The Ongoing Struggle Of Israel-Palestine Conflict: History, People And Its Religious Impact

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According to Cambridge Dictionary, “Religion is defined as the belief in and worship of a god or gods, or any such system of belief and worship.” Having one’s own religious faith every person creates his own personal believes and acts accordingly. Similarly, in the Israel- Palestine conflict, more than just a dispute over a piece of land, it is strong believes, prevailing between the different communities which as a consequence has turned out into various grave battles. The war is not just to conquer any piece of land, but the motive is to prove that whose religion is supreme. Likewise, the battle for the piece of land i.e. Jerusalem was not just because of enjoying the ownership of land but to carry on the religious practices in the Holiest City in the world.

The War:

Israel, a small country in the Middle East, is located on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The country, with its breathtaking past, has a various complex and mind-boggling ancient history to reveal.

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In the 19th Century, Israel was ruled by the Ottoman Empire. But, after World War-I, the British and French Empires took over the land and divided it amongst themselves. They controlled the functioning of the Middle East. The tensions between the Arab and Jew community were so remarkable and inevitable that the violence between the two has been escalated gradually because of the differences of thoughts and believes between them.

At first, the British Empire allowed the Jewish immigrants to settle in the British Palestine and the concept of Jewish nationalism came to be known as Zionism. They came up with the idea to make a state solely for Jews. But, as more and more Jewish immigrants came to British Palestine during and after the World War- II, the gap between the Arab and the Jews increased tremendously. One of the policy of Jews, i.e., the law of return, proposes that every Jew has the right to come back to his homeland, this allowed the Jews from all over the world to easily get the Citizenship of the country. The policy attracted more and more Jews to come to the land and live there. With the feeling of insecurity of loosing their land and heredity in both the communities, the Arabs and Jews committed grave violence. Seeing this, the Britishers started to single out the Jews by blockading the Jewish immigrants. This caused friction between the British and the Jews and made its people to prepare militants to end the British rule over their land. After the end of second world war, in 1947, a sectarian violence between the Arabs and Jews arose, which led to the flag of revolt of independence grew and ultimately it attracted the interference of the United Nation general assembly by adopting resolution 181, marking the division of British Palestine into Israel for Jews and Palestine for the Arabs. Jerusalem, the centre of religious believes, where all the holy sites were situated got its unique place in special International Zone.

After agreeing to the policy of partition, Israel declared its independence on May 14th, 1948. The Arabs believes the plan to be more like the European Colonialism and, by dividing them the Britishers meant to steal their land. This led to the denial of the proposal by the Arabs and it caused great instability within the country. In order to unify the Arab Palestine over the British Palestine, the Arab states declared war on Israel. The war continued till 1949 and the new state of Israel won the war. In doing so, broke the provisions of the UN plan taking over more than half of the Jerusalem and also, they encroached on some parts of Palestine, forcing the Palestinians to leave their homeland. Thus, causing refugee crises.

The Palestinian government, being aware of this massive situation formed the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1960. The main objectives of PLO were to create an independent Palestinian state inside Israel and unite the Arabs all over the country. As, the Arabs saw the Israelis with bitterness, they supported the functioning and working of PLO and even recognized PLO as the sole representation of the Palestinians in the Arab League. Because of the support of the Arab League, the PLO grew stronger and they now aimed for the destruction of the new state of Israel.

As United States were acting as the backbone for Israelis, the PLO were aware of the fact that it was not possible for them to defeat or erase Israel from the map, so they agreed and were expected to cooperate with the Israelis. Therefore, they accepted the division of their land, but even after such division, the conflict continues to stay. Moreover, Israel denied to recognize Palestine as an Independent country.

The tension between Israel and Palestine entered into a stalemate, but it exploded during the six-days war of 1967. Palestine being anti-Jewish gain the support of their neighbouring countries i.e., Egypt, Syria and Jordan, who shared the common belief that the land under the state of Israel must belong to Arabs. The three Joining the non-alignment movement strengthened their friendship and were even more against Israel as it assisted the United States and have faith in capitalist block during the Cold-War. The difference between Israel and its neighbour grew which turned into a war. The Egyptian president, Gamal Abdel Nasser declared war which was soon joined by Syria and Jordan. Israel won and took over some of the territories of Egypt and Palestine, but Israel returned all the returned territories to reduce the tension between Israelis and Arabs. These wars led to the casualties of about 10,000 pro-Palestinians Arab alliance and more than 500,000 people were displaced.

