Power over Palestine – A Century of Stand-off

Power over Palestine – A Century of Stand-off

Written by B.S Ashish 

The power game over and around Palestine caused one of the longest stand-offs in the history of the Middle-East, with the Israeli forces clashing fearlessly against a daunting united Arab coalition of Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. Despite various UN documents addressing this dispute, right from Resolution 181 in 1947 to Secretary General’s report on Palestinian conflict in December 2020, this issue has remained unsolvable. Firstly, this article will try to demystify the history behind this dispute. The article will further analyse the role of religion in this conflict and offer a few suggestions to defuse tensions between Israel and Palestine. 

A history that can never be forgotten

Palestine was under the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century. Napoleon, the military dictator of France who rose to power in the 1790s, promised Palestine as a homeland for the Jews to secure their help against the Ottoman Empire. Although Napoleon was overpowered by the combined forces of Austria-Prussia-Britain, his plan of allocating Palestine to the Jews was still active.  

In the 1840s, Britain and the rest of the European Powers grew vary of Muhammad Ali’s (Viceroy of Egypt) influence in the Middle-East. To keep the viceroy in check, Britain’s secretary of state was sent to urge Muhammad Ali to approve Jewish immigration into Palestine.  Immigration of Jews into Palestine became a routine event, as the numbers increased by the year. Many wealthy aristocrats, like Baron Edmond Rothschild of France, sponsored Jewish immigration into Palestine. Baron Rothschild was believed to have spent more than 14 million francs to establish more than 30 Jewish civilisations in Palestine, making him one of the leading sponsors of Jewish Palestine. 

Anti-semitism and Anti-Jewish sentiments had taken over the world when Jesus Christ, the son of God, was crucified by a Jew, following the traditional Roman Practices. It is very interesting to note that both Judaism and Christianity were faith systems derived from the Jewish teaching of monotheism and existed simultaneously. In fact, it was believed that Jesus himself was a practising Jew. From a theological rivalry, it evolved into a political rivalry over time. Zionism, a very popular word in modern-day international studies, was coined in 1885 to avenge the atrocities that were inflicted on the Jews in the name of religion; and earn back everything they had been deprived of, including a homeland of their own. Zionism meant the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine and served as a radical national ideology for the Jews, similar to the modern-day Hindutva in India and Protestant Nationalism in eighteenth century Europe.  The Jews who came from Eastern Europe in the nineteenth century did not reflect on the same ideals as the Jews who lived under the Ottoman Empire and came to be widely called Zionists as they wanted to assert ‘a new Jew’ in Palestine.  This can be backed up by the fact that literature from the Austro-Hungarian journalist, Theodor Herzl’s book, ‘The Jewish State’, laid out the principles of Zionism and served as its important text.  Herzl dreamt of creating an independent state for the Jews in the twentieth century. Although Herzl got a rough idea that Palestine was too adapted to the Palestinian society which will rupture the process of transforming Palestine into a Jewish society; he convened the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland in 1897, to discuss the prospects of a Jewish Palestine. 

Theodor Herzl was a born-diplomat! He knew how to lobby the European Powers to his cause without any hassle and distrust. Herzl knew that his dream will remain a dream if his cause wasn’t supported by the Powerhouses, thus he convened the Basel Congress not to showcase his vision, but to promise the countries-in-power that Jewish Palestine will help them take out on countries at the cost of others, if these countries vowed to protect Jewish Palestine against the Arab predators, as rightly decoded by Dr Anis Sayegh. After Britain accepted Herzl’s agreement, the government set up a committee to determine the fate of the Muslim-Arab population in the disintegrating Ottoman Empire’s Palestine, in 1907. The committee recommended the creation of a ‘buffer state’ in Palestine that had to be cold and hostile to its neighbours while it had to maintain friendly relations with Europe. Britain wanted to reap its own set of benefits by supporting the Jewish cause, and thereby crafted strategies to make Palestine dependent on the Colonial Masters of the World, Great Britain. The Europeans believed that the Jews were closer to them than the Arabs, so establishing a Jewish state amid an Arab continent would’ve helped them to keep the Arabs under constant check. 

The Zionists knew that Palestine was occupied by the Arabs for a very long time, and decided that the only way to completely convert Palestine into a Jewish homeland was by making the Palestinians flee the region. Expelling Palestinians from Palestine served two purposes, enabling Palestine to undergo Judaization, and making sure Jew farmers acquired tracts of land for farming, as Palestine was majorly an agricultural state. Jewish militia named Hashomer was established to defend the Jewish settlements in Palestine from the growing hostility of its Arab neighbours. Hashomer revolted for recognizing Hebrew as an official language of Palestine when it was under the Ottoman Empire. 

