The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is one of the world’s most controversial topics that have lasted for over 60 years. According to Amirav (2009), over 90% of Jews were living in Europe by 1890. However, the growing anti-Semitism in Europe convinced most of them to consider moving back to their ancestral land in the Middle East. They moved to British-controlled Palestine. The movement was facilitated by the colonial masters but rejected by the local Arabs.
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The holocaust led to the mass movement of Jews from all over the world, especially in Europe, to present-day Israel. The United Nation’s decision to petition Palestine to create a state for Jews led to the creation of the Israeli nation in 1948 (Abu-Amr, 1995).
The territorial conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis, especially the ambitious plan by Israel to expand its territory to include West Bank and Gaza, has led to massive loss of lives and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. It is important to find a lasting solution to this problem as a way of restoring peace in the region. In this paper, the researcher seeks to find a compromise that will please both Palestinians and Israelis. The study will respond to the following research questions:
What is the possible compromise that can please both Palestinians and Israelis and end the six-decade armed conflict?
The recent announcement that was made by Donald Trump declaring Jerusalem as the Israeli’s headquarters has worsened the Palestinian-Israeli territorial conflict in the West Bank and Gaza (Shehadeh, 2017). The Palestinian authority trusted that the United Nations and the United States will support a resolution that is favorable to all the parties involved in the conflict. However, the declaration made by the current United States administration was a clear indication that Palestinians may not rely on the foreign powers to solve the conflict.
Beauchamp (2017) says that the most worrying problem with the recent announcement is that Palestinians, supported by other Arab nations, may consider using military means to fight against the Israeli forces in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Such a move may worsen the already bad situation. It would lead to the loss of more lives and the displacement of thousands of families. Before looking at the best way of addressing this problem, it is important to briefly discuss the source of the current problem and its nature.
The Territorial Conflict
According to Amirav (2009), Arabs have been opposed to the creation and recent expansion of the Israeli nation in the Middle East. As Jews moved to the region in mass during and soon after the Second World War, the local Arab population considered them instruments of colonial masters (mostly Britain) in the region. When the regional countries gained independence, Arab nations viewed the Israeli nation as neo-colonization of the Palestinians.
That is why Egypt, Syria, and Jordan planned attack on the nation with the primary goal of liberating Palestinians who were under the control of the Israeli forces (Abu-Amr, 1995). However, the Six-Day War ended in favor of the Israeli forces and led to a massive expansion of the nation’s territory. Although the government of Israel relinquished some of the territories it acquired after its victory over regional power, it retained its control over the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza. It is important to look at how each of these three territories has remained centers of conflict in the region.
The West Bank
Located in East Jerusalem, the West Bank is home to over 2.6 million Palestinians, making it the most appropriate heart of a Palestinian state (Amirav, 2009). However, it is controlled by the Israeli military. About 500,000 Israelis also reside in the region, mostly near the border with Israel. To the Palestinians, the West Bank is their ancestral home as they have been in the region for hundreds of years.
For Jews, the West Bank is the heartland of their ancient state (Beauchamp, 2017). It is home to various Jewish holy sites such as the Cave of the Patriarchs located in Hebron (Beauchamp, 2017). The ancestral attachment that both Israelis and Palestinians place on the region makes it one of the hotly contested territories in the Middle East. Attempts by the international community to find a lasting solution to the problem haves bore little fruits.
Israelis have been settling in this region aggressively despite the warning given by the United Nations. A lasting solution that is acceptable to both parties is yet to be found and a constant armed conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is common in the region.
The city is located between the internationally recognized border of Israel and the West Bank. It is currently the most contested territory between the Palestinians and Israelis. The two nations consider the city as their preferred capital because of the ancestral attachments. Jerusalem is home to some of the sites of the holiest temples and historic mosques such as the Dome of the Rock (Amirav, 2009).
The Israeli government is keen on having the entire city as part of its internationally recognized territory because of historic facts. Jews currently account for over two-thirds of the city’s population that is under the tight control of the Israeli military. On the other hand, Palestinians are also keen on restoring its control over the city and making it it’s capital. The international community has condemned the aggressive settlement of Israelis in the region.
