The Israel-Palestinian Conflict and Its Solution
The Current Situation
The Israel-Palestinian conflict is a dispute between Israel and Palestinians and has been going for a long time. Its root cause is the two entities trying to have control of the same piece of land. The conflict has a long history which dates back to 1850 when the land of Palestine was inhabited by Palestinian Arabs. These consisted of almost half a million Muslims, 75,000 Christians, and 25,000 Jews who had lived together for centuries without conflicts. At the beginning of the 19th century, a group in Europe calling themselves Zionists considered colonizing the land with the sole aim of making it a Jewish home. In the beginning, there was no trouble until a large number of members of the group settled in Palestine and to make the land an exclusively Jewish state. This immigration of the Zionists created some anxiety among the indigenous inhabitants. The increasing tension between the immigrants and the indigenous populations led to fights between them and this consequently led to swelling waves of violence. (Charles D. Smith, 2004)
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During the First World War, Britain captured part of the Middle East and together with Palestine. The Zionists were allocated a mandate to oversee the land of Palestine. The Arab inhabitants of Palestine resisted British rule and started a rebellion against the Jews and British rule. Increasing pressure made the British give the mandate on Palestine to United Nations who thought that partitioning the land would solve the conflict. The U.N. planned to divide the land into two. While the plan was accepted by the Jews, Palestinians and Arab countries rejected it and this led to Palestinian Arabs attacking Jewish parties in all of Palestine. The organization of Arab States in the Middle East, also known as The Arab League declared that it had no intention of allowing any establishment of a Jewish state through compulsion. (James L. Gelvin, 2005)
The Current Situation
There are two issues at the center of the ongoing conflict and rising violence in the Middle East. The attempt to maintain a culturally partisan state with the likely hood of undermining the stability considering that the population being segregated is of colonial origin in the state. It is important to note that though 95 percent Muslim and Christian population originally occupied what is now Israel, Muslim and Christian refugees are not permitted to return to their homes. On the other hand, Palestinians continue to resist the continued taking away of their land in the West Bank and Gaza by Israel. The resistance is caused by the understanding that these occupied lands were to become a Palestinian state. This is according to the Oslo peace accords of 1993 which provided for the creation of a Palestinian authority and also laid a framework for future relations between Israel and Palestinians.
A plan to end the Israel-Palestine conflict has been devised by a set of nations and entities otherwise known as the Quartet and comprises of United States, Russia, European Union, and the United Nations. The plan is in form of a roadmap which is a detailed schedule of conditions and events that would break the Palestinian-Israel stalemate and end the violence and finally lead to a peace settlement. The guideline of the roadmap was laid down by former President Bush which was carried out as a joint initiative between U.S. and Europe. The roadmap has gone through several revisions and the two parties involved in the impasse have interpreted the roadmap with various suspicions. Following the death of Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas was elected President of the Palestinian Authority and this incidence led to the formation of the latest version of the roadmap. Upon his election, Abbas promised to negotiate peace on the basis that Israel withdraws from all of West Bank and Gaza lands and also the return of the Palestinian refugees. (James L. Gelvin, 2005)
The Hamas Movement formed a government after winning a majority of seats in January 2006 in the Palestinian Legislative Council and later concluded a unity government in March of 2007 with Fattah. They declined to recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. This stand made the U.S. and Europe decide to put sanctions on Palestine and not to negotiate with Hamas until they agreed to recognize Israel. 2007 saw a rise in anarchy in Gaza. With Hamas militants attacking Palestinian authorities in Gaza in June, Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the unity government and stated he would form another government. While Abbas tried to persuade Palestine militant groups to refrain from attacking Israel, Israel said that it would stop assassinations and look for most wanted terrorists. This was not observed as Israel continued to carry out the Palestinian arrests in the West Bank and Palestinians continued to fire rockets from Gaza. Many civilians and terrorists were killed in the Israel vengeance. (Avi Shlaim, 2001)
In November 2007, the U.S convened the Middle East Summit in Annapolis where Israelis and Palestinians agreed to implement the roadmap with the U.S. closely monitoring the adherence to set procedures. They further agreed to negotiate continuously to get to a final agreement by the end of 2008 but later on, in January 2008, George Bush’s tour of the Middle East failed to get support for Middle East policy goals. Despite the failure, Israelis and Palestinians agreed to commit themselves to serious negotiations regarding the issue of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees.
Though official peace plans for the Middle East crisis include the roadmap by the Quartet and Arab league initiative, there are other informal plans for finding a solution to the conflict that have been proposed. The Geneva accord is the most popular and was to replace the earlier Oslo agreements. The accord was negotiated by Israeli opposition leaders and Palestinian. The accord has various suggestions that seek to end the impasse in the Middle East. Some of the important points in the document sets that Palestinian refugees be compensated and resettled in Palestine or other countries with only a few of those going to live in Israel. It further suggests that the number of refugees returning to Israel be determined by Israel alone. Although Yasser Arafat welcomed the document, Israeli government figures and especially Ariel Sharon condemned the document.
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In trying to come up with a solution to the conflict, there is a need to have fresh thinking that will allow the formulation of new strategies and not a repeat of previously tried policies that have always failed to bear fruit. Solutions won’t be found in enforcing some conditions to one or the other side or by the outside forces trying to control the situation. The solution will be found when all parties involved realize that past injustices should not be allowed to act as the reasons for propagating violence and vengeance but rather as a chance to practice forgiveness. This will call for a sacrifice where people give up the value put on things believed by one party to be of more importance than the livelihoods of the other parties. Through this, logical rather than emotional reasoning based on long-lived battles will be allowed to prevail to ensure the peace of the current and future generations. The sooner the parties involved in solving the crisis put the lives of the people during the conflict first and not what they gain or lose in the crisis, the sooner peace among the warring factions will realize peace.
Avi Shlaim (2001) The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World, W.W. Norton Publisher, United States.
Charles D. Smith (2004) Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict: A history with Documents, Palgrave Macmillan Publishers, United Kingdom.
Current Situation in Middle East, 2008, Web.
James L. Gelvin (2005) The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War, Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom.
Timeline of Palestinian Israel History and the Israel-Arab Conflict, 2008, Web.
The Arab League: Israel-Palestine Conflict, 2008, Web.