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Dixon Project: Simulation on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict International Negotiations-IRLS613 Dr. Paul Clark-Instructor American Military University
For more than a century the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict has made the Middle East a dangerous region of instability and has threatened to engulf the global community into an escalating conflict. The Balfour Declaration that mandated a Jewish Homeland in the ancient land of Palestine has been the source of that instability. Many attempts throughout the years have been attempted to rectify the religious and cultural differences between the Israelis and Palestinians have resulted in an impasse. The objective of this paper is to document the road blocks that have prohibited a path to an achievable peace.
Impasse at the West Bank: Striving for an Achievable Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
The heart of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict can be directly attributed to the Balfour Declaration shortly during the closing days of WWI which in effect promised a Jewish Homeland in Palestine. The Balfour Declaration set into place a series of events that added historical precedence into the destabilization of the region. The other event that caused a rift in the Middle East was the partitioning of the remains of the Ottoman Empire in the secret Sykes-Picot between the British and French. In the early days of WWI, the key to the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire was to support the budding Arab Nationalist movement. In order to achieve that objective the Arab Bureau of the British Foreign Office dispatched a young intelligence operative by the name of Thomas E. Lawrence most commonly known throughout history as Lawrence of Arabia. Sri Lawrence was well suited for this assignment because he had a degree in Hittle Archaeology from Jesus College, Oxford and spoke fluent Arabic. In addition, Sri Lawrence participated in several archaeological digs in both Egypt and Syria as a student which gave him a keen insight into the region’s culture, languages, customs, and religions. Sri Lawrence used this experienced and familiarity with the Middle Eastern Region to gain the trust of the likes of Emir Auda and Abu Tayi in leading a successful Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire which set up the Saudi Kingdom and the Emir of Kuwait. Yet unbeknowest to Sri Lawrence he became the point man for not only the establishment of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine but also the partitioning of the Middle East into spheres of British and France influences. According to Dr. John D. Coleman this was known as “Diplomacy by Deception.” “The British misused the Arabs under Co. Thomas E. Lawrence to bring down the Ottoman Empire, eventually betraying them and setting up the Zionist state of Israel, through the Balfour Declaration. This is a good example of the diplomacy by deception that succeeded. In the period 1909 to 1915, the British government used Lawrence to lead Arab forces to fight the Turks and drive them out of Palestine. The void left by the Turks were filled by immigrant Jews flocking into Palestine under the terms of the Balfour Declaration.” (1995, 33). Hence came the collision point. The Jews viewed Palestine as their birthright and the Arabs viewed the establishment of a Jewish Homeland as the start of an imperialistic invasion to replace them, their religion, and culture. Both were right because both races had been an integral part of Palestine from the beginning first as Israel in 70 AD and Palestine thereafter with the suppression of the Jewish Rebellion and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple by the Roman Army. Sri Ronald Henry Amherst Storrs who was the governor of Jerusalem during the time of Lawrence of Arab easily disputes the Zionist claim that Palestine was theirs and that the existence of the Palestinians was an infringement on their birthrate. “The thesis of Zionism had been in part upheld by the general ignorance of the nature and conditions of Palestine; which was vaguely imagined as consisting of hills far away but green until the destruction of the Temple by Titus A.S.
