Nottingham Trent University
The Holy Land, the territory of modern Israel, or Palestine has always been located on the strategic
point between Asia, Africa and through the Mediterranean Sea- Europe. It is a cradle of the
European civilization thataccording to the geographical and spiritual content belongs neither to the
West nor to the East.
In the present this territory is one of the most unstable regions in the Middle East where terrorism
and violence has been the main issue for almost a century.
For Palestinians the previous one hundred years has been marked by colonization, persecution and
military occupation that has been followed bylong and difficult pursuit for self-determination and
co-existence with the people who they considered to be responsible for all of their sufferings and
For the Israeli Jewish this era meant the return to their historic and religious homeland after
centuries of persecution around the world that did not guarantee them any peace or protection.
This paper analyses the root causes ofIsraeli- Palestinian conflict before 1948 and the nature of
demographic, economic, social and power transition in the region within historical, cultural and
social context. It also explains the role of identity, religion, imperialism and colonialism and its
impact on the formation of the Palestinian-Israeli relations. By examining the conflict’s origins it is
possible to analyse the evolution andcomplexity of Israeli- Arab conflict and to be able to better
understand the nature of power politics in the 20th century.
The primary roots of the conflict go back in ancient history to 12th century B.C. when Egyptian slaves
(later called Jewish) invaded Palestine (“the land of Canaan” then) and established a Kingdom of
Israel. Two centuries later the land was occupied by Babylonians, Persian,Romans and finally Arabs
in 637 A.D. As a consequence to Jews had to leave their land and spread out around the globe in
search of refuge. Since that time they had never managed to unite and conquer their Kingdom back.
The majority of hundreds of thousands Jewish people had to leave their home and migrate to
different countries. Therefore no wonder why the scattered Jewish population have held adream
for many centuries of the reconstruction of their own state within its former boundaries. (Cattan 1969).
The demographic composition of the Israeli- Palestine region has played a very significant role in the
policy that has shaped further historical events. [ 2009. Israeli- Palestinian conflict: Population
statistics [online] During Ottoman Empire in 1878 Jewish comprised only 3 per centof the
population in Palestine and were not allowed to establish their new settlements and spread their
[2008. Israel and the first Zionist Colony in 1787 [online]. Under these circumstances Turks, Muslims,
Jews and Christian were given equal rights and managed to coexist peacefully even despite their
historic, ethnic background, language and religious differences.(Fromkin 1989).
The actual conflict began when in 1878 26 migrant Jerusalem Jewish families purchased a piece of
land of 9km that belonged to an Arab village. That is where the interests of local Arab farmers and
the Jewish rural community first clashed. [2008. Israel and the first Zionist Colony in 1787 [online].
Later in 1886 this village was attacked by the Arab community from Yahudia that produceda first
significant violent clash between indigenous Arab and Jewish settlers in this village over questions of
water exploitation, harvesting and pastoral territory that in turn lead to the first organized
Palestinian protests against Jewish settlement efforts. Thus, the root of the conflict does not
primarily lie in religion, but in the struggle of two peoples over one land and its water...