Thu | Aug 24, 2017

The Israeli Palestinian conflict Part V - The current state of affairs

Published:Saturday | December 17, 2016 | 12:00 AMPaul H. Williams

BEIT BERL, Israel:

It is a matter of land, the decades-old dispute between the Palestinians and the Israelis, especially since the Jewish state of Israel was established in 1948 on lands which each side claims belong to it.

The disputed territory, called Palestine, is now bordered by Lebanon and Syria in the north, Jordan in the east, Egypt at the southwest and the Mediterranean Sea at the northwest.

After the 1948/49 war between Israel and the Arab states ended, Palestine was divided by the Jordanians who occupied the West Bank of the Jordan River and East Jerusalem, Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip, and Israel West Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine.

Since then, there have been several more wars, occupations and withdrawals. The Palestinians now control the Gaza Strip, since 2005, but the situation in the West Bank is more complex.

There are areas in which the Palestinian Authority (PA) exerts full civil and military control, areas in which the PA exerts full civil control, but shares military control with Israel, and areas in which Israel exerts full civil and military control. The historic city of Jerusalem is just as divided. There are Israeli built-up areas and Palestinian built-up areas.

The Gola Heights which Israel took from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 is a strategic point which the Israelis have refused to give up. In a recent address to a group of Caribbean journalists at the International Institute of Leadership, in Beit Berl, Israel, retired Israeli Defence Force Captain Roni Kaplan said, among other things, that he is glad that Israel did not return the Golan Heights to Syria because of the current terror threat. In essence, Israel's presence in the Golan Heights has prevented attacks on the Israeli state.

He wants peace, but it seems that peace is elusive since neither side wants a compromise. The Israelis are not giving up the Golan Heights, and their presence in the West Bank seems to be permanent.

And in a current affairs lecture held in the Jerusalem Press Club, retired Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser, the director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center, staunchly defended Israel's right to a Jewish state based on historical evidence.

Kuperwasser also supports Israel's rejection of an October 2016 UNESCO resolution. Despite Israeli's effort to delay a final vote, the UN cultural agency adopted a controversial Arab-sponsored resolution on East Jerusalem that ignores Jewish and Christian historical ties to Jerusalem's holy sites.

This resolution has heightened the tension between the Arabs and the Israelis.

It is to be noted that the conflict is not just between Israel and the Palestinians. Other Arab states want the State of Israel to be totally annihilated, thus the non-stop belligerence. Missile attacks from the Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Syria are common, but the Israelis are adamant in the development of their Jewish state. Thus, there is no end to the conflict in sight.

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