Arabs saw the creation of Israel as a part of a conspiracy to move them out of their land. Consequently, in 1948, the Arab states of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria declared war on Israel. At the end of the war between Israel and Arab countries, Israel emerged victoriously. As a consequence of the war, a large number of Palestinians either flee or were forced to move out of Israel and settle in refugee camps near Israel’s border. It was the beginning of Palestine refugee crisis which ultimately led to the creation of a terrorist organization PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) in 1964. This organization later came to be known as Fatah.

What is Fatah?

• Fatah, formerly the Palestinian National Liberation Movement, is a Palestinian nationalist social-democratic political party and the largest faction of the confederated multi-party Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the second-largest party in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

• The President of the Palestinian Authority is a member of Fatah.

• Fatah is also active in the control of Palestinian refugee camps.

In 1967, Israel launched a preemptive strike against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. The 1967 war is particularly important for today’s conflict, as it left Israel in control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, two territories home to a large number of Palestinians. So after 1967 war Gaza and Westbank are together known as ‘Occupied Territories’.

Stand of Arab Countries on Israel-Palestine Conflict :

a) Egypt : Egypt wants a unified Palestinian leadership. Therefore, it invests a lot in supporting a Palestinian reconciliation. Egypt wants Gaza, the branches of Hamas and Fatah in Gaza, and other forces in Gaza, to have a bigger say in the Palestinian decision-making process. Egypt wants to eradicate terror cells in Sinai. Egypt wants Hamas to be less dependent (at least) on Iran, Turkey and Qatar. The Saudis and the Emiratis concur, and they can fund Gaza.

b) Turkey : In December 1987, Turkey had already declared support for the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. It described Israeli policy in the Gaza Strip as “state-sponsored terrorism”. The Turkish government’s condemnation of the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict strained relations between the two countries.

c) Syria : Syria announced its complete support to Palestine after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War broke out, and had sent troops to fight against newly-formed Israel Defense Forces
Syria also joined the Six-Day War hoping to expel Israeli Army in order to restore Palestinian state, in which ended with a complete failure.

d) Lebanon : Lebanon did take a formal part in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War against Israel, but Lebanon was the first Arab league nation to signal a desire for an armistice treaty with Israel in 1949. Israel also supported the secessionist Free Lebanon State during 1979-1984 and its successor South Lebanon Army. In all Lebanon has maintained a pro Israeli stance.

e) Jordan : Jordan was not a member of the United Nations when the vote on the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was taken in November 1947, but following the establishment of the state of Israel on 14 May 1948, Jordan, then known as Transjordan, was one of the Arab League countries that invaded the former Palestinian Mandate territory precipitating the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.

f) Saudi Arabia : Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have any official diplomatic relations. Saudi Arabia played an active role in attempting to bring the Palestinians towards a self-governing condition which would permit negotiations with Israel.

What does Palestine want?

• It wants Israel to withdraw to pre-1967 borders and establish an independent Palestine state in West Bank and Gaza.

• Israel should stop all expansion of settlements before coming to peace talks.

• Palestine wants Palestinian refugees who lost their homes in 1948 to be able to come back.

• It also demands East Jerusalem as the capital of the Independent Palestine state.

What does Israel want?

• Sovereignty over Jerusalem.

• Recognition of Israel as a Jewish State.

• The right of return of Palestine refugees only to Palestine and not to Israel.

What is the Solution of Israel-Palestine conflict?

• The best solution is a “two-state solution” that would establish Palestine as an independent state in Gaza and most of the West Bank, leaving the rest of the land to Israel.

• Though the two-state plan is clear in theory, the two sides are still deeply divided over how to make it work in practice.

• One state solution (only Palestine or only Israel) is not a viable option.

• The European Union, UN, US, and Russia had released a Road Map for Peace in 2003, which outlined a clear timetable towards a Palestinian state.

• The democratization of the Palestinian society through which new credible leadership can emerge is necessary.

Stand of India on Israel-Palestine conflict :

• India was one of the few countries to oppose the UN’s partition plan in November 1947, echoing its own experience during independence a Few Months Earlier.

• In the decades that followed, the Indian political leadership actively supported the Palestinian cause and withheld full diplomatic relations with Israel.

• India recognised Israel in 1950 but it is also the first non-Arab country to recognise Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the sole representative of the Palestinian. 

• India is also one of the first countries to recognise the statehood of Palestine in 1988.

• In 2014, India favoured UNHRC’s resolution to probe Israel’s human rights violations in Gaza. Despite supporting the probe, India abstained from voting against Israel in UNHRC IN 2015.

• As a part of Link West Policy, India has de-hyphenated its relationship with Israel and Palestine in 2018 to treat both the countries mutually independent and exclusive.

• In June 2019, India voted in favour of a decision introduced by Israel in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) that objected to granting consultative status to a Palestinian non-governmental organization.

Way Forward :

• Though not a shining example, Israel can learn a lesson from its neighbour, Lebanon. The sectarian model of power sharing, where Christians, Shias, Sunnis, Druze, Armenians etc. are offered government positions demographically, did help enable Lebanon transition to some degree of stability after the civil war ended in 1990.

• There must be change in leadership in both the countries. Leaders are that are ready mentally and physically for a truce must be brought to power.

Conclusion :

The world at large needs to come together for a peaceful solution but the reluctance of the Israeli government and other involved parties has aggravated the issue more. Thus a balanced approach towards the Israel-Palestine issue would help to maintain favourable relations with Arab countries as well as Israel. A mediation that listens to the issues of both sides is required.

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Frequently Asked Questions :

Q. What is the conflict between Palestine and Israel?

Ans : The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is one of the world's most enduring hostilities, with the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip reaching 53 years. Various attempts have been made to resolve the conflict as part of the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. 

Q. Why was Palestine changed to Israel?

Ans : However, the situation in Palestine had deteriorated into a civil war between Arabs and Jews. The Arabs rejected the Partition Plan, the Jews ostensibly accepted it, declaring the independence of the State of Israel in May 1948 upon the termination of the British mandate .

Q. Does the US recognize Palestine?

Ans : The United States does not recognize the State of Palestine, but accepts the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as a representative of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian National Authority as the authority legitimately governing the Palestinian territories under the Oslo Accords.

Q. What religion is in Israel?

Ans : About eight-in-ten (81%) Israeli adults are Jewish, while the remainder are mostly ethnically Arab and religiously Muslim (14%), Christian (2%) or Druze (2%). Overall, the Arab religious minorities in Israel are more religiously observant than Jews. 

Q. Why is Israel and Gaza fighting?

Ans : Israel says it carried out air strikes in Gaza overnight after Palestinians launched incendiary balloons from the territory, in the first major flare-up since an 11-day conflict last month. The Israeli military said it targeted compounds belonging to Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza. 

Q. Which Arab countries accept Israel?

Ans : Israel maintains full diplomatic relations with two of its Arab neighbours, Egypt and Jordan, after signing peace treaties in 1979 and 1994 respectively. In 2020, Israel signed agreements establishing diplomatic relations with four Arab League countries, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco.

Q. Is Gaza part of Israel?

Ans : The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli sea and air blockade since 2007. Since 2008, Israel has waged four wars on the Palestinian territory, killing thousands of people, mostly civilians.

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