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The ongoing conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis has led to the death of many people. This conflict originated from competing Jewish and Arab claims to the land in Palestine, inconsistent British promises in the form of McMahon Correspondence and the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and numerous occurrences of violence between Arab and Jewish residents of the Palestine region. The collision has led to the loss of many lives, hindrance of economic prosperity of the two states, and strained international relations among other effects. Numerous peace processes have been carried out without any positive outcomes. Positive peace may be effective in resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict through building trust and bolstering security of both parties.
Causes and Consequences
The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict started in the late 19th century, which led to the establishments of state movements that included Zionism and Arab nationalists. Zionism was the Jewish movement created in 1897 mainly to act as a reaction to the anti-Semitism of Europe and Russia. Zionism sought for the creation of a Jewish Nation-State in Palestine to allow them to get a place they could have refuge and self-determination. The World Zionist Organization and the Jewish National Fund supported immigration and provided funds for the buying of land under Ottoman rule and British reign in Palestine region (Finkelstein, 2003).
In the 1870s, an upsurge of anti-Semitism spurred a new migration from central Europe. In the late 1890s, Theodore Hertzl planned a Zionist international movement to create in Palestine a home for the Jewish people protected by public law. Many Palestinians had been already living in that land just like their descendants had for many years. Arthur James Balfour, the then Foreign Secretary, wrote the Balfour Declaration in 1917 which was in support of the creation of a home for the Jewish in Palestine. This Declaration promised that England would support the goals of the Zionists for the purpose of winning international assistance, particularly American, as it was allied with the Jews during the First World War. One year prior to the making of the Balfour Declaration, the British War Cabinet and Zionist leaders had made a secret agreement which promised Zionists leaders of a national home in Palestine to bring the U.S to the British side.
After the First World War and the termination of the Ottoman Empire, the United Kingdom was controlled by the Palestine due to the Sykes-Picot Agreement and a mandate of the League of Nations. The British gave conflicting promises to the Zionists and the Palestine during the Mandatory period, and they took part in the 1917 Balfour Declaration and the McMahon Correspondence. The Paris Peace Conference and other conferences decided that Palestine was to become a British mandate. The League of Nations agreed to Palestine becoming a British mandate and this decision led to more Jews entering Palestine. The Palestine Arabs, however, felt aggrieved by this occupation of their land. It caused tension erupting between the Jewish and the Arab groups, leading to physical violence, the 1920 and 1921 Palestine riots, the 1929 Hebron massacre, and the 1936-199 Arab revolt in Palestine. Britain made efforts to maintain precarious peace, although the anti-Semantic policy by Hitler led to the inflow of Jews into Palestine and increased Arab’s resentment. In 1935, the population of Jews in Palestine increased to almost half a million. The Arab rebellion began in 1936 and continued for two years when a main British Military effort repressed it (Finkelstein, 2003).
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The British suggested a failed partition plan while the 1939 White Paper created a quota for Jewish migration established by the British in the short-term and for a long-term by the Arabs. The Arabs and the Jewish groups were violent towards the British aiming at expelling the mandatory government. Zionist leaders met in 1942 to create the Biltmore Program, which provided for unlimited immigration of Jews to Palestine. Palestine was to belong to the Jewish commonwealth state after the war. After the German surrender in 1945, the Jewish group wrote to Winston Churchill asking to implement the Biltmore resolution fully and immediately, for Palestine to be established as a Jewish state, and for Jewish migration to bear the responsibility of the Jewish group (Peleg & Waxman, 2011).
The British delayed, and the Jewish voluntary militia for local defense (Haganah) took part in widespread smuggling. Haganah radio declared the beginning of The Jewish Resistance Movement in October 1945. The Jews living in Palestine took part in a wide-ranging terrorist campaign and made attacks on three small naval craft; they destroyed railway lines and made attacks on a railway station and an oil factory. They also damaged 22 RAF planes. The Haganah also allowed one of its terrorist group branches (Irgun) to attack British headquarters. The Irgun-Sternist groups had murdered 37 people (Peleg & Waxman, 2011).
