Israel-Palestinian human beings. Civilizations evolved and withered away,

                        Israel-Palestinian conflict

Conflict is an intrinsic nature of human beings.
Civilizations evolved and withered away, but the conflict over territory and
religion has always been an inevitable phenomenon throughout the evolution of
mankind. And among the recent conflicts, the Israel-Palestinian conflict is
rising by leaps and bounds. Also with the prevalent politics of self-interest
and religions nowadays, this issue has got fuelled. According to the recent
statement of United States officials “President Donald Trump will today recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s
capital and will instruct the State Department to begin the years-long process
of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.”1 This means
that the United States of America has officially declared Jerusalem as the
capital of the Israel state; and it has grown concerns regarding political
instability and arguments beyond territories. I was aware of this issue before,
but the recent turmoil has made me to choose this topic for my essay because I
think this is the right time to address it with more seriousness and giving it
utmost priority, before it gets even worse. This essay would discuss the
Israel-Palestinian conflict in brief and will try to approach the problem with
the theories of International Relations, especially Realism and Liberalism. It would
see why there is a need of a separate state for Jews and one that for
Palestinians. It will also look at the solutions proposed like the ‘One-state
solution’ and ‘Two-state solution’ through the theories and see whether they
are justified or not.

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Introduction:
A brief peep into the history

Turkey, often referred to as the Ottoman Empire in the
past was ruling over the Middle East as one unified territory until the First
World War. But after its defeat in the First World War, The Ottoman Empire
could not hold the large territory in its possession and the Allied Powers
handed over the control of Syria and Lebanon to France and the territorial
region of Palestine and Jordan came under the control of Britain and finally in
1948, Israel got its identity of a nation-state.2  And then started the never ending dispute over
the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. I will not go deep
into the details of the conflict and the events that took place post the
establishment of Israel as a state rather I will look into the problem through
approaches of International Relations’ theories and the solutions that have
been proposed to settle the conflict.

 

Approaching the conflict

Everything happening globally in terms of political
affairs can be viewed, analysed and understood from different perspectives
through different set of lenses. If someone wears red lenses, the world might
appear red to him/her whereas if s/he puts blue lenses, the world would appear
blue. In the field of International relations, these lenses are the proposed
theories which makes the complexity of the world-system look simpler by
disintegrating the problems based on certain assumptions and help to oversee
the probable repercussions of them. The rise of the concept of “nation” and
“state” after the treaty of Westphalia gave unique identities to the
territories of the world. And the political thinkers and philosophers based on
the Thucydides’ the Peloponnesian war, proposed three major ideas/theories that
are observed by the constituents of the world-system in order to justify their
territories and governments.

Realist
Approach

Realism, which is the most traditional theory states that
the world-system is ‘anarchic’ and states are the most important actors and
everything is vested in the interest of states. It emphasizes the fact that
states must maximise their powers in order to be safe and to be superior in
this law-less world. It highly prioritizes power and force. It draws this fact
from the selfish and aggressive nature of an individual and considers the
states to behave in the same way.

