The recent violent crisis that unfolded in Palestine is not new for an eye to witness. It is a bloody tale that dates back to the defeat of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The territory of Palestine was given under the control of one of the victors of World War I, Britain. The residents of Palestine, before Britain declared Palestine a ‘national home for the Jews fleeing the prosecutions, was comprised of the Arabs, Christians, and Jews however the Jews and Christians were in minority. The fleeing Jews started settling in Palestine and the number of fleeing Jews grew between the 1920s and 1940s as the Holocaust in Europe was intensifying. With more and more foreign Jews settling and making Palestine their homeland, violence erupted between the Jews and the Arabs. To settle the disputes between the Jews and the Arabs, in 1947 the UK pushed the international community and the UN to divide the Palestinian state between the Arabs and Jews.
In 1947, the United Nations voted to split Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, with Jerusalem becoming an international city. Although the Palestinian state was forcefully divided between the two parties by an external third party, the acceptance of the division was only agreed upon by one party, the Jews, which is where the fault line of the past and present conflict lies. The Arabs never agreed to the two-state solution, that divided their homeland and gave pieces of their territory to foreigners without their consent. This failure to bring the two sides on one agreeable agenda is rather not a two-state solution but turned into a two-state fiasco which the world I witnessed since then. Soon after the end of British rule over Palestine, the legacy of Britain that followed is called ‘the Catastrophe’ or Al-Nakba by the Palestinians.
The reason behind the title of what followed the end of British rule is so ruthless is because of barbarianism by the Jews that forced the Palestinians out of their own homes and took over their residencies. After the Jews took over the Palestinian homes and territories, in 1948 they declared the creation of the state of Israel and captured 78% of historic Palestine expelling about 750,000 Palestinians. Such violent acts attracted a lot of objection that a full-fledged war erupted that drew Arab troops from the neighboring countries. Egypt fought on behalf of Palestinians and captured the Gaza strip that connected to its borders, while the area bordering with Jordan, the West Bank, was concurred by Jordanian force. Jordanian forces also held control of Eastern Jerusalem while Western Jerusalem was under the Israeli forces.
Though the war ended peace was never attained between the two sides as there was no peace agreement between the two warring sides. The viciousness continued and in 1967 another war erupted, where Israel took over East Jerusalem which was never to be under Israel’s control, the West Bank, Golan Heights, Gaza as well as neighboring Egyptians’ Sinai Peninsula. The Israeli occupation of furthermore territory that was never Israel’s according to the proposed UN two-state solution violated the International Law. The war created Palestinian refugees fleeing to neighboring countries and was not allowed to return. This utter chaos was caused by Jews, once fleeing from persecutions, now turned persecutors themselves, and Israel, to date, has not had a change of heart to recognize that history is being repeated. Israel continues to occupy the West Bank and Gaza while claiming the whole of Jerusalem as its capital while throwing the Arabs out of the few homes and territories. Israel yearns to maintain the status quo and overlooks its atrocities hence denying peace in the region a chance. Violence erupts in the regions on usual, sometimes between the locals and other times between the governments.
The present outspreading crisis in the Gaza strip and the Western Bank is a humanitarian disaster. Due to Israel occupying the majority of the Palestinian land, the Palestinians are squeezed into small spaces cause severe urban crowding that leads to dire scarcity of basic services such as water, electricity, and sewage treatment. The Palestinians are also suffering from staggering unemployment and loss of businesses due to blockages of supplies by Israel. Additionally, the political authority of Palestine’s government Fatah is also unstable and ineffective as they have limited control over their territory and the rule of law is weak along with no accountability and mounting corruption. This lack of control by the Palestinian Authorities has given room to other actors such as Hamas and Palestinian Liberation Organisation to encapsulate the politics as well the influence over the territory.
After the failure of Fatah to form a government, the rule had to be divided between Fatah-led Palestinian authority governed the West Bank, while the Gaza Strip was governed by Hamas. The political fractures, social disorder, economic burden and physical separation of Gaza and the West Bank fosters further instability in the region making the task of resistance against the apartheid a tough challenge for the Palestinians. Israel continues immoral actions believing that the Palestinians are at fault for not accepting the two-state solution that could have promoted peace and stability in the region and Israel is conducting missile strikes to merely defend itself.
Israel, on its side of the occupied territory, has built low-priced luxurious housing that is growing in number rapidly. With Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem and the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem, Israel has gained more confidence to build even larger settlements in East Jerusalem. Economically, Israel has progressed and further integrated its economy in world markets. In 2019, Israel’s GDP is about $394.7 billion, and its annual growth rate of about 3.5% every year. The Israeli military is the 14th best in the world with a budget of $17 billion. It also has enormous US support that there is a US law that ensures the Israeli military’s qualitative military edge over states in the Middle East. It has advanced fighter jets, high-tech defense systems, space-based assets, and a well-trained military. The great quantitative and qualitative edge in terms of socio-political-economic stature, as well as international support from the powerful states, encourages Israel to continue to expert pressure to evict and murder Palestinians to occupy their state.
The answer to the termination of this conflict is simpler than usually understood. Palestinians have not accepted the two-state solution and there are fewer chances of a compromise in the future. They demand their homeland and wish to live there with full rights given under international law. However, there seem fewer chances of any physical possibility that Israel would willingly end the occupation and agree to a solution unless its benefits outweighed the cost. The steps towards conflict resolution, therefore, are unlikely to come from either the Israeli or Palestinian side. Now the responsibility of turning the tables falls on each individual outside of the occupied territory to forward their efforts to ensure peace in the region. Each individual could range from high-level political leaders to common citizens. This is where a powerful wave of impact can be generated capable to move Israel. These acts by the individuals could be as simple as a boycott of the Israeli consumer goods, the technology companies boycott Israeli technology, those investing in Israel take out their investments and most importantly the big trade partners of Israel impose sanctions.
Additionally, there must be strong lobbies that play a role in reduce political support to Israel. Only these measures overturn the cost and benefit analysis of the occupation and pressure Israel to withdraw from the occupied land. For such measures to bear fruits, the U.S military, strategic and political support for Israel needs a major shift. Although, speaking on the Israel-Palestine issue in Washington was considered political suicide, however, these dynamics are changing. Now the US Congress is beginning to realize that Israel is using US-provided military equipment to violate human rights which is against US laws. Moreover, the US voters are also becoming conscious of the fact the taxpayer’s money is funding Israel’s gross human rights violation. Though the debate has started within Washington circles, the actual shift would be when the debate materializes into policy change towards Israel.
Furthermore, another important role can be played by the European leaders, who are engaged with Israel on political, economic, social as well as strategic levels. Along with this the Muslim world playing an important role needs to portray a united front and similar goals to the rest of the world. Among immediate actions, Israel needs to end its principle of the blockade as this policy has destroyed Gaza and the West Bank’s economy and without trade, there is a surge of the informal economy under the control of Hamas making it stronger. Much focus is assigned to blaming one side or the other when in reality both sides are suffering even if one suffers less than the other. Therefore, to reach an approach that could resolve the grievances on both ends there is a need for a constructive and open-minded approach.