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The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Historical Perspective

ChinaThe Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Historical Perspective

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Sees Over 1.4 Million Displaced Amid Rising Tensions

In the latest escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, reports as of October 22 indicate that over 1.4 million individuals have been displaced, and a staggering 6,000 lives lost. This recent bout is just one of many in a series of altercations between the two sides since Israel’s establishment in 1948.

Historical accounts illustrate that before the 20th century, Jews and Arabs, founders of their respective civilizations, coexisted peacefully in the region. This harmony was disrupted by mounting tensions and disputes.

The Global Times has announced an upcoming comprehensive series titled “Past and Present of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” This series aims to shed light on the multifaceted dimensions of the conflict, spanning historical, religious, and cultural aspects, while dissecting the influence of external powers like Europe and the US.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas firmly stated at the recent Cairo Peace Summit, “We will not leave, and we will remain on our land,” as he responded to attempts to displace residents from the Gaza Strip and Palestine.

While Israel has asked nearly 1.1 million northern Gaza residents to relocate south, aiming to counteract the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), the underlying Israeli-Palestinian issue remains deeply embedded in history and religious narratives.

Fox News, in its recent coverage, emphasized the historical significance of the land for both communities. From a Jewish standpoint, the region symbolizes the biblical Promised Land, which dates back to their exodus from Egypt. The Palestinians, conversely, link their roots to the ancient Canaanites and Philistines, placing their claim on the territory.

Historically referred to as Canaan, this region encompassing modern-day Israel, Jordan, Gaza, and the West Bank has witnessed several migrations. Ancient Jews from the Mesopotamian plain migrated to escape natural calamities, later making their way to the eastern part of the Nile Delta in Egypt to avoid famine. Jewish narratives describe their ancestors’ journey from Egypt to Canaan, which spanned over 40 years. Meanwhile, the late 13th century BC saw the Philistines settling in Canaan, eventually coining the term “Palestine.”

Over time, the Kingdom of Israel was established in Canaan, with King David spearheading the expansion of Jewish territories. Historical records suggest simultaneous existence of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, with the former being conquered by the Neo-Assyrian Empire in 722 BC.

Subsequent conquests by the Greeks and Romans led to multiple uprisings and, ultimately, the departure of the majority of Jews from Canaan. With the Arab victory over the Eastern Roman Empire in 637 AD, Palestine became part of the Arab Empire. Jerusalem, revered by Judaism and Christianity, emerged as a focal point for Islam.

Interestingly, both “Israel” and “Palestine” derive their names from the land’s ancient inhabitants. The term “Israel” traces back to the 13th century BC, representing the people of Canaan, while “Palestina” originates from the Philistines.

The evolution of Zionism began as Palestine integrated into the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. Post World War I, the British mandate took over, prompting a surge in Jewish migration due to rising anti-Semitism in Europe. As the British began restricting Jewish immigration, Palestine saw an influx of Jews fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe. The Zionist movement persisted in their quest for a homeland in Palestine, even considering alternatives like Argentina and Uganda.

Growing tensions between Arab nationalists and the Zionist movement intensified during the late 1920s. The situation became more complex as the UK aligned with Arab interests. The aftermath of World War II, particularly the horrors of the holocaust, swayed global opinion in favor of a Jewish state. The 1947 UN Resolution 181 marked the division of Palestine into Arab and Jewish territories, a decision that has been a bone of contention since.

In 1948, a day after Israel’s declaration of independence, the Arab-Israeli War erupted. The conflict resulted in significant territorial losses for Palestinians and the displacement of over 750,000 people. Today, challenges surrounding territory, refugee status, Jerusalem, and Jewish settlements remain.

Many historians argue for a reevaluation of the nation-building process, emphasizing the rights of minority groups. The consensus remains that the “two-state solution” offers the best chance for lasting peace between Palestine and Israel. This approach seeks to recognize the rights of both Palestinians and Israelis, advocating coexistence and mutual respect.

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