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The origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

The origin of the so-called conflict in Palestine-Israel has its historical roots in what happened at the end of the 19th century in that territory. Its causes do not flow from religion, but from the colonization carried out by the Zionist movement. Zionism is a doctrine as well as a political, nationalist and intrinsically colonial project.

Zionism, the secret Sykes-Picot Agreements and the Balfour Declaration

Since 1896, the term Zionist has been applied to the political movement founded by Theodor Herzl, a Jewish journalist born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Although this movement was not based on religion in its origin, it used this factor as a form of claim to create a Jewish State.

When Herzl wrote Der Judenstaat (The State of the Jews) Palestine was not his priority. He had previously considered the possibility of creating the new nation in other places such as Argentina, Uganda, Cyprus, Kenya, Mozambique, the Sinai Peninsula or the Congo.

Finally, he chose Palestine motivated by the “powerful (religious) legend” that he had in his favor, despite the fact that he and other Zionist leaders who supported him declared themselves atheists or “non-believers.” The Zionist movement was transformed into a colonial project from its origins, recognized by its own leaders, with the objective of gradually appropriating the territory, through colonies, and seeking support, at first from the Ottoman Empire, and later, of the British, among whom were important sympathizers such as the banker Lionel Walter Rothschild.

On the other hand, within the framework of the First World War, it should be noted that France and Great Britain needed the support of the Arabs to defeat the Ottomans, so they used to their advantage the desire for independence framed in the great Arab awakening. that prevailed in the Near and Middle East region.

However, the promises made in this regard from the beginning by the two powers were already rigged. At the same time that they made proposals of independence to the Arabs, these two countries divided the territories of the overthrown Empire into different areas.

The true plans had been drawn up over the years with the secret Sykes-Picot Agreements in 1916 and were revealed by the Bolsheviks after the fall of the Tsar. The Englishman Sir Mark Sykes and the Frenchman George Picot had divided the region into two zones under their influence, in the form of “mandates.” As a consequence, “Greater Syria” would break up, France would be left with Syria and Lebanon, and Great Britain with Transjordan (present-day Jordan), Iraq and Palestine.

This situation was aggravated for Palestine because not only would English colonization begin, but they formally committed themselves, as supporters of the Zionist movement, through the Balfour Declaration of 1917, to building “a Jewish national home in Palestine”, which It encouraged the Zionist colonization of historic Palestine, which had already begun at the end of the 19th century. XIX.

Likewise, the very idiosyncrasy of Zionism as a colonial movement applied – and continues to apply today – the “white colonization” model. That is, one that replaces the indigenous population in all its forms with an emigrated settler population. This concept will be intrinsically related to the “transfer” of population, a euphemism used to name expulsion, which will be present in all the plans drawn up by the Zionist leaders and presented in different international bodies, and subsequently carried out by their military forces.

The British Mandate and the partition of Palestine

Therefore, the English took control of Palestine in 1917, although it became official in 1920. This fact caused the Palestinian population to suffer different crises as a protest against English colonialism and its support for the constant and aggressive Zionist migration.

Some examples that confirm this were the al-Buraq uprising in 1929, the riots of 1933, the great Arab revolt (al-Zawra al-kubra) of 1936-39, and finally the destruction of most of historical Palestine in 1948.

Consequently, between 1946 and 1947, the British decided to hand over the Palestine problem to the United Nations. On the one hand, due to the Zionist demands supported at that time by the US and the problem of growing Jewish terrorism in Palestine that also began to target them. And on the other, by increasing Arab pressure demanding their rights and the fulfillment of the promises made.

On November 29, 1947, a United Nations with hardly any experience, since said organization had been created in 1945, formally voted on the partition of Palestine through Resolution 181, which allowed the division of the territory into two States – one Jewish and the other. Arab-.

The United Nations thus ignored the origin of the country’s population, granting 55% of the territory to the Jewish State, despite the fact that the population continued to be mostly Arab (Muslims and Christians) since the Jewish population did not possess 6% of the land.

Both groups rejected the proposal. The Jews, because they wanted more territory without the Arab population, and the Arabs, because they refused to divide the land with a colonizing community that wanted to de-Arabize it.

The creation of Israel and the Nakba

Finally, the unilateral creation of the State of Israel in May 1948, as the culmination of the colonization carried out, resulted in the violent transformation of the territory and the expulsion of more than half of the Palestinian population. Most of them became refugees, in what more and more researchers consider ethnic cleansing.

Between 750,000 and 800,000 people of different faiths – Muslims and Christians – and social positions were expelled from their homes and lands in what is called in Arabic as al-Nakba (the catastrophe, the disaster). Their personal and collective assets were expropriated or destroyed.

Likewise, the villages, towns and neighborhoods of the cities where they lived were, depending on interest, demolished or emptied of their owners and re-inhabited with the arriving settlers.

Since then, Palestinian society would be forever broken up into three distinct groups: those who were expelled to neighboring Arab countries or elsewhere; those who remained in the newly created State of Israel (not considered refugees); and those who headed towards what remained of historic Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. None of them have been allowed to return to their original homes to this day.

This article has been published in ‘The conversation’.

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