Similar to the Zionist narrative that antagonized the Arabs, there was an Arab narrative that vilified the Jews, aided by the Socialist and Marxist approach of the West. This narrative portrayed Zionism as a racist movement that targeted the Arab-Muslim population of Palestinians, and it aimed to oust the Palestinians to convert Palestine into the homeland for the Jews. In 1908, a Palestinian pharmacist wrote in his book, ‘Al-Karmel’ that Zionism was exclusively a movement to displace the Arabs from Palestine. Many other Palestinian writers like Najib Azuri expressed their concern over the growing animosity between Zionists and Arabs and predicted a very cold ending if the situation wasn’t diffused in the starting stages. 

The First World War (1914-1918) broke out very shortly, which changed the dynamics of the power-tussle over Palestine drastically. The complete disintegration and the demise of the Ottoman Empire freed Palestine from its rule. Unlike Turkey that established the independent Turkish Republic under the military dictatorship of Kemal Atatürk, Palestine had no formidable resistance against the British; hence, it was annexed by the British by the end of the four-year war.  The idea of the British annexation of Palestine was brought to the table by Herbert Samuel, in 1915, through his secret memorandum titled, ‘The Future of Palestine’.  Herbert Samuel had voiced out his apprehensions of immediately announcing Palestine as the homeland for the Jews, and wanted Britain to remove all restrictions on Jewish immigration into Palestine so that Jews could grow in number and could outnumber the “Mohammedans of Arab race”.  The British readily accepted this request because they were approaching a stalemate in the World War and wanted the help of Jews to counter the military might of Germans and save France from getting crushed in the war. Britain also wanted to secure the Suez Canal for its Indian Colonies and wanted to increase its influence over Palestine to support its weakening rule in Egypt due to growing French intervention.  

The Sykes-Picot agreement, the secret British-French agreement in 1916, laid the stepping stone for the establishment of Palestine as a Jewish State. Consequently, in 1917, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George pledged to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine. This pledge was carried forward by British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, who was supported by Lord Walter Rothschild, an influential British Zionist. It gave rise to the most famous declaration concerning the Palestinian issue, The Balfour Declaration

Although many believed that the Balfour Declaration was illegal and immoral as Britain had no authority to allocate the land of the Arab’s to any other community, the British paid no heed to this. Soon after the declaration was adopted, the British Army, along with a Jewish Unit, captured the holy city of Jerusalem, in December 1917. Woodrow Wilson, the then President of the United States, set up a commission (came to be known as the King-Crane Commission) to analyse the non-Turkish settlements in the defeated Ottoman Empire’s territory. The report of the commission mentioned that nine-tenths of the population in Palestine and  Syria vehemently opposed the Zionist programme of converting Palestine into a Jewish Homeland, and the report also concluded that military support of not less than 50,000 soldiers was required to initiate this programme. Thus, the report suggested Britain limit the immigration of the Jews and drop its support for the Judaization of Palestine, to diffuse this hostile situation. Unfortunately, this report was not taken seriously by any of the parties involved. 

The 1919 Paris Peace Conference featured the map that represented the geographical area that was to be allocated for the Zionist Programme. 

Part I (1917-1947) - La cuestión de Palestina

                Extract from un.org

The Jewish Palestine map also encompassed the East Bank of Jordan River and parts of present-day Lebanon and Syria.  

To most of the present-generation political spectators, the parallel deal between the leader of a Zionist organization, Chaim Weizmann and the Arab delegation, Prince Faisal Bin Hussein was a surprise. It is to be noted that the Jews and Arabs did share a friendly relationship in some parts of the Palestinian peninsula. This Faisal-Weizmann agreement could be cited as evidence supporting this claim, where Faisal had approved of Palestine being converted into a Jewish homeland while the Arab wanted to make a larger part of the Middle-East their home. In fact, the second generation Jews in Palestine knew to speak Arabic and rode horses and mares, which was an Arab tradition; at the same time, many sources believed that Jews were simply prohibited from riding on horses. This proved that the Jews and the Arabs, though only in a few places, did share solidarity and peace in the twentieth century, similar to the situation of Hindus, Mohammedans and Sikhs in the pre-partition Punjab in the late nineteenth century, as claimed by Kamaljit Bhasin-Malik.  

