Jan 12, 2018 in Political

The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict: Intractability at Its Worst?

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the long-standing conflicts that the world has ever witnessed in the recent times. The conflict dates back to late 19th century, and it is unfortunately that the deep-rooted conflict between the Arab Palestinian and the Jewish Israel is as rife as if it began yesterday. Both of the conflicting parties are continuing to grow wide apart with the passage of time owing to their irreconcilable differences mainly perpetuated by the scramble for scarce resource and struggle for sovereignty. Radical Arab Palestinians led by the Hamas government have always expressed the lack of acknowledgement for the existence of Israel as they consider Jewish Israel intruders in their ancestral land. The Jewish Israel, on the other hand, has had a strong belief that they have the right to reside in that land (Gunderson, 2004). This means that the long-standing conflict between these two nations is based on the combination of three constituents of identity crisis, namely high stake distribution issue, moral differences and domination.  

The Israeli-Palestinian enduring conflict is perhaps rooted in a dispute over scarce resources, mainly water and land, as well as the need for self-determination. This conflict has been characterised by mixed views and reactions from the main players – Jewish Israel and Palestine. In other words, both Israel and Palestine has always had a different narration about their predicament, and it seems that they have irreconcilable views about the conflict (Ehrenfeld, 2012). This is because none of the antagonists has accepted their responsibility in the conflict, and everyone often explains the situation in their own story. For instance, Israel is renowned for standing by its policy of using military intrusion and control of the main contentious areas of Gaza, East Jerusalem and West Bank owing to the threat of violence and acts of terror from their neighbours. The long-time biblical prophecy about the land being their rightful possession, the lack of cooperation from their neighbours to counter violence and, above all, the rejection of peace agreement are other reasons that Israel emphasize on their part of understanding about the conflict. This means that Israeli interpretation of the conflict is based on the constant violence, acts of terrorism and insecurity brought about by their neighbours (Gelvin, 2007).

According to Ehrenfeld (2012), Palestine has had a number of claims about the situation with respect to the conflict with their neighbours with the first one being the dispossession of their rightful ancestral land and gross human rights abuses by the Israeli defence forces. In other words, the Palestinians have always interpreted the conflict based on victimization and cruelty from their neighbours. It is important to start by the historical background of this conflict before one can understand the current situation at hand. The major reason for the intractable differences between Palestine and Israel is that the entire land was occupied by the two rivals with Muslims being the majority, and Christians and Jews being the minority. These communities lived peacefully for several years despite their different religious background.  

It was until the late 19th century that the Arabs started revolting against the mass immigration of Jews into the region of Palestine still under the control of both the Ottoman Rule and the British Rule (Gelvin, 2007). Most of Jews under Zionist movement, a national movement created by the objective of finding Jewish homeland for Jews who were spread across the world, were motivated to settle in Palestine as their homeland. They immigrated in a large number and bought land in Palestine, and this did not settle well with the indigenous people, mainly the Arabs, who were the majority (“A Synopsis of the Israeli/Palestine Conflict”, 2011). The Arab Palestinians were always conscious of their identity, and they feared that the immigrants would erode it. Consequently, the conflict broke out between the Arab nationalists, mainly from Palestine, and the Zionist movement, but the other Arab national movements from Middle East joined the war. Since then, Arab leadership waged war and anti-Jewish revolt in support of Arab Palestine self-determination.  

However, the biggest shocker was in 1947 when the United Nations General Assembly came up with a Partition Plan whose object was to uphold the Principe of self-determination for Jews. Gunderson (2004) acknowledges that a large chunk of the Palestine land was given to the Jewish minority, and the Arab Palestine were not happy with this decision, and as such they resorted to arms, but in the end Jewish Israel emerged as the victors annexing large chunk of Palestinian land. After another two decades of revolt from the Arab Palestine, however in small magnitude, Israel invaded more Palestinian land in the Six-Day War, whereby they managed to take over the Gaza Strip under Egypt and West Bank, which was under Jordan. Since then, the two countries, Israel and Palestine, have been entangled in a deep-rooted conflict that has led to the massive loss of property, destruction of lives and unquantifiable humanitarian crisis.

