International Relations

Israel-Palestinian violence on the West Bank is on the rise

The US has urged Israel and the Palestinians to de-escalate tensions amid a surge in violence in the West Bank region.

What is the location of West Bank?

  • The West Bank is a landlocked territory in Western Asia near the Mediterranean coast that comprises the majority of the Palestinian territories.
  • It is bounded to the east by Jordan and the Dead Sea, and to the south, west, and north by Israel.

Discussion point: Anti-Semitism

  • Many theocratic countries have an official policy of anti-Semitism (hatred of Jews) (created by divine orders of religion).
  • This includes the entire Arab world, Turkey’s self-proclaimed caliphate, and even Pakistan.
  • Jews, the world’s micro-minority religion, were denied entry into their homeland.

The Israel-Palestine Conflict

  • The land to which Jews and Palestinians lay claim to was under the Ottoman Empire and then the British Empire in early 20th century.
  • Palestinians — Arabs from the same region — want to establish a state called Palestine in that region.
  • The dispute between Israelis and Palestinians is over who owns what land and how it is administered.
  • Jews fleeing persecution in Europe at the time desired to establish a Jewish state on what they believed to be their ancient homeland.
  • At the time, the Arabs resisted, claiming ownership of the land. At the time, the land was known as Palestine.
  • The United Kingdom declared its support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine in the Balfour Declaration of 1917.
  • Arabs resisted, resulting in violence.

Jews into West Bank: Arab hinterland in Israel

  • According to a history published by the University of Central Arkansas, 75,000 Jews emigrated to Palestine between 1922 and 1926, and 60,000 Jews emigrated in 1935.
  • It goes on to say that Palestinian Arabs asked the UK to stop Jewish emigration, but the UK refused. There were violent incidents that resulted in the deaths of approximately 500 people.
  • The British Mandate for Palestine went into effect in 1923.
  • The League of Nations, the failed predecessor of the United Nations, issued the document (UN).
  • The mandate charged the United Kingdom with establishing a Jewish national homeland in the region.
  • In 1936, the British government proposed partitioning Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.

How did the situation deteriorate?

  • In 1947, Britain referred the Palestine issue to the United Nations, which devised a partition plan.
  • It made two proposals. The majority proposal is two separate states joined economically, and the minority proposal is a single bi-national state made up of autonomous Jewish and Palestinian areas.
  • The Jewish community supported the first of these proposals, while the Arab community opposed both.

Israel’s sovereignty

  • Israel declared its independence in May 1948. For Arabs, this was a startling development.
  • The Arab countries of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt immediately invaded the newly declared country.
  • When the war ended, Israel regained some of the territory previously granted to Palestinian Arabs under the 1947 UN resolution.
  • It also retained control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Resolving the conflict

  • The two-state solution refers to a regional arrangement in which Israeli and Palestinian states coexist.
  • However, such a solution has not emerged in recent decades.
  • The two-state solution, as stated at the outset and briefly explained in the roots of the conflict, means two separate states for Israelis and Palestinians.

Why it hasn’t worked out?

  • There are four main reasons why the two-state solution has not materialized by now:

[1] Borders

  • There is no agreement on how to draw the lines separating the two proposed states.
  • Many people believe that borders should be drawn before 1967.
  • Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, Old City of Jerusalem, and Golan Heights during the 1967 Israeli-Arab war.
  • Israel is unwilling to relinquish these gains. Sinai was returned to Egypt in 1982.
  • Furthermore, there is the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

[2] Question of Jerusalem

  • Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital, claiming it to be central to their religion and culture.
  • The two-state solution typically calls for dividing it into an Israeli West and a Palestinian East, but drawing the line is difficult because Jewish, Muslim, and Christian holy sites overlap.
  • Israel has declared Jerusalem its “undivided capital,” effectively annexing its eastern half, and has begun to build infrastructure that will cement Israeli control over the city.

[3] Refugees

  • During the 1948 war, a large number of Palestinians were forced to flee.
  • They and their 5 million descendants demand the right to return. This is unacceptable to Israel.
  • The return of these people would end the Jewish demographic majority, as well as the idea of a democratic and Jewish Israel.

[4] Security

  • Security concerns are also important to Israel, which is constantly harassed by the terrorist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
  • On occasion, Hamas and other Islamist groups in Gaza launch rockets into Israel.
  • Furthermore, there are concerns about Palestinian attacks within Israel.
  • In March and April of this year, at least 18 Israelis were killed in Palestinian attacks inside Israel.
  • During the same time period, 27 Palestinians were killed, including those who carried out attacks inside Israel. Palestinians are also concerned.
  • Security means the end of foreign military occupation for Palestinians.

Why the two-state solution is needed?

  • Apart from fulfilling the fundamental desire of both Jews and Arabs for their own states, supporters of two-state solutions argue that it must be supported because its alternatives are simply unworkable.
  • A unified Israel, West Bank, and Gaza would reduce Jews to a minority.
  • At the same time, Jews would be a significant minority in such a state, which would annoy the Arab majority.

Moral reasoning for a two-state solution

  • It states that one person’s aspirations should not be prioritised over the aspirations of others.
  • It is a conflict between two distinct groups of people over collective rights.
  • Jews are the world’s micro-minority, existing on a very small piece of land.
  • Depriving Israeli Jews of a Jewish state or Palestinians of a Palestinian state would be a surrender of one group’s aspirations to the vision of another.

Way forward

  • According to India, the only way to achieve long-term peace in Israel and Palestine is through a negotiated two-State solution.
  • This can be accomplished by establishing a sovereign, independent, and viable Palestinian state within secure and recognised borders.
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