The Israeli Palestinian Conflict
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At the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a dispute over land, borders and religion; a part of the Israeli-Arab conflict. The geography of the conflict revolves around the three territorial units of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, defined by armistice lines drawn after a war in the region in 1948. Since then, military action, settlement and population growth have also shaped the situation on the ground. The Israeli- Palestinian conflict is also one of the most influential conflicts in international relations in the twentieth century, ranging from the cold war, political economy, international and state terrorism, etc. The historic handshake between Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian chief Yasser Arafat is an unforgettable image. Tessler believed that both Israel's Jews and Palestinians have legitimate and inalienable rights. These rights are rooted in the historical experiences of each people.1 The conflict between the two has been regarding territoriality, ethnicity and religion, water dispute, refugees, identity, nationalism, colonialism, imperialism, economics. The dispute is one of the most obstinate disputes ever in history and it is many-sided. There are five important wars; I will be dealing with them between 1945 to early 1990s- wars of 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1981 and the Intifada.
CONFUCIUS was of the view that, there is deceit and cunning and from this wars arise.2
Kenneth waltz provides a causal explanation of war that combines three levels of analysis: individual, state and society, and international system. The permissive cause is systemic anarchy; efficient or proximate causes of a given war may also be found at other levels.3
War is a state of open, armed, often prolonged conflict carried on between nations, states or parties."
Conflict is a state of disharmony between incompatible and antithetical persons, ideas, or interests; a clash, often prolonged.
ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT (1945-early 1990s):
The Israelis believe that the land of Israel is the Promised Land which God had given to them through Abraham and therefore belongs to them. However, some scholars believe that rather than purely religious matters, the roots of conflict lie in the ethno-political differences and that the European idea of nationalism has deeply affected both the groups resulting in the rise of Zionism and Palestinian nationalism. Indeed it is both significant and ill-timed that at the similar historical point in time both the Israelis and the Palestinians have become aware of the ideas of self-determination, statehood and nationalism. 'A country without a people for a people without a country',said Chaim Weizman, World Zionist Congress.4
The Zionist movement clearly illustrated the aspiration for a Jewish homeland for the Jewish people. The memory of the lost homeland and the desire to return there were long fostered by religion alone: 'Next year in Jerusalem' believers prayed each year.5 Zionism not only was an ideology of western origin but also held a nationalist vision. Its first congress was convened in 1897. The Palestinians also started establishing throughout the 1920s and early 1930s nationalist organizations leading to revolts which collapsed. However, the British authorities imprisoned the leaders of the nationalist movements. It is to be noted that during this period, Palestine (former) was under the mandate of Britain after the Ottoman Empire was dissolved and the ever-increasing set of boundaries between the two which created economic, religious, cultural and political cleavages. Different commissions were formed one after the other to address the differences issue but nothing helped.
On 22 May, Arab League was formed in Cairo. Thereafter, post- WWII Great Britain's continuing domestic economic crisis, coupled with its commitment in Palestine, led the Labour government in early 1947 to finally acknowledge that it could no longer sustain its geographical commitments in the Mediterranean. A major rift now developed between London and Washington with respect to Palestine and Zionist claims to statehood. At the end of August 1945, President Truman wrote Clement Attlee requesting that Great Britain sponsor the immediate admission of 100,000 Jewish refugees into Palestine, signaling the beginning of direct American involvement in the British handling of the question of Palestine. The Americans were more worried at the plight of the Jewish refugees, but, not to the extent that they would support alterations in immigration laws to permit them entry. Most Americans agreed with the Zionist that Palestine should be the haven for the Jews who had survived the horrors of war and the camps.6 Then, the matter was then submitted to the newly formed United Nation which then chose the option of partition, as the British had before them. This decision went against the desire of the Palestinians. On 22 March 1946, Transjordan gained independence. And on 1 May 1946, Anglo-American committee recommended the admission of those 100,000 Jewish refugees into Palestine. On 2 April 1947, Britain requested a special session of the United Nations General Assembly to consider future government of Palestine. As a result, on 15 May, the UNSCOP was formed charged with examining the conditions in the country and recommending action to the General Assembly. On 1 September, UNSCOP issued a major report recommending partition of Palestine with an internationalized Jerusalem and a minority report recommending a federal scheme. Following which on 29 november,General Assembly votes to partition Palestine and to establish, by 1st October 1948, independent Jewish and Arab states and recommended international status for Jerusalem. On 19 March, United States proposed the suspension of the partition plans and called for a special session of the General Assembly to discuss trusteeship of Palestine. On 1 April, Security Council called for truce in Palestine and a special session of the General Assembly to reconsider the future of Palestine. On 9 April, large numbers of Palestine civilians were killed by Jewish groups Irgun and Lehi in Deir Yassin massacre. On 13 April, medical convoy to Jerusalem's Hadassah hospital was ambushed and massacred in retaliation of the Deir Yassin Massacre. However, on May 14, 1948, David Ben Gurion, leader of the Zionist Movement proclaimed to the world the birth of the new State of Israel. He affirmed the new state's claim to legitimacy: that it was the Jewish people's right according to the biblical promises made to Abraham by Jehovah. 7 On May 15 President Truman personally instructed a member of the American United Nations delegation to declare the United States' de facto acknowledgment of Israel, Soviet Union immediately followed suit with de jure recognition.
