Heart of Arts

A Short History of the Israeli-Palestine Conflict

Suleiman Nafisat Opemipo


“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” — Mother Teresa

For over seventy years, the conflict between Israel and Palestine has remained one of the most contentious and violent disputes in the history of the world.

During the First World War, Britain made promises to two different groups, agreements that were certain to put the two into conflict. Firstly, to keep Arab’s support against the Ottoman Empire, Britain promised that Palestine could become part of an independent Arab state. Secondly, in 1917, Britain also issued the “Balfour Declaration,”  which promised that “His Majesty’s government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

The Balfour Declaration prompted the preexisting Jewish movement for a homeland called “Zionism.” Thousands of Jews therefore began emigrating to predominantly Arab Palestinian territory. At first, Jewish immigration was small. The Arabs outnumbered the Jews by a hundred to one as of 1919. In 1929, however, violence broke out between the two groups, and the situation was exacerbated by the continuous increase in Jewish immigration as anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany sent refugees streaming toward Palestine.

In 1947, the United Nations adopted Resolution 181, known as the Partition Plan, which sought to divide the British mandate of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states. Therefore, on May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was created, sparking the first Arab-Israeli War.

The 1948 Arab-Israeli War was a conflict that took place between the newly formed State of Israel and a coalition of Arab states. The conflict began when Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948. The surrounding Arab countries of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded the territory. The fighting lasted for several months and resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. Ultimately, Israel managed to defeat the Arab coalition and expand its territory, while the Palestinian people became refugees in the surrounding countries.

There are a few other important details to know about the 1948 war. First, the British Mandate for Palestine, which had been in place since the end of World War I, ended on May 15, 1948. This meant that there was no longer an internationally recognized authority governing the region. Second, the United Nations had proposed a plan for partitioning Palestine into two separate states, one for Jews and one for Arabs, but this plan was rejected by the Arab states. Finally, Israel was admitted to the United Nations on May 11, 1949, as the war was coming to an end. The war ended in 1949 with an Israeli victory. About 750,000 Palestinians were displaced, and the territory was divided into three parts, including the State of Israel, the West Bank (of the Jordan River), and the Gaza Strip.

It is worth noting that the conflict began with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, which caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and led to the first of many wars between both sides. Since then, there have been numerous attempts to reach a peace agreement, but the situation remains volatile and highly contentious.

In the decades that followed, the conflict continued to flare up in different forms. In 1956, the Suez Crisis erupted, resulting in a military conflict between Israel, France, and the United Kingdom on one side, and Egypt on the other.

  • The crisis began when Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal, which was previously owned by a French-British company.
  • Israel, France, and the UK responded by invading Egypt, claiming that they were protecting the canal.
  • The Soviet Union and the United States both opposed the invasion and pressured the three countries to withdraw.
  • The crisis highlighted the declining influence of European powers in the Middle East and strengthened the influence of the Soviet Union and the United States.

The Suez Crisis of 1956 set the stage for the conflict that would erupt eleven years later. In 1967, tensions between Israel and its Arab neighbors reached a boiling point, leading to the outbreak of the Six-Day War.

In May 1967, rising tensions between Israel and its Arab neighbors reached a breaking point. Egypt expelled the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) and mobilized its troops, while Syria also increased its military presence on the border. On June 5, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against Egypt, and the Six-Day War began.

The Six-Day War was fought over several key issues. First, Israel and the Arabs disputed the status of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula, which had been occupied by Egypt since the Suez Crisis. Second, Syria and Israel had unresolved territorial disputes over the Golan Heights. Finally, Jordan and Israel disputed the status of Jerusalem, which both sides claimed as their capital. The outbreak of war was also fueled by ideological differences and tensions between Israel and the Arabs.

The Six-Day War ended with Israel occupying the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Despite the cease-fire, tensions remained high between Israel and the Arabs.

In 1973, Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. The attack initially caught Israel off guard, but it quickly recovered and counter-attacked. The United States and the Soviet Union intervened to mediate a cease-fire. The Camp David Accords later led to the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in exchange for peace. The Yom Kippur War also had lasting implications, including an oil embargo against Israel’s allies and the rise of Palestinian militants.

