Beyond Violence 

US Motivations in the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

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Photo of Gaza, via Creative Commons


The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been ongoing for centuries, however since WW II external actors have played a big role in the evolution of the conflict. Violence broke out again in July this year, and the USA, a major ally of Israel, has already made several attempts to broker peace. But the USA has several objectives in the region, which might be exactly why the Israeli-Palestinian peace is so fragile.

This round of peace talks and ceasefires has been rough; several minor ceasefire agreements have been reached, but more than 2000 have died in the fighting already. The violence began in June this year when three Israeli students went missing in the West Bank, after two weeks they were found killed. Israeli officials accused Hamas of the kidnapping and killing, and subsequently arrested over 300 Palestinians, many of whom were members of Hamas. In the same week that the three Israeli students’ bodies were found, a Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and burned to death by Israelis in retaliation.

Pressure from the outside
The USA has been particular active in negotiations, promoting a two-state solution, which the Israelis have not yet accepted. Despite the close relationship the USA will have to go against the Israelis on this point. Waves of uprisings and new regimes has changed the USA’s power position in the region, and may lead it to realize the importance of befriending Shia Muslim countries. Shia Islam might be taking over in Iraq and Syria, as in Iran, which will diminish the Saudis influence in the region. Making accommodations for these power changes includes accommodating the Palestinians who have an important symbolic value for the Arab countries in the region.

USA unpopularity in the region is linked to its support for Israel; for example the 1973 oil crisis, when several oil producing countries cut off oil exports, was a reaction to USA’s support for Israel. USA financial support to Israel quadrupled after Syria and Egypt, supported by the Soviet Union, invaded Israel on October 6th, 1973. The response from OPEC was an oil embargo against USA, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The USA has always provided Israel with the highest amount of financial and military assistance of any foreign country, but as USA is approaching energy independence the Middle Eastern oil is becoming a less important strategic goal in its foreign policy. Today, the state of Iran poses a greater threat to the power balances in the region and globally if the country achieves nuclear weapons, and is a bigger priority for the USA.

Filmmaker Nina Paley has made the video “This Land is Mine” which by portraying the continuous fighting shows the grave consequences of violence and war. Take a minute to watch it at:

Written by BWC.

Written by BWC and published on 23-September-2014

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