Israel treading on many toes

April 30, 2010 — by Karthik Annaamalai

Ever since the end of World War II when the United Nations gave Jews land in Palestine, the United States has vested considerable interest in the maintenance of a close relationship with Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This violent dispute has created animosity between the Jewish Israelis and the Muslim Palestinians because both their religions share a common holy land, Jerusalem.

For years, the two independent governments faced vehement resistance from the leftist groups of the other side. One example of such a group is Hamas, the terrorist organization currently residing in the Gaza Strip, who use bombs in public buildings to further their schedule of attaining a Palestinian state.

To solve this ongoing dilemma, the United States, as well as many other countries, advocated the two-state solution, in which Isreal and Palestine would be two separate states. The city of Jerusalem, however, would be under international control to prevent future conflicts from occurring.

The borders for the proposed two-state solution would be based on the borders of 1967, which were drawn during the armistice in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In order to expand the border lines, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel’s government will be creating settlement houses outside the borders. Netanyahu theorizes that the borders will be expanded in favor of Israel if more Israelis inhabit the land outside the border. This action, however, angers Palestinians as well as the international community, who believe it is unfair for Israel to take advantage of the opportunity at hand.

To prevent Israel from creating more of these settlement houses, Vice President Joe Biden recently travelled to Israel to speak with Netanyahu. A few hours before the meeting between the two leaders, Netanyahu announced a new 1,600 home settlement project. Biden, who has been pro-Israel throughout his political career, responded that the action had been a “slap in the face.”

Exactly two weeks later on March 23, President Barack Obama and Netanyahu had a confidential meeting in the Oval Office. Again, the Israeli leader publicly announced that another building project was to be constructed outside border lines in East Jerusalem.

Although Netanyahu argues that his building schedule is no different than that of previous leaders, the peacemaking quartet—comprised of the United States, Russia, the United Nations, and the European Union—condemned Israel’s recent actions. Not only has Netanyahu aggravated his main allies, the leader also outraged the Palestinians, which is the most important group for a peaceful resolution.

The burden is now placed on Israel to prove to Palestine that they wish to peacefully find a solution to the problem at hand. To do so, Israel must first stop building new settlements and publicly apologize to Palestine. In addition, the troubled nation needs to increase the number of neutral meetings with Palestine in order to request that a new compromise be created. Only then will a peaceful Gaza Strip be possible.