The United States has for a long time taken a neutral stand on the issue as a way of helping the two nations to come to a common solution to the problem. However, the announcement made by Donald Trump in support of Israel has complicated the ability to find a compromise to the problem. Amirav (2009) says that the stance taken by both Palestinians and Israelis may make it difficult in finding a lasting solution to the problem. The rapid settlement of Jews in the city complicates the problem further. However, the international community is keen on finding a solution to the problem.
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According to the Security Council (2017), the Gaza strip was controlled by Egypt until 1967 when the Arab nations lost the Six-Day War. The Israeli forces occupied the land and encouraged Israelis to settle in the region. However, after a series of peace agreements, Israeli forces and settlers pulled away from the territory in 2005 under the command of Ariel Sharon. It allowed Hamas, an Islamist group that was founded in 1987, to take control of the region. Gaza has remained one of the most volatile regions in the Middle East even after it was handed over to the Palestinians. Various militant groups in the region, including Hamas, have launched thousands of rockets at Israeli targets. They believe that it is a strategic location that the Palestinian government can use to fight the occupation of the Arab land by the Israeli forces.
The actions have prompted the Israeli forces to launch counter-attack military operations in the region to target the militants. The region is currently under Israeli blockade (Beauchamp, 2017). The Israelis have justified the blockade on the constant attacks by Hamas and other militant groups in the region. The blockade has cut off important supplies such as fuel and electricity. Humanitarian groups have also complained that the blockade has hindered the free flow of food and medicine (Security Council, 2017).
The condition affects residents of the region, especially women and children who are too weak to fight for the limited supplies. The misunderstandings, constant suspicion, and strong resentment that the two warring groups have towards each other have made it difficult to have a lasting solution in this territory even after it was handed over to the Palestinian authorities.
Finding a Lasting Solution to the Problem
The international community has made efforts to address the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The Oslo Accord of 1993 is one of the major efforts that have focused on finding a lasting solution to the problem other than just focusing on ceasing (Security Council, 2017). However, various actions taken by both the Israeli government and Palestinians led to the collapse of the accord.
According to Falk (2017), finding a lasting solution to the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict is critical in addressing the current humanitarian crisis in the region. One needs to understand the ideological differences to find a way of addressing the problem. On one side, Palestinians believe the entire region is their ancestral land and that the colonization by Britain facilitated the entry of Israelis who they consider intruders.
On the other hand, Jews claim ownership of the territory based on historical facts, claiming that their ancestors were pushed away from the land by ancient Arab powers in the region. However valid the claims from both sides may be, the international community appreciates the fact that the two communities must co-exist within the region. As Shehadeh (2017) says, the solution should focus on the political, cultural, and economic aspects of the problem. The following are the main proposals on how the conflict should be resolved.
According to Beauchamp (2017), one of the possible solutions that have been proposed by the international community is “financial compensation and limited resettlement in Israel” (p. 2). This solution is based on the premise that the occupation by the Israeli government after the Six-Day War had serious financial ramifications on hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Many of these displaced Palestinians are willing to settle in various parts of the country if they can get financial support to do so. As such, the Israeli government should consider compensating these people to allow them to lead normal lives.
When that is done, the Israeli should be allowed to the occupation of sections of the currently disputed territories. The opponents of this proposal have claimed that it may validate the unfair occupation of Arab land by Israel because it can financially compensate the affected group (Falk, 2017). Coming up with the right financial plan is also another issue when the strategy is embraced. Beauchamp (2017) says that the solution may only solve the economic problems but it may not be the most appropriate political solution. As such, many have rejected it and it has not been given serious consideration.
According to Beauchamp (2017), “the primary approach to solving the conflict today is a two-state solution that would establish Palestine as an independent state in Gaza and most of the West Bank, leaving the rest of the land to Israel” (p. 3). It is the most viable solution to the current problem. Jews are interested in having a Jewish state in the Middle East. They want a state where they are assured of political control and free from any form of persecution as was the case in Europe during the Second World War.
