Resolutions of Ongoing Israel and Palestine Conflicts
Located in the modern-day Israel, Jerusalem is perceived to be one of the holiest places in earth. It is a city of major religious importance, to three monotheistic religions, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Both Palestine and Israel lay claims for Jerusalem to be their capital. The religious significance and the historical narrative provide the basis of the conflict that has been around for thousands of years.
First humans are believed to have settled in Jerusalem during the Early Bronze Age, around 3500BC. Jerusalem was conquered in 1000BC by King David and was made the capital of the Jewish kingdom, around 40 years later, his son, Solomon built the first Holy Temple. In 586BC, the Babylonians captured Jerusalem, exiled all the Jews and also destroyed the Temple. 50 years later, the Persian King Cyrus allowed the Jews to return and to rebuild the temple. Around 332BC, Alexander the Great captured Jerusalem and in the following few centuries, the city was conquered time and again by different groups, including the Persians, Crusaders, Egyptians, Romans, Persians, Seljuk Turks, Islamists, and Fatimids. Major events during this time included, Restructuring of the second Temple and addition of retaining walls by King Herod in 37BC, destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 A.D. During the 1st century A. D. European Christians started pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Christians occupied Jerusalem and deemed it a major religious site from 1099 to 1187. From 1516 to 1917, the Ottoman Empire ruled much of the Middle East and were in control of Jerusalem as well. As the Ottoman Empire was dismantled after WWI, Jerusalem was take over by the Great Britain, and up till the independence of Israel in 1948. For the first two decades, Jerusalem was divided, with western parts under Jordanian control and Eastern parts under Israelite control, however, after the Six-Day war in 1967, Israel took control of the whole city.
A hill in Jerusalem contains several religious structures, the area comprises of around 35 acres of land, and is called the Temple Mount. It houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Western Wall, and the Dome of the Rock. The Temple Mount is the holiest landmark in Judaism, with it being referenced in the Jewish Scripture dating back to Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac. The Temple Mount is also the third holiest site in Islam, Muslims believe this is where Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. The site also have great religious significance on Christianity as they believe it is the place mentioned by Prophets in the Old Testament and was visited by Jesus according to the New Testament. Due to its religious importance and its historical narrative, control of the Temple Mount has been the cause of unpleasant conflict for centuries and it is worsened by Muslims, Christians and Jews inhabiting the vicinity. Israel gained control of the Temple Mount after the Six-Day war, however, today, the Islamic Waqfcontrolls the Temple Mount’s internal functionality while the Israeli forces control external security.
Dome of the Rock
The Dome of The Rock was a gold-domed Islamic shrine built atop the destroyed Jewish temples in Jerusalem. It was built by Caliph Abd-al-Malik on the Temple Mount and is the oldest surviving Islamic building; it was constructed on the site where Muslims believe the Holy Prophet (PBUH) ascended to heaven. At the time of crusades, Christians took over and turned it into a church, however, it was restored to being a Mosque after Muslims recaptured Jerusalem. Adjacent to the Dome of the Rock is a silver-domed mosque, called Al-Aqsa, this is also sacred to Muslims.
This is a remnant wall of the ancient second Jewish temple, located on the western side of the temple, it is also called the Wailing Wall as many Jews weep at the sight of the destroyed temple. Every year, millions of Jews undertake pilgrimage to pray here. Church of the Holy Sepulcher Located in the Christian quarter of Jerusalem, it is regarded as one of the holiest Christian site on earth, each year thousands of Christian pilgrims visit the church. It was built in 335 A.D. and believed to be the place where Jesus was crucified, and also where his resurrection happened.
Clashes between Israel and Palestine have occurred since Israel’s independence over the control of territories in Jerusalem. Jewish law prohibits praying in the Temple Mount for Jews, however, Israeli forces allow hundreds of Jewish settlers to enter the area. Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital in 1980 but majority of the international community does not recognize it so. Considering the historical narrative and the religious significance the conflict is intricate in nature, and it affects local and international stability greatly. Palestine separates the city in two zones, J1 and J2. J1 is the east Jerusalem currently occupied by Israel but perceive to be Palestinian’s part. Palestinians consider this part to be the capital of their future state. J2 is the surrounding area that links Jerusalem to the west bank. Israel built a wall separating the area in which Muslims lived and adding more area to their side. This wall increased the tensions as it puts restriction on movement and economic activities of the people. Most recent activity regarding the dispute was America declaring Jerusalem, Israel’s capital and significant number of nations were not amused by the idea. This event will be discussed in detail after analyzing the road which led to the event.
