Keys to understanding the Israel-Palestine conflict: what is its origin?

Israel-Palestine conflict

The conflict between Israel and Palestine added a new chapter to its long history last Saturday, October 7, after the Hamas terrorist attack in Israeli territory. In these ten days in which violence once again escalated in that area of ​​the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has been going on for more than seven decades without concrete solutions and agreements, was once again placed at the center of the international scene.

In the book 300 questions in 300 words, the author Gabriel Ben Tasgal explains in detail the details of a conflict that persists to this day and continues to claim the lives of thousands of innocent people on both sides.

Starting this Wednesday, The Market Times will publish a series of articles to help better understand the conflict that has the world in suspense again today.

Despite attempts at peace, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to claim the lives of thousands of people on both sides (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)Despite attempts at peace, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to claim the lives of thousands of people on both sides (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Also read: What is the origin of Hamas?: history of the group at war with Israel

Same conflict, two very different perspectives

The author highlights a fundamental difference in the genesis of the conflict, which is vital to understanding the behavior of the parties. As he explains, for the vast majority of Jews who inhabit the State of Israel, the conflict is territorial. On the other hand, for the majority of the Palestinian people, it is religious.

According to Jewish beliefs, land is less important than life. Therefore, ceding territories considered “national” represents a justified action as long as it guarantees peace.

However, traditional Islam considers Jews to be a false religion, and does not recognize them as a people. In addition, it accuses them of occupying properties inherited from Islam and of retaining part of the Islamic holy land that cannot be ceded.

Israeli tanks head to the border in the Gaza Strip in southern Israel (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)Israeli tanks head to the border in the Gaza Strip in southern Israel (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Brief history of the conflict

In 1922, the League of Nations – an international organization created by the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919 after the First World War – placed a series of former Ottoman territories under British administration. One of them was Palestine. Under the “Balfour Declaration,” the British endorsed the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

The British mandate took place between 1922 and 1947, a period in which the Second World War also took place. In those years, the first great wave of migration of Jews to that territory occurred, mainly from Eastern Europe. The largest number of migrants was recorded in the 1930s as a result of persecution by Nazi Germany.

But the Arab population rejected the presence of the Jews, and between 1936 and 1939 there were several riots. As a result of this outbreak, in 1937 a British commission put forward the following proposal: dividing into an Arab state, a Jewish state and a neutral zone for sacred places. However, that idea did not prosper.

After considering various options to find a solution to the conflict, the United Kingdom finally went to the United Nations in 1947. The body proposed a two-state solution that would divide the land between Jews and Arabs, and place Jerusalem under international rule. Neither party was completely satisfied. But the Partition Plan was accepted by the Zionists, while the Arabs considered it unfair since they maintained that the Jews had no right to the land. Amid support and rejection among the countries of the international community, on May 14, 1948, David Ben Gurion declared the independence of the new state of Israel.

This did not go down well in the region, and that same year the first of a series of wars between Arabs and Israelis occurred, with the invasion initiated by Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon. In that conflict Israel occupied 77% of the territory that Palestine had held under the British mandate, including most of Jerusalem. The rest of the territory that had been assigned to the Arab State by the United Nations remained under the control of Jordan and Egypt.

In September 1993, Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in Washington: in the image, the then Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, shakes hands with the former leader of the Palestinian PLO, Yasser Arafat, in front of Bill Clinton (REUTERS /Gary Hershorn)In September 1993, Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in Washington: in the image, the then Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, shakes hands with the former leader of the Palestinian PLO, Yasser Arafat, in front of Bill Clinton (REUTERS /Gary Hershorn)

In June 1967, the Six-Day War took place between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Israel defeated the Arab armies and managed to double its lands to include the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, Gaza and the West Bank.

A few years earlier, in 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was born, which took up the Palestinian cause and achieved its greatest expansion under the command of Yasser Arafat. The most radical wing of the PLO appealed to terrorism, as when it hijacked Western planes bound for Amman (Jordan). In 1972, Palestinian terrorists caused a strong global shock by carrying out an attack against the Israeli delegation at the Munich Olympic Games, which left eleven members of the Olympic team dead.

As Jordan found itself unable to control the PLO, it attacked its bases and refugee camps in 1971. Already displaced to Lebanon, they contributed to the start of the civil war in 1975. In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon with the stated objective of eliminating to the Palestinian organization. After a ceasefire, the Palestinians withdrew from Beirut and moved to neighboring countries; most of the leaders went into exile in Tunisia.

