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Israeli PM, Prez visit border, tensions with Lebanon escalate

Despite knowing the fact that violence, conflicts and wars do not benefit any country in any way, countries not only engage in violent conflicts, they also pose a serious challenge to global peace, security, humanity and economy. Ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict can be quoted as a classic example here. First, Hamas, a terrorist organisation, attacked Israel […]

Despite knowing the fact that violence, conflicts and wars do not benefit any country in any way, countries not only engage in violent conflicts, they also pose a serious challenge to global peace, security, humanity and economy. Ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict can be quoted as a classic example here. First, Hamas, a terrorist organisation, attacked Israel on 7 October 2023. Rattled with the barbaric terrorist attack on its people including children and women, Israel announced a war against Hamas until it is eliminated completely. Since then, both Israel and Hamas are fighting a war that is impacting innocent people, and global peace and security by and large. Involvement of the surrounding nations and their statements have further fuelled the tensions. This week, Israel’s Prime Minister and President visited Northern Israeli border, escalating tensions between Israel and Lebanon.

Israeli troops are sent to this region this week and Netanyahu has also stated in an interview that “the war in Gaza was entering a new, less intense phase, allowing the military to turn more attention to Lebanon”. This is indeed an alarming situation; and the world needs to find a solution of this conflict considering the history behind the whole issue.

Though the ancient history narrates how the land belongs to the Jews also along with the Arabs; the present conflict dates back to more than a century ago when Britain’s then-foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, wrote a letter to Lionel Walter Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community in November 1917, promising him to establish a national home for Jewish people in Levant region. This letter was later known as ‘Balfour Declaration’. This was followed by a mass Jewish migration to that time’s Palestine. Tensions between Jewish and Arabs escalated followed by Arab revolt from 1936-1939. During this entire period, British government supported Jewish people to settle down in the region. Later, United Nations (UN) adopted Resolution 181, which divided Palestine in to Arab and Jewish states.

Palestinians vehemently rejected this plan as they believed this entire land belonged to them. On the other hand, Jewish community, that had become almost 33 percent of the total population in Palestine declared the establishment of Israel on 15 May 1948. From here, the Arab-Israeli war started. Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria fought with Israel till 1949.

An armistice was announced in January 1949, and the war paused. But we must not forget the issue remained unresolved. Soon, UN passed a resolution that called for the rights of the return of Palestinian refugees. Many Palestinians stayed back in the Israel and lived under a military occupation for the next 20-22 years before they were granted Israeli citizenship. Amid this all, Egypt took over the significant Gaza Strip, while Jorden controlled West Bank region. In 1964, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) was established followed by the establishment of Fatah Party. Skirmish between Israel and PLO continued while other Arab nations kept supporting PLO. In early months of 1967, Israel occupied Gaza Strip, Syrian Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, West Bank, and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula during a war against an alliance of Arab armies. In December 1967, the Marxist-Leninist Front for the Liberation of Palestine was formed, which was very violent in nature. This leftist front executed a series of plane hijackings and bombings against Israel in the next decade and got an equivalent reply from Israel.

While this violent tussle continued, the Arab League recognised PLO as the only representative of the Palestinian people in 1988. PLO organised mass protests, civil disobedience, strikes and communal cooperatives for the next few years. Finally, Oslo Accords was signed in 1993 paving the way for the formation of Palestinian Authority (PA), an interim government, which was allowed self-rule in some areas of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. PLO recognised Israel as a part of its two-state resolution and signed agreements also that gave Israel control of 60 percent of the West Bank along with most of the land and water resources. Now PA had to conduct the elections to get the first elected Palestinian government in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with its capital in East Jerusalem, but this could not happen. Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces sustained. After PLO leader Yasser Arafat died in 2004, Hamas, a militant Palestinian group, formed the government in Palestine and declared a civil war against Fatah Party, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians. Since then, tensions between Israel and Palestine (read: Hamas) kept intensifying.

Terrorism needs to get a collective, effective, comprehensive and befitting reply from the entire world. Political systems, government, and policies are made to make people’s lives better. Terrorist organisations, claiming themselves as political organisations, only devastate lives. Keeping politics aside, even the Arab countries must think what will they achieve by helping terrorism. Organisations like Hamas or for that matter Hezbollah do not want neutralisation between Israel and the Arab world as together they can grow potentially, curbing the space for such terrorist organisations. As India stands with Israel while calling for ‘sovereign, independent, and viable state of Palestine’, I too hope for peace between Israel and Palestine with a viable solution.

The author is Professor, School of International Studies, JNU

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