The conflict between Israel and Palestine started some two
thousand years ago because they both claimed to have ownership of the land that
they both now claim for themselves. This conflict heated up tremendously nearly
a century ago and that is what has led to the debates between the two today.
The recent conflict started when Jews were fleeing form Europe
due to persecution in the region during the early twentieth century. This persecution
left many Jewish people looking for a place to settle. Inherently, they left Europe
and went to their religious homeland that was then an Arab-majority territory
in the Ottoman Empire which then turned into the British Empire. Since the Arab’s
had held this land, which they call Palestine, for thousands of years, they
resisted the settlements of Jewish people and the United Nations tried to step
in to help split the land peacefully. This ruling from the UN failed and only
spurred on conflict. Soon wars arose. One in 1948 and the other in 1967.
Israel won the war in 1948 and it displaced 700,000 Palestinian
people making them refugees in the land they used to call their own. The Jewish
settlers, that call their nation Israel, now gained control of the Gaza Strip
and the West Bank during the war in 1967, also known as The Six-Day War. Both
of these pieces of land were, and still are, home to large Palestinian populations.
Since then, Israeli settlements have popped up all over the West Bank which is,
to some extent, forcing Palestinian people out of the land which Palestine refuse
to recognize as Israel’s.
Another piece of land that is controversial is Jerusalem. Jerusalem
is home to Palestine’s recognized capitol. The issue is that Israel claims that
it as their capitol as well, but no other country has recognized that until
recently. Out of fear of sparking more controversy and undermining the United
States’ middle-man status between Israel and Palestine, the United States hasn’t
recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol until this past year. Trump officially
decided to move our embassy to Jerusalem in December of 2017, which served as
the United States formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol. Israel is
now recognized by roughly eighty-five percent of the worlds countries (Israel
International Relations). The remaining fifteen percent is predominately Arab
and Islamic nations.
The United States government did not support Israel until 1973
when the United States realized that Israel could serve as a cushion against the
Soviet Union’s involvement in the Middle East. The reason as to why the United
States and Israel are so friendly up until today is quite controversial. There
are many different theories ranging from the United States’ population and
their ability to relate to Israel rather than Palestine, to the lobbying power
of Pro-Israel groups, like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
Regardless of why the United States and Israel have a special relationship, the
United States is giving approximately a third of their foreign policy budget each
year to Israel. The two strategies that the United States has employed that have
led to the current situation are the American Mediation Policy and the Oslo
peace process and they mutually have been strict support of the Israel.
The American Mediation policy “was designed
to protect and accommodate first and foremost Israeli interests above any
commitment to political settlement and just peace” (Alashqar). Aaron David Miller, who used to be the official
advisor and negotiator at the state department for all things dealing with the
Middle East, was quoted saying “for far too long many American officials involved
in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, myself included, have acted as Israel’s attorney,
catering and coordinating with the Israelis at the expense of successful peace
negotiations.” Leading the United States to essentially function as “Israel’s Lawyer”
which hindered the ability to negotiate a decision ending in peace between Israel
The Oslo peace process, also known as the Israeli-Palestine
Peace process, was put into effect during the Clinton Administration. The Oslo
peace process is essentially an “ongoing American-mediated effort to broker a
peace treaty between Israelis and Palestinians” (Beauchamp).
The United States functions as the main
mediator between Israel and Palestine. The United States hasn’t allowed nay other
institutions, such as the United Nations or the European Union, to function at
any capacity as an influencer of the negotiation.
The four main issues that any peace deal between Israel and
Palestine would need to address are Israeli Security, West Bank
boarders/settlements, Jerusalem, and Palestinian Refugees. The issues mostly
lie within that Israel continues to increase settlements in the West Bank,
Israel’s right-wing government isn’t keen on the idea of giving up any land to Palestine,
and with division between Fatah and Hamas, the Palestinian government can’t
negotiate jointly (Alashqar). Which leads to the question, how do the conversations
that could potentially lead to peace negotiations even come to fruition?
