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The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Origins and Evolution Term Paper

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Updated: Sep 12th, 2021


The Israeli-Palestinian conflict or Arab-Israeli conflict, or whatsoever name it goes by, is probably one of the more receptive issues that are discussed. From the historic British governance in the Middle East, and the more recent US authority and control over the region, the Anglo-American goal is principally to be able to administer the Middle East due to the vast oil reserves and the West’s financial confidence in it. Before the detection of oil, one of the main motives for participation in the Middle East had been spiritual (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all have roots in the Middle East) and on the natural arable land. During the Cold War, the Soviet excuse may have been used on plentiful occurrences to justify involvement there, but in modern times, it has always been for oil.

Therefore, the clutch for the Jewish people and the condition of Israel has been due to the concentrations of oil and to guarantee an ally is there in the area.

It is also not surprising that some other states in the Middle East are also between the primary beneficiaries of US military aid, like Turkey and Egypt.

What makes this a chiefly discerning issue oftentimes, is due to the agonizing anguish the Jewish people suffered in (Christian) Europe during World War II, to the degree that (in the United States, anyway), any condemn of Israeli policies towards the Palestinian population and other Arabs, lends well to an automatic, unpromising label of anti-Semitic. In the United States as well, the Jewish community is well instituted and has been pressured over many characteristics of US foreign policy in the Middle East. Some observers suggest that US Zionism is more wonderful than that seen in Israel itself.

Sure, the Jewish people endured terribly during World War II and there is no one (apart from ultra Right Wing neo-Nazi types) that would deny that. Though, that can also not be a reason not to criticize Israeli actions where warranted. Hence, this part of the globalissues.org website provides a look at the ongoing conflict because conventional media has been fairly one-sided. This is not some sort of anti-Jewish or anti-Israel sentiment, rather, a look at some of the issues from additional wider perspectives. In this section, you will find many links to a variety of resources from those critical of the Israeli leadership and American policy including resources from American Jews, and others, prominent in the political discourse of foreign policies.

Origins of the conflict

After World War II, the newly formed United Nations recommended the division of Palestine into two states and the internationalization of Jerusalem. The minority Jewish people obtained the majority of the land.

The State of Israel was announced on May 14, 1948, but the Arab states declined the division of Palestine and the subsistence of Israel. The armies of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Egypt attacked but were overpowered by the Israeli army.

While the Jewish people were winning in creating their motherland, there was no Palestine and no internationalization of Jerusalem, either. In 1948 for example, Palestinians were driven out of the new Israel into immigrant camps in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and other regions. At least 750,000 people are said to have been driven out. Though, this feature is not usually stated by conventional media when reciting various past events.

In 1956, Britain, France, and Israel attacked the Sinai Peninsula after Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal as these declining empires were afraid of further loss of authority, this time of a major financial trading route entry point for the West to the rest of the Middle East. While Egypt was overpowered, worldwide heaviness forced their departure.

In 1967, Israel concurrently attacked Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in a “preventative wallop” against the Arab troops along its borders. Israel captured key pieces of land, such as the strategic Golan Heights to the north on the border with Syria, to the West Bank from Jordan, and to the Gaza strip from Egypt. Israel more than doubled its size in the six days that this war took place. Since then, concessions have been around recurring land to pre-1967 states, as necessary by global law and UN decisions.

In 1973, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur to attempt to regain their lost land but failed.

In 1978, the Camp David accords were signed among Israel, Egypt and the US, and Israel returned Sinai to Egypt in return for peace among them. To many in the Arab world, Egypt had sold out to US pressure. To the US and Israel, this was a great realization; Egypt was not to be undervalued in its opportunities, so the best thing would be to make sure it is an ally, not an adversary.

In 1978, due to increasing Hezbollah attacks from South Lebanon, where many Palestinian immigrants still were, Israel assaulted Lebanon. In 1982, Israel went as far up Lebanon as Beirut, as bloody swaps followed between Israeli attempts to bomb Yasser Arafat’s PLO positions, and Hezbollah reprisals. In 1985, Israel announced a strip of South Lebanon to be a Security Zone. Lots of civilians were killed on both sides. Israeli forces were accused of carnages in many instances. After 22 years, Israel withdrew in May 2000. One of the leading Israeli soldiers was the future Israel Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon.

Evolution of the conflict

In the late 1980s came the Palestinian rebellion—the Intifada. While there was much of a non-aggression movement originally, the mainstream mass media focused on aggression. Young Palestinians tackled Israeli forces with nothing more than slingshots and stones. Thousands were killed by the Israeli military. Lots of suicide campaigners killed Israeli soldiers and reasoned other damage. Many innocent inhabitants were killed on both sides.

1993 saw the Oslo Peace Accord, whereby Israel recognized the PLO and gave them restricted independence in return for peace and an end to Palestinian claims on Israeli territory. This has been largely condemned as a one-sided accord that advantages only Israel, not the Palestinian people. It resulted in Israeli control of land, water, roads, and other reserves.

In 1994, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip and Jericho, ending twenty-seven years of occupation. A Palestinian police force replaced them.

In 1995, then Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, who had been engaged in the recent peace processes, was murdered by a Jewish revolutionary.

