Views on the Arab–Israeli conflict

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The Arab-Israeli conflict is the result of numerous factors. Reasons cited for the conflict therefore vary from participant to participant and observer to observer. A powerful example of this divide can be Palestinians and Israelis. In a March, 2005 poll 63% of the Israelis blamed the failure of the Oslo Peace Process on Palestinian violence, but only 5% of the Palestinians agreed. 54% of Palestinians put the blame on continuing Israeli settlement activity, but only 20% of the Israelis agreed.[1] It is therefore difficult to develop a single, objective reason for the conflict, so this article will present some of the arguments made by each side, in turn.

Israeli views[edit]

There is not a single "Israeli view"; there are many different Israeli views, which differ widely.

Israeli peace offers[edit]

When Israel met Arab leaders who spoke the language of peace to their own people and were willing to take concrete steps for peace, such as President Sadat of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan, Israel made sacrifices for the sake of peace and reached peace agreements with them. [1][2] Peacemaking requires concessions and confidence-building measures on both sides. Just as Israel is willing to address the rights and interests of other parties in the conflict, Israelis insist that their rights and interests must be addressed as well.

In 2000, at Camp David, the Palestinians were offered a nominally independent state. Led by Yasser Arafat, the Palestinians rejected this offer. When U.S. President Bill Clinton and the Israelis asked the Palestinians to offer a counter-proposal, Arafat declined and returned to the West Bank. Later, further negotiations did take place, but they were terminated. In his book The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace, Dennis Ross, the American ambassador and facilitator, writes that the idea the Palestinian state would be a "Bantustan" was a myth, and provides maps showing an offer that included contiguous territory. [3]

Arab peace offers[edit]

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has stated that it is prepared to recognize the state of Israel on the basis of the removal of settlements and retreat from Palestinian territory back to the 1967 borders.[2] Israel maintains that Hamas refuses to recognize Israel, on grounds that Hamas's 'peace offerings' are a ploy. The fact that Hamas leaders have expressed a more heterogeneous range of opinions on the situation is either intentionally or unintentionally ignored by the Israeli government and a majority of the Jewish population. Citation needed.

Arab hostility[edit]

Many if not most Israelis believe that the conflict is largely a result of Arab attempts to destroy Israel, and that only Israeli military power stands between them and annihilation. They characterize the Arab-Israeli War, the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War as attempts to destroy Israel. As evidence of this intent, pro-Israeli literature often places a heavy emphasis on statements made by Arab leaders during and preceding the wars. The following quotes are mainstays of these arguments:

  • "If Israel embarks on an aggression against Syria or Egypt.... The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel." (Gamal Abdel Nasser's speech to Arab Trade Unionists (May 26, 1967) [4])
  • On May 30, 1967, Nasser proclaimed: "The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of Israel...to face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not declarations." (Isi Leibler, The Case For Israel, 1972, p. 60.) After Iraq joined the Arab military alliance on June 4, its president Abdur Rahman Aref announced: "The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear – to wipe Israel off the map." (Leibler, p. 18)

Israel chooses to fight in self-defense[edit]

Some Israelis[who?] say that, when nations declare war against Israel, Israel by definition is then at war with them. Israel says[citation needed] that it has always preferred peace to war.

SC 242, the Land for peace formula, was adopted on November 22, 1967 in the aftermath of the Six-Day War and the Khartoum Resolution. It called for withdrawal from occupied territories and for "termination of all claims or states of belligerency" and mutual "acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence" by Israel and the other states in the area, and recognized the right of "every state in the area" to live "free from threats or acts of force" within "secure and recognized boundaries".

Immediately after the Six-Day War, Israel offered to return the Golan Heights to Syria and the Sinai Peninsula (including the Gaza Strip) to Egypt in exchange for peace treaties and various concessions, but Syria and Egypt refused the offer and this offer of land for peace was very soon withdrawn. Anwar Sadat, the Egyptian President at the time, proposed negotiations towards peace with Israel in the early 1970s but Israel refused the offer, claiming that it held unreasonable preconditions. Later Israel signed the Camp David Accords (1978) with Egypt and subsequently withdrew from all Egyptian territory it occupied.

