This article critically analyses the Israel-Palestine conflict in different aspects and will provide you with detailed information that will be very useful for UPSC exams preparation. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict began only after The First War. During the First World War, which started in 1914, Palestine was under the control of the Ottoman empire. The First World War was between the allied powers and the central powers.
During the First World War, the British made a treaty that the Jewish community through the Balfour declaration of 1917 will have to give their homeland in Palestine, and in return for this, the British wanted Jews’ support against the Central power and Ottoman Empire. As Jews supported Britain in the First World War, conflict arose between Israel and Palestine. If we want to understand today’s crisis properly, we need to know the history of the Israel and Palestine people. Let us know the detailed history of the two countries.
Index of content
- How did the conflict between Israel and Palestine begin?
- New political movement in 1896
- Why did they choose the Palestinian area?
- Britain and its agreement with other countries
- Rise of Nationalist Movements
- 1947 UN partition plan
- First Arab Israeli war in 1948
- Second Arab Israeli War
- Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
- Egypt Assassinated Anwar Sadat
- Israel PLO accords (1993)
- West Bank is divided into three regions
- The assassination of Israel’s Prime Minister
- Hamas group
- Battle of Gaza
- India’s stand
How did the conflict between Israel and Palestine begin?
The conflict between Israel and Palestine began thousand years ago. There is a controversy that Jesus Christ was born in a Jewish family and the Christians believed that Jews wanted to crucify Jesus Christ. This is a belief from an ideology that remained among the Christians for centuries together. The Christians killed the Jews in large numbers and this massive crusade was believed to happen before thousand years. There were many rumors against the Jews stating that the Jews drank the blood of Christian children, or that they use the blood for religious rituals. Because of such rumors, there was a rampant hatred against the Jews.
After the 1800s, the hatred towards the Jews began to grow and this was not only due to religious reasons but also because the Jews were thought to belong to a different ethnic group. Due to all these reasons that existed till the late 1800s, Jews who lived around the world began to feel that no country would accept them as their own. At last, the Jews decided to create their own country so that they can live peacefully without any hatred and fear.
New Political Movement in 1896
To create the Jewish country, Theodor Herzl, an Austro-Hungarian journalist, started a new political movement in his 1896 pamphlet. He said that the Jews should get a separate country. Since the 1870s, several organizations were calling themselves Lovers of Zion and they were already propagating this idea. Because of these reasons, in 1881, the first large-scale migration of Jews was seen in the Palestinian area. Jews built many permanent settlements in that area and started living there.
Why did they choose the Palestinian area?
The Jews consider Jerusalem in Palestine as a holy place and naturally they wanted to settle near the holy land. But the entire Jerusalem completely belonged to Palestine, under the control of the Ottoman empire.
Under the control of the Ottoman Empire, Christians, Muslims, and Jews lived together peacefully without any major conflict between them. Apart from this, most of the land remained unoccupied since there were very few settlements on the land. The population in the land was also very little. Now let us fast forward to the year 1915.
Britain and its Agreement with Other Countries
During World War 1, the British, the French, and the Arab revolutionaries were fighting for the Ottoman Empire. British played a very clever game here. They made a deal with the Arab revolutionaries ( (Britain – Arab McMahon-Hussain correspondence) that in exchange for their support in defeating the Ottoman Empire, the British will surrender the Palestinian area to the Arabs. The Arab revolutionaries were fighting to create one unified Arab country that ranges countries from Syria to Yemen. The British promised the same thing to the Jews (Britain-Jews Balfour declaration) saying that they would help them in creating a new Jewish country near Palestine.
The British adopted this strategy to appease the American Jews so that they could gain their influence on American politics too. But in reality, the British had made a secret deal (Britain-France Sykes-Picot Agreement) with the French also. And according to that, as soon as the Ottoman Empire fell after World War 1, Britain and France decided to divide the Middle East area among themselves, and the British took complete control over the Palestine region.
On October 31, 1917, British forces conquered Palestine from the Ottoman – Turks ending 1400 years of Islamic rule over the region. Before the British control in Palestine, Jews made up around 6 percent of the total population. But British took over the control of the Palestinian region and from 1918 to 1948, the entire Palestine area was under the control of the British government.