Immediately after the formation of the new state, war broke out. This happened since the Palestinians and its Arab supporters did not accept the formation of the new state. Arabs argued for a Palestinian state based on existing population ratios in which the Arab majority would acknowledge and ensure Jewish rights; they rejected all other solutions. There were two wars: first from mid-May to 11 June 1948- armies of Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Transjordan and Syria invaded the newly formed state of Israel. However, the Israelis ultimately stopped them from penetrating inside their territory. A truce was imposed under UN, accepted by both the sides. When the truce ended the Israelis were in a much better military position compared with that of the Arabs. Second war lasted from 6 to 9 July where the Israelis took over much of the Western Galilee and by October they occupied Negev. By end of 1948 they have driven to the coast of Gulf of Aqaba and gaining an outlet to the Red Sea, controlling over three quarters of Palestine. The UN mediator Bernadotte opposed Israel's desire to have Negev but, the Israelis strongly rejected it. His idea that Jerusalem be internationalized was also rejected by both Israelis and Palestinians. On 11 December, UN General Assembly establishes Palestine conciliation commission, reaffirms decision on Jerusalem, and recognizes Palestinian refugees' rights to return to their homes or to be paid compensation (Resolution 194).
The Armistice negotiation(January-July 1949) held between Israel and Arab states conducted by Ralph Bunche defined Israel's boundaries until the 1967 war, but, in principle a state of war still existed; only secession of hostilities had been achieved. The 1948 war was devastating for the Arabs which ousted more Arabs from the territories; between 400,000 and 450,000 were expelled or fled. Of the approximately 860,000 Arabs who had lived in the area of Palestinian now Israel, 133,000 remained. Of the rest, 470,000 entered camps in Arab Palestine, controlled by Jordan, and Gaza Strip held by Egypt. The remainder was dispersed into Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan proper, with Egypt and Iraq taking lesser number.8 On 24, April 1950 Jordan annexed West Bank, including East Jerusalem. And on 25 May, United States, Great Britain, France issued Tripartite declaration on Middle East. On 20 July 1951, King Abdullah of Jordan was assassinated at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. By, 1952, 325,000 Jews had migrated to Israel from Arab Middle East. The UNRWA was created and the ongoing border clashes became the responsibility of the Mixed Armistice Commission (MAC) under UN to resolve disputes. The west also tried to neutralize the military capabilities of the enemies and align its participants, specially the Arab states against any possible Soviet invasion. The Arabs didn't accept the Jewish state's legitimacy. Separation of these groupings has been officially encouraged; intermarriage is rare and is not permitted under religious law in Israel.
The Israel leaders wanted to be a part of the western alliance and to have Arab states excluded. Membership in the regional organization would bring the required economic assistance to provide the great concoction of immigrants and arms supplies. The Palestinian refugees in the Arab world organized themselves to seek for self-determination. Even though their claims and rights were recognized by UN, they were not put in practice by the international community. No effective political solutions were at hand after the implementation of partition.
