Following the Second World War and the creation of the United Nations, there was an increasing sentiment of Jewish Nationalism throughout Europe. “Zionism” as it came to be known had its roots in the late 19th century due to the ideas of German activist Theodor Herzl. Its culmination was brought about when the newly created United Nations partitioned the British-owned Mandatory Palestine. This came despite refusal from the Arab League. Promptly after the State of Israel was declared, it was attacked by neighbouring Arab states due to the claim that it was an illegitimate state.
Since the creation of Israel, there have been 3 major wars between Israel and surrounding countries: the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War. There was a long period of low tension after the Yom Kippur War and the peace process was progressing until the eruption of the First Intifada. Palestinians rose to fight against the Israeli occupation and there were effectively 6 years of bloodshed. In 1993, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization Yasser Arafat met on a number of occasions to negotiate peace between Israel and Palestine. The Oslo Accords were settled and signed by both parties in the presence of United States President Bill Clinton. They were a set of agreements that would establish the future of the relationship between both political entities. Yitzhak Rabin, Yasser Arafat and Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres all won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for their efforts in the cause. The following year, Rabin was assassinated by Israeli religious extremist Igal Amir, who opposed the Oslo Accords. Shimon Peres served as the acting Prime Minister following Rabin’s death, however was never able to continue peace talks at the same level as Rabin.
It is generally agreed upon that Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat were the last two leaders that truly wanted peace. Mahmoud Abbas, current leader of the Palestinian Authority and Benjamin Netanyahu, current President of Israel, are more radical than the former leaders and therefore resort to blame rather than negotiation. In terms of international relations, they are both more realist than liberalist – they see their land and people as political entities that will eventually be in conflict with others. This is due to the changing nature of domestic and international politics.
The real question is what can be done? Both sides have done wrong, and both sides blame each other of doing more wrong. I have spoken with Israelis, Palestinians and Arabs – some conservative, some liberal, all with different intricacies to their own opinions. Most Israelis don’t support the house demolitions, most Palestinians don’t support the rampant attacks. There is a lot more to this conflict than can be taken from face value, as it is historical in nature and intrinsically linked to the differences and at the same time similarities of Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians. We can only hope that in the future Israelis and Palestinians can be taught love and compassion for one another rather than hatred and intolerance.