Many, including the original framers of the resolution, have noted that the English-language version of SC 242 did not state all territories occupied during the conflict, recognizing that some territorial adjustments were likely and rejected previous drafts with the word all (see UN Security Council Resolution 242#Arguments against "all territories" reading). The French language translation of the text did include the definite article. Israel considers it has complied with this sense of the resolution when it returned the Sinai to Egypt in 1982.[3]

Israel has no partner for peace[edit]

Israel[who?] says that it has demonstrated flexibility and understanding by bringing about the initiation of the peace process, agreeing to painful concessions, and partially implementing them. As opposed to this, many Israelis[who?] consider that the predominant Palestinian views of the peace process do not recognize Israel's right to exist, and believe that the only real long-term Arab goal is the complete destruction of the Jewish state.

Non-recognition of Israel's right to exist and non-recognition of democratically elected Hamas[edit]

Many Jews and supporters of Israel, and most Palestinians and supporters of Palestine, take the view that the very existence of the state of Israel is at stake. Most of the other parties to the dispute maintain formally that Israel should be recognized as a state, although some consider that it should be abolished[who?]. Some opponents of Israel do not even acknowledge its existence, refusing any contact with or mention of it, and instead describing it as "The Zionist Entity" with outdated land claims. On the other hand, Hamas were democratically elected to govern in Gaza, although they are regarded as a terrorist organisation by Israel. It can be claimed that by refusing to recognise the democratically elected government of Gaza, Israel can effectively prevent meaningful peace negotiations indefinitely.

Israelis argue that the continued Jewish presence in the area throughout the past three millennia, and the deep religious ties maintained by Judaism with the Land of Israel, give Jews a continuing and valid claim. Although the 1800 years preceding the establishment of Israel saw limited Jewish presence, they emphasize that the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel and Jewish Diaspora were due to foreign conquests. They also point out that since antiquity, Jewish beliefs were frequently branded as "obsolete" (see Against Apion, Supersessionism). It may also be noted that historical grounds are not the only reasons given for the establishment of a Jewish state.

Israelis regard many of the Arab criticisms against the state of Israel as threats to the state's existence, and say that against the multitude and power of the Arab states, there is only one Jewish state, which, they feel, should behave vigilantly, and assert its power in both a defensive and preemptive manner as deemed necessary.

Issues of democracy and fairness[edit]

Treatment of Jews in Arab-ruled societies and vice-versa[edit]

Some Israelis point to issues of unfair and prejudicial treatment of Jews in Arab-ruled societies historically [5] and currently. Israelis say that Arab countries such as Syria and Yemen do not give full rights and freedoms to Jews, and others (such as Saudi Arabia) do not even allow Jews to be citizens. The United Nations Human Development Reports [6] and human rights groups report that many Arab countries do not allow political opposition and other freedoms and lack checks and balances and separation of powers.

They also argue that within Israel, Israeli Arabs are not subject to this type of discrimination. They point to Israel's democratic system which protects the rights of Jewish and Arab Israelis alike. Within the pre-1967 armistice lines, Arab and other minorities are given freedom of religion, culture and political organization. Several Arab political parties have elected parliament members in the Knesset. Arabs are typically not conscripted into the Israeli military (though they are accepted as volunteers), so they will generally never have to fight their peoples. However, it is recognized[by whom?] that this can affect later job opportunities, as some jobs in Israel require previous military service.

Many Israeli Arabs, however, say that they are discriminated against, and that Israeli government agencies treat them worse than non-Arab Israelis [7] [8]. In 2004, the US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices indicates that Israel "did little to reduce institutional, legal, and societal discrimination against the country's Arab citizens" [9].

Islamic vs. other views of Land ownership[edit]

Some views[by whom?] focus on differences in concepts of land ownership as a root source of conflict. Sharia (Islamic law) contains the concept of Waqf, revenue-generating property as religious endowment that, once established, is permanent in nature [10].