The Suez Canal crisis:
Water dispute is one of the major problems. In 1953, US proposed to help develop a regional water development project based on the River Jordan. In 1954, both Lavon Affair took place and Bat Galim Affairs begins. In October, Anglo-American Alpha plan was launched which at aimed at securing comprehensive Egypt-Israeli peace is put in place. On 24 February 1955, Baghdad pact comes into force which was followed by the Gaza Raid. 31August-1 September saw the Khan Yunis Raid. And on 27 September, Egyptian-Czechoslovak arms deal was announced. On 11 October, the Arab League refused to accept Eric Johnson's Jordan River plan. And on 11 December the Kinneret operation was launched.
Throughout 1950s and 1960s, as a new emerging state as Israel was going through the process of consolidation, there arose many problems over the proposed frontiers of the new state. They clung to the 'right to return'. The new state was fully committed in securing the security of the country for themselves and the future generations with the military consuming most of the country's gross domestic product. Between 1954-56, the Israeli- Egyptian arms race was going on. And Israel was in a superior condition to Egypt militarily. However, the Israeli leaders denied they were in favor of more conflict. To the Arabs, Israel was the foe not only because of the hostilities posed against its brethren but also due to her closeness to the western imperialist aspirations towards the region, and specially regarding its exploited massive oil reserves.
The Aswan Dam symbolized to Nasser and many Egyptians the key to their progress and agricultural and industrial stability. American willingness to entertain financing the project was related to political considerations. Furthermore, Dulles and Eisenhower hoped that an American offer to back the project could be linked to efforts to achieve peace between Egypt and Israel, indirect leverage to pressure Nasser to enter negotiations. From February 1956 onwards, difficulties increased between the Egyptians and their western partners. Dulles was also increasingly distrustful of Nasser. Nasser confirmed in his suspicion of American and British hostilities, he then decided to teach Dulles and Eden a lesson while asserting Egyptian independence. On 20 July, United States and Great Britain backed out of their pledge to provide financial aid for Egypt's Aswan High Dam. On 26 July, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal to great popular acclaim.9
Under Nasser, Radical Arab nationalism and pan-Arab pretensions created a new dimension in the conflict with Israel, as was strikingly demonstrated during the 1956 Suez war. The Suez conflict erupted over the decision by Nasser to nationalize the Suez Canal Company in July 1956. Suez Canal was built in the 1860s and by the late 1880s came under British and other foreign control, maintained by British occupation of Egypt. The British saw the canal as an essential element in their control of the main sea route to India. The nationalization of the Suez Canal by Egypt was the first time that a third world country had successfully regained one of its foreign-owned assets. Both, French and the British were outraged at Nasser's decision. Then a secret highly tripartite operation in collusion with Israel was organized, plotting to regain control over the Suez Canal. On 29 October, the Israeli army launched Operation Kadesch. Over a period of five days they routed the Egyptian army and approached the Canal. The Israelis have accepted a ceasefire as part of the secret pre-arrangement with the British and the French. The UN General Assembly created the United Nations Emergency Force. Britain and France were forced to withdraw despite their military successes under the US economic pressure on Britain and world community opinion through the UN. Nasser held on the Canal and the Arab anti-imperialist sentiments went up an all time high. As a result, tensions remained high and the deep animosity between Israel and Palestine worsened. By siding France and Britain and continuing to occupy the Gaza Strip between 1956 and 1957, the Israelis not only managed to further deepen the rift with Egypt but also to anger the USA, bringing a close relationship to severe pressure.10 US and UN pressure prompted Israeli withdrawal from Sinai in March 1957 and also from the Gaza Strip. In March the Suez Canal was reopened. Although Britain and France imperialism failed in the Suez Canal crisis, Israel was successful militarily, opened the Straits of Tiran and also securing the de facto for the next ten years. 1959 saw the formation of Fatah. On 24 March, Iraq withdrew from the Baghdad Pact. Then on 18 August, Baghdad Pact was renamed Central Treaty Organization (CENTO).
On 13 January 1964, First Arab Summit was held in Cairo and on 29 May: Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was established at a conference held in East Jerusalem followed by the 13 September- second Arab Summit held in Alexandria, Egypt. Then in 1965, Eli Cohen was hanged in Damascus for spying for Israel and on 18 September, the third Arab Summit was held in Casablanca, Morocco.
