10 December 2023

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The Israel-Palestine Conflict: A Complex History

Palestine's map

The Israel-Palestine Conflict: A Complex History

(Web Desk) A Complex history overview of the Israel-Palestine war conflict.

Ottoman Empire to British Mandate
  • Historical Background: The region historically known as Palestine was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire until the early 20th century.
  • Ottoman Rule: The Ottoman Empire governed this area for centuries, encompassing various ethnic and religious communities, including Arabs and Jews.
  • British Mandate: After World War I, as the Ottoman Empire disintegrated, the British Empire took control of Palestine through a League of Nations mandate.

Palestine map before 1948

Balfour Declaration and Rising Jewish Immigration
  • The Balfour Declaration: In 1917, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration, which expressed support for a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, a pivotal moment that set the stage for Israel’s establishment.
  • Jewish Immigration: With British permission, Jewish immigrants began arriving in Palestine, significantly increasing their population share.
    Holocaust Survivors’ Migration: The horrors of the Holocaust in Europe prompted Jewish survivors to migrate to Palestine despite British efforts to limit immigration.

Balfour declaration 1917

UN Partition and the Birth of Israel
  • United Nations Resolution 181: In 1947, the United Nations passed Resolution 181, which called for the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, leading to the creation of Israel in 1948.
  • Establishment of Israel: Israel declared its independence, and the Arab-Israeli War followed, marking the establishment of the Israeli state.

Palestine map 1948

“Al-Naqba” – The Palestinian Catastrophe
  • Displacement of the people of Palestine: The victory of Israel in the war resulted in the mass displacement of around 700,000 Palestinians, a traumatic event known as “Al Naqba” or “the Catastrophe.”
  • Refugee Crisis: The Palestine’s refugee crisis began, with displaced Palestinians and their descendants still seeking the right to return to their ancestral homes.
The Formation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)
  • Yasser Arafat and Fatah: In 1959, Yasser Arafat and others established Fatah, a Palestinian resistance group, to counter Israeli occupation.
  • Creation of the PLO: In 1964, Palestinian leaders joined forces to create the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to coordinate their resistance efforts.
The Six-Day War (AL-NAKSA)
  • Six-Day War (1967): The Six-Day War in 1967 was a conflict between Israel and its neighboring Arab states, which Israel won, resulting in significant territorial gains.
  • Israeli Gains: Israel gained control of territories, including east Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula.
  • Return of the Sinai Peninsula: Israel later returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt as part of the Camp David Accords in 1978.
The 1973 War and Peace Efforts
  • October Arab-Israeli War (1973): In 1973, another conflict occurred, leading to a ceasefire agreement involving the United States.
  • Peace Initiatives: Various peace initiatives and negotiations have taken place over the years, reflecting ongoing efforts to find a lasting solution to the conflict.
Yasser Arafat’s Appeal to the UN
  • Arafat’s UN Address: Yasser Arafat, then the leader of the PLO, addressed the United Nations General Assembly in 1974. In his speech, he rejected the label of “terrorist” and appealed for UN assistance in facilitating the peace process.
  • “Olive Branch and Freedom Fighter’s Gun:” Arafat’s famous words in this speech were, “Today I come bearing an olive branch in one hand, and the freedom fighter’s gun in the other. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.” It symbolized his dual approach to seeking both peace and justice.
The First Intifada
  • Intifada’s Origins: The First Intifada, also known as the Palestinian Uprising, began in 1987. It was sparked by an incident at an Israeli-Palestinian checkpoint. Palestinian protests and acts of resistance, often non-violent, played a significant role.
  • Israeli Response: Israel responded with force, leading to a period of heightened tensions. The First Intifada would later pave the way for the Oslo Accords, a series of agreements between Israel and the PLO.

Palestine map over the years

Oslo Accords and a Glimpse of Peace
  • Madrid Peace Conference: In 1991, a peace conference was hosted in Madrid, co-hosted by the US and the USSR. It laid the groundwork for subsequent negotiations.
  • Oslo Accords: The Oslo Accords of 1993 marked a significant step toward peace. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat signed these agreements, leading to the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority and a partial Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and Jericho.
  • Nobel Peace Prize: For their roles in the Oslo Accords, Rabin, Arafat, and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.
Yitzhak Rabin’s Assassination and the Second Intifada
  • Rabin’s Assassination: In 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli Zionist who opposed the Oslo peace process. This event had a significant impact on the peace efforts.
  • Second Intifada: The Second Intifada occurred between 2000 and 2005. It was marked by increased violence and a breakdown of peace talks, leaving both Israelis and Palestinians wary of the peace process.
US Aid to Israel and Jerusalem Recognition
  • US Military Aid: In 2016, the United States agreed to a 10-year military aid plan for Israel worth $38 billion, the largest such deal in US history.
  • Jerusalem Recognition: In 2017, US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and ordered the relocation of the US Embassy to the city, leading to international controversy.
Trump’s “Deal of the Century”
  • Trump’s Peace Plan: In 2020, President Trump unveiled his Middle East Peace Plan, referred to as the “Deal of the Century.” However, this plan was rejected by the Palestinians, the Arab League, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
  • Controversial Aspects: The plan was seen by critics as ill-advised and as undermining the two-state solution, offering economic incentives in exchange for significant Palestinian concessions.

The Israel-Palestine conflict has deep historical roots, marked by multiple wars, peace initiatives, and international involvement. The narratives of both Israel and Palestine play a significant role in the ongoing disputes and efforts to find a lasting resolution. This complex history remains a central issue in the Middle East, marked by deep emotions, historical grievances, and a quest for justice and peace.

Maheen Iftikhar.
The writer is a BS Mass Communication graduate with a specialization in PR, Research, and Advertising from Lahore Garrison University

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