A complex history – the Middle East

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A wall at Netiv HaAsara facing the Gaza border

On Monday, February 18, retired open university lecturer Brian Beeley gave a talk to Rye & District U3A about the complicated history of Israel and Palestine and the many reasons a solution to their conflict has not yet been found.  He said that it is, in fact, getting more complicated.

In 1948 Britain ended its mandatory rule and the UN allocated more than half of the territory of what had been Palestine to the new Jewish state. This led to the Palestinian uprisings, each one put down by the Israeli government.

There is a split in the Palestinian parts as Gaza is ruled by Hamas (regarded, either in whole or in part, as a terrorist organisation by several countries and international organisations, including Israel and the EU) and the more moderate rulers in the West Bank led by Mahmud Abbas. They disagree with one another about how to bring about the end of the occupation.

Israel, though having the backing of the USA, have a psychological fear of losing territory and there is division within the country between moderates and hard liners. The Israeli government is not prepared to give up the occupation in the West Bank, nor is it prepared to stop the Jewish settlements there, which takes away land from the Palestinians though internationally deemed illegal. The Israeli government prefers the term ‘disputed territories’.

Shortage of water is another pressing problem in the West Bank as Israel controls the water supply to the region. Brian Beeley said that the settlers get 80% and the Palestinians 20% of the water.

While over the years several solutions have been suggested, such as withdrawing from the territories occupied since 1967 to create two separate states, the majority in Israel rejected this. Palestine itself wanted the return of the Palestinian refugees, mostly in Jordanian camps, ousted from their homes when the promise was given to the persecuted jews across the world that they could settle in the Holy Land,  Israel. It was therefore not an acceptable solution for either side and so it goes on without a solution and without peace.

For anyone interested in a first hand view from the West Bank there is a talk on Saturday, March 2 at the St Mary’s Centre, Lion Street.

Image Credits: Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash.

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