Term Paper: Israel and Palestine

Pages: 4 (1584 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: History - Israel  ·  Buy This Paper

Israel and Palestine

In order or answer the central question of this paper and to understand the present situation of a two - state solution to the Israeli - Palestinian conflict, it is firstly necessary to understand the origins and the genesis of the problem in the region.

As one commentator states, "The conflict between Palestine and Israel, between Arab and Jew, goes back a very long way - over a hundred years in its present form (and a lot longer, if you go back to Sarah, Hagar and Abraham)" (Reich D.) Therefore any attempt to discuss the viability and the actual functioning of a two - state solution must take account some of the most important aspects of this history.

Even a very brief overview of the history of the issue covers an extremely wide range of complex facets - all of which have an impact on present solutions. We could begin with the persecution of the Jews in Europe and the subsequent establishment of a Jewish state. While immigration of Jews to Palestine began in the nineteenth century, politically the origins of the present problems in the region begin with the Balfour Declaration. In 1927 the British Foreign Minister, Lord Arthur Balfour, issued a declaration of the British Empire's support for the establishment of "a Jewish national home in Palestine." (Shah, Anup)

This was followed by United Nations support in 1947 when "...Israel was established on 78% of the land of Palestine in 1948 and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians left and became refugees." (Asali Z.)

The important events of 1967 had a profound effect on the present situation when the West bank and Gaza were captured by the Israelis in the Six-Day War and the area is still under Israeli occupation.

These events were to lead to continuous disputes and allegations of transgression, occupation and terrorism form both sides. In reality the historical events have resulted in a situation in which more than three million Palestinians effectively live in state of siege and occupation. The core of the conflict can therefore be, albeit simplistically, described as "...the quest of the Palestinians for their freedom from this occupation and for establishing their own state.... "(Asali Z.)

In essence the various political events in the region over the past century have created two separate and opposing realities or "narratives." The first is the Israeli narrative of the horror of the Holocaust, coupled with claims to the Holy lands which are seen as being ordained by God to the Jewish people. This has resulted in the occupation of Palestine and the violence, demolition of houses etc.

More importantly it leads to what is perceived as the denial of Palestinian autonomy and a reduction of a sense of dignity and the very right to their narrative or political history.

In this context the Palestinian narrative is therefore one which revolves around "... dispossession by an alien, more powerful force with a bogus religious claim to the land. It is a tale of suffering from continued land-grab, dispossession, disinheritance, displacement coupled with powerlessness and with the virtual absence of an organized and effective military." (Asali Z.)

These events have been considerably exacerbated by the intervention and interference of other countries with their own vested interests. This is especially the case with regard to world powers like the United States, the United Kingdom, France and others. The interests of the United States are largely in the oil in the region and there has been a history of bias towards Israel. Internal politics in the United States have also played a role. For example, in the initial stages of the development of the Israeli state, President Truman clearly stated the importance of the appeasement the Jewish voters in America. "As he himself put it during a meeting with U.S. ambassadors to the Middle East, according to William a. Eddy, the ambassador to Saudi Arabia, "I'm sorry gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism: I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents." (Shah, Anup)

In the light of this history, the two - state solution to the problem can only succeed if certain general requisites are met. The first is the return of Palestinian self-rule, dignify and autonomy, as well as the return of the "stolen" land and other intrinsic rights. The second prerequisite from the Israeli perspective is the cessation of terrorist attacks and a sense of security in a hostile environment.

In summary the two - state solution refers to,

The formation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza which will peacefully coexist with the State of Israel -- each within secure and recognized borders....The 'two-state solution' supports the idea that like all other nations, the Jewish people -- as well as the Palestinians -- are entitled to self-determination in a sovereign state.

What is a Two State Solution?)

This solution was first formally accepted in the 1993 Oslo Accords. However the viability of the two state solutions has many critics. Even if this solution was implemented there would still be many obstacles that would need to be overcome - particularly in a political sense. For example, the historical situation has resulted in the economic dominance of Israel and the Palestinian dependence on Israel for many aspects that are necessary for its survival. This, it can be argued, is a direct result of the coercion and occupation which have prevented the Palestinians from flourishing and building up a normal society and economy. This aspect also has an impact on questions relating to the sense of national identity and pride within the Palestinian consciousness. Therefore, for this aspect to be successful there would have to be artificial measures introduced in order to balance out the disproportionate situation.

The central question that these issues raise is whether it would be possible, given the present dominance of Israel, for the Palestinian state to function as an autonomous and separate entity alongside Israel. Many of the critics of the two - state solution see it in a negative light and are of the opinion that the present status quo of dominance and subservience would be maintained and not necessarily reduced by a two - state solution; which in turn would lead to other problems and possible violence. They suggest a more intricate one - state solution.

There are of course many other factors that have to be considered in the two - state scenario. One of these is the perception that Israel is in fact extending its influence and territory, with little real intention of entering a state of compromise with the Palestinians. Another complication which adds even further texture to the political issues is that at present Palestinians livings in Israel do not have the right to vote, even though they pay taxes. (Shah, Anup)

In the final analysis, it is obvious to many commentators that the central problem with regards to the functionality of the two -state solution is one of trust. Even if a two - state solution is implemented the core problem of the perception of intentions would still remain. From the Palestinian perspective the recent construction of the "Apartheid wall" by Israel tends to compound this mistrust. As a result, extremism and act of violence have been the increasing response. "The frustration and injustice of the treatment of Palestinians has angered many citizens in the Arab world against U.S./Israeli policies. Palestinian frustration has spilled into extremism 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" (Shah, Anup)

The implementation of the two - stage solution, if it does not include many radical changes and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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