Disec- the Israel/Palestine Conflict History/Mandate of Committee



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DISEC- The Israel/Palestine Conflict

History/Mandate of Committee

With the ratification of the United Nations charter in October 24, 1945, the United Nations was born as a result of collaboration between the five permanent member countries—United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union, France and China— and 46 other member nations ("Histoire"). Disarmament and International Security (DISEC), is one of the oldest committees in the UN, tracing its roots to the inauguration of the UN back in 1945. DISEC is often referred to as the First Committee ("General Assembly"). As the name implies, DISEC acts as a unique forum that allows for the flow of ideas between all 193 members in order to effectively discuss issues when they arise and ensure peace and security for years to come. However, it is also important to note that the all the discussions that take place in any General Assembly committee are only recommendations and are non-binding, as opposed to the treaties made in Security Council.



History of Conflict

The Israeli–Palestinian conflict began in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Nationalist movements between the Jews and Arabs began to occur in the fight for Palestine as both sides demanded sovereignty for their people. In the late 1800s an extremist Jewish minority known as Zionists, desired a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Under Lord Balfour, Britain’s foreign secretary issued the Balfour Declaration in 1917. Issuing the statement was motivated by both sympathy for the Zionist cause and by British desire to rally Jews to the side of the Allies (Balfour Declaration).



 Palestinian nationalism began as a reaction to the Zionist movement and to Jewish settlement in Palestine as well as by a desire for self-determination by the Arab population in the region (Zionism). Jewish immigration to Palestine continued to grow significantly during the period of the British Mandate in Palestine, mainly due to the growth of anti-Semitism in Europe. Between 1919 and 1926, 90,000 immigrants arrived in Palestine because of the anti-Semitic manifestations. This conflict escalated between the Jews and Arabs in 1920 and erupted into full-scale aggression in the 1947 civil war. Finally, in 1947 the United Nations decided to intervene and divided up the land since Israel and Palestine were mandates of England. This resulted in Israel receiving 55% of Palestine (Israel). Zionist leaders recognized this partition for tactical and strategic purposes. On the other hand, Palestinians considered the proposal misleading of the dispersal of Jews and Arabs living in Palestine at that time. However, Israel proceeded to conquer the rest of Palestine who were mostly Muslim Arabs.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), formed in 1964, was a terrorist organization determined to regain their land. Palestinian rioting, demonstrations, and terrorist acts increased against Israelis which eventually became long lasting. On October 6, 1973 Egypt and Syria along with the PLO organized a surprise attack on Israeli forces in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights on Yom Kippur and the Muslim month of Ramadan. As a result of the Yom Kippur War, Israel maintained possession of the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights. Although Egypt and Palestine lost overall, it was considered a political victory as Israel’s military vulnerabilities were exposed because the United States of America provided a large quantity of weapons to Israel (Yom Kippur/Ramadan War).

Since then, many Palestinian refugees have fled to the Gaza Strip. The majority of its approximately 1.4 million residents are Palestinian refugees, many of whom have been living in refugee camps for decades; 80% were estimated to be living in poverty in mid-2007 (Gaza Strip demography). A continual source of tension has been the relationship between the Jews and the Palestinians living within Israeli territories. Most Arabs fled the region when the state of Israel was declared, but those who remained make up almost one-fifth of the population of Israel. Palestinians living on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip fuelled the riots that began in 1987, known as the intifada (Intifada). Violence heightened as Israeli police cracked down and Palestinians retaliated. More than 20,000 people were killed in the fighting. Continuing Jewish settlement of lands designated for Palestinians has added to the unrest. In 1988, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat recognized Israel's right to exist. He stated his willingness to enter negotiations to create a Palestinian political entity that would coexist with the Israeli state. In 1991, the United States of America and Soviet Union organized the Madrid Conference, in which Israeli, Lebanese, Jordanian, Syrian, and Palestinian leaders met to establish a structure for peace negotiations. Included in the discussions were proposals for Palestinian self-rule in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the fate of Palestinian refugees, and a plan for economic growth in the region (Madrid Conference). Further progress followed in 1994, when on October 26 Jordan's King Hussein and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed a historic peace treaty ending the state of belligerency between the two countries.

The roadmap for peace was proposed by a group that includes the United States of America, the European Union, the United Nations, and the Russia Federation also known as the Quartet. Using the roadmap, the Quartet will try to shape international policy toward an Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution. However, the militant Palestinian group still does not recognize Israel and both sides began firing rockets at each other. Political prisoners were also exchanged during the process.



