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CURRENT AFFAIRS 23-05-2018

Israel-Gaza strip and US

 

Relevancy

  • G.S Mains Paper 2(International Relations)

Why in news?

  • There was an intense protest by Palestinians at the Israel-Palestine border along Gaza Strip, which was crushed brutally by Israeli forces.
  • This is the result of United States recognisation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel despite its keenly contested status in the Israeli-Palestine dispute.

What has led to the current situation?

  • Palestine is presently confined to two disjoint landmasses namely “Gaza Strip and West Bank”. They are separated by Israeli Territory.
  • Jerusalem has been completely under Israeli control since 1967.
  • Israelis consider Jerusalem as their eternal capital.
  • Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has his office in the city, and it is the seat of Israel’s Parliament and Supreme Court.
  • Almost all other countries see Jerusalem as a disputed city, and its final status is to be decided based on the outcomes of Israel-Palestine peace.
  • In December 2017, US President Donald Trump broke away from the long standing US policy to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
  • Subsequently, the US embassy was shifted to Jerusalem on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding in 1948.
  • This change in status quo angered Palestinians, which is what led to the current wave of protests and counter responses.
  • Palestinian Protesters rushed en-masses towards the Gaza border and seemingly intended to cross over into Israel.
  • They were advancing based on call by Islamic clerics to charge on Jerusalem or martyr in that endeavor.
  • Sadly, the crack down on protests by Israeli border forces was particularly harsh and resulted in the death of over 60 people.
  • In this backdrop, the Hamas Militia that currently wields power in Gaza has given a war cry against Israel and vouched aggression.

How did Jerusalem become a disputed territory?

  • The city of Jerusalem is holy to Christians, Muslims and Jews.
  • “The Temple Mount” in the city is the holiest site in Jewish religion and Jews from across the world come to pray Western Wall of the Biblical temple.
  • “Al-Aqsa mosque”, which is Islam’s 3rdholiest site after Mecca and Medina is also located within the city.
  • “Church of the Holy Sepulchre” in Jerusalem is thought to be the site of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection, thereby making it holy for Christians too.
  • Partition War – In 1947, United Nations approved the division of British-ruled Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states.
  • Given the unique religious holiness of the city, Jersulaem was proposed as a territory that was to be government by a ‘Special International Regime’.
  • But the Arabs rejected the UN plan in its entirety and attacked Israel the day after it was created in 1948, but were defeated in the endeavour.
  • Consequently, Israel took control of West Jerusalem, and Israelis declared Jerusalem as an inseperable part of the state of Israel.
  • But in the conflict, East Jerusalem, which has the Old City and all the holy sites came under Jordanian occupation (Pro-Arab forces).

How did Israel take over the entire Jerusalem?

  • Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt announced in 1967 that he would close the Strait of Tiran, which was critical for Israel’s access to Red Sea.
  • Consequently, Israel attacked Egypt, which began the fiercely fought 1967 Arab-Israel war, with entire Arab world on Egypt’s side.
  • Despite Israel coming under attack on all sides from Syria, Jordan and Egypt, it took only 6 days for Israel to decimate its enemies comprehensively.
  • At the end, Israel snatched the Gaza Strip and Sinai from Egypt, West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and Golan Heights from Syria.
  • The victory fired the Israeli morale immensely and the takeover of east-Jerusalem facilitated Jews from praying at the Western Wall (Temple Mount).

How is it in Jerusalem since then?

  • Subsequent Jewish polity reinforced that the idea of Jerusalem is at the heart of the Israeli identify, through outreach programs to its citizenry.
  • An Israeli law in 1980 declared the entire city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, thereby virtually annexing an occupied territory.
  • Peace between Israel and Palestine were negotiated with Norwegian mediation and the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993.
  • While these accords created a Palestinian Authority for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it did not address the status of Jerusalem.
  • Palestinians see Jerusalem as their capital city, but the UN recognizes only East Jerusalem as Palestinian territory.
  • Notably, this is according to the 1947 border that was proposed by the UN in the partition deed for British ruled Palestine.
  • Contrarily, hardliner Jewish nationalists have vowed to retain their current occupation of the entire Jerusalem as Israel’s capital forever.
  • US president Trump’s recognition of Israeli claim over Jerusalem will weaken the Palestinian perspective.
  • But given the intense sentimental value associated with the city, it will nevertheless remain contested for the foreseeable future.

 

Meghalaya’s Social Audit

 

Relevancy

  • G.S. Paper 2

Why in news?

  • Meghalaya is the first state to launch the social audit law.
  • The state’s experience is informative to increase awareness of entitlements.

What is Meghalaya’s social audit?

  • Meghalaya became the first State in the country to pass social audit legislation on April 2017, the Meghalaya Community Participation and Public Services Social Audit Act.
  • The Act mandated social audits across 21 schemes and 11 departments.
  • Meghalaya audits had been built on traditional tribal institutions, leveraging their inherent strengths and facilitating their engagement with contemporary democratic practices.

How did the social audit programme fair in Meghalaya?

  • The Meghalaya exercise demonstrated how social audits can be developed as an ongoing process through which citizens participate in the planning, implementation and monitoring of the programme.
  • The audits were deliberately positioned to be a platform for
  1. Sharing information about schemes.
  2. Enhancing awareness amongst people about their entitlements.
  3. Detecting beneficiaries who were eligible
  4. Recording people’s testimonies and registering of grievances
  5. Identifying priorities for inputs for planning.
  • The Meghalaya pilots have also helped formulate a practical framework through which that can be done. Draft rules were prepared on the basis of consultation.
  • Thus Social audits have helped to identify and bring evidence-based policy changes.

What can be learnt from Meghalaya’s model?

  • In India there is a growing acknowledgement of social audits as a credible means of institutionalizing citizen oversight.
  • There is therefore an urgent need to come up with a working protocol for facilitating social audits across a range of interventions.
  • The experience of Meghalaya has taught how social audit is intrinsically related to processes of community participation and grievance redress.
  • Thus Social audit is a tool of “good governance” and it is likely to spread or become robust with the participation of citizens groups.

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