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Israel Palestine conflict

Israel Palestine conflict

UPSC CSE Mains Syllabus: GS-1- redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization.

Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

In news:

  • On June 24, the UN Secretary General António Guterrestold a virtual meeting of the United Nations Security Council that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at a “watershed moment” and that the Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank have alarmed the Palestinians, many Israelis and the international community.
  • Such annexation would be “a most serious violation of international law”.
  • He called upon the Israeli government to abandon its annexation plans and asked the Middle East Quartet(the United States, Russia, the European Union and the UN) to resume its mandated mediatory role.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’sreported plan to annex on July 1 around 30% of the Occupied West Bank. This will include annexation of all the existing (post-1967) settlements in addition to areas surrounding them and access roads. This, from published accounts, has the approval of the Trump Administration.
  • Under international law, annexation is forcible acquisition of territoryby one state at the expense of another state.
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                                                        Planned settlements

A 100-year-old issue:

  • Britain took control of the area known as Palestine after the ruler of that part of the Middle East, the Ottoman Empire, was defeated in WW1.
  • The land was inhabited by a Jewish minorityand Arab majority.
  • Tensions between the two peoples grew when the international community gave Britain the task of establishing a “national home”in Palestine for Jewish people.
  • For Jews, it was their ancestral home, but Palestinian Arabs also claimed the landand opposed the move.
  • Between the 1920s and 40s, the number of Jews arriving there grew, with many fleeing from persecution in Europe and seeking a homeland after the Holocaust of WWII.
  • Violence between Jews and Arabs, and against British rule, also grew.
  • In 1947, the UN voted for Palestineto be split into separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem becoming an international city.
  • That plan was accepted by Jewish leaders but rejected by the Arab sideand never implemented.

The creation of Israel and the ‘Catastrophe’:

  • In 1948, unable to solve the problem, British rulers left and Jewish leaders declared the creation of the state of Israel.
  • Many Palestinians objected and a war followed. Troops from neighbouring Arab countries invaded.
  • Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced out of their homes in what they call Al Nakba, or the “Catastrophe”.
  • By the time the fighting ended in a ceasefire the following year, Israel controlled most of the territory.
  • Jordan occupied landwhich became known as the West Bank, and Egypt occupied Gaza.
  • Jerusalem was divided between Israeli forces in the West,and Jordanian forces in the East.
  • Because there was never a peace agreement– each side blamed the other – there were more wars and fighting in the decades which followed.

1967 war and thereafter:

  • In another war in 1967, Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as most of the Syrian Golan Heights, and Gaza and the Egyptian Sinai peninsula.
  • Most Palestinian refugees and their descendants live in Gazaand the West Bank, as well as in neighbouring Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
  • Neither they nor their descendants have been allowed by Israel to return to their homes – Israel says this would overwhelm the country and threaten its existence as a Jewish state.
  • Israel still occupies the West Bank, and although it pulled out of Gaza the UN still regards that piece of land as part of occupied territory.
  • Israel claims the whole of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Only the US recognises Israel’s claim to the whole of the city.
  • In the past 50 years Israel has built settlements in these areas, where more than 600,000 Jews now live.
  • Palestinians say these are illegal under international law and are obstacles to peace, but Israel denies this.

Is annexation legal:

  • It is illegal under international law and would violate the universally acknowledged principle of the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force”.
  • This is the accepted position of all international legal bodies including the International Court of Justice.
  • The same position has been taken by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights).
  • In a statement on June 16, it described the annexation of occupied territory as a serious violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the Geneva Conventions, and contrary to the fundamental rule affirmed many times by the UN Security Counciland the General Assembly that acquisition of territory war or by force is inadmissible.
  • Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) pointed out that the 53-year-old Israeli occupationis a source of profound human rights violations of the Palestinian people and said “these human right violations would only intensify after annexation.

What would be left of the West Bank:

  • It would be Palestinian Bantustan, islands of disconnected land completely surrounded by Israel and with no territorial connectionwith the outside world. 
  • Israel has recently promised that it will maintain permanent security control between the Mediterranean andthe Jordan River. 
  • Thus, the morning after the annexation would be the crystallisation of an already unjust reality:two peoples living in the same space, ruled by the same state, but with profoundly unequal rights.
  • Ever since the war of June 1967, the Israeli effort has been to procrastinate a settlement and change ground realities. Israel today is member of the international community and contributes to international cooperation.
  • It has succeeded in normalising its relations with a wide range of countries.
  • A concomitant of this is the observance of globally accepted norms of state conduct. A reluctance to do this is premised on the support of “powerful friends” and imperatives of geopolitics.

India has a substantive relationship, reaching strategic dimensions, with Israel. It is mutually beneficial. India’s amity with the Palestinian people, and its principled support to their cause, predates India’s own independence. On the global stage, we have invariably supported the UN Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions supportive of the Palestinians.

Source:” The Hindu“.

POSSIBLE UPSC CSE MAINS QUESTION:

Discuss the events that led to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Assess the position taken by India over the years.