Term Paper: Palestine and the Gaza Strip

Pages: 6 (1908 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: History - Israel  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … ownership of a property in this modern day and age. That is the reason for title searches. When obtaining a mortgage, a homebuyer pays to ensure that there is a title for the land. This process becomes very difficult -- actually impossible -- if going back thousands of years into pre-history without written records and when one group of people has displaced another, yet another. It becomes even more complex when emotions, politics and territoriality get involved. That, in short, is the story of the Gaza Strip in Palestine.

The Jewish people ruled Palestine prior to the Christian Era and the reign of King Herod the Great of Nazareth. Titus of Rome then seized Jerusalem, and Palestine became the focus of Christian pilgrimages. In 638 A.D., Arab conquests began 1300 years of Muslim presence. However, Palestine was soon neglected as Baghdad became the seat of power (Columbia Encyclopedia).

In 1517, the Ottoman Turks took over Palestine and ruled until 1917. They divided the country into several districts including Jerusalem. Administration of the districts was placed mostly in the hands of Arab Palestinians, but the Christians and Jewish communities enjoyed relative autonomy (Columbia Encyclopedia).

In 1906, the Zionist Congress decided that the Jewish homeland should be in Palestine. When World War I broke out in 1914, Great Britain promised the native Arabs Palestine in return of their support against Turkey, who supported Germany. The Arabs followed through by helping the British capture Palestine. In 1916, Britain and France signed the Sykes-Picot Agreement, dividing the Arab region into zones of influence: Lebanon and Syria were assigned to France; Jordan and Iraq were to be administered by Britain; and Palestine was to be internationalized. A year later, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration, which promised the establishment of a new home for the Jewish people in Palestine. When the Jews began to migrate to Palestine after the war, the indigenous Arabs protested (Columbia Encyclopedia).

About 20 years later, a commission concluded that the situation in Palestine was not working. The Arabs and Jews, both recognizing this land as theirs, were not cooperating. The United Nations recommended the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a neutral sacred-site state directed by the British Government (Columbia Encyclopedia).

In the spring of 1948, all came to a head. Britain moved out in order to make room for a Jewish state. Egypt joined the Arab countries of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq as well as the Palestinians to fight against the United Nations proclamation. The Arabs failed in their opposition, and Israel received its homeland. Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip and Jordan, the West Bank. Only a handful of the 800,000 Arabs stayed in Palestine. The others became refugees in the other Arab nations (Columbia Encyclopedia).

Peace was shortlived, if at all. In 1956, Israel declared war when Egypt refused to allow its ships to use the Suez Canal. The Israelis were successfully joined by Great Britain and France. Another decade went by, and this time Egypt refused to keep the UN Emergency Force within its borders. Another war ended after six days, and Israel took control of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Golan Heights. The Arab Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which had been formed a couple of years before, intensified its violence (Columbia Encyclopedia).

For the next three decades, violence and war continued. Finally, peace talks began in 1991 amidst bombings and assassinations. The Israelis and Palestinians signed the Geneva Accord in 2003, which would dismantle Israeli power in the Gaza and Left Bank. The Palestinians would recognize the Israeli state and get 97.5% of all land occupied by Israel in the 1967 war (Columbia Encyclopedia).

There is a team activity done in schools and companies today that reflects what has happened over the past centuries in Palestine. Everyone joins hands in a circle and then wanders in and out of each other's raised arms. After ending up as a jumbled tied-up knot, the object is to go back to the circle without breaking the connection of the joined hands. The history of the people involved with the Gaza strip is this jumbled. Will the circle ever be without knots or unbroken?

This year, the Israelis pulled out of the Gaza Strip. Approximately 9,000 Jewish settlers left the area in a rage. The Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas stated that "Today is a day of joy and happiness that our people were deprived of in the past century." However, he noted that the Palestinians still have a long path toward statehood and denounced Israeli rule in Gaza as "aggression, injustice, humiliation, killing and settlement activity." TheGaza Strip still remained "one large prison" despite the absence of Israeli soldiers. "What we need is an independent viable Palestinian state, territorially integrated." (Sukhtian 1b)

What next? No one yet knows what will become of the Palestinians now that the land is vacated. The economies of Palestine and Israel have been intricately connected. The former does not even have its own monetary unit. Some Israeli specialists foresee a serious aggravation of the situation in the Gaza Strip after the upcoming elections as the Hamas activists gain power. However, the international community, especially the United States is not likely to let Hamas this happen. (Pravda Ru).

A number of suggestions have been made on how to turn the tide and move forward on a positive note. Rabbi Michael Lerner, co-founder and editor of "Tikkun Magazine" and co-chair of the Tikkun Community, an international organization committed to reconciliation, sees the Geneva Accord as a ray of hope. Yet the implementation cannot follow models of the past where the emphasis was placed on politics rather than "a real contribution to healing our planet" (127). He notes that peace is a spiritual process that requires not only formal agreements but a change in consciousness where human beings see themselves as fundamentally interconnected. Such an approach is critical for Jews, Christians and Muslims to understand, since religious beliefs and cultural identities have long divided them.

Lerner suggests that steps be taken such as: delivering food and medical supplies to the Palestinian refugees; building Israeli/Muslim friendships; learning about each other's culture and traditions; and, most important, recognizing that each side has its legitimate story to tell, and both sides have been insensitive and cruel and must make amends.

In Engagement through Disengagement, David Makovsky, a senior fellow and director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute, discusses how successful disengagement can reaffirm faith in peacemaking by encouraging Palestinian moderates and breaking down Israel barriers. Improving Gaza's economic prospects, he says, is one of the most important moves that can be made. A Palestinian Gaza cannot succeed unless it defeats its economic crisis. This crisis has been "a terrible burden to ordinary Palestinians, but a boon to Hamas" (54).

Clearly, Makovsky notes, disengagement alone will not solve the Gaza's economic problems. Gaza would certainly benefit from economic integration with a larger market such as Israel. Once the Strip is secure and stable, additional export markets could be opened and a reliable commercial link to the West Bank established. Plus, Israel could consider granting entry to greater number of Gaza and West Bank workers (55).

Naturally, it is not expected that this would be a reality in the short-term. It is hoped, however, that in the longer run, economic prosperity can be encouraged through 1) a reduction of corruption. This furthers competition and facilitates investment; 2) job creation. In the 1990s, approximately 125,000 Palestinians worked in Israel. This greatly improved the economy. However, the rise of bombings initiated closures; 3) building Gaza's infrastructure. This has been greatly ignored in recent years. Money from donor nations is imperative; 4) rebuilding of houses. In the past, the emphasis has been placed on refugee camps; 5) industrial parks. This would perhaps include what is called a "Qualifying Industrial Zone" that has been successful in Jordan since 1994; 6) vocational training. This is useful for building skills and trades; 7) welfare assistance and 8) trade facilitation. Exporting manufactured and agricultural goods could significantly boost economic growth (55-66).

Cheryl Rubenberg, an independent analyst and former associate professor of political science at Florida International University, looked at the Oslo Accords to determine what could be different for the Palestinians in the future. She believes that although "globalization" sometimes has a negative connotation due to U.S. And other Western exploitation, perhaps this world expansion of information will impact transnational human rights organizations, international solidarity movements and the like to support the plight of the Palestinians. "It is my belief," she says, "that the potential inherent in such movement can and will have an important impact on global politics, including the question of Palestine, in the coming years" (411).

Rubenberg names several grassroots groups that could be effective in this cause. For example, she mentions the North American office of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) that was begun in the 1960s to support African-American [END OF PREVIEW]

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