Under some traditional interpretations[by whom?], Muslim territory encompass all land that was ever under Muslim control. The Hamas charter [11] embraces this view of land ownership: "The Islamic Resistance Movement maintains that the land of Palestine is Waqf land given as endowment for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection. One should not neglect it or [even] a part of it, nor should one relinquish it or [even] a part of it. No Arab state, or [even] all of the Arab states [together], have [the right] to do this; no king or president has this right nor all the kings and presidents together; no organization, or all the organizations together – be they Palestinian or Arab – [have the right to do this] because Palestine is Islamic Waqf land given to all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection. This is the legal status of the land of Palestine according to Islamic law. In this respect, it is like any other land that the Muslims have conquered by force, because the Muslims consecrated it at the time of the conquest as religious endowment for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection."

Also concerning the oftly quoted Hadith, "The Last hour won't occur until you (Muslims) fight the Jews and kill them."[4] This view is not universally agreed in the Muslim world. Muslim scholars such as Abdul Hadi Palazzi, the leader of Italian Muslim Assembly, accept Israel's sovereignty over the Holy Land and Jerusalem, on condition that the rights of other religions are protected. Palazzi quotes the Qur'an to support Judaism's special connection to Israel, and claims that the Qur'an "expressly recognizes that Jerusalem plays the same role for Jews that Mecca has for Muslims".[5]

Characterizations of Zionism as racism and colonialism[edit]

Some Arabs[who?] believe that Zionism is a racist ideology, that implies the superiority of Jews. They view Jewish immigration, from the late 19th century, as a colonization of Palestinians' land. Most Israelis[who?] see Zionism as the desire of Jewish people to live as free people in the land of Israel, where the concept of Jewish nationhood first materialized somewhere between 1200 BCE and the late Second Temple era (i.e., up to 70 CE). They argue that Zionism does not imply the superiority of Jews over any other nationality or ethnicity, but is simply a re-establishment and realization of Jewish dreams of nationhood, autonomy, and self-determination. Religious Zionists also believe that Land of Israel was promised to Jews by God, whereas religious Muslims consider the Land of Israel to be an Islamic waqf, as it was historically conquered in the name of Islam, and should forever remain the provenance of the Islamic faith.

People of many races, colors and ethnic backgrounds live in Israel. It is pointed out that Israeli Jews come from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds. In the 1930s, ideas of a 'population exchange' of Arabs and Jews between Arab states and Israel were actually popular among Zionists. In practice, most Jews living in Arab Nations in 1948 have currently left Arab countries: 2/3 have moved to Israel. Zionism allows Arabs, Druze, Bedouin and other non-Jews to live in Israel as well, although by most interpretations it requires a Jewish majority to be established.

While some extremist Israelis (particularly supporters of outlawed Kach party) believe in the forced transfer of Arabs from Israel, this is not a widely held view[citation needed].

Zionists[who?] hold that Zionism is not colonialism, since the area was the Jewish homeland, before Romans expelled the Jews from Palestine, in 2nd century CE. They argue that Jews have the right to return to their historical national homeland, and that living in the Diaspora restricted the full growth of Jewish individual and national life.

Refugee issues[edit]

Jewish refugees[edit]

After the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, most of the Jewish population in Arab countries fled, were expelled, were coerced by Arab governments, or voluntarily left their homes in an increasing climate of hostility, with nearly 66% absorbed by Israel. The State of Israel reacted by encouraging and facilitating emigration of non-local Jews to Israel. In a few Arab countries, this population change occurred over several decades and was accelerated by the promise of prosperity and acceptance in Israel. Many Jews lost much of their property and continue to claim compensation.[12] There has since been various return invitations from Arab states although these are mostly dismissed as politically motivated attempts to discredit Israel, and virtually no resettled Jews have shown interest in returning to their former homes, as they have integrated in their new homes or fear persecution in Arab states.

According to Benny Morris, "[i]n the early years of statehood, Israeli leaders like David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett viewed the flight of Palestinians and the influx of Oriental Jews as simply a 'population exchange,' akin to those between Greece and Turkey in the 1920s or India and Pakistan in 1947."[13] Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri as-Said and other Arab leaders viewed it the same way.[14] Many continue to view it this way. [15] [16] [17] [18] Some Palestinian refugees never accepted that a "population exchange" had occurred,[19] though others do accept that an irrevocable population exchange has occurred.[20]

Furthermore, Israel has charged that Palestinian refugees were neglected by most Arab nations, whereas Jewish refugees were integrated into Israeli society, and that this neglect is a contributing cause to the poverty and misery experienced by the residents of those camps.

