Israel and Palestine

Rocky Road to Middle-East Peace

Today’s tensions between the Israelis, Palestinians and their Arab neighbors date back to the early 20th century when Jews began migrating in significant numbers to Palestine, then under British rule. The ensuing struggle for land and self-determination by both peoples led to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, a series of Israeli-Arab wars, two lengthy Palestinian uprisings and waves of Palestinian refugees. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is rooted in a seemingly intractable dispute over land claimed by Jews as their biblical birthright and by the Palestinians, who seek self-determination.

 Reuters. “Rocky Road to Middle-East Peace.” Alert Net. (accessed August 3, 2008).


The Humanitarian Picture

An international economic boycott of the Hamas-led government following its election win in January 2006 has exacerbated the current situation in Israel. Western donor nations, including the European Union, withheld direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, although money was still channeled to the region through individuals or other organizations. On March 2006, an estimated 140,000 Palestinian civil servants – the breadwinners for about a million people – went without their full wages for almost a year and a half. The situation was resolved when the Israeli authorities transferred tax revenues – which they had previously blocked – to the Palestinian Authority.

 Reuters. “The Humanitarian Picture.” Alert Net. (accessed August 3, 2008).


Obstacles to Peace: Refugees

Sixty years after the establishment of the state of Israel, there is no Arab-Israeli issue that remains as utterly divisive as the fate of Palestinian refugees. Today there are millions of Palestinians living in exile from homes and land their families had inhabited for generations. Many still suffer the legacy of their dispossession: destitution, penury, and insecurity. Palestinian historians, and some Israelis, call 1948 a clear example of ethnic cleansing – perpetrated by the Haganah (later the Israeli Defense Forces) and armed Jewish gangs. For most Palestinians, their fate remains an open wound, unless there is a Middle East peace deal that acknowledges what happened to the refugees.

 Asser, Martin. “Obstacles to peace: Refugees.” BBC News. (accessed August 2008).