For many centuries, Jews and Palestinians have been in conflict over their right to live in the “Promised Land,” that is, in Palestine.

Let’s try to understand this conflict and describe it in simple, understandable language.

What is Palestine?

Palestine is a territory that includes the modern states of Israel, Palestine, Jordan, part of Syria, and part of Lebanon.

In the 20th century BCE, the first known tribes to archaeologists, the Canaanites, lived here. In the 13th century BCE, the Philistines, ancestors of the current Palestinians, invaded and settled the area. At the same time, various tribes and peoples, including the future Jews, were forming here.

Later, in the 11th century BCE, the Kingdom of Israel was formed on this land from local ancient Hebrew tribes. It lasted for about 400 years (the last part of which was ruled by the famous kings Samuel, David, and Solomon).

Later, the kingdom disintegrated, and the land, along with its population, came under the control of the Persians, Greeks, the Roman Empire, Byzantium, Persia, the Arab Caliphate, and finally, the Ottoman Empire, in which Palestine was simply one of the colonies. Throughout this time, representatives of many peoples lived here together: Jews, Palestinians, Syrians, and Jordanians.

During World War I, the Entente countries (Great Britain, France, Russia) promised the local peoples, who were part of the Ottoman Empire (modern Turkey), independence, so many Jews and Arabs opposed the Ottomans and helped the liberators.

After the war, the League of Nations issued Mandates to the victorious countries to manage the “no man’s territories,” the former colonies of the Ottoman Empire, until “they are capable of living independently.” Great Britain received the Mandate to manage Palestine. At the same time, a letter from the British Foreign Minister Balfour to the leader of British Jews, Rothschild (the so-called Balfour Declaration), appeared, supporting the creation of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. This document gave hope to Jews worldwide to recreate a Jewish state in the “Promised Land,” and they flocked to their “historical homeland.” The number of Jews in Palestine grew from 24,000 to 600,000 in 50 years, increasing their share from 5% to 30%. This sharp influx of Jews, of course, was not liked by all local residents, particularly the Arabs, who constituted the overwhelming majority of Palestine before the mass migration of Jews. Moreover, the promise to grant statehood and independence to the Palestinians was not being fulfilled promptly by the Europeans.

In 1947, the British Mandate for Palestine expired, and the UN adopted a resolution to partition the territory into two states: Arab and Jewish, with Jerusalem to become an international city under UN administration. This plan was accepted by the Jews but rejected by the Arabs, who believed that they had lived on this land for the last millennia and constituted the overwhelming majority of the population (67%). If not for the mass influx of Jews in recent decades, the Arab majority would have been even greater. Therefore, they believed an Arab state should be established in Palestine, with Jews merely being citizens.

On May 14, 1948, the Jews officially declared the establishment of the State of Israel, and the next day, seven neighboring Arab states (Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Yemen) attacked Israel. After two years of war, official hostilities ceased. Egypt took control of the Gaza Strip (which was supposed to be part of the Palestinian state), Transjordan took control of the West Bank (which was also supposed to be part of the Palestinian state), and Israel took control of additional lands intended for Palestine according to the UN decision. Mass resettlement of Arabs from the new Israeli territories and Jews from territories controlled by Arab states began. This process was accompanied by constant clashes between Arabs and Jews.

Later, in 1967, when tensions between Israel and neighboring Arab states peaked, the Six-Day War occurred, during which Israel captured many new territories, including the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, practically leaving the Palestinians with nothing of the land allocated by the UN. Some Palestinians stayed in Israel, while others moved to neighboring Arab countries. Many of the displaced Arabs joined political and militant groups aiming to destroy the state of Israel. At the same time, Jews living in Arab countries faced persecution and repression.

After many years of confrontation and constant tension between Jews and Palestinian Arabs, a thaw in relations emerged in the 1990s. In 1992, peace agreements were signed, according to which Israel in 2005 transferred control over the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the Palestinian National Authority, and the Palestinians recognized the state of Israel and renounced terrorist acts against it. However, not all Palestinians accepted this agreement. The radical Hamas movement effectively retains power in the Gaza Strip, while the more moderate Fatah controls the West Bank. All this time, radicals from Hamas periodically carry out terrorist acts against Israel. In response, Israel conducts massive attacks, resulting in the deaths of both terrorists and innocent Palestinian civilians.

