The Israeli-Palestinian problems arise out of an ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine and contributes to the Arab-Israeli conflicts. (David, 1996, 363) Historians generally take the position that resolving the ongoing problems between the two nations is the key to eradicating at least in part, the threat of Islamic terrorism around the world. (Schoenbaum, 2006, 281) There have been many attempts by the United Nations and world powers, particularly the US to resolve the tensions between Israel and Palestine, but to no avail.
(Slater, 2001, 171) The most that can be gleaned from these peace-making efforts is the identification of the barriers to building peace between Israel and Palestine. This research paper will critically evaluate the problems between Israel and Palestine, the barriers to peace building and the possible solutions for removing these barriers and building peace between the two nations. This paper will also examine the consequences for world peace should the conflicts and tensions between Palestine and Israel continue to brew. Overview
Historically, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is characterized by six distinct periods of tensions. The first period and the origins of the conflict can be traced back to the late 19th century with the rise of Zionism and Arab Nationalism. (Gelvin, 2005, 93) The Zionist movement was a Jewish national movement formed in 1897, primarily in response to sentiments of anti-Semitism throughout much of Europe and Russia. The Arab nationalism movement was in turn a reaction to Zionism. (Gelvin, 2005, 93) Zionism advocated for the formation of a Jewish nation-state in Palestine.
(Rolef and Sela, 2002, 928-932) Furthering the cause of the Zionist movement, the World Zionist Organization together with the Jewish National Fund purchased land in the Palestine area under both the British and the Ottoman rule and advocated for immigration to the area. (Tessler, 1994, 53) During the rise of the Zionist movement during the late 19th century much of Palestine had been occupied by Arab Muslims and Bedouin with a relatively small number of Christians, Druze, Circassians and Jews. (Medding and Harman, 2008, 3-7) Palestinian Arab rulers began to regard these Zionist aspirations as a threat.
(Fortna, 2004, 97) The Arab unrest with the Jewish immigration to Palestine was more about their national identity since they originated from Europe and Russia. The prevailing feeling among the Arabs in Palestine was that the migration of Europeans and Russians to the area disturbed Palestine’s national identity. (Kramer and Harman, 2008, 121) A number of Arab protests arose as a result of Zionist purchases of property in Palestine. The result of these land purchases and immigration policies was a significant increase in the Jewish population in the area.
By 1917, the British defeated the Ottoman Turkish military and subsequently occupied Palestine where they remained until the First World War ended. (Kramer and Harman, 2008, 121) The second period of conflict followed the end of the First World War with the British occupation of Palestine. The League of Nations transferred the Palestine problem to the British, indorsing the Balfour Declaration and calling upon the British to create the Jewish Agency, designed to organize and manage Jewish matters in Palestine.
(Yapp, 1987, 290) The Balfour Declaration was formulated by the British government in 1917 and stated as follows: “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country. ” (Yapp, 1987, 290)
The Palestinian Arab population grew increasingly hostile toward British pro-Zionist policies. Making matters worse, Jewish immigration continued to grow, with significant numbers of Jew migrating to Palestine as a result of increasing anti-Semitism in Europe. In the Ukraine, 10,000 Jews had been killed. (Berry and Philo, 2006, 4) The Nazi’s rise to power in Germany only served to increase Jewish immigration to Palestine. A number of riots erupted in Palestine, spearheaded by the Arab population in protest against the growing Jewish population.
(Nicosia, 2008, 130) The British attempt at resolving these conflicts was the Haycraft Commission of Inquiry, 1921, the Shaw Report 1930 and the Peel Commission of 1936-1937 which was followed by the White Paper of 1939. (United Nations, 1947) These reports reflect the character of the efforts for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Peel Commission recommended a partition of the area and the White Paper suggested a single state resolution with quotas for the both Jewish and Arab immigrants to Palestine.
(United Nations, 1947) The cut off period for these immigration restrictions extended over the Second World War at a time when the Holocaust displaced a number of Jews in Europe. This resulted in a number of illegal immigration by Jews to the region and this only served to increase tensions. (Nicosia, 2008, 130) After the Second World War, the Jewish Resistance Movement was established and in protest against British policies in Palestine, engaged in a number of attacks against the British military. One such attack saw the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, the headquarters for the British troops.
