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Israel-Palestine Conflict - History

Published on Friday, December 22, 2017
isreal palestian conflict

A brief idea about Jerusalem

  • The conflict between Israel and Palestine majorly involves the following issues- 
  • a) Conflict over Jerusalem 
  • b) Wars-Origin and Recognition of Israel 
  • c) Settlements 
  • d) One-state vs Two-state solution 
  • The holy Jerusalem is important because it has the church, the mosque, the wall and is the epicentre of three major religions of the world which constitute almost more than half of the population of the entire world. 
  • While it has often been the focus of stories of division and conflict among people of different regions, they are united in their reverence on this holy ground. 
  • It is surrounded by fortress-like Stone Wall and is home to some of the holiest sites in the world. 
  • It is one of the oldest city in the world having historic architecture that characterizes its four quarters- 

The Christian quarter

  • Inside the Christian quarter, there is the Church of The Holy Sepulchre which is a significant focus for the Christians all over the world. It is believed that Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected here. 

The Muslim quarter

  • The Muslim quarter is the largest of the four quarters and is the third holiest site of Islam after Mecca and Medina. It is known as the Dome of the Rock or Al-Aqsa Mosque and is made on a plateau known to Muslims as Haram-Al-Sharif. Muslims believe that Prophet Mohammad travelled here from Mecca during his night journey and prayed with the souls of all the Prophets. 

The Jewish quarter

  • It is the wall, home to the western wall which is the remnant of the retaining wall of the mount in which the holy temple once stood. Inside the temple was the most sacred sight of Judaism- the Holy of holies. Many Jews believe that the Dome of the Rock is the sight of the holy of the holies. Today the Western Wall is the closest place where the Jews can pray to the Holy of holies. 

The Armenian quarter

  • It consists of St James church. 

History of the Israel-Palestine Conflict

The Holocaust

  • Numerous wars have been fought throughout the ancient and the medieval period. 
  • Hitler termed the final solution to the Jewish problems as “Endlosung”. So between 1941, when the first Jews were killed in Poland and 1945 when Germany surrendered, approximately 6 million Jews were killed. 
  • Overall Hitler and the system around him were created on the idea that Germany’s survival was contingent on the annihilation of the Jews. Somehow Hitler had this notion that Germany would not be able to survive if the Jews are there. 

Multiple Players

  • The issue gets more complicated with multiple players or multiple levels of hierarchy. 
  • There are Global Powers comprising UK, USA, and Russia mainly, the Regional Powers comprising Saudi Arabia (Sunni Muslims country) vs Iran (Shia Muslims country) and the National and Sub-National forces comprising Israel vs Palestinian administrators. 
  • It is very important that the Arab states desire to develop their region to achieve economic and political unity. 
  • Any kind of Western presence has always been resented her. But the Western countries are attracted to this region because it provides a very easy passage from Asia to Europe through Suez Canal (in Egypt) and it has an abundance of oil. It is by far the largest producers of Oil in the world which attracts the Western countries. 


  • Jewish people considered it to be their homeland. The Jews were driven out in ancient and medieval history by different forces from Jerusalem and the surrounding areas due to which they dispersed all over the world eventually. 
  • They became an important force during the capitalist era of the 19th century. They were having a lot of banks, trader communities, a great quantity of money. 
  • Jewish banking houses were instrumental to the process of capital formation in the USA in the late 19th and the early 20th century. 
  • Modern banking in entire Europe and the USA was influenced by the Jewish Financiers. 
  • Jews were major contributors to the establishment of the important Investment banks on the Wall Street. 
  • In 1897, World Zionist Organization was formed in Switzerland which demanded that Jews deserve to have a Jewish state and a national homeland in Palestine from where they had been driven out earlier. 
  • Even in the early 19th century, Jews had faced persecution in Russia, France, and Germany etc. 
  • World Zionist Organization alarmed the Arabs in Palestine against the Jews. Then the League of Nations came into the picture. 