A series of events, then followed, which significantly changed the power dynamics over Palestine. In 1920, Herbert Samuel was appointed as the first British High Commissioner for Palestine. A popular opinion of Herbert Samuel, being a dedicated Zionist supporter himself, would align towards the Jews and convert all administrative policies towards the Zionist Programme. With the 1922 League of Nations formalizing the British’s possession of Palestine and formally granting them the authority to control Palestine’s political, economic and administrative affairs until it was completely converted into a homeland for the Jews, many of Arab commentator’s nightmares came true.  Herbert Samuel made Hebrew as the official language of Palestine, added the letters E and Y to Palestine in Hebrew, which was an abbreviation for ‘Eretz Yisrael’, an alternate phrase for ‘Land of Israel’; and added at least a hundred legislations that made it easier for the Jews to acquire the land from the Arabs living in Palestine. Through simple yet effective principles, Herbert slowly ramped up the nation-building process of the Zionists.  By far, the most decisive policy of the British was to permit the Jews to maintain their own army in Palestine, which sent out a strong signal to the Arabs in the region that they were in danger if they refused to move out of Palestine. 

The Arabs in Palestine grew vary of Zionists and the Zionist movement. In 1921, the Arabs started holding mass demonstrations against the Zionists and wanted to sort things with Britain directly as they knew the local Zionist semi-government was functional only because of Britain’s assistance and support. The Palestinian national movement had initially adopted a strategy that enabled them to maintain friendly relations with the British while continuing their hostility with their neighbours. However, as expected, this strategy didn’t pan out as planned. So the Palestinian movement adopted a much more vigilant approach towards Britain and Zionists. As a result, the British escalated the Jewish immigration into Palestine. This is reflected in the 1925 Britain report to the League of Nations which revealed that more than 33,000 Jews immigrated into Palestine and were bestowed with Palestinian citizenship just that year, three-times more than the statistics of the previous year. The report also reflected on some rapid Jewish developments in Palestine, with the establishment of their labour union, Histadrut, and the grant of the first Jewish city, Tel Aviv, the municipal autonomy. The first Hebrew University was also jointly inaugurated by Herbert Samuel and the leader of the Zionist Organization – Weizmann. The British strategy was very clear, they wanted the Jews to outnumber the Arabs in Palestine so that future Arab resistances could be easily thwarted.

While the Zionist supporters were very happy with the progress in setting up Palestine as the homeland for the Jews, the Arabs reached the biting point. As a result, in 1929, when the Zionist groups organized a meeting (known as the Al Bouraq) in Jerusalem; Palestinian farmer, Farhaan Al Saadi incited violent demonstrations against the Zionists (what is called the ‘Bouraq Revolt’) that killed hundreds of Arabs and Jews. The angered British and Zionists identified three Arab perpetrators and executed them despite several Arab pleas to overturn the decision. This event accelerated the anti-Zionist and anti-imperial sentiments and promoted pan-Arabic narratives that antagonized the British and Zionists. As a result, by 1933, revolts against Zionists and Britain grew in frequency; disrupting the day-to-day activity in Palestine and making it a peninsula of protests. The British, as they did in other colonies, brutally tried to suppress these revolts and never paid heed to the demands of the Arabs. British officer John Faraday was charged with various crimes against humanity committed against the Arabs, but even by 1937, he was never charged. To add fuel to fire, in 1941, Faraday was awarded the ‘King’s Police Medal’ for his valuable service to the people of Palestine. This made it amply clear for the Arabs that Britain, at all costs, avoided dialogue with the Palestinians and didn’t intend to recognize them as Palestinian nationals deserving fundamental rights. 

With the quest for Palestine continuing, the United Nations intervened in 1947 with resolution 181 which proposed for the partition of British mandated Palestine into two independent states – one for the Jews and one for the Arabs. Both the parties rejected this proposal and violence erupted almost immediately. The UN advised Britain to withdraw its troops from Palestine to diffuse the situation; however, the Arabs took advantage of this situation and went all-out on the Zionists by attacking a Jewish convoy in April 1948, killing almost 80 men. When asked, the Arabs remarked that it was in retaliation to the Jewish attack on the Arab village of Dayr Yasin in the same month, which triggered mass retaliation among the Arabs against the Jews. 

