The Israel-Palestine Conflict, Put Simply

The Israel-Palestine Conflict is one of the most confusing areas of international affairs, at the heart of one of the most difficult to understand global regions. Putting together this instalment of #PoliticsPutSimply is helping us at TalkPolitics understand it as much as we hope it helps you. Get set, and #LetsTalkPolitics:

  • National identity is one of the key reasons for conflict in the Middle East. Rather than being a vehicle for alliance driving, as some may expect it to be, national identities are the primary reason Middle Eastern states go to war with one another.
  • The British ‘Balfour Agreement’ in 1915 set British support for the creation of a Jewish homeland. The Brits wanted this to be in the then Ottoman owned Arab state of Palestine.
  • Jewish immigration to Palestine (who become a British colony after Turkey lost WW1 and the victors divided up the Ottoman empire) soared, and British rule genuinely did see the beginning of a Jewish state.
  • Eventually, as in many colonies, Palestinians mutinied against British rule – only to be brutally put down by the British administration, with the help of Israeli (Jewish) Militia.
  • This raised tensions, and the British colonial government froze Jewish immigration to Palestine in the years before WW2. Tensions were high on both sides, and at the end of the Second World War, Britain essentially handed the issue over to the newly created United Nations – who partitioned Palestine in to two states – Israel and Palestine. Look up a map of the two states post-partition. There is absolutely no way it looks like it could work.
  • Naturally, neither state felt that it had been afforded the territory it needed or desired. Tensions boiled over, and the two nations came to conflict – with many Arab states backing Palestine.
  • Israel defeated the Palestinians and assumed control over a much larger territory – technically causing Palestine to cease being a state.
  • The West stepped in once more, and over years of negotiations, managed to regain Palestine some land, though much of this is still militarily controlled by Israel.
  • Despite some UN settlement, excesses from both sides in terms of military displays mean there is no settlement between the two. Whilst Palestine is recognised by the majority of UN members, and thus under international law, as a legitimate state, the fact that Israel refuses to recognise this status means a peace deal has thus far been impossible to reach.
  • Much of the conflict results in a failure to understand the narrative of both sides – Palestinians feels they have been denied a state for almost a century, and now naturally resent living under what amounts to military rule. Israelis believe Jewish people need a homeland, and the United Nations is responsible for establishing their current state – they also argue that they certainly aren’t the first nation to consolidate land militarily.
  • It’s a difficult issue, and one which still dominates many international relations discussions. For further information, try this Crash Course video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wo2TLlMhiw

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