Israel-Palestine issue



  • The Israeli-Palestinian conflict dates back to the end of the nineteenth century, and is one of the world’s most enduring conflicts, with the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
  • The Israel and Palestine conflict is complex. It’s rooted in national, political, territorial, cultural and religious factors
  • The core issue is not just about the land; it is about having the right to self-determination


Tracing the Issue

  • A 100-year-old issue
    • Britain took control of the area known as Palestine after the ruler of that part of the Middle East, the Ottoman Empire, was defeated in World War One
    • The land was inhabited by a Jewish minority and Arab majority
    • Tensions between the two peoples grew when the international community gave Britain the task of establishing a “national home” in Palestine for Jewish people.
    • For Jews it was their ancestral home, but Palestinian Arabs also claimed the land and opposed the move
    • Between the 1920s and 1940s, the number of Jews arriving there grew, with many fleeing from persecution in Europe and seeking a homeland after the Holocaust of World War Two
    • Violence between Jews and Arabs, and against British rule, also grew.
    • In 1947, the UN voted for Palestine to be split into separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem becoming an international city
Did you know?
Palestine is a geographic region in Western Asia usually considered to include Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and in some definitions, parts of western Jordan
  • The creation of Israel and the ‘Catastrophe’
    • In 1948, unable to solve the problem, British rulers left and Jewish leaders declared the creation of the state of Israel
    • Many Palestinians objected and a war followed. Troops from neighbouring Arab countries invaded.
    • Jerusalem was divided between Israeli forces in the West, and Jordanian forces in the East.
    • Because there was never a peace agreement – with each side blaming the other – there were more wars and fighting in the following decades.
  • The map today
    • Israel claims the whole of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
    • The US is one of only a handful of countries to recognise the city as Israel’s capital
    • In the past 50 years Israel has built settlements in these areas, where more than 600,000 Jews now live
    • Palestinians say these are illegal under international law and are obstacles to peace, but Israel denies this

current affairs

  • What’s happening now?
    • Tensions are often high between Israel and Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank.
    • Gaza is ruled by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which has fought Israel many times. Israel and Egypt tightly control Gaza’s borders to stop weapons getting to Hamas
    • Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank say they are suffering because of Israeli actions and restrictions. Israel says it is only acting to protect itself from Palestinian violence.


What are the main problems?

  • There are a number of issues which Israel and the Palestinians cannot agree on, and these include:
    • what should happen to Palestinian refugees
    • whether Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank should stay or be removed
    • whether the two sides should share Jerusalem
    • and – perhaps most tricky of all – whether a Palestinian state should be created alongside Israel
  • Peace talks have been taking place on and off for more than 25 years, but so far have not solved the conflict.


World’s view of the Israel-Palestine Issue

  • While Non-Muslim countries recognize Israel’s legitimacy and maintain diplomatic relations with it, but most are critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and ongoing occupation of the West Bank
  • Most of the world believes that Israel’s continued control of the West Bank is an unlawful military occupation
  • The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which coalesced in 2005, aims to capitalize on international anger with Israel
    • The movement’s strategy is to create costs to Israel’s Palestinian policy through boycotts of Israeli goods and institutions, divestment from Israeli companies, and sanctions on the nation itself (hence the name BDS)


The Peace process

  • Oslo Accords” is an ongoing American-mediated effort to broker a peace treaty between the two populations, that got kicked off in 1993
    • The goal is a “final status agreement,” which would establish a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank in exchange for Palestinians agreeing to permanently end attacks on Israeli targets — a formula often called “land for peace.”
  • So far there’s been little success, and there are three major hurdles to any agreement.
    • First, Israel continues to expand West Bank settlements, which Palestinians see as a de facto campaign to erase the Palestinian state outright
    • Second, the Palestinians remain politically divided between Fatah and Hamas, and thus are unable to negotiate jointly. And even if it worked, Israel still has shown zero indication that it would negotiate with a government that includes Hamas
    • Third, it’s not actually clear how to get talks started. The current right-wing Israeli government is sceptical of concessions to the Palestinians. The Palestinians, having essentially decided that Israel isn’t serious about peace, have launched a campaign for statehood in international institutions aimed at pressuring Israel into peace


Future of the Issue

  • These are the two broad ways the Israeli-Palestinian conflict might end
    • Two-State Solution
      • This would create an independent Israel and Palestine, and is the mainstream approach to resolving the conflict
      • The idea is that Israelis and Palestinians want to run their countries differently; Israelis want a Jewish state, and Palestinians want a Palestinian one
    • One-State Solution
      • This would merge Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip into one big country
      • It comes in two versions.
        • One, favored by some leftists and Palestinians, would create a single democratic country. Arab Muslims would outnumber Jews, thus ending Israel as a Jewish state
        • The other version, favored by some rightists and Israelis, would involve Israel annexing the West Bank and either forcing out Palestinians or denying them the right to vote


India’s policy on Israel and Palestine issue

  • India’s statement at UNSC seeks a balance between its old ties with Palestine and growing relations with Israel
  • India’s policy on the longest running conflict in the world has gone from being unequivocally pro-Palestine for the first four decades, to a tense balancing act with its three-decade-old friendly ties with Israel. In recent years, India’s position has also been perceived as pro-Israel
  • In 1948, India was the only non-Arab-state among 13 countries that voted against the UN partition plan of Palestine in the General Assembly that led to the creation of Israel
    • Scholars ascribe various reasons for this India’s own Partition along religious lines; as a new nation that had just thrown off its colonial yoke; solidarity with the Palestinian people who would be dispossessed; and to ward off Pakistan’s plan to isolate India over Kashmir
  • The balancing began with India’s decision to normalise ties with Israel in 1992, which came against the backdrop of the break-up of the Soviet Union, and massive shifts in the geopolitics of West Asia on account of the first Gulf War in 1990.
  • The opening of an Indian embassy in Tel Aviv in January 1992 marked an end to four decades of giving Israel the cold shoulder
  • For two-and-a-half decades from 1992, the India-Israel relationship continued to grow, mostly through defence deals, and in sectors such as science and technology and agriculture. But India never acknowledged the relationship fully.
  • From 2018 onwards, India ”de-hyphenated’‘ the Israel-Palestine relationship, and would deal with each separately
    • Meanwhile, India continues to improve ties with Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and feels vindicated by the decision of some Arab states to improve ties with Israel.