70, after which they reverted TO Desert, still potentially fertile, though practically uninhabited.” (Storrs, Ronal Henry Amherst, Sri. 1940). As more and more immigrant Jews flocked to the land of Palestine especially during WWII, more and more Arabs became displaced which resulted in a backlash against the Jewish settlers. “The Palestinian opposition to Zionism therefore came on the whole as a surprise, sometimes almost as an outrage, to the world at large. (Storrs, Ronal Henry Amherst, Sri.). The Chief architect to the Palestinian uprisings to the presence of Jewish settlement was Amin al Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who had known Nazi connections and personally recruited young Arab men into the ranks of the SS. It should be noted that the SS Division that the Grand Mufti recruited were responsible for the slaughter and killing of Serbian Jews. As we have seen in the Bosnian Simulation, it was these atrocities committed by Muslim SS troops that set in motion the ethnic cleansing campaign initiated by both Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Croatian President Franjo Tudman in the Balkan region. “The division organized by Husseini was responsible for the murder of about 90% of Bosnia's Jews and destroyed numerous Serbian churches and villages. These recruits were favorites of SS chief Heinrich Himmler, who established a special Mullah Military school in Dresden.” (Zionism and Israel-Encyclopedic Dictionary). However, the Grand Multi claim to fame was the founding of the terrorist group the PLO and Yasser Arafat was his most willing disciple. Over the ensuring decades the PLO under the leadership of Yasser Arafat conducted a campaign of terror, assassinations, and kidnappings whose targets included both military and civilian. The PLO became popular with the Palestinian because of the deep-seated resentment of being relegated to refugee camps in the West Bank Area. Whole parcels of farm land, homes, and businesses, which had been passed down from Palestinian generation to generation were now in the hands of Jewish settlers who were not indigenous to the region. The newly established Jewish viewed the activities of the PLO as part of the overall Arab Strategy led by Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt (later Anwar Sadat) and Hafez al-Assad of Syria of dismantling Israel through military conquest and to “drive them into the sea.” This manifested itself in the Wars of 1948, 1956, 1967, and 73. In all instances the Israelis were victorious. It was the victory of the Yom Kippur War of 1973 though that eventually bought the nation of Egypt and later Jordan to the negotiating table. It was at the historic Camp David Accord that the ideal of a separate Palestinian State on the West Bank in conjunction with the nation of Israel first gained support. The sticking points were the recognition by the Palestinians of Israel’s right to exist, a moratorium on Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and the recognition of Jerusalem as the international capital of both nations instead of just Israel. The time was right for negotiations because both the Jewish and Palestinian population grew tired of war. “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has always had a great attraction for dreamers. Peace initiatives generally go hand-in-hand with the presentation of visions in which not only the former Mandate territory of Palestine, but the whole Middle East, will be delivered from its problems. Wars, arms
races, poverty and radicalism will, by messianic decree, disappear and make way for a future of progress, peace and democracy. The alternative, i.e. no solution of the IsraeliPalestinian conflict, will, as the visionaries point out, be catastrophic.” (Kwarten, Leo). Yasser Arafat and the PLO then took steps towards the establishment of a formal government structure with the founding of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah which was the political arm of the organization. Part of the negotiation was for the provision of trade, infrastructure improvement, money for the establishment of business, material, technical advise, and training of the Palestinian Security Forces (which the United States and the EU did provide). The height of the negotiation for a two-state solution for the Israelis and Palestinians was in the 1992 Oslo Accord (Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements or Declaration of Principles DOP) that was negotiated between Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat. This historical agreement provided the General Framework for permanent peace in the region and the establishment of a twostate nation on the West Bank. Yet the Oslo Accords were doomed to fail and the repercussions of that failure are still felt this very day. 1. The assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a right wing student named Yigal Amir exposed the deep divisions that existed in Israel between the Moderate Labour Party who desired dialogue with the Palestinian and the coalition Likud Party led by the likes of former Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu who represented the settlers and radicalized Zionist. It was this coalition who viewed all Palestinians as squatters on lands of the West Bank as well of that of Lebanon as an integral part of Greater Israel (“Eretz Yisrael HaShlema”). The driving force behind the ideal of Greater Israel was Gush Enunim which was the youth arm of the Jewish Religious party. “The movement’s originals goals were wider than simply creating ‘facts on the ground; in order to bring about Israeli territorial expansion. Its original list of principals included expansion of national and religious education, unity of the Jewish people, support for Jewish immigration to Israel, political and economic independence from foreign powers, and an activist foreign policy. Yet, by the late 1970s the movement essentially focused on a single mission: settling the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” (Mookin, Robert H. & Eiran, Ehud, 2005). 2. The corruption of the Fatah as well as that of the Palestine Authority further undermined any credible notion of the establishment of a Palestinian state. Substantial evidence has surfaced that foreign aid earmarked for economic development and the training of Palestinians for jobs were siphoned off by top officials of the PLO including Yasser Arafat and his eventual successor Mahmud Abbas. In fact, it was Abbas eldest son who had used that money to set up a profitable cigarette company that traded with the Israelis which was a direct contradiction of Abba’s refusal to negotiate with Israel as long as Jewish settlements were still being allowed to expand into the West Bank.