In the 1980s the PLO changed strategy and began a rebellion in the occupied territories. This led to the first intifada in 1987, when a mass uprising began against the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. The following year Arafat proclaimed the independence of Palestine.

The first intifada finally ended in September 1993 with the Oslo Accords, signed in Washington. After the fall of the Soviet Union, which was one of the main sources of weapons for the Arab countries, the PLO chose to negotiate peace with Israel. The agreements established the Palestinian National Authority to govern Gaza and the West Bank. However, differences remained and in 2000 the second intifada broke out, in which the Islamist movement Hamas– whose founding dates back to 1987 during the first intifada – assumed a greater role, increasing violence in the region.

Hamas terrorists de facto govern the Gaza Strip (EFE/Mohammed Saber)Hamas terrorists de facto govern the Gaza Strip (EFE/Mohammed Saber)

Arafat died in 2004, and the leadership of the PLO passed to Mahmoud Abbas. In 2013, the Palestinian National Authority was renamed the State of Palestine. Today, however, several countries do not recognize it as such.

Faced with the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, considered a terrorist group by Israel, the United States and Western powers, has ruled de facto in Gaza since 2006. Since its emergence, Palestinian extremists – financially and militarily sponsored by the Iranian regime – have launched countless attacks. with rockets and missiles on Israeli territory, which has caused four wars between Hamas and Israel to date (2008, 2012, 2014 and 2021). In addition, they dug hundreds of tunnels to infiltrate Israeli territory and thus carry out attacks and kidnappings of civilians and soldiers. All this, with one goal: to destroy Israel and create an independent Islamic state.

Faced with this situation, and within the framework of Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009), Israel established a blockade against the Strip to prevent the entry of weapons.

Despite attempts at peace, violence was a constant in that region of the Middle East, which for decades has claimed the lives of Israelis and Palestinians and accusations of attacks from both sides.

Jerusalem, one of the flashpoints of conflict between Israel and Palestine (Ilia Yefimovich/Dpa)
Jerusalem, one of the flashpoints of conflict between Israel and Palestine (Ilia Yefimovich/Dpa)

Also read: Who finances Hamas? A global network of crypto, cash and charities

The Israeli proposal that Palestine did not accept and the current situation of the territories

As Ben Tasgal said, for the Palestinians the conflict is not territorial. And that was made clear by Mahmoud Abbas in 2008. In September of that year, the then Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, offered a proposal to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, which included the establishment of a Palestinian State recognized internationally and by Israel.

According to the author, Olmert‘s logic was as follows: “Israel keeps the vast majority of Israeli citizens but gives up the vast majority of disputed territories and even compensates for the annexed blocks.”

In addition, to link Gaza to the West Bank, it offered a four-lane route located in Israeli territory where only Palestinian cars would circulate.

For Jerusalem, another focus of the conflict, the proposal was the following: the Jewish neighborhoods would be for Israel, while the Arab ones would be for the Palestinian State. The Old City, meanwhile, would be divided into two: the Arab Christian and Muslim neighborhoods would be Palestinian, and the Armenian and Jewish neighborhoods would correspond to Israel. What is on the Temple Mount, for its part, would remain for Palestine, and the Western Wall would remain Jewish.

Abbas, however, did not respond to the offer with the excuse that Olmert was about to resign. Like Arafat in the past, he did not propose a counteroffer.

In February 2004, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced a plan to withdraw all Jewish settlements and troops from Gaza. In September 2005, the Israeli flag was lowered in GazaUntil June 2007, control of the enclave was under the control of the Palestinian Authority, which was later overthrown by Hamas terrorists. Since then, the Gaza Strip has been controlled by extremists.

The situation in the West Bank, however, is different. Through the Oslo accords, Palestinians assumed self-government in Palestinian cities and some 450 towns. The area was divided into three territories: A, B and C.

The A territories are made up of RamallahBethlehemJerichoJeninTulkaremKalkilyaNablus and the Arab part of Hebron. Under civil and military rule of the Palestinian Authority, Israeli civilians cannot enter there by order of their government for fear of being killed.

The B territories are civilly and police administered by the Palestinian Authority, while perimeter security is provided by Israel.

The C territories, meanwhile, are under civil and military control of Israel, and represent 60% of the West Bank.