Therefore on the lines of
realist principles, Middle Eastern states are competing with each other on
several factors and issues including but not limited to territory, security and
water. But before analysing this conflict we need to consider whether Palestine
is a state like Israel or not, then only the arguments could be justified.
According to John Balouziyeh, “General Assembly Resolution A/67/L.28 on the
status of Palestine at the United Nations was adopted on November 29, 2012 by a
vote of 138 in favour to nine against and forty one abstentions”3 3which
means that it can have Political relationships with 138 states which recognized
it but still it is not a full-fledged state. After the Zionist movement, the
Jews started to migrate from all over the world and started settling in
Palestine region which was pre-occupied by the Arab Muslims. Because Arab Muslims
considered it as a holy land according to their holy book, same was the reasons
for the Jews. There was a nationalist sentiment to establish their own states
among the two group and that brought a fear among them. The fear of sovereignty,
which was a matter of utmost importance for their security. Another thing that
arose after the war between them was the land occupied by Israel on the West
Bank and the settlement pleadings for the displaced people which were called
refugees from that part. Israel thought if it allows the Arab Muslims to settle
in the newly formed state, the Arab Muslims may outnumber the Jews and it could
prove a threat to the minority Jews because they came to this part of the world
to establish Israel as the only Jewish state of the world. If we consider the
atrocities the Jews faced in the past especially if we mention the Holocaust by
Hitler, we could feel their sentiments and may agree to their own belief of
nationalism and sovereignty which could make them independent and an inevitable
part of the world order. However, if we see it from the viewpoint of Arab Muslims,
It was their territory, although not officially recognized but still they were
the first inhabitants there and to force them out from their own lands which
they claim based on their holy book is against their nationalist sentiments. Therefore,
to balance the arguments based on my understanding of Realist theory is that if
the both states want their autonomy on their territories then they have the
right to be sovereign and no state should interfere in their personal affairs.
But the problem arises when they both argue to have sovereign rights over the
same land and to prove the authenticity of their arguments they propose their
holy books which I think is not a valid proposition. Furthermore, if we see it
from the neo-realist approach, the means the both states have used to achieve
their purpose it unacceptable. Neo-realist argue that states need to use their
military power for their vested interests but also emphasizes that there is a
law above the states which they should follow. But unfortunately, both Israel
and Palestine have used terrorism as a means of negotiation which is morally
not justified. In words of Jerome Slater, “the truth should make it clear that
Israel has neither the moral legitimacy nor the national interest to refuse to
negotiate with Palestinian organizations that have employed terrorism, particularly
the Hamas, without whose participation there is no chance for a compromise
settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.”4
He also states that Israeli terrorism has been worse than Palestinian terrorism
because Israel has more state of art defence and high end arms and ammunitions.
But is it morally correct to measure which terrorism was good or bad? Of Couse
not. Have they achieved more than they have earned through this means? According
to a source, “Total reported casualties from
terrorist attacks 1948-2017 (including attacks not listed in the Chronology)
are 3,699 killed and 14,734 injured (these figures include terrorists).
Casualties in these terrorist attacks include at least 222 children killed and
240 injured (these figures are incomplete); so far the 2001-2006 wave of
terrorism in Israel is the worst period to date.”5 I am not a big fan of
figures because they are deceptive and very much biased depending on the
source. But still what I infer is that both sides have lost their prime goal of
negotiation and instead of seeking for a better solution they have been
threatening to vanish each other’s existence which again goes against the set
rules for a state and especially for Israel which proudly calls itself a
Democracy.

 

Liberalist Approach

Liberalism, which
came as a messiah for this world ruthlessly governed by the selfish ideas of realists
shifted the paradigm of thoughts on how states can keep aside their vested
interests and come together for the welfare of all. Liberalism believes in international
cooperation and interdependence to achieve common good over unjust individual
interests. Liberalists feel states should be optimistic and they should promote
democracy and should have liberal trade so that countries would not indulge in
conflicts or wars. They also emphasizes on the role of international and
transnational organizations in connecting the world and how they could provide
aid to the needy.

We can approach
this conflict with liberalist principles because Israel is a capitalist
democracy and it should also consider the fundamentals of the theory while acting
as an international actor. Liberalist thoughts are very based on democratic
principles. And the most important thing is individual rights. Like in a
democracy, everyone has their own citizen rights, International organization
like United Nations considers Universal human rights for everyone. So, looking
through this perspective the killing of thousands of civilians and displacement
issues arose from the conflict should be taken care of by the Israeli state and
the Palestinian authority. Like the Jews, Arab Muslims should have their own
land and rights. And with the help of international law abiding organizations,
governments should cooperate with each other in negotiating on certain terms to
contain the conflict. After several uprisings and treaties, both sides settled
on certain solutions as they say. The most widely accepted solutions came to be
known as ‘One State Solution’ and ‘Two state Solution’. I will try to analyse
the two proposed solutions through the lenses of Realist and Liberalist
perspectives.

