BY JAMES BURKETT (Deputy Editor)
A region split in two. Two nations at war. Tens of thousands of deaths. The political conflict between Israel and Palestine has continued for nearly 75 years, from the end of the Second World War to this very day. But why are these two nations at odds, and what has this struggle meant for the global world order?
Many historians attribute the conflict as we know it today to the years following WW2, where the newly formed United Nations sought to end the tension between Jewish Zionists and Palestinian nationalists. The 1947 plan, aimed to split the region amicably between the two groups, was created in an effort to relocate Holocaust survivors after the horrors of the Third Reich. And that, as far as they thought, was that.
Unfortunately, more recent history paints a very different picture. The last 70 years have seen considerable expansion beyond the Partition Plan (image), causing the Palestinian state to decline and shrink as Israel expanded its borders.
Such efforts have not gone unnoticed by the rest of the world. However, despite Resolution 242 in 1967 to end not only the Six-Day War, but also to limit Israeli expansion into Palestinian territory as well as 2016’s UN Resolution 2334 to put an end to illegal Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, the success of these declarations has yet to be seen. With America using its vote to veto any form of sanctions against Israel, economic or otherwise, the United Nations is essentially limited to vague threats and condemnations of Israel and Palestine.
Unfortunately, this lack of action has only made the situation worse. From missile strikes to terror attacks on both sides, extremist groups like Hamas have exploited this tension to launch what is essentially a full-scale attack on Israel in the past, including launching over 400 missiles into Israeli territory, with the Gaza Strip being hit by 180 in turn in the first week of May 2019 alone.
As conflict between the two becomes increasingly destructive and violent, the two states’ links with other countries has come under heavy scrutiny, particularly that of Israel’s to the USA’s. From the Obama administration onwards, America’s dealings with Israel have come under significant attention, such as the Obama administration’s complacency in abstaining from Resolution 2334 to condemn the illegal Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory to increasing funding and aid to Israel, with 2016 marking the largest aid package in U.S history – $38 billion. With the most powerful country in the world backing them, it’s not unreasonable to think that Israel is “testing the waters” to see how far this American protection will go.
The answer to this question, of course, appears to be simple: as far as it needs to. While America’s foreign policy has consistently sought to defend and support the Israeli state since 1967, it appears that the Trump administration is ready to take this a step further. President Trump’s 2017 recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, despite the UN voting 128-9 to reject this recognition, indicates a somewhat alarming shift from a more passive defense of Israeli territory to more aggressive expansion into Palestinian territory, or in this case, joint Israeli-Palestinian territory. This aggressive stance, reflected in the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley’s statement on the vote that the US “will remember this day” and that “America will put its embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people want us to do, and it is the right thing to do. No vote in the United Nations will make any difference” indicates a considerably less diplomatic approach to the world stage.
Naturally, there are fears for the relative peace between the two as the Trump administration pursues a more active role in the affairs of Israel. Events such as March’s missile attack on Tel Aviv and the Israeli counter-attack on Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip suggests that this form of “an eye for an eye” conflict is only set to escalate, with another missile attack on Tel Aviv being carried out a mere two weeks later. As tensions between the two countries continue to fester, the question remains: could we be seeing a prelude to an eventual war? Only time will tell.