The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict has existed for decades, and it has proved to have significant effects on the Middle East economy. Despite the incessant fighting between the two groups, negotiations have proceeded with significant successes since the commencement of the conflict. The conflict originated from the Arab’s denial of a proposal by the United Nations to partition Palestine in order to accommodate the two ethnic groups. Apparently, land issues, security issues, the status of Jerusalem, and scarce water resources are the major obstacles and challenges in creating peace between Jews and Arabs. This paper will address some of the major obstacles and challenges that negotiators ought to address to create peace between the Jews and Arabs.
Major obstacles and challenges
The Israelis and the Palestinians have had conflicts because of the 2,200 square mile piece of land that lies on the West Bank and Gaza strip for many decades (Bunton and Cleveland 17). The United States, United Kingdom, European Union, and other negotiators have sought to bring peace between the two warring sides by declaring that settling on the land under dispute is illegal. The Israelis complied with the negotiators; they evacuated the land and destroyed the residential areas they had built. However, they wanted to retain some of the lands, but the Palestinians demanded complete departure from the land. On the other hand, Palestinian refugees argue that they possess the right to return to their ancestral land, which is currently under the control of Israel.
The refugees are scattered in different countries around the world and argue that they have a moral and legal right to get back to their ancestral land that was grabbed by the Israelis. An important aspect of Palestinian identity is the so-called “right of return,” which has been a major hurdle in finding peace between the two groups. Palestinians have always argued that they were forcibly evicted from their ancestral land and the only way to settle the dispute is by getting their land back. Their land is sacred and, therefore, an important aspect of their identity. On the other hand, Israel has been adamant about giving back the disputed land and has rejected the Palestinian’s claim of the right of return to their ancestral land. The issue is still unresolved, and the negotiators ought to take their role in resolving it before matters become worse.
Issues about the status of Jerusalem
Jerusalem has significant religious importance to the Jews, Islam, and Christians. The city has a different religious meaning to each of the aforementioned groups. For instance, Palestinians claim it because it is home to a mosque that is considered holy and an integral part of Islam. Palestinians claim a share of Jerusalem that Israelites did not own before 1967. On the other hand, the Israelis have a strong belief that it would be sinful to divide the holy land of Jerusalem (Quandt 63). Both Palestine and Israel lay claim to the city based on its religious significance to both groups. Since 1948, Israel has controlled West Jerusalem and has made several attempts to conquer the entire city in order to make it its capital city (Bunton and William 42).
Palestine has opposed Israel’s control of East Jerusalem by launching attacks against civilians. The United Nations and other humanitarian groups have given different views regarding Israel’s occupation of the city. Resolution of the conflict is difficult because the city’s population comprises members from both groups who oppose the idea of partitioning that was proposed by the United Nations. Jews live mainly on the eastern side, and Muslims occupy the western side (Bunton and William 48). The United States negotiators wanted the Palestinians to own the Arab-occupied part of Jerusalem and the Israelites to remain with the part occupied by Jews, but their proposal failed. Each side wants to own the city in its entirety. Therefore, the status of Jerusalem is still an issue to address before creating peace between the Jews and Arabs.
Israel’s security concern is still a major obstacle in the resolution of its conflict with Palestine. It is noteworthy that the Palestinian political violence trickles down to affect the stability of Israel. The Israelis’ land, civilians, and military police become victims of the opponent’s political violence because the entire phenomenon is an act of terrorism. Palestinians always resolve their issues by attacking Israel with the aim of eliminating them and overtaking their territories. It is common for the Palestinians to take advantage of their powerful militaries to threaten Israel by firing rockets, which raises security concerns.
Israelis feel oppressed, and they have a strong feeling that the negotiators should not allow the Palestinians to own the West Bank, as they will invade Israel at will. One of the security issues raised by Israelites is the proliferation of terrorism. The United States, the United Nations, and the European Union have described the attacks against Israel as acts of terrorism. Terrorist groups such as Hamas, Al-Aqsa Martyrs, and Islamic Jihad continue to launch terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians (Bunton and William 35). These groups pursue the religious aspect of the conflict by describing it as holy jihad. Resolving security issues between the two sides is an important step towards ending the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Palestinian refugee issues
The Palestinian refugee problem is yet another obstacle in resolving the conflicts between the Israelites and the Palestinians. Shortly after the formulation of Israel, a great war arose, and more than 700,000 Palestinians fled and became homeless (Eran 28). Homeless Palestinians resided in refugee camps with the hope that they will return to their ancestral land someday. Later on, the poor refugees demanded that they wanted to return to their homes and live peacefully. Unfortunately, most of them lived in Israel, and the Israelis were not ready to give in to their demands, and neither were they ready to mingle with their enemies.
Indeed, the negotiators have a very challenging role in bringing peace between the Palestinians and the Israelites, given the great resentment in the hearts of the refugees, who have suffered for ages. Historians have been very vocal in supporting the Palestinian claim of the right to return home because they were forcibly evicted by Israeli militants. The conflict has been intensified by the existence of more Palestinian refugees in other regions who fled from the violence meted upon them by Israel (Eran 31). The population of refugees has been growing since the end of the Arab-Israel war of 1947. Palestinian leaders have often cited the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 that provides a blueprint for their return to their ancestral land (Eran 44). However, the resolution has never been implemented because of violent opposition from Israel.
Water resources issues
Management of scarce water resources also proves to be a major obstacle in resolving the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelites. Since water is a scarce commodity in the region, each of the nations struggles to have its share in serving its people. Israel National Water Carrier has managed to supply its people with sufficient water. Israel pumps some of its water from the Sea of Galilee and the rest from underground aquifers (Eran 38). In addition to the sufficient supplies, Israel has large water reserves to help during crises, but the Palestinians have access to little or insufficient water. The envious Palestinians also want to have land with adequate resources to live quality lives. They also oppose Israel’s domination over water because many of the resources are shared between them and therefore considered as communal. The two sides participated in the Oslo II Accord that was aimed at governing the exploitation of water resources in the region (Eran 56). However, Palestinians argue that Israel does not honor all the provisions of the act. The Conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelites is far from ending, as there are major obstacles that the European Union, the United States, and other negotiators ought to address.
From the discussions, it is evident that land is the most valid issue that segregates the Palestinians and the Israelites. Most of the challenges pertaining to the issues over the West Bank and Gaza strip that is seemingly productive and with the most suitable resources necessary for life. Indeed, that is a very petite issue for the European Union and organizations that keep peace in the entire world. Since the mid 20th century, efforts to end the conflict have proven unsuccessful because both sides have different demands that are difficult to meet. Other issues include the state of Jerusalem, exploitation of water resources, and the state of security. The conflict has been difficult to resolve because it has both economic and religious dimensions that contribute to its complexity. The negotiators should find a way to distribute the scarce resources between the Palestinians and the Israelites equally to create peace between the Jews and the Arabs.
Bunton, Martin and William Cleveland. A History of the Modern Middle East, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 2009. Print.
Eran, Oded. Arab-Israel Peacemaking: The Continuum Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East. London, New York: Continuum, 2002. Print.
Quandt, William. Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict since 1967. Washington, DC: University of California Press, 2005. Print.