Almost a century ago British took control of Jerusalem in 1917 after the fall of Ottoman Empire. During the rule of British Jerusalem saw increased number of Jewish settlers. Muslims were shocked and were trying to accept the harsh truth that Jerusalem was not under their control anymore. After the World War II, UN approved the partition plan which included one part for Muslims and one for Jews and governed by a special internationalist regime. In 1948 a coalition of Arab countries attacked Israel the day after it claimed its independence and Jordan took control of the eastern part and west went to Israel. During this time Israel focused on their area and developed it while Jordan was paying attention to its own capital in Jordan. Israel was reluctant in matters of Jerusalem due to the pressure put by UN and EU but moved its governmental functions to Jerusalem gradually. Again in 1967 Arab countries tried to invade Israel but were defeated badly. Israel not only took control of the eastern Jerusalem but also Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula were now in their hands. In the following years the sentiment and importance of Jerusalem increased for Israel and Muslims were granted a status of residents but not citizens. Many were displaced as a result of controlling Muslim ratio in the region. This all scenario ultimately led Israel to claim Jerusalem as their capital in 1980. In 2000 Israeli politician’s visit to Temple Mount unleashed a violent riot that continued for five years and claimed many lives. Palestine and majority of the international community says that Israeli occupation of Old City (eastern Jerusalem) was illegal and Israel on the other hand is revoking residency permits and doing what pleased it with the backing of US. Now if US accepting Jerusalem as Israel’s capital can lead to a serious dispute which will not be limited to Jerusalem and the neighboring countries.
President Trump officially declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel, upending decades of US diplomacy and threatening to spark massive unrest across the Muslim world. Trump also announced his plan to eventually relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and begin the difficult logistical work of building a new diplomatic facility in the contested city. “Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like any other sovereign nation to determine its own capital,” President Trump stated. “Acknowledging this is fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace.” The U.N. General Assembly voted a hundred and twenty-eight to nine, with thirty-five abstentions, in favor of a resolution condemning Trump’s action. It is unlikely that the Israeli Cabinet carefully discussed the pros and cons of this declaration. Instead, it was probably another example of events being driven by power politics. Netanyahu facing several corruption cases, needed to boost his popularity. The declaration could lead to his extended his hold on power for another few years. Trump, having a stubborn temperament, was eager to please his wealthy donors and his political base, particularly evangelicals. Surely, neither politician is a statesman nor is thinking of the good of his country. It is important to remember that the Palestinians have consistently called for Jerusalem to remain undivided, and urged that when it became the capital of both states, Israel and Palestine, it would remain an open city. After a peace settlement, the city would serve as a model of coexistence. Instead of furthering this objective, Trump and Netanyahu have condemned both peoples, Israeli and Palestinian, to eternal conflict. Under the current scenario, Israelis control millions of Palestinians under their rule without representation except through force.
However, though Trump affirmed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he did not call it the undivided capital of Israel, suggesting the US would still support potentially dividing Jerusalem between the Israelis and the Palestinians as part of future peace negotiations. Indeed, he explicitly stated that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty and Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations of a future peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis. This is important, because for years, official US policy has been support for a two-state solution, with the final status of Jerusalem to be decided as part of a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. If instead, Trump had gone further and declared Jerusalem to be the undivided capital of Israel, it would have sent the message that the US has taken a clear position on Jerusalem’s final status. Even though there was uncharacteristic caution in how he worded Trump’s speech was written, the damage, it seems, is already done. News of the declaration leaked out several days earlier, immediately sparking rage in much of the Arab world and a day before the announcement was made, Palestinian leaders called for three “days of rage” to protest the decision, and demonstrations had already broken out in the Gaza Strip and a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon, before Trump even spoke.
The first resolution was passed by UN in 1947 which includes the partition plan and declares Jerusalem an international state. Second UN resolution came in 1967 demanding Israeli evacuation from captured areas in the result of war. Israel defends its capturing as self defense. Where experts suggests that self defense does not allow capturing. The fourth Geneva Convention on protecting civilians in occupied territories is also applicable on eastern Jerusalem population. In 1968 UN passed another resolution to resist the unification of Jerusalem. Then two resolutions were passed in 1980 disapproving Israel’s claim of Jerusalem as their capital and urging them to stop from altering the status of the city. 1967 resolution formed the basis of Oslo accord and several peace talk but overall these resolution have little effect on the matter as Israel continues to ignore them. EU sees Israeli occupation of Eastern Jerusalem as illegal and is concerned about the well being of its inhabitants. Strictly oppose the construction of wall and other settlements in Palestinian area by Israel and suggests that Jerusalem should be a joint capital of Palestinian and Israeli state and should also be accessible by the rest of the world. That can be the only optimum solution of the dispute but the means by which it can be achieved are yet to realize.
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