The six day war:
Nasser's intensions in 1967 were partially rooted in the 1956 encounter and his memories of military humiliation. On 19 May, at Egypt's request, the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) was withdrawn from the Sinai Peninsula. And on 22 May, Egypt re-imposes naval blockade on the Strait of Tiran. 1 June: National unity government forms in Israel with Moshe Dayan as the Minister.The war of 1967 was supposed to happen at that time because of some important reasons. The disputes between Israel and Palestine were still not resolved and the Arabs were very much confident and fervent with their nationalist aspirations at the peak. On the eve of the war the combined number of Arab troops was more than double of the Israeli troops. On 5th June, Israel launched a preemptive air strike against the Egyptian, Syrian and Iraqi air bases; later in the morning Jordan also joined the war. Then on 6 June, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) made advances in Sinai, the West Bank and Jerusalem. By, 7 June, Israel captured East Jerusalem as well as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Then on 8 June, Israel completed the capture of the Sinai Peninsula; Egypt accepted a cease fire. Ultimately on 10 June, Israeli offensive of the Syrian front captured the Golan Heights. The tanks and aircrafts that the Arabs had were three times more than the Israelis, however the within 6 days they were totally rooted by the Israeli army. Egypt grossly exaggerated its military capabilities and in this war became the victim of its own propaganda, the Syrians and the Jordanians were less hawkish. Nasser also oppressed the Egyptian-administered Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip and the refugee community in Egypt. The war lasted for only 6 days and the Arabs lost the war. Israel defeated the Jordanian army and destroyed its air force. By, 10 June 1967, the Israeli army occupied the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Golan heights. After the war, Israel's territorial size was increased by six times and this had great impact on the logistical, military and political realm for the Israeli government. After the Israeli victory, within the Palestinian Arab population of the West Bank, Arab East Jerusalem (including the Old City) and the Gaza Strip, splits within the political establishment over what strategy to adopt could be seen.
Then in 19 June, U.S President Lyndon Johnson outlined his five points peace plans for the Middle-East which was followed by Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem. In the month of July Israeli minister Yigal Allon outlined his plans for the occupied territories. 1 September saw the Arab summit conference in Khartoum which adopted the three NO's: no peace, no recognition and no negotiation with Israel.
In November, the United Nations passed Security Council Resolution 242, with Gunnar Jarring as the appointed special representative of the secretary-general, which required a withdrawal of Israeli forces from the territories occupied in exchange for a cessation of fighting, the recognition of all the states in the region freedom of navigation in the Suez Canal and in the Gulf of Aqaba and the creation of demilitarized zones.11 After the war got over , Israel, who was being threatened just some days before the war became the key military power in the Middle East. As a country, it changed as she became the occupying country.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, relationship between the Israeli's and Palestinians did not improve. On 28 December1968, Israel conducted a raid at the Beirut International airport, destroying 13 airlines in retaliation for the attack on an El Al plane in Athens by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Thereafter, in January 1969, France announces a ban on the supply of arms to Israel. Then, on 23 April, War of Attrition between Israel and Egypt began. 21 August: An Australian Christian tourist sets fire to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Later on 9 December, Rogers plan was announced for Israeli-Egypt peace settlement.
Then fortunately, in 1970, Israeli-Egyptian cease fire came into effect along the Suez Canal. And civil war like situation erupted in Jordan; King Hussein proclaimed Martial Law and ordered a military crackdown on the Palestinian militia. However, on 27 September, Gamal Abdel Nasser mediated an agreement to end hostilities in Jordan and unfortunately on 28 September, Nasser dies of cardiac arrest; Anwar Sadat took over as the president of Egypt. On 26 February 1971, the Jarring Mission failed to meet its purpose. Eventually, Israel and Egypt rejected the Rogers proposals. In November, Jordanian premier Wasfi tal was assassinated by Palestinians. On 30 May 1972, Lod massacre took place. Due to the circumstances, Sadat expelled the Soviet Military advisers from Egypt. On 5 September, a very ill-fated instance occurred where eleven Israeli athletes were murdered by the Black September Organization during the Munich Olympics. In the same year, USSR agreed to supply limited quantities of air defense systems to Egypt.