(Tessler, 1994, 256) Be that as it may, news of the Holocaust brought with it international sympathy for the Zionist movement. (Tesler, 1994, 210) Coinciding with these developments, the United Nations encouraged the division of Palestine into three sections under a Mandatory Palestine policy. (Tessler, 1994, 185) These divisions included an Arab State, a Jewish State and an International Zone which would include Jerusalem and the area around it. In the meantime, Bethlehem and Jerusalem would be controlled by the United Nations. Tessler, 1994, 185-268)
The Unitied Nations’ solution was unpalatable to both the Jews and Aabs in Palestine. (Laquer and Rubin, 2001, 69-80) Despite these early signs of the futility of a divided state in Palestine, the UN indorsed the plan on Novermber 29, 1947. The date for partition was earmarked at May 15, 1948, the date by which the British were scheduled to withdraw its troops from the region. (Laquer and Rubin, 2001, 69-80) With a strategic plan for division in place, violence between the Jews and the Arabs, typically instigated by the Arabs, picked up momentum with open warfare over routes in Palestine taking centre stage.
(Greenville, 2005, Chapter 39) Zionist leader, David Ben-Gurion, declared the implementation of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, following a decisive victory in fighting against the Arabs and became Israel’s first Prime Minister. (Hazony, 2001, 267) The declaration of the State of Israel received wide approval with both the US and the USSR supporting the new State at the United Nations. Hazony (2001) doubts however, if this declaration would have garnered such wide spread support if emotions hadn’t been “stirred by the Holocaut.
”(xx) In the years that followed, the turmoil and threat to world peace that followed, compromises whatever satisfaction the Zionists and their supporters derived from the creation of the Jewish state. (Hazony, 2001, xx) The consequences for world peace began almost immediately following the declaration of the State of Israel, setting forth the third period of Israeli-Palestinian problems. An Arab-Israeli War erupted on May 15-16, 1948 when armies from Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Iraq and later Lebanon, invaded Israel.
(Nazzal, 1978, 18) The new State of Israel emerged victorious and subsequently annexed territory that would encroach upon the partitioning borders of the Jewish State and reaching over into the Arab borders in Palestine. Jordan occupied the West Bank ad East Jerusalem, Israel occupied West Jerusalem and Egypt, the Gaza Strip. (Sela, 2002, 491-498) In 1950 however, would take possession of the West Bank. (Sela, 2002, 491-498) The Israeli-Arab War of 1948 would only serve to complicate matters for world peace and particularly Jews.
Approximately 856,000 Jews either fled voluntarily or were forced to flea from Arab nations, many leaving their property and personal possessions behind. (Shulewits, 2001, 139-155) Likewise, Palestinian Arabs suffered a vastly similar fate in area then forming the new Israeli state, becoming known as Palestinian refugees. These refugees were simultaneously denied re-entry into Israel and entry or citizenship in the adjourning Arab States, save and except for the Transjordan West Bank, the Egyptian occupied Gaza Strip, the East Bank of Jordan Riverm Syria and Lebanon.
(Brynen and El-Rifai, 2007, 1) In 1949, Israel proposed repatriating 100,000 refugees and to re-open previously frozen bank accounts. (Sela, 2002, 58-121) Arab leaders, however, fortified in their position against the recognition of an Israeli state primarily refused to accept the Israeli olive branch. (Sela, 2002, 58-121) The result is, the Palestinian refugees continued to remain a source of conflict and tension between Israel and Palestine as many of these refuges remain in refugee camps.
(Brynen and El-Rifai, 2007, 132) Conflicts between Arabs and Jews accelerated along the border of Israel and Jordan, starting with minor Israeli raids and Palestinian responses which only escalated in time and intensity. After the Israel attack on an Egyptian military base in the Gaza strip in February 1955, the Egyptian officials began to engage in sponsoring, arming and training Palestinian Fedayeen from along the Gaza Strip who would conduct raids on Israel. (Shlaim, 2000, 128) According to Avi Shlaim (2000) it was not until the Israeli raid on the Gaza strip that Egypt took such a militant approach to Israel.
