The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has a long history dating back to the late 19th century. The conflict has been in existence for all these years without an amicable resolution. The rise of Zionism and Arab Nationalism in the late 19th was the genesis of this conflict.
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The Jewish immigrants in Europe got fed up with the continual persecution of Jews and began thinking about relocating to their original land of Israel (Milton-Edwards, 2009). The intense desire to re-establish the Jewish nation by the Jewish population was sparked by the underlying beliefs of the Jewish religion with of them being repatriation to Zion.
Zionism gave rise to a political movement whose main objective was to establish a Jewish nation in Palestine (Milton-Edwards, 2009). The Jews needed the right to self-determination and this mission was the perfect way of achieving their long-term dream. This paper will extensively discuss the history of the Israeli-Palestinian war and the major players in the conflict.
The task of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine was a tall order and required the right strategies and adequate planning. To show their determination towards attaining their own state, the Jewish population around the world began forming organizations such as the Jewish National Fund and the World Zionist Organization.
These organizations raised funds for purchasing land in the Palestinian region during the British rule (Karsh, 2002). This action by the Jews did not go down well with the Arabs in Palestine and this gave rise to the Palestinian nationalism as reaction to the Jewish Zionism Movement.
The Jewish population around the world began migrating to the Palestine region and in the process brewing a conflict due to the desire for self-determination by both Jews and Palestinians (Karsh, 2002).
The Arab leaders in Palestine became concerned with the increased invasion of Jewish in their area. The Zionist Jews continued to buy more settlements under the Ottoman rule.
The tension between the two parties was further fuelled by the eviction of the fellaheen tenants. This eviction drew a lot complaint from the Palestinian population about their continual displacement from their settlements by the Jewish immigrants who were returning from the Diaspora (Kamrava, 2011).
Under intense pressure from the Palestinian population, the Ottoman Empire was forced to introduce land purchase regulations.Since most of the early Jewish immigrants were from Russia, the Ottoman empire being of the Russian origin had been very hospitable to them as it expected complete loyalty in return.
The Arabs in Palestine feared that immigrants form Russia and other parts of Europe would erode the Arabic culture and traditions in the region. The Palestinian population continued to protest against the Jewish invasion prompting the Ottoman authorities to ban land sales to Jewish immigrants in 1914.
The number of Jewish settlers in the Palestine region had significantly increased to 60,000 from 2700 within a span of twenty years (Kamrava, 2011). The major breakthrough for the Jewish population in Palestine came in 1917 when the British Empire was allocated the West Bank and the Jordan regions during the Belfour Declaration.
The declaration was a ray of hope for the Jewish nationalists but a major area of concern for the Arabs in Palestine. The Faisal-Weitzman Agreement was signed in 1919 calling for co-operation in the Middle East. The World Zionist Organization’s leader future president Chaim Weitzman led the Jewish delegation while the Arab delegation was led by King Faisal I who would be the future leader of Iraq (Harms, 2008).
The British Empire took control of the Middle East region officially in 1919 after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire from Turkey. The control of the Eastern region was handed over to the Hashemite Arab Dynasty from 1923 to 1946. The Jewish aspirations were seriously hampered during this period.
The anti-Semitic manifestations in Europe contributed to the increase in migration of Jews to the Palestinian region under the British Mandate in Palestine. Their relationship with Arabs became hostile in 1020s because the Palestinian population felt that their national identity and relationship with other Arabic countries were at risk (Harms, 2008).
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The British administration continued to favor the Jewish immigrants in many ways and in the process to the Arabic onslaught on the Jewish settlers in Palestine. The Palestinian Population that was against the perpetuation of Jewish policies in their land resolved to terrorism and violence in attempts of retaliation.
Mohammad Amin Al-Husayni was the leader of the Palestinian Arab Movement and was very instrumental in inciting the Palestinian Population to stage riots against the Jewish immigrants (Gelvin, 2007).
The Palestinian authorities were fighting to take control of the Western Wall in an attempt to reclaim what they termed as the sacred place for them. The Jaffa riots were as a result of the religious tension created by the fight over Kotel.
