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Conflict between Palestine and Israel: Religio-Political Perspective

Asfandiyar Khan

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Authors: Asfandiyar Khan and Areeja Syed

Palestine is a disputed territory between Palestine and Israel. The West Bank and Gaza has been a disputed territory throughout history. It still is today. The Arab-Israeli conflict is a contest over a particular territory. The parties to this conflict are mainly Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews, and the territory is called Palestine by Arabs and Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel) by Jews. The West Bank and Gaza is disputed territory in the eyes of great powers Washington, New York, London, Cairo and other capital cities of the Middle East and Europe, and in the hearts and minds of Israelis and Palestinians, as well as Jews and Muslims around the world. The dispute between Israel and Palestine have also been considered a very massive contest in the world’s Media among historians and scholars. The conflict between Palestine and Israel is very intense, and it have very little chances that it will end in the near future. It will not end until there is an agreement, not only on today’s contested issues but also by all sides on the need to recognize and acknowledge the wrongs and injuries inflicted by each on the other.

The disputed territory have been interpreted by Israeli and Palestinian differently. Zionist interpretation: many Jews have a particular interpretation of their history and the place they call Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel). This is often called a Zionist view because Zionism was the ideology of those who promoted the state of Israel in the 1948 and have supported it since. The central idea of Zionism is that Jews have a historical birthright to Israel as a homeland or state. This historical claim is based in part on a narrative of continuous Jewish entitlement to the region over the past 4000 years, and in part on a religious tradition in which the God of the ancient Israelites- and the same God worshipped by Christians and Muslims-promised the land (which they believe included modern Israel) to Moses and his descendants, the Jews. Zionist [1] narratives and beliefs portray the reestablishment of a Jewish state in the ancient homeland of Israel as a heroic epic, involving great sacrifice and hardships, against overwhelming bitter European and Arabs. Palestinian Arabs also have an interpretation of their history and the territory they call as Palestine. It is very different from that of the Zionists. They believe that they are descendants of the original inhabitants of the region, and that Palestine is theirs by birthright. They regard the Jews who have arrived in the past century are unwelcome intruders. They believe they have been engaged in an equally heroic attempt to resist the takeover of their homeland, first by Zionists and later by Israelis, to create an independent Palestinian state against overwhelming belligerent powers (European, Israeli and American Zionist) (Hill, 2005).                                                   

The modern boundaries of Palestine and the other Arab states were established by the British and their allies after World War I. Palestine is a small region on the east coast of the Mediterranean sea, measuring approximately 230 kilo-meters north-south and extending inland to the east between 51 and 117 kilometers (Hill, 2005). The term “Palestine” for the time before 1948, refers to the area west of the River Jorden, extending south from the borders of Syria and Lebanon to the Gulf of Aqaba, the Sinai and the Egyptian border. Palestine, with a total area of about 27000 square kilometers, would fit into New South Wales (with an area of 800640 square kilometers) about thirty times (Hill, 2005). Palestine have different cities but the most important and sacred city is Jerusalem, One city, three faiths (Armstrong, 1997). British religious scholar Armstrong has

 Written a provocative, splendid historical portrait of Jerusalem that will reward those seeking to fathom a strife-torn city. Jerusalem has been a central to the experience and “sacred geography” of Jews, Muslims, and Christians and thus has led to deadly struggles for the dominance (Armstrong, 1993).

 The most secular Israelis and Palestinians pointed out that the Jerusalem was “holy “to their people. The Palestinian even called the city al-Quds, “the Holy, “though the Israelis scornfully waved this aside, pointing out that Jerusalem had been a holy city for Jews first, and that it had never been as important to the Muslims as Mecca and Medina (Armstrong, 1999). Palestinians claim that there is absolutely no archaeological evidence for the Jewish kingdom founded by King David and that no trace of Solomon’s Temple has been found. The kingdom of Israel is not mentioned in any contemporary text but only in the Bible. It is quite likely, therefore, that it is merely a “myth.” Israelis have also discounted the story of the Prophet Muhammad’s ascent to heaven from the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem- a myth that lies at the heart of the Muslim devotion to al-Quds-as demonstrably absurd. One of the earliest and most ubiquitous symbols of the divine has been a place. People have sensed the sacred in mountains, groves, cities, and temples. When they have walked into these places, they have felt that they have entered a different dimension, separate from but compatible with the physical world they normally inhabit. For the Jews, Christians, and Muslims, Jerusalem has been such a symbol of the divine. This is not something that happens automatically. Once a place has been experienced as sacred in some way and has proved capable of giving people access to the divine, worshippers have devoted a great deal of  creative energy to helping others to cultivate this sense of transcendence. Jerusalem turned out to be one of those locations that “worked “for Jews, Christians, and Muslims because it did seem to introduce them to the divine.

