What’s the Israel-Palestine Conflict About?
Recent years have seen other threats emerge within the Middle East which have overtaken Israel-Palestine conflict as its priority has diminished, yet Palestinians continue to insist upon creating their own state from all or parts of historical Palestine.
Israelis tend to favor a Jewish state with a majority of Jews and support annexing parts of the West Bank and Jerusalem; on the other hand, most Palestinians favor one democratic state with equal rights for all its residents.
Israel’s Right to Exist
After years of bloodshed, leaders around the world are trying to find an endpoint for Israel and Palestine’s seemingly perpetual conflict, rooted in territorial claims over Holy Land that hold religious and historical significance for Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike.
Israel was established in 1948 after years of conflict between Arabs and Israelis, with Jewish immigration to Ottoman Palestine (now Israel) increasing rapidly after Theodor Herzl published his plan for creating a “national home” for Jews in their ancient homeland and again after World War II’s Holocaust.
Palestinians seek their own state in some or all of the land Israel now controls, including East Jerusalem and the West Bank. They have supported a two-state solution as set out in 1993’s Oslo Accords; however, parties often disagree on how best to implement that vision. Meanwhile, many Palestinians have joined armed groups deemed terrorist organizations by both Israel and the US government.
Palestinian Claims to the Holy Land
Palestinians have for generations sought to establish their own state in at least part of historical Palestine – an area sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike – since its foundation in historical Palestine centuries ago. Modern fighting began after Jewish immigration to Ottoman Palestine after Theodor Herzl’s 1896 publication of The Jewish State book promoted creating a homeland for Jews as a way out from antisemitism in Europe.
Palestinians believe the land to be theirs by right of return based on UN resolutions, historical precedent, and international law. The primary sources of contention include Israeli settlements, Jerusalem status disputes and Palestinian refugees – with many countries seeing Israeli settlements as illegal while Israel maintains they have every right to expand them further. While the US supports two-state solutions and supported past peace efforts with success in mind; recent peace efforts appear less promising; continuing Israeli oppression against Palestinians as well as collective punishment cement the impasse.
Israeli Settlements in the West Bank and Gaza
Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem remain an issue of contention between Palestinians and Israel, who view them as evidence that Israel is not committed to reaching a peace accord and is invading their future independent state. They have even caused some Palestinians to reject recent negotiations altogether.
Settlements create a two-tier system where Jewish settlers enjoy all of the rights available to Israeli citizens while Palestinians living nearby are under military occupation and restricted from freely moving around their area. This has resulted in popular protests, civil disobedience and strikes organized against Israel that have been met with forceful responses by its military.
Israel defends its settlements on the grounds that they were necessary to defend itself after World War 2. Additionally, they claim to require strategic depth protection against hostile neighbors. International law experts disagree with this interpretation and maintain that settlements are illegal under international law.
Israel’s Role in the Middle East
After World War Two, Israeli and Palestinian leaders disagreed about what should become of land that once housed many Jews. Their disagreement has yet to be settled – instead Israel continues its occupation of West Bank and East Jerusalem while many Palestinian refugees reside in neighboring countries like Syria, Egypt and Jordan.
Refugees living in Israel-occupied territory cannot return home due to Israeli restrictions and settlement construction which is considered unlawful under international law.
Palestinians have responded with popular uprisings known as the Intifada. These rebellions feature mass protests, civil disobedience and community cooperatives led by Fatah and its rival faction, Hamas – dedicated to Israel’s destruction and widely considered terrorist by most states including Britain – which control Gaza strip; due to Israel’s blockade on Gaza residents are severely limited access to food, medicine and essential goods.