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Exploring the Historical Roots of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

ChinaExploring the Historical Roots of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

As of October 22, over 1.4 million people were displaced and over 6,000 fatalities have been reported amid the latest round of the Israeli-Palestinian armed conflict.

In the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian armed conflict, which has escalated in recent weeks, the toll continues to rise. With over 1.4 million people displaced and more than 6,000 fatalities reported as of October 22, the situation remains dire.

Historical Context: A Legacy of Conflict

This conflict, rooted in deep historical and religious narratives, has been a defining feature of relations between Israelis and Palestinians for generations. Historically, Jews and Arabs coexisted peacefully until the 20th century, when seemingly irreconcilable differences emerged.

The Global Times Investigates

The Global Times is embarking on a comprehensive series of reports titled “Past and Present of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” These reports will delve into the historical, religious, and cultural clashes, explore the various wars and internal struggles between Israelis and Palestinians, and analyze the power struggles triggered by external influences from Europe and the US. The objective is to shed light on how the past has significantly influenced the present Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

One Land, Two Names

Amid the ongoing turmoil, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has declared, “We will not leave, we will not leave, we will not leave, and we will remain on our land.” He strongly opposes any attempts to displace people from the war-torn Gaza Strip and the displacement of Palestinians from their homes.

In response to the current conflict, Israel has demanded that approximately 1.1 million residents in northern Gaza evacuate to the south to facilitate military operations aimed at eliminating the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).

Historical and Religious Significance

At the heart of this conflict lies a land of historical and religious significance to both Jewish and Palestinian communities. The Bible plays a central role, promising the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham. For Jewish people, this territory represents the biblical Promised Land, while Palestinians also trace their connection to the land back to the ancient Canaanites and Philistines.

Ancient Origins

Canaan, known as Palestine, lies at the crossroads of Asia, Africa, and Europe, encompassing what is now Israel, Jordan, Gaza, and the West Bank. Historical accounts suggest that Semites, including Jews and Arabs, lived here from around 3000 BC to 2500 BC.

Ancient Jews originated in the Mesopotamian plain about 4,000 years ago and later migrated to the eastern Mediterranean coast. Their journey included periods in Egypt and, subsequently, the exodus led by Moses. This journey ultimately led them into Canaan, led by Joshua.

In parallel, a group known as the “Sea Peoples” or Philistines entered Canaan in the late 13th century BC and named the land “Philistia.” Greek historians later began referring to the region as “Palestine” in the 5th century BC.

King David and the Promised Land

Around 1000 BC, Jewish people established the Kingdom of Israel in Canaan. King David, the second king of this kingdom, is renowned for capturing Jerusalem, marking a significant point in Jewish history. Under his rule, Judaism became the state religion, and the scope of the Jewish “Promised Land” expanded.

Shifting Empires

In around 931 BC, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah coexisted. However, the Kingdom of Israel was later conquered by the Neo-Assyrian Empire, and the Kingdom of Judah also faced defeat. These events marked the end of Jewish settlement in the region.

Subsequently, the land was controlled by ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. From 70 AD to 132 AD, most Jews were forced to leave Canaan, and the Roman Empire merged Judea with Syria, erasing the Jewish presence.

Arab Rule and Religious Significance

In 637 AD, the Arabs defeated the Eastern Roman Empire, and Palestine became part of the Arab Empire. During the Umayyad dynasty, Jerusalem became one of the three major holy sites of Islam, alongside Mecca and Medina.

Present-day Jerusalem holds great significance for multiple religious groups, including the Western Wall and the Temple Mount for Jews, the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christians.

Two Names, One Land

“Israel” and “Palestine” are two names for the same land. The term “Israel” first appeared in the Egyptian Merneptah Stele in the late 13th century BC, referring to a people in the region known as Canaan. “Palestina” derived its name from the ancient Philistines, who were enemies of the Israelites. For nearly 1,200 years, the land remained under Muslim control, with a predominantly Arab population.

The Genesis of Zionism

In the 16th century, Palestine became a part of the Ottoman Empire. After World War I, the British took control of the region, including Palestine. This period saw the emergence of the Zionist movement among European Jews who sought to establish a Jewish homeland.

Zionism, rooted in Jewish nationalism, aimed to create a Jewish state in their ancestral homeland. However, this desire clashed with the rights of the indigenous Arab population, leading to tensions.

Challenges and Conflicts

The rise of the Nazi regime in Germany and the outbreak of World War II pushed many Jews to return to Palestine. The horrors of the Holocaust shifted international opinion in favor of the establishment of Israel. The United Nations passed Resolution 181 in 1947, partitioning Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state. While this decision brought jubilation among Jewish people, it ignited controversy due to the allocation of land.

Challenges to Peace

Following Israel’s declaration of independence, the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 erupted, resulting in significant territorial losses for Palestinians and mass displacement. Core issues like territory, refugees, the status of Jerusalem, and Jewish settlements continue to be obstacles to peace talks.

Hope for Peaceful Coexistence

In the present day, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains a complex and deeply rooted issue. Achieving a “two-state solution,” involving the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, is considered by many as the path to peaceful coexistence between Palestine and Israel and harmony among Arab and Jewish nations.

This history-rich conflict continues to shape the present and future of the region, with lasting implications for all involved parties.

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