The history of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people reaches back before the time when international political organizations recognized it as a significant problem. However, major events in the conflict started occurring in the middle of the twentieth century, and the tension between the two peoples has affected them to this day. The foundation of the friction lies in territorial changes and people’s right to reside on these lands (Gelvin 90).
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Historically, Palestinians and Israelis have lived on the territory of Israel at many different points in time, and their relocation has led to disputes. While Palestinians argue that the occupied land should belong to their deterritorialized nation, Israelis disagree, proclaiming it as their own.
Both these two nations and other countries have made multiple attempts to establish peace and end the struggle. For example, one of the proposed solutions entailed the establishment of two separate states – Palestine and Israel, where each nation could determine its own rules and freedoms (O’Malley 12). The citizens from both sides of the conflict were not entirely opposed to this idea (O’Malley 12). Nonetheless, the struggle persists, and the tensions between the two peoples have not subsided.
In 2017 and 2018, the situation in the struggle between Palestine and Israel evolved further. The United States government decided to remove its embassy from Tel Aviv and move it to a location in the western part of Jerusalem (Eglash). The site is located close to East Jerusalem – a territory in dispute, where settlements of Palestinians and Israelis are intertwined. The Palestinian Authority interpreted this decision as America’s wish to distance itself from diplomatic relations with Palestine, although the official statement of the United States denied this criticism (Eglash).
However, the move to Jerusalem has already impacted the Palestinian people adversely. Moreover, other actions of the current U.S. administration support the idea that the strain between Palestine and America is increasing. Past and current events, as well as other nations’ reactions to the embassy’s move, have produced long-lasting effects on both sides of the conflict. It is therefore relevant to explore the effects created by this decision.
The Outcomes of the Decision
There are multiple political and social effects of the embassy’s transfer. First of all, it is necessary to describe what happened prior to the merger and which particular decisions led to this change. According to Gearan and Eglash, the move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was seen by Palestinian representatives as a failure to remain unbiased in the conflict. The reason behind this reaction lies in the historical role of Jerusalem for the two nations.
It is the current capital of Israel according to that country’s declaration, but Palestinians see its eastern part as their rightful territory (Shah et al. 4). According to critics, the relocation of the embassy could be interpreted as the recognition of Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel by the U.S. (Gearan and Eglash). Thus it is understandable why Palestinians felt denigrated by this action. Vehement supporters of the new embassy argue that this interpretation is correct and that the Trump administration is agreeing with the city’s ownership by the Jewish people (Gearan and Eglash).
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Protests against the new embassy were initiated by Palestinians after the news emerged. As a result, more than a thousand people were injured in Gaza on the day of the embassy’s opening (Holmes and Balousha). While members of the Trump family celebrated the first day in the new building, the Palestinian territory became a location of massive protests which drew thousands of people marching to show disagreement with the decision of the United States.
According to Holmes and Balousha, the havoc commenced just 60 miles away from the embassy’s new location. The events were portrayed differently in the international media, with Israel claiming that the protests were a part of a terrorist plot initiated by the rulers of Gaza, Hamas. They, in turn, replied that they encouraged the protesters to act in defiance but did not support them breaking down the fence. The conflict led to multiple Palestinians losing their lives, reportedly through being shot by the Israeli snipers (Holmes and Balousha). This event can be described as an immediate effect of the embassy’s relocation on the Palestinian people.
Apart from the outcomes of the Palestinians’ reaction to the new embassy, long-term results of this move should also be analyzed. According to Eglash, the embassy in Jerusalem will also be responsible for the United States’ Palestinian diplomatic mission. This does not mean that the previously employed head of the consulate will relocate to Jerusalem to oversee the initiative. Instead, this position will be occupied by the current ambassador to Israel (Eglash).
This decision further affects the possible solutions to the conflict. It should be noted that a two-state solution has been suggested and generally supported by most nations (O’Malley 12). However, the current situation lowers the probability of both nations adhering to this approach.
The violence increased after the withdrawal of American support for the Palestinian refugees, the relocation of the embassy, and the merger of the diplomatic mission (DeYoung and Eglash). Thus it is possible that the two sides will no longer be able to approach the dispute with the rationality necessary for a two-state solution. As Hirsch-Hoefler et al. find, such an extensive and prolonged exposure to violence has led both Palestinians and Israelis to seek authoritarian and radical ways to end the fight (844).
Canetti et al. further support this claim and argue that compromise may be unreachable if the nations continue to choose violence (84). As can be seen, the relocation led to violent reactions. Moreover, it is possible that the worsened relationship between Palestinian officials and U.S. representatives will further escalate the conflict and lead to Palestinians’ lack of support in the negotiation for a mutually beneficial solution. As a result, the potential outcomes of the American decision may be substantial.
The observed outcomes that followed the relocation of the American embassy suggest a multitude of issues for the Palestinian side of the conflict. Followed by the withdrawal of refugee support, the decision by U.S. officials was understandably interpreted by the Palestinian people as disadvantageous to them. The protests that took place on an opening day led to multiple deaths and left hundreds of people injured, showing the short-term outcomes of the move.
It is possible that the U.S. did not consider the significance of Jerusalem as a territory in dispute between the two nations. However, the following integration of the Palestinian diplomatic mission could lead one to think that these choices were not accidental. The current tension between protesters and supporters of the new embassy may decrease the possibility of establishing peace, and the results of the relocation suggest that the conflict will continue inspiring violence between the two nations.
Canetti, Daphna, et al. “Exposure to Violence, Ethos of Conflict, and Support for Compromise: Surveys in Israel, East Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza.” Journal of Conflict Resolution, vol. 61, no. 1, 2017, pp. 84-113.
DeYoung, Karen, and Ruth Eglash. “U.S. Ends Aid to United Nations Agency Supporting Palestinian Refugees.” The Washington Post. 2018. Web.
English, Ruth. “U.S. to Merge Diplomatic Mission Serving Palestinians with Embassy in Israel.” The Washington Post. 2018. Web.
Gearan, Anne, and Ruth Eglash. “Trump’s Decision to Open Jerusalem Embassy Complicates Promise to Seek Middle East Peace.” The Washington Post, 2018. Web.
Gelvin, James L. The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War. 3rd ed., Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Hirsch-Hoefler, Sivan, et al. “Conflict Will Harden Your Heart: Exposure to Violence, Psychological Distress, and Peace Barriers in Israel and Palestine.” British Journal of Political Science, vol. 46, no. 4, 2016, pp. 845-859.
Holmes, Oliver, and Hazem Balousha. “Israel faces outcry over Gaza killings during Jerusalem embassy protests.” The Guardian, 2018. Web.
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O’Malley, Padraig. “Israel and Palestine: The Demise of the Two-State Solution.” New England Journal of Public Policy, vol. 29, no. 1, 2017, p. 12.
Shah, Sayed Amir Hussain, et al. “Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel; International and Regional Repercussions on Relocation of the United States Embassy.” International Journal of Recent Innovations in Academic Research, vol. 2, no, 2, 2018, pp. 4-10.