Rise of Nationalist Movements
At the same time in Germany, Hitler got political power, and Jews were massacred in millions in genocide. Hitler had enormous control over entire Europe, hence Jews had to escape to different countries in order to save themselves. Some became refugees in America, but many of those Jews went to Palestine. Initially, Britain allowed them to enter Palestine, but later they started stopping them from coming into Palestine. Due to these reasons, an Israel Nationalist movement started in Palestine. At the same time around the 1940s, the Palestine Nationalist movement had also begun where the Palestine people demanded to have their own country.
In 1948, the British government realized that they cannot remain there longer. They retreated from the country leaving the Jews and Palestinians to decide among themselves and form their own respective countries within the area of Palestine.
1947 UN partition plan
Following the end of World War II, the newly formed United Nations proposed a plan where Palestine would be divided among Jews and the Palestinians. According to the plan, 55% of Palestine’s land had to be given to form a Jewish state and 45% to a non-contiguous Arab one. As a result, 45% of the region was allotted to the Arab state and 55 percentage of the region was allotted to the Jewish state. Jerusalem was a historic place that was important for all three religions, Christianity, Islam, and Jewish, hence it was placed under international control, but this plan was never implemented on the ground.
First Arab Israeli war in 1948
According to the UN partition, a new country was formed and it was named Israel. But the neighboring Arab countries were displeased with this arrangement as they believed it as a continuation of British colonialism. Hence, they waged a war against Israel as they did not want Jews to capture any more land. At the end of the war in 1949, Israel turned victorious and captured a major portion of the Palestine area including West Jerusalem. As a result, more than 7 lakh Palestinians had to leave their homes and became refugees in Arab countries. This is named as 1948 Palestinian Exodus.
Second Arab-Israeli War
After this, in 1967, the second Arab-Israeli war took place. In the second war that happened for six days, the Arab-Israeli war, Israel won the war. Due to the victory gained in the war, Israel not only occupied the Gaza strip and the west bank area but also captured a large Egyptian peninsular. But Palestinians wanted their own country and for this reason, in 1964, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded.
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
Initially, the Palestinians aimed to implement armed struggle like using weapons to get their own country. Along with this, they also desired that Israel should cease to exist. Because of this, the USA and Israel declared that PLO as a terrorist organization. But PLO can be considered as revolutionaries who want freedom for their country.
In 1973, the third Arab-Israeli War began. In 1974, PLO was recognized by the United Nations General Assembly and Arab League as the representative of the Palestinians. In 1979 the peace talk between Egypt and Israel were also successful and Egypt became the first Arab country to recognize Israel as a country. After this peace talk, the entire Egyptian peninsular captured by Israel was returned back to Egypt.
Egypt assassinated Anwar Sadat
Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israel Prime minister Menachem Begin were awarded the Nobel peace prize for their successful peace treaty and for their attempt to maintain peace between the two countries. But unfortunately, on 6th October 1981 (after two years of the peace treaty) right-wing extremists in Egypt assassinated Anwar Sadat in Cairo. The extremists wanted to kill him because he reached a compromise with the country that was responsible for the evacuation of thousands of Palestinians from their country.
During the period between 1967 and 1980, Israel started establishing their colonies in the West Bank. Since 1967, more than 250 Israel settlements and outposts have been established across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law. Over 6,20,000 Israel settlers live in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. They started building settlements and so Israel settlements started cropping up in the west bank area. The international community deemed that these settlements were illegal since they had gone against the United Nations partition plan. The Palestinians saw these settlements as a form of colonization since Israel had occupied their country.
In 1992, Israel’s new Prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, said that PLO was not a terrorist organization because they struggled for the establishment of their country. He also advocated that Israel must allow them to have their own country and thus PLO was recognized as an organization by Israel and in return, PLO recognized Israel as a country.
Israel PLO accords (1993)
As Prime Minister Rabin, put a freeze on the new Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, his government undertook secret negotiation with the PLO in such a way, that Israel recognized the PLO and agreed to gradually implement the limited self-rule for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza strip. As part of the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian National Authority was established and it declared Palestine as an autonomous region of the West Bank and Gaza strip in 1994.
West Bank is Divided into Three Regions
Israel had already established permanent settlements in many of the West Bank areas which were supported by the Israeli government and the Palestinians were living in very little area. Hence there came a need to divide the West Bank area into three parts so that Palestinians could also find their own settlements. The region was divided into three parts: Part A, Part B, and Part C. Part A would be under the complete control of Palestine, Part C would be under the complete authority of Israel and Part B would be under the partial control of both Israel and Palestine. This way Palestinians were able to get a part of the land for themselves from the West Bank region and Gaza strip.