Current Status

Palestinian Security Services

In 1993, the government of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) met for the first time in an attempt to set up a foundation for peace between the two parties; this meeting would become known as the Oslo Accords. In the Oslo Accords, Israel and Palestine agreed to 30,000 policemen, 15,000 automatic rifles and pistols, 240 heavy machine guns, 45 armored vehicles and lightly armored shore patrol vessels.

In 2003, the International Monetary Fund reported that 56,128 people were employed as security personnel for the Palestinian Authority.1 The Palestinian Authority has been accused of possessing more weapons than agreed. There also reports that the some of the security forces obtained weapons that were prohibited by the Oslo Accords such as hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades, light mortars, etc.

Militant groups

Evaluations reveal that Fatah and Hamas seem to have approximately 3,000 combatants each, Islamic Jihad several hundreds and less than one hundred for each of the others. Further evaluations reveal they are in possession of plenty of small arms and light weapons, hundreds of Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPGs) launchers and of Qassam rockets, which are featured prominently during the periodic rocket attacks on Israel from Palestine. The Israeli government has reported that 70,000 arms have been illegally introduced into Palestine since the Oslo agreements.



Palestinian violence against Israelis

The primary concern is Palestinian violence against Israelis. Motivations for this violence are varied and not often agreed upon, but common motivations include destroying the Israeli state and replacing it with an Arabic Palestinian state. However, many Islamic militant groups see their violent campaigns as crusades to liberate Arabs and Palestinians from Israeli and western control. Many groups see themselves as the saviors of Arabs who have suffered from violence and abuse by Israel.

Suicide bombing is a common tactic utilized by Islamic militant groups designed to not only cause as many casualties as possible, but to send a message and strike fear into the population. From 1993 to 2003, 303 Palestinian suicide bombers attacked Israel.2 In response to scores of terrorist attacks on Israel, in 2003, the Israeli government authorized the creation of a security barrier between Israel and the West Bank. Since its conception, terrorist attacks have decreased by 90%.

Since 2001, the threat of Qassam rockets fired from the Palestinian Territories into Israel is also of great concern for Israeli defense officials. In 2006, the Israeli government recorded 1,726 such launches, more than four times the total rockets fired in 2005. As of January 2009, over 8,600 rockets had been launched, causing widespread psychological trauma and disruption of daily life. Over 500 rockets and mortars hit Israel in January–September 2010 and over 1,947 rockets hit Israel in January–November 2012.

Since mid-June 2007, Israel's primary means of dealing with security concerns in the West Bank has been to cooperate with and permit United States-sponsored training, equipping, and funding of the Palestinian Authority's security forces, which with Israeli help have largely succeeded in quelling West Bank supporters of Hamas.

Israeli violence against Palestinians

However, Palestinians also have grave concerns regarding violence against their people. Most contemporary evidence states that the majority of deaths during the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have been Palestinian with their death toll comprising over 70%.3 In fact out of the at least 218,584 people that have died in this conflict, 158,387 of them were Palestinian. Since September 29, 2000, 6,829 Palestinians have died as opposed to 1,104 Israelis.4



Borders

In the past, Israel has demanded control over border crossings between the Palestinian territories and Jordan and Egypt. Israel has built additional highways to allow Israelis to traverse the area without entering Palestinian cities. The initial areas under Palestinian Authority control are diverse and non-contiguous. The areas have changed over time because of subsequent negotiations. According to Palestinians, the separated areas make it impossible to create a viable nation and fail to address Palestinian security needs. Israel has failed to withdraw from some areas, resulting in the division of the Palestinian areas,



Bloc Positions

Palestine

There is no question that the ongoing issue between Israel and Palestine has been extremely volatile and has amounted to quite a lot of bloodshed since it began in the mid-20th century. Due to all the warfare, that region of the world is an unsafe place to begin with and the multitude of weapons present only makes matters worse. In Palestine itself, there are several groups, such as the Palestine Liberation Army, the Palestinian National Security Forces, Hamas, etc, vying for power and they all have their fair share of weapons. For the most part, the weapons used by Palestine are not manufactured there and alternative ways of obtaining weapons have been found. The weapons coming in to the Gaza Strip originate from places like Syria, Sudan, Lebanon, and Iran and are sent through groups such as Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guard units. There are no official weapon sales to Palestine and as a result, smuggling occurs (Illeik).

