For years now, the conflict between Israel and Palestine is still not fully solved resulting in a succession of attacks between the two. The situation, based on political-religious issues, has its roots in the end of the Second World War, when the United Nations adopted a resolution to create the State of Israel marking its borders in the Middle East area. The birth of Israel generated new international political balances animated by a chain of conflicts. The situation has been addressed by international interventions that did not contribute to reach the desired stability.

In 1947, the United Nations plan established the creation of two zones, namely the Israeli area, the Palestinian area and another one subjected to UN control (Jerusalem). In 1949 with the armistice of Rhodes, the structure of the Israeli territory was extended; the armistice signed by Israel and neighboring States such as Egypt, Transjordan, Lebanon and Syria, was aimed at ending the ArabIsraeli conflict spread in the 1948. This armistice also established new lines that hardly changed until 1967: this year represents an important step for the Israeli history, as Israel attacked Egypt and successively Syria and Jordan gaining new territories. This conflict known as the “Six-Day War”, once again changed the Israeli area. The Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Sinai were acquired. As consequence of this new overall division of the area, the number of Palestinian refugees grew and the tensions between Israel and Palestine became dangerously heightened. In the same year, the UN Security Council drafted Resolution 242, focused on the establishment of peaceful relations through the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the occupied territories, the end of the state of belligerency and the recognition of the independence of each State in the area guarantying lasting peace and stability. The resolution did not give the outcomes expected and in 1973 a further resolution had been drawn to order the immediate ceasefire and to ensure the respect of the previous one. Nevertheless, this external intervention to establish peace in the area did not achieve substantial results. After that, there have been other subsequent attempts planned to define the situation, the most significant example being represented by the Camp David Accords between Israeli leaders and Palestinians, in 1978. This attempt ended without reaching a final agreement. Almost 50 years later, the map of the area shows the breakdown of the borders as they were defined by theSix Day War” in 1967. In light of the instability that still affects the area, and considering the difficulty to find an international accepted solution, recently the European Union elaborated a new resolution consisting on a proposal of the recognition of Palestine as a State. It is considered the only possibility to put an end to Arab-Israeli conflict. The draft of the resolution, elaborated last September, is focused on essential elements among which the control of the Palestinian government on the Gaza Strip, the restriction of the Hamas power as it is considered a terrorist organization by the EU, and the political and economic support of the European Union in the area in order to ensure the beginning of the negotiations for a peaceful co-existence.

Last November, Jordan, as representative of all the Arab countries, drawn up another bid to solve the situation between Israel and Palestine, formally submitting to the UN Security Council a draft resolution calling for peace between Israeli and Palestine. The resolution asked the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, the evacuation of the occupied territories during the 2017, and the peace agreement between Israel and Palestine within a year. The text also called for the restoration of the boundaries of the two territories as they looked like before 1967.

Whether the first draft required Jerusalem to be the shared, the final proposal affirmed that only East Jerusalem would be Palestine’s capital. Another element condemned in the proposal is the arbitrary building of settlements.During the meeting between the United States Secretary of the State, John Kerry, and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, the latter asked the United States to exercise its veto to block the resolution submitted by Jordan. Netanyahu had already declared that he would not have accepted the terms dictated by Palestine and some European countries because “in the Middle East, Israel Has Always Been an island of stability and democracy in a sea of instability” and the creation of a Palestinian state would constitute a terrorist threat. The premier has therefore strongly rejected the possibility of a negotiation and the hypothesis to review the boundaries that divide Palestine and Israel since 1967, as this proposal expresses. The Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, announced that Palestine seems to be willing to revise the text for the negotiations. Although Palestine has been welcomed as “Observer State” at the International Criminal Court and several European countries have accepted its recognition as a State, the United Nations voted down the resolution. The text called for the withdrawal of Israel from the Palestinian territories by the end of 2017 received eight votes in favor, two against and five abstentions. To be approved it needed at least nine positive votes and no opposition from the five permanent members of the Security Council with veto power. The States that voted to approve the text are Spain France, Argentina, Chad, Chile, China, Luxembourg and Russia. The United States and Australia, expressed their opposition, while the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Nigeria, Korea and Rwanda have preferred not to express their willing on the issue. It was not necessary for the United States to exercise its veto. Before this bid for the resolution, another proposal for the creation of a Palestinian State had been rejected in 2011. Since 1972, 41 resolutions have been elaborated on the issue, but the United States rejected all of them.

The Palestinian Ambassador Mansour has expressed his disappointment over the decision, but the US Ambassador Samantha Power declared: “We voted against this resolution not because we are comfortable with the status quo. We voted against it because […] peace must come from hard compromises that occur at the negotiating table”. Concerning the Australian Permanent Representative, Gary Quinlan, stated: “the draft resolution under consideration today will not help this process and that is why we have voted against it”. He added: “It lacks balance and seeks to impose a solution put forward by one party alone. Final status issues can only be resolved between the two sides. A process agreed by both sides is the only way forward to reach an enduring agreement”. “The violence experienced in recent months in the Palestinian territories and Israel underlines the terrible human costs of the failure of final status negotiations and how fragile the situation is in the absence of genuine progress towards establishing a Palestinian state – an objective in which Australia believes and to which we are committed”. The disapproval of the text confirms that the situation remains the same. About this statement the same Israeli Prime Minister, lamented the impossibility to settle the political situation in the area, as long as the mediation of third parties will intervene on the issue. The influence of the West in order to decide the developments of the area can be considered an “external” factor.

On the internal side, two main elements could be viewed as a potential difficult any kind of resolution. First of all the presence of the Israeli settlers in the border areas. Many of them live in the West Bank, the area claimed by Palestine. Other settlements are concentrated in the territories occupied after the 1967 war (the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem). The settlements are considered illegal by Amnesty International, European Union, and by other important international institutions. A large part of the settlements inhabitants have established relations of peaceful coexistence with the Palestinians, but among them there are also supporters of Zionism, who attacked Palestinians several times over the last years. The radical faction of the Israeli settlers is represented by the “Hilltop Youth”, that is the second generation of settlers who live in the outposts of the settlements. They have a radical view of the Torah and they live in poor villages without comforts. They reject the idea of evacuating the territories they are occupying through the outposts building. These radical positions could be considered a serious question for the concrete resolution of the problem. On the other hand, Hamas is still considered a terroristic organization by Israel and the United States. Since 2007, Hamas controls the Gaza Strip and to reach an accord with al-Fatah, the laic party of Palestine, is necessary for the Palestinian Government because of the economic conditions in Gaza Strip are really disastrous. Netanyahu declared he would not negotiate with Hamas. Considering this complicated landscape is not easy to define the boundaries of the two States and try to establish a safe policy in the area. A multilateral dialogue could expand the gap between the two peoples exacerbating their relationship and worsening the safe conditions of the zone. That is why Israel and Palestine should find a solution on their own by considering their political and cultural roots.

Lucia Vasta

Master’s Degree in Languages and Economic and Legal Institutions of Asia and North Africa (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)