According to the theories of political science the basic four elements of a state include land, population, government and sovereignty. Absence of any single element from these questioned the legitimacy of a state. What if a state possess the latter three excluding land? Finding the answer of the question will lead us to the first half of the last century.
Establishment of “Hovevei Zion” movement, which later was turned into “Zionist movement” by Theodor Herzl in late 19th century can be remarked as the starting of a new disaster. The mentioned movement left no stone unturned to fulfill the dream of so called “promised land” depicted in “Torah” to be established in Palestine which had been home for millions of Arabs for centuries.
The Zionist movement’s principal aim was to establish a Jewish state in Palestine by facilitating Jewish return from diaspora, mostly from the Europe. The Ottoman government took some precautions against this movement’s propaganda anticipating the demographical change in the holy land. As a measure, the Ottomans declared 80 percent of Palestine as state property and acquisition of territories was prohibited by law for the alien Jews who were migrating from different countries in Palestine. It was declared that the Ottoman Empire was not a settlement area for people who were exiled from Europe.
In May, 1901 the founder of the Zionist movement Theodor Herzl offered the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid Khan to pay the empire’s foreign debts and to provide propaganda for the Sultan in Europe in exchange for opening Palestinian lands to Jewish settlement and transferring governance to the Jewish people. The sultan uncompromisingly rejected that offer considering it as a heinous and treacherous offer to the Muslim world. Despite of the rejection, the movement kept lobbying to achieve their goal of establishing a Zionist state under the shadow of Jewish on the Arab Muslim’s land.
In 1914, while the great war broke out, the Zionist parliament member of the Britain Herbert Samuel convinced the British authority to support for an establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine in exchange of monetary and propaganda support to meet the war cost. After 3 years, in 1917, the British government declared its support to the Zionist cause without having any legitimate power to issue it. The accord between the Zionist lobby and the British government had been named Balfour-Rothschild declaration since then.
In 1948, under avowed cooperation of the British government, the Zionist “hijacked and robbed” the home of Arab Muslims and Christians playing the Holocaust card. Though the Arabs had nothing to do with the holocaust and deportation of the Jewish community from the European countries, they had to pay the price with their lives, homes, lands and rights. Neighboring Arab countries fought several times to regain the snatched land since 1948, yet to be succeeded. Though the United Nations can’t impose a two state solution over Palestinian land at the first hand, yet it imposed a “two state” solution which refers to a “peaceful” co-existence of both Palestine and Israel; though the latter one is established on the Palestinian land.
Despite the so called two state solution model imposed by the UN, the Israeli government kept occupying and evicting the Palestinians, obviously by the avowed help of the US and its allies, which now has confined the Palestinians in two enclaves of West Bank and Gaza strip measuring 6220 square km area in total.
The most recent Arab attempt to liberate Palestine was 1973 war. After that the neighboring Arab countries including Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco normalized relations with Israel. Other influential Arab countries like Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Oman have not declared their ties with Israel officially till date, but it’s no secret that the mentioned countries welcome the normalized relations among Arab governments and Israel. Despite government’s normalization with Israel, most of the Arabs have rejected to let their fellow Palestinians stand alone because of religious and emotional attachment with Palestine. Sometimes this support has transpired in the form of Gaza freedom flotilla (In May, 2010 Israel attacked on this civilian aid fleet and killed 10 humanitarian activist in international water) when sometimes this emotion leads to militant activities. The West kept expressing their utmost support to eradicate extremism though their reluctance to solve the Palestine problem says it otherwise.
The United States has been a central player in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for more than half a century. It became the first country to recognize Israel as a sovereign nation in 1948. The goals of the US were securing vital energy resources, reducing the Soviet and Iranian influence, ensuring the survival and security of Israel and Arab allies. Concern of the American Zionist community and Christian Evangelists, both strong supporters of Israel, fueled the US foreign policy to be sided with Israel no matter the republicans or the democrats represent the white house. But, the situation has turned a bit recently after the start of the Arab Spring in 2011. Other regional conflicts, such as wars in Syria and Yemen; Iran’s push for dominance in the region; Russia’s continuous ground gaining in Middle East threatened the US interests more. Though the US support to Israel never had been waned, the Trump administration reignited controversy over the disputed land of Jerusalem. According to the UNGA resolution, Jerusalem was meant to be a corpus separatum, or separate body, recognizing its shared religious significance for Christians, Jews, and Muslims. But the US administration recognized the city as the capital of Israel and the Biden administration has not signaled yet to reconsider the decision.
