Council for the National Interest

Israel-Palestine Conflict

For a complete list of everyone killed in this conflict since 2000 go here.

There are two entities on the land that before 1948 was named Palestine.

One is Israel, a country that was created by the 1947-49 war in which Zionists forcibly expelled at least 750,000 non-Jews in order to create a “Jewish State.” Its population is approximately 80 percent Jewish. It has never declared its borders nor written a Constitution. (See the History of Israel-Palestine)

Btselem map of West Bank

The other is Palestine. It consists presently of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and its population consists largely of Muslims and Christians. Israel has steadily confiscated more and more of this area to create what are known as “Israeli settlements,” Jewish-only colonies. These are widely regarded as illegal.

Palestine’s current status is currently in dispute; close to 130 nations (approximately 2/3 of the UN General Assembly member countries) recognize it as a nation-state. In 2011 it became a member state of UNICEF.

The United States and some other countries, however, do not accord it status as a nation-state and officially call this land the “Palestinian Occupied Territories.” Israel calls it a “disputed territory.”

map of golan

A third entity in the region is the Golan Heights. In 1967 Israel acquired this land after it attacked Syria in what is known as the “Six Day War” and later officially annexed it. Israel now considers it part of Israel.

Acquisition of land by warfare is illegal under international law, however, so legally this land is occupied Syrian Territory and remains a source of in conflict.

Issues of Contention

 There are three core issues:

1. Palestinian refugees

First, there is the inevitable conflict over Israel’s actions to maintain an ethnically preferential state, particularly when it is largely of foreign origin. The original population of what is now Israel was 96 percent Muslim and Christian. Yet, Israel prevents families forced out in 1947-49 (and after) from returning to their homes.

This is a violation of international law and a cause of continual conflict.

While Israel wishes to ignore this factor, it remains significant.

Few populations, including Americans, would abdicate their moral and internationally recognized right to return to cherished homes.

Author Donald Neff writes:

“Confusion about the origins of the conflict all too often has obscured Americans’ understanding of its true dimension. It began as a conflict resulting from immigrants struggling to displace the local majority population. All else is derivative from this basic reality.”

For more details on the history and legal rights of these refugees, see this examination of the topic.

2. Christian and Muslim citizens of Israel

Christian and Muslims living in Israel are second-class citizens.

The remnants of the original population – both Christian and Muslim – that were able to stay within what is now Israel suffer from systemic discrimination because they are not Jewish, a fact that is often reported by the US State Department.

israeli flagThey live in a state with a religious symbol on the flag, religious law inherent in its judicial system, immigration predicated on one’s ethnic-religious status with Christians and Muslims frequently excluded, and can only run for office in parties that agree to a religious-ethnic identity of the state that is not their own and that until Israel’s 1947-49 war of ethnic cleansing did not represent the majority of the inhabitants.

Their schools are under-funded, they are excluded from living on approximately 93 % of the land, and they are prevented from returning to homes that were confiscated for Jewish-only use beginning in 1948.

Bedouin woman in unrecognized village El'arajibMany live in “unrecognized villages,” villages that long predated the creation of Israel, and live with minimal if any public services, their homes under demolition orders by the Israeli government.

Other non-Jewish Israeli citizens are termed “present absentees,” people who fled their homes during Israel’s founding war but who remained within the newly created Israel.

They were deemed “absealbassa churchnt” even though they were still present, and their homes, land, and businesses were confiscated by the Israel government for Jewish only use.

Many of these areas have still not been re-inhabited by Jewish Israelis, and sit vacant, ruins of churches and mosques indicating their previous inhabitants.


3. Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and Golan Heights


Since 1967 Israel has occupied the West Bank and Gaza, known officially as the Palestinian Occupied Territories, and the Golan Heights, which is occupied Syrian land. These were taken in the Six-Day War, initiated by Israel.

Since international laws and conventions make it illegal to acquire land through conquest, these are not part of Israel and are, by law, occupied territories. Even Israel admitted this early in its statehood.

In the West Bank Israel has steadily confiscated public and privately owned land for Jewish-only colonies known as settlements.

