Solidarity with Palestine People – Promotion of Peace, Harmony and Goodwill

BY TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 4 Dec 2017

Dr. Ravi P Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

4 Dec 2017 – The Israel-Palestine conflict is one of the most intractable and long lasting ones in the world today. The conflict arises especially in the West Bank and the Gaza strip where Palestine people have been living since long. As a result of the dispute which often leads to violent skirmishes and even wars, it is the ordinary Palestine people who suffer the most. The world recognizes the suffering of ordinary Palestinians and the United Nations has declared 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People”.

The Day is celebrated not only by the UN but also be several countries including India.  I had an opportunity to participate in the event that was organized by Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) in New Delhi where a galaxy of Ambassadors and foreign ministers participated and gave an account of the present status and what needs to be done by the UN and different organizations. Among the dignitaries who participated were Mr. Adnan Abu Alhaijaa, Ambassador of the State of Palestine, Dr. Saud Mohammed Al-Sati, Saudi Ambassador to India and Head, Arab Ambassadors’ Council, Mr. Yuri Afanasiev, UN Resident Coordinator in India and the Director General of ICWA, Ambassador Nalin Surie and others.

The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi had also sent a message of solidarity and support that was read out in the beginning of the event.

The conflict with the Arab states arose when Israel was established as a Jewish homeland in 1948. Israel was created next to Jordan and on the east coast of Mediterranean Sea on what was then an Arab and Muslim-majority territory that had by that time come under the control of the British Empire. Jews lay claim to this area for more than two thousand years and this was the principal reason for the state of Israel to be established in 1948.

The Jews were facing persecution during and after the WW II. About 6 million Jews were killed and massacred and faced all sorts of brutalities during the Holocaust. Many who could, left for different countries including USA, Canada, England, Australia and elsewhere to escape the persecution. Some came to India also. The Nobel prize winner scientist, Albert Einstein who was born in Germany went to Princeton University in USA and continued working on several outstanding problems of Physics till his death in 1955.

Ever since the Israeli creation, the Arab Muslims have resisted the occupation of the land which they claim is rightfully theirs and fought with the Israel in several skirmishes and two major wars in 1948 and 1967. In the 1967 war, two territories – the West Bank and the Gaza strip that are home to a large Palestine population have come under Israeli control and Israel armed forces use stern measures to prevent any violent Palestinian activities. Israel is also constructing houses and other infra projects for settling many Jews in the West Bank despite the Palestine opposition.

Hamas is a fundamentalist party that controls Gaza; there is no Israeli occupation of this strip of land. There were two principal parties in Gaza – the Al Fatah and Hamas but since 2007 the latter party is in control. Tensions between Hamas and Israel continue as both the parties have stood firm on their positions and shown little interest in resolving their long standing disputes.  There are some instances of killings of young Palestine people who try to overcome the stifling atmosphere of the so called peace in the region. These instances are highlighted in the world press and accentuate the dispute and lack of harmony between the Palestine people and Israel.

The United Nations as well as the USA government have tried to bring the two parties on the negotiation table to resolve the conflict and usher in peace and harmony. One such effort was made in July-August 2014 but this again proved futile and no progress was made to promote harmony and stability in the region.

In 1993, Israeli officials and Palestinian leaders led by Yasser Arafat negotiated  to find a peaceful solution through the Oslo peace process. An important concession made by Arafat was his letter of recognition of Israel’s right to exist. In July 2000, US President Bill Clinton convened a peace summit between Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Barak in Camp David to resolve the dispute. Another meeting between the contending parties was held in Taba in Egypt in February 2001 but again with little progress. The conflict has seen suspicion and violence for virtually its entire duration. Fighting has been conducted by regular armies, paramilitary groups, and even by individuals, resulting in a large number of fatalities in civilian population on both sides.

The control of Jerusalem is also a delicate issue. All the three Abrahamic religions — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — lay claim on Jerusalem as a result of their religious and historical narratives. Jerusalem is the holiest city for Judaism, being the former location of the Jewish temples and the capital of the ancient Israeli kingdom. For Muslims, Jerusalem is the site of the beginnings of Islam. Christians consider Jerusalem holy due to the  crucifixion of Jesus here and for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

A possible solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict is to recognize Palestine as an independent state in Gaza and parts of West Bank and the remaining areas to be part of Israel. However, the status of Jerusalem is still not clear. Politicians feel that this issue may be left for future negotiations.

However, the situation has become so complex due not only to the rivalry between Israel and Palestine but also due to the ideologies of the principal world powers that be. Israel has become a military power and so a military solution cannot be a solution. Due to these factors an early solution does not appear possible. What is required is sustained peace efforts by UNO, USA, Russia, and even by India, peace organizations and NGOs and peace and conflict resolution scholars for promoting a sense of harmony and goodwill between the parties. Let us hope that these efforts will succeed soon and peace and brotherhood will prevail.

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Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment, an educationist and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University.  ravipbhatia@gmail.com

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 4 Dec 2017.

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