The League of Nations Mandate System

  • After the First World War, the allies Britain, France, Russia, USA, and Italy decided to implement the mandate system to control the territories of Germany. In 1919, Palestine became the mandate of Britain. Britain declared the agenda of a Jewish state here in Palestine leading to large-scale immigration of Jews into Palestine. This led to an initiation of a conflict with the Arabs. Throughout the 1930s, there was widespread prosecution of the Jews all over Europe which caused large-scale immigration into Palestine. Palestine also suffered violent opposition by Arabs against the settlement of Jews. Finally, in 1937, the British Peel Commission was formed which recommended the bifurcation of the Palestinian state into two states. Therefore people claimed that this Commission was formed on the basis of a two-state solution but this was completely rejected by both the Arabs and later by the Jews. 
  • The World War II brought with it the Holocaust where 6 million Jews were exterminated and in November 1947, United Nations voted to divide Palestine into two states- Israel and Palestine. 
  • In 1948, Britain decided to withdraw militarily before Israel could be completely established as a separate nation. 
  • In May 1948, the Arab state did not recognize it and they thought it to be the best time to attack Israel as Israel got independence in 1948 itself. 
  • It led to the first Arab-Israel war in 1948 which was won by Israel and it captured more territories. 
  • The worst affected were the Palestinians who within a year of their formation had lost two-thirds of their territory and had then become a part of either Israel state or the West Bank which was under Jordan’s control. 

Wars and Agreements

1. The Suez Canal Crisis of 1956

  • Nasir, who was the ruler of Egypt, nationalized the Suez Canal which was under the control of the Britishers. Britishers did not like it and they support from France and they supported Israel to attack Egypt. 
  • Overall the situation was a victory for Egypt and the tensions between Israel and the Arab World continued to build. 

2. Six-day war in 1967

  • In 1967, the Arab leaders thought that they could surround Israel in coordination and could attack and destroy it. So Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, all of them mobilized their troops and surrounded Israel. 
  • The troop decided to attack first and captured the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank from Jordan, the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt and the Gaza strip. All these territories then acted as buffers. They were not directly allowed entry into Israel but they were acting as a buffer against aggressive states around Israel. 
  • This six-day war was a rapid massive victory for Israel and it came into possession of the Gaza strip and the West Bank. 
  • This added nearly a million Arabs into Israel. 
  • Israel also captured East Jerusalem and possessed the entire Jerusalem. 

3. Yom Kippur 1973

  • Sadat, the leader of Egypt thought that Israel could be destroyed and the significant pressure was applied by the Palestine Liberalization Organization (PLO) under the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. 
  • Egyptians got their weapons from Russia and they felt confident of wiping out Israel easily. So Egypt and Syria combined together and attacked Israel but were defeated by Israel. 
  • Egypt decided to negotiate for settlements leading to a major event. 

4. Treaty of Camp David 1978

  • This treaty had the following provisions that Israel agreed to withdraw its military from the Sinai Peninsula in return for Egypt’s promise to not attack it anymore. It will supply oil to Israel and let Israel use the Suez Canal. 
  • Some sort of peace was achieved through this treaty but still, there was a long distance till it could sign similar treaties with Syria and Jordan because the problems there were much bigger. 
  • The problem was that Israel had refused to return Golan Heights taken from Syria and till today two-third portion of the Golan Heights is under Israel and one-third is under Syria. 
  • West Bank and Gaza were under Israel since 1967. So Israel started building massive settlements and colonies to locate Jews in the territories. This was an attempt to change the demography, the religion completely, thus it would block the way for any solution which could create independent Palestine. 
  • After this era, a huge number of violence, suicide bombings and terrorism by the PLO were created since they were completely opposed to this treaty. 
  • Through this treaty, Israel admin was virtually recognized as a state. 

5. Intifada 1987

  • Finally, in 1987, large-scale civil disobedience movement broke out in Arab areas of West Bank and Gaza. So protests, non-payment of taxes, the boycott of Israeli products were initiated and Israel responded with a massive crackdown. 
  • It received worldwide condemnation for its violence. So the Intifada (shaking off) continued for three years and it restrained the economies of both Israel and Palestine in the West Bank. 

