On April 7th, Palestinians and Israeli police clashed near Jerusalem’s holy site, the Al Aqsa Mosque. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, more than 150 people were injured as groups of young masked men attacked security forces using stones, fireworks, and other objects. Israeli police detained hundreds of people who were involved in the clashes. Those clashes were not an isolated incident, however. Scenes of similar clashes have also occurred at the same time last year during overlapping religious holidays—-the Jewish holiday of Passover and Islam’s holy month of Ramadan.
The Al Aqsa mosque compound is where the crash occurred and remains to be Judaism’s holiest site and Jews pray down below at the Western Wall. This area is known to be the most sensitive Israeli-Palestinian flashpoint and violence and has sparked numerous escalations in the past. In order to prevent further attacks over Passover, Israel had announced a lockdown of the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the weekend. The response is often executed to ease conflicts during tensions as Palestinian groups often have pre-orchestrated and timed attacks during religious holidays. During similar conflicts, Egyptian and United Nations officials often spare mediation efforts between Hamas and Israel to prevent further efforts. While the temporary lockdown and mediation efforts may lessen the number of incidents from happening, it will hardly be able to resolve further killings over religious conflicts around Jerusalem in the future.
Efforts of easing tensions between Israel and Palestinians have had limited success. The conflict has a much deeper and historical root that dates back to 1948 when the British rulers left Jewish leaders and Palestinians in charge of the state of Israel. Today most Palestinian refugees live in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Isreal and the Palestinians disagree on a range of issues and one of them being on which part of Jerusalem is the capital. Isreal claims the entire Jerusalem as its capital and the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Tensions usually occur in areas like East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank where many Israelis and Palestinians live.
Disagreements on certain issues such as the handling of Palestinian refugees, how two sides can divide and share Jerusalem properly and the possibility of creating a Palestinian state next to Israel are fundamental issues that are the core to this conflict. It is incredibly difficult to sort out a viable solution that will satisfy both parties, especially when it comes to religious conflicts that are as complex and rooted between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Violence will certainly continue if the status quo does not change. Yet, there is a great possibility that progress can be made in lessening the cases of senseless violence and achieving peace in Jerusalem.
There are two prominent solutions that are often mentioned in the discussion of the Palestine and Israel conflict. The first is the one-state solution, which proposes to create one democratic state where Israel Jews, Palestinians, and Arabs all enjoy equal rights and live together as citizens in a “binational state”. The security of Israel will be called into question as the Jewish population would be reduced to a minority in which they will likely enjoy fewer rights and power over time in a binational state. The two-state solution will establish two different states Israel and Palestine for two peoples.
At its core, the conflict between Ideals and Palestinians is about each’s identity and both sides mutually deny the identity of the other. Part of the reason why religious conflicts are so difficult to resolve throughout human history is that each group collectively refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the other. Beyond the issues related to refugees and borders, the broader issues are intricately tied to each group’s identity and how coming into agreement with the other threatens its own unique, legitimate identity. Perhaps in an attempt to end future conflicts, one possible solution is to include human rights issues into account in possible peace negotiations in the future. Building institutions and structures that aim to create and foster peaceful relations between Israelis and Palestinians will most likely help in conflict resolution, lessen violence and wars and achieve long-lasting peace.
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