Israeli & Palestinian
The Perpetual Battle between the Israeli’s & Palestinians
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict has been ongoing for half a century. More recently in the news, the Palestinians are proposing that the United Nations recognize them as a state. Israeli’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned that if their request passed, it would not affect anything on the ground as far as the checkpoints and separation settlements. However, Israel is greatly concerned that if the Palestinians statehood bid is recognized, the probability of them joining international institutions such as the International Criminal Court could raise the threat war act charges against Israel. Furthermore, on September 23, 2011, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke before the United Nations, stressing that negotiations are the only way possible to reach peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This was the same day that the Palestinians went before the United Nations in order to submit their statehood bid. This issue is of extraordinary significance because the resolution of this conflict can cause widespread reaction. It has been half a century and with no resolution in sight, there may never be an end.
Prior to World War I, the Middle East region, inclusive of Palestine, was under the primary and indisputable control of the Ottoman Empire for approximately 400 years (Medding, Yahadut zemanenu ‘a sh, & Harman 2008). Near the end of the 19th century, however, Palestine then divided between Beirut and the Mustafiyet of Jerusalem and Vilayets of Damascus was primarily inhabited by Arab Muslims with smaller numbers of Arab Christians, Circassians, Druze and Sephardic Jews (Medding, Yahadut zemanenu ‘a sh & Harman 2008). Reportedly, the foundation of the conflict can be traced to the rise of national movements such as that with Arab nationalism and Zionism founded, in part, on the European and Middle Eastern, to a lesser degree, Jewish populations desire to return to the Promised Land or the Land of Israel with the reestablishment of the Jewish Nation. This was largely in response to anti-Semitism and Jewish persecution (Yaar 2007). This Zionist movement called for the establishment of a representative nation-state for the Jews who resided in Palestine to serve as a haven for Jews around the world wherein the sect would have a right to self-determination.
The conflict that ensued between the Arabs and the Jews in Palestine traces its first violent act of record to the accidental shooting of an Arab man in 1882 by a Jewish guard. According to historic record, in response to this incident, nearly 200 Arabs descended on the Jewish settlement vandalizing property and acting in an aggressive manner (Tessler 1994). By 1908, Arabs had killed nearly 13 Jews, and within the next 5 years, aggressions escalated resulting in twelve Jewish settlement guards being murdered. Amongst those who lived in the settlement, discussions and concerns started to heighten with regard to Arab nationalism and hatred (Morris 1999). Conversely, the ambitions expressed by the Jews were seen as a threat to Arab leaders representing the Palestinian region. What served to exacerbate the situation was the acquisition of Arab owned land secured for Jewish settlements which subsequently led to the eviction of the fellaheen or agricultural laborers from the land they had historically cultivated as tenant farmers, causing a feeling of dispossession to be a part of the Arab sentiment (Gudrun 2008).
Over the years, there have been a number of attempts in achieving peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For example, in 1993, officials from Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization attempted to find a peaceful solution through what is now referred to as the Oslo peace process. The foundational point of contention during this process was Israel gradually relinquishing control of Palestinian territories, giving governance over to the Palestinians in exchange for peace. However, no agreement was reached 7 years later at the Camp David Summit held in July 2000. More recently, there have been other initiatives posited as a means to achieve peace in the war torn area (Dershowitz, 2005). The Arab Peace Initiative, originally proposed by Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in 2002 was purported as a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict with particular focus on the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Although there was agreement to the peace initiative in 2007, however, there has been much criticism as to the effectiveness of such an initiative in truly establishing peace (Dershowitz 2005).
At present, the conflict continues. In September 2011, Palestinian officials petitioned the United Nations in a unilateral bid for statehood. However, their efforts failed as they were summarily unsuccessfully in securing the nine votes needed in the 15 member Security Council to garner approval (Haaretz, 2011). Moreover, the United States has already indicated a veto of the proposal once it is made. In addition, Britain made it known that they would abstain from the decision according to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague. The dissent posited by President Obama and the UK’s Foreign Secretary is reportedly reflected of the sentimentality of many world leaders who maintain sensibilities regarding Netanyahu and the fluctuating position of the Israeli government on the international stage.
However, although unsuccessful in September, the Palestinian Authority was granted full membership at the cultural agency of the United Nations’, and are seeking membership of the World Health Organization as well as 15 smaller United Nations agencies, reported by a source in the foreign ministry to include The International Labor Organization, The United Nation’s World Intellectual Property Organization, and the International Telecommunication Union to name a few. According to sources, the motion that admitted the Palestinians was passed with more than 100 votes in favor of, 14 against, and 52 nations abstaining. Some of the noted countries that voted against Palestinian membership included Germany, Canada and the United States. As a result of the Palestinians approval to UNESCO, President Barack Obama made the decision to terminate funding for the cultural agency. The withholding of funds and opposition to membership, according to Victoria Nulan, a spokesperson for the State Department, is a long standing congressional restriction on UN bodies not recognized as a state (Haaretz 2011).
The conflict between the Israeli’s and the Palestinians has transpired over many centuries. Reportedly, the foundation of the conflict can be traced to the rise of national movements such as that with Arab nationalism and Zionism founded, in part, on the European and Middle Eastern, to a lesser degree, Jewish populations desire to return to the Promised Land or the Land of Israel with the reestablishment of the Jewish Nation. Although there have been a number issues that have played a part in this conflict, some of the primary points of contingency have and continue to be borders, water rights, security, control of Jerusalem, mutual recognition, Palestinian freedom of movement and Israeli settlements.
Many reportedly good faith efforts have been made in an attempt to come to a peaceful resolution of this conflict. Currently, the process of peace has been predicted on a “two state solution” that according to the most recent surveys has garnered decreasing levels of support among Palestinians. Reportedly many Palestinians believe Israel to not be genuine in their stated interest in achieving peace, but are much more interested in continuing to maintain control over particular territories including the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea (Dershowitz 2005). Conversely, many Israelis reportedly believe the Palestinians are not honest with regard to their intentions and desire to completely conquer the Palestine region and Israel. It is not clear, given the number of reports and opinions, exactly what the true points of contention are today.
Although the Palestinians have experienced some recent successes, particularly in receiving full membership with UNESCO, there continues to be trepidation posited by many world leaders as to the continued war between the Israeli’s and Palestinians that has endured for many years. It would seem that until such time as that matter reaches some resolution and the country avoids economic collapse, worldwide recognition as a state and recognition as an international country will not manifest.
Dershowitz, Alan. The case for peace: How the Arab-Israeli conflict can be resolved. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005.
Gudrun, Kramer. A history of Palestine: from the Ottoman conquest to the founding of the State of Israel. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.
“Haaretz.” Haaretz. September 15, 2011.
“Haaretz.” Haaretz. November 1, 2011. http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/with-unesco-membership-granted-palestinians-seek-to-join-16-more-un-agencies-1.393134>(accessed November 1, 2011).
Medding, Peter, Yahadut zemanenu ‘a sh, M., and Avraham Harman. Sephardic Jewry and Mizrahi Jews. Oxford Press, 2008.
Morris, Benny. Righteous Victims. New York: Random House, 1999.
Tessler, Mark. A history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press, 1994.
Yaar, Ephraim and Tamar Hermann. Just another forgotten peace summit. Haaretz, 2007.
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