President Trump spent day three of his first foreign trip in Israel meeting with Israeli officials. Also on this trip, he will meet with Palestinian leaders.
One of his stated goals for his presidency is the establishment of a lasting peace between the nation of Israel and the Palestinians.
A lofty goal indeed.
When considering the issue, it is important to be aware of the history of the conflict to provide the proper context around which decisions can be effectively made.
If you only listen to the way it is described in the media, you’ll likely come away with the opinion that a two-state solution is reasonable, and Israel’s resistance to a two-state solution is unreasonable.
You may even believe that Israel is the aggressor and has invaded land not belonging to them just as Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait or, more recently, Vladimir Putin invaded part of the Ukraine.
That’s not the whole story. Here is a brief timeline of Israel’s modern history:
May 15, 1947 – United Nations General Assembly formed a committee to prepare a report on the issue of Palestine and its Jewish immigrants.
September 3, 1947 – The committee proposed the formation of an independent Arab State, an independent Jewish State, both independent from Jerusalem and Bethlehem which would be controlled by the United Nations.
Neither side liked it, but most of the Jews in the region accepted the plan. “Every major Arab leader objected in principle to the right of the Jews to an independent state in Palestine.”
November 29, 1947 – A slightly amended version of the previous plan was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. Thirty-three nations voted in favor, thirteen opposed, and ten nations abstained. “The Yishuv accepted the plan, but the Arabs in Palestine and the surrounding Arab states rejected the plan.”
Immediately following approval of the plan, attacks began – shootings, stonings, bombings, rioting – by Arabs against the Jewish population in Palestine.
May 14, 1948 – In the face of violence by those denying its right to exist, Israel declared itself a sovereign nation. “The declaration was stated to be ‘by virtue of our natural and historic right and on the strength of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly’. The Declaration stated that the State of Israel would ‘ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”
The next day, Israel was invaded by Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. Israel fought them back, capturing land and expanding its borders in the process. The 1949 Armistice Agreement was signed by Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. Per the agreement, Egypt controlled Gaza Strip. Transjordan controlled the West Bank.
1950-1967 saw attacks on Jewish civilians stemming from Gaza Strip.
1967 – Israel launched a preemptive strike against Egypt known today as the Six-Day War. Israel captured the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and took complete control over Jerusalem.
In August 1967, “Arab leaders met in Khartoum in response to the war, to discuss the Arab position toward Israel. They reached consensus that there should be no recognition, no peace, and no negotiations with the State of Israel.”
1972 – At the Summer Olympics, eleven members of the Israeli team were taken hostage and killed by Palestinian terrorists.
1973 – Syria and Egypt declared war on Israel in what is known as the Yom Kippur War.
September 9, 1993 – “Yasser Arafat sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin stating that the PLO officially recognized Israel’s right to exist and officially renouncing terrorism.” This began the Oslo Peace Process in which Israel gave up control over certain regions of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, Palestinian terrorist acts continued which escalated from both sides of the conflict.
Terror continues to this day.
A two-state solution may or may not be the best solution to the conflict. Given the history, however, peace is difficult when one side refuses to acknowledge the right of the other side to exist.