What Happened on October 7, 2023?

On October 7, 2023, Hamas unexpectedly attacked Israeli territory and killed about 1,500 people, including civilians, as well as non-Israelis, tourists, and participants of an international music festival. This attack was accompanied by inhumane actions by terrorists: people were beheaded, dismembered, raped, and killed. Over 200 people, including citizens of countries that have no connection to the Arab-Israeli conflict, were captured and taken to the Gaza Strip. In response, the Israeli army began an attack and bombardment of the Gaza Strip, resulting in the destruction of many participants in the October 7 terrorist attack, as well as innocent Arab civilians.

The Israeli army’s military operations continue to this day. The goal of this operation is to destroy all terrorists, free the hostages, and eliminate Hamas’s infrastructure so that it cannot carry out new terrorist attacks against Israel in the future.

The Position of Many Arab Palestinians:

This is our land; we have been living here for over 3,000 years. We have the right to establish a state here and govern it independently. Jews once owned this land, but then dispersed worldwide, and for several centuries their presence here was minimal. Due to Britain’s policy during its Mandate, it gave hope to the Jews and provoked a mass influx of Jews to our land. The UN unfairly allocated land to them in Palestine. There should be an Arab Palestinian state here. We oppose the existence of the state of Israel on this land.

The Position of the Jews:

This is our land. Back in the 11th-9th centuries BCE, the Kingdom of Israel existed here. The Palestinian Arabs never had their state here. Essentially, the Palestinians are former Jordanians, Libyans, Syrians, and Egyptians. They have their historical homeland; they can live there. But Jews have no other homeland. And since the highest authority of humanity, the UN, allocated us land to create our state, we created it and will defend it to the end. With those Arabs who agree with the existence of Israel, we will cooperate and ensure their independence on their territory: on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. We will fight and destroy those Arabs who do not agree and commit terrorist acts against us, wherever they hide.

The Position of Some Arab Palestinians on the Events of October 7:

We are a poor country; we don’t have the military power that Israel does, but we will not accept losing our land. The only thing left for us to do is to carry out terrorist operations and hide. On October 7, as many times before, we killed Israelis to make them feel unsafe and uncomfortable on our land and leave for where they came from: Europe, the USA, Russia.

The Position of Some Jews on the Events of October 7:

Arab terrorists committed aggression, killed innocent people. For this, we will destroy them. When they hide in civilian facilities in the Gaza Strip: hospitals, schools, residential buildings, they leave us no choice. We are forced to bomb the entire building, including civilians in these buildings. If there is a force in the world that can separate the terrorists from civilians in this densely populated area and hand them over to us, we would be happy. But such a force does not exist. Therefore, blaming us for killing civilians is pure populism.

The Position of Many Muslims Worldwide:

Arabs are defending their land. They don’t have an army because they don’t have the wealth and influence that Jews have worldwide. Therefore, the guerrilla actions of the Arabs are justified. And in general, there is a fundamental war in Palestine between the rich, imperialist West and the poor, former colonial East. We will support the Arabs in any case because they are weaker and because they are our co-religionists—Muslims.

The Position of Western Country Leaders:

The UN decision created the state of Israel. It is legitimate. Achieving its abolition through terrorist acts is unacceptable. Israel, like any other country, has the right to defend its territory and its citizens. However, it is unacceptable to allow innocent victims among the Arab civilian population.

My Position:

Whatever the history of the conflict between these two peoples, killing and violence against civilians are unacceptable. Therefore, the Arabs responsible for the October 7 terrorist attack should be caught and punished by an international tribunal. At the same time, an investigation should be conducted to determine the circumstances of the bombardment of civilian facilities in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli army. If it is proven that the military knew about the presence of civilians in the facilities and still bombed them, they should also be brought before an international tribunal.

In general, Jews and Arabs need to compromise and agree on the 1947 UN resolution for the creation of two states: Israel and Palestine (within the borders specified in that resolution).

Any side that resists this solution should be subdued by the united forces of the UN. Not by the army of the USA or NATO, nor by the armies of Russia or China, but by a united UN army.

To have such an army exist and act decisively in global hotspots, the UN Security Council needs to abandon the principle of unanimity in decision-making. On such fundamental issues, unanimity will never be achieved. The majority of the UN, and therefore all humanity, should give authority to a united army to restore order and protect lives anywhere in the world.

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