In April 1996, Israeli troops bombarded Lebanon for 17 days, with Hezbollah retaliating by firing upon crowded areas of Northern Israel. Israel also shelled a UN asylum killing about 100 out of 800 civilians sheltering there. The UN claimed it was deliberate.

October 1998 saw the Wye River Memorandum outlining some Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank but Israel postponed it in January 1999 due to interior discrepancies on its completion.

Further efforts through to the beginning of 2000 were made at enduring the Wye River accord but kept contravention down due to Palestinian demonstrations of sustained new Israeli settlements.

In all this time then, the Palestinian populace has been without any nation and has had limited rights, while enduring from dearth. Israel continued to increase and expand its arrangements into occupied territories, giving up less and less land contrasted to what was assured. Lots of Palestinians (that are not Israeli Arabs since 1948) living in Israel do not have the right to vote or have limited rights while paying full taxes. For over 3 decades, the Palestinian people have been living under armed occupation.

The aggravation and unfairness of the treatment of Palestinians have irritated numerous citizens in the Arab world against US/Israeli policies. Palestinian aggravation has spilled into radicalism in some cases as well. Many militant groups from Palestine and other areas of the Middle East have therefore sprung up in recent years as well as past decades, performing acts of what the West and Israel explain as terrorism and what the groups themselves justify as freedom fighting (though achieving freedom through terrorist actions could arguably still be called terrorist organizations, despite claimed motives). Suicide bombings and past acts of terrorism have terrorized Israeli civilians, making peace harder and harder to imagine, yet it has been easy to influence and recruit the young, impressionable and angry into extremist causes. As violence continues, it seems that it will remain easy to find recruits to violent causes.

In 2002, Israel started construction of a large defensive security fence in the West Bank supposedly to stop terrorists from making their way into Israeli cities and settlements. While it mostly seems to have worked, those large fences have drawn international criticism for going quite far into Palestinian land, not Israeli land. Israel also continued controversial settlement programs in disputed areas.

In 2003, Israel stepped up its campaign against Hamas, the chief organizer behind the suicide attacks of recent years.

Arafat himself and his ruling Fatah party are also being seen increasingly as corrupt and ineffective by Palestinians themselves.

In the same year, the US (who, together with Israel refused to negotiate directly with the President, Yasser Arafat), backed Arafat’s selection for Palestinian Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas, and they all pushed for a road map peace plan towards a two-state solution. While Palestinian militants announced a ceasefire, Israel continued to assassinate militant leaders.

On the West Bank, the security fence construction continued, despite continuing protests. Israel’s high court demanded route changes. The International Criminal Court said the barrier was illegal, but Israel is not bound to it, so ignored it.

Turmoil within Palestine increased as Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad and others turned on each other, amid disputes on how to reform the security forces.

In November Arafat died of a mysterious blood disorder and Abbas became chairman of the PLO. Despite growing criticism of his leadership in recent years, the outpouring of sorrow and people coming to mourn his death is enormous.

Towards the end of 2005, Israel’s Prime Minister, Sharon, resigned from the right-wing Likud party, forming a more centrist Kadima party, that quickly gained popularity. Former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who recently lost the leadership of the left-wing Labour Party also joined Kadima, lending credence to the view that Sharon was distancing himself from the right-wing ideology of a Greater Israel, and more in favor of negotiated peace with the Palestinians (the Labour Party has long called for a two-party solution, but has been critical of the Jewish settlements in occupied territories).

Through the recent years, anger and frustration have mounted as the larger, but poorer Palestinian population also find themselves with the less pristine land. This has been further fuelled by Israeli bull-dozing of many homes and attempts to kill extremist leaders which often end in the death or capture of innocent civilians (including women and children). In addition, while Israel demanded that the ineffective Palestinian National Authority do something to crack down on suicide bombers and other terrorist elements within its territories, it continued bombing official buildings and compounds. This also increased the power, authority, and influence of more extreme groups such as Hamas that did not like the idea of peace with Israel — it wanted the destruction of the Jewish homeland.

The start of 2006 saw the more extreme Hamas organization gain power. Hamas has been listed by many countries as a terrorist organization, though others see it as an independence movement. However, its means are certainly terrorists, often employing suicide attacks on Israeli civilians.


An additional source of frustration for the Palestinian people is that the land that is being settled by Israelis is usually prime land, and hence the various peace negotiations usually leave Palestine with less usable land. Israel also thereby controls water sources. The non-contiguous land (Gaza and West Bank) and the Israeli control over the Palestinian movement also mean disconnection. This allows the possibility of providing cheap labor to Israel, so it is in their economic interest to pursue this type of division.


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  2. Finkelstein, N. G. (1995). Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict. London: Verso.
  3. Gidron, B., Katz, S. N., & Hasenfeld, Y. (Eds.). (2002). Mobilizing for Peace: Conflict Resolution in Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine, and South Africa. New York: Oxford University Press.
  4. Hajjar, L. (1997). Cause Lawyering in Transnational Perspective: National Conflict and Human Rights in Israel/Palestine. Law & Society Review, 31(3), 473-504.
  5. J.Akbar, M. (2002). The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict between Islam and Christianity. London: Routledge.
  6. Khatchadourian, H. (2000). The Quest for Peace between Israel and the Palestinians. New York: Peter Lang.
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