The most evident way to reduce illegal weapon trade and pave the road towards disarmament is to tighten the security of the borders around the Gaza Strip. However, it is also important to keep in mind that Palestine won't back down and surrender its weapons unless Israel does the same. There is also the question of whether or not Palestine should become its own state and it has made considerable progress towards being independent and elevating its status. Since the issue has been so prolonged, compromise is the only way to go if there is ever to be an end to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Israel

The Israeli government’s official position is that the most Arab-populated parts of West Bank and the entire Gaza Strip must eventually be part of an independent Palestinian State. However, the precise borders of this state are in question. Then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat an opportunity to establish an independent Palestinian State composed of 92% of the West Bank, Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem, and the entire Gaza Strip and dismantling of most settlements; this was rejected. A subsequent settlement proposed by President Clinton offered Palestinian sovereignty over 94%–96% of the West Bank but was similarly rejected. Some Palestinians claim they are entitled to all of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. Israel says it is justified in not ceding all this land, because of security concerns, and also because the lack of any valid diplomatic agreement at the time. Palestinians claim any reduction of this claim is a severe deprivation of their rights. In negotiations, they claim that any move to reduce the boundaries of this land is a hostile move against their key interests. Israel considers this land to be in dispute, and feels the purpose of negotiations is to define what the final borders will be. Other Palestinian groups, such as Hamas, have in the past insisted that Palestinians must control not only the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, but also all of Israel proper. For this reason, Hamas has viewed the peace process "as religiously forbidden and politically inconceivable". The Arab League has agreed to the principle of minor and mutually agreed land-swaps as part of a negotiated two state settlement based on June 1967 borders.



EUROPE BLOC

Regarding most issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the European Union (EU) collectively represents the countries of Europe. Along with the United Nations, United States, and the Russian Federation, the EU is considered a member of the Quartet on the Middle East. The Quartet was established during the second Intifada (Palestinian uprising), and aims to promote peace and to help mediate the conflict.

Besides its involvement in the Quartet, the European Union also deals with Israel directly. Although the EU is Israel’s largest trading partner, it has also given substantial aid to Palestinian autonomous areas. In contrast to the United States, the EU has an inclination towards the Palestinians and is often critical of Israeli policies.

The European Union supports the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, and believes that Jerusalem should be divided as the capital of both states. Regarding the reintegration of Palestinian refugees, the EU feels that they must be included in a negotiated peace settlement. The European Union considers all Israeli settlements, including those in East Jerusalem, illegal under international law. This has repeatedly caused tension between Israel and the EU.

The European Union has disapproved of severe Israeli military action, especially during the Second Intifada of 2000-2005. In 2002, the European Parliament imposed economic sanctions on Israel and an arms embargo on both parties. The EU has also condemned Israeli military assaults in Lebanon and in Palestinian autonomous areas.

Despite the fact that Israel is not geographically in Europe, it considers itself culturally comparable. Consequently, Israel has expressed its hope to one day be a member of the European Union. However, Israel is not currently a candidate for consideration.



Asia Bloc

East Asia

(China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea)

All the countries of East Asia except North Korea currently have diplomatic relations with Israel. Israel recognized The People’s Republic of China in 1950, but diplomatic relations were not established until 1992. North Korea does not recognize the state of Israel; instead, North Korea has recognized the State of Palestine since 1988.

Southeast Asia

(Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore)

Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Singapore all have warm diplomatic relations with Israel. Singapore and Israel have strong economic ties, and have been allies since Singapore’s independence. Malaysia and Israel have yet to establish diplomatic relations, but have strong trade relations. Indonesia supports the establishment of a Palestinian state; however, relations with Israel have improved in the past few years. In 2012, Indonesia opened a consulate in Ramallah.

South Asia

(Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan)



Both Bangladesh and Pakistan forbid their citizens from traveling to Israel and have no diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. Both nations support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Israel considers Pakistan a harbor for terrorist groups and therefore a major threat to its national security. India established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992, and since then India has become Israel’s strongest ally in Asia. The two often collaborate and stare intelligence on terrorist groups in the Middle East and Southern Asia. Both Maldives and Nepal have established diplomatic relations with Israel.

Africa

The Israeli-Palestine conflict has grown to involve many other countries around the world, especially its own neighbors in Africa since Israel shares a border with the continent. Egypt mainly is the basically the lead in this crisis for the rest of Africa especially since Israel shares a border with the Africa. If violence there spills over across the border, it will be an African problem. Egypt also plays a central role in Israeli-Palestinian peacekeeping efforts. They have used peace negotiators and have had military efforts in the past.