Palestine have strategic importance to the western world: Palestine is not only a geographical place with shifting and imprecise boundaries: it has political, strategic, and culture significance as well, and is why the rest of world is also interested in this conflict. To the protagonists in the Arab –Israel conflict, Palestine /Israel represents a homeland and is the repository of their history and culture. To the rest of the world, Palestine is located at the crossroads of three continents: Europe, Africa, and Asia. Developments from the mid-nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth, such as the building of the Suez Canal, World War I and world war  II, the discovery and the use of the oil reserves of the Middle East, as well as the establishment of the first Jewish state in two thousand years and the subsequent conflict, highlighted its strategic importance. Palestine/Israel is also the home of the three monotheistic religions-Judaism, Christianity and Islam. For all these reasons, the area has been the site of innumerable wars over the centuries (Hill, 2005). Jewish immigrants to Palestine from the late nineteenth century on ‘knew’ the landscape from their knowledge of Hebrew/Jewish history and religious tradition, but most did not see the Arab population or acknowledge the impact they had made on the landscape. Thus, in ‘making the desert bloom’, Jewish settlers destroyed existing, ancient olive groves tended by Palestinian farmers because they were ‘unseen. They created a new landscape of farming settlements very different from those they found, but to do so they destroyed the existing one. For their part Palestinians refused to see or accept the Jewish settlers and their transformation of the landscape. They were determined to resist any changes-even beneficial ones- and destroy the landscape created by the intruders. The first contests in the Arab-Israeli conflict were over the changing shape of the landscape. The military combat of 1948 that resulted in the establishment of Israel was, therefore, inevitable.

The current Arab-Israeli conflict had its origins in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. During that period a number of Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe began arriving in Palestine. These Jews called themselves Zionists and they came with the view of settling on the land and building, or as they saw it ‘rebuilding’, a Jewish homeland in Palestine. They purchased land, built farming communities and established a new town, Tel Aviv, on the coast near Jaffa. The local Arab population looked on these developments with alarm regarding the arrival of the Zionist and the growth of Jewish settlements as a threat to their own economic, culture and national future. They tried to prevent the sale of land to the new immigrants, formed anti-Zionist groups and in some cases physically attacked Jewish settlements. Both sides disagree about almost all aspects of what happened in Palestine (and why) during the period from the first arrival of Zionist groups in the 1880s to the outbreak of World War I. Since 1948, the physical boundaries of Israel/Palestine have changed a number of times as the result of wars and treaties. In addition, Israel has ‘redrawn’ the map of the area within its own boundaries erasing many Palestinian/Arab landmarks, renaming and replacing them with Israeli towns and historical markers. Israelis have reshaped and made Israel their own. In so doing they have denied Palestinians their experience and their ‘signposts’ of memory.

More than 400 Arab villages were demolished and depopulated, after over 700000 Palestinians fled during the war of 1948 (Hill, 2005). Before 1948, Palestinians had a thriving urban culture as well as village life, and more than one-third of the population lived in sixteen substantial towns and cities. There was a flourishing, affluent, Palestinian middle class in Palestine before 1948. Much of the tension between Jews and Muslims in Palestine/Israel has historical centred on the occupation and use of the land, which is holy to both religions. It is no accident that Jerusalem and its future are the core of the conflict. AS the site of the first and second Temples, the focus of the Jewish worship, Jerusalem is the holy city for Jews and Palestine/Israel is dotted with Jewish sacred sites. Jerusalem is holy for Muslims as the site of the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, from where Muhammad briefly ascended to heaven, symbolizing to Muslims the beginning of their journey to God. It is clear that the historic and current landscape is far more important to people than it might at first seem, and any changes that occur produce violent reactions unless handled with great care and understanding by both sides.

