Causes of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

5 May 2016

The origins of the conflict between Arabs and Israelis lie deeply in religious and historical times. The aftermath of World War Two instigated the rise of Zionism and Arab nationalism, escalating the religious and cultural differences between the two nationalities.

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Foreign interference from western nations negatively intervened in the tensions between Arabs and Israelis. The decline of the Ottoman Empire gave opportunities for Britain to impose the Mandate System which increased hostilities between Arabs, Israelis and the Western world. Conflict between the Arabs and the Israelis were mainly due to the rise of Zionism and Arab Nationalism.

Following the Holocaust and other events in WWII, Jewish people were even more displaced and were encouraged by Herzl and Weizmann’s Zionist movement to migrate back to the homeland, modern day Palestine. This was perceived by the Arab inhabitants as an invasion.

The Jewish brought with them international expertise to boost the economy, dominating the finance and agricultural industries. Arabs reacted with violence, attacking Jewish settlements of Tel Aviv and Haifa in 1920. The Jews in response created the Haganah, the Jewish Defence Force dedicated to maintaining the security of the settlements.

Another factor was the shared religious interest in Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock, which is a central focal point in the conflict over borders. The Arabs mobilised very slowly but eventually the Arab Nationalism movement was founded, their aim to establish Arab rule in the Middle East, directly contrasting with Zionism thus inevitably leading to conflict.

Their strong religious and cultural differences were crucial to the Arab-Israeli conflict. International interest in the nature of the Arab-Israeli relationship was counterproductive to reconciling the differences between the two ethnicities. Early attempts by interested parties to make agreements ended in failure and abandonment due to contradictory and inconsistent promises.

The Hussein-McMahon Correspondence of 1915 was a series of a letters between the Arabs and the British. The correspondence promised British support for an Arab independence if the Arabs revolted against the Ottoman Empire family. This alliance however, was juxtaposed by the next agreement, the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. Made between Britain, France and Russia, it discussed the division of the Middle East with Arabia as an independent state while Palestine would be jointly ruled by the three co-conspirators.

The revelation reinforced the determination of the Arabs to be independent. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 complicated the situation further since it appeared to be promising the establishment of a Jewish National State in a letter between the British and the Jewish.

The UN Partition Plan in 1947 gave the opportunity for Zionist leader Ben Gurion to declare the establishment of the State of Israel and was the catalyst for the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, one of many violent conflicts that would perpetuate as the conflict continued to be unresolved.

The uncoordinated, duplicitous and irrational efforts by the western world to intervene in the Arab-Israeli conflict were weaknesses clearly thought to be necessary and instead increased the tensions between the two nations. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire left the fate of the Middle East to the League of Nations.

They implemented the Mandate System, a form of governance designed to assist the fractured Arab community to establish independence by administering regions until they were ready for self-governance. However, their ulterior motives to maintain access to key resources in the area, mostly oil deposits and the Suez Canal prevented both Arab nationalist and Zionist aims.

The actions of these nations were detrimental to the relations between Arabs and Israelis and contributed to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The major causes of the Arab-Israeli conflict were foreign interference, nationalism and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. These factors were critical to the development and escalation of hostilities between the two nations torn over one land.

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