This conflict has recently been going on for almost a century
and so many solutions have been proposed and negated time and time again. Israel
and Palestine are at somewhat of a stand still. As the main mediator between
Israel and Palestine, the United States needs to fight to remain neutral and
inclusive in order to appropriately negotiate and end the conflict over the
land Israel and Palestine both claim(Alashqar).
It is clear that both sides would love to obtain the land for
themselves and not have to share the land with the opposing side, but the
option preferred by the majority of the rest of the world is the two-state
solution. One of the most recent moves toward a two-state solution was
Resolution 2334 placed by the UN on December 23, 2016. The resolution was
approved by fourteen out of fifteen votes from the Security Council with the
United States being the single country to disapprove. Resolution 2334 almost
served as a last-ditch effort mandating that Israel stop expanding settlements
and that Israel and Palestine should begin working on a peace deal fixed on the
territory boundaries occupied in 1967.
One of the positives in this situation is that both sides would
leave with possession of land for their people, but the big question is if it
can remain peaceful for the foreseeable future.
Some of the negatives in a two-state solution would be that many
Israelis would have to move out of land that would be returned back to
Palestine and Israel would have to officially move their capitol out of
For the past few
decades, the likely outcome of the peace process has been a two-state solution.
Both sides had been open to the idea but haven’t been able to agree on the
specific terms of the two-state solution. In result of President Trump’s recent
actions toward and speeches about Israel, he has effectively revived hope and reignited
the push for a one-state solution (Liel).
A one-state solution would be a win-win for Israel and the
United States. Israel would occupy and govern all of the land and the US would
be able to send funding elsewhere and simultaneously strike down a middle east
Some negatives that arise with this solution is that Israel
functions as a democratic government. Without kicking all of the Palestinian
people out of the land, which could turn hostile, Palestinians are alleged to
account for over half of the occupants of the land Israel hopes to govern which
would force Israel into different governing practices if they were to allow for
Palestinian people to remain in their borders. Other problems arise if you do
kick them out because then questions start to be asked if there would be any severance
payment, or would Palestinians become second class citizens if they somehow
Another intriguing factor that might come into effect depending
on how long this peace process takes, is that it might be easier for the United
States to act sooner rather than later. This is the case because studies show
that young American Jews, ages 18-35, are less likely to unconditionally
support Israel than the older generations in America who maintain influence in
the United States relation with Israel. This is stemming mostly from the way
they see Israel handling this conflict with Palestine. As the older generation
continues to age and eventually pass, and the younger generation fills their
role, it will be interesting to see if the new generation of elders’ views will
change, or continue, and how that will affect the United States support of Israel(Waxman).
A one-state solution under Palestinian rule would result in
Israel losing all of the land they rightfully fought to occupy. Just like every
other country has done, in one way or another, to gain the land they now
occupy. Jews would have no land to occupy as a nation if Palestine came into
governing all of the land.
The positives would be that Palestine has the land back that
they occupied for thousands of years until Jews started migrating from Europe
about a century ago. Although it is highly questionable to think that this solution
could remain a peaceful option.
There are major issues that come with having a one-state
solution under Palestine. Fatah and Hamas, two governing groups, cannot agree
on how the state’s government should be run. This is a major reason why peace
negotiations have been so difficult with Israel because the two groups can’t
agree on how to move forward with the negotiations. There is a question that
even if the result of negotiations was to be one-state under Palestinian rule
that unrest would continue between Fatah and Hamas which would continue the
unrest in the region.
The best policy option would be some sort of two-state deal.
Israel has come to occupy a much of the land and has won the wars to show for a
majority of the land they now occupy. The major questions now are, will Israeli
or Palestinian people have to move from their homes, who will occupy Jerusalem,
and where are the boundaries going to be drawn?
Throughout the history of these negotiations between Israel and
Palestine, not much progress has been made. This is due to the divided state of
Palestine, the United States biased involvement, and the two countries lack of
ability to agree upon a two-state solution. If Palestine is going to leave the
negotiation with any land, then they need to start by finding consensus within
themselves to be able to start negotiating, or else Israel is going to continue
to expand their settlements inherently shoving Palestine out of the land they now