Palestinian refugees[edit]

Israel does not recognize a Palestinian Right of Return. Property that belonged to Arabs who left or fled Israel before, during and after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War is confiscated under the Absentee Property Act.

Israel maintains that the General Assembly resolutions establishing the Right of Return are merely recommendations under International law, and in any event doubt that the refugees wish to "live in peace with their neighbors".

Jewish Israelis fear that if Palestinian refugees were allowed to return to Israel, the Jews would become a minority and Israel would no longer be a Jewish state. Many believe that if surrounding Arab states integrate the Palestinian refugees hostilities could be defused, and that the harsh treatment of refugees in Arab states is done deliberately by those states in order to keep the conflict alive.

Israel has stated that it is willing to allow a limited number of Arabs to immigrate on a humanitarian basis (such as the unification of families) and limited compensation for others in the framework of a comprehensive peace plan. Although serious discussion of how this would be implemented between both sides have yet to take place.

The text of UN Resolution 194 refer to a "just settlement of the refugee problem" and does not specifically mention either the Palestinian refugees or the Jewish refugees [21]. However, in 2004, in Resolution 59/117, the UN General Assembly "[n]otes with regret that repatriation or compensation of the refugees, as provided for in paragraph 11 of General Assembly resolution 194 (III), has not yet been effected and that, therefore, the situation of the Palestine refugees continues to be a matter of grave concern" [22].

Settlements[edit]

Israelis typically of the political right, support settlements in the West Bank[citation needed]. The platform of the "Likud" party states that "settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel." [23]

Israelis typically of the political left oppose settlements[citation needed], believing they are illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention and/or thwart peace efforts. However, most Israelis[citation needed] do not view the building of houses and stores in Israeli settlements as an act of war, and believe that disputes over land do not justify violent resistance or terrorism, but that there should be politically negotiated solutions. This view is rejected by Palestinians and many outside Israel, as Israel's leadership continues to build settlements on land they contend to be Palestinian, an activity that is roundly condemned by much of the world except Israel and overlooked by the United States.

Israel's settlement supporters[who?] argue that the Fourth Geneva Convention does not technically apply to the territories, since they have no "High Contracting Party", and claim that the Convention in any event only applied to forcible transfers of populations into or out of captured territories. However, a conference of High Contracting Parties in 2001 "reaffirmed the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem" and "they reiterated the need for full respect for the provisions of the said Convention in that Territory." [24]

Palestinian and other Arab views[edit]

There is not a single "Arab view"; there are many different Arab views, which differ widely.

Illegitimacy or illegality of Israel[edit]

See also International law and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Palestinians claim they have International law on their side.

UN General Assembly Resolution 181 orders that "Independent Arab and Jewish States... shall come into existence in Palestine". Israeli founding father and author of Resolution 181 Abba Eban claimed that Israel "tear[s] up its own birth certificate" when it ignores UN resolutions.[25]

Palestinians hold that Israel disregards the following UN resolutions/International Law provisions:

  • UN General Assembly Resolution 194 calls for "the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property" not naming either Palestinian refugees or Jewish refugees. Palestinians hold that this resolution should allow for the Palestinian exodus to return to their homes in Israel. Israel has blocked the return of these refugees and confiscated their land as "absentee".
  • UN Security Council Resolution 242, adopted after the Six-Day War, emphasizes "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security," and calls for "withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict" and for the recognition of the "sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force". These territories occupied included the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, West Bank and the Sinai Peninsula. The Palestinian Authority intends eventually to establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel maintains control of the West Bank and maritime/aerospace control of the Gaza Strip.
  • The Fourth Geneva Convention forbids an occupying power from confiscating occupied land and transferring its own population to that territory.

