“Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a complex one involving the rights and obligations of both Israelis and Palestinians, and it needs a negotiating process.”Ron Malka
The Israel Palestine conflict – often referred to as the ‘world’s most intractable conflict’ – is rooted in a dispute over land claimed by Jews as their biblical inheritance and by the Palestinians, who seek self-determination. Over the decades, despite repeated attempts to end the conflict, there is no peace settlement in sight.
History of the Israel-Palestine Conflict
The Israeli -Palestine conflict had its origins in the late 19th century when Jews fleeing anti-Semitism in Russia and central Europe began emigrating to Palestine.
In 1917, during the 1st World War, the British captured Palestine from the Ottomans and, in the Balfour Declaration, promised the Jews a “national home” in Palestine. Opposition emerged from the Palestinians in Jerusalem in 1919. However, the efforts were crushed by the British.
In 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for Palestine to be partitioned between Arabs and Jews. It allowed for the formation of the Jewish state of Israel and the West Bank (the area just west of the Jordan River). While East Jerusalem goes to Jordan, and the Gaza strip to Egypt, the Jerusalem – the heart of the conflict, to be an international territory with a special status.
In 1948, the British withdrew from Palestine, and Israel declared itself as an independent nation willing to implement the Partition Plan. India and Arab countries were not in favour of the creation of Israel. Thus, Arab armies waged war against Israel in 1948, which involved five Arab nations- Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon. By the end of the war, Israel controlled more than two-thirds of the former British mandate, while Jordan took control of the West Bank, Egypt, and the Gaza Strip.
In 1964, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed by Palestine to destroy the State of Israel as a means of attaining the goal of Palestinian statehood.
In 1967, Israel attacked Egypt. It was a six-day war that resulted in Israeli defeating Egypt, Jordan, and Syria and occupying the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, and the Golan heights. Jordan, Egypt, France, and Germany issued a joint statement opposing Israel’s annexation plans. Since then, attacks between Arab states and Israel became common.
Oslo Peace Accords, initiated during 1990s, aimed to fulfil the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, was a multilateral attempt to end the ongoing violence. However, it also failed to bring peace to both Israel and Palestine. Till today the conflict has been continued without any successful agreements. Edward Said famously described the accord as an instrument of Palestinian surrender, a Palestinian Versailles.
Role of Jordan
Israel and Jordan have a lot in common, including signed peace agreements, common frontiers, and large Palestinian communities facing similar problems. What happens in one country has to knock-on effects on the other.
Jordan is home to millions of Palestinians and asserts itself as a protector of Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. Caught in regional conflict, the country has been unwillingly dragged into a host of problems.
The Jordanian-Palestinian relationship has been driven by two factors: the number of Palestinians residing in Jordan and the fear that a solution to the Palestinians might come at Jordan’s expense. This is the reason why Jordan never wanted the Israeli Palestine conflict to be an international affair.
Jordan has been a strong advocate of the two-state solution that would lead to a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Jordan flooded with Palestinians, fears that a hard-line Israeli government could declare that a Palestinian state already exists in Jordan. Current realities predict that the two-state solution appears to be dead. The current Israeli government does not show its interest in the two-state solution, and the Palestinian leadership is too weak and divided to put forward the solution.
Jordan is facing economic challenges, with a national debt of close to $35 billion. The nation also faces domestic political problems within citizens of East Bank or Palestinian origin, demanding a larger role in decision making. Thus Jordan alone can’t convince the Israeli government for the two-state solution.
India Israel Relations
For long, India been a leading country in the pro-Palestinian, Non-Aligned Movement. However, it also has developed warm relations with Israel in recent years. India and Israel established diplomatic relations with each other in 1992, and today stand at a unique juncture. The ambit of India-Israel defence cooperation as well as collaboration in the agriculture sector has widened the scope for diplomatic relations.
India Palestine Relations
The current map of Palestine is often described as “Swiss Cheese”, riddled with holes. Over the last century, it has been carved up, walled-in, and filled with hundreds of illegal Israeli settlements and military checkpoints. Palestinians are still fighting for an official status formally recognized by all countries. While so much of Palestine’s history involved displacement, bloodshed, and instability, many leaders are working towards a resolution that will result in peace throughout the region. In 2011 Palestine submitted a bid to the U.N. for statehood and membership, and since 2012 it has a status of a non-member observer state in the United Nations.
India recognized Palestine’s statehood in 1988. Even as the India-Israel partnership is matured, India has maintained high-level political interactions with Palestine. Samuel C Rajiv remarks that India has consistently urged Israel to engage in negotiations to resolve outstanding issues and conflicts. India’s developmental support to Palestine is robust, with an annual contribution of nearly $5 million.
Despite considerable footprint in global affairs, the willingness and ability of India to play a direct role in the Israeli-Palestine conflict is limited.
The two-state solution has been the prime focus of efforts to achieve peace since long. It would establish an independent Palestine along with Israel — two states for two peoples. It would allow Israel to retain a Jewish demographic majority while granting the statehood to Palestine.
According to T S Tirumurti, India’s Permanent Representative to the U.N.; “Only a two-state solution that realises the legitimate national aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis can lead to sustainable peace.” The region is a hotbed of multiple conflicts. The peaceful resolution of the issue will be a major achievement not just for the countries involved but also for all of the world.