A Primer on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


Timeline of land transfers between Israel and Palestine

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is characterized by its deeply rooted polarizing nature. The themes of nations, homelands, and ownership are all enveloped in the conflict. The background of the conflict resides in the United Nations Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel on the 14th of May, 1948. Many Jewish Zionists had been moving into the territory of Palestine in an effort to live in the land of the “Chosen People” and in 1948 the wishes of the Zionists were granted. On that same day the Arab League declared war on Israel and invaded the new country from all sides. The result of the war was 15,000 dead, the West Bank annexed by Jordan, and the Gaza Strip taken by Egypt. These areas were not under Israeli control until the 6 Day War occurred in 1967. After another Israeli victory, control over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, populated almost entirely with Palestinians, was handed to Israel.

Consequently, in 1987 the first Palestinian Intifada (uprising) occurred as a response to Israeli occupation of lands that Palestinians primarily lived in. The result of the uprising was the Oslo Accords peace deal in 1993 which granted a Palestinian governing body in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip called the Palestinian National Authority. This deal was opposed by both radical Palestinian groups like Hamas and radical Israelis alike (one of whom assassinated the Israeli Prime Minister Rabin). In 2000 tensions boiled over and the Second Intifada occurred. Around 130 people were killed and in 2005 Israel agreed to pull all soldiers out of the Gaza Strip. Immediately following the disengagement of Israeli soldiers in Gaza, Hamas took control by winning 44% of the Palestinian parliament in 2006. Hamas refused to acknowledge the right of the State of Israel to exist, prompting Israeli sanctions and blockades of resources to the Gaza Strip. Rockets are still launched from Hamas controlled territory in Gaza into Israeli lands.


The areas in most dispute

            One of the many prominent issues regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today is the creation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and whether or not they are legally allowed to be there. After the Six Day War and in the 1990s, Israel began to reestablish communities that had been destroyed in the 1948 invasion of Israel. These settlements and communities exist within the West Bank territory that has been delegated to the Palestinians. In 2009 around 300,000 people lived in the West Bank settlements. Many countries and transnational organizations like the EU have called out Israel for allowing the settlements exist. The argument is that the settlements damage any prospect for a peace talk between Israelis and Palestinians to occur. Israel backs up its own settlements by citing various Geneva Convention articles and resolutions from the UN Security Council. In 2009 Obama declared that the US would not accept the legitimacy of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Almost eight years later and the fundamentals of the conflict haven’t changed. While attention has turned towards Syria, Iraq and the advent of ISIS, the longstanding conflict is still a formidable problem.


The West Bank Jewish settlement of Ariel

The West Bank Settlements in 2013


Simon Cohen is a second-year in the college. He is from El Cerrito, California (Bay Area).

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