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West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been very crucial in the continuing Arab-Israeli conflict. After the First World War, the area was under the British Mandate of Palestine. But Jordan captured West Bank in 1948 when the Arab-Israeli War commenced. By 1967, Israel recaptured the West Bank during the Six-Day War. Yet, Jordan did not drop its claim to the area until 1988. It is interesting to note that most of the residents in the area are Arabs. But since 1967, more Israeli settlement has been added.
Israel’s occupation of the West Bank area is historically important because they consider this area as historically theirs. As such, they called it Judea and Samaria. The Arabs, however, object to this terminology and claims that the Israeli just want to justify their expansionist aims. As such, the Arabs call it the occupied West Bank of the Jordan River. The establishment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank area drew the ire of Arabs during the 1970s.
Only in 1978 did the Arabs’ desire for self-rule taken into consideration under the Camp David Accords.
The plan however never materialized. Gaza Strip on the other hand is part of the Palestinian authorities although it has been in the hands of the Israeli military since 1967 as part of the West Bank occupation. In 1987, the Arabs started rioting in response to the curfew and increased Israeli presence at the Gaza Strip. In their view, such acts were a violation of their human rights and they could not allow it to proceed.
This led to the Intifada or uprising, which led to protests and violent attacks. The Israeli military responded with force leading to deaths and property damages.
The Gaza Strip and the West Bank figure prominently in the security concerns of Israel. In the first place, the occupation of Gaza Strip was tied up to the efforts of Israel to cut off the support of Lebanon to Palestinian fighters. The occupation was a means to stem the attacks against Jerusalem and serve as a watching post should there be renewed violence and fighting directed against the country, which stands as an island in a sea of Arab nations. As Israel continued to occupy the Gaza Strip and West Bank, it went through painful confrontations, peace talks—some of which succeeded, most of it failed.
Yet, with the continuous assertion of Palestinians of their right to the territory and the civilian toll of the conflicts, Israel had to agree to the terms of various peace talks in withdrawing from the territory and relinquish control to Palestinians. In the year 2005, the Israeli government declared unilaterally that it has ended its occupation of the Gaza Strip. Due to the continuous dangers posed on the civilians and perhaps because of the heavy damages caused by war, the government has chosen this course of action.
Still, the case of West Bank and Gaza Strip is peculiar because of the lack of sovereignty of the area prior to the occupation of Israel. Yet, with the withdrawal of Israel from the region, the country still holds control of Philadelphi Route, which is important in preventing the smuggling of materials into Egypt. The main concern of Israel remains its security and the prevention of hostilities.
Dowty, Alan (2001). The Jewish State: A Century Later. California: University of California Press.
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