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Research Paper: Origins of Palestinian-Israel Conflict

The history of humanity knows too much examples of man’s greed, ruthlessness and cruelty. Most of wars (especially during 20th century) did not have reasonable explanations, or they were hidden from publicity at least. However, there is one long lasting conflict that stands out from the crowd of “people’s anger”. There is the talk about Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which lasts several decades already and the end of it is not expected in the soon coming future. Appropriate conflict is well-known as incredibly complicated and multifaceted social tragedy. Usually, its complexity is explained by deep historical roots and rights of both nations for self-expression and own interests protecting. Mainly, the conflict is concentrated around the right for land, however, the political background is well tracked here too. It is stated that the origins of Israeli-Palestinian conflict take their roots from invalid political decisions of third parties, which never were directly involved into it.

To begin with, let’s take some historical background for further analysis. Historically, the Judea, homeland of Jews was conquered by Rome Empire and renamed later into Palestine. For over thousand years later this territory was conquered and inhibited by Arabs. However, the movement of Zionism had own thoughts about the rights for Palestinian territory. In fact, the appearance of this Jewish movement became significant premise for conflict arising. Zionism was found in 1897, by Austro-Hungarian journalist Theodor Herzl. The main idea of this movement was dedicated to Jewish people’s right for inhibiting the homeland of Jews as the mandatory measure for national self-determination. Talking about the Zionism as one of premises of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we are encouraged to claim that the primary origin of long lasting war for land is the national repressing, which was experienced by Jewish at the end of 19th century, as this injustice became the main cause of appropriate movement founding. At first, the aspirations of Zionists were rewarded in 1917, with Balfour Declaration, which enabled Britain to build the national home for Jews. However, this declaration was strongly criticized by the Palestine Arabs who did not want to let Jews settle on their territories. Under the influence of overall Arabian resent, the Britain government has frozen Jewish immigration. After the Second World War, Britain’s government renewed Jews’ immigration to Palestine. This allow was mostly determined by global political mood, which was directed to benefit Jewish people, who suffered so much under Nazi expansion. In 1947, United Nations established two states in Palestine – Jews and Arabs. However, the last did not want to take this decision and began war. Displayed Arabian aggression towards UN partition plan became one more background for long year conflict establishment. During this conflict, more than 1000 Jews were killed, however, the general success was achieved by opposing military forces. As the results Jews expended their territory several fold and established thousands of Palestinian refugees. Later, the conflicts were sharpened in 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982 and they last nowadays even. This is the general history of conflict origin, which have two truths. Let’s try to take some more detailed view on historical events.

Drawing the images of Israeli-Palestine conflict, most of us see Arabs as violent terrorists, who are going to kill innocent people. This approach is not totally right in fact Obviously. The point is both sizes of analyzed conflict preferred aggressive policy after fateful decision of UN. Not many people know that terroristic manifestations were also by Jewish people. At this part, we have to remind already noticed Zionists, whose amount on Palestinian land was always increasing after 1917. Mark Thomsen writes in next way: “After the League of Nations had mandated Palestine to Britain in the 1920s the British government began to have second thoughts about the creation of a Jewish homeland. The local Palestinian population was increasingly and violently opposing the growing Jewish population in Palestine. Furthermore, it became clear that the Zionists would not be content with a Jewish homeland but were demanding a Jewish state” (Thomsen). As we see, members of Zionism movement were not just intended to national-determination. The mood towards state creating were pretty clear there, what was out of “homeland settlement” announced concept. The real start point of Israeli-Palestine conflict is dated by November 1947, when the U.N. approved pretty controversial solution. Michael Prior is rather laconic and meaningful about that time in his work: ”In November 1947 the United Nations divided Palestine into two political entities, one Jewish, one Arab. This two-state solution which seized a portion of the Palestinian homeland was opposed by the Palestinian Arab community as well as the rest of the Arab world. The U.N. proposal gave 57% of Palestine to the Jewish community (in spite of the fact that only one-third of the population was Jewish and they owned only 7% of the land!) and 43% of the land designated for Palestinians who made up 2/3 of the population. Furthermore, in the new Jewish State the Arab population of 500,000 was slightly less than the Jewish population” (Prior). On the one hand, Arabs met this proclamation very controversially, what was showed by aggressive attacks to Jews just after partition plan approval. The number of this violent campaign’ victims was for about 1000 Jews. On the other hand, favorable to Jews decision became the provoking factor for Zionists’ terroristic attack. The aim was to depopulate Arabs from future territory of Israel state. On the April 1948 series of Zionistic attacks were directed to peaceful Arabians. As the result, the dozens of small villages were destroyed and thousands of people were killed. Eventually, after this attacks more than a half of Arabs (700 000) left their houses and property trying to escape death. Dreaming to came back to own homes, thousands of Palestinians formed numerous refugee camps, which further became home for next their generations and still are. Thereby, Zionist terrorism became the base of Israel state. Tanya Reinhart, famous columnist, writes about this part in next way: “Contemporary Israelis portrayed as law-abiding victims defending their homeland from Palestinian terrorists is historically inaccurate. It is not possible, historically or morally, to commit abominable atrocities in achieving a territorial political goal and then when one has the upper hand to announce the war is over; accept the new reality.” (Reinhart). Previous part was placed to clear that both sides of UN partial plan are mutually responsible for first serious bloodletting on the land, which remains disputable to this day.