3. The Second Intifada of 2000 by the Palestinians was a direct protest because of the Israeli government refusal to live up to the terms of the Oslo Accord. It represented the frustration of the Palestinian people because of the Impasse that had taken place in terms of a permanent moratorium the Israeli settlements, the continued annexation of East Jerusalem in Israel’s quest to turn the whole city into its capital even though it violated direct UN resolutions, and the lack of progressive towards the establishment of a Palestinian state. The Intifada also witnessed the start of suicide bombings and record attacks into major Israeli cities such as Hafia and Tel Aviv by Palestinian men, women, and children. In order to stem the tide of the bombings the Israelis set up checkpoints, barriers, and eventually a maximum security fence that segregated Palestinian neighborhoods in the same way that Apartheid South Africa did its black townships such as Soweto. The IDF (Israeli Defense Force) made military incursions into the heart of the West Bank to target suspected Hamas and Fatah terrorist. The goal was to demoralize the Palestinian population into passivity. It instead made militant groups such as Hamas popular with the Palestinian population because they could closely identify with them as being sympathetic to their plight. 4. The establishment of the terrorist groups Hamas in the Gaza strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon also scuttled the Oslo Accord. The 2006 elections of Hamas over the corrupt and problem plagued Fatah posed a problem to the governments of Israel and the United States. It was Israeli policy not to negotiate with terrorists. Yet Hamas had become a political entity in the Gaza strip and had to be reckoned with. However, the Bush Administration’s quest to bring democracy to the Middle East backfired on them. In the case of the Palestinians, the democratic process was not allowed to take root over a specific period of time. Key institutions were not set up and the population was not properly indoctrinated in the norms of democratic ideals and traditions. The end result was the election of Hamas. Once in power Hamas eliminated their Fatah counterparts through summary executions and torture. “The Hamas takeover in Gaza is a dramatic event that has ramifications for Israeli-Palestinian relations, as well as regional significance. The forceful takeover by an Islamic movement of an Arab political entity generates repercussions and shockwaves in the Arab world. The question that now confronts various players – Israel, the Arab world and the international community – is how to deal with this new situation.” (Brom, Shlomo, July 1, 2007). The Israelis have been forced to modify their policies and have initiated dialogue with Hamas. It is quite evident that the goal of a two-state solution in the West Bank is now impossibility and the only logical solution is a one state comprising of both Jews and Palestinians that is multi-ethnic and multi-religious. Yet as logical as it may sound, such a solution will never to see the light of day because of the powerful political power that the Jewish Lobby enjoys in Washington, D.C. and the deep-seated distrust of the State of Israel that authoritarian nations such as Saudi Arabia can play upon in order to keep their citizens in a perpetual state of poverty and oppression. Then there is the fear that the Palestinians will ultimately overtake the Jews in terms in numbers (as what is happening in Europe right because of a declining birthrate) and eventually blur the distinction
between Jew and non Jew. Therefore, organizations and countries such as the United States, the EU and United Nations must take an active role in bridging the differences between the Palestinians and Israelis if there is to be a permanent peace in the Middle East.
1. Coleman, John Dr. (1995). Diplomacy by Deception: An Account of the Treasonous Conduct by the Governments of Britain and the United States. Carson City, Nevada: Joseph Publishing Company. 2. Storrs, Ronal Henry Amherst, Sri. (1940). Lawrence of Arabia: Zionism and Palestine. Hammond Middlesex England: Penguin Books. 61. 3. Ibid. 61. 4. Zionism and Israel-Encyclopedic Dictionary. Hajj Amin al Husseini, (Haj Amin el Husseini) Grand Mufti of Jerusalem (Hussayni) Definition. Retrieved from http://www.zionism-israel.com/dic/Haj_Amin_El_Husseini.htm. 5. Kwarten, Leo. The Ritual Dance of Peace and the New Middle East. In Gamble, Helen (Ed.), In Key to Peace in the Middle East (p. 41). The Netherlands: Damon B.V. 6. Mnookin, Robert H. and Eiran, Ehud. (2005). Discord ‘Behind the Table’: The Internal Conflict Among Israeli Jews Concerning the Future of the Settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. 7. Brom, Shlomo. (July 1, 2007). Israel’s Policy Options after the Hamas Takeover in Gaza. INSS Policy Brief. 1.
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