The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been raging its deadly flame for decades, with an ever-increasing death toll, atrocities, and broken lives forming the narrative the world so frequently hears about. However, this narrative veils the fact that no-one is taking humanitarian and political responsibility for the war, and thus this flame will continue to be fuelled. The reality of international relations has seen a relocating of responsibility on to the victims themselves. By contrasting the actions of key international and regional powers, namely America, the Arab states and the EU, with the tendency to assign responsibility to the oppressed, we can appreciate why the road towards peace has been flawed from its inception.
America’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is perhaps the easiest to recognise and criticise, with its biased stance shaped by the needs of Israel as an ally. More importantly, American favouritism, and thus lack of responsibility in the conflict, has had a severely consequential impact on the war cycle. Indeed, if those at fault are not punished for actions they agreed should be punishable, not only are the victims left devoid of rightful closure, they are left to live a war without boundaries; a war without anyone to take responsibility for not only the atrocities committed, but for the creation of a solution.
Similar to the West, the unavoidable presence of realism can be seen tugging the strings of its Arab puppet states, replacing moral and humanitarian responsibility with economic and political self-preservation. Indeed, the complex, covert web of alliances underpinning Middle Eastern politics is also to blame for the shift of responsibility to the Palestinians themselves. It has been more than sixty years, and not only do the Palestinians still not have a home, but most crucially they are now also without a diplomatic army: during the recent Gaza war, Egypt was more concerned with tackling the Muslim Brotherhood than it was with fair mediation; Saudi Arabia sees the Iranian nuclear threat as a threat formidable enough to ignore its religious ties with the Palestinians; Jordan began its withdrawal from the Palestinian cause in 1988 by ceding its claims to the West Bank, finishing its transition with the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty. How can the Palestinians advance their cause in the same vein as Israel without internationally recognised and influential supporters?
Despite also failing to live up to its regional and international humanitarian responsibilities, Europe has infamously made heavy-handed demands to the Palestinians, and the 2006 Palestinian elections demonstrated this perfectly. Although Hamas democratically won the election, the Quartet on the Middle East imposed conditions – including the renunciation of violence, the recognition of the State of Israel, and the promise not to breach any previously signed agreements – on what the new government would have to do to be recognised. Not only did this issuing of demands run counter to the entire concept of an election, they were unworkable and unjust. Israel fails to adhere to these demands, but no-one pressurises them to do so. Israel has not renounced violence, recognised Palestine nor vowed to uphold any ratified treaties.
Hypocrisy aside, the events of this election exemplified how responsibility for the conflict’s solution has been placed on an oppressed group of people, and judging by the Gaza war that dominated the summer of 2014 it seems that nothing has changed over the years. The West and the United Nations have played prominent roles in the conflict from its inception with the 1947 Partition Plan, but they are simply letting the war run its course rather than intervening in a manner suitable to form a solution. It is ironic that the leaders we vote for to protect us are the ones creating the havoc, and that religious ties can form the basis of war yet cannot serve in its solution. It is tragic that those war-victims left to battle with personal, financial and social ruin are also left to battle with a force bigger than themselves: an end to that war.
Meera is a recent UCL History graduate with a special interest in Middle Eastern current affairs and the moral-diplomatic conundrum of international relations. Tweet her @kotakmak
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.