All posts by epalmer

Hasidic Jews in the West Bank

The West Bank is a chunk of territory that is bordered mainly by Israel, Jordan and the Dead Sea. It is located near the Mediterranean coast of Western Asia, and ever since the Six-Day War in 1967, has been occupied by Israel. The ethnonational group of Palestinians also reside and claim territory in the West Bank, as they claim to have rights of living there. In the recent few years, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has openly announced plans of annexing West Bank territory where Jewish settlements are. While he revoked official plans of annexation, this has caused tension between the two main groups within the West Bank, as Jewish settlements still continue to expand. The possibility of annextion of regions that contain Jewish settlements would likely result in an increased amount of conflict and instability between the Palestinian Arabs and Israels, as tension is already rising from both sides settling in the West Bank.

As both Palestenians and Israelis share history in the West Bank, settlements from both sides have caused a rising tension over who has rights regarding West Bank territory. This piece of land can be drawn from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, where Jordan took control. Jordan annexed the West Bank, then lost control of it to Israel in 1967. The Jews still regarded this territory as rightfully theirs: “the preferred nomenclature among Jewish settlers and right-wing Israelis – is contentious since it suggests a belief that contemporary Israeli policy should be based on the biblical boundaries of the Land of Israel.” The biblical boundaries of Israel includes the territory of West Bank. In addition to this, the city of Hebron, which is located in the West Bank, is considered to be a holy city due to the believed burial theer of Jewish matriarchs/patriarchs. On the other hand, the Palestenians have resided in the West Bank for more than 400 years, and embrace the stance that the Israeli’s have built upon stolen land. Palestenian’s also have been harassed by the Israeli’s expansion, as it has been frequently reported that there have been: “extremist settlers, many of them armed, violently attacking Palestinians, burning their fields and uprooting their olive trees’“. Although millions of Palestinians living in the West Bank are upset, Israeli settlements continue to expand rapidly especially in the previous few years.

The rising tension between the Israeli’s and Palestinians, as well as the possible action of annexation and expansion of settlements from Israel, have caused an unpredictable and unstable future for settlements on both sides in the West Bank. As ultra-orthodox Jewish settlements expand, most notably the city of Beitar Illit, discrimination against Palestinians increases too. This discrimination takes the form of alleged war crimes, as: “Israeli military and security forces killed at least 38 Palestinians, including 11 children, during demonstrations in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)”. This can be classified as a war crime under international law, as Israeli’s aren’t allowed to settle in Palestenian territory even though the government of Israel disputes this. Many Palestinian’s that have been killed also have showed no threat to the life of Israeli citizens, but killings occur on both sides. It has also been reported that Palestinian’s have been provoking the Jewish settlers by attacking them in certain situations where the Israeli’s have done no harm, so this issue of violence goes both ways.

Unprovoked violence and killing on both sides can be considered a human rights issue, and has the possibility of turning into a larger ethnic conflict or war. As the two different ethnic groups contain completely different ideologies and both have deep-seeded roots in the West Bank, there is no simple solution to this problem. It doesn’t look like either side will give up settling in the West Bank without a fight, so if they could learn to co-exist peacefully, this would be the best option. This solution doesn’t seem likely as both sides are intolerable with each other due to their strong historic and religious beliefs. An agreement of the partition of territory between both sides looks like the best bet, if the Israeli’s and Palestenian’s can come to a compromise.