These tensions led to the killing of many Jewish immigrants around the region with those who managed to survive being expelled from Hebron. In 1937 there were some proposals made by the Pell Commission put in place the British Empire (Gelvin, 2007). Among some of the recommendations that would help end the conflict was the division of the Palestinian state into two states.
One state would be occupied by the Jewish Population whereas the other state would be occupied by the Arabic population. This suggestion was opposed by both sides with the Arab leadership ruling out any possibility of sharing land with the Jewish Immigrants. The British government was forced to restrict the number of immigrants to Palestine with the region remaining one state (Gelvin, 2007).
The tension between Arabs escalated during the Second World War that saw illegal immigration of more Jewish immigrants into the Palestinian region who were fleeing Europe at that time. The Yishuv leadership that was under the British administration was responsible for facilitatiting these illegal immigrations.
In 1939, the Zionism movement under the leadership of Ben-Gurion accepted the 1937 Peel Proposal as one of the steps of completely taking control of the Palestinian region (Cohn-Sherbok, 2003).
According to Ben-Gurion, the Jews would first of all accept the division but later think of expanding to the rest of Palestine of strengthening its forces. The Yishuv concentrated on shipping in more illegal Jewish immigrants during the Second World War.
The formation of the Jewish Resistance Movement in 1945 as away of opposing the British policies led to the death of many innocent civilians in the course of the Jewish onslaught on the British Military.
The British government had tried all the available diplomatic avenues to resolve the conflict but all in vain (Karsh, 2002). The newly formed United Nations Council was handed the Mandate of Palestine in a written form by the British Government.
The United Nations took over and immediately came up with new recommendations for conflict resolution in Palestine. To begin with, the region was to be split into three states.
The third state would comprise of Arabs and Jews in equal numbers as and the other two would comprise of majority Arabs and Jews respectively. The size of the area to be occupied would be decided by the resolution 181 of the United Nations (Karsh, 2002).
The third state referred to as the international zone would be under the control of the United Nations with Bethlehem and Jerusalem as the major cities in the state.
This suggestion was objected by Arab leaders were against the Jewish independence but this did not stop the UN General Assembly from implementing the plan. The voting for the partition plan took place in 1947 against the wish of all Arabic countries.
The partition plan was to take place immediately after the end of the British rule in 1948. In attempts of retaliation, the Arabs in Palestine declared war on the Jewish Immigrants after their efforts to reverse the decision through the International Court of Justice had failed (Alpher, 2009).
The following days saw fresh fighting and violence emerge with thousand of people being killed and wounded in the process. The state of Israel was officially declared in on May 14, 1947 immediately after the expiry of the British Mandate in the Palestinian region.
This declaration was made by David Ben-Gurion in accordance to Resolution 181 of the United Nations (Harms, 2008). The new state of Israel was supposed to ensure that all the rights of its inhabitants are protected irrespective religion or political affiliation.
The declaration of Israel as an independent state in 1948 sparked fresh violence with major Arabic countries combining their forces to fight the newly formed state of Israel.
Israel emerged victorious and got a perfect opportunity to expand its territory past the initially set boundaries. Almost all the regions were seized by Israel except the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
This led to the expulsion of Jews living in Arabic nations with almost 600,000 Jews returning to Israel by 1967. This war led to almost one million Palestinians being expelled from their settlements making them refugees in the southern part of Lebanon (Harms, 2008).
Those Arabs who remained in Israel were given Israeli citizenship. Attempts by the Palestinian refugees to take control of the West Bank and the Gaza strip led to the deportation of all Palestinians from Israel.
The Palestinian refugees were trained and funded by other Arabic countries in an attempt to reclaim the territory lost to Israel. This was followed by the establishment of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as a new strategy to reclaim their region.
Israel strengthened their onslaught and managed to capture the Gaza Strip and the West Bank from the Palestinian fighters that had the backing of the Egyptian Army.
By 1955, Israel had completely taken control of Jerusalem on the fact that Palestine was yet to be recognized as an independent state (Karsh, 2002). The Palestinians appeared to give up in the following decade but the election of Yasser Arafat as the new PLO leader rejuvenated the Palestinian forces to continue fighting Israel.
