Causes of Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

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The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is fueled by disputes over land, borders, and control of Jerusalem and fresh water. The origins of the conflict date back to ancient times, but the creation of Israel in 1948 and the displacement of Palestinians as refugees have been major factors. Violence and terrorism have also played a role, and peace treaties have not been successful.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been going on for decades and has a somewhat complicated set of causes, but the main issues at the heart of the conflict are land and borders. Where one country ends and the other begins – and whether two independent countries should exist – is a big part of it. Both groups believe they have a God-given right to the land, and both claim rights based on the covenant God made with Abraham in the Old Testament of the Bible. Opponents were once part of the same group of people who inhabited what was considered the Promised Land. Whoever controls Jerusalem, which is considered by many to be a holy city, also intervenes; as well as water rights issues and the control of a very limited supply of fresh water. Issues of force, violence and terrorism have also fueled conflict, particularly in the 21st century.


It can be difficult to pinpoint a particular start date for the conflict as there have long been disputes and land battles in the Israeli-Palestinian region. The country of Israel wasn’t formally created until 1948, so from a technical point of view it would be the first start, but some scholars believe that the problems actually started a little earlier. Many point to the Jewish exiles that occurred in ancient times when the land was conquered by the Romans. It was later taken over by the Arabs, who are still there today.

In the late 19th century, Jews created a movement in which they would move to the land they felt was given to them by God based on the accounts in the Bible. This was done with little regard for the Palestinian population already residing there. Disputes ensued over who had rights to the land. Britain had control over Palestinian land during this period and granted Jews permission to emigrate, but this was revoked as the uprisings of the Arab people grew increasingly violent and hostile.

Implications of the Holocaust

During the Holocaust, more than 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis in Germany, Poland and other areas of Europe. Many survivors wanted to flee Europe, and very many longed to return to the land they believed was their Biblical birthright. Leaders asked Britain to allow Jewish people to begin migrating to Palestine and the country agreed; in 1948, the formal state of Israel was formed. At that time there was no corresponding official Palestinian country, which may have been one of the factors supporting part of the conflict. The State of Palestine was established in 1988.

Border questions
Mainland erupted in the region in 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982. Since that time, there have been various terrorist attacks and land battles within the region, especially the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced as refugees to various locations in the Middle East in the years following Israeli independence, and many fought and vehemently contested the location of borders, land rights and access points.

Control of Jerusalem
One of the most debated issues is who or what should have control over Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a religiously significant city for Jews, Christians and Muslims. It is believed to have originally been founded by King David, and is also widely believed to be the site of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Both Israel and Palestine consider Jerusalem their capital.
Water rights
Control over fresh water is also a pressing issue. The disputed land is located in a desert where drinking water is scarce. Well drilling, plumbing, and the ability to move this resource from one place to another are the subject of intense debate and conflict. There is usually not enough for either country to have unlimited access, and the ability to control distribution is a major source of power.

Strength problems
Violence has also been a persistent part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinians have often used violent force in an attempt to overrun Jews, reclaim territory, and allow their refugees to return to their ancient land; the Israelis, in turn, trained their own armies and in most cases returned fire with fire. There have been numerous peace treaties that both sides have tried to implement, but none have stood the test of time. This is due, in part, to repeated terrorist attacks and continued pushes for more land on both sides.

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