The two countries have been involved in different peace processes in an attempt to help them solve their long-standing differences. Gelvin (2007) asserts that the key among the peace deals are the Oslo Accord and Camp David Summit under President Clinton. It is during the peace agreements that Palestine reclaimed the West Bank and Gaza Strip though Israel is still in control of the inflow and the outflow of people and goods in and out of these territories. Some of Israelites are still settled in West Bank, which is an act that is considered illegitimate by many voices across the world (“A Synopsis of the Israeli/Palestine Conflict”, 2011). Israel has continued to control operations of West Bank despite the fact that it was meant to be an autonomous Palestinian state after the Camp David Summit. Fatah party is still under the control of the West Bank. Gaza Strip, on the other hand, was taken over by the Hamas government, which has stood by their conviction that Israel has no right to exist. They have in a number of occasions claimed responsibility for the acts of terror and violence waged against Israel over the recent past. The intrusion of both Israel and Gaza under Hamas against each other has been in the public domain over the past few years considering that Hamas is always hostile against the blockade created by the Israeli government on Gaza. Israel has placed land, air and water blockade on Gaza in addition to operating all the checkpoints and borderlines. This means that the Palestinians in Gaza do not enjoy freedom of movement.  

At the initial stages of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the main issue was land. That was in late 19th century during the Zionist movement establishment of the Jewish nation state, but as time lapses, the conflict is becoming more complex as more issues arise. For instance, there is water issue, human rights abuses, restriction of movement of people and goods, terrorism, religious extremism, displacement, humanitarian crisis, violence, military intrusion, struggle for self-determination and social status. There is no doubt that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is in its advanced stages considering that both of the parties have not been in a position to reach an amicable solution in at least 100 years but instead growing apart (Ehrenfeld, 2012). Israel has often resorted to military intervention when dealing with their neighbours. For instance, Israeli Defence Forces has had uncountable military offensive in Palestine region, particularly Hamas controlled areas of Gaza Strip. Most of their raids are mostly air attacks, which targets mainly Hamas bases and infrastructure.  

The long-standing Palestine-Israeli conflict at its current state is certainly the worst challenge that the two states have faced. This is because it is ancient as it can only be traced back to over 100 years. Secondly, this conflict has resulted in massive destruction of lives and property, major humanitarian crisis and the widespread abuse of human rights (Ehrenfeld, 2012). There are no real statistics regarding the number of casualties, but it is estimated in hundreds of thousands. Lives have been lost massively, and this includes both civilians and soldiers. This is because as time elapses and so is the inclusion of sophisticated military weapons such as ballistic missiles, fighter jets and machine guns leading to the increased number of casualties. Apart from the massive destruction of lives, another major cost associated with the Israeli-Palestine conflict is grave destruction of property.

Air raids by the Israeli and Hamas soldiers have left many people homeless, and government facilities damaged social utilities such as hospitals, water supply systems, and mosques. Civilians consist of the major victims of the continuous conflict between these antagonists as they are always caught up in the crossfire. It is unfortunate that this conflict is causing massive humanitarian crisis, especially the rising number of refugees in Palestinian camps. Palestinians have been displaced from their land into refugee camps not only in the Palestinian land but also in other countries such as Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon. Most of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank are living in deplorable conditions owing to the land, air and water blockade put in place by the Israeli Government (Gunderson, 2004). This means that this conflict between Israel and Palestine has not benefited any of the parties considering that both of the parties have lost lives and property in large magnitude since the beginning of the conflict 1 century ago.  

Yes, the Palestine-Israeli conflict is an intractable one. This is because it is deeply rooted in high-stake distributional issues, irreconcilable moral differences and domination conflicts. In other words, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is largely an intractable identity conflict (Coleman et.al, 2007). This claim can be justified by the fact that these two parties are divided according to their religious backgrounds, which are majorly Jewish and Muslim population. Each of these groups wants to uphold their moral standards as per their religious and cultural premises thus drawing them wide apart. The fact that Israel and Palestine conflict is motivated by the distribution of scarce resources, majorly land and water, makes it an intractable conflict (Coleman et.al, 2007). These two nations have been struggling over land issue over the last century and, above all, the need for self-determination as no one wants to feel undermined by the neighbour. Both Israel and Palestine wants to feel in control of their territory and civilians, but the mistrust between them is derailing their efforts.

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