The PLO was an umbrella organization representing four nationalist factions: Fatah, the Communists, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of the Palestine (DFLP) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). In 1968 the PLO fell in the hands of Yasser Arafat and his comrades. Over its forty odd years engaged in "arms struggle", the PLO and other Palestinian dissidents have involved in hijacking, bomb attacks and assassinations against Israel and its representatives abroad including American Jews. It has confronted two major Arab states- Jordan (1970) and Lebanon (1975-82) where it became engaged in civil conflict with state authorities and was accused of running 'a state within a state' for major Palestinian refugee communities resident in both the countries.12 Yasser Arafat in 1988, in a specially convened UN General Assembly meeting in Geneva declared that he and his party would renounce all forms of terrorism which includes individual, group and state terrorism. The PLO was outlawed and by, the late 1980s, it was expelled from Lebanon.
The October war:
In 1973, President Anwar Sadat, Nasser's successor, declared that he was planning to attack Israel in an effort to recover the lost territory in the 1967 war. Sadat was carrying out a low- key campaign of attrition across the canal and was making such comments for many years but American and Israelis did not take it seriously. However, on 6 October, the Egyptians crossed the Suez and the Syrians attacked the Golan Heights. At this time, Russia and America immediately commenced a diplomatic effort to halt the conflict, however, neither of them wanted to take the risk of entering the war. Nevertheless, fortunately for Israel, the situation began to turn in her favor, reversing earlier Syrian and Egyptian gains. By, 24 October, the Israeli tanks have reached the suburbs of Cairo. In that situation, Sadat went to the UN for a cease fire agreement and the Americans were pressurizing Israel. The UN passed resolution 338 calling for the ceasefire. By, 24 October, the war ended. The Israelis eventually were successful and they had to recognize the Arab forces as something to keep a check on. The OPEC increase in oil prices on 19 October were meant to realize a number of goals, with the resolution of the Palestinian issue among them.
Then on 18 January 1974, Israel-Egypt separation of forces agreement was signed. After some months Arab states decided to lift their oil embargo against the Americans to teach them a lesson. Then on 1 April, the Agranat Commission published its Interim report. After some days, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir decided and resigned owing to the Agranat commission report; then eventually Yitzhak Rabin was replaced as the prime minister. On 11 April, Kiryat Shmona massacre took place again escalating the tension followed by the Ma'alot massacre leading to many deaths. On 31 May, Israel and Syria agreed to sign Separation of forces agreement. Then on 14 October, UN General Assembly resolved by 105 votes to 4 to invite the PLO to participate in the debate on the "Palestine question" which was a big step for PLO; eventually in the Rabat Arab summit the Palestine Liberation Organization(PLO) was recognised as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinians. Then, in 13 November, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat addressed the UN General Assembly resulting in the General Assembly granting observer status to the PLO and recognizing the right of the Palestinians to self-determination. Later on, on 30 January 1975, Agranat commission published its final report. In June in the same year, Suez Canal was reopened for navigation. On 1 September, Israel- Egypt Interim Agreement got signed. At the end of the year, UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 3379 equating Zionism with Racism. In the next year, Air France Airliner from Tel Aviv to Paris was hijacked and flown to Entebbe, Uganda and Israeli commandos carried out a raid the Entebbe airport and freeing the hostages.
In 1977, President Sadat announced his readiness to come to Jerusalem to address the Knesset if that would promote peace, and then in November, Sadat arrived in Israel and held discussions with Prime Minister Menachem Begin in Jerusalem. He also addressed the Knesset. Then by December, Egypt severed diplomatic relations with Syria, Iraq, Libya, Algeria and south Yemen in retaliation for their decision to suspend relations with Egypt in protest against Sadat's initiative. Later on, Prime Minister Begin outlined his autonomy plan for the occupied territories followed by Begin's and Sadat's meeting in Ismailia for a summit. Consequently, Israel Knesset approved the Begin Plan.
