Summary of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
The Jewish State of Israel occupies the land the Jews call Israel (and Christians refer to as the Holy Land). The Gentile world and the Arab nations also refer to this land as Palestine. The (so-called) Palestinians want to establish a Palestinian state on some (and preferably all) of the land called Israel. Hence the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Let’s summarize the facts.
No Palestinian People: There is no historical Palestinian people. Despite the strong Muslim presence over the centuries, by the early 20th century Palestine was simply a mix of many peoples representing some 50 languages [1911 Encyclopedia Britannica]. ‘Palestine was ethnologically a chaos of all the possible human combinations’ [Richard Hartmann, historian], and so it did not share a common Arab identity. A ‘Palestinian people’ only came to prominence from the indigenous Arab population in response to increasing Jewish immigration after WWI.
It was not as if there was a Palestinian people in Palestine and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them … they did not exist [Golda Meir, Prime Minister, 1969]
No Palestinian Land or Country: Although referred to a ‘Palestine’ from Roman times, the biblical land of Canaan (today’s Holy Land) was not a ‘country’ and had no frontiers, only administrative boundaries [Prof. Bernard Lewis]. The term ‘Palestine’ was used as a general term to describe the land south of Syria, and it was applied to the territory placed under the 1922 British Mandate. Historically, there was no such country as Palestine:
There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not
[Arab Prof Philip Hitti (Princeton University), 1946]
Palestine does not exist at all
[Ahmed Shkari (PLO founder), 1956]
Birth of a ‘Palestinian People: Palestinian nationalism and an identifiable ‘Palestinian People’ emerged after WWI, probably in response to the threat posed by Zionism when waves of Jewish immigrants arrived in Palestine between 1919 and 1939. Prior to this time, these Arabs were citizens of the Ottoman Empire. A Palestinian identity was given further impetus with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. This was a political maneuver:
The Palestinian people does not exist … there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people [Zahir Muhsein, PLO, March, 1977]
The ‘Promised Land’: The Bible says that the Jews have been promised a land of their own. God made an unconditional promise to Abraham:
I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you … I will give to you and your descendants … all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God
Land Partitioning – a Two-State Solution: Under the 1917 Balfour Declaration Britain supported the creation of a Jewish home in Palestine, with the proviso that the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities were preserved. This Declaration was based upon the biblical promise to Abraham and was formalized by the 1922 British Mandate for Palestine, where Palestine was defined as the land west of the river Jordan, including Judea and Samaria (now called the West Bank). In 1947 nearly half of Palestine was owned by Arabs, nearly half was “Crown Lands” under the 1922 British Mandate, and about 8% was Jewish. In the same year UN Resolution 181 recommended that this area be divided equally into an Arab state and a Jewish state, and Jerusalem was to be ‘internationalized’. The Jews accepted the resolution but the Arabs rejected it. When the British left Palestine, the Palestine Mandate was absorbed into Article 80 of the UN Charter, and still stands today.
Palestinian and Jewish Refugees: Since the two-state solution was rejected, immediately after the Declaration of the State in 1948 the Arab nations (notably the Egyptian and Syrian armies) invaded Israel. So Arab nations started the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which led to the refugee problem. In this so-called ‘War of Independence’, many Palestinians evacuated their homes under direction from Arab armies, hoping to return soon after the inevitable Arab victory, link. Instead, over 700,000 Palestinians became refugees that year in what is known as the Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe). A further 250,000 Palestinians fled to the West Bank or Gaza Strip during the 1967 war, link.
What is not so widely known is that this war also displaced Jewish inhabitants of East Jerusalem link, and between 1948 and 1951, over 800,000 Jews were effectively forced out of Arab countries by oppression and persecution. These also became refugees, link.
Israel’s Temporary Borders: After the 1948-49 war, the Arab countries refused to sign a permanent peace treaty with Israel and so the 1947 UN Commission proposals never received legal international recognition. Instead, Israel’s temporary borders were established along the so-called ‘Green Line’ of the 1949 UN armistice agreements. This line excludes Israel from the West Bank and Gaza. Its originators never intended it to be Israel’s permanent borders.
The Concept of ‘Land Occupation’: Since the 1967 Six-Day War, the international community (notably the media) has claimed that Israel is “occupying Palestinian land”. But in international law, a territory which has never been subject to the sovereignty of any state is declared terra nullius, and sovereignty over such territory can be legally acquired through occupation. This is the case of the West Bank and Gaza; neither have been legally recognized states and so legally cannot be occupied territories. So in the 1967 war, Israel simply took back Palestine Mandate land that was taken from her by war in 1948-49.
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Today
Today, Israel’s legal borders are still defined by Article 80 of the UN Charter and span from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea. According to Article 80, “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. The land of Israel was meant to be home for the non-Jewish peoples as well as home for the nation, Israel. Sadly this has not happened because the Arab leadership refused, and still refuses to accept the State of Israel and so peace cannot be achieved.
The revised Hamas Charter re-affirms the Palestinian long-standing hatred of Israel:
Hamas will not give up on any part of the land of Palestine no matter the reasons, circumstances or pressures, and no matter how long the occupation remains. Hamas rejects any alternative to completely liberating Palestine from the river to the sea.
The Hidden Spiritual War
In all the conflicts with Israel it is important to recognize that they are driven by unseen spiritual forces. The root cause of such conflicts is the relationship of Israel to Jesus (Yeshua):
the dragon (Satan) … persecuted the woman (Israel) who gave birth to the male child (Jesus) (Rev 12.13)
Put simply, the salvation of mankind comes through the Jewish Messiah, Jesus, link. This fundamental truth is why the enemy of mankind persecutes Israel. There is a spiritual war against God’s chosen people, Israel, and aggressive nations and leaders (including the UN and the Palestinian leadership) are simply Satan’s pawns. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is just one example of this hidden but very real spiritual war.