The 1967 and 1973 wars were defining moments in the history of the Middle East, shaping the politics and relationships between the Arabs and Israel. The wars continued to have a lasting impact on the region, and the search for peace and stability remains a key challenge for all parties involved.

However, the conflict has continued to evolve since then, and there have been other important moments in the history of the region. One such moment was the outbreak of the first and second Intifadas Wars in 1987 and 2000, respectively.

The first intifada began in 1987 and lasted until 1993. One of the main causes of the first intifada was the frustration of the Palestinian people with the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Palestinians also protested against Israel’s confiscation of land, settlement expansion, and lack of progress in peace negotiations. The intifada began with a series of demonstrations and protests and then escalated to violence, including stone-throwing, Molotov cocktails, and attacks on Israeli soldiers. The Israeli military responded with force, leading to many Palestinian deaths.

The second intifada began in September 2000 and was sparked by a visit by Ariel Sharon, an Israeli politician, to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Palestinians viewed the visit as provocative, and violence erupted. The violence included suicide bombings, shooting attacks, and Israeli military incursions into Palestinian territories. The second intifada lasted for five years and resulted in thousands of deaths on both sides.

One of the major turning points of the second intifada was the 2002 Israeli military operation known as “Operation Defensive Shield.” This was a large-scale military operation that involved a major invasion of Palestinian territories, including the cities of Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jenin, and Nablus. The Israeli military’s goal was to dismantle the Palestinian militant infrastructure and prevent terrorist attacks against Israel. While the operation was successful in terms of military objectives, it led to increased tensions and violence between Israelis and Palestinians. The death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2004 was another factor. The conflict was marked by violence on both sides, including suicide bombings, shooting attacks, and military incursions. Ultimately, the conflict resulted in a stalemate, with no lasting peace agreement.

In addition to these major wars, there have been numerous smaller conflicts and acts of violence, such as the Gaza war in 2008–2009 and the 2014 Isreal–Gaza conflict. Since 2014, there have been periodic flare-ups of violence, such as the Great March of Return protests in 2018 and the conflict in May 2021.

In addition to these military conflicts, the conflict between Israel and Palestine is also characterized by a wider struggle over territory, sovereignty, and the status of Jerusalem. It has also involved a range of political and diplomatic initiatives, such as the more recent Abrahamic Accords.

The question of whether the conflict between Israel and Palestine should be classified as genocide is a highly contentious one, with strong arguments on both sides. The definition of genocide, according to the United Nations, is the “intention to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethical, racial, or religious group.” Some argue that the actions of the Israeli government towards the Palestinian people meet this definition, pointing to the use of force, restrictions on movement and access to resources, and the ongoing displacement of Palestinians from their homes.

Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been characterized by waves of violence and a lack of progress toward a lasting peace. One of the major flashpoints of this conflict has been the May 2021 conflict.

In May 2021, a new wave of violence erupted between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, with far-reaching consequences for the region. Starting in May 2021, the wave of violence between Israel and Hamas began after tensions had been rising for several months. The violence was sparked by multiple factors, including clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, the threatened eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem, and rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel. On May 10, 2021, Hamas fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, and the Israeli military responded with airstrikes on Gaza. Over the next eleven days, more than 200 Palestinians and 12 Israelis were killed, and thousands were injured. The violence finally ended on May 21, 2021

Since 2021, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been characterized by violence, protests, and diplomatic tensions. In 2021, there were several rounds of violence, including the May 2021 conflict, which led to the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians and dozens of Israelis. In 2022, tensions continued to escalate, with clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank, and Israeli military operations in Gaza. In 2023, there were continued efforts by the international community to broker a peace deal, but no significant progress was made.

