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The origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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  1. From the Roman empire to the Arab domination
  2. Zionism and Arab nationalism in the nineteenth century
  3. The First World War and the subsequent British policy
  4. The inter-war period: institution-building and accelerating pace of Jewish immigration
  5. The Second World War

The origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been the subject of numerous debates. The complexity of their development over centuries has led historians to consider events as early as the biblical enmity between Abraham's two sons, Isaac and Ishmael to be an appropriate starting point. The present state of Israel encompasses a substantial portion of what was once called Palestine. The names 'Israel' and 'Palestine' derive from two people who entered the region at approximately the same time, in the twelfth century before the Christian era. Palestine refers to Philistine, a person of Greek origin who settled in the coastal plains of the area at about the same time the Jews took over the country in the interior. The Jews, who called themselves Bnei Israel, 'the tribe of Israel', believed that the land had been given to them by God. After two hundred years, they succeeded to defeat and subjugate the people of Palestine. As a consequence, the first kingdom of Israel was established about 3000 years ago. Saul and David, its early sovereigns, led the Jews to the conquest and capture of Jerusalem which became a religious sanctuary, sacred to all who worshipped Yahweh. The period of political unity lasted only seven years from about 1000 B.C to 927 B.C, but the northern kingdom of Israel survived until 722 B.C, until it was conquered by the Assyrians. The southern kingdom of Judah resisted until it was absorbed into the Babylonian Empire in 586 B.C. Jews stayed in Palestine after their defeat but they became a minority whose conditions of life were made difficult.

[...] In conclusion, a new development in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict took place with the beginning of the first Intifada and the emergence of new actors such as the Hamas, that of Islamizing it[37]. Unexpectedly, what had begun as a conflict between two national movements claiming possession of one land, evolved into a battle between two rival religions, Judaism and Islam, or between two absolutes? This late development is both critical and extremely interesting as it retrospectively introduces a rewriting of the conflict's causes and origins through religious-Islamic lenses, a re- conception of the desirable solutions to end it and the justification for a special mode of conduct in order to achieve it. [...]


[...] The outbreak of the First World War and the subsequent British policy over its Palestinian mandate ushered in important changes for the achievement of both Arab nationalists and Jewish aspirations. Since the Ottoman empire had entered the war on the side of Germany, ?Britain started to cultivate local Arab allies who could aid its war effort?[23]. In 1915, the British High Commissioner in Cairo, sir Henri Mac-Mahon, negotiated the support of the Hashemite leader Sharif Hussein in return for the promise of future Arab independence[24]. [...]


[...] As a matter of fact, the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can hardly be found in the centuries of co- existence on a disputed land but in the modern development of competing nationalisms. It is not an extension of an ancient dispute rooted in primordial religious and ethnic antagonisms but the product of recent ideologies which have found their justification in the rewriting of symbolic historical developments. Only recently, did Zionists and Palestinian Arabs come to regard one another as the most important obstacle to the realisation of their respective national aspirations. [...]

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