Control Over Jerusalem:

Jerusalem, one of the oldest and holiest City in the world which is of great historic and religious value, is located in the Middle East between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. It is the sacred to all three monotheistic religions. These three different communities i.e., Judaism, Christianity and Islam puts their faith towards Abrahamic religion. Where, by the Jews, Prophet Abraham is claimed as the ancestor of the Israelis, Abraham’s son as ancestor of Arabs and in Christians, they believe and describe Abraham as “Father in Faith.”

In the consequences of their core believes, various differences were established between them and in the Middle-East, religion became one of the major sources of division rather than becoming a basis for living together. The people believed that there are strong foundations of their historic homeland, and that the God has a purpose behind everyone’s act.

Christianity puts its faith in Jerusalem as they believe that in that land their Lord Jesus was crucified and was rose from the dead. The Church of the holy Sepulcher is built on the site where these events are believed to have happened. According to them, Lord Jesus was crucified and soon will be restored to life. His tomb is located inside that Holy Sepulcher.

Jewish community states that in Jerusalem, around 10th Century B.C.E., a common place of worship, i.e., Solomon’s Temple was built by king Solomon, son of king David (who conquered the land of Jerusalem), according to the Hebrew Bible which belonged to Israeli God “Yahweh.” It was then destroyed by the Babylonian King. Again, the Herod’s Temple was built which completely overhauled the previous temple, but it was also destroyed by the Roman empire. For Jews, today, Jerusalem is the holy place where God has given them the Western Wall is all that remains of the second temple. They are convinced that the Western Walls are the closest place where they can pray to the Holiest.

Where the temple once stood al-Aqsa mosque known as Haram al-Sharif now rises into the heavens. After Mecca and Medina, the site in Jerusalem is the holiest in Islam. The Islamic community conquered Jerusalem in 638 CE. The Dome of the rock is built on the spot where prophet Mohammad is believed to have ascended into Heaven in the winged horse to receive Allah’s commandment.

Thus, all three religions believed and wanted to claim the holy land. After the end of Roman Empire, the influence of Christians over and around Jerusalem cease to exist as for many centuries Arab empires like the Persian empire, the Umayyad Caliphate, etc., ruled over this piece of land. So, the role of Christians gradually subsided and the rule of Arabs over holy land for many centuries made todays Arab’s believe that the land presently occupied by the state of Israel must belong to them.

This has led to the politics and religion to be profoundly linked and all three religion associate the city with their core beliefs. All three view Abraham, as their father and they believe in the same god but there are differences. This has caused various riots between them and has now resulted in the great cause of tensions.

While the question arises of the supremacy, both Israel as well as Palestine claims Jerusalem as their capital city. The land has been claimed by everyone on the basis of their believes and the struggle is still ongoing even after various peace efforts. The Palestinians want Israel to fully withdrew from the occupied West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, all these have been occupied by Israel since 1967 war. The Palestinians want those territories to become part of future independent state, with east Jerusalem as its capital.

Even after all these conflicts, it is still debated between the two countries in concern with the ownership of Jerusalem. Although the United Nation has given its proclamation that Jerusalem is not considered as the capital of either of the states and the control and management of Jerusalem, lies in the hands of United Nation governed only by the International law. After the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1948 Arab-Israeli war and 1967 war with Syria, Egypt and Jordan by Israel, the country established de facto Israeli control over the city. However, the Israeli jurisdiction and ownership of Jerusalem has not been yet recognized by the international community.

The Ongoing Tensions:

Israel government wanted to set aside all their issues and to move forward by development and industrialization. For achieving such goals, it was necessary for them to reduce the violence and disputes, they started to frame certain policies which created the feeling of being discriminated amongst the Arabs. For Israelis, their language preference was Hebrew over Arabian, which led to the feeling of isolation in Arabs living in Israel, as their native language is Arabian. They also preferred that the presence of a greater number of Jews stands for high value. In support to this, the government started giving free immigrations to the Jews, seeing this the sense of precariousness developed in the minds of the Arabs.

Moreover, Israeli government enacted certain provisions which made it rigid for non-Jews to easily access even to the basic needs of life. There were restrictions regarding the supply of electricity, water and medical services in Gaza. The discriminations in that very land has not settled yet. Even the younger generation have now become the part of these discriminatory as well as intolerable activities and they had started facing restrictions regarding the education services and various other opportunities. There laws reflected such policies and regulations which truly creates the presence of dominance of Jews over the non-Jews.

