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  • One of the biggest myths about the Israel-Palestine conflict is that it's been going on for centuries,

  • that this is all about ancient religious hatreds.

  • In fact, while religion is involved, the conflict is mostly about two groups of people who claim

  • the same land.

  • And it really only goes back about a century, to the early 1900s.

  • Around then, the region along the eastern Mediterranean we now call

  • Israel-Palestine had been under Ottoman rule for centuries.

  • It was religiously diverse, including mostly Muslims and Christians but also a small number

  • of Jews, who lived generally in peace.

  • And it was changing in two important ways.

  • First, more people in the region were developing a sense of being not just ethnic Arabs

  • but Palestinians, a distinct national identity.

  • At the same time, not so far away in Europe, more Jews were joining a movement called Zionism,

  • which said that Judaism was not just a religion but a nationality, one that deserved a nation

  • of its own.

  • And after centuries of persecution, many believed a Jewish state was their only way of

  • safety.

  • And they saw their historic homeland in the Middle East as their best hope for establishing it.

  • In the first decades of the 20th century, tens of thousands of European Jews moved there.

  • After World War One, the Ottoman Empire collapsed, and the British and French Empires carved

  • up the Middle East, with the British taking control of a region it called the British

  • Mandate for Palestine.

  • At first, the British allowed Jewish immigration.

  • But as more Jews arrived, settling into farming communes, tension between Jews and Arabs grew.

  • Both sides committed acts of violence.

  • And by the 1930s, the British began limiting Jewish immigration. In response, Jewish militias

  • formed to fight both the local Arabs and to resist British rule.

  • Then came the Holocaust, leading many more Jews to flee Europe for British Palestine,

  • and galvanizing much of the world in support of a Jewish state.

  • In 1947, as sectarian violence between Arabs and Jews there grew,

  • the United Nations approved a plan to divide British Palestine into two separate states:

  • one for Jews, Israel, and one for Arabs, Palestine.

  • The city of Jerusalem, where Jews, Muslims, and Christians

  • all have have holy sites, it was to become a special international zone.

  • The plan was meant to give Jews a state, to establish Palestinian independence, and to

  • end the sectarian violence that the British could no longer control.

  • The Jews accepted the plan and declared independence as Israel.

  • But Arabs throughout the region saw the UN plan as just more European colonialism trying to steal their land.

  • Many of the Arab states, who had just recently won independence themselves, declared war on Israel

  • in an effort to establish a unified Arab Palestine where all of British Palestine had been.

  • The new state of Israel won the war. But in the process, they pushed well past their borders

  • under the UN plan, taking the western half of Jerusalem and much of the land that was

  • to have been part of Palestine.

  • They also expelled huge numbers of Palestinians from their homes, creating a massive refugee

  • population whose descendants today number about 7 million.

  • At the end of the war, Israel controlled all of the territory except for Gaza, which Egypt

  • controlled, and the West Bank, named because it's west of the Jordan River, which Jordan

  • controlled.

  • This was the beginning of the decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict.

  • During this period, many Jews in Arab-majority countries fled or were expelled, arriving

  • in Israel.

  • Then something happened that transformed the conflict. In 1967, Israel and the neighboring

  • Arab states fought another war.

  • When it ended, Israel had seized the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank from Jordan,

  • and both Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt.

  • Israel was now occupying the Palestinian territories, including all of Jerusalem and its holy sites.

  • This left Israel responsible for governing the Palestinians – a people it had fought

  • for decades.

  • In 1978 Israel and Egypt signed the US-brokered Camp David Accords and shortly after that,

  • Israel gave Sanai back to Egypt as part of a peace treaty.

  • At the time this was hugely controversial in the Arab world.

  • Egypt President Anwar Sadat was assassinated in part because of outrage against it.

  • But it marked the beginning of the end of the wider Arab-Israeli conflict.

  • Over the next few decades, the other Arab states gradually made peace with Israel, even

  • if they never signed formal peace treaties.

  • But Israel's military was still occupying the Palestinian territories of the West Bank

  • and Gaza, and this was when the conflict became an Israeli-Palestinian struggle.

  • The Palestinian Liberation Organization, which had formed in the 1960s to seek a Palestinian

  • state, fought against Israel, including through acts of terrorism.

  • Initially, the PLO claimed all of what had been British Palestine, meaning it wanted

  • to end the state of Israel entirely.

  • Fighting between Israel and the PLO went on for years, even including a 1982 Israeli invasion

  • of Lebanon to kick the group out of Beirut.

