The Neverending Israeli Palestinian Conflict: A trajectory
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict as we know it today began around the mid-20th Century, i.e. a few decades ago. To the Palestinian Arabs it is form of colonisation and forced military occupation while for the Jews who fled persecution from the rest of the world, coming back to the land of their forefathers guaranteed them no sense of self or security.
However, the very basis of this conflict, which is the claim over the ‘Holy Land’, dates back thousands of years when various empires and religious authorities had control over the territory. The Holy Land is biblically synonymous to the Land of Israel and the region of Palestine. In today’s map, it would comprise of the State of Israel, the Palestinian territories and parts of the neighbouring countries. Religiously, the three Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam have a ties to the Holy Land and each has its history entwined with the city of Jerusalem.
Biblically, it is said that the Israelites had started to conquer the Mediterranean Coast around 1250 B.C. and three hundred years later the first Jewish temple was assumed to have been built by King Solomon. A couple of centuries later, the Jews were driven away from their land by the Babylonians and the temple built by King Solomon was destroyed.
The Classic Period saw the land fall to Alexander the Great who brought it under the Greek rule in 333 B.C. and around 165 B.C. saw the last independent Jewish establishment under Judea after which the land fell to the Romans and became a part of the Palestinian Province. Revolting against the Roman Emperor in 70 A.D. led to the destruction of their Second temple and the begging of the Jewish Dispersion, although a few years later they were allowed to come back. Around 133 A.D., the Jews revolted again, and this time it led to their banishment from their homeland, destroying their city and being sold away as slaves.
It was not until the 638 A.D that there was any Islamic influence over the territory when the Byzantine rule was put to an end by the Arab Muslims who then went on to build what is now the al-Aqsa Mosque in present day Jerusalem. The territory continued to be under the Islamic rule until the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the 20th Century.
It was only after the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the Word War I that Turkish control over the Arabs ended. The Arabs with the support from the British were driven away. Britain retained control over the territory as assigned to it by the League of Nations in 1920. However, at this point of time, the British had made three obligations with respect to the territory it had acquired. In 1916 it had promised the Arabs freedom and independence from their former ruler while simultaneously making a secret agreement called the Sykes-Picot Agreement with France hoping to divide the territory and jointly have control over it. Neither of these were met and finally in 1917, Britain decided to establish a “National Home for Jewish People” under the Balfour Declaration, named after the then British Foreign Minister, Arthur Balfour. It was around this time that the first signs of the Israeli Palestinian conflict began to show.
After the Balfour Declaration, Jews from all over the world feeling persecution began to come back to their motherland. A British census conducted showed a 11% rise of the Jewish population in Palestine. With Zionism at its peak, clashes between the Jews and the Arabs over the territorial occupation was inevitable. The solution put forth by the British was a two state policy that the Palestinian Arabs readily rejected and demanded that there be restrictions imposed upon the immigration while maintain a secured single state. In 1947, after the Second World War, the United Nations was tasked with finding an amicable solution that would keep both parties to the conflict happy and proposed a division of the territory into two. This meant that the partition would give the Jews over 54% of the land and the remaining 44% would be the Palestinians’. In 1948, for the first time in 2000 years there existed a secular Jewish state- The State of Israel.
However, since then peace has been fleeting and temporary between the two sections with both sided resorting to wars and violence than have spanned over the decades. Peace treaties and accords that were signed have either been ineffective or temporary. For example- the ineffective Madrid Conference of 1991which took place after the First Gulf War between the Arab States and Israel at Washington under the Presidency of George H.W. Bush or the more well-known Oslo Accords of 1993 that included a series of secret meetings between representatives of the sides- Israel and Palestine. It includes provisions on the transfer of powers and territories but was unsuccessful in the end. The period of 1996-1999 saw the implementation of a series of smaller such treaties or policies like the Hebron agreement, Wye River Memorandum, following these were the Camp David 2000 Summit, Beirut summit, the “Road Map” for peace. While the 2010s took a more direct approach in resolving the conflict like in the case of Abbas’ 2014 peace plan or Trumps ‘Peace Initiative’, they remained ineffective.
No amicable solution has been concluded upon till date, although majority of the informal polls state that the civilians on both sides prefer a Two Nation solution above all else.
A History of Conflict- Introduction, BBC News
A History of Conflict- Ancient Times, BBC News
A History of Conflict- 1917 Shifting Sands, BBC News
A History of Conflict- Arab Discontent, BBC News
A History of Conflict- Establishment of Israel, BBC News