Homeland for both Jews and Palestinians

The Israel-Palestine conflict is one of the oldest and persisting conflicts in the world. Now and then, the situation escalates to deadly heights causing deaths and destruction in the region. How did the Israel-Palestine conflict start? What is the history of Palestine and Israel? To understand the present-day ongoing bloody conflict between Israel and Palestine, it is necessary to understand the background of the place and the people associated with it.

Israel today is a small country in West Asia, it is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to its west, Egypt to the south, Jordan and Syria to its east and Lebanon to the north.

For a very Long period of time, i.e., From 1517 to 1917, the Ottoman Empire ruled over much of West Asia including the region of Israel. In the 19th century, the population in the region of Israel/Palestine was almost 87% Muslim, 10% Christian and 3% Jewish. From all accounts, the communities lived in peace with each other. In the city of Jerusalem, the population of the three communities was roughly equal. In the 19th century, an Austro-Hungarian Jewish journalist, Theodor Herzl, propagated the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine for the Jews. This idea came to be known as Zionism, which found many followers among the Jews in Europe, where Jews were facing discrimination and even pogroms performed by Nazis under the dictatorship of Hitler. We all have known about the brutal massacre and torture of Jews all over the world in the modern history.

In 1917, the British government announced the Balfour Declaration, hoping to gain Jewish support for World War I, which promised: “the establishment in Palestine a national home for the Jewish People”. After the first world war, there was a massive influx of Jews from Europe into Palestine in the hope of creating their homeland after being expelled from it for centuries. The Jewish population in Palestine increased by hundreds of thousands, facilitated by the British (who were honouring the Balfour Declaration). During this time, tensions between the growing Jewish communities and the Arabs were increasing. When the tensions escalated, the British handed over the problem to the newly established United Nations. In 1947, the UN voted to establish separate Palestinian and Jewish states in the region dividing Palestine. This plan was rejected by the Arabs and thus starting the never ending conflict between the two communities.

Formation Of the State of Israel:

In May 1948, Israel was declared an independent state with David Ben Gurion as the Prime Minister. Following this declaration, in 1948, the Arab-Israeli War broke out with five Arab states, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt invading Israel. A ceasefire was announced in 1949 and as part of the agreement, the West Bank was given to Jordan and the Gaza Strip became part of Egypt. Israel, having won the war, though, now controlled more area than they would have under the UN plan. East Jerusalem was under the control of Jordan. Over 700000 Palestinians fled the region and became refugees in neighbouring Arab countries. The Palestinians call this war the Nabka, or catastrophe, as they became stateless.

In 1967, the 6-Day War started in which Israel won control of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula. Israel captured East Jerusalem also. In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon and ejected the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). The PLO was formed in 1964 to fight for the “liberation of Palestine” through armed struggle. There were many wars going on and off for so many years which was just causing a large number of death and people forced to move from their homeland every now and then.

Hamas, a Sunni Islamist militant group won the elections in Palestine in 2006. In 2007, Hamas defeated Fatah (political group that controlled the PLO) in 2007 in fighting that started in 2006. Hamas (which many consider a terrorist group) has been fighting with Israel with particularly significant battles in 2008, 2012 and 2014.

Now the current situation is that, Hamas rules over Gaza. Gaza’s borders are tightly controlled by Israel and Egypt. The West Bank is still occupied by Israel. According to Israel, allowing Palestinians to return to their homes would overwhelmingly threaten its existence as a Jewish state. (Israel is the only Jewish state in the world). Though Israel does not recognise Palestine as a state, over 135 UN member countries do.

Since, the dawn of time the land has been home to both Palestine and Jew people. Even though Jews had to go through a lot in history because of their religious beliefs and the hatred people had for them all around the world is known to all. Jews treat territories around Jerusalem as their holy land and their ancestral home. They refer to ancient scripture claiming that the land was promised by God to their ancestor Abraham and his descendants. But they never got the opportunity in past to settle at one place and call that land as their homeland, but after the formation of state of Israel they have seen that as their homeland and the only solution is to co-exist with every group of people who were living their long before they made the claim of the land.