The Arab-Israeli conflict is an ongoing and often violent religious clash over the land of Palestine. Both sides claim historical religious rights to the land and use those claims to justify fighting. This fight over the land officially began in 1948 after the UN gave the Jewish population Israel, and the Arabs felt that it was their land that was being given away.
Unfortunately, most of the commentaries regarding this ongoing conflict are heavily politicised and, worse still, often steeped in prejudices fuelled by religious hatred (and to complicate things, this hatred is not only emanating from the apparent religions involved).
If we are to have a real discussion about how we can further the cause of building a more peaceful society in the Palestine region, it behoves us to, firstly, condemn all violence without prejudice; and secondly, state merely facts which relate to human well-being (insofar as this can be determined).
Over a period of nearly 70 years,
- 72% of the West Bank has been declared ‘Israeli state land’ and has been confiscated from Arab Palestinians who have occupied the region since the time of the British occupation and the Ottoman occupation before that. These confiscations, whatever the policy behind them, have never been compensated. This has, understandably, caused some friction.
- 400,000 Israelis have settled in the expropriated land, often destroying the olive groves which were the source of employment and income of the local Arab population. This has, again, understandably, caused some friction.
- Most of these Israeli settlers have access to their part of a 250 mile new highway network which, as opposed to the Arab Palestinians, provides free movement to the Israeli population and the well-equipped army which guards it.
- As a result, at present, most West Bank Palestinians are confined to 200 disconnected enclaves. Today, this is, arguably, the most common source of friction between the two parties.
“What I discovered was that a West Bank Palestinian could not work, build, study, purchase land, grow produce, start a business, take a walk at night, visit his family in Gaza, enter Israel or travel abroad without a permit from us and that we had imprisoned about one third of the entire Palestinian population.” – Uri Savir (Israel’s chief negotiator at Oslo from 1993 to 1996)
 Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (2003).