Israel declared independence on the eve of May 15, 1948, when the British troops fully retreated from Palestine. Very shortly after that, the Arab coalition attacked Palestine and occupied the Southern and Eastern parts of it, and in turn, captured East Jerusalem back from the Zionists. Meanwhile, the Jews occupied the undulating and sandy terrains of Israel, up-to the Israeli-Egypt border, except the Gaza Strip. This short war came to be known as the Nakbah (meant catastrophe) in the Arab states as it was considered a massacre that resulted in the displacement of a large number of citizens and created an influx of refugees from the disputed region.  

In 1956, the Israelis were troubled yet again, but from a different direction. The uprising of the Egyptian Head of State, who was a staunch Arab nationalist, caused problems to both Israel and Britain, as he not only blockaded Israel’s port, Elat; he also nationalised Suez Canal, which became problematic for France and Britain as they were jointly running it from 1869. It is believed that France and Britain struck a secret pact with Israel, where Israel will attack and annex the territories of Egypt which borders Israel, including the Gaza strip; and France and Britain would enter into the situation as peacemakers and regain control over Suez Canal, in negotiation. As planned, in October 1965, Israel launched attacks on the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, capturing a wide region of territory including the Gaza Strip and vast tracts of geographical terrain to the East of the Suez Canal. Israeli regained their sea communication through this attack, while the Anglo-French intervention in December 1956 pushed the United Nations to come up with an Emergency Force that was stationed in the disputed region, thereby taking over the Suez Canal and trampling the ambitious Egyptian President, Nasser. This event came to be widely called the Suez Crisis. 

The rapid developments in Israel and the defeat of President Nasser in his previous encounter with the Zionists triggered the game changing war of the Arab peninsula, the six-day war of 1967. The Israelis were jointly attacked by Egypt and Syria this time, with the help of Jordan. Syria waged its first attack on the Israelis by assaulting Israeli villages from Golan Heights. While Israeli forces were focusing on thwarting the perpetration of Syrian forces, President Nasser surprised the Israelis by reannexing the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip from Israel, ignoring the Emergency Forces stationed by the United Nations. Egypt, this time, signed a mutual defence pact with Jordan, who in turn annexed parts of the West Bank from Israel to solidify Egypt’s attack. Just when the world thought Israel succumbed to the military tactics of the Arabs, they launched a surprise airstrike on Syrian forces that completely bamboozled them. The precision of Jewish attacks eliminated Syria from the Golan Heights, it concentrated the rest of its military to recapture the Sinai peninsula and the Gaza Strip from Egypt. Israel was also successful in driving back Jordanians from the West Bank. This was the first time since the 1917 British annexation of Jerusalem, the Israelis have gotten unilateral control over the whole of Jerusalem. 

With continued battles and UN Peacekeeping forces stationed in the Israeli borders after the 1973 Yom Kippur War that ended in multiple ceasefire and peace agreements being signed among Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Israel; Israel started, what was famously called the first Lebanese War, by bombing Southern Lebanon and the Lebanese capital in retaliation to Palestinian attacks and Israel’s pressured withdrawal from the Sinai region. This was done to remove Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) from Lebanon. Israeli forces very swiftly invaded Lebanon in 1982 and surrounded the capital city of Beirut with the hope of negotiating with the PLO. As expected, the negotiations started and PLO was expelled from Lebanon when Israel promised to withdraw its troops from Lebanon. 

Many say that the last major Arab-Israeli war was the Second Lebanese War in 2006, where Hezbollah, the militant group that was formed as a resistance to Israeli invasion into Lebanon in 1982, pressurized Israelis to release Lebanese war prisoners by killing and capturing Israeli soldiers. The Israeli forces, in retaliation, breached Lebanon’s sovereignty yet again, by invading Southern Lebanon to rescue the Israeli soldiers. The battle between Hezbollah and Israeli Defence Forces resulted in heavy Lebanese casualties, with over a million people displaced. This was one of the last major wars between Arab-Israeli forces. It is fair to conclude that Israel has emerged victorious in almost all battles, and Arab forces realised it and settled for a more peaceful and diplomatic way of settling differences and disputes, thereon.  

From thereon, there have been several attempts to insinuate peace between the two players; through direct negotiations as well as moderated talks. The United States has played a major role in brokering peace between the Arabs and the Israelis; however, has also been one of the reasons why there has never been even a single successful peace negotiation. Let it be the Oslo accords, the Wye River Memorandum, the Camp David Summit of 2000, the direct negotiation in Taba, Egypt, or the 2003 roadmap to the US sponsored peace in the Middle East; all these efforts have fallen apart either due to the big brother attitude of the United States or due to the internal disputes within the nations. 

