Time to get a grip over Israel-Palestine conflict

The ridiculous and self-destructive Palestinian leadership continues to mourn the entirely just and legitimate re-establishment of Israel. But that's no excuse for people in the West to indulge this nonsense, especially while carnage engulfs the MidEast

United and undivided: Jerusalem, a beautiful city
Nick Gray
On 16 May 2015 11:28

The state of Israel recently celebrated 67 years of independence as the world’s only Jewish state. On Friday, the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza mourned 67 years of so-called, “Israeli occupation”.

Although tension and conflict between the Jewish and Arab populations of the vague area once known as “Palestine” had already been going on throughout the period of British rule, the events of 1948 (67 years ago!) carry a poignancy and a particular significance for both sides.

Up to 2011, the start of the magnificently mis-named “Arab Spring”, the Israel-Palestinian conflict was regularly the biggest item of Middle East diplomacy and media comment, with other issues and problems seeming to emanate from or revolve around it like winds around the hub of a tornado.

This suited the two prime successive leaders of the Palestinians, Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, very well. Like school-ground bullies they courted and revelled in international attention, and were adept at manipulating both facts and people to further their cause.

Sadly, in today’s Middle East, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians looks more and more like the calm eye in the centre of a storm, with the wars in surrounding nations whirling round ever more wildly and brutally.

In today’s Middle East, issues of "settlements", borders and Jerusalem between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea increasingly look like a minor tussle in the corner of the school playground while World War Three goes on outside.

Of course, this does not suit Mr Abbas and his henchmen, nor does it suit bloodthirsty Hamas holed up in Gaza. They want nothing to divert attention from their attempts to make their claims on the territory of a sovereign democratic state the top item on everyone’s agenda.

Of course, they have succeeded in some respects, in that the irritating and ignorant BDS Movement ensures that we are continually reminded of Israel’s supposedly evil actions and intents, even when they never are ("evil", that is).

They have also succeeded, in that they are indeed top of everyone’s diplomatic agenda: from the UNHRC to the White House and from Brussels to the International Criminal Court, governments and diplomats are still intent on prioritising a “two-state” solution to the conflict where this is patently unworkable in the face of Palestinian incitement and intransigence.

The saddest thing about the successes of the Palestinian strategy is that it is now diverting attention from far more important regional conflicts that should be engaging the world’s politicians, media and (maybe) armed forces.

Thousands of men, women and children of several religions are being slaughtered while the Palestinian leaders ensure attention is diverted to more parochial issues.

Even media sources in the region itself recognise the way in which the Palestinian narrative has been overtaken by current events. A recent major article in the Turkish “Anadolu” agency runs:

“Palestinians mark the Nakba (Arabic for "catastrophe") on May 15 of every year – the date on which the state of Israel was established in 1948 on the land of historical Palestine.

On the 67th anniversary of the Nakba, observers argue that ongoing political upheaval in several Arab countries has largely shifted the focus away from the Arab-Israeli conflict, pushing the plight of the Palestinians further off the agenda of most Arab governments.

Historic borders are collapsing, religious blocs are in total conflict across the region, new alliances and enmities are being formed, and thousands of innocents are being killed as the months go on.

All this needs to be higher on the world’s agenda than the Israel-Palestinian conflict. And, in fact, the nations of the Middle East that are still functioning recognise that Israel is not the enemy, but a potential powerful ally.

It is time that Western governments left the Israelis and Palestinians to sort out their own peace (not unreachable) and focussed more effort and money on the cries for help still echoing across the troubled Middle East from minorities in real danger of extinction or slavery.

Let’s get our priorities right for once.

Nick Gray is Director, Christian Middle East Watch, a British organisation dedicated to objective and factual discussion of Middle Eastern issues, especially of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Nick, who is a regular contributor to The Commentator, blogs at cmewonline.com

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