Tue, September 07, 2010
World > Middle East > Middle East peace in talk

A history of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict

2010-09-07 03:55:58 GMT2010-09-07 11:55:58 (Beijing Time)  SINA.com

Central Israel next to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, 2007. (Agencies)

A display of crossed Israeli and Palestinian flags with the word for peace in both Arabic and Hebrew. (Agencies)

The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing dispute between Israelis and Palestinians, an enduring and explosive conflict. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between Jewish and Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman or British rule. It forms part of the wider, and generally earlier, Arab–Israeli conflict. The remaining key issues are: mutual recognition, borders, security, water rights, control of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, Palestinian freedom of movement and legalities concerning refugees. The violence resulting from the conflict has prompted international actions, as well as other security and human rights concerns, both within and between both sides, and internationally.

Many attempts have been made to broker a two-state solution, which would entail the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside an independent Jewish state or next to the State of Israel (after Israel's establishment in 1948). As recently as 2007, a majority of both Israelis and Palestinians, according to a number of polls, prefer the two-state solution over any other solution as a means of resolving the conflict. Moreover, a considerable majority of the Jewish public sees the Palestinians' demand for an independent state as just, and thinks Israel can agree to the establishment of such a state. A majority of Palestinians and Israelis view the West Bank and Gaza Strip as an acceptable location of the hypothetical Palestinian state in a two-state solution. However, there are significant areas of disagreement over the shape of any final agreement and also regarding the level of credibility each side sees in the other in upholding basic commitments. An alternative is the one-state or binational solution, whereby all of Israel, the Gaza Strip, and West Bank would become a bi-national state with equal rights for all.

Within Israeli and Palestinian society, the conflict generates a wide variety of views and opinions. This highlights the deep divisions which exist not only between Israelis and Palestinians, but also within each society.

A hallmark of the conflict has been the level of violence witnessed for virtually its entire duration. Fighting has been conducted by regular armies, paramilitary groups, terror cells and individuals. Casualties have not been restricted to the military, with a large number of fatalities in civilian population on both sides.

There are prominent international actors involved in the conflict. The two parties engaged in direct negotiation are the Israeli government, currently led by Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), currently headed by Mahmoud Abbas. The official negotiations are mediated by an international contingent known as the Quartet on the Middle East (the Quartet) represented by a special envoy that consists of the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations. The Arab League is another important actor, which has proposed an alternative peace plan. Egypt, a founding member of the Arab League, has historically been a key participant.

Since 2003, the Palestinian side has been fractured by conflict between the two major factions: Fatah, the traditionally dominant party, and its later electoral challenger, Hamas. Following Hamas' seizure of power in the Gaza Strip in June 2007, the territory controlled by the Palestinian National Authority (the Palestinian interim government) is split between Fatah in the West Bank, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The division of governance between the parties has effectively resulted in the collapse of bipartisan governance of the Palestinian National Authority (PA).

On the historical timeline, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict has had seven distinct phases:

Late 19th century-1917: The period of the Ottoman Empire rule in Palestine in which the Arabs in The Ottoman Palestine saw themselves as part of the overall Arab territories which were under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. During that period, the disputes were on the basis of religious background and not on national background.

1917-1948: The period of the British Mandate of Palestine, in which both parties were under British rule and under a single political entity, called Palestine in English. During this period significant Jewish immigration altered the demographic balance. The term "The Israeli–Palestinian conflict" was not used, and instead the conflict was referred to as "the Jewish-Arab conflict over the Land of Palestine" (by the Arab population and the British population), "the Jewish-Arab conflict over Erez-Israel" (by the Jewish population).

1948-1967: The period between the declaration of the State of Israel and the Six-Day War in which the parties resided in three separate political entities: The State of Israel, the Gaza Strip which was controlled by Egypt and the West Bank which was annexed to Jordan.

1967-1993: The period between the Six-Day War and the Oslo Accords, in which the conflicted parties reside in the areas addressed by the UN Partition Plan that were under the control of the State of Israel.

1993-2000: The period between the Oslo Accords and the Second Intifada, in which Israel existed alongside the semi-sovereign political autonomy - the Palestinian Authority.

2000–2005: The period between the beginning of the Second Intifada up until 2005, in which Israel returned to perform arresting operations in Area A zones in the West Bank.

2005–Present: The period after Israel's unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The withdrawal led to the strengthening of Hamas, which in 2006 won an election, then took control over the Gaza Strip.

(Agencies)

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