The role of religion in this conflict

Despite the dominance of national identity and nation-building in the causation and development of this conflict, religion and religious aspirations were vital factors in the conflict that intensified it into major wars. Many religious groups emerged from both the Palestinian side as well as the Israeli side which reject compromise based on religious reasoning, although how violence was employed of those who’re considered to be religious actors highlight differences both between the people at stake and among the various parties involved. Hezbollah and Hamas are two classic examples of religious groups fighting for the Palestinian cause, who have legitimized the use of violence like bombing and genocide for the sole reason of religion. All these prove Meir Litvak’s quote, “The Palestinian cause is not about land and soil, but is about faith and belief.” Hamas have intertwined religion and politics so much so that from a people’s militia like the Hezbollah, they have transformed into a very powerful political entity along with being a religious and civil society actor, that possesses absolute power over mobilizing and strategically articulating its political thought against the Zionists and Jews. The religious ambitions of tearing down the state of Israel and the Zionists made Hamas far more radical in ideology and practice when compared to the PLO; thereby, resulting in major conflicts of opinion between the two politically-able Palestinian entities resulting in a division of rule over Palestine – Gaza Strip governed by the Hamas while the West Bank was being governed by the PLO.  Fatah, on the other hand, was a secular nationalist movement although it was tainted with Islamic propaganda and symbols. They became a comparatively lesser religiously radical faction of the PLO that acknowledged the state of Israel and endorsed the two-nation theory; which helped in the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA). However, religious radicals in the Fatah converted it into a radical entity during the second Intifadah where it openly encouraged suicide bombing in the name of resurrecting the supremacy of Islam. There is a whole chunk of history associated with the Palestinian Intifadahs. The Intifadahs are the political uprisings and mobilization of the Palestinians in retaliation to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The first intifadah lasted till the Oslo Accords was signed, which laid out some form of rigid framework for the peace process between Israel and Palestine. The first intifadah as a result of increasing Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and West Bank along with the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The police and armed repression of the Israelis triggered a much violent retaliation from the Arabs which resulted in massive Human Rights Violations. The United Nations Security Council had to intervene in the conflict; and through SC resolutions 242 and 338, the Security Council tried to ease out tensions and arrange for a peace settlement between the Jews and the Arabs, which was the Oslo Accord. The second intifada was much more violent, as claimed by many, which lasted for more than five years. The Al-Aqsa Intifadah, as it was called, gained momentum in 2003 as a result of the devastating suicide bombing in the Israeli settlement. Israel, as a result, initiated Operation Defensive Shield through which Israel suppressed the Palestinian uprising and deterred more than 200 political assassinations that were planned by the PLO. The Israeli mission to reoccupy the West Bank and Gaza Strip continued without any significant resistance. The Palestinian Armed Forces and the PLO both lost support amidst this chaos and the Arabs started aligning towards Hamas; resulting in the slow transfer of power from PLO to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Fatah’s military wing, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, started conducting suicide bombings against Israel which triggered the Al-Aqsa intifadah; and the political entity of Fatah slowly weakened with the rise of Hamas. This perceived Islamization of Fatah was believed to have been a strategy of religious-nationalist organizations in Palestine to use Islamic symbols and allusions to mobilize the public for Palestinian nationalistic goals. 

While Palestinian Extremist Groups are covered more enthusiastically, one should not remove Israeli religious extremists from the equation. Gush Emunim was an example of a Jewish extra-parliamentary religious right-wing Orthodox political group that wanted to avenge the Arabs for the annexation of the West Bank during the six days war in 1967 and believed that Judia and Samaria (West Bank) were bestowed upon Abraham by god. Sprinzak wrote that the violence committed by Gush Emunim was incremental due to a combination of messianic belief in redemption and the context of a national conflict. While the Gush Emunim started to defy its orthodox right-wing origin and slowly started converting into a more-secular movement similar to the initial stages of the Palestinian Fatha, Jewish Underground radical groups emerged to revitalize the initial spirits of Gush Emunim, as opposed to intrinsic changes. The Underground Radicals staunchly refuted secular approaches and believed in the establishment of Jewish Theocracy in the State of Israel. One of their signature radical ideologies was, “Jewish violence in defence of Jewish interest is never bad.” The Jews are treating their rights over Palestine as a way to heal the damage that was inflicted on their community due to radical anti-semitists and anti-Zionists, like Adolf Hitler, from time immemorial. Many terrible genocides and humanitarian crimes like the Holocaust have been incited against the Jews. These anti-semitist movements inspired a counter movement amongst the Israeli youth. Hilltop Youth is one of the most recent forms of religious resistance employed by present-generation Jewish youths to deter Israeli leaders from potentially signing a deal with the Palestinians which will result in the eviction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank; aligning with the interests of Gush Emunim in a way.  The Hilltop Youth is an Israeli radical teenage movement that vehemently opposes the two-nation theory and blocks the Israeli Government from clearing Israeli settlements from the West Bank and Gaza Strip in order to accommodate the Palestinians. Their ideology is observed to be tainted with religion, and the amount of religious intolerance showcased by these Israeli youth against Islam and Palestinian Arabs is a serious cause for concern in this world of multifarious religions.