The US provides nearly $5 billion from its budget to Israel to hold the military superiority of its closest ally in the Middle East compared to other Arab countries. By law, the U.S. government must ensure that any arms sales to other Middle Eastern states do not “adversely affect Israel’s qualitative military edge”.
The People’s Republic of China, holding the presidency of the UN Security Council in May, tried several times to have a resolution passed to cease fire immediately in Gaza. However, the effort has failed due to opposition from the United States.
Since the US possess stronghold in the Middle East due to the existence of Israel, not surprisingly, China is trying to have its active voice in the region too. From the beginning of the Israeli occupation, the Chinese authority expressed its solidarity with Palestine. But, experts have claimed it only to be limited in lip service. All China is concerned about a politically stable Middle East for its economic interest. The Arab countries are the sole providers of China’s need for gas and oil. Besides, the China-Europe trade route is dependent on Suez Canal. The greater BRI plan of China includes Port Abbas of Iran and Haifa of Israel to be executed. Consequently, the Chinese authority is interested in maintaining relation with both antagonist countries. Recently signed “comprehensive strategic partnership” between China and Iran has corrugated the US eyebrows.
While the country raise its voice for Palestinians on one hand, it has created strong economic and technological bonding with Israel on the other. Quoting Li Ghofu, “As long as there isn’t any just and long-lasting solution to this conflict, the unrest will not stop. That has negative implications for economic cooperation between China and many states in the region” depicts China’s desire to intervene in Middle Eastern game.
In 2012, when the Arab spring harbored in Syria, Hamas exhibited its support to the rebels and declared to join forces with them. Hamas leader Khaled Meshal’s speech regarding this issue negatively answered a question “Is Hamas representing Shi’a sect?” The incident made the fact clear that in the question of defending Palestine and the holy land, the alliance was established keeping the topic of merging with Shi’a sect aside. Many experts predicted then, the years older resistance alliance among Syria, Hamas, Iran and Hezbollah would be broken. It was portrayed as an outcome of sectarian rivalry between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. At the long term, the prediction turned out to be wrong. Both Iran backed Lebanese group Hezbollah and Hamas kept resisting against Israel from north and south.
While it comes to the sectarian issue, the most influential Sunni country Saudi Arabia draws attention. After King Faisal, the kingdom provided lip service in Palestine issue while in reality, tried to maintain a neutral position. But, the Arab spring made the monarchs recalculate their strategy to protect their fate. Saudi has become one of the most trustable allies of the US in the Middle East to suppress Iranian influence over the region. Crowned Prince Muhammad Bin Salman has taken several measures to reform Saudi’s customs, laws and foreign relation. One of the steps in this way is to normalize relation with Israel. Though Saudi has not declared anything officially yet but its embargo on Qatar and imposed war on Yemen support the open secret. But the adventures of the prince didn’t bring the magic lamp for him. Rather, both the war and embargo have been failed and the prince is looking for a way to retreat while keeping his head high at the same time. Set of conditions, imposed on Qatar, regarding defying Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas as well as other political Islamic organizations and limiting Al Jazeera’s “insolence” against Arab monarchs have been denied by Qatar. Yet, recent attempts to stop war in Yemen and developing relation with Iran seems surprising. It also raises the question, how can Saudi maintain good relation with Iran and Israel at the same time?
Weakening the probability of Arab unity and fear of political Islam have paved the way for Israel to be closed to Arab monarchist countries. And, of course, the defender of the human rights and democracy, the US is Okay with the Arab monarchists and a dummy authoritarian military government that established its foundation on blood and flesh of civilians by dethroning the first ever democratically elected Egyptian government of Muhammad Mursi.
