Israel – Palestine Relations


Context: Palestinian group Hamas has launched an attack on Israel, leading to an outbreak of new war in West Asia.

Background of Israel Palestine Relations:

  • Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War – I, Britain assumed control of the region referred to as Palestine. Within this land, there was a Jewish minority and an Arab majority coexisting. Tensions between the two communities grew when the international community gave Britain the task of establishing a “national home” in Palestine for Jewish people. 
  • The relationship between these two communities became increasingly strained in 1947, when United Nations introduced Resolution 181, commonly known as the Partition Plan, which aimed to divide the British Mandate of Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states. While the Jewish population considered this their historic homeland, Palestinian Arabs also asserted their right to the territory and resisted this development.
  • In 1948, the State of Israel was officially established, leading to the first Arab Israeli War. While Israel emerged victorious in 1949, the conflict resulted in the displacement of 750,000 Palestinians and the division of the territory into three parts: the State of Israel, the West Bank (Jordan River), and the Gaza Strip. 
  • In 1956, after the Suez Crisis and Israel’s invasion of the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria signed defense pacts in anticipation of potential Israeli mobilization. In 1967, the Six-Day War erupted when Israel preemptively attacked Egyptian and Syrian air forces. After the war, Israel gained control over the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria. 
Israel – Palestine

Two Intifadas (Uprisings)

  • In 1987, the first intifada (revolt/uprising) erupted when Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip protested against Israeli rule, as the issue of Palestinian self-determination and self-governance remained unresolved.
  • In 2000, the second intifada began, partly due to Palestinian grievances, a stagnant peace process, and political events. In response, Israel constructed a barrier wall around the West Bank in 2002. 
Dimensions of ConflictExplanation
BordersThere is no clear demarcation of boundaries between the two states.
Question of JerusalemBoth Israel and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital and call it central to their religion and culture. Israel has declared Jerusalem its ‘undivided capital’, effectively annexing its eastern half, and has built up construction that entrenches Israeli control of the city.
RefugeesA large number of Palestinians had to flee in the 1948 War. The survivors and their descendants, mostly living in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, claim the right to return to Israel, as supported by a 1948 UN General Assembly resolution. Israel sees the right to return as a threat to its existence as a Jewish state, and believes the refugees should go to the Palestinian state that would be created as part of a two-state solution.
Militant OrganizationsIsrael perceives Palestinian militant organizations, such as Hamas, the Islamic group in control of Gaza, as posing existential threats. Hamas has openly declared its objective to dismantle Israel and often directs suicide bombings and rocket attacks towards Israeli civilians. 
Jewish SettlementsConsistent efforts in West Bank undermines the prospects of any comprehensive peace deal with Palestinians based on two state solution. 

Peace efforts

  • The two-state solution was proposed by the Peel Commission, which was formed by Britishers in 1937. It refers to an arrangement where Israeli and Palestinian states co-exist in the region. #Prelims 2018.
  • The 1993 Oslo I Accords attempted to mediate the conflict by establishing a framework for Palestinian self-governance and mutual recognition between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. 
  • In 1995, the Oslo II Accords expanded on the initial agreement, requiring Israel’s withdrawal from six cities and 450 towns in the West Bank.
  • In 2000, Camp David summit convened by U.S. President Bill Clinton to discuss borders, settlements, refugees, and Jerusalem, but talks end without an agreement. Clinton announces parameters for an independent Palestinian state living in peace with Israel.
  • In 2002, The Arab Peace Initiative was drawn up by Saudi Arabia which proposed normalization of ties between Israel and Arab nations. IT calls for a statehood deal Palestine and full Israeli withdrawal from territory captured in 1967.#Prelims 2023 
  • The Abraham Accords (2020) represent bilateral agreements for the normalization of relations between Israel and two Arab nations, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. It marked significant diplomatic milestones, as both the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain formally acknowledged Israel’s sovereignty, paving the way for the establishment of full diplomatic relations.

India’s Relations with Israel and Palestine

  • India’s policy on the longest running conflict in the world has gone from being unequivocally pro-Palestine for the first four decades, to a balancing act with its three-decade-old friendly ties with Israel. 
  • In recent years, India’s position has also been perceived as pro-Israel. 
  • India was the only non-Arab state among 13 countries that voted against the UN partition plan (in 1948) of Palestine in the General Assembly that led to the creation of Israel. 
  • India’s own Partition along religious lines, its principled stand against Colonialism and its effects, solidarity with  Palestinian people, to ward of Pakistan’s plan to isolate India over Kashmir and India’s energy dependency on Arab countries. 
  • However, India formally recognised Israel in September 1950. Full diplomatic relations were established as late as 1992.
  • In 1975, India became first non-Arab country to recognise Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as sole representative of Palestinian people.
  • In 1988, when PLO declared an independent state of Palestine with its capital in East Jerusalem, India granted recognition immediately. 
  • India voted for Palestine to become a full member of UNESCO in 2011, and a year later, co-sponsored UN General Assembly resolution that enabled Palestine to become a “non-member” observer state at UN without voting rights. 

The Policy of De-hyphenation

  • India abstained from voting at UN Human Rights Council on a resolution which claimed to highlight evidence of alleged war crimes committed by Israeli forces and Hamas during the 2014 airstrikes against Gaza that killed over 2000. 
  • In 2016, India abstained again from a UNHRC resolution against Israel. 
  • In 2017, during the visit of PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas, reference to East Jerusalem was missing in the statement issued by Indian PM. 
  • Historically, India supported Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its Capital. 
  • In 2018, PM Modi became first ever Indian PM to visit Israel. At this visit, PM skipped visit to Palestinian de facto capital Ramallah. This move was seen as India pursuing a policy of de-hyphenation wherein it would deal with Israel and Palestine separately. 
  • De-hyphenation is a careful balancing act, with India shifting from one side to another as the situation demands. This was clearly visible when India had voted in favor of a resolution in the UN General Assembly opposing Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital. 
  • At UNHRC, India voted against Israel in three resolutions – one on the right of self-determination of Palestinian people, a second on Israeli settlement policy, and a third on human rights situation in Golan Heights. 
Source: The Hindu

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