Issues are never ending in the Middle East. Whether the news shows terrorism, wars or corrupt governments, they always have some relationship with their religions. While the Middle East is land of deep roots for rich history of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, tensions rise between them as disagreements continually develop. More recently, in late December, the clash of these religious groups lead to controversy with land ownership, as an issue involving the U.S.
One of many wars that most people either forgot or never studied in their history classes was the Six-Day War in June 1967. To summarize, this war was when three Arab states, Syria, Jordan and Egypt were planning a massive attack on Israel. The Israelis began the war as a preventive military effort to counter the impending attack by Arab nations surrounding Israel. To prevent being attacked, the Israelis launched a huge and powerful military campaign against the Arab enemies with the help of U.S. assistance. The Egypt, Jordan and Syria air forces were all destroyed by Israeli air strikes, leading Israel to capture the Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights and West Bank.
Opinions divide between whether Israel’s attack was an act of aggression or a preemptive strike of defense.
Despite Israel’s strategic defense, many Arabs currently lived in the land gained by Israel. However, until 1978, Egypt and Israel reached a peace agreement giving the Sinai back to Egypt. Israel still owns a large section of the Golan Heights and the West Bank, which has continuously lead to disagreements with land ownership. For decades, Israel has been building settlements of neighborhoods and towns along the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which causes tensions since Arabs and Palestinians currently live in these areas and want to keep their land.
On Friday, Dec. 23, the United Nations Security Council voted for Israel to stop settlement construction since the UN considered the settlements illegal under international law. The UN claims that the settlements interfere with a peaceful two-state solution, having both Israel and Palestine states on a map. The Obama administration has also been concerned with Israel’s settlement additions, agreeing with the UN.
Despite the history between these two countries, the U.S. has always been strong allies with Israel by vetoing similar resolutions. Instead, the U.S. stepped down and abstained from the vote. On Dec. 28, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave his final word in a speech defending the issue. He claimed that the Israeli settlements showed Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel wanting a one-state solution. He also mentioned that although President-elect Trump has hinted his opinions otherwise, the Obama administration believes that the two-state solution is the only approach for peace. Kerry admitted that he wanted to speak out about this for years, leaving Israel speechless.
Again, this issue has two sides to the approach, which may involve future foreign policy with president-elect Donald Trump. While the UN sees this as a closer solution to peace in the Middle East, others, such as Netanyahu, see this as a diplomatic backstabbing betrayal. While this is Obama’s final word on the Middle East peace process, Trump has hinted his intentions on foreign policy with a more aggressive approach. Will he lead this in the right direction?