Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
The ongoing armed confrontation between Palistinians and Israeli forces has captured the attention of the world, including Guyanese. Many people have taken to social media, online publications, and the letter columns in various news outlets to express their opinions. Many Guyanese have taken a side in the conflict that has claimed some 9,070 Palestinian lives in the Gaza enclave, and 1,400 Israelis, according to the United Nations. But, how did we get to this horrible place?
If a date can be put on when the problem started, it may be 1917 when the British expressed support for the establishment of a home for the Jewish people in the land of Palestine, although some analysts disagree, so, this is a grey area. This will be examined further along in this article.
In any case, the Palestinian – Israeli conflict, arguably, has its origin in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the birth of major nationalist movements among the Jews and among Arabs, both opposing sides were aiming towards attaining statehood and sovereignty for their respective people in the Middle East.
According to analysts, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has shaped the political landscape, and defined political relations in the Middle East since then. The issue is rooted in historical, religious, and territorial factors. All of those factors have strong emotional appeal, as such, the conflict is deeply entrenched.
Over the years, this conflict has resulted in countless lives lost, deep-seated animosity between Jews and Arabs, as well as ongoing tensions and mistrust, not to mention numerous wars.
To understand the complexities of this conflict, we must examine its historical origins, and must look at how it evolved over the years.
As has been stated, the roots of the conflict can be traced back to the late 19th century. The Zionist (creation and protection of a Jewish nation) movement, led by European Jews searching for a homeland. Around this time, that search gained momentum. This led to the Balfour Declaration of 1917. This declaration expressed British support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Arabs strongly resisted and rejected the idea.
After the end of World War I, the League of Nations – which evolved into the United Nations (UN) in a complex process – granted Britain a mandate over Palestine. During this time, tensions between the Jewish and Arab communities escalated dramatically. The influx of Jewish immigrants into Palestine, and the growing Zionist movement caused Arab resentment and anger to increase. This led to violent clashes.
In 1947, the UN proposed a partition plan, dividing Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. While the Jewish community accepted the plan, the Arab states rejected it. Arabs argued that it violated the rights of the Palestinian people. This rejection set the stage for the1948 Arab-Israeli War.
The 1948 war resulted in the establishment of the State of Israel and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. This event, known as the Nakba (catastrophe), remains a significant point of contention between the two sides. Palestinians view it as a tragedy that led to their dispossession and the loss of their homeland, while Israelis see it as the birth of their nation.
Two decades later, in 1967, tensions between Israel and its Arab neighbors reached a peak. This led to what is known as the Six-Day War. Israel won the war, occupying the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights. This occupation further complicated the conflict, because it resulted in the displacement of more Palestinians and the establishment of the first Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. That process of setting up settlements continues to the present day.
In the early 1990s, negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) led to the signing of the Oslo Accords. These agreements aimed to establish a framework for peace and the creation of a Palestinian self-governing authority. However, the peace process faced many challenges, which were compounded by more Israeli settlements. There were disagreements over key issues such as borders, refugees, and the status of Jerusalem – which is claimed by both parties. And there were more violent clashes.
So, where are we now with regard to the conflict?
Simply put, the conflict is unresolved, with both sides grappling with deep-seated grievances and competing national aspirations and goals. Multiple efforts to find a solution have failed to yield any agreement. Ongoing issues, including the status of Jerusalem, the right of return for Palestinian refugees to Palestine, and the expansion of Israeli settlements, continue to hinder progress. And at this point, the death toll in the latest armed clash continues to rise, particularly in Gaza, where some analysts have characterised the situation as a genocide of the Palistinian people.