Statement of the problem:

The most significant factor shaping the attitudes and actions of Arabs and Jews to each other, and the contested space, is differ religious traditions of Islam and Judaism respectively. Despite the fact that both are monotheistic religions that believe in the same one, God (Hill, 2005). Islam and Judaism are not only religious faiths of the present, they are religions with a history. Each has shaped the world and transformed entire civilizations as well as influenced each other. The main problem between Jews and Muslims is politics: religions is using as a tool to achieve the national interest of country. By the sixteenth century, attacks by Christian’s armies on the Islamic world had transformed Muslim attitudes toward Christians and Jews, who were seen as Christian’s allies. During the nineteenth century, the British and French found Jews to be attractive agents for their commercial and colonial activities in the Ottoman Empire. Jewish-Muslim conflicted increased in the Arab state as Jews were seen as foreign and instruments of colonial designs. It’s means that western powers have also a great role in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian Arabs. The creation of Israel in 1948 became a focal point for Muslim-Jewish relations, which had steadily deteriorated since the end of World War I.

[1] Zionism is Israel’s national ideology. Zionists believe Judaism is a nationality as well as a religion, and that Jews deserve their own state in their ancestral homeland. OR- Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic land of Israel (roughly corresponding to Canaan, the holy land or the region of Palestine).

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Controversial Israeli soccer club may be litmus test for UAE soft power ploy

Dr. James M. Dorsey

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An Emirati offer to invest in Israel’s most controversial soccer club could serve as a figurative litmus test of hopes that Arab recognition of the Jewish state may persuade it to be more empathetic towards Palestinian national aspirations.

It was not immediately clear whether the offer was to acquire or co-invest in Beitar Jerusalem, notorious for its links to the ruling Likud party and the Israeli far-right as well as racist anti-Arab, anti-Muslim sentiments among an influential segment of its fan base.

Israeli sources suggested that the offer was made by a businessman with close ties to the Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment (ADUG).

ADUG, owned by UAE deputy prime minister Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a half-brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, has a majority stake in Football City Group that controls soccer clubs on four continents, including Manchester City FC.

Israeli media reports said that the offer was made to club owner Moshe Hogeg.

Mr. Hogeg has been struggling to confront La Familia, a militant hard right fan group that has stopped Beitar from hiring Israeli Palestinian players, denounced the contracting of Muslims, and regularly chants ‘Death to Arabs’ and ‘Death to Muslims’ during matches.

Mr. Hogeg last year faced down La Familia who demanded that a new hire, Ali Mohamed, change his Muslim name, even though he is a Nigerian Christian.

UAE officials have argued that establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel stopped the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from annexing parts of the West Bank, occupied since Israel conquered it in the 1967 Middle East war.

Mr. Netanyahu said he had suspended, not cancelled his annexation plans.

A UAE stake in Beitar would take the Gulf state’s soft power ploy to an arena that is both the Likud’s heartland as well as football that evokes deep-seated passion in a soccer-crazy country.

Founded during the period of the British mandate in Palestine to create the ‘New Jew’ who would be able to build and defend the Jewish state, Beitar initially drew many of its players and fans from Irgun, an extreme nationalist, para-military Jewish underground group.

Among the club’s fans were throughout the years right-wing Israeli leaders. Today, they include Mr. Netanyahu and multiple members of his government.

In interviews with Israeli media, the Emirati businessmen hinted at the soft power aspect of the UAE initiative.

“Fanaticism is rooted in ignorance and fear of the other. If there is a spirit of tolerance, we can create  an atmosphere of pure friendship between us and others. Sports is an international language graced with the ability to promote tolerance and peace between nations and people,” Israeli tv channel Sports 5 quoted him as saying.

The businessman made no explicit reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but his remarks appeared to refer to it.

Emiratis appear to hope that a UAE stake in Beitar will boost the club’s more moderate fans, weaken its more militant fan base, and help shape a public opinion that is more willing to compromise with the Palestinians.

They count on fans like Yitzhak Megamadov who told Al-Monitor in response to the UAE bid: “I tell our fans to open their hearts and minds and receive them with open arms. They are our cousins. They want real peace and solidarity. We have gotten used to knowing about Palestinian Arabs through terrorist attacks and war. … We need to educate ourselves and change our perspectives.”

It’s an approach that worked when Sheikh Mansour bought Manchester City in 2008 in what critics described as a reputation laundering operation. The English club’s fans embraced its new cash-flush owners, rejecting human rights activists’ concerns about the UAE’s regular abuse of human rights.

Winning over fans is likely to prove a lot easier than changing Israeli policies, something  more powerful players like the United States and Europe have unsuccessfully tried.

