Palestine conflict

Why has it proved so difficult to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Israeli-Palestinian conflict emerged after the Israel was formed. The reason was that Palestinian land was given to Israelis, by the UK, after the WW2 in order to create new state for Jews so they could prevent things like Holocaust happening to them in the future. There were conflicts in the Middle-East that time with Israel but real fight began only in 1980s. From the 1980s the Israel-Palestinian conflict became the main focus of attention in the Middle East.

On December 9, 1987, an Israeli truck driver accidentally killed four pedestrians in the Gaza Strip. Palestinians soon took to the streets throwing stones and violently protesting Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. No group was in charge of the intifada though the PLO as well as militant Islamic groups such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas quickly became involved. At root the PLO was nationalist group seeking an independent Palestinian state, whereas the Islamic militants wanted region – wide Islamic state that would include present-day Israel.

As time passed, violence grew and the militant groups became more popular among Palestinians living in densely populated and impoverished conditions. Israel responded with arrests, economic sanctions and the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. These settlements were special targets of militant Palestinians and as Palestinian violence increased, so did the violence of Israeli retaliation. Confronted by continuing violence, the parties agreed to attend a formal international conference in Madrid in 1991, while, at the same time, meeting secretly in Oslo, Norway.

These talks, conducted out of the glare of media attention, climaxed in the 1993 Oslo Accords. This agreement established Palestinian self-rule under a Palestinian National Authority led by Arafat in the Gaza Strip and the town of Jericho in the West Bank. Two years later under Oslo 2 most of the remaining West Bank towns were added to self-governing Palestine. The outlines of a future Palestinian state were evident but the problem lay in how to achieve this objective.

Sadly progress was halted in 1995 after an Israeli extremist who objected to the turnover of any part of biblical Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) to the Palestinians murdered Israeli Prime Minister and 1994 Nobel Peace laureate Itzhak Rabin. These led to a downfall in dialogue and emergence of new right wing Israeli government who wouldn’t be so kind and opened for discussions. However not only this is the reason for the failure of talks. The number and variety of issues reinforce mutual hostility. The various issues are intertwined, making it difficult to solve one without also solving the others.

Even worse, compromise on some issues is complicated by the fact they are highly symbolic. Disagreement over is difficult because there is no easy way “to split the difference” or divide matters of symbolic importance. For example: very controversial settlements buildings. All the talks have been stopped just because Israel refused to stop building them, even though UN and USA recognize them as illegal. Non-Middle Eastern countries provide belligerents with foreign allies and make regional hostilities part of larger global tensions.

During the Cold War, Soviet-US hostility was reflected in Soviet support for Egypt, Syria and Iraq versus US support for Israel and Saudi Arabia. Today, complicating factors include European-American differences, the War on Terrorism, and outsiders’ problems in balancing their views on the Palestine question against their need for Middle Eastern oil and their fear of inciting hatred in the Muslim World. Both the Palestinians and Israelis have fragile political systems and are confronted by powerful extremists.

Under Arafat the Palestinian Authority was corrupt, authoritarian and inept and was divided among factions. As a result in early 2006 Palestinians gave Hamas a massive electoral victory and a mandate to form a government that must work with Mahmoud Abbas. Israel is the only democracy in the region, but because it has a large number of political parties in its parliament and because of the great abyss that separates left and right, leaders are often unable to form a majority coalition that is willing to make hard decisions such as dividing Jerusalem or disbanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

This may change with the formation of a new centrist political party, Kadima, by Ariel Sharon who announced in November 2005 that he was leaving the ultraconservative Likud Party. However, Sharon’s stroke in January 2006 and the subsequent conflict in Lebanon clouded the future of the new party and the peace process more generally. Outside the government are Israeli extremists like Yigal Amir who regarded it as his religious duty to assassinate Prime Minister Rabin.

Thus, neither government commands the authority to take the needed steps to peace and both fear civil war if they do so. The small size of the areas at stake exacerbates security problems for both sides. The issue of size is most evident in the case of the Golan Heights. Whoever controls the heights controls the land below in Israel and Syria. Additionally, Muslims and Jews live clos to one another in Jerusalem and elsewhere. As a result, every inch of land becomes a security concern. Israel and Israelis are perceived as Western interlopers in a non-Western part of the world.

Arabs regularly identify Israelis as heirs of the Christian “Crusaders”. Moreover, Israel is an economically developed and largely secular society with sophisticated technology, advanced science, democracy and Westernized customs and perceptions. By contrast Arab societies like other less-developed regions feature poverty, illiteracy, rapid population growth and traditional customs and ideas. In some respects, the boundary between Israel and Palestine symbolizes the confrontation of the developed and less-developed worlds.

The length of time that the problem has festered and the presence of inflexible leaders and groups make the players more rigid. Only time will tell whether and for how long the cycle of violence will persist. In the end, lasting peace in the region ma not prove possible until one or several major powers physically intervene to separate the foes. In conclusion it can be said that the conflict is very complex and uneasy. Worsened by many factors such as extremists on both sides and right wing governments.

Also it is a historical and so long rooted conflict, which was fought by generations before as well as present ones. Finding a solution will be difficult because as one problem will be solved another will occur. This was seen on recent talks, which were so hard to establish, and which failed because of Israeli refusal to stop illegal, recognized as illegal by UN and USA, settlements in the Middle East. Thus it can be said, that there is still a lot of job to be done and no real solution is established.