The United Nations was handed over the issue of the Palestine by the British, and in 1947, the UN consented to the partitioning of the British mandate into Jewish and Arab sides. The Jewish leaders agreed with that plan, but the Palestine leaders with the support of the Arab League disagreed with it, which led to the breaking out of a civil war. Israel declared its independence in 1948 as it had an upper hand in this fight. Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Transjordan then made an invasion into Palestine, commencing the 1948 Arab-Israel War. Israel won the war and captured more territory over the partition borders. This war also led to the Palestinians as Al-Naqba, which was the Palestinian exodus in 1948. For many years after 1948, Arab states failed to recognize Israel. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed with the main objective of ensuring that Palestine’s original borders remained the home of the people of Palestine. Israel, however, did not acknowledge PLO as a negotiating party (Peleg & Waxman, 2011).
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Regardless of a long-term peace process and the overall reconciliation of Israel and Palestine, they have not reached a final peace agreement. The issues that are still pending are mutual recognition, water rights, boundaries, Israeli settlements, and freedom of movement of the Palestinians among others. The violence resulting from the conflict has been hindering development since it prevents tourism and other economic activities in that region that is full of historic sites. Many international conferences have been held with the aim of resolving these differences. There have been numerous efforts made towards brokering a two-state solution, concerning the establishment of an independent state of Palestine and Israel state. Both parties have expressed satisfaction with this solution (two-state solution), but there is still mutual distrust and considerable disagreements over simple things. Both parties show skepticism about the commitment of the other party to uphold their responsibility in an ensuing agreement (Peleg & Waxman, 2011).
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In the past few years, a range of pundits, observers, and specialists of the Israel-Palestine conflict have given the suggestion that the two-state solution cannot be effected (Morris, 2009). There have been numerous peace processes aimed at resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict. They include the 1993 Oslo Accords, the 2000 Camp David Summit, the 2001 Taba Summit, the 2002 Road Map for Peace, and the Arab Peace Initiative. All of these attempts have not been successful, especially after the recent hostilities between the parties in July 2014. Positive peace process may help in resolving these conflicts after the many failed efforts. It may include the parties trying to closely coordinate their constructive trust-building steps. To achieve this, the conflicting parties may consider using a third party which can provide assistance, legitimacy, and capability. The Palestine Authority and the Arab League needs help in building their trust through addressing their main hurdles and lead them to a better future. Since there are parties that may benefit from the continued conflict between Israel and Palestine, the third party should be powerful enough such that its voice will be heard and respected when stating that the conflicting parties have the intention of embarking upon a new journey towards peace. Then the parties may start making new agreements on water resources allocation, emphasis on good neighborhood and diversity, acknowledgment of cultures and religions, a slow but sound release of prisoners, and migration of isolated Israel settlements. There should be the consolidation of the economic conditions for Palestine, bolstering security on both parties, prevention of increasing existing settlement, and dismantling checkpoints to ensure Palestinians’ lives are easier. The international community should also be involved in the process of rebuilding trust between the parties. This aspect will be critical in the establishment of peaceful relations and trust between Israel and Palestine (Cohen-Almagor, 2014).
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The conflict between Israel and Palestine has formed the main part of the wider conflict between Arab and Israel and has been named as the most intractable conflict in the world. This conflict arose from competing Jewish and Arab claims to the land in Palestine. There were also the varying British promises in the form of McMahon Correspondence and the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and numerous occurrences of violence between Arab and Jewish residents of the Palestine region. To find a solution to this conflict, their courageous leaders should take advantage of the chances presented to them and make the best for their people. To create peace, it is important to have trust, security and goodwill as the road to peace is very long. Many peace processes have been attempted, but none has been effective so far.
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