(129) Previously: “… the Egyptian military authorities had a consistent and firm policy of curbing infiltration by Palestinians from the Gaza Strip into Israel. ” (Shlaim, 2000, 129) Be that as it may, several years later, in 1964, the Palestinian Fedayeen resulted in the formaiton of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The PLO had as its goal the liberation of Palestine via the auspices of armed combat whose duty it was to “puge the Zionest presence from Palestine. ” (Rubinstein, 1982, 209)
In 1967 Egypt conducted a number of scare tactics by mobolising troops in the Sinai Peninsula which was followed by several other vastly similar moves by Arab nations neighbouring Israel. As a pre-emptive strike, Israel attacked Egypt and the Six-Day War followed. At the end of this latest foray, Egypt annexed the Gaza Strip and the West Bank which also included East Jerusalem. This would only increase hostilities between Israel and the Arabs. (Oded, 2002, 127) The fourth period of Israeli-Palestinian tensions commenced following the Six-Day War.
In February 1969 Yasser Arafat was selected to chair the PLO and almost immediately, the PLO set about commiting armed attacks on Israel in an attempt to seize control of the West Bank. However, Israel got the better of these armed conflicts and PLO forces were exiled to Jordan where the Palestinian population was overwhelming and attacks on Israel continued by virtue of terrorist attacks. The inevitable followed with Israeli responding with counter attacks. (Shlaim, 2000, xxiii)
The tensions increased and by 1970, the PLO seized control of southern Lebanon and conducted rocket attacks against the Galilee towns and other terror attacks on the north border of Lebanon and Israel. Palestinian terrorist groups spearheaded by the PLO together with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine commenced an intense campaign against the Israelis abroad, particularly in Europe. (Streissguth, 1993, 43-58) In an effort to fortify the campaign, Palestinian guerrillas waged several attacks on Israeli civilians at schools, on busses and in apartment complexes.
Attacks overseas targeted embassies, airports and the hijacking of aircraft. At the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics, Israeli athletes were taken hostage by the Black September “faction of the PLO”. (Judaken, 2006, 201) The Israeli authorities responded by virtue of a raid on the PLO headquarters in Lebanon. Other infamous terror attacks would follow including the Savoy Hotel attack, the Zion Square refrigerator explosion and the Ma’alot massacre in 1974 which claimed the lives of 22 children. (Streissguth, 1993, 43-58) In 1974, the Yom Kippur War commenced under the instigation of Egypt and Syria which was a surprise attack on Israel.
A cease fire ended the war and gave way to the onset of the Camp David Accords, 1978 setting guidelines for peace negotiations in the future. Still the terror attacks continued. (Jureidini and McLaurin 1981, 1-26) Israel launched the Operation Litani which was designed to regain control of Southern Lebanon to the border with the Litani River. (Ron, 2003, 175) The operation was successful and the PLO took up residence in Beirut. Even after Israel’s withdrawal, Palestinian terrorist and guerrillas continued to fire rockets at Galilee, Israel.
Finally, in 1981, US president Regan negotiated a cease fire that endured for a year. (Ron, 2003, 175) An assassination attempt on Shlomo Argov, Israeli’s Ambassador to the UK ended the cease fire on June 3, 1982. (Bar-On, 2004, 200) This gave way to the 1982 Lebanon war in which Israel invaded Lebanon on June 6, 1982 claiming the move necessary for the protection of northern Israel. (Bar-On, 2004, 200-201) In order to bring an end to this latest military conflict in the region, US and European diplomats negotiated for the safe transport of key PLO leaders such as Arafat to Tunis, an exile destination.
(Bregman, 2002, 145) By June 1985, the Israelis withdrew in large part from Lebanon, leaving behind a minimal faction in South Lebanon in an area designated a security zone. In Tunis, the PLO lead campaigns against Israel with a number of terrorist attacks which resulted in the Israelis bombing the PLO’s camp in Tunis during the conduct of Operation Wooden Leg. (Bregman, 2002, 152) Continuous uprisings in the West Bank and the Gaza Strips continued and by January 1988, directed by the PLO in Tunis these uprisings became more organized, characterized as Intifadas.
The first Intifada resulted in the death of 1, 551 Palestinians and 422 Israelis. (Israeli-Palestinina Deaths, 1987-2007) During the Gulf War of 1990-1991, Arafat appeared to support Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait following which the PLO was financially cut off by many Arab states. (Aburish, 1998, 201-228) The US and the USSR seized the opportunity following the Gulf War to start a peace conference between the Palestinian Arabs from countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Syria and Israel. It began with the Madrid Conference in October 1991, commandeered by Russia and the US.
