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Middle East Studies-A Reflection on Israel, Palestine, and Disputed Territories

Jenkins Macedo
Prof. Mohamed Eskandari
04/09/2010

Chapter 12

Israel, Palestine, and Disputed Territories

Since 1943 when many states became independent, Israel’s influence has unprecedented levels of international involvement, both in support and in opposition. The focus of this chapter is centered on Israel itself and also discussed local aspects of the territories Israel has occupied. Israeli consider themselves as located in the Middle East, but not of the Middle East. This statement creates the platform upon which Israel distinct themselves from their neighbors in the region.
Judaism, Christianity and Islamism all stamp out of the long historical developments of Palestine as recorded in the Torah, the Bible and Quran. The Zionist or Jewish claims of the “promised land” is associated with accounts in the Old Testament; whereas, more recent historical developments underlies the often-conflicting claims of Muslims and Christians. The subsequent defeat of the Ottoman Turkish forces in 1917 led to the establishment of the British mandate over Palestine in the 1920s. The absorption of thousands of Jewish immigrants in the region led to its partitioned in 1947 by the United Nations. Nevertheless, war erupted between the Jews and Arabs in controlled of Palestine.
Palestine in terms of its landscape and topography is about 265 miles or 425 kilometers long and about 47 miles or 76 kilometers wide. This area exhibits basically simple regional belts extending along most of the north-south axis: a moderately broad coastal plain along the Mediterranean; a broad arch of limestone hills down the center; and the deep Jordan-Dead Sea-Arabah trench on the east. Located in the southern triangle are areas of complex cross-folds and basins with about 3,390ft/1,055 meters on the highest anticline. Because of varied environments, the soils and vegetations in Israel and Palestine are complex. Water is a crucial element throughout the Middle East. Israel’s use of water resources in the Middle East has economic, political, social and environmental significance. With Israel’s unilateral annexation of Golan in 1981 and the subsequent occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza the same year caused Israel to gained systematic control over all the waters in those areas, putting millions of lives in danger. Israel’s achievement of these water sources was a fundamental part of their occupation of the areas.
Population wise, the goal of Zionism is to create a Jewish state in the territory of Palestine and this process require the exponential increase in Jewish settlements in Palestine before the end of mandate period. Thousands of unrestricted Zionist settlers entered the region without many restrictions from the British authorities. As a result, the Palestinian Arabs considered this an invasion of Europeans outsiders, which subsequently displaced the local indigenous population and occupation of their land. The current population structure of Israel consists of immigrants from former Soviet Union, Morocco, Romania, Poland, Iraq and Iran. Despite the diversities of people and languages that exist currently in Israel, this is a reflection of both the national origins of earlier immigrants and the perseverance of mother tongues.
The issue of who is a Jew constitutes a debate, since 1950 when the Knesset parliament passed the Law of Return. This question still continues officially and informally in Israel. However, the 1970 amendment of the Law of Return includes non-Jewish spouses, children, and grandchildren of Jews. This also includes professed Jews with Jewish mothers or those who have converted Judaism in accordance with the prescribed requirements of the faith. However, those who convert from Judaism to other religious believe such as Christianity and Islamism. However, the practice of Judaism as a religion is not a requirement for citizenship.
As per the territories occupied by Israel the West Bank and Gaza Strip has been an integral part of Palestine and they have both been in the half of the mandate allotted to the potential Arab state in the 1947 partition. Israel has continuously occupied these areas for twenty-six years until after the 1990-1991 Gulf Crisis, which galvanized the peace process. The first and second intifadah exploded in the Gaza Strip and West Bank respectively. Both the Gaza Strip and the West Banks over the years have emerged as the geographical and human symbols of the struggle between Arabs and Israelis extremists both claiming ownership of those regions. The occupation of Israel in the Golan, West Bank and Gaza Strip is a violation of human rights and the rights of a sovereign nation.

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