Israel & the Palestinian Territories Conflict

I. Topic Background

The Israel/Palestine conflict ultimately boils down to religious tension, and is part of the larger Arab/Israeli conflict. In 1948, the U.N. partitioned the region of Palestine into two states, one Jewish, and one Arab, to address the ongoing Jewish-Arab tension. Jewish leaders accepted the plan, the Palestinian government did not, and the result was a short-lived civil war which ended with Israel declaring independence on May 14, 1948. For decades after the civil-war, Arab nations refused to recognize Israel’s legitimacy as a nation, and in 1964 formed the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). In the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel captured the Gaza strip and Jerusalem from Egypt, and West Bank from Jordan. In response, several Arab nations banded together and launched the Yom Kippur War against Israel. No definitive gains were made by either side, however it did lead to the Camp David Accords of 1978, which led to the Egypt-Israeli Treaty.

Tensions sparked into violence yet again in 1987 with the First Intifada, in which Palestinians living in Israeli-occupied territory revolted. The First Intifada bore the creation of Hamas, founded by Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi, an armed resistance establishment that is prevalent in the current Gaza situation. In the Oslo Peace Process of 1993, Israel and the PLO tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a peace agreement. Its failure was credited to the lack of effort on both sides to uphold the conditions established by the process, such as the promised decrease Israeli settlement activity in West Bank and Gaza, and the acceptance of Israel as a legitimate nation. In 2000, the Second Intifada broke out in wake of the failed peace attempt. In 2003, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon announced a disengagement plan, which constituted the removal of Israeli civilian and military presence in Gaza, to refute the claim that Gaza was an occupied territory.

However, the 2006 elections of the Palestinian Legislative Council gave rise to the increased political power of Hamas, which complicated any existing attempts at peace. In December 2008, Israeli military forces launched Operation Cast Lead in response to repeated mortar attacks from Hamas on Israeli civilian areas. Since then, hundreds of Palestinians have been killed, including hundreds of Palestinian civilians. On January 18th, 2009, a ceasefire took effect, which has put a end to the violence, at least temporarily.

II. Past Actions

In 1947, the young U.N. partitioned the conflicted region of the British mandate of Palestine into two states, Israel and Palestine. Though the Security Council has “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,” it has not been able to address and resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. The Council has taken no significant action since 1967, when it passed Resolution 242 calling on Israel to relinquish the territories acquired during its war with Syria and Egypt. The UN has condemned Israel for killing civilians in the Gaza Strip. Many resolutions made by the UN to resolve the conflict have been vetoed by the US, including the demand for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza in 2006. The US has repeatedly used its veto power in favor of Israel, and, using its influence, has steered the issue away from the UN agenda. In January 2009, the US again blocked the UN’s demand for an immediate ceasefire.

III. Country Policy

Since the start of Israel’s aggression in Gaza, our Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has shuttled between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Syria in a proactive attempt to achieve a ceasefire. We have verbally assailed Israel for the killing of Palestinian innocents in Gaza and in general. If any noticeable progress is to be made, Israeli military presence must be withdrawn from the Gaza Strip. Palestinian homes are often bulldozed by Israeli forces in attempts to “eliminate possible terrorist cover,” even though a majority of the houses contain Palestinian civilians. Practices such as these must be put to an end. Polls taken in Israel and Palestine confirm that Gaza and West Bank are regarded as Palestinian territory, and should remain so. Hamas must end its aggression towards Israel, as rocket attacks are what instigated the Gaza strip conflict of 2008-2009.

More importantly, the United States must cooperate with the UN to create a peace resolution, as it has been the blockade of peace attempts dating back many years due to its pro-Israel bias. The West Bank, an Israeli settlement, is also an obstacle. Now, Erdogan is using contacts with Hamas, and its backers Iran and Syria, and contacts with Israel and the West, to assume a leading role in trying to broker a cease-fire. In regards to the refugees present in Gaza, NGO’s such as Doctors Without Borders and Red Cross could be implemented to ensure no further degradation of human rights takes place. We again stress the need for an effective cease-fire to which both Israel and the territory of Palestine respect, there is little prospect Israel can solve the Gaza crisis solely by military means.

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