CAMP DAVID: The situation in the Middle East became more unstable after the war and thus, the US administration was forced to make serious effort to bring about peaceful settlement between Israel and the Arab states. The implications of the war on US were that her ambitions in the region were frustrated and also hit her economy through the oil embargo announced by Arab oil producers. At Camp David, 17 September, 1978 was a momentous event in the Israeli-Arab conflict where under the initiative of President Carter of US, the leaders of Egypt and Israel were engaged to sign a peace treaty between their two countries and agree to a framework of negotiation for peace in the Middle East. The economic pressure was an important thing that made Sadat frantic to reach an agreement even in the face of minimal Israeli concessions. The Palestinians were suspicious of Sadat's role and reluctant to be associated with an agreement negotiated in their absence and on 6 October 1981, he was assassinated; leaving Egypt isolated in the Arab world. Carter knew the importance of the Palestinian issue as a central to the resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict. A separate peace would flounder if Palestine was not dealt with and Camp David proved him right. The peace process initiated by the US in the Middle East was meant to establish a new foothold in the Middle East while enhancing its special relationship with Israel. America had hoped that the other Arab countries would join the peace process instead they joined the Soviet-sponsored radical 'Rejectionist' aimed at attacking American 'Imperialist and Zionist' policies. The Israelis viewed the treaty as a success but the Palestinians gained nothing from the peace treaty. The Israelis considered granting unspecific long-term considerations for giving Palestinian autonomy. In the meantime, Israeli concerns focused on the Palestinian threat both within and outside their borders; especially the escalation of fedayeen attacks from the southern area of Lebanon then termed "fatahland". Menachim Begin's decision to invade Lebanon was in some senses an Israeli answer to the Palestinian issue. The invasion had two logic behind it: first, to protect its northern borders from Lebanon based Palestinian guerrilla attacks. Second, to expel the PLO from Lebanon. In 1978, Israel has already briefly invaded Lebanon, establishing the 'buffer zone' in Lebanon's southern territory. In 1979, peace treaty was officially signed between Israel and Egypt.
Throughout 1981, tension between the Israelis and the Palestinians increased. By December, Israel had formally annexed the Golan Heights. But, importantly, in June 1981, the IDF and PLO troops based in South Lebanon started shelling each other; so, the Israeli army took advantage of this and used their influence within the government to take action against the PLO in Lebanon; Begin was pushed into further course of invasion. 'Peace of Galilee' was the name given to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in June 1982. IDF soon found itself in Beirut. The city was soon under Israeli imposed blockade. The seize of mainly Muslim and Palestinian West Beirut began in this way, where Palestinian and the Lebanese National Movement fought side by side, whilst the Christian Phalangists lend support to the IDF as it attempted to eradicate the PLO. Phosphorous, napalm, scatter and imploding bombs were poured down relentlessly on the starving scorched west section of the city. Apart from 6,000 PLO guerrilla in the besieged city, there were half a million Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, and every day of the bombardment about 200 or 300 of them were killed. The European Economic Community, the UN Security Council and other bodies issued condemnations, while the US remonstrated ineffectually with its protégé and was abruptly snubbed. On 30 August, 1982 the PLO admitted defeat and the leadership and guerrillas left in shame. Arafat went to Tunis and the PLO network went with him. However, on 16 and 17 September, Israeli troops went into West Beirut, and their Philangist allies massacred at least 2,000 children, women and elderly men in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla.13
However, within the Israeli society, the state functions very much like any other liberal democracy, where regular and free elections were held, and the citizens are enfranchised and they have the system of proportional representation based on a single constituency. Till 1987, many attempts were made to bring about peace. However, things did not improve much. The occupied territories became Israel's largest export market and source of cheap labor and the Palestinian economy was crippled and penalized in return. Until the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising or Intifada in 1987 there was also evidence of the growing support on the Israeli right for the annexation of the West Bank. There was a problem with what to do with the Palestinian in the area. By this point a number of political groupings and parties had emerged advocating 'transfer' or the 'mass deportation' of Palestinians to Arab states like Jordan.14
The First Intifada:
The immediate cause of the uprising came on Dec. 8, when an Israeli army truck ran into a group of Palestinians near the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, killing four and injuring seven. A Jewish salesman had been stabbed to death in Gaza two days earlier and there were suspicions among the Arabs that the traffic collision had not been an accident.15 Intifada is an Arabic word which literally means "shaking off", though it is usually translated into English as "uprising" or "resistance" or "rebellion". It is often used as a term for popular resistance to oppression. In December 1987 Situation in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including Jerusalem, involving more than 20 years of military occupation, repression and confiscation of land, contributed to the eruption of a spontaneous uprising, the Intifada. Youth, merchants, labourers, women and children- Palestinians from all walks of life- joined tax resistance and strikes, massive demonstrations, economic boycotts, protesting the military occupation of their land and demanding national independence.
