The extinction of empires and the creation of states created a community of governments that work together to ensure that order and peace are respected and maintained. This cooperation between states has created a mutual dependency in the international community that has contributed to maintaining the peace and order. However, in instances whereby the peace and order are either threatened or violated, the international community has to work together in order to come up with an effective solution. It is important to note that as the result of the cooperation and mutual dependency that exists between states, the solution, if any is implemented, may not always benefit all those involved. This paper aims to give an understanding of how the response of the international community to conflicts influences the outcome or the path of the conflict. The response will be evaluated in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This conflict has grabbed the attention of the international community and has demanded effective action. This paper will explore how the actions or inaction of the international community (particularly the United States and the United Nations) to this conflict has influenced the result that we now see.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is almost as old as the United Nations. This conflict has dragged on for decades due to the inability of those involved to find a concrete solution that would please all sides and work to enforce it. The course of this conflict has divided the international community, which has further contributed to the continued lack of a solution. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict as we know it today has its roots from the period of the British mandate over the land that the two sides are fighting over. The British implemented “policies that contributed to escalating hostilities between the native Arabs and the immigrant Jewish communities.” (Hammond) The United Nations got involved in the conflict in 1947 when the British government asked the organization to find a solution to the question of Palestine. For the following decades, the conflict would be characterized by numerous United Nations resolutions and wars that worked to drag out the conflict. The first United Nations resolution that could have worked to end the conflict was UN Resolution 181. The resolution, which was passed in 1947, called for the creation of an independent state of Palestine and an independent state of Israel. (Hammond) However, the resolution was never put into action since the Palestinians rejected it. Instead, the resolution succeed in paving the way for the creation of the state of Israel, which became a member state of the United Nations in May 1949. (Lynch)
Next, the United Nations adopted UN Resolution 242 in 1967, which many believe should be the framework for finding a solution to this ongoing conflict. This resolution calls for Israel to withdraw from all land that it occupied because of the War of 1967.(Jeffery) In other words, the resolution states that the only way peace can be established between the Israelis and the Palestinians is if Israel withdraws from all territory that it occupied because of war. However, because of wording, there were so many interpretations to the clause concerning land withdrawal that in the end, Palestine rejected the resolution. Palestinian rejected the resolution because it “does not acknowledge their right to national self-determination or to return to their homeland.” (Shah) On the other hand, Israel found a way to observe the stated requirements without actually following through. Israel withdraw from some of the territory it acquired in the 1967 war without surrendering all the territory that it viewed as part of its state. (Shah) After this resolution, the United Nations has mostly been viewed as a bystander to the conflict that continues to occupy international headlines. The General Assembly has tried to step up to the plate and call out Israel and the United States for their actions especially as it relates to the human rights of the Palestinian people. As a result, the United States and Israel view “the General Assembly as having pro-Palestinian bias.” (“Israel, Palestine and the Occupied Territories.”)
The continued ineffectiveness of the United Nations in this conflict can be attributed to the stance of the United States. As a member of the Security Council, the United States has worked to ensure that it protects the interests of its ally in the Middle East. In the beginning of this conflict, many states sided with Israel because they wanted to ensure its protection from its Muslim neighbors. However, as this conflict has progressed, the Palestinians have succeed in rallying “the overwhelming majority of governments behind their cause…” (Lynch) Some of the governments that support the creation of a Palestinian state are France, Russia and Germany. Two of these states are strong allies of the United States, which has consistently worked to ensure that Israel has the advantage in this conflict. The United States and Israel are taking whatever actions they want because governments are unwilling to “risk the displeasure and pressure of the United States.” (“Israel…”) Since the beginning of the conflict, the United States has vetoed over forty condemnatory Security Council resolutions against Israel. (Shah) However, the state of Palestine gained a victory in 2011 when it was granted a non-member observer state status by the United Nations. Some in the international community have come to view this move as a de-facto recognition of statehood.
