Israel-Palestine Conflict: A Breakdown

Many of us have heard of the Israeli-Palestine conflict. It is evident from mainstream media coverage that it is a violent and long standing conflict with deep-rooted hatred on both sides. But you may find yourself less clear on the aspirations of each side, and the legitimacy of their claims to the land.

This article does not intend to suggest a definitive argument as to which side international support should be directed. Instead, it aims to illustrate the Palestine perspective, which has been largely ignored in Western mainstream media, in order to enable those reading to make their own informed judgement. This on-going conflict has existential implications for both regional and global security, and given the complexity of Israeli-Palestinian relations, awareness is the first step towards finding a successful, peaceful solution.

Israel: A Brief History Israeli and Palestinian territories are located in the Middle East, bordering Jordan, Syria and Egypt. Since the 19th century, Jews have been migrating to Palestine to escape centuries of persecution. The Zionist leader, Theodore Herzl, initially proposed two potential destinations for Jewish colonisation; Argentina and Palestine. Despite Argentina’s vast and sparsely populated territory and temperate climate, Palestine was chosen for the Jewish historic ties with that area.

In 1948, the UN divided Palestinian land in order to make room for the continuing influx of Jews and to enable the creation of the State of Israel. Arab leaders in the region saw it as European colonial theft and invaded in order to keep Palestine unified. The Israeli counter attack went well beyond the UN designated borders, but was justified by Israel as an appropriate response to Arab aggression.

Israel’s development since 1948 has been unprecedented and Israel has been commended for its technological advancement and celebrated as a supposed beacon of democracy in the Middle East.

However, this development has been at the expense of Palestinians, whose territories have significantly shrunk over the years, exemplified by the fact that Google maps no longer recognizes Palestine. This has inevitably caused decades of conflict between Palestine and Israel.

Palestinian Grievances

  • Palestinians argue that they were living in Palestine in relative peace for many thousands of years before they were forcibly removed by Israelis in 1948.
  • During the 1948 War, Jewish forces expelled nearly 700,000 Palestinians, who have since been refused the right of return, creating a huge refugee crisis.
  • Palestinians also argue that it is unjustifiable that 56% of Palestine was allocated for a Jewish state when Jews formed just 30% of the population in 1948.
  • The 56% on the land contained 85% of Palestine’s agriculture, therefore crippling the local economy.
  • In contemporary Israel, Palestinian citizens are routinely discriminated against.

Having said this, it is important to also understand the Israeli perspective.

Jewish Claims to the Land

  • 2000 years ago there was a Jewish Kingdom in Palestine. Jews were exiled from the land by the Romans who renamed it Palestine to erase the Jewish connection to the land, therefore Jews are the descendants of the exiled and have legitimate, historical ties to the land.
  • The Bible says that the land was promised to the Jews.
  • The Jewish population argue that they would have been eliminated if they weren’t given a sizeable enough territory.
  • Centuries of persecution and the atrocities of the Holocaust necessitate a Jewish homeland.

 

Both claims to the land are in such opposition that it is difficult to see how they can be reconciled, and with Israel’s recent refusal to accept UN urges to stop expanding Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, it is evident that we are a long way off achieving peace.

A solution that creates a secure and fair distribution of land, enabling a safe haven for the Jewish population while also addressing Palestine’s legitimate grievances is the only way to end the conflict. Traditional approaches have tended to focus on appeasing Israeli demands, but future peacekeeping plans must accept the Palestinian perspective; and spreading awareness of both sides is the first step towards this.