Palestine And Israel Essay, Research Paper
The Arab-Israeli conflict is long-winded struggle between the Jewish State of Israel and the Arabs of the Middle East. If the recent past is any indication, the chance of peace between Israel and Palestine is not likely any time soon.
Israel was formed in 1948, and several wars have erupted between Israel and certain Arab countries since. The conflict has also involved a struggle by Palestinian Arabs to establish their own country in some or all of the land occupied by Israel.
The Arab-Israeli conflict is a continuation of an Arab-Jewish struggle that began in the early 1900’s for control of Palestine. Palestine today consists of Israel and the areas known as the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The Palestinians lived in the region long before Jews began moving there in large numbers in the late 1800’s.
In the mid-1800’s, Jewish intellectuals in Europe began to support the idea that
Jews should settle in Palestine, which the Bible describes as the Jews’ ancient homeland. The word Palestine does not appear in the Bible, but it has long been used to refer to the land described in the Bible (Tessler 54). The idea that Jews should settle in Palestine became known as Zionism. Zionism became an important political movement among Jews in Europe because of increasing anti-Semitism (prejudice against Jews) there, which resulted in violent attacks on Jews and their property (Said). In the 1800’s, Palestine was controlled by the Ottoman Empire, which was centered in present-day Turkey.
After World War I ended in 1918, Britain gained control of Palestine from the Ottoman Empire. In the Balfour Declaration of 1917, Britain had supported creating a national homeland for the Jews. Under British rule, the Jewish population of Palestine continued to grow.
In November 1947, the United Nations approved a plan to divide Palestine into two states, one Jewish and the other Palestinian. Zionist leaders accepted the plan, but Arab governments and the Palestinians saw the division as the theft of Arab land by Zionists and the governments that supported them. British rule over Palestine ended when Zionists proclaimed the state of Israel on May 14, 1948. The next day, armies of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, and Iraq attacked Israel. Israel fought back and absorbed much of the land the UN had set aside for the Palestinians. Egypt and Jordan occupied the rest of the area that was assigned to the Palestinians. By August 1949, Israel and all five Arab states had agreed to end the fighting.
In May 1967, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser closed the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping. The gulf was Israel’s only access to the Red Sea. By June 5, Egypt had signed defense agreements with Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, creating a joint military command.
On June 5, the Israelis launched a surprise attack on Egypt. Syria, Jordan, and Iraq joined Egypt in fighting Israel. Israel gained control of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip,
and East Jerusalem. It had taken West Jerusalem in the 1948 war. In the north, Israel took Syria’s Golan Heights, an area bordering Israel. The fighting ended on June 10. Israelis call this conflict the Six-Day War. Arabs call it the June War. After the war, Israel decided it would return the territories it had taken only if the Arab countries recognized its right to exist.
After the 1967 war, Egyptian and Israeli troops continued to attack each other across the western border of the Sinai Peninsula. On Oct. 6, 1973, Egypt and Syria launched a massive assault on Israeli forces in the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights. At first, Egypt drove Israel’s forces out of the western Sinai, and Syria pushed Israeli troops from the eastern Golan Heights (Pearl 47). However, the United States gave Israel large amounts of military equipment. By October 24, Israeli forces crossed the Suez Canal and surrounded the Egyptian army. They also defeated the Syrian army in the Golan Heights. Israelis call this war the Yom Kippur War. Arabs call it the October War or the Ramadan War.
In 1978, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat joined Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and U.S. President Jimmy Carter in signing the Camp David Accords. Under these agreements, Egypt recognized Israel’s right to exist. In return, Israel agreed to give back to Egypt the part of the Sinai it still occupied. Sadat and Begin also agreed there was a need for national independence for the Palestinians. In talks leading up to the accords, Egypt and Israel received promises of large amounts of U.S. economic and military aid. In 1979, Egypt and Israel signed a treaty that confirmed their new peaceful relationship.
Most Arab leaders strongly opposed the Camp David Accords and the 1979 treaty. As a result, Egypt was expelled from the Arab League, an organization of Arab nations, in 1979. In 1981, an Egyptian religious group that opposed his policies assassinated Sadat.
After the signing of the Camp David Accords, the PLO continued to launch guerrilla attacks on Israel, especially from southern Lebanon. In 1987, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip began an uprising against Israel’s military rule of those territories. The uprising became known as the intifada, an Arabic term meaning uprising or shaking off (West Bank). Demonstrations occurred throughout the occupied territories. Entire towns refused to pay taxes to Israel. The intifada grabbed international attention and triggered criticism of Israel for its continuing control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and for its extensive use of force in trying to control the Palestinians.
In 1988, the PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist, and also declared its readiness to negotiate with Israel for peace in return for the creation of an independent Palestinian state. In addition, it declared it would no longer use violence against Israel. But some PLO members continued to attack Israeli targets.
In 1993, Israel and the PLO, aided by Norway, began secret peace talks. As a result, the PLO and Israel signed an agreement in Washington, D.C., in September 1993. Under the agreement, the PLO again stated its recognition of Israel’s right to exist. Israel, in turn, recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people. It also promised to withdraw from part or all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and to consider
Allowing the creation of a Palestinian state in those lands. In 1994, as a first step, Israel gave the PLO control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank City of Jericho. In 1995 and 1996, Israel gave the Palestinians control of most cities and towns of the West Bank. Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 (Rance). Israel then continued to seek a treaty with Syria. In October 1998, Israel and the Palestinians signed another agreement. Under the accord, Israel turned over more land in the West Bank to Palestinian control.
If the recent past is any indication, the chance of peace between Israel and Palestine doesn’t seem likely any time soon. With war after war and treaty after treaty, when I turn on the six o’clock news, I still hear about the conflict between Israel and Palestine. For all that’s been going on over the years, for all the efforts at peace, it just doesn’t seem like it’s going to end any time soon.