The recent fighting between Israel and Hamas, is the latest in seven decades of war and conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians. At least 1300 Israeli citizens—most of them apparently civilians including military persons have been killed, and more than one hundred were taken hostage. The Israeli state quickly retaliated with widespread bombing on civilian population in Gaza killing more than 2700 Palestinians including 500 hundred children and displaced about 235000 People so far, keeping Gaza under complete siege by the Israeli military.
Arab-Israel conflicts in historical perspective.
The Arab–Israeli conflict is deeply routed in the past. This conflict has a religious aspect too. The Jews believe that they are the chosen people with regard to the “Promised land and the “Chosen City” of Juriselium
Muslims also claim rights to that land in accordance with the Quran, Contrary to the Jewish claim that this land was promised only to the descendants of Abraham grand son yaqoob called Israel.
Palestine is the birthplace of Judaism and Christianity, and has been controlled by many kingdoms and powers, including Ancient Egypt, Ancient Israel and Judah, the Persian Empire, Alexander the Great and his successors, the Hasmoneans, the Roman Empire, several Muslim caliphates, and the crusaders. In 1516, the Ottoman Turks invaded and occupied Palestine, an occupation that lasted for 402 years (1516-1918),
The recent Arab Israel conflict was the outcome of several factors: the British occupation of territories previously ruled by the Ottoman Empire, the peace treaties that brought the First World War to an end, particularly Sykes-Picot Agreement and The Balfour Declaration, a letter written by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour in November 2, 1917), statement of British support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
The British controlled Palestine for almost three decades, under League of Nations and later on UN Mandate system for Palestine (1918-1948). During the Mandate, the area saw the rise of two nationalist movements: the Jews and the Palestinian Arabs including migration of Jews from western countries and their settlements on land of Palestine.
On November 29, 1947, the UNGA passed resolution 181, calling for the partition of historic Palestine, into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. The Partition Plan allocated approximately 55% of the land of historic Palestine to the Jewish state and just 42% to the Arab state. The city of Jerusalem was to be placed under international administration.
At the time, Arabs comprised about 67% of the population of Palestine, while Jews made up only about 33%, many of whom were recent immigrants from Europe. Although they were allocated more than half the area of historic Palestine under the Partition Plan, Jews only owned about 7% of the land in 1947. By 1949, approximately 750000 Palestinians, or 3/4 of the Arab population of Palestine, had been ethnically cleansed by Zionist and then Israeli forces in an effort to create a Jewish majority state.
While the State of Israel was established on 15 May 1948 by the majority vote in the UNGA and admitted to the United Nations and the Arabs in minority vote rejected the creation of Israel on their territory. The remaining territories of pre-1948 Palestine, the West Bank – including East Jerusalem- and Gaza Strip, were administered from 1948 till 1967 by Jordan and Egypt, respectively.
Arab-Israel Wars and its impacts on the region
Palestinians lament Israel’s creation as the Nakba, or catastrophe, that resulted in their dispossession and blocked their dreams of statehood. The first war (1948–49) began when Israel declared itself an independent state following the United Nations’ partition of Palestine. Protesting this move, five Arab countries—Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria—attacked Israel. The conflict ended with Israel gaining considerable territory.
In the war that followed, some 700,000 Palestinians, half the Arab population of what was British-ruled Palestine, fled or were driven from their homes, ending up in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria as well as in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Armistice pacts halted the fighting in 1949 but there was no formal peace. Since then all major Arab-Israeli wars: the 1948 Palestine war, the 1956 Suez war, the June 1967 Six-Day War, the 1969-70 War of Attrition, the October 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1982 Lebanon war, and the 1991 Gulf war have been fought but the they failed to reach on an agreement.
Among all wars, the Six-Day War, or Arab-Israeli War of 1967, War between Israel and the Arab countries of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan has left far reaching effects. Israel captured Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordon, though the Sinai Peninsula was later returned to Egypt.
Later on in the intervening years, Israel systematically transferred more than 500,000 Jewish colonists into the occupied territories in violation of international law part of a plan designed to prevent a viable, sovereign Palestinian state from ever being established there.
In 2005 Israel quit Gaza, which it had captured from Egypt in 1967. But Gaza saw major flare-ups in 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2021 that involved Israeli air raids and Palestinian rocket fire, and sometimes also cross-border incursions by either side. There have been two Palestinian intifadas or uprisings between 1987-1993 and again in 2000-05. The second saw waves of Hamas suicide bombings against Israelis.
Peace efforts made in the past with out any tangible results
In 1979, Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty, ending 30 years of hostility. In 1993, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Arafat shook hands on the Oslo Accord which provided the two-nation solution but that was not acceptable even then for ultra-rightwing Israelis which later resulted in the murder of then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the rise of extreme fundamentalist politicians such as Netanyahu.
In 1994, Israel signed a peace treaty with Jordan. The Camp David summit of 2000 saw President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Arafat fail to reach a final peace deal.
