Jewish Settlements in the West Bank and Security of Israel From Insurgents

Conflicts between the Israeli and the Palestinian have been in existence for many years. However, the current conflicts can be traced back to the beginning of the Zionist movement in Europe in the early 19th century which sought to establish a Jewish state. This was prompted by years of persecution of the Jewish in Europe. In the late 19th century small groups of Jews started settling in Palestine as the land was commonly referred at the time. These were mainly farmers who initially coexisted well with the local Arabs. However, as their population started building up towards the turn of the 19th century, conflicts begun to emerge between the Arabs and Jews over what seemed to be an occupation of Jews.

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The Zionist movement saw the mass migration of Jews from across Europe, Russia, and Asia into Palestine. In the early 20th century, calls for the formation of a Jewish state were mounting among the Zionist crusaders. Their mission was facilitated by the British conquest in 1917 following the League of Nations issuance of a mandate to build a Jewish state in Palestine (Mideastweb 1). This was to be guided by the Balfour Declaration of 1917. This caused heavy resentment from Palestine who felt that their land was being taken over by foreigners. The move sparked off the beginning of the modern-day conflict between the Jews and Palestine.

Following heavy immigration of the Jews to Palestine, Britain stopped the immigration momentarily. However, this would be relaxed later following the slaughter of about 6 million Jews. This led to a series of attacks on the settlers by Palestine with the help of Egyptians, Syrians, and other Arabs. However, the attacks were fought off with the assistance of Britain and France. The state of Israel was formally founded in 1948 following the partitioning of land between the Jews and Arabs by the United Nations. Palestine declined the offer leading to war in which Israel emerged out victoriously annexing more land. The major source of conflicts between the two groups includes the following:

Jewish settlements in the West Bank

The greatest impediment to striking a peace deal between the Palestine and Israel governments today is the stalemate over the West Bank which was predominantly supposed to be Palestinian territory. Since the 1967 war and the subsequent occupation of the West Bank, Israel has continued to expand their settlement scheme in the West bank much to the chagrin of the Palestinians. The population of settlers today in the West Bank amounts to about 220,000 Jews. This has drawn international condemnation from the international community with Palestine demanding complete withdrawal alongside evacuation of the settlers. Despite those calls, Israel has remained adamant leading to a stalemate in the peace talks which has lasted for years. The peace negotiations which started in 1993 have not borne any fruits so far.

The closest attempt to successfully resolve the stand-off was the signing of the Oslo accord by the then leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Yasser Arafat. However, continued expansion of the Israeli settlement and escalating Palestinian violence resulted in a stalemate that led to violence in 2000. During the Camp David negotiations, Israel offered to turn over 97% of the occupied territory which was rejected by the Palestinians. Since 2000 peace has been elusive between the two with frequent Israeli military incursion into the west bank and Gaza while the Palestinian insurgents attack Israel with rockets and suicide attacks. These always come with heavy civilian casualties.

Israel has always maintained that a Palestinian state in the west bank would have to be demilitarized. The argument has always been that all the Israeli cities are within the artillery range from the West Bank. In addition, it has maintained its position of having military bases within the West bank. This has been rejected by Palestine who insists on full autonomy of their state. Both parties have appeared to give valid concerns over the claims-making resolution of their conflict very difficult.

One of the arguments has been Palestine can not be said to enjoy complete autonomy as long as it doesn’t have the exclusive monopoly of force within its boundaries. Any other arrangement would amount to the loss of sovereignty making its statehood void. On the other side, Tel Aviv the capital city of Israel is 11 miles from the border with the West bank which places it within a striking distance from the West bank. Any country wishing to strike Israel would comfortably use the West bank to invade the country. Given that Israel is surrounded by its foes all around it, granting independence to Palestine would not come easy as it appears almost suicidal to the existence of the state. This further complicates the matter putting the peaceful resolution of the conflict in the balance.

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In the light of these threats, Israel has always demanded a guarantee that the Palestinian state would not allow any foreign forces to use its boundaries against Israel. Even if this was to be guaranteed in writing it would not be practical since the region is very volatile and indeed Palestine has enough extremist hardliners who are capable of causing enough headaches to the state. Some of them are known to have links with Al Qaeda which complicates the whole story diminishing the prospects of any peaceful settlement.

