The Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Brief Introduction

The Arab-Israeli conflict is a 100-year-old issue. It all started when Britain took over Palestine after the Ottoman Empire was defeated in WWI. Palestine was in fact inhabited by a Jewish minority and an Arab majority, but the tension between the two increased when the international community gave Britain the green light to establish a “national home” in Palestine for Jewish people.

For the Jews, they considered Palestine to be their ancestral home, but Arab Palestinians also claimed it as their land and refused to leave. Between the 1920s and 40s, the number of Jews arriving in Palestine grew immensely, with many escaping the rise in power of the Nazis in Germany, far away from persecution, and seeking refuge after the Holocaust of WWII. This consequently resulted in violence between Jews and Arabs of Palestine, as well as a revolt against British control.

Trying to find a solution, the British suggested the Peel Plan; to create a very small Jewish state and a much larger Arab state. The Jews accepted the plan, however, the Arabs turned it down. Soon after, the British issued the “White Paper” to limit Jewish immigration to Palestine.

In 1947, during the aftermath of the holocaust which resulted in 6,000,000 Jews killed by the Nazis,┬áthe United Nations (UN) voted for Palestine to be split into two states; Jewish and Arab, with Jerusalem being an international city. The Jewish leaders accepted the plan but the Arabs didn’t and the plan was never implemented. In 1948 unable to solve the problem, British rulers left Palestine and Jewish leaders declared the creation of the state of Israel. This is when the catastrophe began.

The Jews later managed to gain a lot of control over most of the territories that were given to them by the UN. It was during this period when the first Palestinian refugee crisis was created, or what is called “Al-Nakba”. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians left; some left due to a fear of what the Israelis might do to them, some were no doubt forced to leave or expelled by the Israelis themselves.

On May 14th, 1948, the State of Israel was declared, and soon after that, the neighboring Arab states attacked Israel. The following year, cease-fire agreements were signed between Israel and neighboring Arab states. However, by the time the fighting ended, Israel controlled most of the territory. Jordan occupied land which became known as the West Bank, and Egypt occupied Gaza, Jerusalem, on the other hand, was divided between Israeli forces in the West, and Jordanian forces in the East.

Since there was never a peace agreement, each side blamed the other. More wars and fighting took place in the decades that followed.

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