On the other hand, Palestinians want a country they can call home, free from constant Israeli military supervision. The main problem with this solution is that Palestinians and Israelis have not agreed on the right boundary for the two states. Israel politicians- including Benjamin Netanyahu who is the current prime minister- have vowed to fight attempts to create a Palestinian state. Similarly, some Palestinian politicians, including radical groups such as Hamas, have rejected attempts to validate the Israeli state in a region they consider their ancestral land.
The hard-line position that is taken by the opposing groups and the difficulty in defining the territories of the two states has been the biggest challenge to this solution of addressing the conflict. Amirav (2009) notes that moderate Israeli and Palestinian politicians have supported this approach of solving the problem, stating that it will give the two communities autonomy in their independent states. However, some feel that the approach may not yield a lasting solution.
According to Falk (2017), some radical Israeli politicians have cited the Israeli handover of the Gaza Strip to the Hamas government as a move in futility. The move has made Israel more vulnerable, according to these politicians, because radical Islamist groups are using it as the best location to launch rockets to Israeli targets. The same move, according to these Israeli politicians, would increase the risk of attack from these groups.
Beauchamp (2017) argues that “the alternative to a two-state solution is a one-state solution, wherein all of the lands become either one big Israel or one big Palestine” (p. 4). The Palestinians have rejected the idea of having an Israeli state in a land that they consider ancestrally theirs. Jews also feel that there should be no Palestinian state. When this strategy is used, the two rivals will form one state.
It may be known as Palestine, Israel, or any other name that the parties will embrace. The solution eliminates the challenges that have been faced by the international community in trying to define the right boundary that would be acceptable to both parties. The Palestinians and Israelis will be free to live in any part of the country. Everyone will have the right to vote and exercise all the democratic rights within the country without fear of intimidation. Beauchamp (2017) notes that “most observers think this would cause more problems than it would solve, but this outcome is becoming more likely over time for political and demographic reasons” (p. 5).
The problem with this strategy is in the mode of its implementation. Political analysts have warned that the strategy may be abused by either Palestinians or Israelis based on the mode that is used. Extremist Palestinians are in favor of this deal, hoping that Palestinians will outnumber Israelis. It will give them a political edge hence they will always define the political leadership of the country.
When granted the political leadership, they can define their future and the future of Israelis as they have always desired. On the other hand, extremist Israelis want the creation of a single state under the condition that they will be allowed to drive out Palestinians or denying them the right to vote. The idea of driving away Palestinians or denying them the right to vote has been rejected by the international community as a terrible human rights abuse.
The conflict between Israel and Palestinians has led to the loss of many lives and the displacement of thousands of people, especially women and children. The efforts made by the international community have not yielded a solution that is desirable to both parties. It is necessary to have a compromise. The possible compromise that can please both Palestinians and Israelis and end the six-decade armed conflict would be a two-state solution. Jews should be allowed to have their state where they can define their socio-political and economic future without interference from other people who may not share their socio-cultural beliefs.
The Palestinians also deserve the same right. The two parties should agree on the geographic territories that are currently under dispute in a fair manner. The international community, when trying to help in implementing the two-state solution, should avoid taking sides as the United States did as it may jeopardize the process.
Abu-Amr, Z. (1995). Our Jerusalem: The significance of Jerusalem, a Muslim perspective. Palestine-Israel Journal, 2(2), 1-12. Web.
Amirav, M. (2009). Jerusalem syndrome: The Palestinian-Israeli battle for the holy city. London, UK: Sussex Academic Press.
Beauchamp, Z. (2017). Everything you need to know about Israel-Palestine. Vox. Web.
Falk, R. (2017). Jerusalem is (is not) the capital of Israel. Foreign Policy Journal, 2(1), 1-5. Web.
Shehadeh, R. (2017). The power politics behind Trump’s Jerusalem declaration. The New Yorker. Web.