In 2002, an Arab plan offered a peace with Israel of all Arab countries in return for a full withdrawal from the lands it took in the 1967, the creation of a Palestinian state and a “just solution” for Palestinian refugees but the Peace efforts have been stalled since 2014, when talks failed between Israelis and Palestinians in Washington.
Palestinians later boycotted dealings with the administration of US President Donald Trump since it reversed decades of US policy by refusing to the two states solution peace formula that envisages a Palestinian state established in territory that Israel captured in 1967.
The US President Joe Biden has focused on trying to secure a “grand bargain” in the Middle East that includes normalisation of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Since 2005, when Israeli troops left the Gaza Strip after 38 years of direct occupation, Israel has been periodically making war with Gaza every two to three years — each time killing thousands, razing infrastructure to ground. Gaza has been turned a largest open-air prison of the world. Gaza is the living hell on the face of earth and densely populated area of one hundred km hosting of 2.3 million people. More than 90 % have no access to clean drinking water. 70% youths are jobless having no access to education and health care. The Gazan cannot trade or travel, and they cannot have an airport, an army or an embassy. Though situated in the centre of the globe, they are completely isolated from it.
Impacts of Hamas attacks and its repercussions.
The recent Hamas attack on Israel, launched on the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, is a stark reminder of the enduring tensions in the Middle East, fueled by the intricate and unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On the other hand Israel commits every kind of genocidal act on the Gazans — from repeated, un-proportional killings, to bombing homes of civilians, to using phosphorus bombs, and frequently cutting of supplies of food, fuel, electricity and water, practically making the health, education and even bare survival of the community impossible.
The recent escalation between Hamas and Israel should serve as a wake-up call to the international community. The current status quo in the Middle East is untenable, and achieving a just and lasting peace necessitates addressing the fundamental grievances of the Palestinian people and ensuring their participation in determining their future.
No doubt the recent Gaza conflict has seized the Abraham Accord process; it has seized the camaraderie of the Muslim Ummah; and it has seized the conscience of humanity. The latest Gaza-Israel war lunched by Hamas is diplomatically awkward for Riyadh as well as for other Arab states, including some Gulf Arab states next to Saudi Arabia, that have signed peace deals with Israel. Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, and Mauritania gradually recognized Israel. As part of the 2020 Abraham Accords, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco all have established normalized bilateral ties with Israel.
Hamas killing of Israeli civilian can’t be defended. No argument could possibly justify the targeting of innocent Israeli civilians but in reaction and retaliation the mass killing of innocent Palestinian, carpet bombing of residential buildings including hospitals and schools, raising these buildings to ground, besieging Gaza, ordering relocation of millions of civilians by Israeli military and denying humanitarian aid by Israel is equally condemnable.
Four main Israeli-Palestinian issues and way forward to durable solution of the conflict.
The core issues causing and fuelling Arab- Israel conflicts and hindering peace in the region are, 1) A two-state solution, 2) Israeli settlements, 3) the status of Jerusalem, and 4) refugees return to their home land.
The two-state solution: Earlier rejected by Arabs in 1948 proposed by UN, now an agreement that would create a state for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip alongside Israel is the only option and solution. PLA and most of the Arabs are in favour of the two states solution but Hamas backed by Iran has rejected the formula of the two-state solution and is sworn to Israel’s destruction which is not possible by any stretch of imagination . Israel has said a Palestinian state must be demilitarised so as not to threaten Israel.
Return of Refugees: Today about 5.6 million Palestinian refugees — mainly descendants of those who fled in 1948 and other Arab Israel conflicts live in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza. About half of registered refugees remain stateless, according to the Palestinian foreign ministry, many living in crowded camps. Palestinians have long demanded that refugees should be allowed to return, along with millions of their descendants. Israel says any resettlement of Palestinian refugees must occur outside of its borders
Israeli Settlements: Isreal continued illegal expansion and new settlements in the occupied territories is among the most contentious issues between Israel, the Palestinians and the international community. Most countries deem Jewish settlements built on land Israel occupied in 1967 as illegal. Israel disputes this and cites historical and Biblical ties to the land.
Status of Jerusalem: Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their new state which includes sites sacred to Muslims, Jews and Christians. Israel claims that Jerusalem should remain its “indivisible and eternal” capital. The international community is not endorsing Israel’s claim to the eastern part of Jerusalem and it should be internationalised. Though US former president Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — without specifying the extent of its jurisdiction in the disputed city — and moved the US embassy there in 2018.
I think the durable solution of the Arab Israel conflict and peace in the region is only possible in the “two states solution” and withdrawal of Israeli military from the occupied territories in 1967 war, as well offered by former and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, 1974 ,”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 has been almost 50 years since the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) delivered a speech on the floor of the UN General Assembly imploring the world to end the Israeli occupation and deliver peace to all of the region’s people. Now it is again high time for peace loving nations across the globe particularly the UN, USA, China, Russia, Arabs, turkey, Iran and other regional countries to join their minds and voices for the just, durable and amicable solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.