Resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

This is a proposal argument for resolution of the Israel-Palestine problem. It uses 5 sources in MLA format.

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As violence escalates in the Palestine, the intractable problem becomes even more intractable. Intense fighting between Israelis and Palestinians, the most intense inside the borders of the former Palestine since Israel’s creation in 1948 are claiming a daily toll in double digits. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s increasingly tough tactics are exacerbating the conflict. A war of attrition is going on that has the potential to escalate into an all out region al war.

Apart from the human tragedy, serious danger to peace and stability in the region is developing from this continued conflict. Any escalation would seriously jeopardize the American ‘war against terrorism’ both by focusing world attention on the Middle East and giving the anti-American forces and the ‘terrorists’ fresh justification for targeting American interest worldwide. Sympathies of more governments and people around the world may also be gained by them in the event of such a situation because the war if it occurs will be devastating and bloody and many would die and the economy of the region as well as the world suffer greatly as a result.

Background to the Tensions and the Present State of the Conflict:

Israel is now much stronger militarily than it was in 1973, the last time there was an all out war between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Chances are that Israel would win such an outright military conflict, but as Time wrote recently, ” even a splendid victory would be disastrous for Israel, because at great expense in wealth and blood, it would gain nothing in the aftermath that it did not have before the current crisis: safety from invasion. And any outcome at all would be disastrous for Western, especially American interests.” Though an Arab victory is unthinkable, the danger of an utter humiliation would mean, “the fundamentalists would have their first real Chicano of coming to power.” (Luttwak, E., 2002)

There is no let up in the fighting as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sticks to his stand that Arafat “stop the suicide bombings and other terror attacks” inside Israel that kill civilians. Arafat for his part is helpless. The suicide bombers are hardly under his control, at least for the time. According to Time, there are at least four large Palestinian and Arab organizations engaged in anti-Israel resistance, or Intifada, Hamas and its sister organization Islamic jihad, which are radical Islamic groups, Hizballah, a Shi’ite Muslim militia that originated in Lebanon in 1982 to fight Israel’s occupation there and the , the secular group that supports Arafat’s Al Fatah organization. The bone of contention at present are the Jewish settlements in the occupied areas that Sharon insists will be built at all costs. The other issue is the establishment of the Palestinian State.

The current situation is that Arafat is besieged by Israeli tanks and troops in his office at Ramallah. The Israeli army moved into Ramallah, the Palestinian City just north of Jerusalem, on March 11, 2002, and surrounded Arafat’s office on March 29. Sixty tanks and hundred armed personnel carriers took part in the operation to surround Arafat’s office. His phone and fax lines are cut and he communicates with the outside world and even his nearby staff through his cell and satellite phones. His electricity is also cut, and he is relying on his generator. Israeli intelligence claims to have evidence that “Arafat bankrolled groups that are part of his Fatah organization though he knew they would carry out terror attacks.” (Time, 04-08-2002) But the spying came critically short in preventing attacks, because, according to these sources, Arafat was never told precise details of any operation, Time reports.

Justification for Continued Israeli Occupation

Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 war. It has never relinquished them since, claiming that they are essential for its security. But “the territories” have been constantly under Israeli military rule since then, and settlements have been built up throughout this region which is claimed by the Palestinians as theirs.

The Oslo Accord of the 1990s was aimed at ending Israeli military control and the Jewish settlements from the occupied territories to allow the Palestinian Authority, the governing wing of the Palestine Liberation Organization, to govern these areas. This was not done, and the conflict goes in now in the occupied territories. Israel is defending with brute military might what is not Israel’s in the first place. The justification for this is sought in trying to satisfy the Israeli right wingers, who contends that these lands should be given to Israel because they were the home of biblical Israelites over two thousand years ago!

Past U.S. Role in the Israeli Palestine Conflict

The U.S. has been playing the role of a mediator between the contending parties in the Middle East, viz. Israel and its Arab neighbors for a long time. But at present “the Bush administration watches from the sidelines, and has abdicated the brokering role the U.S. has played in the region for decades, its passivity facilitating, if not feeding, the fighting.” (The Washington Post. 03-07-2002, p. A20)

The main issue is the establishment of a Palestinian state in the region, which the Israelis have in principle agreed to. But they are concerned for their security and the justification they give for continuing to occupy some of the occupied territories of the 1967 war is that they are worried for their security.

The Americans for the moment are preoccupied with their ‘war against terrorism’ and their next declared target is Iraq, for which they are trying to mobilize support in the Middle East, so far not without much success. Hence their staying relatively out of the mediation role. But the problem is that if the Palestine situation gets out of hand, there is a very real danger of the war spreading and engulfing Lebanon, and then Syria and other countries after which it will become very difficult for the Americans to launch an attack against Saddam Hussain of Iraq.

