1996 A Turbulent Year For Israel Essay

1996: A Turbulent Year For Israel Essay, Research Paper 1996: A Turbulent Year for Israel 1996 has been a very turbulent year for Israel. This lies in the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin on November 4, 1995. Rabin’s great work in the

1996: A Turbulent Year For Israel Essay, Research Paper

1996: A Turbulent Year for Israel

1996 has been a very turbulent year for Israel. This lies in the

assassination of Yitzhak Rabin on November 4, 1995. Rabin’s great work in the

peace process with it’s Arab neighbors has been nearly reversed by Israel’s

newly elected Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who actively opposed the peace

process in the election. Netanyahu’s term of service has not only affected

Israel politically but also socially, intellectually, religiously, and


In dealing with Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians Netanyahu was

originally quoted saying that he would only meet with Arafat under special

circumstances and that, “the era of one-sided giving was over.” Warren

Christopher, Secretary of State for the U.S., was able to arrange a peace

conference with Arafat on the Gaza border. One article called it a ,

“Psychological breakthrough” (Netanyahu meets with Clinton). The issues at hand

were Israel fulfilling it’s pledge to the Palestinians to redeploy it’s troops

stationed in the West Bank town of Hebron so that they will only guard the 440

Jews who live there, from the tens of thousands of Palestinians. Also at issue

were the exit permits given to Palestinians allowing them to go from there jobs

in Israel to there homes in Gaza and the and the West Bank. That leads to

another issue over whether or not a rail link between Gaza and the West Bank

should be formed. The major problem with that would be the cost. In the next

round of Israeli-PLO peace talks, both sides could not reach a compromise and

after four hours talks failed. To complicate matters further 3,000 houses were

approved to be built in the West Bank by the Israeli government. “Peace Now

spokesman”, Alon Arnon, called the housing, “A final burial of the hope of

peace.” (West Bank Settlement Approved) Netanyahu also ended the month by

opening a tunnel to Muslim and Jewish Holy sites that resulted in bloody riots

that killed 76 people.

The month of October cooled down a bit with an ice breaking summit in

Washington. Netanyahu returned with a change in attitude calling Arafat a

person whom he could resolve problems with. But aside from his change in

demeanor no substantial agreements were made.

In November Israel went on high alert in fear of an attack planned to

disrupt the peace process, possibly on the one year anniversary of the Jihad’s

leader Fathi Shakaki. Again the peace effort was thrown back when the Israeli

government announced plans to double the number of Jewish settlers in the West

Bank. At one point Netanyahu asked the U.S. and Germany to help use their

influence in Iran and Syria to hold the terrorists at bay. Arafat also grew

tired of what he considered to be stalling on the part of the Israeli government.

He called for plans already agreed to, to be put in motion. Netanyahu then

makes a statement that he envisions, “A Palestinian entity with broad power,”

but fell short of declaring full independence. One article called this a sign

that Netanyahu was, “moving towards the Israeli political center.”(Netanyahu

Mulls Palestine Land) Towards the end of November peace talks tookplace about

the redeployment of troops in Hebron. The main issue that stalled the talks was

Israel’s insistence on written agreements that Israeli troops could chase

Palestinian suspects into the city.

In December, peace talks continued and as of now a decision was on the

verge of being reached once final details were worked out. On January 1, 1997 a

Jewish military officer, believed to be mentally disturbed ,walked into a

Palestinian market and opened fire. Waving after being arrested he said,

“Hebron, always and forever.”

Israel also had some serious problems with it’s Arab neighboring

countries. In September Israeli forces launched air and ground attacks to

counter Lebanese guerrillas who had ambushed an Israeli patrol. The guerrillas

are part of Hezbollah, or party of god. Shortly after the attack Lebanon moved

300 commandos to the southern border to, as a Lebanese statement says, “cope

with any Israeli venture in the region.” Both Israel and Lebanon are under

investigation to find if they had broken any cease-fire agreements.

Jordan, Israel’s closest Arab ally issued a blunt statement to Israel

declaring, “Anything can happen if peace is not achieved.”(Rift widening quickly

between Israel and Jordan) Hussein attended a luncheon with Netanyahu, Clinton,

and Arafat saying, “What you need sir, is not the arrogance of power but the

vision that Rabin had… Maybe one day you will have it.”

Israeli-Syrian relations also were greatly strained. Syrian peace talks

have been greatly strained since the May terrorist attacks. As a precondition

for opening up peace talks Syria is demanding the Golan Heights, an area of

tremendous strategic value and Israel’s only ski resort, to be given back to

them. In September, Syria pressured Israel by moving troops closer to Israel

along the Lebanon border. But eventually both sides withdrew. As of now both

sides are at a stand still while Netanyahu continues to approve housing for the

Golan Heights.

