Israel-Palestine conflict is one of the most interesting and longest that it’s been going on for centuries. Religion is often part of this conflict, while religion is involved, the main cause of this conflict is about land, we have two groups of people who claims the same land. This goes back to a century ago, to the early 1900s. Around then, the region along the Eastern Mediterranean was called Israel-Palestine was under Ottoman rule for centuries. It was religiously diverse, including mostly Muslims and Christians but also a small number of Jews, who lived generally in peace. However, this was changing in tow important ways. First, more people in the region were developing a sense of being not just ethnic Arabs but Palestinians, a distinct national identity. At the same time, not so far away in Europe, more Jews were joining a movement called Zionism, which said Judaism was not just a religion but a nationality, one that deserved a nation its own. After centuries of persecution, many believed a Jewish state was their only way of safety and they saw their historic homeland in the Middle East as their best hope for establishing it. In this paper, we will discuss the land issues between Israel and Palestine. By doing so, we will analyze both narrative, which emphasizes the land was part of their history and therefore they deserve a nation of their own. We will also discuss the narrative of the Palestinian that emphasizes their right to the land. We are also going to talk about the minority group in the region and their place in the conflict.
Narratives are very important because it allows us that understand the conflict between Israel and Palestine. To understand the issue of the land we must ask, what are both side narratives about the land? According to the Smith’s book, “the Palestinian Arabs believed that their right to the land stemmed from historical precedent acknowledged by the great powers for other peoples and found in Allied promises made during the war, the Jews believed that they had a right because of history, both Middle Eastern and European. They had lived in Palestine as a majority two thousand year before, and their independence and normalcy in the land of their distant origins” (P.81).
The land conflict between Israel and Palestine escalated mostly because of the Balfour declaration back in November 2, 1917 issued as a letter to Lord Rothschild. According to the Smith’s book the Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, the letter stated that: “His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use its best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country” (P.67). What is important to remember about that back then there is not a Jewish State and it is only because of the Holocaust and the rising of Jews immigration from Germany to Palestine that made the British establish the Homeland of the Jewish people. It is also important to remember that, the Palestine right to the land was ignored as the Balfour declaration stated that “Nothing shall be done which may prejudice he civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. The Palestinian had only civil and religious rights but not a Homeland of their own. According to Facts on the Ground Archaeology, El-Haj stated that: “The Jewish state was founded in a territory under colonial dominion. It was the British who first promised Palestine to the Jews was their national home, a pledge that ultimately precluded the possibility of its indigenous Arab inhabitants (some of whom were Jews) achieving sovereignty during the process of decolonization to come”. (P.19)
In the first decades of the 20th century, tens of thousands of Europeans Jews moved to Israel, after the World War One, the Ottoman Empire collapsed, and the British and French Empires carved up the Middle East, with the British taking control of a region it called the British mandate for Palestine. However, before that, the British allowed the Jewish immigration, as more Jews arrived, settling into farming communes, tension between Jews and Arabs grew both sides committed acts of violence, and by the 1930s, the British began limiting Jewish immigration. In response, Jewish militias formed to fight both the local Arabs and to resist British rule. Then came the Holocaust, leading to many more Jews to flee Europe to British Palestine, and galvanizing much of the world in support of a Jewish State. In 1947, as sectarian violence between Arabs and Jews there grew, the United National approved the plan to divide British Palestine into two separate States: One for Jews, Israel, and one for Arabs, Palestine. However, the city of Jerusalem, where Jews, Muslims, and Christians all have holy sites, it was to become a special international zone.
The plan at the beginning was meant to give Jews a state, and also to establish Palestinian independence, and to end the sectarian violence that the British could no longer control. The Jews accepted the plan and declared independence as Israel. But the Arabs throughout the region saw that UN plan as just more European trying to steal their land. Many of the Arab states, who had just recently won independence themselves, declared war on Israel in an effort to establish a unified Arab Palestine where all of British Palestine had been.
The new State of Israel won the war but, in the process, they pushed well past their borders under the UN Plan, taking the western half of Jerusalem and much of the Land that was to have been part of Palestine. They also expelled huge numbers of Palestinians from their homes, creating a massive refugee population, at the end of the war, Israel controlled all the territory except for Gaza, which Egypt controlled, and the West Bank since it is west of Jordan River is controlled by Jordan. This was then the beginning of the decades long Arab-Israeli conflict. Palestinians were fighting to have a State of their own and during this period, many Jews in Arab-majority countries fled or were expelled, arriving in Israel.
