The Politico-Religious Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Why It is Never Resolved/(PART I)

Chronique de Rodrigue Tremblay

"The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

Albert Einstein (1879–1955)

"For the last 30 years, I have witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts. This reluctance to criticize any policies of the Israeli government is because of the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American-Israel Political Action Committee and the absence of any significant and contrary voices."

Former President Jimmy Carter

"When it comes to the Israeli-Arab conflict, the terms of debate are so influenced by organized Jewish groups like AIPAC that to be critical of Israel is to deny oneself the ability to succeed in American politics."

Henry Siegman, former head of the American Jewish Congress

After tremendous attempts to bury the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under the rubble of Baghdad, this intractable and open-sore conflict is now back on the agenda since the December 6, 2006, Baker-Hamilton commission report stated the obvious, i.e. that settling the precarious fate of the Palestinians in the hands of Israel is crucial in stabilizing the entire Middle East and even the entire Muslim world: "The United States cannot achieve its goals in the Middle East unless it deals with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and regional instability."

Indeed, there are strong links between the on-going Iraq war and the longlasting Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as it relates to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, in the West Bank and in Gaza. Most observers agree that the center of discord, resentment and conflicts in the Middle East is the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is a festering sore in the body of international geopolitics. As the President of Lebanon, Emile Lahoud, reminded the U.N. General Assembly on September 21, 2006, "peace and stability in Lebanon will be attained only when the Israel-Arab conflict will be settled in a just and permanent way."

Such is the case also for most Middle Eastern countries. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf pretty much said the same thing on September 26, 2006, stressing that the world should urgently address the Palestinian issue, because it is this issue that lies at the root of all conflicts between the West and the Muslim world. We have an indication how immoral and dangerous the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict is when a recent headline announced that the Israeli Supreme Court upheld a policy of the Israeli government to kill Israeli citizens of Palestinian origin. Therefore, it would seem to be logical that if you address the root cause of grievances and resentment in Palestine, this would reduce the violent reaction that many people in the Middle East have against Israel and its mentor, the United States.

On November 13, 2006, British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a similar appeal in favor of a “whole Middle East strategy” centered around a fresh focus on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is an assessment that is nearly unanimous, with the notable exception of the unconditional advocates of Israel within and outside the United States. The latter is the all-powerful pro-Israel Lobby, and in the past, it has defeated all the plans to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, always succeeding in placing Israel's interests ahead of the interests of the United States.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a politico-religious conflict, and that is why it is so difficult to solve. It has lasted for nearly 90 years, that is to say since the British minority government of Lloyd George decided to open the ancient Ottoman province of Palestine to Jewish settlement. It is a conflict that pits three monotheistic religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) against each other and which involves the political and economic interests of Jewish zionists, Arab fundamentalists and Western Christian politicians.

Indeed, when the government of Lloyd George issued its Balfour declaration in 1917, expressing its support for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people" it probably did not realize it was opening a Pandora's Box that would spew out its disturbing consequences for a century to come. Indeed, after the War World I collapse of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, Palestine was among the several former Ottoman Arab territories that were placed under the administration of Great Britain under the Mandates System, adopted by the League of Nations. Ultimately, all but one of these Mandated Territories became fully independent States. The exception is Palestine, which is still an occupied colony of Israel.

Palestinian demands for independence have been frustrated for more than half a century. To its credit, the government of Great Britain did try to implement various formulas to bring independence to Palestine, but could not succeed because of the endemic terrorism and violence that has been a hallmark of this land since its removal from the Ottoman Empire. That is why, in 1947, Great Britain turned the problem over to the United Nations, and the General Assembly quickly passed its Resolution 181 (II) on November 29, 1947. In it, the United Nations affirmed the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty, and proposed the partitioning of Palestine into two independent States, one Palestinian Arab and the other Jewish, with Jerusalem internationalized.

However, Israel unilaterally severed its ties from Great Britain, and became independent on May 14, 1948. Nearly sixty years later, Arab Palestine is still not independent. Worse, a large part of Arab Palestine was, over the years, appropriated by Israel, leaving Palestine with an uneconomic base to survive and prosper. —Therein lies the problem that has festered in the Middle East for so long.
[to be continued]

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Rodrigue Tremblay lives in Montreal and can be reached at
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