According to modern records, Israel and Palestine have been in conflict for around 52 years. For many historians, though, the conflict goes back to the biblical times. In the Old Testament, you will see the name Israel mentioned severally. Similarly, Palestine appears in the Old Testament around four times. In many ways, one could safely conclude that the conflict between the people of these two nations started several decades before Jesus Christ was born. If that’s the case, what is the main cause for the conflict?
Significance of the 52 years
What’s the significance of the aforementioned 52 years? For starters, it marks the period in which Israeli forces have occupied land that the Palestinians consider originally theirs. In this regard, you would be correct in stating that the main conflict is land. Consequently, the conflict would be similar with others that have occurred during different moments of man’s existence on earth. It’s interesting to note that many people and nations often opt for war and years of discord or antagonism the moment the land they call theirs falls into enemy hands.
The occupation of Gaza Strip and West Bank by Israeli forces has been a cause of disagreement for 52 years now. Protests regarding this occupation have been bloody and messy. The reaction and response to the protests have been equally as brutal. That said, politicians and leaders in both countries would be the first to inform the world that what they are fighting for is much more than a question of land. As you will see below, other issues that have continued stoking the fire of the conflicts are:
- Mutual recognition
- Water rights
- Control of Jerusalem
- Israeli settlements
- Freedom of movement, especially for Palestinians
- Right of Palestinians to return to their ancestral land
It’s also worth recognizing that Israel has been in conflict with the Arab world for centuries. That conflict has pitted Jews and Arabs for years. Bear in mind that Israel is predominantly a Jewish state. In fact, it’s the only explicitly Jewish state in the world. Consequently, the misgivings between the two groups have fed the hundreds of mini-conflicts that have occurred since then. That’s where the Israeli Palestine conflict also comes in. Without the original Arab-Israeli conflict, it’s difficult to believe that the Palestinians and Israelis would have been at war.
One can never talk of the Israeli-Palestine conflict without mentioning the role that religion plays. The two dominant religions in the two countries are Judaism (Israel) and Islam (Palestine). To many observers, religion is at the core of the conflict. Because of this, it’s impossible to see a situation where the two states ever agree to meet and iron out their differences. Moreover, you could always say that religion keeps the fiery flames of this conflict burning even when peaceful co-existence seems to be on the verge of birth.
The area that the two countries sit on is full of historical and religious sites that none of the two religions would ever wish to surrender. Judaism’s founding happened right in this part of the world and so too did Islam. Closely tied to this is the issue of culture. Islam stands on Arabic culture. For its part, Judaism mostly stands on Jewish culture. Obviously, culture often has meeting points where people gather to express themselves. The land the two countries occupy is full of such culturally significant locations that it’s hard to see the conflict ending soon.
Currently, there is no timeframe regarding when the conflict pitting these two nations will end. They have been in conflict for decades to a point many generations don’t know what peace is. Each year something new crops up to further dampen the likelihood of peace ever happening. Nevertheless, it’s encouraging to note that many people interviewed around Gaza Strip, West Bank, and other parts of the two countries believe that a two-state solution holds the most hope of lasting peace.