6. Oslo Accords 1993

  • In 1993, moderates came into power in Israel and they felt that some sort of peace was necessary after two decades of violence nod terrorism. 
  • They decided to negotiate with the PLO and Yasser and this culminated in the Oslo Accords of 1993. 
  • The provisions were that Israel recognizes the PLO and the PLO recognizes the existence of Israel and they should give up terrorism. Limited self-rule was to be given to Palestine in West Bank and parts of Gaza strip and Israel will agree to withdraw its military from most of the West Bank. 
  • But this limited self-rule for Palestinians was opposed by the extremists. 
  • Noe Arafat died in 2004 and the extremist organization of Hamas came to power in Gaza. Therefore multiple factions and fighting emerged within the PLO so it led to the failure of Oslo Accords. 
  • There was no solution to Jerusalem status. 

7. Al Aqsa Intifada 2

  • In 2000, another full-scale uprising erupted called Al Aqsa. It is a mosque in Jerusalem. 
  • In response to this, the Prime Minister started to build a protective wall around the West Bank which resulted in some Arab villages being cornered on the side of Israelis while Jewish settlements were created in West Bank. 
  • Till date, this wall and these settlements have been a major point of conflicts. The overall approach of Israel has fluctuated from one extreme to tough military actions and on the other extreme, they provide some self-rule for the Palestinians. 
  • Till today the issue has become very problematic with Benjamin Netanyahu taking a stance and pushing the settlements aggressively into West Bank and Jerusalem. 
  • They are refusing to allow for a two-state settlement. 

The Current Scenario

  • The current speculations are revolving around the USA which is in favour of Israel usually. 
  • The USA recently declared that it would close the PLO office in the USA. Mahmoud Abbas, President of Palestine and the chairman of PLO has asked the ICC (International Criminal Court) to investigate and prosecute the Israelis for their cruelty. 
  • He demanded peace talks between Israel and Palestine. 
  • The legal provisions in the USA say that if Palestine demands an investigation against Israel from the ICC, in that case, USA will not allow Palestine to have an office (PLO) in the USA. 
  • But finally, USA decides to amend these provisions and asked Palestine to limit their activities until then. 

India’s support for Palestine

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaffirmed that India is in full support of Palestine’s cause. 
  • The International Day of Solidarity marks the Resolution 181 of UN for the creation of two independent states- Israel and Palestine. 
  • India’s support statement was sent to the United Nations through the Permanent Mission of India at the UN. 
  • UN does not consider Palestine as an independent country as of now. 

  • All the Arab countries are supporting Palestine’s cause. 
  • Palestine wants to be an independent state which is opposed by Israel. USA, being a benefactor of Israel, exercises its veto power time and again whenever this demand rises in the UN. 
  • Palestine’s President, Mahmud Abbas was called for negotiations in Saudi Arabia to negotiate with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Bin Salman. 
  • According to the Palestinians, the crown prince presented a plan which was more tilted towards Israel. 
The plan stated that:
  • The Palestinians would get a state of their own but only the non-contagious parts of the West Bank and only limited sovereignty over their own territory. 
  • A vast majority of Israeli settlements in the West Bank which most of the world considers illegal would remain. 
  • Palestine would not be given East Jerusalem as their capital. 

  • The USA recently announced that they would declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This could unsettle many countries and religions as Palestine is a religious site for Jews, Christians and Muslims. 
  • The Arab League foreign minister has called on the USA to take back this move. 
  • There are several protests going on in Palestine, Lebanon, Indonesia and Egypt. 
  • The main idea behind this declaration of USA is the declining credibility of Donald Trump in the international arena. Therefore to divert the attention from the domestic situations to the international affairs, USA is taking such moves. 
  • This issue was raised in the UN Security Council. Now the UNSC consists of five permanent and ten non-permanent members. The USA is one of the permanent members can exercise its veto power. 
  • The draft resolution calls on countries to refrain from opening embassies in Jerusalem.
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