Security of Israel from insurgents

The other thorny issue in the peace negotiations is how to ensure security for Israel. The Israeli-Palestine conflicts are characterized by close to a century of politically instigated tensions and open hostilities (Hulme 1). Cross-border attacks have intensified in recent years making Israeli security a pertinent issue at the peace negotiation table. Fattah the military wing of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat was the first rebel group to denounce the use of violence against Israel. He undertook to engage in dialogue in his negotiation which was a big shift for an outfit that had been known for its terrorist activities. This sounded like the end of Intifadeh according to Isseroff (1). Another armed group like Hezbollah which has been fighting Israel from Lebanon and is based in Syria has refused to denounce violence and has vowed to eliminate Israel. Hamas another armed insurgent group has vowed to fight on Israel to the end. It has indeed refused to recognize Israel hence fueling conflicts between Israel and Palestinians.

However, one of the problems which have made it difficult to stop the conflict is the failure of the Palestinian authority to stop attacks against Israel. Indeed at one time the former PLO leader Yasser Arafat admitted that his authority had no power to prevent rebel attacks against Israel. The current President Abbas has reiterated his commitment to prevent violence. Conversely, he has also admitted that he would not use any force against the armed insurgents.

Rocket missiles and suicide attacks have been intensifying causing many civilian casualties. These have invited harsh reprisal from Israel who has at times responded by the demolition of buildings and military attacks which have consisted of ground attacks and air attacks as part of revenge attacks. These have resulted in heavy casualties from both sides drawing international condemnations. Flattening of the building near Jewish settlements has rendered many Palestinians homeless leading to the increased size of refugee camps.

As a result of the strategic importance of the West Bank to Israel, it is highly unlikely that Israel will abandon its settlement scheme in the west bank. This will continue to fuel animosity between the Jews and the Palestinians. With very few channels left to address their grievances against Israel, Palestinian feel left with very little choice but to engage in armed attacks. This might appear as an unorthodox stance but it is worth noting that Israel has remained adamant in addressing the plight of millions of Palestinians. This makes the idea of a peaceful settlement of the conflict far-fetched with all sides trading blame against each other for the cause of conflict.

The long stand-off between the two sides has led to the emergence of many extremist groups which are all anti-Israel. Due to the nature of their activities and because the Palestine authority is incapable of controlling their activities, the attacks by the groups will continue giving Israel a reason to adopt a hard line stance against Palestine and to invite reprisals against the Palestinian attacks which have always been bloody. Furthermore, most of the rebel attacks are mostly carried out from the civilian zones. This has made heavily inhabited settlements like Gaza susceptible to military attacks by Israel in their revenge missions. These attacks in the civilian zones have resulted in heavy casualties on the Palestinian side. Such attacks encourage the rebels to hit back at Israel hence making it cyclic warfare.

The ease of funding and supply of military equipment from across the borders by the Israel enemies including Syria and Iran has further complicated the issues. The supply has encouraged the Muslim youth to castigate violence against Israel. Furthermore, there are more than 4 million Palestinian refugees today scattered in refugee camps in Gaza and the West bank. This makes the young youth very vulnerable to recruitment by radical groups. The poor living standards in the refugee camps are enough motivation to make them join the course.

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The conflict between Israel and Palestine dates back to the Ottoman Empire when Jewish settlers started arriving in Palestine (article base 1). Israel and Palestine today are faced with a series of handicaps in their search for the elusive peaceful settlement of their conflict. The reasons advanced for the stalemate are of vital importance to each other. For example, the settlement program into West bank going by the Israelis argument is justifiable in ensuring the country’s security from external attacks. At the same time, Palestine’s full independence will be detrimental to Israeli security.

On the other side, there cannot be the sovereignty of a state without full autonomy and exclusive monopolization use of force within its borders. Hence, the Palestinian state at the West Bank must be fully functional with all structures that define an independent state. However, the Israeli government is not willing to bulge making the situation more fluid. As a result tension between them continues to escalate with the Arab League and the Western world taking sides.

The nature oil these conflicts hence make them very hard to resolve. Considering such actors in their conflicts one sees no end to the ongoing conflicts facing the two groups. The several attempts made by the international commonality to broker peace among the two foes have not borne any fruits. Because there are many interests at play in these conflicts signing a ceasefire with any one group doesn’t achieve much. Since other groups are usually left out in the peace settlements it’s hard to enforce compliance by them. This thus casts a dark shadow on resolution of these conflicts any soon. The ultimate effect has been to catalyze further conflicts between each other because of the existing mistrusts.

Works cited

Article base. “Causes of Israel Palestine Conflict.” ArticlesBase.com. 2008. Web.

Hulme, David. “Causes of conflict: Arab Israel-conflict.” Vision Magazine. 2009. Web.

Isseroff, Ami. “Israel and Palestine: A Brief History – Part I.” Mideastweb Middle East. 2009. Web.

Mideastweb. “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in a Nutshell.Mideastweb Middle East. 2009. Web.

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