Since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, anger and discontent has been a part of the daily lives of the Israeli and Palestinian people. Palestine was not even recognized as a state by the United Nations until earlier this year when a vote took place within the UN and Palestine was granted the status of a non-member Observer State – a major step forward for the creation of a Palestinian state, if in name only.
Israel was established three years after the end of World War II as a haven for the millions of displaced Jews after the horror of the Holocaust. The land chosen for the state of Israel was given by the British who, at the time, had control over the Palestinian territory with a decision to give over half of that land to Israel. Israelis have been gradually taking over more and more land belonging to Palestine by simply building and moving into homes – areas known as settlements.
The continued creation of settlements by Israel in Palestinian territory has only added to the disgruntlement associated with the partitioning of Palestine in order to create Israel. The main religions of these two groups, Islam and Judaism, both have highly sacred sites in the city of Jerusalem. This juxtaposition of holy sites has merely added to the conflict between the two groups as both lay claim to the city and neither will loosen their grip, even for the sake of peace. The disagreement over ownership of the city of Jerusalem and the settlement of Israeli citizens in Palestinian territory are just two of the many points of contention in this long-running saga.
Will it be possible for these two states to one day exist peacefully, or will one party outlast or outmaneuver the other to ultimately take control of the territory as a whole? This question has lingered since the beginning of the Israeli-Palestinian coexistence with a compromise seemingly unattainable, especially in light of the continuing violence in the area and the control Israel exerts over Palestine and the Palestinian Authority.
The recent outcome of the United Nations vote proclaiming Palestine as a state seems to have greatly increased the confidence of its leaders – especially on the diplomatic front. The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has “renamed” the territory the “State of Palestine” with conflicting sources from the Associated Press and Aljazeera claiming that he may or may not call for new passports, ID cards and the like as well as requesting all former Palestinian Authority diplomats to refer to it as the “State of Palestine” in countries around the world, including those countries that voted against the recognition. Many wonder if there will be serious backlash from Israel on this issue, for the most part however Israel seems to have identified this as merely a weak attempt at sovereignty with no real action substantiating the diplomatic move. In reaction to the “renaming:”
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev dismissed the name change as pointless but declined comment on whether Israel would retaliate in any way. “Instead of looking for gimmicks, Palestinians should negotiate with Israel to bring about the end of the conflict,” he said. “That will lead to a situation of two states for two peoples.”
This acknowledgment from the global community seems to have shifted the focus a bit from reaching a compromise between the two states to the diplomatic maneuvering of Palestine in its bid to be taken seriously as an actor on the world stage and to simply become autonomous. The name change may have irked Israel, but they are doing quite a good job of making sure that, in the public eye, their disdain for Palestine remains on an even keel in order to prevent themselves from potentially being seen as reactionary in such a delicate situation.
Will this UN declaration substantially affect the people of Israel and Palestinian, or is this merely posturing by two states that are incapable of solving their problems on their own? Should Abbas continue pushing the diplomatic angle or could that potentially make the situation worse for the individual citizens of Palestine on a day-to-day basis? The list of questions could go on ad infinitum, but where and how does one begin to tackle such a massive and deeply rooted issue without running into the roadblocks facing world leaders today?
– Katelyn Hollingsworth