First, the role of the international community in conflicts relates to international law and international organizations because many conflicts that occur violate aspects of the international law. Furthermore, since states have no power in the international community to punish the violators, they can implement some sort of punishment through the international organizations in which they are members. States have to be held accountable for their actions especially when they apply to violations of international laws. These actions are usually through the United Nations, which lately has faced a lot of criticism for its ineffectiveness. This ineffectiveness stems from the fact that states fund the United Nations. If states do not provide the United Nations with the necessary aid that require having more power in the international community, not many resolutions are going to be accomplished. Furthermore, there is the continued existence of the Security Council, which is not making it easy for the United Nations to do its job. However, the United Nations has multiple branches of organizations, which alone have experienced some success in the international community. Two such examples are the International Court of Justice, which prosecutes the violators of international law and the General Assembly. Even though the General Assembly does not have legal bidding power, it is effective in making sure that the actions of states are out in the open. On several occasions, the General Assembly has criticized Israel for its treatment of the Palestinian population, most of which lives in camps that lack proper drinking water and sewage systems.
Second, the role of the international community in relation to international conflicts is a topic of discussion in international law and international relations because many states violate international laws. However, it seems that the violators do not receive the proper punishments for their course of actions. This in turn affects international relations because it emphasizes the power dynamics in the community and shows favoritism, particularly towards western states compared to states in the Middle East. For example, to other states, it seems that the United States has a lot of freedom to operate within the boundaries of other states. However, if other states take the same course of action, the United States is usually the first to call out other violators while it goes unpunished. For example, as it relates to this topic, it is known in the international community that the United States supplies Israel with most of its military spending, including nuclear weapons. However, the United States is always quick to call out Russia for supplying weapons of mass destruction to other states in the Middle East. It is understandable that some of those countries are unstable and have these weapons threatens the international peace. However, those actions when it is doing the same thing is hypocritical. This is a problem because it seeks to undermine the international laws that were put into place maintain order and peace.
In conclusion, the international community has played a large role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict mostly because it has failed on so many occasions to end this conflict. This blame lies on both the states involved as well as the international organizations that have failed to implement the solutions that have been brought to the table. It is easy for the international population to blame the Israelis or the Palestinians depending on who they are siding with but it’s important to note that they have become moving pieces in their own conflict. The United States uses Israel as it connection to the Middle East, a region that has long held their interest but encountered many difficulties when it comes to gaining a foothold. Through Israel, the United States can spread its influence in the region. Through Israel, other states have witnessed the benefits of being an ally of the United States especially in a region that is filled with many enemies. On the other hand, Russia is has also joined the conflict behalf of Palestine in order to also expand its influence in the region. Russia has many allies in the region and adding another ally benefits them especially as it relates to their economy. Russia gains a new market for its products while also having access to the rich market of oil. Because of superpower involvement in the region, it would be hard to believe that the Cold War has been over for about 25 years. This conflict almost reflects the continuation of the Cold War because, again Israel and Palestine has become chess pieces in the bigger picture of things.
In order for this conflict to be resolved, the first course of action has to be the abolishment of the United Nations Security Council. Next, the two sides –Palestine and Israel- have to sit down with each other, with no outside influence and begin discussions with the purpose of actually ending this conflict. Many people have one thing or another to say in relation to this topic. However, many of them do not live in the Israel or Palestinian territory. They do not know how this conflict has influenced the lives of generations of people in the region. Only the people who have lived through this ordeal know what life in this conflict entails. One day it is peaceful and the next day, war erupts. Children have grown up in settlement camps and that is the only life they know. They hear stories of how someone else lives in the house that their grandparents built. Israeli and Palestinian children are taught to hate one another from birth. This hate is what manifests into war later on and escalates the conflict. It is understandable that the United States wants to protect Israel, but how long is Israel going to keep needing protection? Instead, the United States should be encouraging Israel to develop relations with its neighbors. The United States is not going to always be a superpower or have the necessary resources to keep “protecting” Israel. Favorable relations with is neighbors will work to not only work to ensure the safety of Israel but also to end this conflict. It is time that the role the international community has played in this conflict end because it overall, it has done more damage than good.
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