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Friday, January 02, 2009

Gaza & West Bank Important Background

I did some minor edits to clarify the authors intent.

Palestine and Israel: A History
The Palestinian Israeli Conflict

© Joel Wittnebel

Feb 4, 2008

The Palestinian Israeli conflict is one which has been occurring for years [decades], and must be understood by our world today.

The terms, Gaza Strip and the West Bank may seem familiar to some people and this article can bring about better understanding of these topics.

The violence and attacks which occur today in these areas are a result of a historical claim for land. Looking at the history behind this topic will allow a better understanding of what is occurring today.

Near the end of the 1800s a political movement, which came to be known as Zionism, attempted to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine, which included all of present day Israel. The Israelis feel they have rights to this land because it is their, "biblical promised land". But, at this time the British Empire had a mandate over Palestine, and in 1916 during World War I they convinced Arab leaders to aid them in the war and in return they would support the establishment of an independent state in this region.

Through this and the years following Israel did not see the formation of a Jewish state.But, after World War II the United Nations recommended dividing Palestine into two states. From this deal the minority Jewish people received the majority of the land. Following this deal on May 14, 1948 United States president Harry Truman through pressures from the Zionist movement allowed the formation of the state of Israel.

This ignited serious conflict in the area as armies from: Syria, Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, Saudi-Arabia, Yemen, and Egypt attacked the new formed state but were defeated by Israel.

In the same year the Palestinians were driven out of the newly formed Israel and into refugee camps in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and other areas.

Israel again gained more land in 1967 in the Six Days War where they took strategic lands such as: the Gaza strip, a section of land located along the coast of the Mediteranean Sea, and the West Bank, a landlocked territory on the west bank of the Jordan River. In response to this in 1973 Egypt and Syria attacked Israel on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur in an attempt to regain lost land but failed.

After 27 years of occupation the Israelis withdrew from the Gaza strip in 1994. Withdrawal from the West Bank came with more difficulty. The Wye River Memorandum was passed in October 1998 outlining the Israeli withdrawal. But, this was suspended in 1999 due to problems with its implcations. Also, the Camp David summit attempt to plan a withdrawal but also failed.

This violent history over land has led to the issues seen today. Which include continued attacks from Palestinians living in the military occupied West Bank causing the construction of a large security fence around the area.

In recent years the frustration as mounted as Palestinians find themselves with less and less pristine land to live, and as violence continues an end seems far off.

The continuing violence occuring between Palestinians and Israelis makes it a problem in need of urgent attention. As the solutions never seem to work, steps toward an end seem difficult but understanding can be seen as the first step toward a solution.