Israel-Palestine issue | UPSC 

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UPSC Syllabus: GS Paper II – International Relation

The beginning of the trouble can be traced to the Zionist movement:

  • Jews have been persecuted in Europe owing to their religion and hence a movement started in 19thcentury to escape persecution and establish a state solely for the Jews. The place identified for this purpose was Palestine (Ancestral homeland for Jews).
  • This idea gained currency among Jews and they started migrating and settling in Palestine.

But how could this migration take place in the reigns of Ottoman Empire?

  • Because Ottoman Empire disintegrated in WWI which led to the division of its territories.
  • As you know the Middleeast was divided according to Sykes Picot Agreement between Britain and France and the administration of Palestine fell with British.
  • And British were sympathetic to the cause of creation of Jewish homeland. Hence they allowed immigration of Jews from all across the Europe in large numbers.

How did the numbers of Jews grew so much in Palestine?

  • As more and more fascists regimes (Especially Nazis in Germany) gained power in Europe, the persecution of Jews reached unprecedented levels and it led to massive inflow of Jews in Palestine.

But how did the local Arabs react to this?

  • The inflow of Jews raised alarms for local Arabs which started militant movement against Jews. This led to a lot of violence which resulted in huge causality as well.
  • By the end of World War II, a crisis over the fate of the Holocaust survivors from Europe led to renewed tensions between the Jews and the Palestinian Arab leadership.
  • Immigration quotas were established by the British, while on the other hand illegal immigration continued.

Then how did the state of Israel come into existence?

  • By the end of WWII, British had already made up their mind regarding leaving the area and hence they referred the matter to United Nations.

What was the United Nations resolution?

  • UN voted to split the Palestine into two countries into three parts

o   Arab state, a Jewish state and the City of Jerusalem.

How was the reception of the UN resolution?

  • Jews: Whole Heartedly accepted the resolution as their long term demands of Jewish homeland had become a reality.
  • Arabs:  Arab leaders and governments rejected the plan of partition in the resolution and indicated that they would reject any other plan of partition.

How has the situation evolved post UN resolution

  • 1948 Arab-Israel war:

o   Following the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the Arab League decided to intervene on behalf of Palestinian Arabs, marching their forces into former British Palestine, beginning the main phase of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.

o   The overall fightingresulted in cease fire and armistice agreements of 1949, with Israel holding much of the former Mandate territory, Jordan occupying and later annexing the West Bank and Egypt taking over the Gaza Strip, where the All-Palestine Government was declared by the Arab League on 22 September 1948.

o   So we can say that Israel emerged victorious and extended its control beyond which it was originally authorized by the UN.

o   This war created massive migration of Arabs from Palestine which led to refugee crisis which remains unresolved even currently.

  • 1967 Six Day War:

o   In 1967, Israel launched a preemptive strike against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan and at the end of this Six-Day War, Israel captured:

  • Golan Heights (earlier with Syria)
  • West Bank and East Jerusalem (Earlier with Jordan)
  • Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip (So far with Egypt)

o   The 1967 war is particularly important for today’s conflict, as it left Israel in control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, two territories home to a large number of Palestinians.

o   Gaza and Westbank are together known as ‘Occupied Territories’, after 1967 war.


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