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Israel Palestine Conflict: A Brief History

How Zionism Led To The Persecution Of Palestinians

By Usman TorwaliPublished 2 years ago 7 min read
Map of Israel and Palestinian territories

Towards the end of the eighteenth century, Jews endured surviving the atrocities in Europe. Anti-Semitism and persecution at the hands of Europeans led them to immigrate biblical promised the "Holy Land". This led to Zionism coupled with the Jewish thought of a return to Zion as part of their religion contributed a lot to the establishment of Israel. During the years Arab national movements were already on their way to revolt against the ottoman empire. The establishment of the Arab nation-state and the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be attributed, by and large, to the instability of European geopolitics and the role played by the British empire in middle east politics.

In the first half of the twentieth century, the Jewish lived in central and eastern Europe. A plethora of Jews were in America whereas a very small number of Jews lived in the middle east. Palestine at that time was part of the ottoman empire. During the world war I Arabs were convinced by the British empire that they would be supported in revolt against the ottoman empire and in emerging as a nation-state, including Palestine. Yet, in contradiction to that the British foreign minister, Lord Arthur Balfour announced the Jewish national state in Palestine to get the support of Jews—this announcement is known as the Balfour declaration. With this Jewish people begin to immigrate to Palestine. Large riots took place in the region between the residents- predominantly Arabs- and the immigrated Jewish, many were massacred. To control the socio-political damage of the large-scale immigration of Jews the British empire restricted immigration by setting up a quota. These restrictions also abstained Jews from buying the lands of Arabs. During world war II, to escape the atrocities in Europe Yishuv, a group of Jews, however, arranged illegal migration of Jews to the Holy land and about 70,000 European Jews were migrated to Palestine.

The British empire mandate on Palestine terminated in 1947 but before that the newly formed United Nations overwhelmingly supported the partition of Palestine into separate Arab and Israel states. The Jews would get 57 percent whereas the residents of Palestine 43 percent of the land, even though the Jews constituted less than one-third of the total population. The US president Henry Truman threw his support to the establishment of Israel although the Truman administration didn't support this move. This is believed as keeping low the Jews' immigration to the US. Notwithstanding, the declaration of independence of the Israeli state resulted in a full-scale war -Arab Israeli war 1948. Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq however failed, and Israel further annexed some territories beyond the partition boundaries. The Palestinians elite feared the persecution of Israel fled to neighboring countries followed by the huge immigration of general masses. The Gaza strip and west bank were occupied by Egypt. The eastern Jerusalem annexed by Jordan and the West Jerusalem was administered by Israel. The west bank in 1950 was incorporated into Jordan.

Escalation in the Israel-Palestine conflict

The situation again escalated to war on June 5, 1967, a preemptive strike from Israel led to a seven-day war. The map was again redrawn as the Israel annexed Gaza strip, Golan Heights, Sinai, and West Bank. The defeat of the Arab forces left no hope for the Palestinians. During the time Fatah and the Palestinian liberation front emerged as the major representatives of the Palestinians. The PLO would use arms at every front. The situation between Jordan and Palestine deteriorated and led to a bloody armed war between Jordan and Palestinian which took thousands of lives. The PLO was expelled to Lebanon wherein they staged themselves and started attacking Israel, mostly on the civilian population to highlight the Palestinian cause in the international community. In 1978 Israel and Egypt signed the US-brokered Camp David accords. The treaty strengthened the Israeli position as the first major Arab country Egypt recognized Israel. However, this recognition resulted in the assassination of Egyptian president Sadat Anwar.

By Raimond Klavins on Unsplash

In 1993 Israel and Palestine liberation organization signed an accord. Yitzhak Rabin the then prime minister of Israel viewed PLO as an organization working for the freedom of its people. Israel demanded of its right to exist and renounce terrorism from PLO. The Oslo peace process also accorded autonomous government authority of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza strip. The Palestinians were ceded police force, legislature, and other governmental institutions. In return, the PLO was asked to promote tolerance in the Palestinian society towards Israel. Throughout the 1990s the peace process continued and so many concessions were made. For the first time in 1994 Palestine government was established -the Palestine National Authority. The regions of the entire territory were divided in A, B, and C zones. Rabin and PLO chairman, Yasir Arafat were awarded a noble peace prize award for their peacemaking efforts. However, Rabin was assassinated in 1995 by a right-wing radical Jewish. He was followed by Shimon Peres who continued the peace process. Nevertheless, the situation went downhill when the Likud party won the election and Benjamin Netanyahu became Prime minister. He doubted and withdrawn most of the concessions made by the previous government. In addition, in the late 1980s Palestinians viewed PLO as a secular organization and that Jewish need to be exterminated from the region. Owing to the liberal outlook of PLO a group of Palestinians gathered and formed Hamas. Hamas carried some violent actions in 1996 resulting in the polarization of both Palestinians and Jews.

Later, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PLO chairman Yasir Arafat held talks in 2000 known as Camp David 2000, to settle the issues left in Oslo peace process. Israel offered the Gaza strip, a large part of the west bank, and extra land from the Negev desert while the Palestinians wanted to go back to the 1967 war lines and return the right of the refugees. Thus, nothing was gained, and the second intifada erupted many People were killed on both sides. Hamas which previously had boycotted the 1994 elections, won the 2006 elections. It defeated Fatah and PLO. A war erupted between these two parties known as the battle of Gaza. As a result, Gaza strip was controlled by Hamas. PLO and Fatah controlled West Bank. These two parties are non-violent and want to democratically rule over the West Bank.

Israel and Palestine Current Situation

Now the conflict is on the eastern Jerusalem dominated by the Palestinians and occupied by Israel. The Palestinians claim that eastern Jerusalem belongs to them whereas Israel is reluctant of acceding it to Palestine. Many Palestinian families are forcefully evicted from eastern Jerusalem. In addition, Palestinians in Shaikh Jarrah -a neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem- are currently forced to leave their homes. There were rallies of the Jews chanting "Death to Arabs". At 10 may Israel police entered the al Aqsa mosque fired rubber bullets and stun grenades. Hamas which claims as representative of the Palestinians warned Israel to withdraw its forces from the mosque and the same day launched rockets at Israel. Israel also retaliated with airstrikes. The strikes from both sides took many lives and is continued.

On both sides, there are extremists and right-wing radicals who want to exterminate the other side. when for the first time Israel was recognized by a major Arabian country Egypt. The Egyptian president Sadat was assassinated. The same tragedy happened to Israel's prime minister when he gave concessions to PLO and agreed to establish Palestinian national authority in 1994. The right-wing Likud party's colonization in the west bank is also deemed as a uniliteral violent action in the 1960s. Currently, the forceful expatriation of many Palestinians from eastern Jerusalem is also an extremist approach escalating the situation. Gaza strip an open-air prison is being deteriorated by the international community through blockades and Israeli military operations. Most of the rockets and bombs are dropped on the civilians. International humanitarian law views it as illegal and fueling tensions. United Nations Office of the High commissioner for human rights said law enforced by Israel is inherently discriminatory and prohibited under international humanitarian law. The internal politics of Israel is also unstable as Benjamin Netanyahu who has dominated internal politics for a generation is on trial for fraud. No one knows anything about the future of Palestine as the entrenched settlements in the west bank has made the creation of a separate land for Palestine impossible. The Israeli-Palestine conflict shall continue and will take numerous lives on both sides if the international community couldn’t step in and tried to resolve the issue.


About the Creator

Usman Torwali


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