What Are the Historic and Current Factors Contributing to the Israel-Palestinian Conflict?

Topics: Israel, West Bank, Oslo Accords Pages: 8 (2689 words) Published: May 13, 2011
The Israeli-Palestinian dispute has been ‘at the heart of Middle Eastern politics in the twentieth century.’ To examine this topic sufficiently we must first take a look at this history of the Israeli’s and the Palestinian’s and look at the events of last century to give context to their contending interpretations of history, then we can get into the issues, and points of controversy still dominate today. Many people often assume some would say wrongly that this is a religious conflict, simply because these two groups have different religions. It is not that simple, Palestinians include Christians and Druze not just Muslims. Religious differences are not the sole cause of the conflict. Fundamentally the conflict arises over the struggle over land. A piece of land that both have strong, plausible ties and claims too. Until 1948, the area that both groups claimed was known internationally as Palestine. But following the war of 1948-49, this land was divided into three parts: the state of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Jewish claims to this land are based predominantly on the biblical promise to Abraham and his descendants, as well as the fact that this was the historical site of the Jewish kingdom of Israel (destroyed by the Roman Empire), and on Jews' need for a ‘safe’ haven from European anti-Semitism that was particularly rife In the early part of the twentieth century. Palestinian Arabs' claims to the land are based on continuous residence in the country for hundreds of years and the fact that they represented the demographic majority in the area. Arabs do not believe that they should be made to forfeit their land to compensate the Jews for Europe's crimes against them that they played no part in. In the 19th century, following a trend that started in Europe earlier on, people around the world began to categorize themselves as nations and began to demand national rights, principally the right to self-determination and national sovereignty in a state of their own. Jews and Palestinians both began to develop a national consciousness, and mobilized in the hope of realizing and achieving their national goals. Because Jews were spread across the world (in Diaspora), their national movement, Zionism, entailed the identification of a place where Jews could come together through the process of immigration and settlement. Palestine seemed the logical and most favorable place, since this was the site of Jewish origin. ‘The first migration to Palestine (or Aliyah) began in 1882’ .

Until the beginning of the 20th century, the majority of Jews settled in Palestine were in four major cities Jerusalem, Hebron, Safad and Tiberias. Most of them observed traditional, orthodox religious practices. Their attachment to the land was religious rather than national, and they were not involved in or supportive of the Zionist movement, which began in Europe and was brought to Palestine by immigrants. In contrast most of the Jews who emigrated from Europe lived a more secular lifestyle and were extremely committed to the task of creating a Jewish nation and building a modern, independent Jewish state.

By the early years of the 20th century, Palestine was becoming an area of increased political interest and a place of competing territorial claims. The Ottoman Empire had been significantly weakened, and European powers were asserting their grip on areas in the eastern Mediterranean, including that of Palestine. Then in 1917, Lord Balfour, the British Foreign Minister issued the Balfour Declaration announcing his government's support for the establishment of ‘a Jewish national home in Palestine’ . Britain obtained a mandate over the areas, which now comprise Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jordan. In 1921, the British divided this region into two parts: east of the Jordan River became the Emirate of Transjordan and west of the Jordan River became the Palestine Mandate. This was the first time in modern history that...
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