The Israeli-Palestinian conflict encompasses many complex and interconnected factors. In this section we explore some of the major issues that must be addressed in any potential solution that strives for a just peace for the State of Israel and the Palestinians.
Christian Presence in the Holy Land
Palestinian Christians have been part of the church since the first Pentecost. Their presence has dwindled from 15-20% of the area's population to now less than 2%. The major reason cited for emigration is the political and economic instability of the region due largely to the Israeli occupation. However, leaders from all three Holy Land faith communities voice support for the ongoing presence of Christians in both Greater Israel and a future Palestinian state.
The 1,500,000+ inhabitants of this narrow strip of land wedged between Greater Israel and the Mediterranean Sea because of numerous factors have inadequate access to nutrition, water and sanitation, medical care, education and employment. In addition, divided Palestinian governance, with Hamas ruling over Gaza and the Palestinian Authority over the West Bank, is an obstacle to the peace process and the health of the future Palestinian state.
After the War of 1948 hundreds of thousands of Palestinians became refugees or internally displaced persons and have continued in this status until today. How and when they are to be compensated for or returned to their land continue to be unanswered questions.
Christian Zionism is political action, informed by specifically Christian commitments, to promote or preserve Jewish control over the geographic area now containing Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
Status of Jerusalem
Jerusalem is sacred to three religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and home to two major peoples, the Israelis and the Palestinians. The Israelis claim it as the “eternal and undivided capital of Israel,” while Palestinians and others insist it must be a shared city and also the Palestinian capital. Claims aside, the reality is that Jerusalem is a very divided city that has known great violence and major conflict over expanding Israeli settlements, confiscation of Palestinian land, demolition of Palestinian homes, revocation of residency rights for Palestinians and great disparity in resources between Israeli West Jerusalem and Palestinian East Jerusalem.
Israeli Settlements and Demolition of Palestinian Homes
As human beings, all people in the Holy Land deserve adequate and secure shelter for their families. The expansion of Israeli settlements, viewed as illegal under international law, along with the confiscation of Palestinian land and demolition of Palestinian homes constitute a cycle systematically depriving the Palestinian people of their shelter, property, land, freedom of movement and self-determination.
In places an electrified fence and, in others, a 30-foot high concrete wall, the separation barrier not only separates the State of Israel from the Occupied Palestinian Territories; it also cuts deep into the West Bank, dividing Palestinians from jobs, farm fields, education, health care, and families. Although the barrier's stated purpose is to protect Israeli citizens from attacks, its critics note that 80% of the barrier stands within Occupied Palestinian land.
- Obstacles to Peace, is a expansive look at way in which settlements, demolitions, the separation barrier and by-pass roads work together as a "matrix of control."
- Human Rights Review: Jan 1, 2009 to April 30, 2010, is a multimedia webpage put out by B'tselem. It looks at some of the issues relating to human rights within the coflict.
- Israel and Palestinian Territories Country Profile, is a BBC webpage that gives an overview of the area, it politics, people and history. There also many sidebar links to related news items.
- Life Under Occupation: The Siege on Palestinian Life, is a resource from the American Friends Service Committee that looks at how the Occupation affects the lives of Palestinians. It touches on issues ranging from water to movement to Israeli settlements and beyond.