The conflict between Israel and Palestine often referred to as the 'most intractable conflict in the world', is rooted in a dispute over land claimed by Jews as their biblical birthright and by Palestinians seeking self-determination. Palestinian self-determination refers to aspirations by some Palestinians and Palestinian nationalists for increased autonomy and sovereign independence as well as to the international right of self-determination applied to Palestine.
TRACING THE HISTORY OF ISRAEL PALESTINE CONFLICT:
- Because of their religious beliefs and foreign culture, Jews have been persecuted throughout history.
- In 1897, Jews started a movement called the Zionist movement to escape persecution and establish their own state in their ancestral homeland, Israel. To advocate the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, the World Zionist Organisation was created.
- As a result, a large number of Jews began to flow into Palestine, bought land, and began to settle there.
- After the Sykes-Picot Agreement (a secret agreement between Great Britain and France), Palestine came under British control in 1916. This resulted in the division of the old Turkish Ottoman Empire.
- The British foreign secretary, James Balfour, later agreed to the establishment of a Jewish homeland through Balfour's declaration.
- The influx of Jews to Palestine took a major turn after the Nazis gained power in Germany in the 1930s, with hundreds of thousands of them relocating to Palestine from Europe. This was seen by the Arabs as a threat to their homeland and they fought with them bitterly. The violence reached its peak as the British Government remained as a mute viewer.
- The British Government referred the question of Palestine's future to the United Nations in 1947. The UN voted for the division of the land into two countries. The Jewish people have accepted the agreement and have declared Israel independent.
- The Jewish declaration of Israel's independence in 1948 prompted an assault on Arab states. Israel controlled about 50 percent more territory at the end of the war than the UN partition plan initially envisioned. Jordan get control over the West Bank and the holy sites of Jerusalem, and Egypt get control over the Gaza Strip.
1964: Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) founded
1967: Israeli forces seize the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank & East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Sinai Peninsula & Gaza strip from Egypt in the Six-day Arab-Israeli War. In 1975, the United Nations granted PLO observer status and recognized the right of the Palestinians to self-determination.
The U.S.-brokered "Framework for Peace in the Middle East" Camp David Accords (1978) set the stage for peace talks between Israel and its neighbours and a solution to the "Palestinian problem." This has remained unfulfilled, however.
1981: Israel effectively annexes the Golan, but neither the United States nor the international community recognizes this.
1987: Founding of Hamas, a violent offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt "to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine."
1987: Tensions reached a boiling point in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza, which led to the First Intifada (Palestinian Uprising). It grew into a small war between the Israeli army and Palestinian militants.
1988: Jordan cedes all the territorial claims of the country in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem to the PLO.
1993: Israel and the PLO agree under the Oslo Accords, to officially recognize one another and renounce the use of violence. The Palestinian Authority was also established by the Oslo Accords and received limited autonomy in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.
2005: Israel starts unilaterally withdrawing Jews from the Gaza settlements however Israel retained tight control over all border crossings.
2006: Victory for Hamas in the Palestinian Authority elections. The vote leaves the Palestinian house divided between the Fatah movement, represented by President Mahmoud Abbas, and the cabinet and parliamentary control of Hamas.
2007: Palestinian Movement Splits after several months of joint Fatah-Hamas government formation. Fatah is being driven from Gaza by Hamas militants. In Ramallah (West Bank), the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, appoints a new government that is quickly recognized by the United States and the European Union. Gaza remains Hamas-controlled.
2012- The UN upgrades Palestinian representation to "non-member observer state".
2014- Israel responded to the abduction and murder of three West Bank Jewish teenagers by arresting numerous members of Hamas. Militants respond by firing rockets from Gaza. Clashes end in an uneasy ceasefire brokered by Egypt.
2014- A unity government is formed by Fatah and Hamas, though distrust remains between the two factions.
UNDERSTANDING THE TERRITORIAL CONFLICT:
West Bank: Sandwiched between Israel and Jordan. Ramallah, Palestine's de facto administrative capital, is one of its major cities. In the 1967 war, Israel took control of it and has established settlements there over the years.
Gaza: The Gaza Strip is located between Egypt and Israel. After 1967, Israel occupied the strip, but during the Oslo peace process, it relinquished control of Gaza City and the day-to-day administration of most of the territory. Israel removed Jewish settlements unilaterally from the territory in 2005, although it continues to control international access to it.
Golan Heights: The Golan Heights is a strategic plateau captured in the 1967 war by Israel from Syria. In 1981, Israel annexed the territory effectively. Jerusalem and the Golan Heights have recently been officially recognized as part of Israel by the USA.
Fatah- Founded in the 1950s by the late Yasir Arafat, Fatah is the largest political faction in Palestine. Unlike Hamas, Fatah has been a secular movement, has recognized Israel nominally, and has been actively involved in the peace process.
Hamas- Hamas is regarded by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization. In 2006, Hamas won legislative elections in the Palestinian Authority. In 2007, it ejected Fatah from Gaza, geographically dividing the Palestinian movement as well.
WHAT IS THE TWO-STATE SOLUTION?
- The best solution is a "two-state solution" that would establish Palestine in Gaza and most of the West Bank as an independent state, leaving Israel with the remainder of the land. In theory, although the two-state plan is clear, the two sides are still profoundly divided on how to make it work in practice.
- There is no viable option for a single state solution (only Palestine or only Israel).
- Road Map for Peace: In 2003, the European Union, the United Nations, the United States, and Russia published a road map outlining a clear timetable for a Palestinian state.
- It is necessary to democratize the Palestinian society through which new credible leadership can emerge.
- This conflict needs to be treated as an Israeli-Arab conflict rather than an Israeli-Palestinian one. The conflict is not only between Israel and Palestine, as we have seen, but also with other Arab countries, such as Egypt, Jordan, Iran, Syria, etc. All of them should participate in the negotiations, and each of them, along with the UN General Assembly and the Security Council, should formally recognize the final agreement.
WHAT IS INDIA’S STAND IN THIS CONFLICT?
- In November 1947, India was one of the few countries to oppose the UN partition plan, echoing its own experience of independence a few months earlier. The Indian political leadership actively supported the Palestinian cause in the decades that followed and withheld full diplomatic relations with Israel.
- In 1950, India recognized Israel, but it was also the first non-Arab nation to recognize the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole Palestinian representative. India was also one of the first countries to recognize Palestine's statehood in 1988.
- In 2014, India supported the UNHRC's resolution to investigate Israel's violations of human rights in Gaza. India abstained from voting against Israel in UNHRC IN 2015 despite of supporting probe.
- India has de-hyphenated its relationship with Israel and Palestine as part of the Link West Policy in 2018 to treat both countries as mutually independent and exclusive.
- In June 2019, India voted in favour of a UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) decision by Israel that opposed the granting of consultative status to a Palestinian non-governmental organization.
- India has so far sought to preserve the image of its historic moral supporter of Palestinian self-determination, while at the same time engaging in the military, economic, and other strategic relations with Israel.