The Israeli-Palestinian conflict stands out among the world’s longest conflicts. Many people believe that solving this conflict is a significant process in ending various conflicts in the Middle East. This conflict has been said by some observers to contribute to Arab resentment to the “west” and the radical Islamic terrorism. However, it should be noted that behind every violent conflict in the Middle East, there resides a major issue. Most brutal conflicts are fuelled due to politics, oil, land, water, and religious beliefs (Rabinovich 2001). The conflict stands prolonged since the superpowers and the great powers have failed to take into account the interests of both communities. It is imperative that the various nations and forums aimed at solving the conflict maintain a non-partisan and impartial approach. This would be a key issue in understanding the causes of the conflict and its potential solutions.
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To begin with, it would be indispensable to understand the brief history behind the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. The story traces back to the end of World War II when the United Nations allocated land to the Jewish communities of the world so that they could reside together in harmony (Hinchcliffe & Milton-Edwards 2008). This land, Israel, was endowed with sacred places for the Jewish religion and was at the heart of Muslim nations. Palestinian Muslims resided on the land at the time the Israeli community was given the land. The neighboring Arabic communities and the Palestinians opposed the creation of Israel. Most Muslims considered certain parts of the land occupied by the Israeli very important. These religious reasons propelled the Palestinian Muslims to stage attacks on Israel with the hope of annihilating the newly Jewish state. Most Palestinian Muslims maintained the idea that they must gain control over East Jerusalem before settling for a peace agreement. In addition, the Palestinians viewed themselves as native inhabitants under military rule by foreign invaders. To fight back, they staged massive terror attacks on innocent Israeli civilians. On the other hand, the Israelis believe that they must continue to control the Palestinians with military force in order to avert more terrorist attacks.
For over 75 years, western diplomats have formulated peace initiatives to help solve the Arab-Israeli conflict (Rabinovich 2001). However, the efforts have always seemed futile. It should be noted that identifying the causes of the conflict would provide grounds for peace settlement. There are myriads of reasons that have contributed towards the Arab-Israel conflict. Despite the actual military conflict, spiritual conflict has proved to be much more pervasive. The reasons for the conflict vary from observer to observer and participant to participant.
Religion has played a significant role in perpetuating the conflict in a number of ways. Firstly, the existence of various religions in the Middle East has fuelled conflicts among the various communities. People of the Middle East have various religions, mostly Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Within these religions, thre are various groupings and sects which constantly dispute claims from other groupings from the same religion and those from other religions. The three major religions are linked to Jerusalem, and no religion is willing to give up control of the city. In addition, most religious leaders employed twisted religious dogma to spur conflict among religions. Lastly, most of the religious groups maintain the belief that their religion is the true faith and strive to eliminate other faiths. In many ways, religious conflict has proved to be a significant threat towards a lasting peace settlement in the Middle East.
Land dispute among Arab and Israelis has also played a crucial part in generating conflict between the two communities (Suleiman 2004). Most Jews consider the land occupied by the Israelis to be a holy place. According to the Jewish people, the piece of land is a promise from God as an eternal inheritance. As a matter of fact, most Jews see the resettlement of the land of Israel by the Jewish community as a part of God’s plan. Israel is treasured by both the Palestinians and Jews since it contains various historical and religious sites, for example, the Old City of Jerusalem, the Old City of Jaffa, the Cave of Machpelah, and the Sanctuary of Shiloh (Rabinovich 2001). The Muslims also treasure Jerusalem as the holy site of Muhammad’s ascending to Heaven on the Buraq over the temple of Jerusalem. Both communities strive to acquire control over the land in order to access the sites.
Most observers believe that the Islamic anti-Semitism is the root cause of conflict in the Middle East. Islamic anti-Semitism dates back to the growth of Islam in the seventh century. In fact, several verses in the Quran such as Chapter 2, verses 65 and Chapter 5, verses 60-65 associate negative attributes to Jewish people. In addition, the pact of Umar mandates institutional discrimination to the Jews in the entire Islam world. This has fuelled the rise of an ingrained feeling of Muslim superiority over the Jews living in the Middle East. Most critics believe that Israel is a tumor at the heart of the Islamic world. The Muslims have struggled to regain their victory over other religions. This quest to regain control over the region has further fuelled the growth of conflict in the Middle East.
Oil is also a significant factor that has contributed towards the prolonged conflict. The energy resource forms the backbone of western economies. No wonder, most western powers have been involved in the struggle to establish peace in the Middle East. The other reasons include Anti-colonialism, Pan-Arab Nationalism, Zionism, Blockade of Gaza, and dependence of the West Bank (Hinchcliffe & Milton-Edwards 2008). The conflict primarily stems from the dispute over natural resources and geopolitical interests.
Increased and prolonged violence in the Middle East calls for a plan to resolve the conflict. Despite the various measures formulated to solve conflict in the Middle East, it is mindful to consider the role Jerusalem plays in solving the conflict. Jerusalem is the key to peace in the Middle East. Jerusalem holds significant interests for many groups in the Middle East, mostly the Abrahamic faiths of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Therefore, a peace settlement should consider the aspirations of both the Palestinians and the Israelis and cater for their interests over the region.
Finally, the settlement, demolitions, and eviction of Palestinians from East of Jerusalem is unhelpful in ensuring peaceful coexistence between the two communities. It is crucial for both the Palestinians and the Israelis to settle for an agreement that would see both of them acquire control over the region. Most leaders in Middle East disagree on many issues, but they all agree that a just solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would in turn solve other political problems in the Middle East. Therefore, it is crucial for the leaders to merge diplomatic efforts and solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if peace is to be established in the Middle East (Suleiman 2004). For instance, both nations should settle for Jerusalem as a single state. Owing to the fact that Israel has an overwhelming military power, it would be pointless to stage military attacks against it. However, Israel should seize acquisition of West Bank territories and inhuman treatment of the Palestinians including eviction of Palestinians from Jerusalem. If both nations are ready make peace, then they should settle for the interests of both parties. It is possible for both the Palestinians and Israelis to share the capital.
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