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Israel Palestinian conflict is heading towards a full-scale war warns United Nations

Israel Palestinian conflict is heading towards a full-scale war warns United Nations

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  • GS 2 || International Relations || India & Rest of the World || West Asia

Why in news?

  • Israeli armed forces recently targeted Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Haram esh-Sharif, ahead of a march by Zionist nationalists commemorating Israel’s 1967 takeover of the city’s eastern half.

Background

  • The Israel-Palestine conflict often referred to as the ‘world’s most intractable conflict’ is rooted in a dispute over land claimed by Jews as their biblical birthright and by the Palestinians, who seek self-determination. Despite repeated attempts to end the conflict between the two countries, there is no peace settlement in sight.
  • Although both Jews and Arab Muslims have claimed the land for thousands of years, the current political dispute dates from the early twentieth century.

The gravity of the recent conflict

  • Israel has used excessive force against Hamas, which operates out of Gaza.
  • Hamas’ behavior illustrates increasing discontent with Palestinian Authority President Muhammad Abbas, who is based in Ramallah in the West Bank.
  • Arab Muslims account for 20% of Israel’s population. They have also been alienated by the attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine, and sympathize with the Palestinian cause.
  • This, combined with Israel’s political turmoil, could lead to a civil war.
  • The mosque attack has also provided an impetus for Islamic militants to call for attacks in other parts of the world.

History of the conflict

  • Conflict is a century year old
    • The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an ongoing struggle since mid 20th century.
    • The conflict has been ongoing for more than 100 years between Jews and Arabs over a piece of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean sea.
  • The Sykes-Picot Agreement had Palestine under British rule by 1916. (a secret agreement between Great Britain and France). As a result, the old Ottoman Turkish Empire was divided.
  • Balfour Declaration
    • The British foreign secretary, James Balfour, committed to the creation of a Jewish homeland through the Balfour Declaration.
  • Nazism in Germany
    • After the Nazis took power in Germany in the 1930s, the migration of Jews to Palestine accelerated dramatically, with hundreds of thousands of people being relocated from Europe to Palestine.
    • Arabs saw this as a threat to their country and fought back vehemently. The violence reached its apogee as the British government sat on the sidelines.
    • The British government referred the issue of Palestine’s future to the United Nations in 1947. The United Nations voted to divide the land into two countries.
  • Al-Nakba, or “Catastrophe,
    • The agreement was approved by the Jewish people, and Israel declared its independence. Arabs from the surrounding area also attacked and were thrashed by Israeli forces.
    • Thousands of Palestinians were forced to leave their homes as a result of this.
    • Al-Nakba, or “Catastrophe,” was the name given to this event.
    • After this, Israel had complete control over the territory.
  • Jordan- Israel, war
    • Jordan then went to war with Israel, seizing possession of a portion of the land known as the West Bank, while Egypt took control of Gaza.
  • Division of Jerusalem
    • Jerusalem was split into two halves, one in the west and the other in the east. However, no formal peace treaty was concluded, and each side continued to blame the other for the tension, resulting in more wars in the area.
    • In 1967, Israeli forces seized East Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as various parts of Syria’s Golan Heights, Gaza, and Egypt’s the Sinai Peninsula.
    • Palestinian refugees and families lived in Gaza and the West Bank at the time, as well as along Jordan’s, Syria’s, and Lebanon’s border regions.

Palestine’s claim

  • They want Israeli to withdraw from pre-1967 borders and establish an independent Palestine state in West Bank and Gaza.
  • Israel should stop all expansion of settlements before coming to peace talks.
  • Palestine wants Palestine refugees who lost their homes in 1948 to be able to come back.
  • Palestine wants East Jerusalem as the capital of the Independent Palestine state.

Israel’s Claim

  • Sovereignty over Jerusalem.
  • Recognition of Israel as a Jewish State.
    • Israel is the only country in the world created for a religious community.
  • The right of return of Palestine refugees only to Palestine and not to Israel.