In Israel, the Knesset is the unicameral national legislature and is the legislative branch of the Israeli government which passes all laws as well as elects the President, Prime Ministers, and various cabinet ministers. As the country claims itself to be a democratic country, and the members being democratically elected, the elected Palestinian members face grave discrimination and their right and freedom of speech and expressions were highly violated. They were restricted to speak in defence of their own people. The law, their rules and regulation which were meant to protect such minor communities has created the gaps between the ideology of the different groups. It is swiping away the fundamental rights of non-Jews and also has violated many International laws.

A Committee Expert said Israel continued to deny its responsibilities under the International Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination for everyone under its jurisdiction, including non-Jews in Israel and the people in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Regrettably, the issue of Palestinians and the situation in the Palestinian territories had, once again, been omitted from the report. It has already limited the right of Citizenship, political participation, land and housing rights, etc.

Even after signing various peace treaties, it has now been concluded that the conflicts can never be resolved. Rather, they can just be managed as per the demands of the situation. Unfortunately, no success has yet been achieved and there are no foreseeable possibilities in the near future. After these many years of conflict, a fragile peace was signed with the Oslo agreements which provides for mutual recognition. A peace process organized in 1993, which was often kicked off, was an American- mediated effort towards filling the gaps between Israelis and Palestinians. The main aim was to achieve “final status agreement” and to stop any further conflicts as well as to discontinue with any further violence and attacks between the two. The agreement was made up with the idea stating “land for peace” where everyone can live peacefully and without the sense of any fear and danger.

Where there were the numerous talking’s regarding various peace process between the two, the Palestinians came up with second intifada which was proven to be more fatal than the first intifada. It has proven to be the lost of hope in liberation and has diminished all the possibilities of peace and also resulted in the collapse of the peace process in the year 2000. It created the hardship for the younger as well as the older generation and created the sense of terrorism in the country. The central cause was likely a basic mistrust between the two sides that made war inevitable after peace talks broke down.

As per the report, Unlike with the first intifada, where there were only non-violent protests taking places by mass boycotts and refuse to work, this time, Palestinian tactics centred on suicide bombings, rocket attacks, and sniper fire, which Israel met with even deadlier force. The conflict petered out in 2005, but not before about 1,000 Israelis and 3,200 Palestinians were killed.

The whole attitude regarding this act of terrorism had changed in a negative manner and there was evidently the hike in the crime rates in Israel. It created a huge distress and annoyance of the public at large. They carried arms, missiles, bombs etc., and became the reason for a huge disappointment for the whole country. The whole idea of peace between the two became significantly less popular. Scepticism of the peace process grew, complicating future efforts to arrive at a two-state agreement.

Still in 2015, the dispute between the two remains the same and the Oslo Accords were declared to be completely ineffective and were then called off by the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. Though there are various policies which are regularly formulated to maintain the law and order and to ensure the stability within the country.

Conclusion:

UN has “repeatedly stated that Jerusalem remains a final status issue”, they continued, “the city’s future can only be resolved on the basis of international law and through negotiations between the parties”. Recently, United States President Donald Trump proposed his ‘Vision for Peace, Prosperity and a Brighter Future’ that would legalize Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The vision would include continued Israeli security control in the West Bank and expanded economic opportunities for Palestinians. The only way, which can lead towards their peace between Israel and Palestine is that, they should adopt the rule of equality and should discard the practice of aggressive nationalism. Also, to give effect to further peace process there should be avoidance of any race of armaments.

The reason behind the conflict of Jerusalem is found as because of the uncertainty about who controls Jerusalem whether it is Israel or Palestine has led many experts to believe that both should look after making a new capital instead of Jerusalem. In the favour of Israel, Tel-aviv is found to be one of the best options to become the new capital and for Palestine, Ramallah has been recommended as the capital city.

After all these wars, controversies and attacks, the borders and independence of Palestine is still not concluded. Even after a century long war it is very likely that if the boundaries of these two states is not framed, another war can occur. Many believe to resolve this problem as fast as possible either Jerusalem must be divided or both the states must look forward to change their capitals. But, because of many religious as well as personal believes, many people do not want to divide the city because of the said issue. Many of them also believed that the Israel-Palestine conflict was avoidable and unnecessary. If the Arabs of Palestine had accepted Zionism 130 years ago, there would never have been, and would not now be, any cause for bloodshed. It was only the sense of insecurity of losing the power and control over the land, which made the Arabs to take such unwanted steps.

Though, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner proposed a $50billion investment fund and called Peace to Prosperity aimed at boosting the Palestinian and neighbouring Arab economies, arguing that this approach could generate prosperity in the occupied Palestinian territories, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon.

References:

  1. https://www.history.com/topics/middle-east/six-day-war
  2. https://www.vox.com/2018/11/20/18080010/zionism-israel-palestine
  3. https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/02/1056722

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