Israeli- Palestinian Conflict
Israel has launched a massive offensive against Palestinian forces in Gaza strip. More than 300 Palestinians were killed in the last three days. Israel has vowed to continue with offensive until all the rocket attacks against Israel are stopped. These rocket attacks have so far killed only two Israelis and damaged very little property whereas Israel has killed more than three hundred including women and children and wiped out buildings including a University.It is clear Israel's real aim is to topple Hamas government in Gaza strip. This is also in line with President Bush's objective of toppling Hamas government before he leaves office in January.
Israel Palestinian conflict is the oldest conflict in the world. At the beginning of the 20th century present day palestine was a very peaceful country under ottoman Turkish control. All the three communities Christians, Muslims and Jews lived peacefully side by side in the Palestine. Palestine is also the centre of holy places for all the three religions. For Christians it is the birth place of Jesus christ . For Jews it is their sacred land . Muslims have their third most important shrine Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. However all the three religions coexisted in the land. Christians and Muslims spoke Arabic and Jews spoke Hebrew. All three communities have claim to the land from biblical times.
After the first world war Ottoman empire was defeated and British took over the Palestine as a protectorate. British immediatly started on a policy called Balfour declaration which stated that Palestine is the homeland for all the Jews in the world. British government encouraged the policy of Jewish immigration to Palestine. Official policy of British coupled with the persecution of Jews in Europe under Nazi rule encouraged thousands of jews to migrate to Israel. Once arabs in Palestine realised that demographics is changing they started protesting against British. These protests were put down by British. In the meantime Jews started organising themselves in to paramilitary forces with the support of Jewish centers (called Zionist) through out the world. They also started rebellion against British for the control of Palestine. Result was Palestine was partitioned in 1948 into a Jewish state called Israel and an Arab state called Palestine under a UN resolution. Neighboring Arab states did not accept the division of Palestine and launched an attack on Israel which was supported by west. Poorly trained Arab armies lost the war and Israel occupied more Palestine.Under the terms of ceasefire Jordan occupied part of Palestine called west bank and Egypt occupied the Gaza strip. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcefully removed from their homes by Israelis and dumped as refugees in West bank , Gaza and neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon ,Syria and other Arab countries. They have live for more than sixty years in squalor and abject poverty and occasionally brutalized by their own Arab Governments.
New generation of Arab leaders such as Gamal Abdel Nasser started championing Palestinian cause in 1950s and 60s . However arab disunity and solid western support for Israel led to two disastrous wars in 1956 and 1967 with Israel. Israel occupied Gaza strip and west bank after the 1967 war. U.S support for Israel has been absolute. Israel is the number one recipient of U.S aid more than any of U.S states. In addition in terms of U.S Israeli military cooperation , Israel receives most modern arms from U.S . Israel's settlements in West bank and Gaza are financed by U.S interest groups.
Against this back ground Palestinians formed their own liberation movements . All the movements were brought under the umbrella of Palestine Liberation Organisation. (PLO). Foremost among them were ALFATAH and PFLP. Alfatah led by late Yassir Arafat started guerrilla attacks in 1962 inside Israel. However the defeat of Egypt in 1967 war was a major setback to PLO . After 1967 pro western arab governments such as Jordan and Lebanon started cracking down on PLO and by 1980s PLO's military wing was driven out of all the neighboring countries. Collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990s also weakened Palestinian armed struggle.
In the meantime Palestinians under Israeli occupation started their own uprising (Intifada) against the brutality Israeli authorities. This resistance was led by secular groups loyal to PLO and Islamic groups such as Hamas. Islamic groups drew their inspiration from Hezbollah which was successfully against Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon.Palestinians fought against Israeli troops with stones.
After the death of thousands of Palestinians U.S arranged for peace talks between PLO and Israel. In terms of the peace proposals a two state solution was proposed. It consist of Israel and Palestinian state consisting of (Gaza strip and West Bank). In reality what Israel and West primarily U.S wanted was a Palestinian state similar to Bantus tans in former apartheid South Africa dotted with Jewish settlements.Although Yassir Arafat and PLO agreed to this proposal and recognised the state of Israel, Islamic movements such as Hamas continued to fight the state of Israel with suicide bombers. Israel continued to bomb and attack Palestinian resistance. Yassir Arafat died in 2005 and PLO compromised more with Israel under Abbas.
After persistent resistance from Islamic forces Israel withdrew from Gaza strip . However with the help of EU and Egypt Gaza's borders were completely controlled by Israel. In the Palestinian elections in 2006 Hamas won. Israel and U.S started the policy of undermining the Hamas government which was popularly elected with blockades and sanctions.
They also encouraged Palestinian President Mohammed Abbas to remove the Hamas prime minister. Hamas took control of Gaza strip and Abbas with tacit Israeli support retained West Bank.
Israelis blockade Gaza strip and regularly attacked Gaza. Hamas retaliated with home made rockets attack on southern Israel. However Hamas is no match to Israeli armed forces. Inspite of superior Israeli forces it could not defeat Hamas militarily. Egypt arranged for a ceasefire for six months which ultimately collapsed as Israel continued the blockade. During the blockade palestinians were literally starving as there is no food supplies , fuel or electricity. Even basic medical supplies were denied. However the blockade has failed to remove the Hamas government and as such Israel has embarked on military intervention to remove Hamas government.
Can there be a permanent peace between Israel and Palestinians?. There cannot be permanent peace as long as Israel doesn't want a free and truly independent Palestinian state to exist and the refugees to return to their homes. Question is not whether Palestinians recognise Israel, but whether Israel will ever recognise Palestine. Palestinians only want to live in peace and develop like any other people in the world. Gaza city is the most populous area in the world while Israel continuous to build settlements in Palestinian land. This conflict which the cause of all the problems in Middle east will continue until Israel and it's backers recognise the truly independent Palestine and accept it. Palestinian people who have been betrayed by the world community has a right to live in peace and with dignity in their own land. All three communities in Palestine have a right to live harmoniously as they lived for centuries before. If Israel continues with the occupation of Gaza and West Bank , it is a matter of time before palestinians emerge as the largest community in whole of palestine.
10th January 2009