The political and military conflict in the Middle East between Israel and the Arab states, particularly between Israel and the Palestinians, is called the "Middle East conflict”. To understand the causes of this conflict, it is necessary to be familiar with its historical background.
The region upon which the Middle East conflict centres has a special historical and religious
significance not just for Jews and Muslims, but also for Christians. Jews settled in the area some time before 1,000 BC. The Jewish religion developed here.
The temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD stood in Jerusalem. Jews were scattered over many parts of the world (diaspora). For centuries, Jewish people were seen as outsiders and frequently even persecuted in very many of the countries in which they lived. The "Promised Land”, as the region is called by many Jews, always featured as part of Judaistic religious traditions. A few important Jewish settlements remained in the area through the centuries.
Founding of the state of Israel in 1948
Since the 16th century, there have often been groups of Jewish immigrants who settled in the region, which was called Palestine at the time. At the end of the 19th century, the wish emerged among some Jews to establish their own state in the region, to which many Jews felt a special attachment. However, by now, the area was inhabited by many non-Jewish people: mainly Muslims, but some Christians as well. Many of them were Arabic-speaking.
At the start of the 20th century, the number of Jews immigrating to the region grew owing to increased exclusion in other countries. Tensions rose between the Jewish and the Arab population. After the First World War
, Great Britain had received a mandate from the then League of Nations to administer Palestine. It approved limited Jewish immigration. Many Jews tried to flee to Palestine because of expulsions in the 1930s and especially because of the Holocaust.
In 1947, the United Nations passed a resolution to divide up the region and establish separate states for the Jews and for the Arab population. The Jews thereupon proclaimed their state of Israel in 1948. But the Arab inhabitants and the neighbouring Arab states rejected the United Nations' resolution.
In 1948, the first of several Israeli-Arab wars
ensued. As the years passed, the Middle East became an international flash point. The clashes between the Arab states and Israel are a part of this Middle East conflict. The people of the region continue to suffer greatly under the huge tensions.
For instance, during the 1948 war, many Arab residents fled from their villages to neighbouring countries, where they often live in refugee camps to this day. Many Jews who had lived in Arab countries until the founding of Israel were driven out of them and fled to Israel. In 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) was founded. Since then, it has fought to have a separate state for Palestinians, which had never existed up until then, and which still does not exist to this day.
In April 2014, there were more clashes between Palestinians and Israelis in the old part of Jerusalem.
© picture alliance / landov
The fundamental problem
There has been a series of attempts to lessen the tensions in the Middle East. Negotiations have been held, treaties and agreements have been signed, but despite this, no lasting peace
has so far been brought about.
There has been strong resistance to such agreements both in Israel and in the Palestinian population.
Palestinian militants killed eight Israelis in this terrorist attack in 2002
© picture alliance / dpa
A wrecked car in Gaza after an attack by the Israeli army, July 2014
© picture alliance/ AA
Violent attacks have frequently been carried out by Palestinians, to which the Israeli army has reacted with military strikes
. There have been casualties on both sides. The struggle to find a resolution to the conflict continues to this day.
The following problem is at the heart of the conflict: the Palestinians demand their own state, one that would include parts of the present-day state of Israel. The Israelis, for their part, demand that the state of Israel be recognised. Is there a solution that would enable all people in this region to live together in peace?And what form could such a solution take?
Gerd Schneider / Christiane Toyka-Seid
Gerd Schneider / Christiane Toyka-Seid