This article is written by Anjaly Ann Joseph from Government Law College, Ernakulam.
The conflict between Israel and Palestine is a lot more complex than what it seems on the surface and dates back to 1948, when the country of Israel was formed. To be able to completely comprehend the conflict it is necessary to understand the importance and significance of this piece of land. It does not take a lot to gather that this conflict is more than a mere territorial dispute.
HISTORY OF ISRAEL PALESTINE CONFLICT
Jews were in occupation of this land from 1800 BCE and held ground there for more than 3000 years. After the Babylonian conquest many Jews began moving out, thereby beginning the Jewish diaspora. Jewish migration further intensified after the Roman Conquest in 63 BCE. After the destruction of temple at Jerusalem at 70 CE, the Jews lost their identity along with their symbolic structure. It was a watershed moment for the Palestinians, and resulted in large scale migration.
The Ottoman Turks ruled Jerusalem and much of Middle East from 1516 to 1917, forming the Syrian Palestine. After First World War, the British captured the area. Whereas during middle ages, Jewish population immigrated to different countries, especially Europe and in the 19th century, the Jews were facing persecution from all these nations. Anti-Semitism reached its zenith during the fascist regime while the Zionist movement gained momentum among Jews and clamoured for a country of their own.
Britain through the Balfour Declaration created the country of Israel. Soon after the establishment of Israeli Settlement in 1984, Arab states joined hands with Palestine leading to the First Arab-Israel War. With this there occurred mass migration of Palestinian nationals to nearby countries and with that, in 1964, Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) was formed.
In 1964, during the six day war, Israel captured East Jerusalem, West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights. These areas remain tumultuous even after decades. From 1987, Palestinians started revolting against Israel, which kickstarted the First Intifada. In 1993 the First Intifada was brought to a conclusion with a peace settlement between Israel and PLO. Unfortunately the September of 2000 witnessed the Second Intifada with the visit of Ariel Serron to the Al Aqsa mosque. The conflict zones were ravaged by the incessant attack and suicide bombing inflicted by the Palestine nationals. In retaliation, Israel captured West Bank.
Fresh hope of peace sprung with the moderate leader Mohammed Abbas becoming the President of Palestine and in the following the Israel forces withdrew from the Gaza Strip; but as a thorn in the flesh, Hamas- a Palestinian fundamental organisation took control over Gaza Strip in 2007. Israel threatened by their extremist actions and restarted operation there from 2014. After 3 years of violence Hamas reached conciliation with the ruling party and consents to initiate democratic process.
SHEIKH JARRAH EVICTION
The recent escalation between Israel and Palestine is caused by the eviction proceeding against 13 Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah located in East Jerusalem. At the creation of Israel, Sheik Jarrah was mainly occupied by a Jewish community, but after the creation, Palestinians driven out of the Israeli settlement moved to Sheik Jarrah. It was captured by Jordan in the First Arab Israel war. Jorden, with the help of International organisations built homes in that area, which were occupied by Palestinian families. Later during the Six-day war, Israel recaptured East Jerusalem including Sheik Jarrah. After this, Israel authorities started demanding Palestinians to move out of Sheikh Jarrah. This year, the Central Court in East Jerusalem upheld the evictions of Palestinian families, which led to protest all over. There were attempts by Israel to barricade the protesters, which culminated in violent clashes on May 10.
INTERNATIONAL LEGAL PERSPECTIVE AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
Major concerns centers around entitlement to territory, which is a source of self-determination to people. International legal principle of Uti possidetis is generally applied for ascertaining territory in newly formed nations. This principle states that “new states will come to independence with the same boundaries that they had when they were administrative units within the territory or territories of one colonial power.” As per this rule Israel has no legitimacy for its occupation of Gaza strip, West Bank and Golan Heights. Notorious human rights violations in this area includes forced displacement, unlawful killing, restrictions on freedom of movement and discriminatory policies. Either Palestinians were forcefully driven out or making it impossible for them to live by discriminatory policies. Meanwhile there has been an increase in Israeli settlements in the area. Palestinians are restricted movement and the Gaza Strip is nearly closed down in the name of security. Moreover ruthless killing of civilians including children and the scarcity of resources to sustain life accounts the brutal human rights crisis.
Right to self-determination is supposed to include
Right to exist-territoriality and demographically -as a people
Right to territorial integrity
Right to permanent sovereignty over natural resources
Right to cultural integrity and development
Right to economic and social development
Palestine repeatedly spoke of “the territorial sphere over which the Palestinian people are entitled to exercise their right of self‐determination.” The self determination of the Palestinian people will somewhat be fulfilled by the two state solution of creating an independent Palestine state.
INTERVENTION OF INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE
In 2002, when the second intifada was raging, Israel government decided to construct a separation wall in West Bank. Security was the main reason cited for the construction of this colossal wall. This created a closed space between the Green Line and the wall called the seam zone. It contains 42 Palestinian villages cut off from the rest of the land. A special permit is required to move in and out of the area.
The matter came before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and in 2004 by an Advisory opinion declared the construction illegal. It recommended that separation wall is against the International law and hence the construction is to be stopped and the existing wall is to be dismantled. Court cited the following reasons for its decision:-
The wall may likely remain permanent which is against the prohibition on annexation of territory.
The wall will create demographic changes in occupied territories in contravention to the Article 49(6) of Fourth Geneva Convention alongside Security Convention resolutions 446,452 and 465.
As the wall goes around 80% of the settlements ,it will reinforce the illegality of transfer of population into occupied territory. Consequently, the wall will cause a fair share of Palestinians to live sequestered lives, cut off from the rest of the land.
Wall is within Occupied Palestine and involves a destruction of public and private property.
This wall causes restriction on freedom of movement of Palestinians, further inducing negative effects on agricultural production, economic development, healthcare services, education establishments and primary source of water.
Palestinians’ right to choose residence protected under CRC, ICCPR and ICESCR is affected.
Even though the Advisory opinions of the International Court of Justice is non-binding ,it is generally held in high regard and adhered to by the countries. However, in this case even after 16 years the separation wall still stands tall.
Apparently, every time the two nations get at loggerheads, the International community intervenes and prompts peace. Yet, a permanent solution to this problem should be realized at the earliest. The execution of the two state solution is the need of the hour. Meanwhile every possible attempt should be made to tackle humanitarian crisis and attack on civilians.
Edited by Shivanshika Samaddar of National Law University Delhi.