Arab-Israeli Conflict Essay, Research Paper
The beginning of this seemingly age-old battle began in 1917 when the Balfor Declaration was created. The Balfor Declaration promised that the Zionists would have a permanent home in Palestine. This document caused some commotion because; it conflicted with what other nations were planning to do with the area. Anglo-France planned to divide the near east between themselves and earlier, Britain encouraged the Arabs to fight for their independence of the Ottoman Empire, so the Balfor Declaration was not what many nations were planning on. During the interwar period, the Yishuv, or Palestinian Jewish community, began developing their own press, political parties, labor unions and educational system. The Palestinians felt that the Jews were intruders upon their sacred land and the British tried to mediate their disputes but with no avail. In 1947, the British threw their hands up and turned the problem of the Arabs and the Jews with their land dispute over to the UN. The UN swiftly made the decision to split the territory into two different nations. One of the territories would be Arab and the other would be Jewish. Naturally, the Arabs who now lived in the Jewish State, became refugees and visa-versa, which caused some, displeasure. When the British official withdrew from Israel in 1948, they immediately declared their independence as the new Jewish State of Israel. The United States, through President Truman, was one of the first nations to recognize the existence of the new nation; this was a form of reparation made to the Jewish people because of what happened in World War II. The first Prime Minister of Israel was David Ben-Gurion, a very prominent figure and leader who would do many things for his country until his death in 1973. On the same day that the new state declared their independence, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt invaded. The fighting continued to 1949 and by the end of the war, Israel had actually expanded its territory beyond what the united nations had originally intended. The country now included the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip. Israel had also lost territory, the Old City of Jerusalem was ceded but they still controlled the New City of Jerusalem. By 1949, Israel had secured its own existence, but not gained the acceptance of its neighbors. A reason that the United States had firmly stated its alliance with Israel was because the soviets had allied themselves with many of the other Arab nations and the US did not want any more oil producing countries in bed with the soviets.
In 1952, a group of army officers, lead by Gamal Abdel Nasser, seized power in Egypt. After establishing himself as dictator and spokesperson for militant Arab nationalism, he declared his opposition to the existence of the Jewish State of Israel. Four years later, in July of 1956, President Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal and threatened the accessibility of it to other countries. In October, war broke out between Egypt and Israel. This confrontation had many implications due to the alliances of the warring countries. This fact caused the Suez Intervention to be a microcosm of the cold war. The Soviet Union was supplying the Egyptians with weapons; the United States had strong ties to the eight-year-old Israel and, this was just the place for the French and British to try to regain control of the Suez Canal and reassert their influence in the Middle East. Luckily, the Soviets did not involve themselves directly in the Suez Intervention. France was at war over its continuing control over Algeria and Prime Minister Anthony Eden saw a Hitler like figure in Nasser seeking to extol his own motives. To fend off Arab guerrilla attacks and to be associated with the Imperial Nations, Israel allied itself with France and Britain.
The Suez Intervention was a military success, Israel seized the Sinai peninsula and the British and French landed troops in the canal zone. However, the Suez Intervention turned out to be a diplomatic defeat. Since the United States refused to support the Anglo-French and the Soviet Union severely protested, the Anglo-French forces had to withdraw and the canal remained under the control of Egypt. The Intervention proved that without support from the United States, Western European countries could impose effective military force upon other countries. Also demonstrated was the ability of the United States and the Soviet Union to pressure their respective allies to abstain from incidents with the chance of wider conflict.
In 1956, a UN peacekeeping force separated the armies of Israel and Egypt, with Israel withdrawing from the Sinai. After the peacekeeping mission, there was no official Arab recognition of Israel?s existence. With increased influence and weapons supply by the US on Israel and the Soviet Union on Egypt, Nasser became over confident and began to amass Arab troops in the Sinai in an attempt to close the Gulf of Aqaba, Israel?s link to the Red Sea. In reply on June 5 1967, Israel under the leadership of Moshe Dayan, bombed and destroyed all of Egypt?s airfields. Jordan and Syria entered the war and six days later; Israel had demolished the Egyptian military and taken over the entire Sinai peninsula and West Bank.
Nasser was now out of Presidency and Anwar el-Sadat took over in 1970. To shore up support at home, Sadat booted the Soviets out of Egypt in 1972. Despite hope of a more peaceful leader, Sadat thought that the only answer to the land lost to the Jews was another war. On Yom Kippur, the holiest of Hebrew days, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel. Due to the surprise nature of the attack, Israel lost many lives and massive ground but one month later, after successfully pushing back the Egyptians a truce was signed. Israel lost prestige as a strong and militarily powerful country. When the war began in October, the Arab oil producing countries halted distribution of oil to the United States and Europe in an effort to indirectly influence the policies in Israel. This action frightened the Europeans the most because the Middle East was the only resource of oil a staple of their industry.
In 1977, President Sadat flew to Israel after commenting to a reporter that he would like to make a visit. Although the two states were still at war, Sadat held discussions with Prime Minister Begin. This was a major step, due to this being the first time a major Arab nation had publicly recognized the existence of the Jewish state.
With Sadat?s initiative, direct conversations between Egypt and Israel became a reality. Camp David in the United States was the meeting place of the most important discussion, moderated by President Carter. With this meeting in September of 1978, the famous, Camp David Accords became a framework for continuing negotiations. In October of 1981, Anwar el-Sadat was assassinated by Muslim; this cast doubt of the long-term stability of the Camp David Accords. More difficulties began appearing in late December when Israel annexed the Golan Heights. The PLO, a major refugee representative, started demanding it?s own separate state. Israel would not hear of it because a Palestinian state sharing a border would be a threat to Israel?s own survival. In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon to seek out and destroy PLO bases that served as epicenters of anti-Israel terrorism. The Israeli?s were very successful and nearly caused the total collapse of the civil war ravaged state. Finally, in 1985, Israel withdrew from Lebanon but Syria stayed to battle with various factions and armies.
. In 1987, the intifada began. Intifada is the rebellion of the Arabs to the rule of the West Bank by Israel. Israeli?s answered the violent political and social uprisings of the Arabs with increasingly violent and sometimes deadly force. Oddly, the next year brought about a strange series of events promoted by the PLO. In 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait, only two groups supported the invaders, Jordan and the PLO. After the Iraq lost, the funding of the PLO drastically diminished or was cut because the radical Arab movement had faced a huge defeat. Late in 1988, the leader of the PLO, Yasir Arafat, announced that Israel had a right to exist and would henceforth refrain from terrorist activity. After five years of negotiations, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel and PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat flew to the US to sign a peace accord that had been secretly negotiated over the past three years. The peace accord allowed Palestine to govern the Gaza Strip and the city of Jerico. Groups did not want this to happen and so carried out terrorist action to disrupt the flow of peace. They were largely unsuccessful. Finally, there would be peace in the Middle East. Then in 1995 a strange twist occurred, Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by one of his own fellow citizens. The world will have to wait and see what happens next.