The U.S. has already sponsored a Security Council resolution calling for Israeli withdrawal. At Camp David two years before, Bill Clinton’s attempt to make peace between Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat was “predicated on the idea of diving Palestine into two states. Mr. Bush has signalled that a president who wanted to avoid another enervating bout of Arab Israeli peacemaking has at last accepted the need to try.” (The Economist, 03-16-2002)

Possible Reasons for the American Administration’s Current Inaction

What are the reasons for the American reluctance to intervene in the fighting that threatens to destabilize the whole of the Middle East? Some of the reasons: (The Washington Post, 2002)

Some American Administration officials feel the United States should not be distracted from the war on terrorism by a conflict that offers little prospect of a solution

Some say it is no longer possible to work with Mr. Arafat unless he cracks down on Palestinian fighters congressional election year is the wrong time to pick a fight with Mr. Sharon, who is most unlikely to agree to a serious peace process

The more-unilateralist of the administration officials resist the idea of the Arabs or Europeans influencing the U.S. policy away from its focus on Iraq and the “axis of evil,”

The administration may believe that sooner or later, Israelis and Palestinians will try to get out of the spiraling violence and seek a way out.

Proposal to Resolve the Problem

However, the continuance of the conflict is not only making a complex situation more complex but inflaming hatred between the Arab world and the United States. This is a strong reason for the United States to try and do something, either on its own or by supporting some multilateral effort, in or out of United nations, to bring about peace and solve the problem on a long-term basis.

Saudi Peace Plan

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdullah has proposed a peace plan that calls for the normalization of Arab relations with Israel in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from all occupied territories.

Prince Abdallah’s idea is not a new one. He has suggested that Israel withdraw its Defense Forces, from the West Bank and Gaza, and return to the pre-1967 war borders. What is new is that in return, Israel would receive full diplomatic and economic relations with surrounding Arab nations and a peace treaty with them. This is a drastic change in policy.

Credible security

Every Western nation, including the United States, has endorsed the Saudi suggestion. The trick is to turn it into reality given complications on the ground. Thousands of Israelis now live in settlements in East Jerusalem on the Palestinian side of the proposed [pre-1967] border. Israelis are given financial incentives to move into the settlements. Defending them — and denying Palestinian claims to the ‘Holy Basin of Old Jerusalem’ in East Jerusalem — helps drive the conflict. Israelis recognize “they are trapped in a quagmire of their own making. But they simply cannot walk away from the territories, not in their aroused state, without guarantees they will be safe within their own borders.” (The Washington Post, 2002)

Recent UN Resolution

The resolution that was put up recently in the UN Security Council was also welcomed by both Israel and Arafat, the former calling it ‘balanced’ and the latter ‘a step forward.’ But the problems to be tackled in this are:

What will be the borders between Israel and the proposed Palestine state,

What will be the fate of the Palestinian refugees who have been sanctioned the right to return to their homes which are now in Israel proper,

What will be the future of the Jewish settlements Israel has been building in the West Bank and Gaza etc.,

What will be the status of East Jerusalem.

The United States has to play a leading part in resolving the above issues. Only then will it be able to avoid a war in the Middle East in which it may find itself sucked in.

Summary and Conclusion

The only way to make peace proposals work is for the United States to make Israel withdraw to pre-1967 borders, but guarantee or help guarantee Israel’s security, with or without UN involvement. Security guarantees from Arab nations or even the UN are not credible enough, given the situation on the ground. The United Nations is already there in a low-profile role. Only the United States can deliver a guarantee with credibility, but the problem is that the United States is strongly supporting one of the parties, viz., Israel, and providing the Israeli army with the military wherewithal which is only strengthening Sharon’s stubbornness. As time passes, and the U.S. keeps itself preoccupied with the “axis of evil” ideas, it will go to reap more hostility of the Arab nations in the region. No let up in Arab suicide attacks is likely under these circumstacnes, which is also necessary for ending the stalemate. At present Israeli intransigence and Arab organizations’ suicide attacks reinforce each other.

It is not possible for Yasser Arafat to restrain them without some gain to show for their legitimate rights. Perhaps some joint international peacekeeping team could persuade the parties to end the fighting and the resulting bloodshed for the time being as talks proceed. The problem of Israel is that if it gets rid of Arafat, the successors would be more extreme with regard to policies towards Israel.

Israeli retaliations on PLO installations and “claims to have ended bomb factories and terrorist dens “in the Palestinian areas are fruitless. They will not be able to buy security; they will only prolong the fighting and harden the intifada.

The attitude of the hawks in Israel is summed up in the following remark in the Christian Science Monitor in early March, 2002. “In word and deed, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is fighting harder against the Palestinians, but without adopting the strategy of all-out war that some of his supporters advocate…. It would be hard to convince many Palestinians that the Israeli leader is showing much restraint, but it bears remembering what he is not doing: mounting a wholesale invasion of Palestinian territories, dismantling the Palestinian Authority, or depriving the Palestinian population en masse of food, water, or fuel.” (Barr, C.W., 03-06-2002)

It may be possible for Israel to do that, considering that what it is fighting against is the mainly unarmed people in the Occupied territories and a mere police force of the Palestinian Authority, but it would not be able ensure its security thereby.


Author Not Available: “Watching the War.” The Washington Post. March 7, 2002; Page A20.

Ratnesar, Romesh: “Season of revenge: Inside story of how Israel imprisoned Arafat and why the rage keeps burning.” Time. April 8, 2002. pp. 16-27.

Luttwak, Edward: “Worst Case Scenario.” Time. April 8, 2002. pp. 28-29.

The Economist: “Too Bloody to Ignore.” March 16th, 2002.

Barr, Cameron W.: “Sharon, so far, resists all-out war” The Christian Science Monitor. 03-06-2002.