Arab-Israeli Conflict

Arabs and Israeli Jews live together for long centuries. They have completely different religions, but they are two strong, perspective folks and if they lived peacefully together they would be able to develop and prosper. But this is not happening. They argue around the land, kill each other’s people, destroy settlements and make everything to make each others life unbearable. The quarrels do not stop for more than a century. Big countries such as US and Russia are trying to help, but often they make the situation even worse. There are a few points in the history which show the character of both folks and their willingness to be recognized and respected. There were a few big conflicts about which I want to talk. They are the six-day war which happened in 1967, the war of the year 1973, and of course about intifada of the year 1987. Also very important are political movements of both Arabs and Jews and they will be discussed too in my paper. They are important because we can see how they struggle to establish their states and fight off their land.

The major problem of two folks is the division of land. Each of two has its own points concerning this problem and doesn’t let other ideas to come to their minds. Jewish say that this land is theirs because of the God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants, that Israel will be the Jewish kingdom and it was so until this Jewish kingdom was destroyed by the Roman Empire. Palestinian Arab’s say, that the land is theirs because they populated this land for the hundreds of years and they represent the demographic majority. They reject the biblical argument or consider that God promised this land for them too since Ishmael, the forefather of the Arabs, is Abraham’s son too. So since God promised the land to all children of Abraham, than Arabs are included too. Palestinians don’t want to give their land to Jews as a compensation for European anti-Semitism. As we can see even the bible says that they relate to each other not only as neighbors but also they have the same roots. (”Arab-Israeli conflict”)

Also there was always conflict concerning Jerusalem. Both sides consider it to be their city and we can understand why. . Israel considers Jerusalem to be “eternal capital”. It is the holy place for Israelis. The bible says that the king David established Jerusalem as the capital for the whole Israel. For Arabs it is only a part of the captured West Bank, but they also want it to be the capital of a Palestinian state. Earlier there was the UN plan, which stated that Jerusalem was an international zone, independent to both states: Jewish and Palestinian Arab. After the war in 1948 Israel occupied the western part of Jerusalem, but Jordan took control over the eastern part, which included important Christian, Jewish and Muslim sites. In 1949 during the peace time it was cut in two. In June 1967, Israel annexed East Jerusalem after capturing it from Jordan. The annexation was conformed in 1981. (“Arab-Israeli Conflict: Basic Facts”)

One of the most important movements of Jewish folk is Zionism. Sometimes Palestinians call Jewish states “The Zionist Entity”. Zionism is often called Jewish nationalism. Its beliefs are that all Jews form one nation and that the concentration of as many Jews as possible in Palestine and Israel and the formation of states there will stop the anti-Semitism. The movement began in 1882 when the first immigration wave of European Jews to Palestine appeared. The World Zionist Organization was established by Theodor Herzl in 1897. He said that the purpose of Zionism is to establish “a national home for the Jewish people secured by public law”. Although, by the early 20th century many Jews were Zionists until the Hitler’s extermination of the world Jewry, most of them were not Zionists. Many Jewish people rejected Zionism because they believed that only God can reunite Jews in the Promised Land. The Holocaust decreased the opposition of the Zionism and after the World War II many Jews throughout the world became Zionists and started to support the idea of creation an independent Jewish state. Many orthodox Jews moved to Palestine and strengthened their community. Arabs opposed this movement and the formation of independent Jewish state and the Arab-Israeli War in 1967 begun. (Senker 17)

This war begun because of the, so called, “help” of the USSR government. In the spring of 1967, the Syrian government was misinformed by the Soviet Union that Israel is preparing to attack Syria, but there was no such attempt. The conflict between Israel and Syria continued for about a year and Israeli Authorities announced that it might be needful to force the Syrian regime to end Palestinian attacks against Israel.