(Bush, 1991 2-23) Even so, the end of the Gulf War saw more international efforts with respect to resolving the issues in the Israeli-Palestinian tensions. This would mark the fifth stage of this ongoing sage and commenced from 1993-2000. In January 1993 there appeared to be some progress toward peace when Arafat sent an official letter to Israel’s then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, claiming to renounce terrorism and to recognize Israel as an independent state. (Exchange of Letters between Rabin and Arafat, Sept. 9, 1993)
What followed was the Olso Accords in which the parties tried to set up a two-state solution. The agreement called for a Palestinian Authority, headed by Arafat which would practice and encourage Israeli tolerance. (BBC News, November 2003) However, there is evidence that the Palestinian Authority not only supported but also funded terrorist strikes and organizations. (BBC News, November 2003). The violence in the Palestinian areas continued and in February 1994 the Kach movement killed 29 Palestinian Arabs in the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre.
(Scharfstein and Gelabert, 1997, 306) The Palestinian Hamas retaliated by conducting suicide bomb attacks against Israeli civilians throughout Israel. Scharfstein and Gelabert, 1997, 306) In September 1995 Arafat and Rabin signed an Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement with respect to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The agreement called for Palestinian Arabs to return to occupied areas of Palestine and for Palestinian recognition and acceptance of Israel’s right to a peaceful existence.
The agreement however was not accepted by Hamas and other PLO affiliates who were continuing to commit terror attacks in Israel. (Rheinhart, 2005) These bursts of violence would characterize the sixth stage of peace negotiations during the Camp David Accords 2000 with the result that nothing has been resolved between the Palestines and the Israelis today. (Rheinhart, 2005) The difficulties with resolving the issues that give rise to the problems between the Jews and the Arabs arise out of the fact that they are being mediated from a purely subjective and entirely selfish perspective.
Having examined the nature of the conflict and the failed attempts at peace, the remainder of the paper will evaluate why these problems persist despite attempts to eradicate them. The Peace Process As previously, noted, the approach taken to the support of the establishment of the Jewish State is primarily dictated by emotions in the aftermath of the Holocaust. However, there were other matters that influenced the approach. The United States on the other hand, had and very likely still has its own agenda.
Willaim Viorst maintains that the US’ role with respect to the peace building process in the Middle East was influenced by a two-tier agenda built around the following ideology: “…pressing for concessions from all sides to establish some permanent negotiated settlement, and ensuring Israel came out of the agreement strong enough to act as the U. S. proxy in the area against Soviet threats. ”(Viorst, 1987) In addition, the US’s attitude toward a number of Middle Eastern countries, such as Syria, who is very much involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, is characterised by mistrust.
Sepearte and apart from disapproving of nations such as Syria’s autocratic governence, the US has always taken a stand against that nation’s link to terrorists and its anti-Israel position. (Zunes, 1993, 62) This stance against terrorism is particularly strong following the September 11 attacks on the US. In the final analysis, the only thing that was accomplished in the days following the Six-Day War and the present was a string of dishonored concessions on the parts of both Palestinian and Israeli officials. One example is found in the ongoing struggles with Syria.
(Zunes, 1993, 62) Syria agreed to demilitarize the Golan Heights area, permit international supervision together with other security comittments in return for Israel’s withdrawal neither side have been able to live up to their side of the bargain. (Zunes, 1993, 62) Viorst raises yet another point. The Ma’a lot Massacre which only threatened the peace building process and provided Isreal with grounds for making renewed demands of neighbouring Arab nations to close its borders to terrorist. (Viorst, 1987) Syria’s Hafez Assad, exemplifies the degree of Arabic pride that was virtually ignored in these peace-builing processses.
This pride commands loyalty to Arabic culture to such an extent that it compromises the ability to objectively agree to such a demand for fear of the perception that the leader is regarded as having been weakened to the will of the Israelis. (Viorst, 1987) A stalemate was therefore inevitable. US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger responded by sending a letter to the Israeli government indorsing whatever means of redress it desired in reponse to the terrorist attacks on its terrirory. Viorst points out that Kissenger effectively pledged that:
“…no future president would withhold American economic or military assistance as punishment for antiterrorist reprisals. It committed Washington to support such attacks before the world, most notably at the United Nations. In effect, it imposed a serious new limitation on America’s ability to compel restraint within the cycle of violence that so often ran amok in the Arab-Israeli struggle. ” (Viorst, 1987) When this letter is read together with reference to the fact that the Americans provided military aid to Israel during the Yom Kippor War, it is hardly surprisig that peace building between Israel and Palestine failed time and time again.
