Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have recently normalised diplomatic relations with Israel. Throughout this period the Israelis have been bombing the Gaza strip and planning to annex more Palestinian land in the West Bank.
Annexation is when a country unilaterally claims territory outside its borders as its own. It is illegal according to international law and is forbidden in Article 2(4) of Chapter I of the United Nations Charter.
Normalisation means full diplomatic and economic relations will be established with Israel. This follows decades of isolation by Arab and Muslim countries who demand the recognition of Palestine as a pre-condition of establishing political links. Jordan and Egypt are the only Arab states to have already recognised Israel.
This Faustian pact between Bahrain, UAE and Israel does not bode well for the region if not the whole world. 1.8 billion Muslims hold the issue of Palestine close to their hearts and will continue to support Palestine politically and financially regardless of decisions made by their leaders.
Presently, Palestine includes the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. More than 135 United Nations member countries recognise Palestine as an independent state. A limited number of countries do not recognise Palestine, including among others, the US, Canada and Japan.
Palestine is a small area of land which is approximately 2,400 square miles. The Arab population who live there are known as Palestinians.
Palestine has been ruled by numerous invaders throughout history including the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Turks and Crusaders. The Ottoman Empire ruled the region between 1517 to 1917. Much of this land is now considered to be Israel.
The region is special to all three Abrahamic faiths of Islam, Christianity and Judaism and is a root cause of conflict in the area as followers of each faith believe they have a divine claim to the land.
British involvement in the region started with the Balfour Declaration which was issued in 1917, committing Britain to the Zionist project of establishing a, “national home for the Jewish people.” The statement made clear that, “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”
Unfortunately one part was implemented but not the other.
In 1918, following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War, Britain took control of Palestine. As the Jewish population in the region increased due to immigration, it resulted in restrictions being implemented by the British who were under pressure from the Palestinians.
Right up to 1948, Jewish immigration took place to Palestine, causing hostility and resentment among the indigenous Palestinian population. Illegal Immigration took place between 1933 and 1948 mainly by sea, and overland through Iraq and Syria.
“The Gaza strip is known as the largest open air prison and is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.”
Before the creation of Israel in 1948, Palestine referred to the region located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
About 900,000 Palestinians fled or were forced to leave their homes when Israel was established. They are currently the largest refugee population in the world and seek the right of return to their ancestral home.
Many atrocities took place in 1948 such as the massacre of Deir Yassin. More than a hundred Palestinian men, women and children were murdered.
The rise of Zionism
The idea of Israel was formulated by Theodore Herzl who is known as the father of modern political Zionism. It is a nationalist movement which campaigned for the establishment of a Jewish state in the territory comprised of the historic ‘Land of Israel’.
The ideology was founded by Herzl in the late nineteenth century and encouraged Jewish immigration to Palestine with a plan to form a Jewish state there.
Israel and the surrounding Arab countries have gone to war several times: starting with the war in 1948, then in the 1967 Six Day War followed by the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Other conflicts include the two Lebanon Wars and the Suez Canal Crisis. The Zionist state supported by the US is the cause of instability and conflict in the whole region.
Both the West Bank and the Gaza strip have been occupied by Israel since the Six Day War in 1967.
The indigenous Palestinians are living under a brutal occupation which uses tactics such as collective punishment and maintains a two-tier system in which Palestinians are second class citizens in Israel. The Gaza strip is known as the largest open air prison and is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
The unconditional support of the US has emboldened Israel to carry out a mini holocaust of its own.
The thirteen year Israeli blockade of Gaza has restricted movement of people and goods, leading to shortages of electricity and power, economic insecurity and unemployment.
The occupied West Bank is riddled with illegal Israeli settlements which are defended by the IDF (Israel Defence Forces). Recently, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the construction of 5,000 new housing units in settlements in the West Bank.
Even after witnessing Israeli oppression, Bahrain and UAE have been tempted by US inducement to sideline the Palestinian cause. They look to gain advanced weaponry from the US but they have lost their respect and standing in the Muslim world. Their decision will have repercussions for years to come.