The assassination of Israel’s Prime Minister
This deal agreed upon by the two countries was different from the partition plan proposed by the United Nations. But Israel and Palestine had become close enough to find a peaceful solution for their conflict. In 1994 the president of Palestinian authority Yasser Arafat and the Prime minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But the situation went out of hand when Israel’s Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated by the extreme right-wing Jewish people. These extremist Jewish did not want to compromise with the Palestinians as they wanted the entire Palestine area under the control of Israel. Around 5 to 6 years before this incident, in 1987, some Islamic fanatics in Palestine came together to form the Hamas group.
Hamas group claimed that the PLO is being too secular and compromising a lot with Israel. But in reality, they want to erase Israel from the maps. So they formed a new organization to fight for the eradication of Israel. This is how the Hamas group formed. When the peace treaty was signed around 1994 between Palestine and Israel, the Jewish phonetic started hating their Prime minister and on the other hand, the HAMAS group started hurting the PLO. It was all because they had reached a compromise with Israel. Not only did the Hamas group boycott the 1996 Palestinian election but they also carried out suicide bombings in Israel. Because of these on both sides, the dominance of the extreme right-wing groups started rising.
As a result, people on both sides of Israel and Palestine started hating each other. Around 2002, violent protests were seen on both sides. This was when the situation went worst as Israel started building walls around its settlements. Security guards were deployed around the permanent houses built by Israel is in the West Bank and checkpoints were placed. So, it had become difficult for Palestinians to live there. In 2006, the HAMAS militant group participated in the Palestine election and won. It defeated the PLO party Fatah, but by a very small margin.
Battle of Gaza
After this incident in the year 2007, a civil war took place between these two parties in Palestine. This war is known as the Battle of Gaza. This conflict mainly centered on the power struggle between the two parties. Hamas fighters tried to gain control over the Gaza strip and remove Fatah officials from there. The battle resulted in the dissolution of the unity of the Government and the de facto division of the Palestinian territory into two entities, the West bank governed by Palestinian National Authority and the Gaza governed by Hamas. Even today Gaza strip is under the control of Hamas, whereas the West Bank is in the control of PLO. There is no doubt that Israel has continued to colonize the west bank area for several decades. At the same time, Palestinian people have been trying to eradicate Israel.
India, having realized the impact of partition through its own experience voted against the partition of Palestine at the United Nations General Assembly in 1947. It has to be noted that India was the first non-Arab and non- Muslim country to support the cause of Palestine. India also recognized the Palestine Liberal Organization (PLO) as a representative of the Palestinian. India also opposed Israel’s construction of the wall by the West Bank region by voting in favor of the UN resolution. India believes in the two-state solution and strongly advocates the establishment of the autonomous state Palestine.
By 1992, a sort of diplomatic relationship is set between India and Israel in the field of economic, military, and politics. Israel is also one of the countries to help India in the time of the Kargil War. India was also aided by Israel in the supply of hardware and other defense mechanisms during the military strike undertaken against Pakistan. Though a steady flow of diplomatic ties is seen between the two countries, India has not yet abstained from its support to Palestine. But the increased connection between India and Israel gives forth the doubt of India’s restrained support towards Palestine. India has to be cautious before dealing with Palestine because it may end its ties with the Arab countries. Hence India is at a crucial point in the Israel- Palestine conflict and it has to adopt a more pragmatic approach when dealing with the two countries.
For years together, Israel has continued to colonize the West Bank region, refusing to let the Palestinians settle down there. The extremists in Israel want complete control over the West Bank thus naturally intensifying the conflict between the two countries. Israel and Palestine want to have complete authority on Jerusalem and Palestinians want to eradicate the existence of Israel completely.
Hence the biggest issue in contemporary times is how a solution can arrive for this conflict. Palestine has been spread over the places in bits and pieces making it difficult to announce this as a separate country. Certain policymakers believe that two-state policy according to the 1967 policy can be followed where two independent nations can be formed. Few other policymakers vote for the 1948 UN partition plan. The major question that is getting prominent here is if the partition is advocated what will happen to Israel’s permanent settlement in the Palestinian region. Thousands of people live in these settlements and their lives and welfare have to be considered before a decision regarding the partition is taken.