The struggle to control the West Bank intensified in 1969 with many Palestinians being killed. King Hussein, who was the then King of Jordan played a crucial role in trying to end the fighting between PLO and Jordan (Kamrava, 2011).
Thousands of Palestinians sought refuge in the Southern part of Lebanon after the Cairo Agreement in 1949. This new development led to a civil war in Lebanon since the Lebanese population was against the idea of the Palestinian refugees becoming autonomous in their country.
Having established a new base in Southern Lebanon, PLO had found a perfect opportunity to continue with its attacks on Israel under the leadership of Yasser Arafat. The Palestinian resistance was further strengthened by the formation of Hamas in 1947 by Ahmed Yassin (Kamrava, 2011).
The decision by Arafat to oppose the US-led coalition attacks on Iraq dealt a serious blow to PLO. The relationship between the self declared state of Palestine and other Arabic states that supported the US invasion of Iraq began to deteriorate.
After the Gulf war in 1991, the US in coordination with Russia started fresh diplomatic initiatives to end the Israel-Palestine conflict by sponsoring the Madrid Peace Conference (Gelvin, 2007).
The negotiations continued in Oslo, Norway and culminated in the declaration of a ceasefire by Yasser Arafat through a letter sent to the Yitzhak Rabin who was the Israeli Prime Minister at that time.
This deal was officially sealed in Washington, D.C with PLO recognizing Israel as and independent state. Many concessions were made by both parties during the Oslo peace process but the control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank still remained the bone of contention.
The Hamas opposed the recognition of Israel as an independent state vowed to continue with the armed struggle (Harms, 2008). The Hamas intensified its attack on Israel and managed to reclaim some of its lost territory.
Many Jewish radicals were angered by the new development and one of them was prompted to assassinate Prime Minister Rabin in November, 4, 1995. After the death of Rabin, Simon Peres took over and promised to continue with the peace process.
Benjamin Netanyahu emerged victorious in the 1996 elections after promising to have a more rigid stand opposed to the Oslo process. Netanyahu was opposed to making any concession because he thought that would encourage more extremist elements. 1996 and 1997 saw a series of attacks from both sides resulting in the assassination of Yahya Ayyash by the Israeli forces (Harms, 2008).
The activities of Hamas were seriously paralyzed because Yahya was their chief bomb maker. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saw the signing of the Interim Agreement of 1998 before the election of Ehud Barak as the new Prime Minister in 1999.
Barak promised to continue with the peace initiatives started by Rabin. He was even ready to handover the entire Gaza strip to the Palestinian Authorities but Arafat blatantly refused the offer.
The second Infidata began in 2000 with Israel developing a new strategy of selective assassinations (Alpher, 2009). Ariel Sharon came into power in 2002 and launched the operation defensive shield that reduced the Palestinian attacks on Israel.
The Hamas has been strengthened since 2005 to date especially after the death of Arafat. The fight over Gaza continues with both sides determined to control the region (Alpher, 2009).
In conclusion, the Israel-Palestine conflict is here to stay despite the many attempts made by the UN and the international community to bring the conflict to an end. A lot of damage has been done to the Palestinian people and it is the responsibility of Israel to make the necessary amendment to restore peace in the region.
Alpher, Y. (2009). Future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Critical trends affecting Israel. New York, NY: DIANE Publishing.
Cohn-Sherbok, D. (2003). The Palestine –Israeli conflict: The beginner’s guide. New York, NY: Oneworld.
Gelvin, J. L. (2007). The Israel-Palestine conflict: One hundred years of war. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Harms, G. (2008). The Palestine-Israel conflict: A basic introduction. New York, NY: Pluto Press.
Kamrava, M. (2011). The modern Middle East: A political history since the First World War. New York, NY: University of California Press.
Karsh, E. (2002). The Arab-Israeli conflict: The Palestinian war 1948. New York, NY: Osprey Publishing.
Milton-Edwards, B. (2009). The Israeli-Palestinian conflict: A people’s war. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.