September 16, 2019


General Assembly: Special Political Committee

Topic: Israel-Palestine

In 2017 the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reached a hundred years, marking the centennial of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 proclaiming the need for a Jewish homeland in the British colony of Palestine. This idea was realized in 1947 with UN Resolution 181 which partitioned the former colony into a Jewish state of Israel and an Arab state of Palestine. The Israeli state was created as a single entity while the Palestinian state was created as two separate pieces of land, known as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The holy city of Jerusalem was declared an international city. The partition plan was followed almost immediately by war from 1947-49 resulting in the partition of Jerusalem by Israel and Arab forces and the first of many waves of Palestinian refugees. The current status quo in the region was reached in 1967 following the 6-Day War when the Israeli government and military began their occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Today, the West Bank is divided into three sections varying in degree of Israeli occupation with areas under full control of Palestinian Authority and  areas fully under Israeli control and Israeli residents. The IDF pulled out of the Gaza Strip in 2005 leaving the internal governing to Hamas; however, all borders, airspace, and coasts are monitored and controlled by Israel.

Many attempts have been made to end the conflict in Israel and Palestine without success, the most notable being the Camp David Accords in 1978 headed by President Carter and the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993 led by President Clinton. In the past three decades the nature of the conflict has changed from the international military affair of the 6-Day War to guerrilla war and paramilitary acts of protest. The 1990s and early 2000s were characterized by two intifadas which were popular anti-occupation movements by Palestinians in the territories. The most recent outbursts of violence in the conflict occurred in the spring of 2021 when the Israeli Supreme Court ruled on the eviction of six Palestinian families from their homes in the historically Arab East Jerusalem. This outbreak escalated with rocket attacks from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad as well as the IDF. A ceasefire came into effect on May 21 after a UN Security Council resolution proposal. The escalation resulted in over 250 Palestinian deaths and 13 Israeli deaths along with roughly two thousand casualties, mostly among Palestinians. Violence broke out again in June after Hamas launched incendiary balloons into Israel from the Gaza Strip which the IDF responded to with airstrikes on Gaza.

Fighting has lessened since the June revival of militant conflict, but this overall conflict is far from resolution and continued re-escalation can be expected in the future. Peace efforts have historically centered around the two state approach, with an aim of creating two separate Jewish and Arab states, as originally outlined in the Partition Plan. However, in recent years, experts and actors in the conflict have begun to consider a single state solution citing the fact that Palestine lacks the economic or societal structures needed to sustain a separate society and the fact that the West Bank and Gaza Strip are not physically connected. This solution comes with issues as well as it could jeopardize Israel’s ability to exist as a Jewish state.

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