Israel and Palestine have been at loggerheads for centuries now. The fundamental requirement for both are noble – to create a homeland solely for the Jews and Arabs. The issue became ugly because each wanted to create a state excluding the other. Over all these years there has been constant distrust between the Jews and the Palestinians. While Israel followed a peaceful path most of the times the Arabs resorted to violence. Israel started with violence but with years they reduced this and concentrated more on the progressive plans. However the areas controlled by Hamas still continue to suffer.Palestine under the PLO regressed and their conditions went from bad to worse. After a point PLO had to pause and ponder on the path they were treading. In the 21st century the violence in that region has come down a little. It is hoped with UN intervention and the two states peace will soon prevail in the region. But for now, more needs to be done.
Palestinians in Palestine
Palestinians living in Gaza Strip and West Bank live under oppression. They do not have any nation, no citizenship and have no control over their lives. Israel conquered these areas and from 1967 Israel controlled these regions.
- After WWII the Geneva Conventions instituted a set of principles to ensure that civilians never suffer like the Jews did under Nazi occupation. Ironically the Jews in Israel were the ones who violated these principles.
- However in some areas of Gaza Strip and West Bank Palestinians were given autonomy. They had control over health care, policing, education and infrastructure.
- Israeli forces often confiscated private lands. Imprisonment of individuals took place without any reason. Even children were not spared at times. Entire towns would come under curfew. Business and shops were destroyed without any valid reason. Palestinians watched all this helplessly.
- Entering and leaving Israel was a herculean task. Going for studies abroad, meeting family members became a very difficult task.
- In such situations revolt is the natural result and this happened two times. The forces out it down with heavy hand.
- There were a few Israelis who were called ‘internationals’ who helped the Palestinians in many ways. They led peaceful marches. But sometimes these people were also targeted and sometimes killed.
The Situation Now
The horrific situation that prevailed in the region had to change. The super powers, the UN have tried to improve the situation. So there is some improvement today. But complete peace is still a distant dream. The peace talks that took place in the spring of 2014 collapsed and fresh hostilities and tension were seen between Israel and Palestine. Retaliatory attacks were seen from both sides. Access to the Temple Mount or Haram al-Sharif, a religious site in Jerusalem was one reason of confrontation. The international community meanwhile is trying to move forward with a sustainable and effective solution for this never ending conflict. There are two solutions that can be taken forward, the one-state solution and the two-state solution.
The Two Solutions
One-state solution is one where both the states merge and function as one state. This would mean that Gaza Strip and the West Bank would be merged and it will become a fairly big country. Supported by the leftists Palestine can become a single democratic country. But the Arab Muslims outnumber the Jews. So the Jews would never get a place for themselves. Some rightists and some Israelis offer a solution where West Bank will be annexed and Palestinians will be forced out without a right to vote. The whole world including the Zionists, are not willing to accept this option.
Most referendums suggest that Palestinians and Israelis prefer a two-state solution. Unfortunately both have been unable to come to any understanding on border sharing, sharing of resources and most importantly occupation of West Bank and Gaza Strip. If the two-state cannot be adopted one state solution will be the future of Palestine and Israel. Amidst all this United States Institute of Peace (USIP) is trying to bring some solutions and at the same promote national security and train officials and advise governments.
The Region Today
The most contentious issue in the Israel-Palestine conflict are the Gaza Strip and West Bank. In 2006 Hamas won the elections here and Fatah was pushed out. Today it is 10 years of Gaza Strip under the control of Hamas and they have no progress at all, in fact the Palestinians have no work, no health facilities, in short degradation in all aspects. President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine severed its ties with the strip and stopped transferring money in April 2017. Due to this the health system has collapsed. Infants and children die due to lack of correct treatment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. On June 27th 2017, Israel bombed three pockets of Gaza Strip controlled by the Hamas and this was in retaliation for rockets attacks from that side. In the region today, the attacks and violence continues making the life of the civilians miserable. For the people in that region struggle and uncertainty has become an everyday fact and they have learnt to live with it.
Top UN officials declared that for enduring peace occupation must end. This was declared on the occasion to mark the 50th years after the Arab-Israeli war in 1967. It was after this war that Israel occupied East Jerusalem, Syrian Golan, West Bank and Gaza. The occupation had imposed a huge development and humanitarian burden on the people of Palestine. Secretary- General of the UN, Antonio Guterres said in a message “Generations of Palestinians have grown up in crowded refugee camps, many in abject poverty, and with little or no prospect of a better life for their children.” Ms Amina Mohammed said that the situation should not be managed but resolved. For fifty years, there has been mistrusts, fear and despair. What was built in these years were only wall, blockades and watch tower and not understanding and peace. The two-day forum brought international experts including from the state of Israel and Palestine. Representatives of civil society, diplomatic community, academicians and students took part in the interactive panels. It is hoped a lasting solution will finally emerge.