Another important event to occur was the 1967 conflict, Israel and the neighboring Arab State fought another war. When it ended, Israel had seized the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank from Jordan and both Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. Israel was now occupying the Palestinian territories, including all of Jerusalem and its holy sites, this left Israel responsible for governing the Palestinians, a people that it had fought. The Palestinians did not have any chances against a powerful Israel and continue to fight for their right as narratives changed, today we see that most people consider Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East and forgetting that the Palestinians also are fighting of Justice and also want to end oppression.
The Israel Palestine conflict has been escalating because the two sides are unwilling to comply with the peacekeeping plans. Chapman and Benson assert that the battle started getting out of control in 1947; the UN initiated a plan to bring the conflicting parties into an amicable solution (Chapman and Benson 7). In 1947 the UN launched a plan to partition British Palestine into independent states one called Israel for Jews and Palestine for Arabs. Jerusalem was to be left as a special international zone because of its great significance to both Muslims and Jews. However, the peacekeeping plan was never honored, and this resulted in Israel versus Palestine land conflict escalation. The Arab leaders saw the plan as a mechanism that the Europeans were using to steal their territories.
The disintegration of the Ottoman empire left Arab lands in the hands of the British (Kaplan 16). The Arabs were to gain sovereignty after the defeat of the axis powers, but things did not work as planned. Instead, Palestine and Israel started conflicting over territories. A group called the Zionist movement got formed to fight for the land ownership rights; the Palestinians believed that the area was their ancestral land and they deserved to possess it (Kaplan 22). Palestine had occupied the land for the last two millennia; the new UN ruling could separate them from their traditional land possession rights. The Palestine also felt that the allied powers had gone against their promises, the Arabs had supported the allied powers in the war expecting for favors in return. The deal did not work as per their expectations.
Instead of abiding to the legislations, in 1948 Palestine waged war against Israel to protect its borders (Chapman and Benson 12). They, however, became the victims of the war because Israel was more robust and won the battle. After winning the war, Israel disrespected the borders set by the UN and claimed Palestine territories. Israel stretched boundaries even to the Western half of Jerusalem, the Palestine’s territory. Besides pushing boundaries, Israel dismissed around 700, 000 Palestinians making them refugees (Chapman and Benson 33). The number has risen to around 7 million. The 1948 war gave Israel more power and control over Palestine (Chapman and Benson 33). Israel scooped massive pieces of land including the Palestine territories and marked them as Israel in the map. Palestine become refugees in their lands under strict legislations of their masters. Disrespecting border guidelines opened conflict between Israel and Palestine, and the two have been having issues since then. Palestine feels that they got denied the opportunity to own their ancestral lands. Palestine are also angered by their refugee status because they are aware they have land, but they have got denied its accessory.
Rowley and Taylor argue that, Israel extended its influence over Palestine in 1967 by occupying Gaza and West Bank. Initially Israel had less control over the two territories (p.79). However, with time, Israel also took over the Syrian Golan Heights territories. In 2005 Israel decided to withdraw its occupation of Gaza. However, to some extent Israel still controls Gaza. Israel only dismissed its troops from the area, but it still maintains the full blockade of the territory. The control over Gaza has reduced it into an open prison. People live under fear, and the unemployment rates are on the rise around up to 40% (Rowley and Taylor 81). Israel maintains control over Palestine territories claiming that it needs to protect its borders against foreign invasion and Palestine attacks. However, that does not explain the rising trends of Israel settlers who are moving to into the West Bank. This move compromises the international act that prohibits an occupying force from moving its citizens to an occupied territory. Around 500, 000 Israel settlers have moved into the West Bank (Rowley and Taylor 82). The settlers move looking for cheap housing and lifestyles. Others move with the intentions of occupying the lands to transform them into Jew territories, settling on Palestine lands spikes conflicts between the Israelites and Palestine. Palestine do not have adequate land spaces, and the Israelites are still encroaching on the little space available.
Israel settlers occupying the West Bank territories make life extremely difficult for Palestine. Israel must protect its citizens, in the process, the government constructs walls and uses troops to protect the lands, and this compromises the lives of Palestinians. In the long run, with the increased occupation settlers create a situation known as "facts on the ground," the Israel citizens interfere with the borders and creates a situation where the government...
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