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The Arab-Israeli Conflict
• The Kingdom of Israel in the Ancient Middle East – Jews left the region after the rebellion against the Romans in 65 C. E. (the diaspora – “the exile”) and spread out across Europe. • However, every year on passover, they would say : “next year in Jerusalem”
Origins: 19 th Century Nationalism • Before WWI, Palestine was under the control of the declining and loosely governed Ottoman Empire. As part of a wider growing Arab nationalism, local Palestinian leaders began to demand self determination and independence from foreign Turkish rule.
Origins: 19 th Century Nationalism “Let us Jews be given sovereignty over part of the world big enough to satisfy the rightful needs of a nation” – Theodor Herzl In response to growing anti-semitism in Europe, Zionism, a Jewish nationalist movement, grew in popularity. Zionists wanted to create a Jewish homeland based on the ancient land of Israel in Palestine. Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, encouraged Jews to move to Palestine and buy land with the ultimate goal of buying enough land to establish a state within the Ottoman Empire. Before WWI, the movement was small and created a number of self-sustaining communities based on socialist principles of shared wealth called khibbutzim that remained separate from the local Palestinian population.
PROMISE: During WWI, Arabs supported Allied efforts against the Ottomans in return for the promise of the Sykes-Picot agreement giving them their own countries after the war. REALITY: After WWI and the destruction of the Ottoman Empire, Britain and France divided up the middle east into mandates that they controlled directly. This included the territory of Palestine where British officials, in the Balfour Declaration, had supported growing Jewish migration from Europe
Palestine under the Mandate system: revolts on both sides • 1. 2. From 1918 – 1948, Palestine was under British control, but in constant conflict. The local Palestinian population was angered by the betrayal of the mandate system and growing Jewish migration. Arab revolts began in 1929 and continued throughout the 1930’s resulting in high Arab, British and Jewish casualties. In response to the rising fascist presence in Europe, Jewish migration to Palestine intensified causing internal tensions between Arabs and Jews. In response, the British put limits on Jewish immigration to Palestine to 10, 000 in 1938. Local Jewish militias formed demanding self determination and using violent methods to achieve it.
World War II and The Holocaust: The Nazi attempt to completely destroy the Jewish population of Europe left Jews without a homeland the global community with a sense of responsibility in creating a homeland for the survivors.
• 1946 – the Destruction of the King David Hotel (British army headquarters) in Jerusalem by the Stern Gang, a Jewish militant groups led by David Ben Gurion
1947: the British left & the UN stepped in to create 2 countries. In 1947, the British government relinquished control over Palestine to the United Nations. The United Nations created a plan to create 2 countries in Palestine: 1 for the Jews and 1 for the Palestinians. Jerusalem would be an international city At the time: The Non-Jewish population was 66% (1, 237, 000) and the Jewish population was 33% (608, 000)
1948 -1949 The First Arab-Israeli War • The Day after Israel and Palestine were both created, 5 Arab nations invaded Israel (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq). • Despite being severely out-numbered and lacking in weapons and military training, the Israelis won their « war of liberation »
Israel after the 1949 Armistice Victory for the Israelis meant the complete disappearance of a Palestinian state – though some of the land was also taken by Egypt and Lebanon. Now Palestinians had 2 choices –to stay in Israel or to flee to Arab countries in the region.
1948: Palestinians become a people without a homeland During 1948, over half of the Palestine’s Arab population fled their homes and farms (726, 000. ) Controversy surrounds their reasons for leaving – Palestinians argue that they were terrorised by Jewish settlers who wanted their land. Many Jews argue that they left of their own free will and therefore do not have the right to return.
Stage 1: the Arab nations vs. Israel • From 1948 – 1973 Israel fought a series of wars against it’s Arab neighbors who fought in the name of the displaced Palestinans. Despite the fact that the Arab nations outnumbered the Israelis 6: 1, Israel was victorious in each war (with US military assistance) These wars were as follows: • 1956 Suez War • 1967 Six Day War • 1973 Yom Kippur War
In 1967, Israel occupied the territories of Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights • • • After the third attack on Israel from territories held by Syria (the Golan Heights), Egypt (Gaza and Jordan (The West Bank), The Israeli army occupied these mountainous regions for defense purposes. However, they also correspond with regions that were promised to the Israelites in the Bible so this occupation also pleased relgious Israelis who began moving into the areas. At the same time, Israel took control of the regions that contained the largest number of Palestinian refugees.
