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Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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Any reference to conflict turns history into a reservoir of blame. In the presence of conflict, narratives differ and multiply to delegitimize the opponent and to justify one’s own action. Narratives shape social knowledge. The Israeli Palestinian conflict, both Jews and Muslims, view the importance of holding the territories through religious, ideological, and security lenses, based on belief that Palestine was given by divine providence and that the land belongs to either the Israelis or Palestinian’s ancestral home. Understanding these perspectives is required for understanding Palestinians’ and especially Israel’s strategy and role in entering the Oslo peace process. To show examples how conflicting narratives affected the Oslo peace process, conflicting narratives stemming from collective memories will be applied to issues regarding security, history, and social identity

Security narrative A narrative based on collective memory is difficult to deconstruct and functions as a barrier to negotiations. Given that narratives play an important role in determining the flow of the negotiations and that every new generation on both sides is raised with this narrative of insecurity in mind, the gap of conflict is widened through a hardening of attitudes amplified by the delay of resolving the stalemate.

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The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the ongoing struggle between Israelis and Palestinians that began in the early 20th century. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between the Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman and then British rule. It forms part of the wider Arab-Israeli conflict. The remaining key issues are: mutual recognition, borders, security, water rights, control of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, Palestinian freedom of movement and finding a resolution to the refugee question. The violence resulting from the conflict has prompted international actions, as well as other security and human rights concerns, both within and between both sides, and internationally. In addition, the violence has curbed expansion of tourism in the region, which is full of historic and religious sites that are of interest to many people around the world. Many attempts have been made to broker a two-state solution, involving the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside an independent Jewish state or next to the State of Israel (after Israel’s establishment in 1948). In 2007 a majority of both Israelis and Palestinians, according to a number of polls, preferred the two-state solution over any other solution as a means of resolving the conflict. Moreover, a considerable majority of the Jewish public sees the Palestinians’ demand for an independent state as just, and thinks Israel can agree to the establishment of such a state. A majority of Palestinians and Israelis view the West Bank and Gaza Strip as an acceptable location of the hypothetical Palestinian state in a two-state solution. However, there are significant areas of disagreement over the shape of any final agreement and also regarding the level of credibility each side sees in the other in upholding basic commitments. Within Israeli and Palestinian society, the conflict generates a wide variety of views and opinions. This highlights the deep divisions which exist not only between Israelis and Palestinians, but also within each society. A hallmark of the conflict has been the level of violence witnessed for virtually its entire duration. Fighting has been conducted by regular armies, paramilitary groups, terror cells and individuals. Casualties have not been restricted to the military, with a large number of fatalities in civilian population on both sides

There are prominent international actors involved in the conflict.The origins of the Palestine problem as an international issue lie in events occurring towards the end of the First World War. These events led to a League of Nations decision to place Palestine under the administration of Great Britain as the Mandatory Power under the Mandates System adopted by the League. In principle, the Mandate was meant to be in the nature of a transitory phase until Palestine attained the status of a fully independent nation, a status provisionally recognized in the League’s Covenant, but in fact the Mandate’s historical evolution did not result in the emergence of Palestine as an independent nation.In 1978, due to rising Hezbollah attacks from South Lebanon, where many Palestinian refugees still were, Israel attacked and invaded Lebanon. In 1982, Israel went as far up Lebanon as Beirut, as bloody exchanges followed between Israeli attempts to bomb Yasser Arafat’s PLO locations, and Hezbollah retaliations. The infamous Shabra and Shatila massacre was carried out during this war. In 1985, Israel declared a strip of South Lebanon to be a Security Zone (not recognized by the UN). Many civilians were killed on both sides. Israeli forces were accused of massacres on many occasions. After 22 years, Israel withdrew in May 2000. One of the leading Israeli military personnel was the future Israel Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon.

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According to Rousseau, the above feelings brought hatred, greed for power and urge for self-revaluation and comparison with other. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows? (Rousseau, 2) The society now becomes drawn along various social lines

Several relationships like that of a slave master came into existence. Obviously, Rousseau pointed out at the unguided selfishness as the sole source of woes that face man today. Rousseau warned of people that have been the architects of injustices in the society. In the same page of the article, Rousseau wrote that Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody (Rousseau, 2). The Israel Palestinian conflict is based on the very foundation and the source woes that face man in this world. Partitioning of land and development of status quo coupled with cultural incongruence has worsened this conflict (Riordon & Riordon, 2011, p.24). In the heart of conflict is Israel which advocates for creation of a separate state of Jews and on other hand is the Palestinians who are predominantly Muslim backed by other Muslim brothers in opposing the move to partition the Palestinian country into two. (Orr, 1994, p.34) The conflict was simply brought by differences in culture, religion and demarcation of what is considered as personal property. Palestinians argue that the land on which the state of Israel is situated belongs to their country while Israelis believes that they are in the land to where they belong- the land of their ancestors. The conflict as encompasses more than just hatred between Palestinian and Israel. After a series of subjugation, persecution and killings of Jews in Diaspora, Jews at home saw that there was a need to return home those who were in other parts of the world especially in Europe. This conflict has created a stalemate with no side wanting to back down on their claims. Israel with its ego cannot accept being in the same country with majority Muslims. Muslim too felt that Palestine is their land and could not stomach the situation where Israelites from the Diaspora could come and shelter in. (Smith & Kelly, 1993, p.6). As the writer indicates, our own beliefs and culture are the one that sometimes brings woes to human life. He goes further to state that all human institutions seem at first glance to be founded merely on banks of shifting sand. It is only by taking a closer look, and removing the dust and sand that surround the edifice, that we perceive the immovable basis on which it is raised (Rousseau 1754, p.10) In accordance to the philosophical beliefs of Rousseau, this conflict can first be solved if the involved parties in the conflict summons an effort of going deep into the matter with no bias of inclination to any of the side of their beliefs culture or religion. It is where they need to trace back to the very basic need of humanity. They should try as much as possible to prevent their beliefs and culture from hindering them to see the importance of peace.

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Summing up, the fighting continues to this day because the Palestinians refuse to recognize the State of Israel and refuse to leave their country. Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestine historians disagree on many aspects of the Israel/Palestine conflict and have opposing views regarding historical and religious rights to the land, the goals of the Zionist movement, and how big of a role the British played in allowing the Jews to immigrate to Palestine

These historians are just as divided as the people living in the region. The lack of compromise and understanding has made the historiography divided on the lines of Pro-Israel and ProPalestine.

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Riordon, M., & Riordon, M. Our way to fight: Israeli and Palestinian activists for peace. Chicago, Ill: Lawrence Hill Books. 2011.

Orr, A. Israel: Politics, myths, and identity crises. London: Pluto Press.1994.

Smith, C. A., & Kelly, K. Palestinian crises and Christians. Edinburgh: Jointly published by] The Centre for the study of Christianity in the Non-Western World, and Lothian Regional Council Dept. of Education. 1993

Rousseau, J.-J., & Bair, L. The essential Rousseau: The social contract, Discourse on the origin of inequality, Discourse on the arts and sciences, The creed of a Savoyard priest. New York: New American Library. 1974.

Rousseau, J.-J. A discourse on inequality. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books.1754

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