The Knesset, Israel’s parliament, voted down an amendment that would have added equality for minorities to a controversial law defining Israel’s Jewish character just days after Israel signed agreements establishing diplomatic relations with the UAE and Bahrain at the White House.

In other words, there is little reason to believe that the businessman and the UAE together with Bahrain can achieve what others did not.

Fact of the matter is that the carrot of recognition has not helped solve the Palestinian problem or fundamentally change Israeli policy in the 18 years since Saudi Arabia first unveiled an Arab peace plan that offered recognition in exchange for land.

Neither did the earlier peace treaties between Israel, Egypt, and Jordan, two states that, unlike the UAE and Bahrain, had and still have a direct stake in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Nor did it stop US President Donald J. Trump from accepting the legitimacy of annexation of occupied Palestinian land. Mr. Trump has endorsed Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem as well as the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in 1967.

What an Emirati stake or acquisition in Beitar will do is enhance Israeli empathy for the UAE.

Without a tangible political fallout beneficial to Palestinians, It will also reinforce critics’ assertion that the UAE is using the Palestinian issue as a fig leaf for a move that serves Emirati issues with no Palestinian dividend.

The Emiratis may find that time does not work in their favour. They appear to be playing a long game on an unstable board that could prove incapable of sustaining it.

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The Forgotten African Slaves of Lebanon

Funmilola Ajala

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Photo Credit: Amnesty International

In April 2020, authorities in Lebanon arrested one Wael Jerro after posting an advertisement to sell a Nigerian lady, Peace Busari, for a $1,000 on a popular ‘Buy & Sell in Lebanon’ Facebook group. In the post which had a screenshot of the 30-year-old lady’s international passport, Wael described Peace as “…very active and very neat.”  He was subsequently charged to court for human trafficking while his victim was repatriated by the Nigerian authority.

Peace may be considered a lucky soul if her case is compared to other African migrants, who mainly work as maids, in the gulf country. For instance, back in March 2020, 23-year-old Faustina Tay from Ghana committed suicide after weeks of sending out several voice notes complaining of being molested by her employers. Her body was found in a car park in her employers’ storey building in Beruit. Faustina’s search for the proverbial greener pastures to Lebanon only lasted 10months during which she shared pictures of her bruised face and audios of her ordeal with family members back home. In an investigation by media outfit Aljazeera, her employer, Hussein Dia, whom Faustina had accused of beating her, refuted such claims. Ali Kamal, the man whose recruitment agency facilitated Faustina’s journey to Lebanon, also denied the lady was ever physically abused.

In 2018, the body of a 26-year-old Ethiopian was discovered drowned in a swimming pool within the premises of her agent in the town of Dweir only days after a baby delivered of her died due to birth complications. These cases represent a fraction of what many of the estimated quarter of a million Migrant Domestic Workers (MDWs) in Lebanon often experience and the story may, unfortunately, not change for the better anytime soon as highlighted by recent happenings.

Social Media to the Rescue

One of the incidents pushed to the front burner in the aftermath of the August 4 massive explosion which claimed 200 lives at a Beirut seaport storage facility is the maltreatment of foreign maids. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an approximate eight percent of the 300,000 people affected by the incident are MDWs. Before the cataclysmic occurrence, the 6million Lebanese population had come under severe living conditions occasioned by a strained economy (with an estimated 25% inflation rate) compounded by the stringent measures of the Covid-19 pandemic. The dire situation is said to have equally taken a toll on employers of MDWs many of whom were reportedly sent parking from their temporary homes with nowhere to go. Reports claim many of the stranded aliens resorted to passing the nights on the sidewalks in the Lebanese capital.

Kafala System

One of the 5,000 wounded in the devastating blast is Nkiru Obasi from Ebonyi in Nigeria. While getting ready to be evacuated to Nigeria alongside others on August 12, she and four others were stopped from embarking on a Lagos-bound airplane after her ‘madam’ interjected unmindful of the fact that the young lady was nursing wounds. The demeaning lifestyle of most migrant workers in Lebanon is bundled into an archaic tradition known as the ‘Kafala system that allows a domestic worker’s wholesome subjugation by his/her ‘masters.’ The practice is traced to the era of slave trading in many parts of Arab land, and – perhaps – explains the reason why it is largely sustained till date in Middle Eastern nations like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), and so on. Human rights abuses such as sexual molestation, denial of movement, working long hours, and physical assaults are some of the trademarks of the physical-cum-psychological trauma which foreign domestic employees are subjected to by their employers with no legal reprieve. It is a system that has continued to consume generations of young, unsuspecting souls from Sub-Sahara Africa – and parts of Asia – lured with the prospect of a non-existing rosy life far beyond their abode.