Stage 2: The Israelis begin to be accepted by their neighbors • After 1973, Arab governments changed their policies towards Israel and began the slow process of making peace, despite the resistance of their people. • The first step was the Camp David accords in 1979, when US President Carter brought President Sadat of Egypt together with Prime Minister Begin of Israel • Soon after the peace talks, Sadat was assassinated
Stage 2: Palestinians vs. Israel • After the 1973 war, Palestinians began their own war against the Israeli state, but they did not have a government or an army, so their was conducted using the methods of freedom fighters (from their perspective) or terrorists (from the Israeli perspective. • For at least 2 decades, Palestinian militant groups conducted attacks on Israeli targets both inside Israel and outside to bring attention to their cause. • Notable incidents included the kidnapping of Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972 resulting in the deaths of the athletes and the terrorists. This attention brought some support from the Arab world, but condemnation from the rest.
The P. L. O. : The Palestinian Liberation Organization • The PLO was one group that emerged as the political voice of the Palestinian people led by Yasser Arafat; in the 1970’s they were actively involved in terrorist attacks on Israelis. • However, the political wing of the group (Fatah) did not openly support acts of terrorism and in 1988 they acknowledged the existence of Israel. • However, this act lost them support from within the Palestinian community and created militant wings like Hamas and Islamic Jihad that continue to use terrorist tactics including suicide bombings.
1978 & 82: The Israeli Invasion of Lebanon • • • Since 1948, Palestinians had lived in refugee camps in Southern Lebanon in desperate poverty. Once the PLO began their campaign against the Israeli government, many of the attacks came from these refugee camps. As Lebanon was in a civil war itself, there was no police presence in the refugee camps to stop the attacks In 1980, the Israeli Defense Forces invaded Southern Lebanon to remove threat of raids on Northern Israel. Their invasion led to an occupation that lasted until the early 1990’s as well as the massacre of Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by local Lebanese militants. In response to the occupation, another important player emerged: Lebanese Sh’ia terrorist group Hezbollah. While Hezbollah’s goal was to remove Israel from Southern Lebanon, it continued to bomb Northern Israel until 2004 when Israeli forces attacked Lebanon again.
1993 -5 The Oslo Accords • After years of violence, in 1993, representatives of the Israelis and the PLO began negotiating a peace accord in Oslo. • This peace agreement allowed for a limited progress towards autonomy for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza (under the control of Fatah and the PLO) in return for their agreement to renounce violence and acknowledge the existence of Israel. • The agreements were hailed as a victory by moderate Israelis and Palestinians, but angered militants on both sides culminating in the assasination of Prime Minister Rabin of Israel by an Israeli in 1995
Israeli Settlements • • Israelis have been settling in the West Bank and Gaza (the Occupied Territories) since the early 1980’s. These settlements cause the most important stumbling block to peace in the region as an autonomous Palestinian authority can not provide protection to Israeli settlers. As a result, Israeli soldiers are stationed amongst Palestinian settlements to protect Israeli settlers. To date, there are over 250, 000 Israeli settlers in the areas that have been designated for a Palestinian state in the Oslo agreements.
Gaza • • • Gaza has been considered one of the most difficult places to control in the world. It has very little natural resources; the unemployment rate in Gaza is 65%, and poverty is 80%. In 2006, the militant Palestinian group, Hamas, won control of the region in local elections based on the fact that they were the only organization providing social services to the population. They began bombing southern Israel with rockets on a daily basis at that time as well as endorsing suicide bombers as they moved from Gaza into Israel. In response, Israel closed the borders of Gaza and enforced a full embargo on the territory. The conflict rose to a new height in December of 2008 when Israeli forces both bombed Hamas targets and conducted a land invasion in an attempt to eradicate Hamas
Stage 3: PEACE? ? : Can an Israel and a Palestine co-exist? • Today, most Israelis and Palestinians long for the peace necessary to conduct a normal life and build prosperity for their region. • At the same time, they long for en end to the violence and have lost faith in the many attempts made by foreign governments to broker a peace. • Is a solution possible?