The Gaza Strip is the ‘weeping shore’ of our times. It is just a 45-km long and 5-12-km wide piece of land, crammed with people from the lower income group living as permanent refugees in perpetual fear of war in their own motherland.
West Asia, for all political purposes, was a no man’s land until Britain identified it as the source of energy (oil) for the future in the early 20th century. General Allenby conquered Jerusalem — the city of many faiths — in December 1917 as a ‘Christmas present’ for the British Empire after a fierce battle, defeating the Ottoman regime. Britain was ‘mandated’ by the League of Nations to govern Palestine after the San Remo conference in 1920. In 1947 Great Britain referred the question of Palestine to the newly formed United Nations and UN General Assembly through resolution 181, and recommended the establishment of a Jewish state on 56 per cent of the land and an Arab state on the remaining 44 per cent. The city of Jerusalem was kept as an independent entity. The Zionist Movement started in 1897 by Theodor Herzl in Europe took this as a golden opportunity. After the horrors of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, with a death toll of six million Jews, the international political situation was conducive for the homecoming of Jews to Jerusalem. But the unilateral decision of the newly formed U under the leadership of the World War victors was rejected by the indigenous Palestinian Arab population and within a few days after the adoption of the UN partition plan, civil conflicts shattered the polity of Palestine.
Unfortunately the effort of the Arab forces to resist Israel in the first Arab-Israel conflict failed miserably in 1948. Palestinians were pushed back to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and Israel was in control of more than 75 per cent of the land, instead of the 56 per cent allotted to them by the UN. From then the Palestinians have been at the mercy of a war-mongering state armed to the teeth. The US and its allies have their own reasons for not containing Israel’s bloody moves. Bigwigs in the US banking and arms industries have often shaped the country’s policy in this regard. Jews have a decisive say over them. Israel with state-of-the-art arms and ammunition is an effective ploy to put pressure on their friends and foes in West Asia.
On the other side, quite often the absence of prudent and seasoned political leadership capable of harnessing international public opinion in favour of Palestine like Yasser Arafat makes the situation more complicated. The resistance activities of movements like Hamas and several other political formations in Palestine are often counter-productive. Russia, the successor of the Soviet Union, is not politically sensitive and Chinese diplomacy suits only their own national interests, which are nowadays in favour of the US and Israel.
India in the post-Soviet era is forced to have Israeli arms and has withdrawn from the frontline campaign for the cause of Palestine, unlike in the past. The ascendance of the right-wing Modi regime further reduces the scope.
The people of Palestine have a pile of problems. The narration of it is not a solution. The much criticised 1947 UN partition plan is better than the present situation. Palestine and Israel are to be clearly marked. The position of Palestine must be firmed as a fully sovereign state by the UN. Democratic forces across the globe should rise to the occasion and compel the US-Israel combine to accept the reality. This is an opportunity for the new Indian government also to stand by the doves if it is not intending to be a hawk.