Issues of democracy and fairness[edit]

Historical treatment of Jews in the Arab world[edit]

Many Muslims and contemporary western historians assert that Jews were treated better by Muslims than by other rulers who persecuted them. One pertinent example is the mass expulsion of Jews from Spain after the fall of their last refuge there, the Muslim kingdom of Granada in 1492. This resulted in the migration of Jews (especially those fleeing the Spanish Inquisition) to the Ottoman Empire, including the present-day region of Israel and surrounding areas. Authoritative works summarizing Jewish treatment within Muslim lands written by Jews have concluded that although occasional violent persecution did occur, it was not systemic nor continuous and substantially better than treatment by Christians in the pre-modern era. (Lewis, 1984)

The creation of Israel as a cause of conflict[edit]

Supporters of this viewpoint regard historically good relations with much of the Middle East as having been shattered by the creation of Israel. They cite the example of Mizrahi Jews, who had long been living in large measure peacefully among Arabs and Muslims, but who left after the establishment of the state of Israel for a variety of reasons (depending on the country), including Muslim hostility because of the new state. Some point out as well that during the times of the Spanish Inquisition, Muslim countries were prominent in accepting Jewish refugees.

Opponents of this viewpoint, including some Mizrahi Jews themselves, see this as one-sided at best. They point to the persecutions of the Jews of North Africa in the 12th century under the Almohades, the slaughter of thousands of Jews in Fez in 1465 (after the Jewish deputy vizier Harun (Aaron), who had imposed heavy taxes on the population on behalf of the vizier, was accused of treating a Muslim woman "offensively"), [27] and to similar massacres in Libya, Algiers, and Marrakesh in the 18th and 19th centuries (Morris, 2001). They also point to waves of synagogue destructions and forced conversions throughout the Arab world from the 11th to 19th centuries, and to the fact that, by the 19th century, most Jews of North Africa were forced to live in mellahs or ghettos, and were subject to a number of restrictions and humiliations, as they were in Europe.

Jewish immigration as a cause of conflict[edit]

Some Arabs[who?] maintain that there is nothing wrong with Jewish immigration into Palestine, in itself, any more than there is with Jewish immigration into any other part of the world. But in their view the Zionist immigrants arriving in Palestine from the late 19th century on did so in course of a plan to take it over and establish a Jewish majority state, in some cases by force; they consider this to be colonization of Palestinians' land, made possible not by Palestinian self-determination, or even consent, but by British (and to a lesser extent Turkish) fiat. This process led to what they regard as an expulsion by Zionists of the majority of the Arab population in 1948, and continues today with Israel's ongoing expansion of settlements. Palestinians also decry what they see as the inherent inequity of long-standing Israeli laws on immigration where, according to Israel's Law of Return, a Jew born in, say Stockholm, may immigrate to Israel and gain automatic citizenship and elect to live anywhere he chooses, including East Jerusalem, whereas a Palestinian born and raised in Jerusalem and forced to leave as a refugee of war may not return to his home.

The detractors of this argument[who?] regard the existence of a Jewish minority in the Land of Israel throughout the past two millennia, and the importance of Jerusalem and the Land of Israel in Judaism, as giving Jews a right to go there that trumps Palestinians' objections. They also claim international approval for their immigration, noting that both the League of Nations's 1922 Palestine Mandate and the 1947 UN Partition Plan supported the establishment of a Jewish National Homeland in the region, and view the Arab leadership's former rejection of any partition as an attempt to deny the Jews their right of self-determination. They claim that a national homeland for Jews would have protected them from persecution. Mainstream Zionists have argued that the land could support a greater population density without major population displacement.

Israeli treatment of minorities[edit]

Some Palestinians[who?] feel that the Jewish state of Israel was established under conditions that were deeply unfair to them. Palestinians do not oppose a Jewish state as such, but all Palestinians feel that it should not have been established at their expense. They argue that after World War II – and, indeed, after World War I – the world allowed a state for Jewish people in Palestine to be established without much concern for the existing Arab population. Accordingly, Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes by Jewish militias before and during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war (see Palestinian exodus.) Those who remained in Israel face various forms of discrimination, such as housing and employment discrimination. Many job opportunities in Israel are open only to those with previous military service, typically non-haredi Jews, Druze, Circassians and Bedouins. Those who do not serve in the IDF (typically Israeli Arabs and haredi-Jews) are denied those opportunities.

