The Crisis In The Middle East

Israel targets West Bank


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: West Bank, Gaza

Mains level: Israel-Palestine Issue

west bank

Central Idea

  • Israel conducted a military operation in the occupied West Bank, resembling past large-scale operations.
  • This strike has resulted in casualties among Palestinians.

West Bank and Its Significance

  • The West Bank: A landlocked territory in Western Asia, forming the main part of the Palestinian territories.
  • Geographical Borders: Bordered by Jordan, the Dead Sea, Israel (south, west, and north), and the Mediterranean coast.
  • Anti-Semitism as Official Policy: Several theocratic countries, including the Arab world, the self-proclaimed caliphate ‘Turkiye,’ and even Pakistan, have officially expressed hatred against Jews.
  • Denial of Access: Jews, as a micro-minority of the world, have been denied access to their homeland.

Understanding Israel-Palestine Conflict

  • Historical Background: The land of contention was under the Ottoman Empire and later the British Empire.
  • Palestinian Aspirations: Palestinians, Arab people from the area, seek a state named Palestine in the region.
  • Conflict over Land and Control: Dispute over territorial ownership and governance between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • Jewish Aspiration for Homeland: Jews fleeing persecution in Europe sought to establish a Jewish state on what they believed to be their ancient homeland.
  • Arab Resistance: Arabs resisted, claiming the land as their own, known as Palestine at the time.
  • Balfour Declaration: In 1917, the United Kingdom expressed support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
  • Violent Resistance: Arab resistance to the declaration led to violence and further tensions.

Jewish Immigration to West Bank

  • Migration Statistics: Thousands of Jews migrated to Palestine during the 1920s and 1930s.
  • Arab Opposition: Palestinian Arabs demanded the UK to halt Jewish emigration, leading to violent incidents.
  • The British Mandate for Palestine: Issued in 1923 by the League of Nations, giving the UK the responsibility to create a Jewish national homeland.
  • Partition Proposal: In 1936, the UK recommended the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.

Escalation of the Conflict

  • Involvement of the UN: In 1947, the issue of Palestine was referred to the UN, resulting in a partition plan.
  • Peace Proposals: The UN suggested two separate states with economic cooperation or a single bi-national state with autonomous Jewish and Palestinian areas.
  • Arab Invasion and Israeli Independence: In 1948, Israel declared independence, leading to immediate invasions by Arab countries.
  • Territory Changes: Israel gained some territory designated for Palestinian Arabs under the UN resolution, including the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Resolving the Conflict: Two-State Solution

  • Idea: The two-state solution aims to establish Israeli and Palestinian states coexisting in the region.
  • Elusiveness of the Solution: Over the decades, the two-state solution has not been realized.
  • Importance: Establishing separate states for Israelis and Palestinians addresses the root cause of the conflict.

Challenges to the Two-State Solution

(1) Borders:

  • Drawing the Lines: No consensus exists on how to define the borders.
  • Pre-1967 Lines: Some argue for using the borders before the Israeli-Arab war in 1967.
  • Israeli Settlements: The presence of Israeli settlements in the West Bank complicates the border issue.

(2) Question of Jerusalem:

  • Capital Claims: Both Israel and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital.
  • Complex Division: Dividing Jerusalem into Israeli and Palestinian sectors proves challenging due to the overlapping of holy sites.

(3) Refugee Issue:

  • Palestinian Refugees: Large numbers of Palestinians became refugees during the 1948 War.
  • Right of Return: Palestinians and their descendants, numbering around 5 million, demand the right to return, which Israel rejects.

(4) Security Concerns:

  • Harassment by Hamas: Israel faces security threats from Hamas, a terrorist group controlling the Gaza Strip.
  • Palestinian Attacks: Palestinians also face security concerns, seeking an end to foreign military occupation.

Importance of the Two-State Solution

  • Fulfilling Aspirations: The two-state solution provides both Jews and Arabs with their respective states.
  • Alternative Limitations: Other solutions, such as a single state, would lead to a minority status for Jews or an unhappy Arab majority.

Moral Reasoning for a Two-State Solution

  • Balancing Aspirations: Advocates argue against subordinating one group’s aspirations to another’s vision.
  • Jewish Minority: A single state would diminish Jews to a minority, potentially compromising their aspirations.

Way Forward

  • India’s Perspective: India believes that a negotiated two-state solution is essential for long-term peace in Israel and Palestine.
  • Establishment of a Palestinian State: India supports the establishment of a sovereign, independent, and viable State of Palestine within recognized borders.


  • Understanding the Israel-Palestine conflict and the significance of a two-state solution is crucial for achieving lasting peace in the region.
  • By addressing the challenges and considering the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians, a negotiated settlement can lead to a sovereign and independent Palestine living alongside Israel.

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