By Lethbridge Herald on December 6, 2023.
Over thousands of years, ethnicity, religion and nationalism has driven most conflicts. This has certainly been the case in Palestine since 1917.
During the Jewish – Roman wars (66-135 AD), Judea was conquered and Jerusalem destroyed. Most Jews left Israel and migrated to Babylon and countries across the Mediterranean.
Over the ensuing centuries, many Jews dispersed to Europe and ended up in the eastern regions, including present day Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic States. During much of this time, they experienced anti-semetism and discrimination culminating in the Holocaust.
From the early 20th century, an active nationalistic Zionist movement developed which advocated for a new Jewish homeland in Palestine.
The Balfour Declaration in 1917 strongly committed the British government to achieving this ideal. At this time, Palestine was an Ottoman region with a small minority Jewish population.
After the First World War, Palestine became a League of Nations mandate administered by Britain.
A United Nations General Assembly resolution in 1947 recommended the partition of Mandatory Palestine into Arab and Jewish States with international status for the City of Jerusalem. The idea of a two- state solution was thus initiated.
Modern independent Israel was created in accordance with the 1947 UN resolution after the Arab- Israeli War of 1948. This was not recognised by the regions Arabs. During this period, over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs had fled or been expelled from Israel, becoming refugees in neighbouring Arab countries.
They were never compensated for their lost homes and property.
Since 1948, there have been several major wars eg. 1967, 1973 and continuous conflict between Israel, Arab states and the Palestinians.
Unfortunately, an independent Palestinian state consisting of the West Bank and Gaza has never been created.
Persistent causes of conflict include terrorist attacks against Israel, the Israeli Defence Forces occupation of the West Bank, more than 700,000 illegal Jewish settlers in the West Bank and anti – Palestinian rhetoric by right wing nationalistic Israeli politicians.
The events of October 7 are tragic and Hamas must be held fully accountable. The primary aim of Israel should be the return of all hostages and the neutralisation of Hamas. However, the Israeli Defence Forces strategy in Gaza has a strong revenge component, and the massive destruction of civilian infrastructure and thousands of civilian deaths and casualties is excessive.
I suspect the silent majority of Israelis and Palestinians are exhausted by decades of fighting and death and long for peace. The only fair solution for this complex conflict is the creation of an independent Palestinian Arab state with Israel respecting the pre-1967 borders.
Michael P. Greeff