After the 1967 war, Israel abolished all the discriminatory laws promulgated by Jordan and adopted its own tough standard for safeguarding access to religious shrines. The "Protection of Holy Places" law of 1967 holds that “[w]hoever does anything that is likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the various religions to the places sacred to them,” Israeli law stipulates, is “liable to imprisonment for a term of five years.” [28]. Israel also entrusted administration of the holy places to their respective religious authorities. Thus, for example, the Israeli government allows the Islamic Waqf (the Islamic Landtrust) to control the Dome of the Rock shrine and the entire Temple Mount area [29]. However, The Waqf prohibits any non-Muslim (and especially Jews) from entering the Dome of the Rock shrine and the Israeli government permits the Waqf to make this decision about who gets in. [30]. Many groups allege that the Islamic Waqf's prohibition of non-Muslims from entering the Dome of the Rock and the time limitations for non-Muslims (non-Muslims are only allowed in the Temple Mount area for four hours per day, and the area is unrestricted for Muslims) constitutes a violation of the "Protection of Holy Places" Law of 1967 [31][32].

Some Palestinian Christians[who?] are of the opinion that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has led to the diminishment of their population [33][34]. Others, like Abe Ata are of the opinion that American Christians have "turned their backs" on them by supporting Israel [35].

Legitimacy of war against Israel[edit]

As the refugees' exile continued, some Palestinian groups chose war, considering it as a necessary way to regain what they saw as their rights over the land they came from. The failure of these efforts to improve the Palestinians' condition fueled increased hostility.

Some Palestinians distinguish between violent resistance against Israeli military occupation, and violent acts against Israeli civilians. They hold that the former is legitimate resistance under the laws of war, while the latter comprise illegitimate acts of terrorism.[citation needed] Other Palestinian voices reject violence altogether and look to exclusively non-violent it can have a resistance as a solution.[citation needed] Palestinians making the case for purely non-violent resistance, or for armed resistance against only military targets but not Israeli civilians, invoke both practical arguments that such tactics are counterproductive, as well as moral and legal arguments against the use of violence, especially against civilians. Most Palestinians claim that Israel's occupation engenders routine violence against Palestinian civilians that is institutionalized and carried out on a much larger scale than anything Israelis experience. They often question what they see as the media's one-sided use of the word "terror" in cases where Palestinians are perpetrators and Israelis are victims, while ignoring what they view as state terrorism carried out by Israel against the Palestinian population.

Some Palestinian and Arab leaders believe that Palestinians are justified in using violence against any Israeli, seeing all Israelis as illegal occupants, and arguing that Israel's universal conscription renders almost all Israelis potential combatants. They see these illegal occupants as the source of tens of thousands of deaths, and millions of refugees. Some claim that trusting the international community to help them to get their rights back is useless, suggesting that, in recent history, as long as Palestinians were peaceful no state made any serious efforts to solve their problem. In their opinion, only when other countries see Palestinian problems as causing problems to themselves do they help Palestine.

They also argue that the civilian deaths caused by their operations are dwarfed by those dismissed as "collateral damage" caused by the full scale military campaigns done by various world powers. Some see the innocent deaths caused by such operations as regrettable, but as an only option to solve the problems of millions of Palestinians. Furthermore, they point to the use of violence against non-combatants by most other independence struggles, including, they say, the American War of Independence.

Despite having underlying grievances in common, the relationships between the PLO and Hamas and other Palestinian factions is rife with philosophical and tactical differences, as well as frequent power struggles, all of which tend to work to Israel's advantage and weaken Palestinians' ability to influence the outcome of the conflict.

Treatment of Palestinians[edit]

Restrictions on Palestinian movements were introduced to increase levels of security within Israel and Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. They have been of variable severity over time. The international community often views these as punishments of the masses because of the actions of a few. This perception of unjust persecution provides a continuing rationale for hostility toward Israel.

Bulldozing of houses and destruction of infrastructure within Palestinian residential areas in the name of Israeli security add to the poor conditions and lack of opportunities for the Palestinians. This is a frequently-used point of indignation against Israel by Palestinian sympathizers.