Bureaucratic Impediments

For most non-Lebanese migrant workers, the harrowing experience of suffering neglect, abuse, and ill-treatment by unsympathetic employers is rather endured if the other available option of approaching the authority is taken into consideration. Amnesty International says in trying to enforce the extant laws of the land, undocumented MDWs are intermittently rounded up and herded into detention by Lebanese General Security. Few days before the ratification of the UN’s Adoption of the Global Compact on Migration in November 2018, the Lebanese government released 35 foreigners from prolonged detention for lack of residency papers. This is the treatment likely to be faced by any daring migrant worker who attempts to unilaterally exit his/her Lebanese employer as he/she may lose the legal residency status which makes their stay valid in the first instance. The Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a September 2020 report titled “Without Protection: How the Lebanese Justice System Fails Migrant Domestic Workers,” criticized the exemption of MDWs from Lebanese labor law despite the huge economic importance of these individuals to their original and host societies. While calling for the abolishment of the kafala system, the HRW reveals that more than $90million was sent overseas by MDWs from Lebanon in the first six months of 2009, hence the imperative of providing legal cover for these individuals.

The First Bold Step Towards a Lasting Reform?

Despite the ongoing social unrest on the local scene since August 4 which had forced the political leadership in the country to resign its appointment, the implication of the plight of MDWs in Lebanon on the image of the country abroad seems not lost on Beirut and its government is responding to the challenge.

In what is seen as a cheering development, the Lebanese Caretaker Labour Minister, Lamine Yammine, recently announced the launch of a new standard unified labour law which “enshrines the rights” of foreign employees in the country. Yammine adds that, with the new contract law, MDWs would be able to “obtain all their contractual rights and benefit from the broadest social protections.” Similarly, while hosting top officials from the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) last June, in Abuja, the Lebanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Houssam Diab, claims that his government has suspended the issuance of working visas to Nigerians seeking to work as domestic workers in Lebanon to rid the current system of exploitation and abuse.

However, many activists accused the government of cheery picking and opine that the new labour law appears to have fallen short of expected cancellation of the Kafala system which they view as the major stack against the MDWs. Nonetheless, one can applaud the initiative as a positive step (albeit trifling) towards guaranteeing a better future for foreigners working as domestic employees in Lebanon.

Going forward, one key area which authority should not overlook is the role being played by recruiting agents like Ali Kamal who told Aljazeera that his firm accounts for the entrance of 1,000 foreign workers into Lebanon, each year. A constant searchlight must be beamed into the activities of such companies if the life of the enrollees is, indeed, fancied beyond lip service as worth more than that of mere ‘slaves’.

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Israel and its Image After the 1967 War

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The war of 1967, or the Six Day War as it has come to be known, was a war which came with immense, geo-strategic and political consequences. The Middle East, was the arena where it played out and fifty years later the reverberations continue to be felt in the region and beyond. This is reflected in the words of, the then Israeli Prime Minister, Levi Eshkol, who said, “Nothing will be settled by a military victory. The Arabs will still be here” (Colonel Stephen S. Evans, 2008 ). His words have proved to be prophetic, for Israel has metamorphosed in this timespan, and the Arabs are still there though they are a house divided and peace is still elusive. The conflict between, Arab and Jewish identities over Palestinian land now has a regional as well as an international dimension. In this rite of passage, Israel’s relations with many nation-states have matured from nascency to maturity and much of this finds its origins in the aftermath of the 1967 war between Israel and the three states of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. It is this transformation in Israel’s stature in International Relations, that is to be examined.

 In the run up to the war of 1967, the events were moving in a manner that can best be described as fast and furious. With the Syrians being routed by the Israelis in April 1967, Nasser was under pressure to restore Arab prestige, when he was warned by the Soviets in May, that Israel was planning to invade Syria. In spite of having half his forces entrenched in a conflict with Yemen, Nasser reacted by asking UN peacekeepers to leave the Sinai Peninsula, and began massing troops in to the Sinai Desert. With no Israeli reaction forthcoming, Nasser then closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, on May 22, and challenged Israel to engage in conflict. The Iraqi President Abdel Rahman joined this tirade of threats against Israel and it was under these extenuating circumstances, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike on the morning of June 5, 1967, with ‘Operation Focus’. It simply had no choice but to do so.

