During the 1948 war, the Israelis fought against just about every one of Palestine’s neighbouring states. Against the odds, the Israelis won the war and established Israel’sborders to include much of former Palestine, apart from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank of the River Jordan. These now form modern Palestine – but in the aftermath of the war, it is not a state. This is not peace - Israel becomes a recognised country and Palestine has almost all of its sovereignty removed, essentially placed at the ‘mercy’ of Israel’s military.
Having lived in the Palestinian West Bank for three weeks, I witnessed the quality of life of Palestinians today. It is terrible. For instance, the mother of the family I was living with told me the distressing story of the birth of her grand-daughter. Her daughter, who lives in Jerusalem, was denied entry to Israel even when all she wanted to do was be with her own daughter - at this time in labour - in hospital. Why? Because she’s Palestinian. She wanted to see her newly-born granddaughter, but she was not allowed for the same reason.
But this is only the start. On the out-skirts of Bethlehem there are three huge refugee camps; one of which is the Aida Camp where I worked. At the entrance of the camp, large quantities of graffiti can be seen, including a huge picture of children playing football with the slogan ‘With Children, For Children’ painted beneath it.Turning around from the entrance, the vast graveyard there is overwhelming, full of people who died as refugees, unable to return to their homes.
We have all seen photos of the Berlin Wall; here is just the same. The wall makes it almost impossible for Palestinians to access the hospitals, transport and other basic needs that are commonplace in Israel, but rarities in the West Bank. For example, if a Palestinian wants to go abroad, say, to Europe, they must use one of Israel’s airports. Usually, access is denied. Why? Because they are Palestinian.
Imagine not being able to go onto the roof of your own home due to Israeli soldiers targeting you. Imagine having Israeli soldiers forcing entry into your home – stories of soldiers forcing pregnant women and their children to lie on the floor, while soldiers sit on their sofa, watch their TV and throw things at them are not uncommon.Sound ridiculous? I promise you, this is all happening. I spoke with a woman whose home is bordered by the wall on three sides; Israeli oppression has madea prison of her home, destroyed her business and made her life a misery. Why? You can probably guess by now. And there is no excusable reason for this to be happening.
There has been no proper peace deal between Israel and Palestine, which is why it is one of the longest running conflicts in the modern era. So, why is this the case?
Of the two peace solutions possible, (uniting the two nations or accepting them as two separate states) Israel and her allies are blocking both: Israel would never agree to join with Palestine; and with the USA as her ally, Israel can prevent Palestine from becoming economically viable as a state by blocking recognition of it in theUN. So why would Israel - an apparently modern liberal democracy that is best buddies with America (the ‘Land of Opportunity’ - block attempts at peace asif it wasn’t in their interests? The answer is simple: because peace just isn’tin their national interests.
Israel’s plan is clear; wait for the Palestinians to leave, and then expand their own settlements, claiming that they need to support a growing population. What happens next? These Israeli settlements grow and grow until they are bordering on Bethlehem, Hebron and other major towns in the West Bank, and the next thing you know, the West Bank is part of Israel as well.
This is why Israel will never agree to a lasting peace deal.
All I am aiming to do is raise awareness of what is happening. The persecution in this part of the world has been overlooked because the easy thing to do is nothing; to find no solution,so Israel can kill more civilians, or maybe lay siege to the Church of the Nativity again. As long as Israel continues to have supporters in other countries, millions of Palestinian people will continue to be subjected to an unimaginable fate.
To conclude, I would like to draw your attention to the title of this article and urge you to decide foryourself: who is in the wrong here?