Throughout history, people had encountered certain hardships, whether ethnicity or plain simple prejudice. There were hardships on blacks because of slavery, while Germany, on the other hand, was committed to “ethnic cleansing” during Hitler’s reign. In both instances the suppressors believed they were more superior or obligated to do what they did. The issue of Palestine, or present-day Israel, dates back to about the 13th century BC. “The oldest sources in Gaza, tell us that it (Gaza) was the residence of the Egyptian governor to Canaan. Until the 7th century did the Gaza territory, inhabited by the Philistines, come under Muslim rule. During that time, as a matter of fact, there were also Christian and Jewish settlements. As you already know, Palestine is called the Holy Land, because of the fact that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam were established in the site. Since this is a fact, Muslims and Jews were always fighting because of the faith they believed in. They both believe the Holy Land was given to them from God in order to preserve the faith. The belief was that the land of Canaan would be given to the children of Abraham. The interesting part is that Abraham had two sons, Isaac and Ismael. This means that the Arabs and the Jews are, in fact, the children of Abraham. So as you can see this is why there is conflict in the Middle East.
The Intifada, an uprising in the Palestinian occupied territories by Israel from 1987 to 1993, was used in protest against Israeli occupation and its politics. The Intifada involved demonstrations, strikes, riots, and violence. It also used an
impressive tactic of “boycotting Israeli goods and boycotting the civil administration and building independence, creating independent schools and alternative political and social institutions to take the place of Israeli institutions” (www.pna.net). Under the banners of the Intifada, Palestinians wanted to bring an end to Israeli occupation. This also meant freedom and independence on national soil without the aid or any influence from outside parties. “Real peace cannot be achieved except through the recognition of Palestinian national rights, including the right of self determination and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State on Palestinian national soil” (www.pna.net). The beginning was first sparked off in Jebaila camp, a refugee camp, in Gaza on December 7, 1987; when a demonstration erupted after an Israeli eighteen-wheeler ran over and killed four Palestinians. The unrest soon spread to other areas including the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and parts of Jerusalem. It was the united Palestinian Arabs, who, for the first time since the creation of Israel, came out victorious. Unfortunately, no victory is one without casualties and destruction. But above all, the Palestinians, headed under three groups: Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Hamas, and Jihadu Al Islamiya had finally been heard. Neighboring Arab states as well as the UN recognized the PLO as the official
representative for the Palestinian people. The United Leadership of the Uprising
(UNLU) governed the Occupied Palestinian Territory during the first year, while keeping close ties with the PLO and not backing down from Israeli hardships (www.nmopic.pna.net). The most amazing scenes that remind us of the Intifada were the stoning of Israeli security forces and civilians, often performed by young men and boys. In order to take back control, Israel recruited more police and army personnel. “What made the Intifada stand out from earlier, and later forms of protest, was its broadness, the wide support, and duration” (www.cias.com). For someone who is aware of the problem in the Holy Land, it was clear that the Palestinians were ready to fight for their statehood and independence and take casualties. They were finally ready to do as the Jews did when they formed Israel about 50 years ago. According to an Israeli scholar, Meron Benvenisiti Israel claimed that “occupation is irreversible” (www.pna.net). According to Dr. Khalil Shikaki, Director of the Centre for Palestinian Research and Studies in Nablus:
“After two and a half years, things got worse in a dramatic way. With the emergence of politically extreme positions and the Islamic movement and violence committed against some Palestinian elements plunging Palestinian society and even the nationalist movement into greater and greater violence and creating huge chaos in Palestinian society.”
The Intifada succeeded in gathering the Palestinians in a national unity of society and reminding the world of the Palestinian cause and also gaining sympathy from the world. But what most stood out was how the Israelis had no respect for the rights of the Palestinians. Israelis were able to travel anywhere throughout Israel and Palestine but the Palestinians were not allowed passed checkpoints separating the Occupied Palestinian Territory from Israel.
The Intifada and pressure from the United States and European countries were the main reasons that favored talks between Israel and the Palestinians. By this time Israeli Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, was meeting with Mahmoud Abbas the Foreign Policy aide for the PLO, in Oslo, Norway. This later led to the Oslo Agreement, which will allow Palestinians to run their affairs as Israeli troops withdraw from the Gaza Strip, Jericho, and later parts of the West Bank. After the agreement the Intifada turned into more of a violent liberation struggle. It also lost a lot of participants. By this time militant Islamists had taken over the Intifada.
Possibly the most historic event in Palestinian and Israeli history took place on September 13, 1997. Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister of Israel, met with Bill Clinton, the President of the United States of America, and Yasser Arafat, the leader of the PLO (now known as the Palestinian National Authority), in Washington D.C. after the signing of the Declaration of Principles. It would allow the Palestinians to govern themselves in the Israeli occupied Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Mr. Rabin and Mr. Arafat also signed a similar agreement.
The historical event came after the signing, when Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat, shook hands (The New York Times, 9/14/93, p. 1).
In conclusion, the unimaginable was put together. Unfortunately, there were lives lost for this to take place, especially when the Prime Minister is assassinated. It took about forty years until both sides recognized each other. Hopefully Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will follow in his footsteps and stop with the delays. If this proceeds there will finally be “peace in the Middle East”!
Apple, R.W. Jr. “Rabin and Arafat Seal Their Accord As Clinton Applauds ‘Brave Gamble.'” New York Times 14 Sept. 1993, 1.