Many incidents happened during this period such as over 1,000 Palestinians were killed and tens of thousands injured. Detaining thousands of Palestinians, many deported from the Palestinian territory and thousands transferred to prisons in Israel including ill-treatment and torture in jail, lethal use of tear gas, beatings, etc. Israel also resorted to various forms of communal retaliation, such as demolition of houses, imposition of prolonged curfews and restrictive economic measures. Palestinians endeavored against the difficulties to overcome severe economic want depending on their community-based economy. Schools and universities were closed for extended periods and informal teaching provisions were prohibited. Social services were abridged and media and civil organizations banned. Many productive trees were uprooted and crops damaged.
The series of leaflets that appeared in early January was a major organizing tool. A series of documents came out which issued the name of the national command for the Escalation of the uprising. This document was issued in the name of the' Unified National Command of the Uprising'. This body's name came to be referred to with familiarity inside the territories as al-qiyada almuwahhada or anglicized as 'The Unified National Leadership of the Uprising'. From Call No. 33(January 22, 1989) onward, the sign-off became, "The PLO, The Unified National Leadership of the Uprising, the State of Palestine" In 1988, Shaykh Ahmad Yasin , the most powerful local leader of the Brotherhood, announced the formation of HAMAS. A year later in the West Bank, one young HAMAS leader revealed that "Participation in the Intifada came as a result of a debate within the Islamic movement over which it should engage in direct confrontation with Israel." 16 In May 1989, HAMAS was declared by Israel as a terrorist organization. It could be seen to have moved closer to the mainstream PLO position at the political level. The PLO leaders also controlled the incredible power of the Intifada to follow the political strategy they had sought for many a years; to find ways to enter into a negotiation to end the occupation and to establish a Palestinian state in Gaza and West Bank in its place. But, they failed to do so.
Indeed, in November 1988, the PNC (the PLO's parliament) announced the establishment of a Palestinian state, on the basis of UN resolution 181 of 29 November, 1947. And in December 1988, at a special UN General Assembly meeting in Geneva and in a subsequent press conference , ' Arafat also acknowledged UN Resolution 242 (of 1967) and 338 (of 1973) recognizing Israel's right to exist and renouncing terrorism'. By late 1988, more than half of the Israelis polled said that they would agree to start a dialogue with the PLO, thus adopting a more pragmatic position than their government. Fortunately, for the Israeli government under Yitzhak Shamir, various regional and global developments facilitated its insistence that only Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza could participate within a joint Jordanian- Palestinian delegation at the Madrid Peace Conference (opened 30 October 1991). Israeli- Palestinian negotiations on the official Madrid track encountered several obstacles, even after the victory of Rabin and of his Labor Party in the June 1992 Israeli elections. Prime Minister Rabin was transformed to negotiate with the 'outside', 'terrorist' PLO through the secret Oslo channels. PLO was ready to make far-reaching concessions to Israel, provided it was recognized by Israel as the official Palestinian representative. The PLO agreed not to East Jerusalem in the interim agreement and to have an Israeli commitment regarding the nature of the permanent settlement, namely Palestinian state. In addition, the PLO was the only organization with solid military and civilian institutions capable of exercising political authority, curbing the local Palestinian militant opposition groups, notably the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS), and combating their terrorist activities against Israel.17
CONCLUSION: The Israeli- Palestinian conflict has been an intricate problem with consequences for the international community. This area has been conflict ridden since the end of the Second World War. The main cause for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict lies in the assertion of two national movements on the similar land, and particularly the Arab Palestinians refusal to accept Jewish self-determination in a part of that land. It was not only a war between states but also other kind of tensions. Moreover, fundamentalist religious notions regarding the right of either side to the entire land have played an escalating role, on the Jewish side particularly in the religious settler movement, on the Palestinian side in the Hamas and similar groups. The Israelis perceive Arab states as undemocratic with underdeveloped economies, diffident cultural and social standards and an antagonistic religion inciting hatred and terrorism, on the