Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an ongoing violent struggle between the Israelis and Palestinians. 

To understand this conflict, we need to first understand what Israel and Palestine are. Knowing what they are is important because they center the conflict. Israel is a Jewish country located in the Middle East. Palestine is two separate Arab and Muslim territories. The territories bordering Israel are not independent. Putting Israel and Palestine territories together, we get about half the population of Illinois. 

Max Fisher, international reporter and columnist for The New York Times, says it is official there is no line between Israel and Palestine. “Officially there is no internationally recognized line between Israel and Palestine; the borders are considered to be disputed, and have been for decades,” he said.

That also includes the status of Palestine, some countries consider Palestine as an independent state, while others (like the US) consider Palestine as a territory under Israeli occupation. It is not an old situation. “Both Israelis and Palestinians have claims to the land going back centuries, but the present-day states are relatively new,” Fisher added.

But why are they fighting? 

They are fighting over land. The conflict is over who gets what part of the land and how they control it. “The decades long process of resolving that conflict has created another, overlapping conflict: managing the very unpleasant Israeli-Palestinian coexisistence, in which Israel has put the Palestinians under suffocating military occupation and Palestinian militant groups terrorize Israelis,” Fisher said.

Taking those two proportions, the conflict is made even worse because of their violent history and it’s not just because of resentment and distrust, both Israelis and Palestinians have much broader narratives of the last 70 years or so. Now adding the two realities to that makes it more difficult. 

One may think both sides are to blame for perpetuating the conflict and there’s nothing wrong with that. There are plenty of individuals of both sides perpetuating the conflict over and over. “The most essential truth of the Israel-Palestine conflict today is that the conflict predominantly matters for the human suffering it causes,” Fisher said.

This conflict started in the early 1900s or so. When the Arab and Muslim territories were part of the Ottoman Empire. In about 1917, a mandate was made. Thousands of Jews moved into the area. “Later, large numbers of Middle Eastern Jews also moved to Israel, either to escape anti-Semitic violence or because they were forcibly expelled. Then the United Nations approved to divide British Palestine into two independent countries which today we know as Israel and Palestine,” said Fisher.

The plan was never implemented. Arab saw it as European colonial theft and invaded to keep Palestine unified. Then the Israeli forces won the war in 1948, but they pushed the UN-borders to claim the land including the Western half of Jerusalem. “They uprooted and expelled entire Palestinian communities, creating about 700,000 refugees, whose descendants now number 7 million and are still considered refugees,” Fisher added.

The war then ended with Israel having more power over the territory — everything except for Gaza and the West Bank. The borders between Israel and Palestine have been disputed and fought over ever since. That included the status of the Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem. 

Why is Israel occupying the Palestinian territories?

This is a huge part of the conflict today, especially for the Palestinians. Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza began in 1967. This means Gaza was either more or less controlled by Egypt and the West Bank by Jordan. At that point there was another war. “In 1967, there was another war between Israel and its Arab neighbors, during which Israel occupied the two, Palestinian territories,” said Fisher.

Israel says it is necessary to occupy for security given because of its tiny size. From Israel’s point of view, they are doing it because they want to protect Israelis from Palestinian attacks. But this does not explain the settlers.

“In the short term, the settlers of all forms make life for Palestinians even more difficult, by forcing the Israel government to guard them with walls or soldiers that further constrain Palestinians. In the long term, the settlers create ‘facts on the ground’: Israeli communities that blur the borders and expand land that Israel could claim for itself in any eventual peace deal,” said Fisher.

Today there is fighting between Israel and Palestinians over Gaza, why?

Just on Friday, Israel ground forces attacked Gaza with missiles and weapons. Surging a conflict that already brought Israeli airstrikes. In return, the Palestinian rocket demolishes and denotes violence on the streets of Israeli cities. 

At the top, this is just the latest round of fighting in 27 years just between Israel and Hamas, a Palestinian militant group that formed in 1987. A group that seeks destruction for Israel and is internationally known as a terrorist organization for its attacks targeting its civilians since 2006. “After some Israeli extremists murdered a Palestinian youth in Jerusalem and Israeli security forces cracked down on protests, compounding Palestinian outrage, Hamas and other Gaza groups launched dozens of rockets into Israel, which responded with many more air strikes,” said Fisher.

This brings us back to the essential truth of the conflict: Palestinian civilians endure the burden. Israel’s disproportionate military strength and willingness to target militants based on urban communities means that Palestinians are far more likely to be killed than any other group. 

 There are three possible solutions to end the conflict:

The first is the one state solution. This creates one democratic state in which both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs live as citizens with equal rights. 

Avraham Burg, a prominent Israeli supporter favored the one state solution, he says that “A quarter of a century on from the Oslo Accords, the two-state solution lies in tatters. There is no peace process. There is very little hope left. And yet somehow, we must still find a way for Israelis and Palestinians to live side by side, with equal rights within a single international border. It is time for a progressive one-state solution.” 

Yet still, some Israelis view the one-state solution as one that could potentially destroy the state’s Jewish character and undermine the security of Israel. 

This is why many would favor the two-state solution. This plan would create two states for two people, Israel and Paletines. Hypothetically, the Israel state would posess a Jewish majority, thus remaining a Jewish state, and then the Palestinian state would have a Muslim Arab majority. Alma Guillermoprieto, a mexican journalist, says that “the majority of world powers support the two-state solution as well, as did, until only very recently. The United States and the Israeli government.” 

The devil is in its formation. Where would borders be between the states? What happens to Jerusalem? What about Jewish settlements in the West Bank? What about Palestinian refugees? This solution also left many brainwashed.

The peace process has been lasting for decades. It almost seems unlikely. However, there can be a path to peace through decolonization. “Only the formation of a single decolonized state encompassing the entire territory of historical Palestine can put an end to Israel’s colonial ambitions,” said professor of Sociology Mark Muhannad Ayyash.

There are three fundamental principles in each solution. The decolonized state will no longer be defined as either all-Israeli/Jewish and also not exclusively defined as Palestinian. The new state would grant equal citizenship to all inhabitants of the land regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or religion. Any Palestanian refugee will have the right to return to their homeland as full citizens. 

 “This is the only scenario that can potentially prevent Israel from achieving its dream of establishing a single apartheid state in historic Palestine and allow all inhabitants of these lands to live their lives freely, peacefully, and with dignity,” Ayyash added.

One comment

  1. I just wanted to take a moment to commend this student on being willing to take on such a challenging topic and the efforts made in this article to present multiple perspectives. I know there were a number of adults who reacted in a very negative way to this piece (honestly, with such a complex history, no matter what was written someone was bound to take issue). I am incredibly sorry that those strong negative reactions led to the piece being temporarily removed from the site, and necessitated not publishing the name of the student who wrote it (to ensure the safety of the student) when the article was reposted. As a community, we should be able to have this conversation without this sort of behavior, particularly from adults who should know better. In all events, I hope the author will not be deterred by the response received to this article and will continue to be brave in their choices of what to cover.


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