In May 1967 Egyptian troops entered the bordering with Israel the Sinai Peninsula. After the evacuation of the UN observer forces stationed between Egypt and Israel, the Egyptians occupied Sharm al-Shaykh and blockaded the Israeli port of Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba. Diplomatic and military conflict continued. On June 5, 1967 Israel attacked Egypt and Syria. When few hours passed the ground and air forces of Syria were destroyed. Jordan also joined the conflict but later and it was defeated as well as the Egyptian and Syrian armies. Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. (Beinin, Hajjar)

The 1967 war lasted only six days, but it made Israel the main regional military power. Israel’s victory challenged the Arab regimes. The areas captured by Israelis were very important to them because they are the core of the biblical land of Israel. After this victory many various movements of Zionist appeared. This war strengthened the spirit of the Jewish folk and they decided that they can resist the Arab forces and protect themselves. People who were against Zionism changed their minds because this victory was for them as a sign from God. Many political parties appeared which controlled the settlement of Jews on the occupied territories, especially in the West Bank and Gaza. But after 1967 the Palestinian national movement appeared also in the form of military and political groups. They established so called Palestine Liberation Organization. (Senker 34)

On the occupied territories the military administration was established which governed the Palestinians who lived in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinians were often discriminated. They were left without basic civil and political rights which included freedom of expression, freedom of political work and freedom of the press. Palestinian nationalism was also a crime. It was considered to be a danger for Israeli security. Even displaying of national colors of Palestine was usually punished. The strict regulation of Israeli military administration included all aspects of Palestinian life. Hundreds of Palestinians were deported to Lebanon and Jordan because of their political activities. More than 300,000 Arabs were imprisoned without judgments and more than half a million were tried in Israeli military court system. Since 1971 many people have died in the prisons because of the tortures and other harsh measures. Israel considers as terrorism all kinds of opposition including non-violence. Here we can see how folks hate each other. If they occupied the territory they consider it to be only theirs and don’t let anyone to fell there free. We can’t say that they behave so with all folks who visit their territory, they simply put in their minds thought that Arabs are enemies and enemies should be discriminated and it will be necessary imprisoned and killed. This thought stuck deep in Jewish minds and they don’t let it go. (Beinin, Hajjar)

Israelis do not consider themselves to be oppressors. Israel built hundreds of thousands houses for the Jewish citizens in the West Bank and Gaza, however it breaks the international law which prohibits the military occupation of foreign territory. According to Israelis, they do not violate the Fourth Geneva Convention or any other law because they do not occupy any foreign territory they are native and legal administrators of this territory. International organizations rejected Israelis statement that these territories are not occupied and say that international law should be applied there and number of violations should decrease. (Beinin, Hajjar)

If dig dipper Israelis do not live happily on their own and occupied land either. Israelis feel insecure living on the occupied land. They are afraid of sudden forces from Arabs and terrorist actions. The most part of the population are actual soldiers. Policies say that men are required to be in the army for the three years and women for two. We can only imagine how unstable the military situation is that women must go to the army. Many people lost their relatives in shootings and bombings in the streets. Because of the unstable military situation, economic situation is in a bad condition too. Government must spend the biggest part of the budget on the military forces to protect the state. Israelis economy depends very much on US donations, which total $3 to 5$ billions per year. (Senker 6-7)

As it was said before, after the war in 1967, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was established. The movement of Palestinian Arabs was established as the opposition to Jewish national movement. It was given birth in 1964 by the Arab League. It was created for the goal of control over Palestinian nationalism. The PLO has different armed and political groups with different ideological views. The largest group is Fatah. Its leader is Yasser Arafat; he is PLO leader since 1968. There are many other groups but the major one are the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Palestine Peoples Party (PPP) and also such party as the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine(DFLP). (”Arab-Israeli conflict”)

In the 1960’s the PLO mostly operated in Jordan. Later it moved to Lebanon, but when Israeli army appeared there, PLO was forced to move again, this time to Tunisia.

