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This Article is written by Rohit Raj, a student currently pursuing B.A.LLB.(Hons.) from Lloyd Law College. This is an exhaustive article that explains the reason behind the conflict between Israel and Palestine and the role of India as a mediator in this conflict. 

Introduction

“People who call themselves supporters of Israel are actually supporters of its moral degeneration and ultimate destruction.”

                                                                                                           -Naom Chomsky

The issue of war has always been a problematic one. Achieving global peace is way too necessary to bring respect between countries. Various scholars, philosophers and politicians in our history and recent times have tried to bring up many options but that did not bring expected results- small conflicts and bloody wars still take place in countries and communities.

It’s heartbreaking how in this modern 21st CE where there are developed technologies and ingenious populations, people still choose war to solve their problems. In spite, the answers to resolve the conflicts and wars are lying within ourselves i.e. that we all should keep on investing efforts in improving the world around us. Let’s believe in the “GOLDEN RULE” which tells us ‘not to do unto other people what you don’t want others to do unto you’.

Israel and Palestine Geographical Boundaries (Before Arab- Israeli war)

Before starting the main issue of conflict and how this dispute arose, it is of higher priority for us to understand the conditions of both these countries before 1948.

Arab-Israeli war: Starting with Israel, it proclaimed its independence on 14th May 1948. But, within 24 hours of independence, many countries like- Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon went into this war which then took nearly 15 months to end. In the first month of 1949, direct negotiations were conducted between Israel and all the other countries that had invaded it.

In the year 1949 negotiations between these countries became successful. Soon after these negotiations, the Coastal plain, Galilee and the entire Negev came within the Israeli Sovereignty while the Gaza Strip came under the rule of the Egyptian administration.

Till the year 1948, Palestine was referred to as the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan river and the Arab people who considered it as their territory came to be known as Palestinians. In today’s theoretical manner it is considered that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are a part of Palestine but in a real sense the truth remains untold.

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Cause of Dispute and how it emerged

The Israeli- Palestinian conflict dates back to the end of the 19th century and is based on the territorial division and acquisition. The fire of conflict arose before the year 1948 when the Arab- Israeli war happened and was fueled more when Israel got invaded by other countries.

After the 1948 Arab- Israeli war, the Holy Land was divided into three parts i.e. the State of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza strip. The Gaza Strip came under the rule of the Egyptian administration which in itself was under a conflicting land division issue. During that time the division and acquisition of land was a hot topic for all. In 1973 Egypt and Syria together attacked Israel, the main reason being Israel’s occupation of the Sinai peninsula and the Golan Heights along with the profits gained from these occupied peninsulas.

To calm down this worsened situation and to stop this attack, an accord was signed between Egypt and Israel as a Peace treaty for both the countries. This was named Camp David Accords.

Another accord was signed by Palestine in 1993 named Oslo Accords which helped in mediating the conflict. It was decided that Palestine would now be a separate self-governing state and it also paved the way for establishing good relations between Israel and the then government of Palestine. But the problem did not end there. In 2000, a second-time Intifada began which became bloodier than the massacre of 1987. This led the Palestinian president to declare that Palestine would no longer be bounded by the Oslo Accords.

Since then there have been continuous efforts made by different countries in different ways through multiple accords, however, the situation remains equally grievous as in the past. In 2013, the United States of America tried another method for the peace process between both countries, like “Sinai Riviera” which aims to persuade Palestinians into swallowing the bitter pill of indefinite Israeli occupation and annexation of the West Bank which again was unsuccessful with the situation remaining unsorted. 

Six-Day War of 1967

In 1967, the Arab countries again refused to recognize and declare Israel as a State due to which another war took place for six days in the year 1967. The Six-Day War between Arab countries and Israel was won by Israel and after winning this war, Israel occupied more parts of Palestine i.e. The West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem which is considered as the holy city of Palestine and it was now under the control of Israel. Except for the Sinai Peninsula, all other parts of Palestine were under the control of Israel and half of the population of Palestine lived under the Israeli-occupied territories.  

After the end of the Six-Day War of 1967 between the Arab countries and Israel, Israel started to build settlements for the Jewish community in their newly occupied territories. If we look at the last 50 years, 6-7 lakhs Jewish Israelis settled in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. 

Hamas control over Gaza Strip 

After the end of Six-Day war between the Arab and Israel, destruction in both the countries lead to re-thinking of some pacts for the resolution of this war but due to failure of some of the accords like, Oslo Accord and others their plan for resolution of the conflict was not successful and then in 2006, an Islamist political group which is known by the name of Hamas won election in Gaza Strip and took control over it. 

