Thursday, 6 December 2012

A Brief Political and Historical Context of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

A Very brief historical context of the Palestinian Israeli Conflict

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict started as a result of the Balfour Declaration (1917) included in the mandate of Palestine after the First World War, where Britain supported Zionist aspirations for the creation of the state of Israel. 

Post World War 2

In 1947 Great Britain handed responsibility for Palestine to the United Nations. This increased support from the West towards Zionist wishes to create a Jewish state after the Second World War, against the wishes of its Palestinian Arab inhabitants.

Subsequently, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to partition Palestine into an Arab state, a Jewish state and the City of Jerusalem.1 Conflict broke out between Zionist forces and Palestinians. Zionist military superiority enabled Jewish forces to gain control of the territory awarded to them in the 1947 partition plan, resulting in Israel’s independence declaration in 1948. Jordan opposed Palestinian self-determination, like the Zionists, and accepted the idea of partition to divide Palestine with Israel. Jordan and neighbouring countries with Israel, such as Egypt, were therefore drawn into the ensuing conflict.


At this time many Palestinian people lost their homes and livelihoods as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 1948 termed by Palestinians as Nakba ‘catastrophe’ . Currently, according the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, one third of registered Palestinian refugees live in 58 recognised refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza strip and the West Bank and Jerusalem.2 This is the result of Israeli settlement building, illegal under International Law where Palestinians were, and still are, denied rights to land ownership.

1950-Present Day

For this reason, many surrounding states today have an interest in the situation of the conflict. Numerous peace accords have been signed and many wars fought in the Middle East such as the Six Day War of 1968 and more recently the War with Lebanon in 2006, all in the name of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and it’s influence across state borders.

Instead of uniting behind the rhetoric of Arab Nationalism - which during the reign of Nasser’s Egypt in the 1950’s united around such frameworks of anti-colonial sentiment and the support of the Palestinian-nation’s right to self-determination - new waves of Islamism and the growing power of Hamas, recognised as a terrorist organisation by both the US and EU, means new power balances with Israel are playing out, questioning its security and national integrity giving Israel a reason to clamp down further on Palestinian wishes.

Coupled with United States support for Israel, and US influence throughout the Middle East in supporting regimes such as Saudi Arabia through such means as oil and arms hinders the advancement of peace in the region. This is also further exacerbated by US - Iranian relations that still remain difficult. Thus it serves the US to maintain support of Israel as a counter measure against Iranian power in the Middle East.

The Jewish Lobby in the United States still holds great influence in discussions pertaining to Israel and Palestine, hindering negotiation within the International Community in relation to the Middle East and the Palestinian question. It must not be forgotten however that Hamas is also recognised as a terrorist organisation within the International Community, also posing serious problems for negotiation.


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