Particularly compromising was the fact that the US in its role as mediator, President Nixon was caught up in the midst of the Watergate scandal by1974. (Viorst, 1987) It would appear, that Nixon’s focus on the Palestine-Israel conflict was quite possibly more of an attempt to distract attention away from the Watergate scandal and was determined to convince the public that he was an “indispensable to peacekeeping” in this hostile region. (Viorst, 1987) Nixon’s first tour of the Middle East did not turn out as well as planned.
Newly elected Israeli Prme Minister Yitzhak Rabin made it clear that he wanted Israel to remain the US stronghold in the Middle East but at the same time he was not interested in the current peace-keeping negotiations. (Viorst, 1987) Russia’s role in the peacebuilding process in the earlier years also gave off the impression that, like the US, the Soviets were intent on maintaining a stronghold in the Middle East, by providing support for the Palestines.
To this end, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict came to be a provy war, between the world’s super powers, in their respective struggles for world dominance and power. Stephen Zunes provides a rational basis for placing the blame for the continuous failure of the peace building process between Palestine and Isreal on the US. To start with, it probably goes without saying that Israel’s neighbours, particularly Palestinian Arabs, have both political and economic motives for wanting peace with Isreal.
The disintegration of the Soviet Union gave way to “dramatic political and economic shits” in the Middle East as a whole. (Zunes, 2000, 1-4) Moreover, US dominance in the region in the aftermath of the Gulf War, together with “the establishment of the Palestinian Authority” the circumstances are such that those caught in the middle of the Palestinian-Syrian conflict on the Arab side, “ can no longer reap politial capital from provoking conflict with Israel. ” (Zunes, 2000, 1-4)
On the other side of the spectrum , Israel is not motivated nor is it inclined “to take the necessary steps” to facilitate a viable settlement and similarly, the United States “appears unwilling to push its ally to compromise. ” (Zunes, 2000, 1-4) Despite the ongoing peace talks final Israel-Palestinina peace accord may not be possible any time soon. (Zunes, 2000, 1-4) It becomes increasingly clearer with time that while the United Sates is holding itself out as an impartial mediator, when one looks beneath the surface the United States is slanted in its support of Israel and its approach to the Israeli-Palestinian problems.
Zunes explains how this is so by directing attention to the US approach to the annexed land following the UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 in respect of wars between Arab States and Israel. Resolution 242 called for peace in the Middle East by requiring Israel to withdraw from the territories it annexed following the 1967 War and for the “Termination of all claims or states of belligerency”. (UN Security Council Resolutions 242) Resolution 338 followed the Yom Kippur War and basically called for a cease fire.
(UN Security Council Resolutions 338) When Syria rejected the resolution the United States claimed that Syria was “hard-lined” for its rejection of these Resolutions. When Syria “dramatically moderated its policies” and accepted the resolutions the United States complained that Syria was “hard-lined for their insistence on the resolutions’ strict implementation. ” (Zunes, 2000, 1-14) The obvious consequence is “an impasse that can be broken only by a shift in U. S. policy. ” (Zunes, 2000, 1-14) The Madrid Conference was co-sponsored by the United States and the Soviet Union.
The conference involved peace talks themed after UN Resolution 242, “land for peace talks” between Israel and the Arab States caught up in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. (Rabinovich 1999, 39-43) These peace talks represented a tie in to additional peace talks at various other forums up to the year 2000. Yet no accord was struck. Conclusion Clearly, the sollution to the Israeli-Palestinian problems involves a quid pro quo approach. The Middle Eastern countries directly bordering Palestine want their land returned to them and Israel wants security against terrorist attacks.
In order to resolve these issues in a manner that is fair to both sides, the US, as primary mediator should propose that Israel withdraw from the regions in exchange for clearly defined security gaurantees from its neighbouring Arab nations. The US can achieve this goal by threatening to withdraw its current economic and military support to Israel. The underlying impediment to the long history of negotiations between Israel and Palestinian neighbours has been the imbalance of pressure.
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