Solutions: One-state Vs. Two-state

One-state solution as the name suggests that Israel, the West Bank and the
Gaza strip would merge into one to become a single unified state. But, it
sacrifices the interests of either of the two groups. Either Israel could
supress the Arab Muslims living in the territory and deny their basic rights
which might also include suffrage and rule the entire territory as one Jews
state or The Palestinians would end the identity of Israel as the Jews state
and establish a democratic country outnumbering the Jews of Israel. Although,
both may be right on their own grounds of nationalism and interests based on
Realist approach, but this proposition failed in providing a justified solution
for the conflict. Because, the history of disputes and conflicted sentiments
for one another may lead to further exploitation of human rights when one forms
a majority driven state. So realists face a trade-off between moral and immoral
decisions but they need to choose the less evil choice as some suggest. If we
see this solution from liberal perspective, the end serves the purpose.
According to liberalists, if the end is beneficial sometimes conflicts and wars
are justified. But, we are looking through the perspective of cooperation here.
Can Israel and Palestine become one state and have no further troubles. I guess
not. And it is part of their history and the way things have escalated, even some
experts say it is not a valid solution.

Two-state solution

As the name
suggests, it proposes for a two states, Israel for the Jews and Palestine for the
Palestinians. It would basically be two nations for two peoples in which
Jerusalem which is considered to be the holy land by both groups would be split
into two. This solution speaks more for liberalist perspective which aims at
individual’s freedom and protecting rights of citizens. However, Israel often
complains about the terrorist activities by the Palestinian militant groups which
are causing security threats to the sovereignty. According to the Week “The two-state
solution has the backing of the majority of the international community,
including the United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union, Russia, and
the United Kingdom and-theoretically-the United States.”6 However the government of
Israel is sceptical about the proposed solution.

Conclusion

Despite several
conflicts, peace agreements and negotiations, the Israel-Palestinian Conflict
seems to be never ending. This conflict has become so complicated that some
proposed solutions just serve for satisfaction but they do not sound practical
and worth execution on real grounds. If there is a one-state solution, then the
very fundamental agendas of the Jews to establish a democratic Jewish State and
to establish a democratic Palestinian state for the Palestine would be ignored.
They both have their own national flags and national anthems and none of them
will compromise. Also more settlements of the Jews towards the West Bank would
hamper the development of Palestinians who would be deprived of resources.
Although their history is very similar, they both have been sufferers and they
both are worthy to establish their own states, one state solution would definitely
hinder their personal national determination.

Talking about the
Two-state solution, it seems better than the one-state solution but neither of
them is ready to compromise on the fundamentals. Palestinians are not ready to
recognize Israel and the Israel government wants to demilitarise Palestine
first before any settlements. But does it really going to contain the dispute.
Has the separation of India and Pakistan ended the conflicts over Kashmir? The
problems of conflicts are open ended. Today, Israel is a big military and
economic power and Palestine on the other hand is underdeveloped and lack
resources for development. United States has always stood for Israel and the
recent statement from Trump is surely going to leave an impact on the
Palestinians. Therefore, Realists on one hand uses the concept of sovereignty
which is important for both the nations to become an important players of the
world politics after establishing themselves as recognized states, liberals on
the other hand uses the term sovereignty to state that even after two-state
solution they may be apart but there is always a hope of cooperation and that
is the thing where the liberalist approach trumps. I therefore, hope that these
two states should keep aside the sentiments of accession and should think
rationally in the interest of their people because it is the only way to peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1
Wilts, Alexandra. “Donald Trump set to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
and relocate US embassy.” Washington DC
Independent, December 6, 2017. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-jerusalem-israel-embassy-us-move-palestine-abbas-president-latest-news-updates-a8093361.html
(accessed December 16, 2017).

2
Mark R. Amstutz, International Conflict and Cooperation, (United States of
America: Brown and benchmark Publishers, 1995), 64-65

3
John M.B. Balouziyeh, “Palestinian Statehood under International law”, May 1,
2015, Available at https://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/international-law/b/international-law-blog/archive/2015/01/05/palestinian-statehood-under-international-law.aspx
(Accessed December 15,2017)

 

4
Jerome Slater, “Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, http://www.mepc.org/terrorism-and-israeli-palestinian-conflict  (Accessed December 15, 2017)

 

5
Wm. Robert Johnson, compiler, last updated November 24, 2017, http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/terrorism/terrisraelsum.html
( accessed December 15, 2017)

6
The Week, UK, February 16, 2017, http://www.theweek.co.uk/81658/israel-pros-and-cons-of-two-state-solution
( accessed December 16, 2017)

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