The Israel- Palestinian war started in 1948, it is also known as the war of independence by Palestinians. Also, it is called Arab- Israel war. It all sparked with the establishment of the state of Israel after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced. Since then, the conflict has continued up to date. There have been many deaths, suicidal bombers, and heavy loss of properties on both sides. These conflicts are not consistent but keep escalating. One may wonder whether there will ever be peace. What are the peace brokers doing to bring an end to this long protracted conflict? What are the prospects of peace? This paper will specifically focus on these two questions. The paper will give you a brief history of how things have been, the measures that were taken to end the conflict, how currently the situation is, and finally on the prospects of peace.
After Israel achieved independence (Ross D., 2004) it was invaded by Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. At this time Israel was a small state with a very small population. The Arab nations were against the United Nations’ decision to partition Palestine into two states. The decision did not amuse the Palestine and Arab states. So, Israel was attacked by Arab states after it declared its independence on 14th May 1948 though it managed to defend itself. The war came to an end in 1949 after an armistice was signed. This led to the enlargement of the state of Israel more than what was agreed on by the United Nations partition plan.
The Israel-Palestinian conflict is a contest between these two countries over the claim of the same land area. After the 1948 war, Israel extended its borders by taking a portion of Jerusalem.
In 1956, (Carter J., 2006) Egypt invaded Israel by closing the straits of Tiran to the shipping bases of Israel and took control over the Gulf of Aqaba. This was against the Constantinople agreement of 1888; it was also a violation of the 1949 armistice which was signed by Arab nations and Israel. On 1956, 26th of July Egypt owned the Suez Canal Company and denied its access to Israeli ships. Israel retaliated by invading the Sinai Peninsula. It also captured the Gaza strip. It was supported by Britain and France but U.S and UN stopped this war and an armistice was signed. Israel withdrew from Egypt’s territory and it was allowed to access the region. After the war, the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) was created. It was supposed to see the demilitarization of Sinai.
In 1967 May, Egypt chased the UNEF observes and recruited about a hundred thousand soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula thus reverting to the 1956 status quo. In 1967 May Jordan, Egypt and Syria entered into a mutual defense pact that prompted Israel to embark on a pre-emptive attack in Egypt. It released almost all of its planes to those of Egypt and weakened them, then turned to Jordanian, Syrian, and Iraqi air forces. The war took six days where Israel emerged as the winner. In 1967, the Arab leaders met in Sudan, Khartoum to discuss Arab nations and Palestine. They concluded that the state of Israel was not to be recognized as a legal state, there was to be no peace in There was to be no compromise or negotiations to be held between Israel and Arabs.
Egypt in 1969 started to revenge for what had happened in 1967. It wanted Israel to surrender the Sinai Peninsula. This war continued until Egypt’s president Abdul Nasser died in 1970. In 1973, war broke out between Israel, Syria, and Egypt. This war had a lot of cold war influence for it involved the superpowers-USA and USSR. Israel had already shown signs of winning the war when the USSR threatened to take military action against Israel. When the US saw this they quickly secured a ceasefire so that nuclear war could be avoided.
From 1974 to the present, the war has continued between Arabs states and Israel. There are so many peace agreements that have been signed. For example, in the 1970s Camp David accords were signed. Here the Sinai Peninsula was to be returned and the Gaza strip would remain in the hands of Israel. In 1994, Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty to resolve all their differences. In 1981, Iraq was attacked by Israel and destroyed all their newly Iraq nuclear machinery. Later during the gulf war, Iraq fired many missiles but Israel refused to respond to prevent a war outbreak.
In 1957, the PLO in conjunction with Syria threw missiles at Israel and later were invaded by Lebanon. In 1983, Israel and Lebanon signed a ceasefire. Two years later, all the Israel forces had moved out and left an open space where Syria and Hezbollah filled. In 2002 in response to Aqsa Intifada, Israel’s force ravaged some properties in the West bank. In 2005, Ariel Sharon the prime minister withdrew his army from the Gaza strip (Rubin B., 2007)
In 2006, July some Hezbollah troops approached Israel from Lebanon. They attacked kidnapped and killed people. A UN ceases fire was signed in 2006 that officially ended the conflict. On September 6th, Israel attacked and bombed a Syrian complex in the North that was said to hold nuclear weapons from North Korea.
Attempts to bring peace
There have been various attempts to bring peace between Israel and Palestine (Ami B.S., 2006) For example, in 1993 leaders from the Palestine liberation organization (PLO) met to resolve this conflict under what was called the Oslo peace process. This time Arafat recognized that the state of. Israel existed. It was agreed that Israel should vacate the Palestinian territories in exchange for peace from Palestinians. This progressed slowly but finally, it became a closed chapter when Yasser Arafat and Barak disagreed over the status of Jerusalem. If this agreement succeeded, it would have put a full stop to that long peace struggle. I think Israel was responsible for this continued conflict because if it returned the territories it had grabbed from Palestine during the 1948 Arab-Israel war, the tug of war could have come to an end.