East Jerusalem, an extremely important religious, historic, and cultural center – and which is part of the Palestinian Occupied Territories – is being increasingly annexed by Israel in a process known as “Judaization” – expelling non-Jews and confiscating land for “Jewish-only” habitation. Such expulsions and annexation is illegal under international law. 

This confiscation violates numerous international laws and conventions 

Although various presidents have failed to emphasize this, it is also contrary to U.S. State Department policies concerning the region.  

Conditions in the Palestinian Territories

Israel’s occupation is extremely oppressive and, again, violates international laws regarding military occupations.

Palestinians have minimal control over their lives. Israeli forces control who may or may not enter and leave these territories and controls movement within these territories themselves, frequently placing entire towns under military curfews.

Palestinians are regularly prevented from going to neighboring towns and villages to work, attend school, go to a hospital, worship, visit relatives, etc. Israeli forces invade these areas frequently, injure many, occasionally kill some, and regularly imprison men, women, and children with minimal, if any, legal procedures.

This situation has led to Palestinian resistance activities over the decades by diverse groups – some armed, most unarmed – and periodic widespead popular uprisings.

Confiscation of land

There are Jewish-only Israeli colonies throughout these territories israelisettlements.2007(another violation of international law), and they are broken up by numerous largely Jewish-only roads, and a wall/electrified fence is being built on land confiscated from Palestinians.

According to the Oslo peace accords of 1993, these territories were supposed to finally become a Palestinian state. However, after years of Israel continuing to confiscate land and conditions steadily worsening, the Palestinian population rebelled. (The Barak offer, widely reputed to be generous, in reality offered only noncontiguous bantustans). This uprising, called the Second “Intifadah” (Arabic for “shaking off”) began at the end of September 2000.

Daily Violence

Israeli forces have continued to invade the Palestinian Territories – both Gaza and the West Bank – almost daily, injuring, kidnapping, and sometimes killing inhabitants. In recent years approximately 10 Palestinians have been abducted by Israeli forces every day. The Israeli navy and air force shell Gaza weekly.

Over 5,000 Palestinian men, women, and children are currently held in Israeli prisons (approximately 40 % of all Palestinian males have reportedly been imprisoned by Israel at some point in their lives).

Few of them have had a legitimate trial; many are held for months and years without even being charged with a crime. Physical abuse and torture are frequent, even of American citizens.

Palestinian borders (even internal ones) are controlled by Israeli forces. Periodically men, women, and children are strip searched; people are beaten; women in labor are prevented from reaching hospitals (at times resulting in death); food and medicine have been blocked from entering Gaza, which produced a humanitarian crisis. While the regime change in Egypt has begun to mitigate the southern closure, Israel still dominates Gaza.

Palestinian Resistance

Palestinian resistance efforts have increased in relation to Israeli violence.

Most have been nonviolent. There are weekly nonviolent marches and demonstrations in towns and villages throughout the West Bank and a growing number in Gaza, as well. Often international nonviolence activists join these, including Israelis.

These demonstrations are inevitably met by Israeli military violence, and numerous participants have been injured, imprisoned, and killed. Some have been Americans.

There has also been armed resistance by diverse groups. Some have attempted to deliver bombs through the use of suicide bombers (Palestinians possess no aircraft or tanks); the average number killed by these has been approximately three per bombing.

Some Gaza groups began launching rockets at the end of 2001, long after some Gazan neighborhoods were in ruins from Israeli invasions and shelling. These are largely small, home-made projectiles, though some groups now possess more advanced Grad-type rockets. They have killed a total of approximately 20 Israelis.

Deaths Among Both Populations

While US media depict Israeli violence as retaliatory, in reality, Israel has almost always initiated the violence.

For a complete list of everyone killed in this conflict since 2000 go here.

Below are charts of those killed since the 2000 uprising began.

Chart of Palestinians & Israelis killed 2000-2010



Palestinian & Israeli children killed 2000-2011

U.S. Involvement

Largely due to special-interest lobbying, U.S. taxpayers give Israel more than $8 million per day, and since its creation have given more U.S. funds to Israel than to any other nation. In addition, the US has consistently vetoed international efforts to end the violence.

Because of these actions, Americans are closely tied to this conflict. Most Americans are unaware of these significant connections, however, because they are so infrequently covered accurately by American news organizations.


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