Six days later, Israel emerged victorious, against the defence forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, and surprisingly enough, its territorial gains included, the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank of the Jordan River (including East Jerusalem) and the Golan Heights. Clearly, this was not an act of pre-meditation as this operation was supposed to be have been a “48-hour surgical strike” to neutralise Egypt and nothing more(Oren, 2005). Israel’s geographic spread now, was three times what it was before the war. Both Israel and Egypt were quick to approach the UN in quick succession, at the outbreak of the war and UN Resolution 242 resulted many weeks after the war, in November. In the aftermath of the war, it is really not possible to analyse Israel’s international relations in a linear manner as events and relationships tend to dovetail, converge and diverge at the same time. Clearly, Israel as a country went through a transformative experience from within and without after this war. It transcended the stage from where it was struggling to maintain it its territorial integrity in 1948, to a stage where it had won a decisive victory, albeit with American aid and French armaments. With control over the Sinai Peninsula, which overlooked the Suez Canal, and the Soviets stepping in reinforce their support to the Egyptians, Israel, now unwittingly became a player in the Cold War. In this context, from being in a situation where it was viewed as a burden by the U.S., Israel had now became an “imperative significant asset”(Kardo Karim Rached Mohammad, The Six-Day War and Its Impact on Arab and Israeli Conflict, 2017). Having proven its military might, U.S.-Israeli relations underwent a sea change, for now this relationship was of potential benefit. This was a far cry from 1956 when America had called Israel an aggressor when it had attacked Egypt as part of a secret pact with Britain and France.   

The symbiotic relationship between the U.S. and Israel, consequently assumed an overall upward trajectory with some periods of lull. Even the retributive oil embargo against the west, by the Arab world after the Yom Kippur war, did not derail this relationship and Reagan named Israel as a strategic asset, in 1979. Israel was now the beneficiary of considerable military supplies and treated as a proxy for the U.S. in the region. After the end of the Cold War, Israel was no longer a U.S. proxy but a strategic partner nevertheless and a “democratic anchor”. Since then, starting with the Clinton Administration, support for Israel has been unequivocal, with Trump’s presidency going beyond mere re-affirmation.  One noteworthy, pattern till now, is the implicit understanding of faith between the two countries, that Israel’s nuclear armament cache would never be a subject of discussion and there would not be any talk of signing the Non- Proliferation Treaty(Entous, 2018).

Another key relationship affecting Israel’s very existence, in the same time frame, was one of extreme challenges and continues to be so, till now. At the time of the 1967 war, sponsored by the Arab League, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation was already in existence, and destruction of Israel, was one of its goals. After the war, Yasser Arafat and the Fatah, gained dominance within the PLO and led attacks against Israel which were to turn more and more violent over the years. It was only in1993, with the Oslo Accord, that PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist and accepted, UN resolutions 242 and 338, Israel in turn was to withdraw from key territories and PLO was to govern parts of Gaza, Jericho and the West Bank. The fragility of this peace process gave rise to the Second Intifada and Hamas now came to control the Gaza strip in 2007, leaving Fatah with the West Bank. Though the Fatah and Hamas  have since reconciled, Israel views Hamas as a “hostile entity” for its acts of terror (Encyclopedia Britannica , n.d.). As a corollary, there is the issue of continuing build-up of Israeli settlements on the West bank which have been deemed illegal by the United Nations (UNSC 446). This notion of “creeping annexation” in the West Bank, is in defiance of all international laws and opinion (Cohen, 2019). Clearly, this was a manner of securing Israel’s boundaries, leaving the Palestinians, subjects, of an occupying force. There are an estimated,141 Jewish settlements, in the West Bank and upwards of 300,000 Palestinians are said to have been displaced. President Rivlin, in this context, even said belligerently, “it was their land that they were building” (Remnick, 2014).Undoubtedly, Palestine’s inability to eschew violence and its inability to embrace the two state solution, have repeatedly made peace elusive. Matters have now come to a head and the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, has rendered all agreements with the U.S. and Israel, void, in view of the threatened West Bank annexation, by Israel. Clearly, this may be another chapter in this uneasy relationship (Holmes, 2020). 

