No region of the world or political issue has brought about such political angst and turmoil as the problems of Israel and the Palestinians. There are so many solutions to the problems faced by the Israeli government and the Palestinian people yet hopes for peace seem to always be thwarted by conservative and religious radicals on both sides. Add to that the outside influence from nations such as the United States, Iran, and Syria.
The creation of a Jewish state had become a necessity in the twentieth century as anti-Semitism was prevalent in Europe and had been for a long time. Early anti-Semitism was rooted in religious differences, but the Age of Enlightenment brought about a new radical and secular anti-Semitism in Europe. In 1917, under the Balfour Declaration, the British declared their territory in Palestine to be a homeland for the Jews; Palestine being the ancestral homeland of the Jews.
The problem with the British declaring Palestine as a Jewish homeland was that Palestine was mostly inhabited by Muslim Palestinians and as well as a sizeable Christian minority. The plan promised not to undermine the rights of those already living in Palestine, however, the tensions created between the new Jewish immigrants and the Palestinians grew. As more and more Jewish immigrants arrived in Palestine, tensions grew even worse. In an attempt to appease neighboring Arab sentiments, the British made the eastern section of Palestine into a separate territory known as Trans-Jordan, which later became the Kingdom of Jordan.
Tensions continued to grow until the British tried to curb the flow of Jewish immigrants to Palestine in the 1930’s while denying Jewish proposals for independence. Finally, as a result of World War II, the efforts to curb Jewish immigration to Palestine failed. Millions of Jewish refugees from Europe made their way to Palestine which further inflamed existing tensions between Jews and Arabs. After a spike in violence between Jews and Arabs in 1947, the United Nations stepped in and approved a partition of Palestine into two separate states, one for Jews and one for Arabs. Jerusalem, considered a holy city by Jews, Muslims, and Christians, was to be placed under international control.
The Arab-Palestinian state, however, never came to be as over the course of the next several months, neighboring Muslim nations sabotaged any hope of peace by supporting Arab forces fighting Jews inside of Palestine. After the British withdrew their peacekeepers and ended their mandate, Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion declared the independence of the state of Israel. The United States swiftly recognized Israel as an independent nation on the very day Ben-Gurion had declared independence. Israel’s neighbors, however, were not as keen as the United States to accept an independent Jewish state. Arab nations refused to recognize the state of Israel and launched attacks with their military forces against the new Jewish state. Those attacks were beaten back and as a result millions of Palestinians fled Israel to the surrounding Arab countries as refugees.
The conflicts between Israel and its neighbors and the conditions in which the Palestinian people living within the West Bank and Gaza are no secret to anyone who has lived in the twentieth or twenty-first century. No separate Palestinian-Arab state was ever created and conditions for Palestinians within Gaza particularly, are deplorable. Arab nations continue to provide support to Palestinian based groups such as Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad which attack Israeli civilians and fuel further animosity and distrust. Meanwhile, the United States continues to provide unyielding support to Israel which emboldens them to the point that they do not concede much to the cause of peace with the Palestinians.
Ultimately, the one thing that has been overlooked that could actually bring peace to Palestine would be a United Nations mandate to finally create a separate Palestinian state. It would be the responsibility of the United Nations to enact such a mandate because Israel would likely never get around to agreeing to the measure on its own. After all, they have very legitimate security concerns and benefit greatly from the buffer zones that the West Bank and Gaza provide. Such a Palestinian state though, would instill pride and dignity in the Palestinian people and that is what is needed for any real chance at peace.
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