Context:

Recently, Israeli armed forces stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Haram esh-Sharif in Jerusalem, ahead of a march by Zionist nationalists commemorating Israel’s capture of the eastern half of the city in 1967. More than 300 Palestinians were injured in the raid.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Important Developments in the International Stage)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Israel – Palestine Conflict
  2. Understanding the Territory
  3. What is behind the current escalation?
  4. What is the Sheikh Jarrah dispute?
  5. Why Jerusalem?

About the Israel – Palestine Conflict

  • The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing struggle between Israelis and Palestinians that began in the mid-20th century.
  • The origins to the conflict can be traced back to Jewish immigration and sectarian conflict in Mandatory Palestine between Jews and Arabs.
  • Despite a long-term peace process and the general reconciliation of Israel with Egypt and Jordan, Israelis and Palestinians have failed to reach a final peace agreement.
  • The key issues are mutual recognition and security, borders, water rights, control of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, Palestinian freedom of movement, and Palestinian right of return.

Understanding the Territory

  • The West Bank is sandwiched between Israel and Jordan. One of its major cities is Ramallah, the de facto administrative capital of Palestine. Israel took control of it in the 1967 war and has over the years established settlements there.
  • The Gaza Strip located between Israel and Egypt. Israel occupied the strip after 1967, but relinquished control of Gaza City and day-to-day administration in most of the territory during the Oslo peace process. In 2005, Israel unilaterally removed Jewish settlements from the territory, though it continues to control international access to it.

What is behind the current escalation?

  • The Israeli authorities had given permission to the Jerusalem Day march, traditionally taken out by far-right Zionists through the Arab Quarter of the Old City.
  • Tensions have been building up since mid-April 2021 when Israeli police set up barricades at the Damascus Gate outside the occupied Old City, preventing Palestinians from gathering there.
  • Hamas issued an ultimatum to the Israeli troops to stand down from Al-Aqsa. By the evening, they launched rockets. Israeli strikes followed.

What is the Sheikh Jarrah dispute?

  • Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced out of their homes when the State of Israel was created in historical Palestine in 1948 (the Palestinians call the events ‘Nakba’, or catastrophe). Some of those Palestinian families moved to Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem to settle there.
  • In 1956, when East Jerusalem was ruled by Jordan, the Jordanian Ministry of Construction and Development and the U.N. Relief and Works Agency facilitated the construction of houses for these families in Sheikh Jarrah. But Israel would capture East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967.
  • By the early 1970s, Jewish agencies started demanding the families leave the land. Jewish committees claimed that the houses sat on land they purchased in 1885 (when Jews were migrating to historic Palestine that was part of the Ottoman Empire).
  • Earlier, in 2021, the Central Court in East Jerusalem upheld a decision to evict four Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah in favor of Jewish settlers.

Why Jerusalem?

  • Jerusalem has been at the centre of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to the original 1947 UN partition plan, Jerusalem was proposed to be an international city.
  • But in the first Arab Israel war of 1948, the Israelis captured the western half of the city, and Jordan took the eastern part, including the Old City that houses Haram al-Sharif. Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, and the Dome of the Rock are situated within Haram esh-Sharif (Noble Sanctury).
  • Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed it later.
  • Since its annexation, Israel has expanded settlements in East Jerusalem, which is now home for some 220,000 Jews. Jews born in East Jerusalem are Israeli citizens, while Palestinians in the city are given conditional residency permits.
  • Israel sees the whole city as its “unified, eternal capital”, a claim endorsed by Donald Trump when he was U.S. President but not recognised by most other countries.

-Source: The Hindu

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