Arab publications and others have compared Zionism to German Nazism and other historical examples of oppression and ethnic cleansing. Many Arabs, and others, believe Israel practices a form of Israeli apartheid against the Palestinian people, as bad as, or worse than, that practiced by South Africa, and that Zionism is a form of colonialism and has been carried out through extensive ethnic cleansing against the "indigenous people of Palestine", even though Jews are also indigenous to the area encompassing modern day Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and are closely related to the Palestinian Arabs.[6][7] Furthermore, pro-Israel advocates reply that these claims are non-factual and the comparisons are specious, or with assertions that such claims are hypocritical, since Arabs have created twenty-two Arab states, in some of which the remaining Jews are discriminated against. Palestinians hold that the existence of other Arab nations is irrelevant; they want to have the land they owned back, rather than being forced to throw themselves on others' charity in foreign countries.

Israel's Family Reunification Law allowed the Interior Minister to grant permanent resident status to West Bank Palestinians who have family members in Israel. A recent revision to this Law required that the Interior Minister "shall not grant" citizenship except in exceptional cases [36]; recent additional modifications allow some citizenships, but limit based on age [37]. In his comment to the Knesset Interior Affairs committee on July 19, 2005, Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin stated that "11% of those involved in terror attacks are Palestinians who entered Israel via the Family Reunification Law." [38] [39]

Refugee issues[edit]

UN General Assembly Resolution 194 calls for "the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property". Israel has blocked the return of these refugees and confiscated their land as "absentee".

The supporters of Israel argue that the return of Palestinian refugees and millions of their descendants would mean the end of Jewish self-determination and assert the historical necessity for Jews to have a safe haven. See also Jewish refugees.

Furthermore, some argue that Palestinians, if allowed to return, would not live in peace with their neighbours.

Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip[edit]

Map of Israeli settlements, in navy blue, in the West Bank

There are currently 246,000 Jewish settlers living in settlements in the West Bank, not including 200,000 Israeli Jews who live in annexed East Jerusalem [40]. Ongoing settlement development and growth are major reasons Palestinians claim the peace process has failed [41], and the issue figures prominently in the larger narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict among non-Palestinian Arabs [42].

These settlements are off-limits to Palestinians and other Arabs, while any Jewish citizen of Israel can at any time choose to settle there. To monitor and control Palestinian movement, Israel has established 50+ checkpoints in and around the West Bank [43]. As well, recently, Israel has begun construction of a controversial West Bank barrier (see map [44]). Palestinians complain that these measures greatly restrict their movement and are often humiliating, while Israel asserts that they are necessary for security. Palestinians also point out that Israel accelerated the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip throughout the Oslo peace process.

During Fateh Central Committee meeting on September 5, 2005, "[r]eferring to the lands Israel would evacuate in Gaza Strip, President Abbas said that 97.5% of these lands were state-owned lands" [45].

In 2005, approximately 9,000 settlers were evicted by Israel from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Arab Peace Offer[edit]

In 2002, Saudi Arabia offered a peace plan in The New York Times and at a summit meeting of the Arab League in Beirut. The plan is based on, but goes beyond UN Security Council Resolution 242 and Resolution 338. It essentially calls for full withdrawal, solution of the refugee problem, and a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem in return for fully normalized relations with the whole Arab world. This proposal received the unanimous backing of the Arab League for the first time.

In response, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said: "[T]he details of every peace plan must be discussed directly between Israel and the Palestinians, and to make this possible, the Palestinian Authority must put an end to terror, the horrifying expression of which we witnessed just last night in Netanya." [46]

Palestinians as victims of extremism[edit]

Some Palestinians[who?] believe that their cause may be damaged by extremists within their own ranks; an issue that is mirrored in the Israeli camp. Some view the conflict as essentially extremist vs. moderate, as opposed to Israeli vs. Palestinian. Pro-Israel advocates often assert that two sets of views exist from the same speaker, with a tolerant view usually expressed in English, and an anti-peace view usually expressed in Arabic, with pro-Arab advocates making similar charges about Israeli speakers. Most if not all Palestinian spokespeople declare that they wish Israel had never come into being, regarding its creation as a historic injustice and a manipulation of International Law. However, some accept its existence today and call merely for a state of their own. Still others envisage a one-state solution in all of historic Palestine. Within this one-state view, there are both secular and Islamist visions for the future. The secular view holds that a just and lasting peace is most likely if there exists a fully democratic government for all citizens, where legal status and civil rights are not based on ethnic and religious identity. The Islamist view aspires to an Islamic government in Palestine. In both views, Jews currently living in Israel might be allowed to remain there unmolested as free and equal citizens of a future state of Palestine (in the secular Arab view) or as dhimmis along with Druze and Christians, in the Islamist Arab view. Some Jews view it as extremely unlikely that they would be allowed to live unmolested in any sort of one-state Palestine.

