GIST OF RAJYA SABHA TV (RStv Debate): Israel-Palestine Conflict- India, US call for calm

  • Published
    15th May, 2021

Introduction

  • India, the United States, and several other countries have called for calm and restraint amid escalating tensions and violence between ISRAEL and Palestinian militants.
  • At the UN Security Council meeting, India expressed deep concern at the clashes and violence in Jerusalem and called on both sides to avoid changing the status-quo on the ground.
  • India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador TS Tirumurti stressed the need to immediately resume direct peace talks and commitment to a two-state solution US President Joe Biden has also called for de-escalation of the deadly violence that has claimed dozens of lives.
  • He however added that Israel has a right to defend itself if it is attacked by thousands of rockets.
  • Dozens of people have been killed in clashes and airstrikes, when the violence broke out, including a 30-year-old Indian woman in Israel who was killed in a rocket attack by Palestinian militants from Gaza.

On The Big Picture, we will analyse with experts what has led to the current escalation in this decades-old conflict? Has the ongoing violence raised fears of a war-like situation and what is the way ahead for peace in the region.

Edited Excerpts from the debate

What is exactly happening in Israel and Palestine?

  • Tensions are often high between Israel and Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank.
    • Gaza is ruled by a Palestinian militant group called Hamas, which has fought Israel many times.
    • Israel and Egypt tightly control Gaza's borders to stop weapons getting to Hamas.

What is Hamas?

  • Hamas is a militant group, which is also responsible for administering the Gaza Strip.
  • Its legitimacy largely rests on its resistance credentials, which means the movement routinely feels obligated to demonstrate its capacity to confront perceived Israeli aggression.
  • Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank say they're suffering because of Israeli actions and restrictions. Israel say it is only acting to protect itself from Palestinian violence.
  • Things have escalated since the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in mid-April 2021, with nightly clashes between police and Palestinians.
  • The threatened eviction of some Palestinian families in East Jerusalem has also caused rising anger.

What are the major unresolved issues?

There are a number of issues which Israel and the Palestinians cannot agree on. These include

  • What should happen to Palestinian refugees?
  • Whether Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank should stay or be removed?
  • Whether the two sides should share Jerusalem?
  • Whether a Palestinian state should be created alongside Israel?

Peace talks have been taking place on and off for more than 25 years, but so far have not solved the conflict.

  • Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, a status not generally recognised internationally.
  • Palestinians want East Jerusalem - captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, as the capital of a future state.

Conclusion

The recent happening shows that the situation is not going to be sorted out any time soon. Only a peace deal between both sides can resolve complex issues.

Value Addition

What is the bone of contention?

  • Britain took control of the area known as Palestine after the ruler of that part of the Middle East, the Ottoman Empire, was defeated in WW1.
  • The land was inhabited by a Jewish minority and Arab majority.
  • Tensions between the two peoples grew when the international community gave Britain the task of establishing a "national home" in Palestine for Jewish people.
  • For Jews, it was their ancestral home, but Palestinian Arabs also claimed the land and opposed the move.
  • Between the 1920s and 40s, the number of Jews arriving there grew, with many fleeing from persecution in Europe and seeking a homeland after the Holocaust of WWII.
  • Violence between Jews and Arabs, and against British rule, also grew.
  • In 1947, the UN voted for Palestine to be split into separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem becoming an international city.
  • That plan was accepted by Jewish leaders but rejected by the Arab side and never implemented.

Creation and Division

  • In 1948, unable to solve the problem, British rulers left and Jewish leaders declared the creation of the state of Israel.
  • Many Palestinians objected and a war followed. Troops from neighbouring Arab countries invaded.
  • Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced out of their homes in what they call Al Nakba, or the "Catastrophe".
  • By the time the fighting ended in a ceasefire the following year, Israel controlled most of the territory.
  • Jordan occupied land which became known as the West Bank, and Egypt occupied Gaza.
  • Jerusalem was divided between Israeli forces in the West, and Jordanian forces in the East.
  • Because there was never a peace agreement - each side blamed the other - there were more wars and fighting in the decades which followed.
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