“The October 7 airstrikes were a direct response to rockets launched from Gaza towards Israel, which were in turn a reaction to tensions over Israeli settlements and perceived violations of the ceasefire agreement. This attack was not an isolated incident, but part of a larger cycle of violence that has its roots in the complex and long-standing causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“The October 7 airstrikes were a tragic example of the violence that has plagued the region for generations. The complex and multifaceted roots of the conflict are deeply embedded in the history of the region, including past wars, land disputes, and the lack of a viable peace agreement. Both sides have legitimate grievances, and the cycle of violence and retaliation has become entrenched over time. Efforts to broker peace by outside actors, such as the United States, have so far been unsuccessful. To break this cycle and move towards a peaceful future.

In February 2024, the conflict remained deadlocked, with both sides unwilling to make any major concessions. Israel continued to expand settlements in the West Bank and launched attacks on several parts of the Palestinian territories. The United Nations and other international organizations continued to call for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, but the situation remained tense. The economic situation in the Palestinian territories continued to deteriorate, with high levels of unemployment and poverty.

Since the beginning of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, many countries around the world have taken a stance in support of one side or the other. The United States, in particular, has been a major supporter of Israel, while some other countries have supported the Palestinian cause.

The superpowers have had varying positions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The United States has been a strong supporter of Israel, providing it with military, economic, and diplomatic support. In contrast, many Arab countries, including Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, have supported the Palestinian cause. Russia has had a more balanced approach, maintaining diplomatic ties with both Israel and the Palestinian authorities. The European Union has also been involved in efforts to promote peace, including the Quartet on the Middle East, which is made up of the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations.

Throughout the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the United Nations has played a key role in trying to prevent violence and promote peace. From 2021 to the present, the United Nations has continued to call for a negotiated solution and has provided humanitarian aid to those affected by the conflict.

The United Nations has continued to play a role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a peace forum and mediator. One of the main contributions of the United Nations has been its support for the two-state solution, which calls for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. The United Nations has also helped to facilitate several rounds of peace negotiations between the two sides, including the Oslo Accords and the Camp David Summit. In addition, the United Nations has continued to provide humanitarian and development assistance to the Palestinian people.

Some of the key contributions of the United Nations to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from 2021 to the present include:

Appeals for an immediate ceasefire during the May 2021 conflict.

Providing humanitarian assistance to those affected by the conflict.

Engaging in diplomatic efforts to promote peace and prevent further violence.

Supporting the Palestinian Authority in its efforts to improve the living conditions of Palestinians.

Supporting the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in its work to provide essential services to Palestinian refugees.

I had the privilege of speaking with Professor Adewunmi Falode, Head of the Department of History and International Studies, who is an expert in the field of defense and strategic studies. He provided valuable insights into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and possible solutions.

According to Professor Falode, the Balfour Declaration, in which Britain expressed support for a Jewish state in Palestine, agreed on a two-state resolution. In retrospect, if the Arabs had agreed to the Two States Resolution, we probably wouldn’t be having this conflict. The Israelis were hungry for a homeland, and they considered not only the Middle East but also Uganda as possible locations.

The United Nations has been considering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the end of World War II, but many believe that the UN has not done enough to resolve the situation. Some argue that the UN’s support for both sides has only made the conflict more difficult to resolve. The world countries have taken up the Palestinian cause, viewing it as a moral issue, if the two parties want it to be resolved, you can’t force people to embrace peace, peace can only work if the two sides are ready, there should be ready to compromise, it can not always be your way, it has to be give and take (50/50). A sort of win-win situation.

In 1948, the United Nations proposed a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it has not been successful. Some have proposed a one-state solution, similar to what happened in South Africa, but this has also not been successful. The Israelis believe that they obtained their territories through warfare and do not want to give them up. The Palestinians want to reclaim their territories but have not been successful.

It means someone has to think outside the box and consider a one-state solution, like in South Africa. When the black population came to power, they didn’t drive out all the white people; instead, they agreed on a constitutional arrangement. You can’t tell the Israelis or the Palestinians to leave the region. Israel has argued that it took the Palestinian territories through war and does not want to give them up. If the Palestinians had agreed to the two-state solution, the violence would not have happened Israel extended its territory after the 1967 war, and that was when it was able to grab more territories.