other hand, the Arabs regard the Israelis as colonial invaders and conquerors, who are aiming to control the entire Middle East. The people in this region have been often subjected to the most aggressive and predatory policies of outside powers as well shown partly by the super-power rivalry. There was an instance where even countries like US and former Soviet Union drew near to nuclear confrontation. Conflict between regional and outside players could be seen in the Suez Canal crisis. Since, my scope of study here only deals with the Israeli- Palestinian conflict between 1945 till the first intifada; it is clear from the above details that this particular conflict was one with no possible effective long-term solution till the early 1990s or even till date. And in all the five wars as well as the intifada, many attempts were made by both the sides- Israel and Palestinians, to bring about peace. However, circumstances did not favor as well as there was less commitment in the endeavors to bring about peace by both the sides. In a world defined by systems of anarchy where there is no absolute order to control and look after the relations between countries, this sort of conflict without any doubt might occur. In making up the concoction of the conflict, the right to self-determination, rival nationalisms, the superpower conflict, anti-Semitism, control of oil, the emergence of the third world radicalism and western sentiments, all played their part. However, major military confrontation has not occurred between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs since the Israel invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The United Nations also has contributed much in this conflict torn region by ways of sending peace keeping operations, commissions, committees, passing resolutions, etc; even if they could not do much to lessen the conflicts. Ever since the Oslo peace process, however, a broad agreement has been formed that an independent Palestinian Arab state should be established within the areas occupied in 1967. Polls on both sides were taken and it showed that majorities among Israelis and Palestinians has agreed a two state solution, but the Palestinians almost collectively stick to right of return of the refugees to Israel, and most Israelis go up against a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. In the future, the possibility for peaceful settlement of the most important issues pertaining to the Israel- Palestinian conflict such as land, Jerusalem, settlements, security, refugees and borders could be seen in the Oslo Accords. The inherent profoundly rooted hostility between the two groups of people requires to be tackled with the similar dynamism and strength as was applied to the battle against each other if a enduring solution to conflict is to be in view for future generations of Palestinians and Israelis residing in this 'twice promised land'.
M. Tessler, A History of the Arab- Israeli conflict, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994, p, xi.
Kenneth N Waltz, "Explaining War" in Paul R. Viotti and Mark V Kauppi, International Relations Theory: Realism, Pluralism, Globalism, New York: Macmillan, 1993, p 123.
Ibid. p. 124
Beverly Milton-Edwards and Peter Hinchcliffe, Conflicts in the Middle East since 1945, London and New York: Routledge, p 22.
A. Gresch, and D. Vidal, An A to Z of the Middle East, London: Zed, 1990, p.221.
Charles D. Smith, Palestinian and the Arab-Israeli conflict, (2nd ed.), New York: St.Martin's Press, p 125, 129.
Beverly Milton-Edwards and Peter Hinchcliffe, Conflicts in the Middle East since 1945, London and New York: Routledge, p 24
Hurewitz, Struggle, pp. 319-321. Yitzhak Rabi, The Memoirs, Hebrew ed., recounts Israeli policy regarding the expulsion of Arabs; the English abbreviated edition (Boston, 1979) doesn't contain that information. See also Nazzal, Palestinian Exodus, pp.64-110; and Don Peretz, Israel and the Palestinian Arabs (Washington D.C., 1958), p.6.
Charles D. Smith, Palestinian and the Arab-Israeli conflict, (2nd ed.), New York: St.Martin's Press, pp 168-170.
Beverly Milton-Edwards and Peter Hinchcliffe, Conflicts in the Middle East since 1945, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 13-14.
The main principle behind the SCR 242 was 'Land of Peace' in which it was hoped that Israel could be persuaded to trade the Arab land it occupied for the promise of recognition and peace from its Arab neighbors.
See. Y. Sayigh , Armed Struggle and the Search for a State, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Beverly Milton-Edwards and Peter Hinchcliffe, Conflicts in the Middle East since 1945, London and New York: Routledge, pp.19.
John Kifner , New York Times , 12/15/87.
Helena Cobban, spring 1990, The PLO and the Intifada, Middle East Journal, vol.44, No: 2, pp.208-209,215.
Moshe Ma'oz, summer 1999, From Conflict to Peace? Israel's Relations with Syria and the Palestinians, Middle East Journal, vol.53, No: 3, pp 405-406.
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