Then a question arises in the mind that as after the end of the 1967 six-day war, the Gaza Strip and other holy places of Palestine are under the control of Israel, Then, how Hamas, an Islamic group, took control over it by winning the election? If we look at the 1993 and 1995 Oslo Accords, we see that it was signed between Israel and Palestine for the withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza Strip and other holy places, and this is the reason in 2006 Islamist group conducts elections in Gaza Strip and after winning election took control over it. 

After taking control of the Gaza Strip by Islamist group, they were attacked by Israel several times but three conflicts between both of them are considered as a major conflict between Israel and the Islamist group since 2005. Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009), Operation Pillar of Defense (2012);  both operations were in response to the rocket fire over the Gaza-Israel border. The last operation ‘Operation protective edge (2014)’ which is considered as most essential, is related to the kidnapping and murdering of three Israeli teenagers brutally by the Hamas members and this activity of Hamas led to another operation by Israel of seven-weeks in 2014. 

UN delegation on Palestine and their visit to India 

A Delegate on Palestine visited India to gain the attention of India and seek support for the meeting of the dispute between Israel and Palestine. A United Nations delegation visited New Delhi to gain political and diplomatic support of India to meet the long-run conflict of Israel and Palestine Conflict. India is the only sole country that has a good relationship with both the countries and due to this, the UN delegation on Palestine decided to gain support from India so that India can better mediate between both the countries and resolve the long-run conflict of Israel and Palestine. 

The UN delegation on Palestine visited for 2 days i.e. on 2nd and 3rd March to India and met External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and other senior ministers on the topic of conflict with Israel. The delegation’s motive and intention was to engage India in a mediating role and settle the dispute by looking at all the events and deals from the very beginning period. 

India Mediating between Israel and Palestine

Since 1948 many countries made efforts to resolve the land dispute ongoing between these two countries, they went on to bring different accords and pacts like- Oslo Accord, Camp David Accord, and Peace settlement treaty. But still, people of Arab origin considered that the region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan river is their territory and hence they should be known as Palestinians. But what is heartbreaking is that all efforts went in vain and none of it served the purpose of settling the dispute and bringing peace among them. 

The United Nations saw India emerging as a ray of light in mediating and resolving the disputes between Israel and Palestine. A delegation from the UN Committee came to New Delhi regarding the exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian people which stated that it “intends to engage India, a country with good relations to both the state of Palestine and Israel, in looking for ways how it could play a more proactive role in the settling of the question of Palestine.” 

India stands strong on the grounds of maintaining a cordial relationship with both Israel and Palestine since PM Narendra Modi’s first visit to Israel in 2017 followed by a 2018 visit to Palestine. Palestine welcomed the first visit of PM Narendra Modi with huge respect and warmth and honoured him with the highest civilian honour of Palestine. As for Israel, his visit landed into fruitful discussions across sectors like Agriculture, Innovation and Technology.

Ever since the Congress era, India has shown support to both Israel and Palestine. While India voted in favour of Israel in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) it voted in favour of Palestine in the UN General Assembly’s third committee. India has shown a diplomatic way of maintaining good relations with both the countries and has been recognized by the United Nations which now wants India to be a mediator in the Israel–Palestine conflict.

Conclusion

The Peace process and Reconciliation have never been an “either-or” proposition and must be made in a way that it benefits and advances the countries in a mutually reinforcing way. In 1982, diplomatic relations were established with Israel, from then India has been balancing its relations with both the countries independently, mutually and bilaterally. In a practical way, we can conclude that India through these relations is fetching more economic benefits and political gains. India always being better and smarter in handling these relations has brought in negotiations that desire political settlement based on mutual respect and accommodation. 

Prime Minister Modi changed all the negative thoughts of Israeli’s i.e. India voted against Israel at the United Nations vote on women’s rights to positive ones after he visited Israel. He hosted a reciprocal visit for Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and both the visits brought in a real impression that the two leaders and their respective countries will now have better chemistry, a great level of comfort and friendship which is not very common in foreign relations and formal protocols. And by this, it gave a glimpse to other countries to make such existing and successful foreign relationships. Not putting the foot back for Palestine, India’s Prime Minister Modi fostered warm relations with them as well. India contributed 5 million Dollars to the UN Palestine refugee agency. And through this extended aid to the region by supporting development for the Palestinian refugees. 

India has made breakthroughs across several sectors such as agriculture, innovation, technology, water, etc. Because of India both the countries now see each other as natural allies and relations have gone ahead from just co-operation in the defence sector and wars as an only connection through which they can communicate to each other and rule over each other.  Hence, with this article, we assume that we have made our point clear in expecting different countries to bring in many developments by helping each other through different negotiations and make the world a better place to live in.


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