Israel Palestine Peace process

  • Camp David Accords were brokered by the U.S. in 1978. It set the stage for peace talks between Israel and its neighbors and a resolution to the “Palestinian problem”. However, no concrete results were obtained.
  • Oslo Accords were also mediated by the U.S in 1993. Under this, Israel and the PLO agreed to officially recognize each other and renounce the use of violence. It would create a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank, in exchange for an agreement by Palestinians to end any type of attack on Israel.
    • They gave limited autonomy in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank to the Palestinian authority.
    • However, both states are yet to agree on the provisions of the Oslo accords.

USA’s stand

  • The US has been playing a significant role as the mediator in the Israel-Palestine. However, its credibility as a mediator had long been questioned by Palestinians.
  • The United States has been criticized by the OIC (Organization of Islamic cooperation) and other Arab organizations, for vetoing most Security Council decisions critical of Israel.
  • Joe Biden, the US President, has reiterated that Israel has the right to self-defense and that the conflict should be resolved as soon as possible.
  • Use of veto power
    • The US has used its veto power in the UN Security Council to prevent any debate on the subject, even though 14 out of 15 members have called for an urgent meeting.
  • A group of Democratic lawmakers in the United States claims Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to blame for the escalation and has called for increased pressure on him to resolve the dispute.
  • This, combined with Israel’s political instability, could result in civil war.
  • The mosque attack has also fueled calls for attacks in other parts of the world by Islamic militants.

India’s stand on Israel- Palestine conflict

  • India has been consistently supportive of the Palestinian cause.
  • India was the first Non-Arab State to recognize Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in 1974.
  • Also, India was one of the first countries to recognize the State of Palestine in
  • In 1996, India opened its Representative Office to the Palestine Authority in Gaza, which was later shifted to Ramallah (West Bank) in 2003.
  • Currently, India supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
  • As a part of the Link West Policy, India has de-hyphenated its relationship with Israel and Palestine in 2018. This will allow it to treat both the countries as mutually independent and exclusive.
  • As per India, the issues between the two should be resolved through direct negotiations and solutions must be acceptable to both.

United Nations Mediation

  • Israel occupies the West Bank, though the Israeli forces have pulled out of Gaza which happened after the United Nations mediation.
  • Israel says the whole of Jerusalem is its capital while Palestinians say the East of Jerusalem is theirs.

Solutions to Israel Palestine conflict

  • Two-state solution
    • Firstly, it would create a sovereign Israel and Palestine. It would establish Palestine as an independent state in Gaza and most of the West Bank, leaving the rest of the land to Israel.
    • Secondly, it has been the goal of the international community for decades, dating back to the 1947 UN Partition Plan.
    • Thirdly, it would identify a 1967 demarcation line known as the Green Line to partition Palestinian and Israeli land. It would also divide Jerusalem between the two states.
  • One-state solution
    • It would merge Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip into one big country.
    • It comes in two versions. One, favored by some leftists and Palestinians, would create a single democratic country. Arab Muslims would outnumber Jews, thus ending Israel’s status as a Jewish state.
    • The other version, favored by some rightists and Israelis, would involve Israel annexing the West Bank and forcing out Palestinians or denying them the right to vote.

Related Developments

  • In March 2021, International Criminal Court (ICC) launched investigations into the war crimes in Palestinian territories occupied by Israel (West Bank and the Gaza Strip).
  • In April 2021, the US restored at least USD 235 million in financial assistance to the Palestinians.

Conclusion

  • The resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict is still elusive. The only way forward is peace talks between the two countries as suggested by India and further negotiations on the two-state solution proposed by the United Nations.
  • The international community must try to instill peace among the two states. Further any successful peace initiative would need to resolve the four core issues that have plagued the peace process: West Bank borders/settlements, Israeli security, Palestinian refugees, and Jerusalem.

Mains model questions

  • Discuss the aims of the establishment of the Arab League and assess its role in safeguarding the interests of the Arab nations.

References