November 29 is observed annually as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People around the globe. On this day in 1947, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted resolution 181 (II) which called for an end to the Israeli apartheid by establishing a Jewish State and an Arab State. But in over 70 years of the resolution, the world has only seen the Jewish state precipitate on the world map, while the dream of a separate Arab homeland remains stranded.
This day in history marked the beginning of the never-ending struggle for independence for the Palestinian people and of the denial of their inalienable rights as laid down by international covenants like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The International Day of Solidarity provides the world an opportunity to reflect solidarity with the people of Palestine and to raise awareness of the fact that they still have not gained their rights including the right to self-determination as well as the right to independence.
Unfortunately, the response of the international community to the question of Palestine has been rather negligent as there has been little to no substantial peace process in recent years and it seems that with every successive episode of hostilities between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the land of Palestine drifts further into the quagmire of injustice, violence, and antagonism. Trump’s “deal of the century” and the consequent establishment of Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided” capital, was yet another pinch of salt on the long-festering Palestinian wound.
Understanding the Israel-Palestine conflict requires a thorough analysis of a harrowingly long and complicated tussle between two nationalist movements with equally justified claims to the land. It is an amalgamation of political, social, cultural, and religious factors with both factions vying for greater control of the region. But things were not always as hostile and volatile, as they are now. In fact under Ottoman rule, the entity of then Palestine was peacefully inhabited by the Muslim and Jewish communities from 1516 to 1917.
However, the mid and late 20th century saw a surge in sentiments of Jewish nationalism with figures like Theodor Herzl entitling the Jewish to a separate and sovereign homeland under the political Zionist ideology. Interestingly, the conception of a Jewish homeland existed as an idea, long before it consolidated into a state, as the Zionists of Eastern Europe believed that the Jewish, apart from being a religious minority in the region, were also a nation. The following era was hurled with rapid Zionist population proliferation throughout Palestine which led to the 1936 Arab Revolt. As a result, the then British government attempted to contain the Jewish population by restricting them and their purchases of lands. Then in 1947, the UN adopted the resolution proposing 2 separate states which resulted in the formation of only the Israeli state. From 1947 till date, the Palestinian territories have contracted kaleidoscopically and now remain confined to the West Bank and the narrow Gaza strip, both of which remain besieged by the IDF.
While it is already too late to ratiocinate which nation has a more authentic claim to the land, the focal question should be; is there a solution to the war? If yes, why has the international community not resorted to it yet? The most efficient attempts to revive peace in the Middle East were the Oslo accords, a series of agreements that were signed between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the government of Israel. One of the proposals of the accords was the two-state solution, a framework that devised the division of Palestine into two states; one for the Jewish community and one for Palestine.
The agreement, although initially showed signs of progress but later faded in the face of varying interests of people from both sides. From the beginning, some religious and nationalist groups on both sides openly denounced the two-state solution as they believed that their governments had no right to surrender their respective lands to the other.
The dangerous thing is that both sides are ideologically opposite fronts that strive for creating a state that provides for the wishes and desires of only one nation. Neither is ready to put their guard down and what makes matters worse is the discrepancy between a heavily equipped Israel and a meagerly-backed Hamas with little external support.
Until and unless both sides intentionally concede to the two-state solution and give up the idea of a single nation-based country, the region will continue to suffer unimaginable horrors. Ironically, breaking free of oppression for both sides has falsely translated into driving the other nation out of the country, an unachievable fantasy, at least for the near future. If the region of Israel/Palestine is ever to see stability, it could only achieve so through a two-state approach in which both the nations live for their respective peace and prosperity.