Today, some Palestinians[who?] think that an equitable arrangement for all involved parties requires dialogue with Israelis and the international community. The PLO has officially accepted the right of Israel to exist within the pre-1967 armistice lines. However, some PLO representatives, including Yasser Arafat, have also declared at times that they saw these statements as politically necessary steps. Some observers interpret this to mean that they view the two-state solution as a stepping stone to a more integrated long-term solution. Others, particularly some Israelis, claim that these statements betray a hidden agenda and worldview where the peace process with Israel is only a temporary measure in support of the ultimate Palestinian goal, which is the destruction of the state of Israel, and presumably the eviction of its Jewish citizens. They point to the fact that the PLO never updated its formal statement of policy, the Palestinian National Covenant to reflect their recognition of the State of Israel and that it still calls for the destruction of Israel; however the U.S. Embassy in Israel is on record confirming that "On April 24, 1996, the Palestinian National Council (PNC) amended the charter by canceling the articles inconsistent with its commitments to Israel".[8] Still, belief in an existential threat from the PLO causes alarm among much of the Israeli public.

Mutual claims[edit]

Biased text books[edit]

Many Palestinian school textbooks, including those distributed and sponsored by the Palestinian Authority since 1994, have historically minimized or ignored Jewish history of the land prior to the 20th century. Israeli textbooks and school curriculum also often ignore Palestinian history. Texts and school curriculum on both sides are accused of propagating "myths" about the history of the conflict, and relegating important points of view and facts.[9]

The role of the superpowers[edit]

Palestinians cite many reasons for the perceived lack of support of their cause in the United States, despite the perception that it is more broadly supported in Europe. One such reason is postulated to be ethnic bigotry in the U.S.; while stereotyping of many other groups is no longer rampant, many people believe that Muslims and Arabs, in particular, continue to be vilified and victimized by crude attacks. There is also belief that American policy is largely shaped by American Jewish groups like AIPAC. It has also been argued that the U.S. continues to support Israel in order to have a strong foot hold in the region for their own national interests, politically and economically. Many also cite the political nature of the Cold War that aligned the U.S. with Israel against the USSR and its allies in the region.

The USSR traditionally used Arabs as a proxy in the Cold War against the Western world (and the West's proxy in the Middle East, Israel). Some of today's anti-Zionist rhetoric still reflects the position of Soviet Zionology.

Peace and reconciliation[edit]

Despite the long history of conflict between Israelis and Arabs, there are many people working on peaceful solutions that respect the rights of peoples on all sides. See projects working for peace among Israelis and Palestinians.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Press release, (March 2005). "Palestinians and Israelis Disagree on How to Proceed with the Peace Process". Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research
  2. ^ "Hamas 'implicitly accepts Israel'". BBC News. June 27, 2006. Retrieved May 27, 2010. 
  3. ^ Black, Eric. Resolution 242 and the Aftermath, PBS Frontline website. Retrieved March 22, 2006.
  4. ^ Sahih Muslim Book 41. Signs of Turmoil and the Last Hour Hadith 6981-6185
  5. ^ Margolis, David (February 23, 2001). "The Muslim Zionist". Los Angeles Jewish Journal. 
  6. ^ http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-sham-postcolonial-argument-against-israel/
  7. ^ http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2011/01/the-assyrians-and-jews-3000-years-of-common-history/
  8. ^ Palestinian National Charter Amended. United States Embassy in Israel.
  9. ^ see Akiva Eldar: "Put the Green Line back in textbooks" Haaretz, December 5, 2006.

External links[edit]

Views of the Conflict: Pro-Israeli[edit]

Views of the Conflict: Pro-Arab[edit]

Jews in Arab countries[edit]

a Book review (English): " Une si longue présence , Comment le monde arabe a perdu ses Juifs, 1947-1967" 2008, by Nathan Weinstock. (and a Hebrew review)