Another important player considered in this region is Turkey both for its history and present political, diplomatically and military successes. Ottoman Empire, in other words, Turkey was the last custodian of the holy land before it was occupied by the British and later “spared” to the Zionists. After the establishment of Israel in 1948, the then republican Turkish government led by Kamal Ataturk recognized Israel and it was the first recognition of Israel from a Muslim majority country. Since then, till 2010 the diplomatic relation between two countries remained good though rise of AK party as Turkish government made it cold. Things got worse in 2010 when Israeli commandos attacked in a Turkish aid ship MV Marmara, which tried to break the airtight blockade of Israel over Gaza, and killed 10 Turkish aid activists in the international water. Turkey suspended any kind of diplomatic relation with Israel. The diplomatic and bilateral trade got established and suspended again in 2016 and 2018 respectively. Israel is one of the main exporting target for Turkey with $6 billion worth of annual trade. A question is raised among experts that why Turkey maintain diplomatic and trade relation with Israel and condemn five Arab countries who have normalized relation with Israel at the same time?
To have a deep look into the matter, we have to consider the annual worth of humanitarian aid sent to the resistant movement government in Gaza, not internationally recognized Mahmud Abbas’s dummy government. According to the report, in last decade Turkey has sent about $400 million aid in Gaza and that sent through Egypt-Gaza border. This has happened due to the sake of bilateral relation between Turkey and Israel. Now if the question is raised to the Arab aid sent to Palestine, then it must not be forgotten that the aid is sent to West bank to Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah government, a dummy entity to represent Palestine. Instead of raising voice against oppression and for total independence, the Fatah kept delivering its bubble speech in international podium. The aid to Gaza, where the resistance war is going on, is sent by Iran, Turkey and Qatar only. This is why the west never condemn the authoritarian Arab countries when on the other hand they impose blockade on Qatar, years of embargo on Iran and threaten Turkey to step aside.
Recent “conflict” between Hamas and Israel is more like a one sided persecution due to Israel’s military superiority. Death toll alone from Palestinian side is 20 times greater than of Israel’s; let alone the demolition and number of injured. Despite of Israel’s upper hand, in a single front the Palestinians had broken the leg.
Depicting Michael Bröning, executive director of the German think tank Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung’s office in New York, it’ “TikTok Intifada” ; the uprising of the Palestinians through Social media which has successfully gained pro-Palestinian narratives in western youths.
In previous rounds of conflict, Israeli authority used its influence in both offline and online through social media to establish narrative on its side. The narrative that depicts Israel’s right to self-defense in the face of Hamas’s “attack” has got a hit this time by the pro-Palestinian online activists. In face of facebook and tweeter’s post filtering, online users seek refuge to platforms like telegram and TikTok. Scenario of the situation from Palestinian point of view, Israeli airstrike on civilian neighborhood, demolition of civilian infrastructure including news agency’s offices have drawn attention of international community through TikTok intifada.
Mostly used social media platforms like Facebook and Tweeter removed thousands of posts, recorded and live videos on their standard rule violation ground. Though at the same time videos and posts regarding the clash uploaded from Israeli Defense Force’s (IDF) official accounts remained untouched. Pro-Palestinian activists and social media users accepted other renowned platforms to keep the fight on media front to defend their narrative. Office building of International broadcasting media Al Jazeera and Associated Press (AP), who were broadcasting the Israeli airstrikes on civilians, has been demolished by Israeli bombardment. Israeli Defense Force (IDF) justified the bombing of the building by claiming it housed military assets of Hamas, the resistance group of the Gaza. Though it couldn’t provide a single proof on its claim. According to experts, the scale of targeting Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces is higher than any time in recent decades.
On the other hand, the Israeli forces has acknowledged its bombardment has resulted in “unfortunate unintended civilian casualties”. Though the act is being condemned as intended to discontent and to turn people against resistance movements of Gaza. The armed resistant groups will face discontent and clash of interests will compel both civilians and the resistance groups to stand against each other, that’s for what Israel is targeting civilian lives and assets; according to the experts.
Palestinians have been fighting for their rights and occupied country for more than seven decades and will keep fighting. But, if the west is not compelled to take consistent and effective measures to come to a just solution and the Arabs don’t unite in Palestine issue, the desired peace may be decelerated for next seven decades. Let’s go back to the first question of the article, what if a state possess all three elements of becoming a state except land? Well, this should rather be addressed as “organization” or in other words “terrorist organization” that occupied lands from others upon which it doesn’t possess any legitimate right.
Abdullah Abu Umair regularly writes on international politics in national dailies & other renewed magazines.