- Britain took control of the area known as Palestine after the ruler of that part of the Middle East, the Ottoman Empire, was defeated in World War 1. The land was inhabited by a Jewish minority and Arab majority.
- Tensions between the two peoples grew when the international community gave Britain the task of establishing a “national home” in Palestine for Jewish people. For Jews, it was their ancestral home, but Palestinian Arabs also claimed the land and opposed the move.
- Between the 1920s and 40s, the number of Jews arriving there grew, with many fleeing from persecution in Europe and seeking a homeland after the Holocaust of WWII. Violence between Jews and Arabs, and against British rule, also grew.
- In 1947, the UN voted for Palestine to be split into separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem becoming an international city.
- That plan was accepted by Jewish leaders but rejected by the Arab side and never implemented.
- Jerusalem lies in the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The tussle is over who gets to control the ancient city that is sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians.
- After the end of the First Arab-Israel War in 1948, Jerusalem was partitioned into West and East, under Israeli and Palestinian control respectively.
- But in 1967, during the Six-Day Arab-Israel War, Israel occupied East Jerusalem from Jordanian forces, and Israel’s Parliament declared the territory had been annexed to Israel.
- This marginalised the Palestinians, who wanted East Jerusalem to be their capital under the “two-state solution”.
- Most Palestinians, at present, live in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as in neighbouring Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
What is the Two-State Solution?
- Its basis is two separate states, Israel and Palestine, living peacefully side by side on the land between the western bank of the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea.
- This territory would be divided broadly along the pre-1967 armistice line or “green line”. Jerusalem, which both sides want as their capital, would be shared.
- Past negotiations have failed to make progress and there are currently no fresh talks in prospect.
Oslo Accords & India’s position
- Despite Israel’s hold over Jerusalem, in 2016, the UN reaffirmed that Jerusalem’s Palestinian territories were under “hostile occupation”.
- Undeterred by the refusal of the international community to endorse the annexation, Israel further expanded settlements in the territories of East Jerusalem.
- Under the Oslo Accords of the 1990s, both Israel and the Palestinians agreed that the status of settlements would be decided by negotiations. But the negotiations process has been stalled for several years now.
- In 1978, Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Accords, which led to the first peace treaty between Israel and any of its Arab neighbors: The Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, also known as the Framework for Peace in the Middle East, in 1979. The agreement was negotiated for Arab recognition of Israel and the withdrawal of Israeli forces and citizens from the West Bank. However, the accords’ main failing is the lack of settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
- India has traditionally backed a two-state solution to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Why in News?
- The UN chief António Guterres has criticized escalating violence in Israel and Palestine.