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Arab-Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

The Wall dividing Abu Dis, near Jerusalem (2004) Israeli wall
The Wall dividing Abu Dis, near Jerusalem (2004) / Photo Rex/HH

Introduction

In this Special File, Fanack presents in-depth insight into several topics concerning the conflict, including Arab-Israeli negotiations, Arab-Israeli wars, Palestinian refugees, and Israeli settlements.

Ever since Great Britain, during the early 20th century, promised the Jews a “national home” in Palestine, even though the overwhelming majority of the existing population consisted of non-Jews (Palestinians), the seeds for an ongoing conflict have been sown. With the support of the British mandatory during the British Mandate of Palestine, the influx of Jewish settlers into Palestine increased. During the United Nations mandate of Palestine, a partition plan on the basis of which the mandate of Palestine would be divided into a newly established Jewish state and an “Arab” state was presented.

The approval of this resolution by the UN General Assembly paved the way for the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Meanwhile, a sophisticated campaign of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population was underway, which was meant to ensure that the demographic structure of the new state would favour Jews. These events, which Palestinians call the “Nakba” (catastrophe), led to a huge exodus of Palestinians from their homes and their displacement to other parts of Palestine and neighbouring countries.

June War of 1967

During the June War of 1967, Israel conquered the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the Golan Heights, territories where the settlement of Jews from all over the world was encouraged, at the expense of the remaining Palestinian population. Israeli jewish settlements were erected with the support of the state of Israel, leading to an increase of the Israeli jewish population in the Palestinian territories (West Bank, including East Jerusalem) from 600 Israli settlers in 1968 to more than 550,000 in 2015, according to the Humanitarian Atlas of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in Palestine.

These Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, illegal under international law, are widely considered a major obstacle to peace between Palestinians and Israelis, as their encroachment on Palestinian land is an obstacle to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state with pre-1967 borders.

Other obstacles to peace between Palestinians and Israelis are the status of Jerusalem, the right of return for Palestinian refugees to their homes in Palestine, and the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.

Oslo Accords & Two-State Solution

In addition, since the Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995, which divided the West Bank into areas A (Palestinian control), B (Israeli military control, Palestinian civil control) and C (Israeli control) and created the Palestinian Authority, Israel has created irreversible facts on the ground for the sake of its settlement project. By creating a segregated system of roads and closures, building the Separation Wall (parts of which run deep into the West Bank), and expanding settlements in strategic areas, Israel has rendered unattainable the territorial continuity of a future Palestinian state. The Separation Wall has created severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinians and has further reduced the land available to them.

In Area C, which covers more than 60 per cent of the West Bank, Israel retains nearly exclusive control, including of law enforcement, planning, and construction. 70 per cent of Area C is included within the boundaries of Israeli settlements, and Palestinian use and development are heavily restricted in the remainder of the area.

Despite many rounds of negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis under the auspices of several parties, including the United States, the two sides have failed to reach a resolution of the conflict. The so-called two-state solution (a viable independent Palestinian state bordering the state of Israel), which is the option preferred by the international community, is, in 2015, further away than ever.

In the Gaza strip, from which Israel withdrew its settlements in 2005, the situation remains dire. Since 2007, the Hamas-ruled Strip has been under Israeli siege, leading to severe shortages of food, construction materials, and medical supplies. According to UNOCHA, 57 per cent of the population in the densely populated Strip is food insecure and unemployment is high, at about 44 per cent. Due to the Israeli blockade, Gazans are prohibited from entering the West Bank and from seeking work in Israel. Commercial fishing may not be carried out beyond six nautical miles from the coast, leading to decreased revenues and increasing unemployment.

Meanwhile, Israel, tolerated by the international community, continues to expand its settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem while denying Palestinians their inalienable rights, such as the right of return and the rights to national independence, sovereignty, and self-determination.

With a history of decades of Israeli occupation of Palestine and Palestinian frustrations sparked by the role of the Palestinian Authority as facilitator of the occupation, increasing tensions over sovereignty in the Old City of Jerusalem led Palestinians to increase their resistance against the Israeli occupation in the autumn of 2015, leading to what some have dubbed the “Third Intifada.”

Widespread protests leading to violent clashes with the Israeli security forces were accompanied by almost daily stabbings or attempted stabbings of Israelis by young Palestinians in both the West Bank and Israel. According to UNOCHA, between 1 October and 30 November, 103 Palestinians, including 23 children, were killed during shootings and other clashes with Israeli security forces. During this period, 17 Israeli citizens were stabbed to death.

Palestinians fleeing their homeland
Palestinians fleeing their homeland
UNRWA Photo Archive. Click for more pictures. ©UNRWA

israel_settlement_West-Bank_Camp-Kadum_1976_magnumhh_01425288_03_a658fa0d52
Camp Kadum, an Israeli settlement established in 1976. Photo Hollandse Hoogte ©Hollandse Hoogte

second intifada
The Second Intifada. Photo Hollandse Hoogte ©Hollandse Hoogte

The separation wall running through Jerusalem / Photo Fanack
The separation wall running through Jerusalem. Photo Fanack ©Fanack

Interactive map of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Click to go to the map. ©Fanack

jewish settlement construction
Construction in an illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Photo Fanack ©Fanack

Shuja’iya neighbourhood east of Gaza City, October 2014 / Photo SIPA Press
Shuja’iya neighbourhood east of Gaza City, October 2014. Photo SIPA Press ©Hollandse Hoogte ⁃ SIPA Press

Muslims perform their Friday Prayer under Israeli security forces' control outside al-Aqsa Mosque on 1 August 2014 in Jerusalem / Photo Anadolu Agency
Muslims perform their Friday Prayer under Israeli security forces’ control outside al-Aqsa Mosque on 1 August 2014 in Jerusalem. Photo Anadolu Agency ©Hollandse Hoogte ⁃ Anadolu Agency

Further Reading

In effort to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, countless rounds of negotiations between the warring parties have taken place unsuccessfully, increasing the frustration of the Palestinian population ever more stifled by the...
Sixty years after their exodus, Palestinian refugees constitute the ‘oldest’ and most numerous refugee population in the world. Estimated at over 720,000 in 1949, they represent a population of over six million today.
Reparations for Palestinians - Common to all peace plans for the Middle East is Israel's refusal to admit responsibility for the refugee problem ...
Costs of Israeli Occupation - The occupation of the Palestinian territories does not make sense economically ... turning out to be a bottomless pit ...
The Israeli communities established in territories that Israel occupied during the 1967 June War are called settlements. Most are located in the West Bank in Palestine, including East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel in the same year....
In July 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that Israel should immediately cease the construction of the Wall and make reparation for all damage caused.
The blame game is likely to continue as long as there is no prospect for a solution. In his UN speech, Abbas had a thinly veiled warning for the Israelis: failure to reach a two-state solution would inevitably lead to what some ha...
While Saudi Arabia is normalizing its ties with Israel, the US still provides Israel with more than $3 billion annually in military aid. The coniuous builiding of illegal settelements, the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem and t...
In the case of Khan al-Ahmar, the threat of demolition serves yet another goal, that of expanding settlements. The Bedouin village is situated in an area Israel has designated as ‘E1’, the largest planned settlement in the Wes...

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