Day 78 – Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

UN News: Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “key to sustainable peace in the Middle East”, maintaining that the lack of any progress only “furthers radicalization across the region”. The expansion and acceleration of illegal settlement activities in the occupied West Bank, ongoing demolitions, seizures of Palestinian-owned property and evictions are a continuing cause for concern. Human suffering prevails throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, including the “dire socio-economic conditions” facing the two million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.

Palestine Territories: The Gaza Strip and the West Bank had been occupied by Egypt and Jordan, respectively, since the 1948 war until 1967. Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the Six-Day War of 1967 and has since maintained control. The Gaza Strip economy is severely hampered by Egypt and Israel’s almost total blockade, the high population density, limited land access, strict internal and external security controls, the effects of Israeli military operations, and restrictions on labor and trade access across the border. Seventy percent of the population is below the poverty line.

Human Rights Watch: The Israeli government continues to enforce severe and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians’ human rights, restrict the movement of people and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip, and facilitate the transfer of Israeli citizens to settlements in the occupied West Bank, an illegal practice under international humanitarian law.

Israel’s twelve-year closure of Gaza, exacerbated by Egyptian restrictions on its border with Gaza, limits access to educational, economic and other opportunities, medical care, clean water and electricity for the nearly 2 million Palestinians who live there. Eighty percent of Gaza’s population depend on humanitarian aid.

In 2009, as a member of the World Trade Centers Association and co-founder of the Peace Committee, I traveled extensively through Palestine (West Bank) in an effort to establish a business and education exchange program. In many towns, I was the first American to visit in decades. Although we received much initial collaboration and support, due to a host of political obstacles, we were unable to realize the program.  Even the Peace Committee was disbanded.  Fortunately, it has been recently resurrected, although in a much different form.

Overall, I encountered a resident and entrepreneurial people. They didn’t want hand outs or any special privileges. They just wanted to be free to pursue prosperity and happiness without  undue restrictions and prohibitions. Unfortunately, poverty and oppression were evident everywhere.  Armed Israeli guards were ubiquitous throughout the country, even controlling strict access to Palestinian places of worship along with cities and towns within the West Bank, borders, and roads. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to gain access to Gaza, where conditions were much worse.  

There are no simple solutions. There have been dozens of peace treaties between Israel and Palestine. The current outline for a Palestinian–Israeli peace agreement has been a two-state solution. NBC: Unfortunately, many think the Trump administration has exasperated the situation.  Brookings Institute: The framing of the Trump administration’s plan… was that past efforts did not go far enough in prioritizing the Israeli narrative. World Leaders react. 

Unfortunately, it’s hard to know how to help. BBC NewsUS stops all aid to Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza. The UNRWA is the largest UN organization in the Gaza Strip and the only UN Agency that implements services directly: emergency assistance to Palestine refugees in Gaza as well as essential education and health services. Gaza Crisis Appeal