Until 1993 Israel did not recognize the Palestinian national rights and didn’t pay attention to the PLO as an independent party. Israel did not negotiate with the PLO, because considered it to be only a small terrorist organization. It refused to recognize the establishment of Palestinian state and insisted Palestinians should join the Arab states. This arguing continued until some representatives of Israeli Authority started to negotiate with PLO secretly. The arguing ended with the Oslo Declaration of Principles. (Beinin, Hajjar)

These national movements activity show us that the common idea of both Israelis and Arabs is that they want to be recognized and accepted as strong, prosperous and, which is the most important, independent nations. They struggle for the same determination but don’t let each other to reach the goal. Not all people of the Arabic or Jewish nations want to fight. Many Israelis are ready to give up the captured land in exchange for peace. Most people are tired to lose their families and to live in fear.

Another armed conflict was based exactly on the problem I discussed above. One side proposed peaceful agreement in exchange for land, but the other side refused. I suppose that many of Israeli people would not be against the returning of land but the government decided otherwise. This Arab-Israeli conflict happened in 1973. The President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat denoted to UN envoy Gunnar Jarring that he wants to sign a peaceful agreement with Israel in exchange for return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egyptian. Israelis ignored this proposal and Egypt, the US and Syria decided to attack Israeli forces in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights in October 1973. They attacked on the day of the big Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. As the attack was a surprise for Israel Arabs won first fights. This attack provoked American political and military intervention. After the war, Henry Kissiger, US Secretary of State run the diplomatic strategy of bilateral agreements. They were created to secure Israeli from partial withdrawals from their territories. These agreements were not useful for a long time, because there were always arguing between Israelis and Arabs, which was a critical obstacle in putting in order their mutual policies. (Lieberfeld 56)

Palestinians got tired of being the second-class and bad treatment from Israeli side, they got tired of being guests on their land, they got tired of living in small tiny houses and getting by on 2$ per day, they got tired of being silent and they started to resist to such control. In December 1987, the Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza raised another great conflict. This conflict is called “Intifada”, which in Arabic means “shaking off”. The Intifada made hundreds of thousands of people, including women, teenagers and children to act as an opposition. It was organized by the United National Leadership of the Uprising. It was the coalition of four active PLO parties on the occupied territories: the PFLP, Fatah, the PPP and the DFLP. For first five years the opposition acted in the form of massive demonstrations, strikes, civil disobedience, not paying taxes, refusing to use Israeli products. Many underground schools were established. Many people who were not earlier involved in different political organization now joined them or established new ones. (Senker 48-49)

Israel tried to demolish the Intifada with “force, power and blows”, under the leadership of Minister of Defense Yitzhak Rabin. Commanders of the armies were ready to take any measures to smash the uprising. Commanders were instructed to break the bones of demonstrators. From 1987 to 1991 about 1,000 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces, among killed were 200 teenagers. Although the most leaders of the UNLU were arrested by 1990, the uprising continued for several more years. (Beinin, Hajjar)

Later the violent acts appeared inside the Palestinian community. Rivalry grew between PLO and Islamist organizations, especially between HAMAS and Islamic Jihad. Palestinians killed over 250 Palestinians, who were suspected in coworking with Israelis.

The Intifada did not end the occupation, but it showed that Palestinians need to have more rights on the occupied territories. Palestinian activists who lived on the occupied territories forced PLO to make a clear political program which will support the struggle for independence. Later Palestine National Council accepted the state of Israel and proclaimed an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in November 1988. The Israeli government did not change its view concerning PLO. It continued to consider PLO to be a terrorist organization. The US accepted the changes in PLO’s policies, but did not do a lot to change Israel’s view. (Lieberfeld 61)

These wars show that both folks have strong will to be independent, but their continuing quarrels and arguing are not effective. If we take any war in the history of the humanity we will find only such impacts as death, poverty, breakdown, poor economy, and unhappy living of the population of the struggling sides. The best way to solve the conflict, as for me, is to find the compromise, which will satisfy both sides. Governments do not let their people to live normal life. The compromise will bring benefits to political and economic systems. There were already a few peace agreements, but none of them covered all the aspects of the problem. Most of them were signed with the help of so called “superpowers”: US and USSR, but I think this agreement should be discussed only by Authorities of these two folks without any external pressure, because only they know what they really want.

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