 In this entire flow of events, the paradoxical endurance of UNSC 242, as a “pivotal point of reference”, at first looks, is puzzling and intriguing at the same time (Mazur, 2012). Israel was seen to accept the resolution because it called upon the Arab states to acknowledge Israel’s right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force. Egypt, Jordan (from the outset) and the other Arab states (eventually) accepted it because it had a clause which called upon Israel to withdraw from territories occupied in the recent conflict. With this UN resolution, the equation had changed overnight, Israel became an ‘occupying force’, with the burden of withdrawal subject to its being able to attain “secure and recognized boundaries” (United Nations , 1967). Deliberately incorporated phraseology, by Lord Caradon, meant that Israel would not be required to vacate all territories. Palestinians were just a refugee problem to be resolved, with no status of nationality or nationhood being discussed, they were left to be ‘generic’ refugees.

With the passing of years after UN 242, Israel and the Arabs, clashed repeatedly, including the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War, but it was as if the Arabs were coming off weaker, each time. Egypt was the first to make peace with Israel in 1979 under the land for peace initiative, and the return of the Sinai Peninsula was the key deal maker. This was followed long after with the Jordan peace settlement in 1994, wherein, the international boundary was delimited and waters from Jordan River and Yarmouk River were now to be allocated between the two countries. Thereafter, the Arab League has been rendered increasingly ineffectual due its own internal contradictions and issues like the Hamas are no more than a thorn in Israel’s flesh, while its engagements with Syria have been no more than border skirmishes. Palestine, the biggest loser in this development, stands marginalised by both.

Interestingly enough, in this changed Arab-Israeli equation, as a first responder, Israel under Netanyahu is now moving bilaterally within the Arab states, in a bid to find “peace out of strength” (TOI STAFF, The Times of Israel ). Clearly this strikes a common chord with the Arab states whose needs for Israel’s offerings of security and surveillance platforms align with the overriding need for security in the region due to America’s fading hegemony. So much so, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the recent past has been quoted as saying, “Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land” (Goldberg, 2018). Until now this is one threshold, which had not been crossed by Saudi Arabia, the second largest Arab nation. The reason is not far to seek, as the Crown Prince and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have a common enemy in Iran and of just as much importance, are the common security interests that are shared by the trio of, Israel, U.S. and the Arab States. In fact, recently Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, admittedly said, “We do believe that Israel is a country to stay, and we want better relations with it, and we want peace with it” (Ragson, 2019). On the other hand, the opening of new synagogues in Dubai and Abu Dhabi is another indicator of this ‘Arab Thaw’, if one were to invent a phrase. Interestingly, an added dimension to these initiatives, is the pursuit of public diplomacy by Israel, where the Foreign Ministry is using digital platforms to connect with Arabs, the goal being to showcase the shared common values and similarities, of two ancient cultures (Eglash, 2019 ).

Moving back to matters of nation states, Israel has all along been moving ahead in affairs of political economy and knitting ties, which are strategic, political, military and economic. With its expertise in high technology extending even beyond conventional areas to armaments, Israel is globally the eighth largest exporter of armaments and its ties with India have deepened measurably, as it has contributed to India’s military modernisation needs, especially in times of conflict. On the other hand, Israel’s ties with its largest trading partner, EU, are a mixed bag, as Europe is wary of its Palestine policies. With Anti -Semitism rearing its head in Europe, EU is trying to ensure that its funds do not reach the ‘settlement areas’ and has threatened to escalate diplomatic initiatives if Israel goes ahead with its West Bank takeover initiatives. In parallel, Israel is constantly exploring new relationships, and recently it has tied up an energy partnership with Greece and Cyprus, for the ‘Energy Triangle’, in a bid for ensuring Energy Security. From the kibbutz configured economy in 1967, Israel is now avowedly, a technological powerhouse for the world, where GDP per capita is twice that of the Saudi Arabia. Even with China, Israel enjoys a significantly strong economic relationship, though differences have started to surface off late.

In conclusion, it may be said that, many have spoken of this briefest of wars as a pivot or a turning point but it might be more correct and accurate to term it as a fulcrum, for it is Israel which now forms the lever that turns the geo-politics of the region that it inhabits. Even as Israel preserves the geo-strategic strengths of its gains from the Six Day War, the Arabs are disempowered in this Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinians are dis-enfranchised, like never before. As a nation it has worked like a true realist, giving credence to the realist credo that, “it is important not only to have a substantial amount of power, but also to make sure that no other state sharply shifts the balance of power in its favour”(Mearsheimer, 2013). Clearly, Israel has succeeded, in this objective.

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