The Palestine-Israel conflict is one of the deep-rooted issues in the Middle East which remains unresolved. The rivalry between the two countries started in history when the British wanted to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine under the Balfour declaration in 1917. This issue, in return, angered the Palestinians, making them question the right of the British to make decisions about a country that did not belong to them (Stern, 2020). Since then, the conflicts have kept worsening, despite the interference of many foreign forces to help resolve this issue. Moreover, a special relationship has been established between the United States and Israel, leaving Palestine in a vulnerable position. In this research paper, the special relationship between Israel and the United States will be scrutinized to better understand how Israel has a surpassing power over Palestine in the Palestine-Israel conflict.
Special Relationship between the US and Israel
The long-term connection between the United States and Israel has influenced both domestic affairs in Israel and its performance in the international arena. The country has always had the support of the US in terms of economic aid, presidency assistance, and lobbying of interests. Thus, the diversity of such relationships that promoted Israeli issues at the international level helped the country obtain a stronger influence in the context of Palestine-Israeli disputes.
The US’ Economic Aid
The United States’ relationship with Israel is deep-rooted in history since the US was the first country to recognize Israel as a state in 1948. Historians state that on May 14, 1948, the United States became the first country in the world that recognized Israel de facto (Freedman, 2012). Since then, the relationship between both countries started evolving, and the path to a special relationship was paved. The United States and Israel are united by shared commitments to democracy, economic prosperity, and security interests (U.S. Department of State, 2021). Moreover, two pillars that have been strengthening the bilateral relations of both countries were the US economic and military aid.
The financial support of Israel was a significant booster in the economic growth of Israel. The United States started by providing minimal military and economic aid to Israel, which later increased drastically to $3 billion per year (Freedman, 2012). As a result of the huge military aid, Israel’s defense forces turned out to be one of the strongest armies in the world (Freedman, 2012). The United States had an immense role in the growth and prosperity of Israel, in addition to ensuring the security of Israel in the region. On the other hand, Israel’s security contributes to the stable foreign policy of the USA (U.S. Department of State, 2021). In addition, Israel obtains weapons from the USA, which is overlooked by Congress, as well as other forms of aid (DeGrasse, 2019). Furthermore, the role of the US presidency was essential in the establishment of the special relationship between the United States and Israel.
US Presidency Role in Supporting Israel
A significant determinant of the United States’ support toward Israel is the continuous commitment of the US presidents to the goals of lobbying Israeli interests in the Middle East. According to Kiely (2017), “from the Truman administration to the Obama administration, the United States has repeatedly professed and demonstrated a profound and unequaled commitment to […] the Jewish state” (p. 1). Looking back to Carter’s presidency in the 1970s, many initiatives were implemented to end the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The Carter administration was influential in promoting the negotiation of the Camp David Accords and the assistance in fighting against the Palestine Liberation Organization (Jensehaugen, 2018). The same pattern in foreign policy has been observed through the years in the agendas of Obama and Trump.
In particular, Trump’s administration was significantly supportive of the Jewish country in terms of military issues. Indeed, in 2017, “defying public opinion and decades of U.S. and international policy, President Donald Trump […] declared the formal recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (Moten, 2018, p. 6). Such an official recognition is an indication of the support toward Israel because, at that time, Palestine claimed parts of East Jerusalem as its lands. Thus, the initiatives and overall agendas of the US Presidents’ administrations have been consistent in providing diligent support to Israel, which is apparent in the commitment to the Jewish lobby movement.
Another aspect of close cooperation between the two countries is through the Jewish lobby. In particular, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has been an influential movement to promote the partnership between Israel and the United States. According to this establishment, the mission of AIPAC is to “encourage and persuade the U.S. government to enact specific policies that create a strong, enduring and mutually beneficial relationship with our ally Israel” (AIPAC, 2020, para. 1). Through deliberate actions, the USA promotes its interests in the strategically important region of the world and obtains a reliable partner that prioritizes the democracy and moral values of America (AIPAC, 2020). In particular, the lobby “promotes peace – including a negotiated two-state agreement with the Palestinians – and helps deter regional conflict by making clear to potential foes that they cannot defeat the Jewish state” (AIPAC, 2020, para. 3). Thus, the USA has developed an integrative and deliberate foreign affairs policy specifically aimed at supporting Israel as its strategic partner in the Middle East.
Two-State Solution Deterioration
In the attempts to maintain the peace process between Palestine and Israel, many foreign forces were supporting a two-state solution. Both Palestine and Israel have failed in working towards a two-state solution due to the acute difference in approaching the conflict resolution opportunities. However, Israel demonstrates a stronger position in withstanding Palestinian opposition and forwarding its interests due to the continuous support of the United States. As a result, the conflict remains unresolved, and Israel continues to pursue its territorial interests in the Middle East.
