How Far Away Is Peace? A University Caught in the Middle

Lately when reading the news about the upcoming elections in both the United States and Israel, many topics are discussed in great lengths with details given on past actions and future implications. What has become noticeable, or rather the lack thereof, is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. When this topic gets brought to the forefront, the reports tend to illuminate the stagnant relations.

Much of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is rooted in the West Bank. This area has been at the heart of the disgruntled relations. Both countries have control over different portions of the area. Currently, roughly 60% of the West Bank is under full Israeli control, causing much hatred. East Jerusalem is another focal point. Both countries claim this area but it is currently resting in the hands of the Israeli. Where a recent flare of controversy has arisen is surrounding the Ariel University Center, a university located in the West Bank (Knell, 2012).

Ariel University Center experienced a change to their name in early September to the Palestinians dismay. The Israeli government upgraded the university to a full-fledged university, paralleling it to the same level as those universities inside of Israel. The change was defended by Prime Minister Netanyahu as being vital to the State of Israel. He stated that a university has not been added in several decades while the population has since doubled. This change was said to support the young people who desire a university education (Sherwood, 2012).

Although his intentions may be sound when first heard, a deeper look into the politics behind the change in name has now put the university at a focal point of relations. The Palestinians have an outright hatred for this governmental move. The Palestinian Higher Education Office went as far as calling on universities worldwide to boycott it. Their biggest issue? The university is located in a part of the West Bank that the World Court deemed illegal. Due to this illegal Ariel settlement, the Palestinians believe that the university should be, “diplomatically, financially and academically rejected and isolated” (Lubell, 2012). Their belief is that this move would further entrench the presence of the settlements in the illegal territory, creating more barriers to achieving peace.

As this issue has been highlighted, questions cannot help but arise. Palestinian relations have been put on the back-burner to the Iranian nuclear development. Peace talks have not been a frequent topic of choice and steps to achieving any civility haven’t been made. Instead, entities such as the university find themselves at the center of conflict with nowhere to turn. As one current engineering student stated, “The location (of the college) and strengthening settlements was not a consideration for me, I’m not here because of ideals, I just want my degree” (Lubell, 2012). One cannot help but ask, what is the government’s main concern in situations such as these? Isn’t the purpose of the government to provide safety and keep the best interest of their citizens as the deciding point for all decisions?

Looking to the future, elections are going to play a vital role in the relations between Palestine and Israel. Currently, Iran has taken the stage as the focal point for discussions. Israel wants a stern red line drawn and views America’s actions as passive. As the elections draw close in both the US and Israel, Palestine may soon force itself to gain some of the attention with the continual unrest that has proven to fail to cease. What are the next steps to settle this unrest? Should the US get more involved in the West Bank area? What will it take to put the citizens’ best interest back to the top priority over political gains?

All of these questions are left to ponder as the elections season continues to be fueled. As the flame whimpers however, questions will be forced to have answers and steps will have to be taken. Whether those steps are positive or negative are left to be seen.