The Israel-Palestine conflict is not something new. It has been going on for decades now. Israel is the lone Jewish country on the planet whose outskirts were not outlined until 1948. Israel, notwithstanding, is in a convoluted war with its nearby neighbour, the state of Palestine, over domain and assets. It is a contest wherein the two players are not prepared to settle. Any trade-off would end up harming each other’s religious sentiments. Despite all this, relations between the Arab countries and Israel is becoming better, and Palestine seems to be left alone in this whole mess. Why is this happening? Let’s try to understand.
HISTORY OF ISRAEL AND PALESTINE:
A bit of history is what we need to understand how the Israel-Palestine conflict began. Israel, Jerusalem to be more specific, is a place of great significance to Jews, Muslims and Christians. This takes us to the Old Testament of the Holy Bible. According to the bible, Abraham, who is considered to be the father of both Islam and Judaism, was told by God to move to a town called Canaan, which is in modern-day Israel. After Judaism spread, King Saul in 1000 BCE established a monarchy in Israel. His successors took things forward after he died and erected the first Jewish temple in Jerusalem.
This event led the Jews to claim complete control of this land. This land was captured by a lot of other empires in the future including Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Egyptians, Fatimids, Seljuks, Crusaders, Mamluks and the Ottomans. They called this region Palestine. This way, this land became home to a lot of other religions, mostly Muslims and Christians. During these transitions, the Jews living in Palestine were forced to flee. As a result, the Jews got scattered in different parts of the world, mostly Europe.
This Jewish diaspora didn’t help them. The Jews still faced oppression in Europe because they were considered mere immigrants with no actual roots. The Jews, as a result, started going back to Palestine after the Ottomans agreed to let them stay in a confined area within Palestine. Within no time, the number of Jews in the area increased to more than 75,000.
Eventually, modern-day Israel, Palestine and Jordan would fall into Great Britain’s hands after the first world war. In 1922, the British agreed to provide the Jews with a home in Palestine. It was not until a decade that this promise was fulfilled.
THE ACTUAL REASON BEHIND THE ISRAEL-PALESTINE CONFLICT:
In 1939 World War II broke out. More than 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust with millions more displaced. After the end of the Second world war, the United Nations decided to divide Palestine into two countries, the Jewish state of Israel and the Arab state of Palestine. Israel agreed to the partition and borders were drawn. However, many Arab residents thought the partition favoured the Jews more than the Arabs. This resulted in a war.
On May 14th, 1948, David Ben-Gurion was declared Israel’s prime minister. The Arab League, however, despised this partition almost immediately and attacked Israel. Israel fought back and its army was strong enough to drive the Arab army away. At the same time, Israel also assumed control of many Palestinian areas. The Gaza strip was controlled by Egypt and Jordan took over the west bank. The whole plan of forming a Palestinian state was out of the picture. Although this historic event was cherished by the Jews, the Arabs faced grave consequences. Approximately 750,000 Arabs were displaced. Many of them took refuge in the Gaza strip, controlled by Egypt.
The strain among Jews and Arab Muslims in the district would proceed for quite a long time. Fighting between Israel and its Arab neighbours continued on and off for the next 60 years.
In 1964, an organisation called the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed to consolidate the power of many small Palestinian groups and form an independent state of Palestine. In the late 1960s, this organisation started attacking Israel. This led to a war in 1967 which lasted for six days. It was called the Arab-Israel war. Egypt, Jordan and Syria opposed Israel and helped the PLO. Israel emerged as victors.
After this war, Israel and PLO started making a peace deal, called the Oslo Accords. However, both countries couldn’t reach an agreement on issues like the status of Jerusalem, refugees and increase in Jewish settlements in Palestinian lands. Later that year, the new Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon visited the Al-Aqsa mosque. He thought such a gesture would be appreciated by Muslims across the Arab states. To his surprise, this move was resented by the Arabs as they found it offensive.
The Palestinians, as a result, started protesting violently. This was followed by a series of armed attacks and suicide bombings. This period of violence lasted five years and marked the end of any peace that had come from the Oslo Accords.
The intensity of violence reduced significantly as Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. But that didn’t make things better. In 2006, an assailant Sunni Islamist group, Hamas, won the Palestinian administrative elections. Many countries consider Hamas a terrorist group because of their idea of wiping Israel out and certain violent acts. Over the past few years, there have been mild escalations in the region. Over 700,000 people have been displaced from the region and many of them are seeking refuge in the nearby Arab countries, and some in Israel.
THE TRUMP PEACE PLAN:
Donald Trump, the former president of the United States proposed a new deal called the West Asia Peace Deal to put an end to the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict on 27th January 2020. Although, this peace deal creates more problems than it solves. The deal proposes the following:
- Israel keeps most of Jerusalem as it’s capital.
- Displaced Palestinians do not have the right to return to Palestine
- Israel has the right to redraw its borders, mainly surrounding the West Bank
- Palestine doesn’t have the right to form an army
Israel loves this deal because Israel gets to keep most of the annexed Palestinian territories and it doesn’t have the threat of facing off with the Palestinian army. But, Palestine hates this deal because it will lose out on a lot of potential territories and displaced Palestinians are not allowed to come back.
THE ARAB LEAGUE’S CHANGED BEHAVIOUR
The tensions between the countries of the Arab League and Israel were very high until recently. All of this changed overnight after a deal was signed between the UAE and Israel, brokered by the former US president, Donald Trump in mid-2020. The UAE thus became the third Arab country after Egypt and Jordan to normalize ties with Israel. Israel agreed to suspend its plans of annexing the parts of the West Bank and have friendly relations with the Arab world.
Countries across the Middle east hailed this deal as a step forward towards peace. A lot of countries supported this deal and also stepped forward to normalise ties with Israel. But why did this one deal change the attitude of nations who despised Israel?
One reason could be that all countries in the Arab countries have started prioritizing business. A good relation with Israel would open the gates to trade with many other countries. At the same time, if Israel and some Arab country are involved in trade, it’d boost their economy. Many countries in the Arab world feel that religion has nothing to do with trade.
In the end, Palestine is left in this whole mess of the Israel-Palestine conflict. However, they are not alone as Iran is also infuriated by Israel’s decision. Iran and Israel had pretty good ties with each other as they had a common enemy: Saudi and it’s friends. But this deal changed everything. People in Iran were found protesting against Israel’s decision. Palestine, led by some militia, finds itself in the middle of a never-ending problem. This group is also accused of spreading terrorism and spreading hatred within communities. Maybe, they’re in a situation as bad as it’s neighbours, Syria.