The dispute between Israel and Palestine has been based on war for territory, which is claimed by both countries as their historical lands. In particular, Palestine claims that Jerusalem is the Muslim city since it was mentioned in the theological writings as the sacred land. Researchers state that “historically, Muslim Arabs ruled Jerusalem longer than any other religious groups” (Moten, 2018, p. 8). Therefore, when in 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank; this action was considered Israel’s annexation of Palestinian lands. The border between the two countries, therefore, is not agreed upon, which is why the Israeli wall separating the West Bank from Palestine is identified as annexation (Dajani, 2017). Thus, the conflict involves two countries; however, the dispute has been an ongoing problem that seems to be impossible to resolve in a two-state solution mode.
Failure of Two-State Solution
Despite the world community’s involvement in the attempts to resolve the dispute between Israel and Palestine, the ultimate goal has been to establish the two-state agreement of peace. However, the repeated conflicts in the region and the overall military tension that persisted between the two countries throughout the years since Palestinian lands’ annexation showed that a two-state solution is unrealistic. With such a strong and globally influential lobbyist, the USA, Israel obtains an unequal power over Palestine, which, in return, refuses to comply with the dispute solutions that contradict its position concerning the lands.
A vivid example of the deterioration in the process of conflict resolution is a recent intensification of military actions of Israel and Palestine in May 2021 (Pace et al., 2021). Indeed, the crisis that occurred in May 2021 was characterized by intensive violent actions on both sides of the conflict with much damage caused. The center of this conflict was the Gaza Strip, which was stricken by Israel air forces. The opposing views on this episode demonstrate the difference in the two sides’ opinions, which deteriorate the opportunity for peace achievement. According to Pace et al. (2021), “the campaign’s quest to humanize the everyday suffering of 2 million inhabitants of Gaza stands in sharp contrast to Israel’s representation of the Gaza Strip as a hotbed of terrorists” (p. 1). Thus, it is highly unrealistic that the two countries can resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner through an agreement. However, the persistence of the US’s support of Israel provides the latter with the potential to become an influential state in the region.
Israel as a Rising Power
Given the strength of the US’s support and lobbying of the Jewish interest at the international level, Israel has managed to expand its power. Indeed, the country has positioned itself as an influential actor in international and regional politics, which is why neighboring states establish ties with Israel. Its strategic partners on the diplomatic level are Egypt and Jordan, with whom Israel builds long-term and reliable ties. Since the resolution of the conflict with Egypt, Israel managed to build mutually beneficial relationships with its neighboring state (Moten, 2018). Thus, Israel obtains an opportunity to expand its influence in the Middle East as a rising power due to its close ties with an important lobbyist, the United States of America.
The Palestine-Israel Peace Process
The global community and some international organizations, and specific countries have made several attempts to assist with the Palestine-Israel peace process, yet unfortunately, none of them succeeded. The European Union (EU) had its share of actions aimed at stabilizing the tension between the two countries and equalize the power of both sides by providing support toward Palestine. Indeed, “in 1948 and the parallel beginnings of the Palestine refugee issue […], Europe has sought to position itself as a mediator and power broker in the region” (Pace et al., 2021, p. 3). EU has continuously worked toward expanding its support in the Middle East, and in 1980, it “issued the Venice Declaration, an important milestone in that it recognized Palestinians’ right to self-determination” (Pace et al., 2021, p. 3). Apart from the supporting attempts to resolve the dispute between Israel and Palestine, many peace agreements have been introduced and pursued since 1993 and to the present.
In particular, the peace process known as Oslo Accords was launched in 1993. It was aimed at signing a peace treaty between the two countries under the United Nations Security Council (Kiely, 2017). However, the Palestinian side opposed the attempt to sign the treaty. The Camp David Summit in 2000 was an important step toward peace between the two countries, which was reinforced by the American lobbyist actions. The summit between President Clinton, the Palestinian side, and the Israeli side did not end in achieving an agreement (Kiely, 2017). In the following years, the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 and Quartet’s Roadmap for Peace of 2003 were initiated by foreign forces but failed to obtain peace-promising results. Moreover, subsequent attempts to sign a peace agreement or promote resolution of the conflict was made within such initiatives as Obama- led Peace Talks held between2009-2013, Kushner’s Deal of the Century of 2019, and the Abraham Accord Peace Agreement of 2020 were also failed. Thus, the conflict remains unresolved, the two-state agreement is unachieved, and the foreign forces seem incapable of assisting.
In summation, the role of foreign forces had failed to resolve the Palestine-Israel conflict since the instability and rivalry between both states are still ongoing to date. Nonetheless, the role of the United States in this conflict is biased, as it has a strong relationship with Israel and pursues its strategic interests related to the sphere of influence in the Middle East. Such a policy has been a pivotal characteristic of the US presidency throughout the years, which has helped Israel create an image of a powerful state in the region that uses military oppression to pursue its geopolitical interests. Consequently, Israel has the upper hand in this conflict, whilst Palestine is left vulnerable without a strong foreign supporter. The analysis provided in this research paper helps identify the sources of influence and the reasons for the uneven distribution of power in the Middle East. The findings might be applicable in finding alternative solutions to the problem at the international level.
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