The creation of Israel as a nation-state has created significant conflict in the region, particularly between Palestinians and Israelis. Many believe that Israelis are entitled to a homeland, while others believe that the land was unfairly stolen from Palestine. United Nations Resolution 181 specified the rights of both Arabs and Jews who live in the region. Arabs who reside in the Jewish State and Jews who reside in the proposed Arab State and have “elected for citizenship” in the other state may vote in the elections of that state. They may not vote in the elections of the state in which they reside. Essentially, a Jewish person who lives in Palestine may elect Israeli citizenship and an Arab who lives in Israel may elect Palestinian citizenship. They would be required to vote in the election of the country of which they are a citizen. They would be allowed to use their language when dealing with the government. Furthermore, it is specified that there will be no discrimination. Arabs in the Jewish state have a right to education for their children that respect their culture and heritage. Jews in the Arab state have this same right. It also specified that they have a right to their land and it should not be expropriated except for public purpose (UN Resolution 181, 1947).
Despite this clear resolution which attempted to ensure the rights of both Arabs and Jews, there has been significant conflict in the region. These conflicts are a combination of religious, economic, and territorial. No one factor can be isolated as the sole cause of the Middle Eastern crisis. Rather, when individuals feel threatened in their economic lives, they are more likely to look for other reasons as the possibility for this. It is easy to blame religion, even though Jews, Christians, and Muslims are all the children of the same God as Abrahamic religions. It has been shown that the economic issues can be associated with territorial disputes. In 1948 when this occurred, approximately 750,000 Arabs were driven out of their homes into refugee camps. Approximately the same number of Jewish individuals were driven into these camps. This is economic and territorial. When one loses one’s home, one loses everything. All financial security is gone, including the ability to earn a living in many cases. However, since the deciding factor behind this was religious and ethnic, it is easy for individuals to focus on this. They were moved because of the need for homogenous religious neighborhoods. They were not upset necessarily before that they lived next to a person of a different religion; they were upset now for the loss of a home. Yet, the focus for this occurring was religion. This is why it became multifactorial over the years (Brodie, 2016).
Settlement expansion into Palestinian areas has occurred with increasing urgency in recent years under the current administration. This is not legal, and it should be discouraged by the international community. It only creates more difficulties for the region. Dr. Hanan Ashrawi has discussed that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyau is “more committed to settlement expansion than to peace.” He is correct in this assessment. This prime minister is not committed to peace or a two-state solution. Rather, he has focused on a hardline Israel First approach. This is currently the movement in global politics, as seen in both the actions of President Donald Trump and the movement towards Brexit. The Prime Minister is reflecting what the global trend is. This is not helpful. In Israel’s defense, this movement began when they were attacked during the Six Day War, a war against Israel that was unprovoked. However, the correct thing would have been to allow international discussions on repatriating the land. At the very least, the expansion should not continue (NPR, 2016). A commitment to a two state solution must occur on both sides.
The United States position has changed radically since the inauguration of President Donald Trump. The Israeli Prime Minister and President Barack Obama had a famously frosty relationship. When the U.S. refrained from voting on a resolution critical of these settlements, the Prime Minister responded angrily. Trump has focused on an Pro-Israeli administration and has engaged in actions that are considered harmful to Arabs and Muslims. Trump has been known to be anti-Muslim with many of his policies and comments. While this may appeal to the Israeli leadership, it is not conducive to peace in the region. It also has not shown the global community any commitment on the part of the U.S. to helping the situation. Rather, the U.S.’s current global policies in many areas may be considered seriously harmful to international relations.
- Brodie, Y. (2016, August 8). Remember the refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Retrieved from: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Blogs/Message.aspx/8878
- NPR. (2016, December 29). 7 things to know about the Israeli expansion. Retrieved from: https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/12/29/507377617/seven-things-to-know-about-israeli-settlements
- United Nations Resolution 181. (1947, November 29). Future government of Palestine. Retrieved from: https://unispal.un.org/DPA/DPR/unispal.nsf/0/7F0AF2BD897689B785256C330061D253