Is a Two State Solution For Israel and Palestine possible?

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A couple walk in the Israeli settlement of Maale Edumim, in the occupied West Bank, at the weekend. Israels expansionism is rendering the possibility of a Palestinian state existing peacefully as neighbours virtually impossible, says the writer.Picture: Reuters

When debating whether a two state solution is possible, the argument of Israel vs. Palestine, inevitably goes back to which nation, the Arab or the Jews, had right and occupation of the land, which to this day is still divided in conflict. In the second century, The original known name for Palestine was Syria Palestina, as named by the Romans. Before the name recognized Syria Palestina, it was known as “Paleset” in 1150 BC tracing back to the twentieth dynasty of Egypt, when the Syrians fought alongside Egypt, during the reign of Ramesses, against the second pharaoh of Egypt. The region later became known as “Palashtu” 800BC. The name Palashtu was later renamed Palestine, in 5th century BC, a name acknowledged and written about by, Herodotus, Aristotle, and Pausanias, as historical records have shown. By 135 AD, Palestine, became known as Syria Palestina, as changed by the Roman Invaders. 

However maps from 350 AD, still labelled and recognized the name under its formal name, Palestine. Due to the Roman invasion, Palestine was later renamed to Judah, and then the province of Judea. However, despite the name change by Roman colonies, in 1920 the British mandated that the land, which included Syrian land, would be returned to the original name, ‘Palestine.’ The Palestinian Liberation Organization (P.L.O), was founded in 1964, of which the founder, Mahir Muhsein, defined Palestinians by saying “We are all party of ONE people, the Arab nation.” The issue and argument surrounding the ownership and occupation of the Palestine-Israel conflict is that both Israeli’s and Palestinians can trace their ancestry and occupation of the land back to Biblical times. The occupation of the land by Jews dates back to the Biblical time of Abraham, which was respectively 4000 years ago. Although Israel was first established in 1948, both Muslims and Jews are both able to prove their history dating back to the old testament. In the old testament, God told Abraham, that his people should settle in the land of Canaan, currently the region of modern-day Israel, of which the temple of Jerusalem was built. 

The temple in which Israel and its inhabitants justify as their claim over the land. King Saul, Solomon, and David, after that, established the Israeli monarchy, even though the land was ruled by ten different religious groups, who all recognized the land as Palestine. Later, the land would become sacred ground for Jews, Muslims and Christians alike. In the early 1900s after world war 1, more than 7500 Jews had returned to their promised land (according to the old testament), at which point the British Empire governed Palestine. In 1922 the League of Declarations announced Palestine as a home for Jewish people, however, due to World War two, more than 6 million Jews have been murdered in the Holocaust. In 1947 the united international powers decided to partition Palestine, into two different states, that of Israel and Palestine. However, as border lines were drawn, the Arab nation felt that the partition unfairly favored the Jews, thus causing civil conflict. The state of Israel was then estbalished In 1948, yet the Arab League – Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia, felt that the original plan for the Palestinian state had been thrown out, in what seemed a victory for Jews, yet 720 000 Arabs were forced to flee their homes. Palestinian refugees are those internationally recognized as being born in Palestine between 1947-1948, yet lost their homes as a result of the conflict in the 1948 war (UNRWA). This became known in Hebrew as the War of Independence, and in Arabic, Al-Nakba- The Catastrophe. 

For the next 16 years, relentless war and fighting would ensue. In 1964 the Palestinian Liberation Organization gathered people from the different regions of Palestine, and in the 6-day war that followed in 1964, Israel defeated the armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan and claimed the territories. In 1987 the first Palestinian uprising occurred, known as the First Intifada, resulting in many deaths, on both sides. The Oslo Accord was then created by international governments, in an attempt to establish peace. However, key issues could not be agreed on. More and more illegal Israeli settlements were established on Palestinian land, an issue which Palestinians still assert is the primary cause of the conflict happening today. Palestinians stated that Israeli’s were continuously stoking the fire of conflict. First through the illegal settlements on Palestinian land, and later, when Ariel Agharon, the former Prime Minister of Israel, decided to visit the Temple Mount, home to the Al Aqsa mosque. This caused deep offence, resulting in conflict later known as the Second Intifada, which only ended in 2005 when Israel withdrew from Gaza. It was in 2006 that Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections, who were then labelled as terrorists by the Israeli’s. Hamas had simply called for the restoration of the Palestinian state using the borders of 1967, which Israel did not accept. Since then, Israel has continued to fight for the claim of the land of Palestine. 

A major cause for concern is when Trump announced Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The decision to move the embassy, some have said, could spark another war, or could ultimately lead to a final peace agreement. The Eastern territory which is now occupied by Israel is recognized as against international law, as it is the home of many Christians and Muslims. Jerusalem holds spiritual significance for Muslims, as Jerusalem is where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), first connected with God. The historical denial of the historical significance of Jerusalem and Arab history of the region is a controversial and painful point for many Palestinians. For Palestinian Christians, Jerusalem also holds spiritual significance over the festive season. Palestinian families are denied the right to cross the border when attempting to celebrate or honour their religion. The Benedictine Monastery is located on a land gifted by Germany to Israel and Palestine, on Mount Zion, which does not belong to either nation. Countries such as Germany and EU, have stated that a two-state solution is the fairest, but have argued that the capital should be where Parliament and the supreme court are located. At present, there is a German embassy in Israel, and there is an Israel embassy in Germany, which if anything should stand as a symbol of hope for peace between the regions. Ultimately the fight for the land of Palestine is about the people’s right to self-determination and freedom, and when the freedom of others is infringed upon, then conflict is inevitable. 

Nelson Mandela spoke on the issue of Palestine, saying “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of Palestinians.” Palestinians have lost fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers, with Israeli soldiers seeing little or no consequences if provoked. If a two-state solution is possible, and if not, would it not be better to merge the two nations, allowing everyone, irrespective of nationality to navigate and live in the region, safely and securely. Most Israeli and Palestinians who are unhappy with the conflict at hand, presently feel that a one-state solution is the best way forward. They feel that the government on both sides are only fuelling and aggravating the situation further, by focusing on hate centric speech, whereas most Israeli and Palestinians truly long for peace. 

Chelsea Lotz is a freelance writer interested in South African politics and international affairs. She has been a speaker at the United Nations Ministerial Roundtable Conference in Geneva, following several years of NGO work. Since then Lotz has won several awards, focused around women empowerment. Lotz has written for several national and international publications about local and international politics, as well as social policy, over the past 5 years, and in 2017, hosted the political talk-show, Straight Talk, on ANN7.