Another peace initiative took place in 2002; here a proposal was made by the European Union, the UN, the US, and Russia. The group was referred to as the quartet. Israel gave 14 conditions that were to be met before it accepted the proposal. The proposal never touched the fate of Jerusalem but was set to be discussed later. The changes Israel wanted to be effected were not welcomed by Palestine. The peace process did not even pass through phase one of its proposal which called for Israel to stop violence and to stop making constructions it was making. It seems Israel was not interested in the peace process. If it was, then it could not have given those unachievable conditions. It could have let the negotiations proceed. This conflict is fueled by western politics. It is like the US is supporting Israel while Russia supports the Arab nations. These western nations if anything, should be facilitators of peace but not parties to the conflict (Oren M., 2002)
Also, there was another peace initiative that was proposed by the crown prince of Saudi Arabia- Abdullah. It was made at the Beirut summit. The proposal was Okayed by all Arab states including those of the Hamas and Fatah factions. Unlike the Road Map for peace, it proposed the final solutions to the problem. It laid the strategies to be followed in the peace-building process.
The proposal argued Israel remove its force from all the illegally occupied territories that included Golan Heights, to recognize the independent state of Palestine with its capital city at East Jerusalem, to vacate the West Bank as well as the Gaza strip. They also provided a lasting solution for the Palestinians in Diaspora. Israel rejected this proposal at first but Arabs continued to offer it as the best of the solutions that so far had been raised. In my view, this proposal was excellent. There is nowhere that it compromised the state of Israel. This proposal required Israel to vacate from the soils of Palestine. The proposal did recognize the state of Israel unlike those that were signed by Egypt Syria and Jordan which never recognized Israel as a legal state.
In 2003, Arial Sharon announced that he would vacate the Gaza strip with all the civilians and military weapons but to continue to supervise and guard the external borders except that crossing with Egypt which is jointly manned by the Palestinian national authority together with European Union. They wanted the Gaza strip to be free but to continue building the wall. That is the Israel-West Bank barrier and to maintain the West Bank as it is (Mark P., 1994.)
Israel effected their disengagement plan in 2005 between August and September. This process was popular amongst Israelis and helped Olmert Ellud the prime minister to win the forthcoming election when Sharon got incapacitated by the strike. As preparations for Israel to vacate the Gaza strip, a ceasefire was signed in 2005 between Fatah and Hamas but other factions rejected this plea and continued to level attacks against Israel.
When this failed Israel resumed its military actions and targeted militants who operated from the Gaza strip and organized attacks against it. Later full violence broke out again when Hamas officials were killed by an Israel missile on 5th 2006. The following day rockets were fired by the Popular Resistance Group though no deaths were reported. Israel retaliated by directing its airstrikes to its attackers. Five Palestinians were killed and 20 wounded when shots were fired by Israel’s navy boats. By this time the conflict was in its full swing and Hamas called off the 16 old days cease-fire (Lughod A., and Toynbee J A., 1987)
Since then, there have been a lot of military activities going on in Gaza and Palestinian where both sides were revenging on each other. In June 2006 Hamas captured a 19 years old Israel IDF soldier an action that made Israel execute a military operation against the said attackers. The peace process was further compromised by the fact that they won in the 2006 Palestinian legislative council and its new leader Ismael Haniyeh ascended to the post of the prime minister. He complicated the situation when he declared that he did not recognize the existence of Israel as a state. This to me was a very big threat to the peace process building. Haniyah reverted to the situation that was there before. This time around, Israel was more understanding than before. Removing its forces from Gaza was something they haven’t done before which could be termed as positive.
In 2007 (Maxine R., 1973) Hamas and Fatah met to discuss how they can form a new unity government. Immediately after Haniyer resigned, Hamas and Fatah assumed leadership in March 2007. After some time, this coalition government collapsed and both started disagreeing. They even started engaging in a physical struggle. Hamas defeated Fatah and took control of the Gaza strip while Fatah took control over the west Bank. Gaza did not recognize the existence of Israel. Economic sanctions were placed on Gaza due to its renewed fighting’s between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza strip.
Since then, Hamas has been trying to secure cease-fires but Israel has turned down their pleas. The U.S has been trying to speed up the peace process by clearing the obstacles that impeded the withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza strip and some and some west bank regions (Morris B., 1993) This was being done by the secretary of state Condoleezza Rice who appointed Wolfensohn James the former World Bank president. This was a step in the right direction to help these two warring nations to come to peace terms. Other countries should also feel free to help these countries to stop their conflict. Even when President Bush of the U.S met Sharon in Crawford, he openly stated that he was opposed to the idea of Israel expanding its territory. He asked him to support the US-backed peace processes and avoid conflicts.
Judging from what we have seen we now do understand why there are a lot of suicidal bombers in Palestine who are ready to sacrifice themselves for their country. The whole war is about the illegal occupation by Israel so if only Israel could vacate all these territories, the struggle would soon come to an end and both states would be peaceful. If this is not solved, then there are no prospects of peace between Israel and Palestine.
- Maxine R., 1973.Israel a Colonial Settler State?: Monad Press.
- Lughod A., and Toynbee J A., 1987. The Transformation of Palestine: Essays on the Origin and Development of the Arab- Israel Conflict: North Western University Press
- Morris B., 1993. Israelis Border Wars 1949-1956: Arab Infiltration Israel Retaliation and the Count Down to the Suez War: Oxford University Press, New York
- Mark P., 1994. A Fire in Zion: The Israeli-Palestinian Search for Peace: William Morrow and CO., Inc.
- Ami B.S., 2006. Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israel Arab Tragedy: Oxford University Press.
- Carter J., 2006. Palestine Peace not Apartheid: Simon & Schuster.
- Rubin B., 2007. The Truth about Syria: Palgrave, Macmillan.
- Oren M., 2002. Six Days of War: 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East: Oxford University Press.
- Ross D., 2004. The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace: Farrar Straus and Giroux New York.