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Arabisraeli Conflict

.. void. Zionists urged the Arab inhabitants of Israel to “play their part in the development of the state, on the basis of full and equal citizenship”. But many Palestinians distrusted the Zionists and looked to their Arab neighbors for help. In 1947-48, a war ensued between the Israel and the Arab nations.

The Arab armies, underestimating the Israeli forces and determination, were defeated. From the Arabs perspective, their defeat in Palestine humiliated their armies and discredited their regimes. The UN secured several cease-fires, each time fighting resumed; finally an armistice between each Arab country and Israel was agreed upon separately, after Israel had pushed Arab forces out of the Gaza area. The UN Conciliation Commission had assembled a conference for both sides to settle their outstanding differences, but negotiations broke down before they could even meet. Israel wanted a comprehensive settlement, while the Arabs demanded Israel to withdraw from the lands not allotted to the Jewish state in the 1947 Partition Plan and no talks could take place until the Palestinian refugees returned to their homes.

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The refugees suffered the most. Some voluntarily left their homes before the conflict started, while others had fled during the fighting. Israel claims that Arabs had broadcast orders to Palestinians to leave in order for their armies could easier move against Israelis, but no evidence has been found to prove Israels allegations; Arabs claim Jewish extremists terrorized Palestinians until May 1948 and the Israel Defense Force drove out other Arabs during the later phases of the war. The Palestinians ended up in camps near Israels borders with no state of their own. Arab countries could not absorb them; those who did, found it economically difficult.

Palestinians rejected assimilation [“resistance is futile”] because they wanted to return home and Israel refused to re-admit all the refugees. The Palestine disaster uprooted more than half a million Arabs and they would support any leader who returned their homes and dignity, particularly the Bath party, which called for! militant resistance against Israel. The growing frequency of Arab fidaiyin (commando) raids caused Israel to take stronger military measures. When Britain and France prepared to attack Egypt for nationalizing the Suez Canal, Israel wanted to take an active role in the offensive, hoping to teach the Arabs a lesson. Israel wiped out the fidaiyin bases in Gaza and broke Egypts blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba; but due to US pressure, Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. In 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed, with the objective of regaining the Palestinian homeland and the destruction of Israel. The PLO sabotaged part of Israels national water- carrier system and engaged in guerrilla campaigns against Israel, causing serious casualties and property damage.

Israel retaliated by striking commando bases within the Jordanian West Bank. Then in June 1967, Israel had a preemptive strike on the airfields of surrounding Arab nations, causing the Six-Day War, breaking the blockade at the Gulf of Aqaba (Egypt), captured the West Bank and the Old City (Jordan), and took the Golan Heights (Syria). The strike was initially for defensive purposes, but Israel decided to keep the spoils of war as bargaining chips, fueling Arab fears of Israeli expansion. The UN Security Council devised a plan – Resolution 242 – for all members to accept. The resolution called for the withdraw of Israeli forces from territories recently occupied, in return for the recognition of Israels right to exist, ignoring the rights and interests of the Palestinians. With the resolution so ambiguous, the parties read into the resolution, seeing different viewpoints, it is amazing that they agreed to abide to the resolution.

But international rivalry continued as the US and the USSR secretly supplied arms into the region. In 1973, Egypt and Syria planned a surprise attack on Israel, known as the Yom Kippur War. Egypt went into the Sinai and Syrians went down the Golan Heights. The first week of fighting, Israel concentrated on the north, leaving Egypt to successfully take back parts of Sinai. Israeli forces eventually drove out most of the Egyptian forces with the exception of the Third Army, which was still trapped in the peninsula and could have been crushed.

But the diplomatic virtuoso of Kissinger reasoned that the Egyptians were more willing to talk peace if Egypt could keep some of its initial gains and peace talks ensued between the two nation. And without Egypts anti-Jew activities, many of the other Arab nations followed. However, the debate over where the Palestinians should reside is still an important issue concerning peace in the Middle East. Does Israel want to give up their claims to Jerusalem and will they have security should they decide to share the historic city? It seems that distrust and suspicion are very much alive in the world, particularly in the region. I am not an expert in such a delicate diplomatic situation, but not even a expert could say what the formula for peace is when both sides are not willing to trust one another.

But I think the ingredient for peace requires some economic diplomacy.well, a lot of it! The Israeli government seems to be taking the hard-line stance in dealing with Palestinian demands of a common capital city. And negotiations between the US and Israel does not seem to be anymore productive. The US has to do a little economic arm-twisting, such as withholding foreign aid, to persuade Israel to cease erecting housing projects in disputed areas. But how politically viable is withholding foreign aid from Israel when there is a strong Jewish lobby in DC? Dont think good ol Bubba will want to risk losing anymore political support. The most feasible plan for peace and stability in the Israeli-West Bank area is to give as much foreign aid to the Palestinians as is given to the Israelis, so that Palestinians can build the economy in the West Bank, giving them a future to look forward to, while waiting for a peace plan to be ironed out.

Third party military presence on the border area of the West Bank and Israel seems acceptable, too.


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