By: Alex J.
Palestine is a region located in Western Asia, which is considered to include Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, which is also known as the ‘Holy Land.’ Within Palestine lies the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is considered by Jews and Muslims alike to be one of the holiest cities on Earth, according to their faith. The intense violence results from a long history of anti-semitism and broken promises made to two different faith-based groups who have religious ties to the region. The Muslim and Jewish population in the region both claim to have religious rights and legal rights to Palestine. Both groups are very passionate about this land and have resorted to violence to achieve control of all of Palestine and Jerusalem.
To the Muslim faith, Jerusalem is one of three very holy places on Earth. According to the Quran, the winged steed Buraq, brought by the angel Gabriel, carried Muhammad from the Sacred Mosque in Mecca to Jerusalem, and from there, Muhammad ascended to heaven. This event is called the Isra’ and Mi’raj and is taken literally by many Muslim commentators, most Muslims believe this event to be a miracle. Muhammad proclaimed that the mosque in Jerusalem is one of the only three mosques to which a Muslim should embark on a journey, making Jerusalem one of the holiest places on Earth to the Muslim faith.
However, to the Jewish faith, the Western Wall of Solomon’s Temple in the Old City is the holiest site in Judaism. The Western Wall is the focus of Jewish prayer. According to the Torah, Solomon’s Temple was the first Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Even though the temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, the western wall of the temple remains standing. The location of the temple was picked intentionally and holds great significance to the Jewish faith. The location is Mount Moriah, where Abraham was commanded to bring his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God. When King David conquered Jerusalem three thousand years ago, he declared it as the capital of Israel. Jews have lived in Jerusalem for nearly two millennia.
After World War One, Palestine was administered by the United Kingdom under a mandate received in 1922 from the League of Nations, giving Britain full control of Palestine. Palestine was under British control for two and a half decades before the establishment of Israel. The British government promised a Palestinian homeland to the Arab people living in the region contingent upon the fact that Arabs helped overthrow the Ottoman Turks during World War One, aiding the British war efforts. The British government also promised full control of the land in return for Arab allegiance. At the same time, the British were also interested in acquiring the political support of Jews in different parts of the British empire, so they then promised the same land and same control to the Jewish people living in the region. This sentiment has origins from Zionist movements throughout Europe in the mid-nineteenth century and continued to garner support after the Holocaust. After World War Two in 1947, the United Nations proposed a partition plan for Palestine titled: “United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 (II) Future Government of Palestine.” This terminated the British mandate and partitioned Palestine into two separate states, a Jewish state, and a Muslim state. Jewish leaders gladly accepted the partition since they received Jerusalem and Bethlehem which would be protected by the United Nations. Arab leaders obviously rejected the partition and the Arab League threatened to take military action to prevent the partition of Palestine. Armed conflicts ensued after the partition was established.
The first major conflict since the partition came after the announcement and establishment of the independent state of Israel, (unorganized fighting between militant Jewish and Arab groups erupted and occurred sporadically) known as the Arab-Israeli War of 1948. Next came the Suez War in 1956, followed by the Six-Day War in 1967, followed by the Yom Kippur War in 1973, which was then followed by the Lebanon War in 1982. Through these conflicts, the Arabs did not gain political control of all of Palestine and the Israelis did not gain political control of all of Palestine. In 1987, Hamas was formed. Hamas is a Palestinian Islamic political organization and militant group that has waged war on Israel since its founding. In 1959, Fatah was formed. Fatah is a Palestinian nationalist political party that was violent toward Israel when it was formed and is now aiming towards a “two-state solution.” The “two-state solution” is a solution that calls for a two-state existence in Palestine. In the 1950’s the Israeli government was even accused of state-sponsored terrorism towards Egypt and targeted bombing locations in Iraq. In more modern history, since the Lebanon War in 2006, both sides have strayed from organized attacks to more terrorist like attacks on the other side and their civilians.
Today in the conflict, Israel is supported by the American government. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip is supported by the Arab League and was supported by the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991. There is no right answer when trying to resolve this conflict, whether you think about it hypothetically or realistically as a diplomat or a U.N. advisor. This conflict predates the founding of the United States of America, it even predates the founding of the religion of Christianity itself. Americans, even if they felt inclined to act, would have a very minimal impact on resolving the conflict. Americans can try to aid a certain side but that would just continue to inflame the conflict. The only reasonable way to resolve this conflict is a “two-state solution”, not the annihilation of the other side. Aiming at peace is the only solution that won’t lead to even more lives lost. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians need to accept the current boundaries or work to form new ones. Although neither side would ever agree to it, coexistence is the only solution that would end the violence and the rising death toll since the conflict started.