The Israelis believe they got those territories through warfare. In warfare, there is something known as war booty, it is their booty.

The Arab states did not willingly cede control of these territories to Israel; they used military force to resist. If the Palestinians want to reclaim these territories, they are free to try, but so far, this has not been successful.

The Israelis argue that they did not obtain the West Bank and Jerusalem peacefully; they had to fight wars to gain control of these territories. One solution, according to Prof. Falode, is to consider a one-state solution. He believes that a solution would require the Palestinians and Israelis to come to the negotiating table and make concessions. Like in South Africa, a constitution could grant equal rights to everyone.

Although Israel is concerned about the Palestinians’ population advantage, the constitution could accommodate the Palestinians’ population.

It can be arranged in the constitution if both parties want peace. In Prof. Falode’s words, “You can not impose peace’. A neutral state or country, like the European Union, could facilitate the peace process, which would be gradual. Both sides must be willing to make sacrifices for peace. This is not a simple negotiation; it requires compromise. Each side should state their demands and allow a neutral party to help find common ground. The process will take time, but it is possible to achieve lasting peace if both sides are committed to the process.

“To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chain, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” — Nelson Mandela.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been ongoing for decades, and the search for a solution has been fraught with violence and destruction. However, despite the many obstacles, the only way forward is to work towards peace. This is not an easy task, but it is the only way to bring lasting stability to the region and its people. While it may be tempting to give up on the idea of peace, we must persevere and continue to pursue a solution that will benefit both sides.

There are several proposed solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These include the two-state solution, the one-state solution, the regional peace agreement solution, and the unilateral withdrawal solution. Each of these solutions has its benefits and drawbacks, and it is not clear which solution, if any, is the most viable.

Two-state solution: The two-state solution is one of the most widely proposed solutions to the conflict. It would establish a sovereign state for the Palestinians alongside the state of Israel, with mutually agreed-upon borders. The two-state solution has the potential to bring peace to the region, but many challenges make it difficult to implement. For example, there is disagreement over where the borders should be drawn, and how to deal with the issue of refugees.

The one-state solution proposes that the territory currently occupied by Israel and the Palestinian territories should become one democratic state with equal rights for all citizens. This solution has the potential to end the conflict by allowing Palestinians and Israelis to live together in one state. However, there are concerns about whether this would be feasible, given the history of violence and mistrust between the two sides. In addition, it is unclear how such a state would be governed and whether it would be able to function effectively.

The unilateral withdrawal solution:
“The unilateral withdrawal solution proposes that Israel withdraw its settlements from the West Bank without waiting for a peace agreement with the Palestinians. This solution has the advantage of potentially reducing tensions and violence in the region, and it could allow the Palestinians to have more control over their territory. However, there are concerns that a unilateral withdrawal could lead to further violence, and it is not clear whether the Palestinians would be willing to accept such a solution. In addition, many Israelis are opposed to a unilateral withdrawal, arguing that it would jeopardize Israel’s security.

The regional peace agreement solution:
“The regional peace agreement solution proposes that a comprehensive peace agreement should be reached between Israel, the Palestinians, and the other countries in the region, such as Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. This solution has the potential to bring stability to the region and address the root causes of the conflict. However, it would require a lot of time and effort to negotiate such an agreement, and it is not clear whether all of the parties involved would be willing to make the necessary compromises. In addition, there is a risk that such an agreement could be undermined by extremist groups.”

“It is clear that each of these solutions has advantages and disadvantages, and it is not clear which solution, if any, would be the most effective in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Therefore, it is important to carefully consider all of the options before making any decisions, and to avoid taking any hasty or rash actions.”

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a complex and multifaceted issue, and there is no easy solution. However, a solution must be found, for the sake of the people living in the region, and for the sake of peace and stability in the Middle East. It is important to remember that even the smallest steps toward peace can make a big difference and that we should never give up hope that a lasting and just solution can be found.


*Suleiman Nafisat Opemipo is a student of the Department of History and International Studies, Lagos State University. She can be reached at *nafisatgold06@gmail.com

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people.

× Let's Chat!