To get the idea of Israel-Palestinian conflict, words of David Ben-Gurion are to the point: ”Everybody sees a difficulty in the question of relations between Arabs and Jews. But not everybody sees that there is no solution to this question. No solution! There is a guilt and nothing can bridge it…We as a nation want this country to be ours; the Arabs as a nation want this country to be theirs.” (Thomsen). However, it should be noted that this statement was announced far before tragic events of 1947-1948, when the conflict reached its real cruel meaning. It was learnt before that aggression from both sizes was mostly provoked by United Nation’s decision towards land division. What would the situation look like if UN’s proclamation were more tolerant to Arabs? Seemingly, Zionists wouldn’t be so encouraged with their expansion and violent activities. Obviously, the army of Jews was much more advanced in comparison to Arabs at that times. However, it looks like Zionists wouldn’t be so decisive without strong international support. In May 1948, Israel proclaimed its independence. Eventually, Israel took under its control over 77% of Palestine area. Moreover, we have all reasons to claim that more diplomatic approach with land division plan would not cause so strong opposition from Arabian side, which was displayed by military actions.

Served as indirect origin of conflict, international political community made the first steps to adjust the conflict with UN Security Council Resolution 242. However, this aspiration did not reach wanted success as it described in BBC’s “History of Mid-East peace talks” article: “The resolution is famous for the imprecision, in English, of its central phase concerning an Israeli withdrawal – it says simply “from territories”. The Israelis said this did not necessarily mean all territories, but Arab negotiators argued that it did. It was written under Chapter VI of the UN Charter, under which Security Council resolutions are recommendations, not under Chapter VII, which means they are orders. Many peace proposals refer to 242. Resolution 338 is usually linked to it. This called for a ceasefire in the war of October 1973 and urged the implementation of 242 “in all its parts” (“History of Mid-East peace talk”). Then, there were several more agreements towards situation adjustment, however, no one of them reached wanted result. Probably, the most significant of them was Oslo agreement: “The Oslo Agreement stipulated that Israeli troops would withdraw in stages from the West Bank and Gaza, that a “Palestinian Interim Self-Governing Authority” would be set up for a five-year transitional period, leading to a permanent settlement based on resolutions 242 and 338. The agreement spoke of putting “an end to decades of confrontation and conflict” and of each side recognising “their mutual legitimate and political rights” (“History of Mid-East peace talk”). Unfortunately, it had no success, as it was just partially implemented. Talking about attempts to reconcile two sides we can remind plenty of other meetings and official events: Camp David, 2000; The Madrid Conference, 1991; Camp David Accords, 1978; Taba, 2001; Saudi peace plan, 2002; Roadmap, 2003; Geneva Accord, 2003; Annapolis, 2007, but no one of them set the last point in violent fight of two folks.

To sum up, we found that the origins of Israeli-Palestinian conflict have two main kinds of roots – historical and political. If the first one is inherent for most of wars in world’s history, the influence of political part is really special feature of long lasting conflict. Largely because of outside decisions the conflict reached its apogee in the middle of 20th century. It looks like third parties had own interest about this conflict. Let’s remind the speech of President Trumann to a group of American Ambassadors to Arab countries, “I am sorry gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism; I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.” (Thomsen). It seems that this quote is useful to show that outside parties took the position, which became invalid and fatal mistake for Israel-Palestinian conflict adjustment. Involved into it two parties needed strong diplomatic outside hand, which wasn’t given unfortunately. In this aspect, one more reasonable question arises in – why international authorities still did not interfere to stop the conflict? Obviously, the diplomatic strategy can be proclaimed as the only permissible with deeply rooted conflict resolving, what is convenient answer in fact. However, it is hard to believe that such powerful international organization as UN feel the lack of means for peace establishment. It would be really dreadful if some outside officials have interest about conflict. Hopefully, this assumption is wrong, as the lives of thousands innocent people is too high price for political influence improving.

Works cited

BBC. History of Mid-East peace talk. Web 31 July 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11103745
LeBOR, Adam. Over the Line. Web 31 July 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/14/books/review/LeBor-t.html
Prior, Michael. Zionism and the State of Israel: A Moral Inquiry, New York: Routlege, 1999, p. 16 (quoted from Palestinian Papers 1917-1922: Seeds of Conflict, Doreus Ingrams, London: John Murray, 1972, p. 73.
Reinhart, Tanya. Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948, New York: Seven Stories Press, 2002. p. 222.
Thomsen, Mark. A Word of Truth on Behalf of the Palestinian Marginalized and Dispossessed: Root Causes of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. Web 31 July 2011. http://www.christianzionism.org/Article/Thomsen01.pdf