The increase of Jewish settlements also angered Egypt another of

Israel’s allies in the Arab world. The West Bank housing will, said an Egyptian

official, “Destroy trust between Israel and it’s Arab neighbors.”

Socially Israel has it’s share of problems. In November an Israeli

lawmaker who advocated a crackdown on violence against women was “under the

spotlight” for allegedly beating his own wife. Haim Dayan was once talking

about wife abusers and said, “I would slice their hands to pieces so that would

be the last time they ever raised their hand to a women.”(Israeli Lawmaker under

spotlight) The women’s rights group, Naamat, estimates that one in every four

women are or will be assaulted by their partners. The reason for this says

Naamat spokeswomen, Carmel is, “The level of violence and anger is very high .

..and it’s influences the family situation. Another Israeli agreed, “Israelis

still live by the sword”

Violence is also frequently seen in the Israeli abuse towards

Palestinians. In November two Israeli border guards were arrested after being

video taped beating and kicking six Palestinian laborers. Israeli and

Palestinian human rights activists claim that such beatings happen all the time

and are designed to instill fear in Palestinians so that they will not try to

get into Israel illegally. In response Yasser Arafat said he would distribute

video cameras to Palestinians living near the checkpoints to monitor further


Another trend with Israel socially is the ever growing flow of

foreigners into Israel from Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. The

foreigners complain of discrimination and abuse from employers who pay low wages

and house them in rat infested hotels. The Labor Ministry estimates that there

are 300,000 foreign workers in Israel and two thirds of them have overstayed

visas and are there illegally. One immigrant commented on the abuse saying,

“Society tolerates it because these people are not Jews.”

On the lighter side there has been a dramatic increase in the UFO

sightings over the Israeli skies. Skeptics say, “Israelis are simply being

swept away by the U.S. pop culture.” The movie Independence day and the series

X-Files are big hits in Israel. A recent Israeli pole finds that one in every

two people believe in Aliens.

Intellectually there has been little change in Israel. One Palestine

city was connected to the internet in November. When a West Bank University

tried to lease dedicated lines to be hooked up to the university it got the run-

around from Israel, so it turned to a new technology developed in Israel,

wireless microwave communications. The technology’s founder says he estimates

to have 3,000 clients a year from now hooked up to the internet.

Religiously there has been many developments in Israel. On September 22

Israel marked a day of atonement, Yom Kippur. Yasser Arafat called Netanyahu to

wish him a happy New Year. On Christmas eve thousands of pilgrims filled

Bethlehem’s 1,600 year old church to celebrate Christmas. At the mass’s sermon

the priest criticized Israel’s rough treatment of Palestinians and religious

leaders on both sides that foster extremism.

Economically Israel has suffered under Netanyahu’s hard-line attitude.

Some cold facts include:

Exports rose only 4 percent(a third of the recent average increase)

Tourism is down 10 percent

Unemployment rose with Israel’s high tech industry reporting losses.

The GNP spent on the military, currently a 10th is now rising.

Netanyahu argued that these problems are inherited but experts cite

rising Arab-Israeli conflict scaring away foreign investment. Koor Industries,

Israel’s largest industrial company reported their third quarter losses at ten

percent. The cause for the loss CEO, Benjamin Gaon, says is Israel’s high

interest rates and the shekels rise against the U.S. dollar.

Towards the end of December Israel, in an attempt to lower the 300

million a month deficit by raising taxes. This, experts claim is a result of

Israel’s economic slowdown. Jacob Frenkel, the governor of the bank of Israel

says that the government should try to focus more on reducing the government

spending(50% of the GNP) than raising taxes. Either way Netanyahu has a tough

road ahead of him to try to keep down inflation and taxes while still trying to

reduce Israeli’s debt.

Under Netanyahu Israel has seen rough times in all aspects. Netanyahu’s

slow change towards the political center will better serve Israel, but is it

going to be in time? Netanyahu’s continued West Bank Housing projects keep

infuriating the Arab world. In Israel’s future I see more bloodshed but hope

still exists for the peace that Prime Minister Rabin had hoped for before his

assassination. Politically I see peace on the horizon with Arafat and the PLO

but see future conflicts with Syria over the Golan Heights. There will be

renewed terrorist attacks with the Israeli pullout from Hebron because political

extremists will not be settled until they obtain all of what they want. The

middle east is one of the most volatile regions in the world so no one knows for

sure what awaits it.