The majority of Africa’s foreign aid from the United States goes to Egypt and is in the form of military aid because of this conflict. Because of this African nations support Egypt as visible agents of international peace. In recent years, civic organizations and individuals in South Africa and the nations have become more vocal about their stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Egypt, n.p.). They have been campaigning and boycotting Israeli products in solidarity with other groups that are against the conditions territories such as West Bank and Gaza (South Africa, n.p.). Africa is also host to large populations of Israelis in countries such as Egypt, South Africa and Kenya. Generally, as recent immigrants, many Africans living in the region are vulnerable populations. At a summit hosted by Egypt (the major key player in the crisis for Africa), both sides announce an end to the violence. Israel agreed to release 900 Palestinian prisoners and to gradually withdraw from Palestinian cities (2005 Egypt summit, n.p.). Even though this later fails, Egypt yet again, although a supporter of the Palestinians, agreed to broker a peace agreement between, Hamas (a Palestinian miltant group) (Hamas, n.p.) and Israel to prevent any further conflict from destabilizing the region. After this occurred Egypt's Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that a cease-fire has been signed. Both sides agreed to end hostilities toward each other, which has increased the flow of products and people into the region.

Today nations in Africa are still involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. South Africa and Kenya still have Israeli refugees. South Africa has urged Israel not to invade the Gaza strip, while at the same time calling on Palestinian militants to immediately cease-firing rockets into the Jewish state. Egypt and surrounding nations keep at peace negotiations as well. Africa’s role has significantly impacted the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.



United States

In November of 2001, President Bush called for the creation of two states, Israel and Palestine, after Secretary of State Colin Powell attempted to ease the tensions between the leaders of Israel and Palestine. President Bush was too late however, as violence grew between Israel and Palestine, earning the name “the second intifada.” After years of hopeless efforts, the United States of America gained momentum again in 2004 to find a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. For months, the United States of America debated a plan to take all Israeli settlers out of Gaza and the West Bank. This plan was put on the back burner however when the United States of America began fighting in Iraq and had little time to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Butterworth). Clearly, the United States of America has had immense difficulty trying to promote peace and disarmament between Israel and Palestine. It seems as though any time the United States of America leaders came close to negotiating peace between Israel and Palestine, a leader would die and a new leader would take over with violence in mind, leaving the United States of America back at step one. The United States of America still contributes enormously to Israel’s effort both financially and through military aid. Since 2007, the United States of America has increased military aid to Israel by 150 million dollars a year. Each year, the United States of America sends Israel 3.1 billion dollars which represents 18.2% of Israel’s defense budget (“UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Military Aid and the Israel/Palestine Conflict”).



Possible Solutions

The One State Solution

The one state solution involves Israelis and Palestinians living together in peace under one unified state. This solution however is undoubtedly almost impossible to achieve, considering the fact that Palestinians have a deep hatred for Jews. Combining Israel and Palestine into one state would most likely lead to a civil war in that state almost immediately due to the immense amount of tension (Joffe).



The Two State Solution

The two state solution, the most popular and feasible solution suggested in solving the Israel/Palestine conflict involves creating two separate states, Israel and Palestine, each their own sovereign nation. There are many problems with this solution however, including decision of boundaries, land ownership, and the mere possibility of continued warfare since the two state solution does not ease tensions or create peace. Rather, it separates Israel and Palestine and stalls conflict (Joffe).



Other Possible Solutions

Both the popular one state and two state solutions to the Israel/Palestine conflict pose numerous problems. Palestine is not looking for a solution. The Palestinians have such hatred for the Jewish state of Israel that they would prefer destruction of the entire Jewish population Israel over giving up such a small piece of their land. A third and more compromising solution that the Palestinians would be least likely to reject would be to make peace with the Israelis and allow the Israelis to keep control over the West Bank for security reasons. The Palestinians would give up their yearning for statehood, and instead become a “partner in the Israeli economic system.” This would allow the Palestinians to be involved in the economic and creative aspects of Israeli life and could lead the Palestinians on a prosperous path. While this solution would certainly not be in Palestine’s best interests, the Palestinians overly ambitious goal of attaining all of Israel is much too difficult to attain and will lead to years more of violence and terrorism in Israel (Joffe).



Questions a Position Paper and Resolution Must Answer:

  1. Why have past peace negotiations failed and how have they escalated the crisis?

  2. Which possible solution is the most feasible and what steps should be taken to reach this solution?

  3. What should be done to decrease small arms and light weapons proliferation in Palestine?

  4. Should peace negations continue to be mediated by the United States of America or should the International Community play a larger role?

  5. With Israel and Palestine continually making progress with recent peace talks, the content of a proposed peace treaty must be agreed upon. Should disarmament towards the other party be a requirement for any and all peace treaties going forward?

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1 http://www.passia.org/palestine_facts/pdf/pdf2004/13-GOVERNMENTNEGOTIATIONS.pdf

2 http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Terrorism/suicide1.html

3 http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/casualtiestotal.html

4 http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stats/deaths.html



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