  • The PLO later said it would accept dividing the land between Israel and Palestine,

  • but the conflict continued.

  • As all of this was happening, something dramatic was changing in the Israel-occupied Palestinian

  • territories: Israelis were moving in.

  • These people are called settlers, and they made their homes in the West Bank and Gaza

  • whether Palestinians wanted them or not.

  • Some moved for religious reasons, some because they want to claim the land for Israel, and

  • some just because housing is cheapand often subsidized by the Israeli government.

  • Some settlements are cities with thousands of people; others are small communities

  • deep into the West Bank

  • The settlers are followed by soldiers to guard them, and the growing settlements force Palestinians

  • off of their land and divide communities.

  • Short-term, they make the occupation much more painful for Palestinians.

  • Long-term, by dividing up Palestinian land, they make it much more difficult

  • for the Palestinians to ever have an independent state.

  • Today there are several hundred thousand settlers in occupied territory even though the international

  • community considers them illegal.

  • By the late 1980s, Palestinian frustration exploded into the Intifada, which is the the Arabic word

  • for uprising.

  • It began with mostly protests and boycotts but soon became violent, and Israel responded

  • with heavy force.

  • A couple hundred Israelis and over a thousand Palestinians died in the first Intifada.

  • Around the same time, a group of Palestinians in Gaza, who consider the PLO too secular and

  • too compromise-minded, created Hamas, a violent extremist group dedicated to Israel's destruction.

  • By the early 1990s, it's clear that Israelis and Palestinians have to make peace, and leaders

  • from both sides sign the Oslo Accords.

  • This is meant to be the big, first step toward Israel maybe someday withdrawing from the Palestinian

  • territories, and allowing an independent Palestine.

  • The Oslo Accords establish the Palestinian Authority, allowing Palestinians a little

  • bit of freedom to govern themselves in certain areas.

  • Hard-liners on both sides opposed the Oslo accords. Members of Hamas launch suicide bombings

  • to try to sabotage the process.

  • The Israeli right protests peace talks, with ralliers calling Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin

  • a traitor and a Nazi.

  • Not long after Rabin signs the second round of Oslo Accords, a far-right Israeli shoots

  • him to death in Tel Aviv.

  • This violence showed how the extremists on both sides can use violence to derail peace,

  • and keep a permanent conflict going as they seek the other side's total destruction.

  • That's a dynamic that's been around ever since.

  • Negotiations meant to hammer out the final details on peace drag on for years, and a

  • big Camp David Summit in 2000 comes up empty.

  • Palestinians come to believe that

  • peace isn't coming, and rise up in a Second Intifada, this one much more violent than

  • the first.

  • By the time it wound down a few years later,

  • about 1,000 Israelis and 3,200 Palestinians had died.

  • The Second Intifada really changes the conflict. Israelis become much more skeptical that Palestinians

  • will ever accept peace, or that it's even worth trying.

  • Israeli politics shift right, and the country builds walls and checkpoints

  • to control Palestinians' movements.

  • They're not really trying to solve the conflict anymore, just manage it.

  • The Palestinians are left feeling like negotiating didn't work and violence didn't work, that

  • they're stuck under an ever-growing occupation with no future as a people.

  • That year, Israel withdraws from Gaza. Hamas gains power but splits from the Palestinian

  • Authority in a short civil war, dividing Gaza from the West Bank.

  • Israel puts Gaza under a suffocating blockade, and unemployment rises to 40%.

  • This is the state of the conflict as we know it today.

  • It’s relatively new, and it’s unbearable for Palestinians.

  • In the West Bank, more and more settlements are smothering Palestinians, who often respond

  • with protests and sometimes with violence, though most just want normal lives.

  • In Gaza, Hamas and other violent groups have periodic wars with Israel.

  • The fighting overwhelmingly kills Palestinians, including lots of civilians.

  • In Israel itself, most people have become apathetic, and for the most part the occupation

  • keeps the conflict relatively removed from their daily lives, with moments of brief but

  • horrible violence.

  • There's little political will for peace.

  • No one really knows where the conflict goes from here.

  • Maybe a Third Intifada. Maybe the Palestinian Authority collapses.

  • But everyone agrees that things, as they are now, can't last much longer -- that Israel’s occupation

  • of the Palestinians is too unstable to last, and that, unless something dramatic

  • changes, whatever comes next will be much worse.

One of the biggest myths about the Israel-Palestine conflict is that it's been going on for centuries,

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以巴衝突:簡明扼要的歷史。 (The Israel-Palestine conflict: a brief, simple history)

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    Elma Kung 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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