While it is widely speculated that attitudes intertwined with perceptions are identified as major factors for triggering religious and ethnic violence, it is worthwhile to note that the rigid assumptions about and categorizations of any religion as ‘bad and political’, or ‘good and non-political’ must be reconsidered as different political theologies stemming from a single faith tradition as it has have proven to generate both violence and peace, as concluded by Dr Silvestri and Prof Mayall. The belief that ‘only Islam and not nationalism could liberate Muslims from foreign imperial rule’ has to be reviewed by the Islamic societies to deescalate the situation in Palestine and slowly evade the ill-effects of the systemically institutionalised factor of ‘religion’. Many historians believed that the Israelis were too drawn into the Zionist narrative of Israeli redemption; which explained many of the agenda and goals of religious extremist groups of reannexing the West Bank as it was a promise of God to Abraham, as the narration expressed, and considered territorial compromises as ‘forfeiting from redemption’. This further explains the emergence of Hilltop Youth and Jewish Underground; and also elucidates why the Israeli Government and Gush Emunim, in the initial stages, were always particular about safeguarding Israel’s territory and denied all ceasefire agreements that involved a potential partition of the holy land. The policymakers should not give undue prominence to religion in this conflict as it pockets a risk of obscuring more deeply rooted causes and motivations. They should, instead, focus on the question of ‘How Religion impacted the behaviour of these Groups’ and adopt a complementary approach to the functionality of religion. The only way to diffuse the situation and offer longstanding peace between the two countries we can call the Tom and Jerry of the International Community is by isolating and removing religion from the narrative of Israeli and Palestinian nation-building. “Religion tunes human actions to an envisaged cosmic disorder and projects images of cosmic order onto the plane of human experience,” wrote Clifford Geertz, whose writing perfectly explained the Zionist belief in redemption. With Netanyahu’s Likud Party shaking hands with an extreme right-wing Israeli political entity, Otzma Yehudit, the radical right-wing politics in Israel has been steadily increasing while racism and xenophobia against Palestinians and Muslims in Israel has been slowly getting institutionalised. It is therefore imperative for the policymakers to detach religion from the dialogue between these two states for a long-lasting solution. The policymakers can instead highlight narratives that highlight the shared past between Palestinians and Israelis as mentioned previously about the second generation Jews who spoke Arabic and rode horses despite the fact that it was prohibited in their religion. Bringing into light, the shared past and instilling a sense of brotherhood among these long-lost brothers would serve the purpose of reconciliation. 

Many diplomats and policymakers feel that another major problem with the negotiations falling apart is because of non-state actors and unauthorized agencies setting up the agenda for the meeting. The lack of trust between the negotiators along with the negligible focus on the economy and statebuilding makes reconciliation next to impossible. However, the diplomats and policymakers have to understand that the power dynamics in the Palestinian peninsula is very different. Despite International Relations theories making it very clear that non-state entities cannot sign agreements on the capacity of the authorized state; countries have to, sometimes, acknowledge the status quo of the conflict region. For example, the United States knew that the Taliban was a force to be reckoned with, despite the presence of a legitimate government in Afghanistan; and knew that the only way to completely deescalate the situation in Afghanistan was to sign an agreement with them. Although that earned a lot of criticism on the lines of legitimizing and empowering non-state actors; the United States incorporated the realist approach which helped them understand where the real power lied in Afghanistan and made sure they negotiated with the entity that had ultimate control over the status quo of the area of conflict. Similarly, Hamas and other non-state actors have to be considered while negotiations are happening between Israel and Palestine because no matter how cooperative the states are, the status quo will be unaffected if the non-state entities are not taken into the equation. Therefore, it is imperative to include non-state actors during negotiations to draft a permanent plan of action and reconciliation agreements. 

Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

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