Israel And The Palestinians Essay

This essay has a total of 3014 words and 13 pages.

Israel And The Palestinians


Israel and the Palestinians

Israel is situated at the connection of Africa and Asia. It is 20,000 square kilometres
and unlike its neighbour Arab states it lacks natural resources. Lebanon and Syria border
it in the north, Jordan in the east and Egypt to the south. Israel has also been holding
Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank of the River Jordan since 1967.


It has an extremely varied geography and climate. Most of the coastline lies on the
Mediterranean Sea. In the south are the valleys of Jezreel and Hulveh. There is the lake
Tiberias and in the east the hills of Samaria ad Judea on the west bank. There is also the
Negev desert to the south, which makes up sixty percent of the total land area. Coastal
inhabitants face a hot but temperate climate with more rain relative to the north. Inland
temperatures are cooler with seldom snow.


Tel Aviv is the largest city and the centre of industry. Jerusalem has been declared the
capital but has not been recognised as such by the international community. Major towns in
the West Bank include Nablus, Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jericho.


Agriculture and industry employ millions of Israelis. Today Israel is a leading fruit
exporter. The industry is mainly based on military. Service industries account for more
than half the employment in Israel. Tourism is another source of income.


Politically Israel is a multiparty democracy. A President elected by parliament for a
five-year term, a government under a Prime Minister and a 120-member Parliament (Knesset).
The people of Israel are extremely diverse. Jews in Israel consist of East European Jews,
Moroccans, and Ethiopian Jews. More Jews and Palestinians live outside their "common land"
than in it.

Judaism is essentially the religion of ethical monotheism, which means that one God made
the world and created the human beings to help complete his plan. In the Bible it is
stated that Abraham found Judaism. The land promised to the Jewish was then called Canaan.
They were probably a Semitic people made up of nomadic tribes and speaking a language
called Hebrew. Under Moses the Jews founded the Judaean State.

Later because it was a small force Israel was invaded by the super powers of the day -
Egypt, Assyrian, the Hittites, Greece and finally Rome. In 636 Jerusalem fell to the
Arabs. Fallowing in 1557 Ottomans invaded the city. Until the Ottoman collapse in 1918 it
remained under Ottoman rule. Afterwards in 1917 when the British forces took Jerusalem and
a period of bargaining between the British and the French for their regional strategic
interests in the Middle East had begun.

In 1922 France declared a mandate over Syria, and in short Britain and France together
controlled all of what is today Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Syria and Iraq, leaving south
Arabia as a nominally independent Arab territory. Palestinian Arabs were encouraged by
Transjordans's independence from Britain 1928 and Iraq's in 1932. Meanwhile Britain had
already ended its Egyptian protectorate in 1922; in 1936 she limited her presence there to
a Suez Canal garrison. In Palestine Britain was now caught between Jewish and Arab
demands, and found it increasingly difficult to satisfy both sides.

Reacting to the phenomenal Nazi oppression of Jews, fully 225,000 Jews had left Germany
and East and Central Europe for Palestine between 1933 and 1939. In February 1947 after
various partition plans had failed in the face of Arab command on a unitary state, Britain
referred the Palestine question to the newly formed United Nations.

"A Special Committee (UNSCOP) drew up a new partition plan: it called for (i) a Jewish
state in three linking segments, eastern Galilee in the north, the coastal plane from
Haifa to Rehovot in the south, and the Negev desert; (ii) an Arab state, made up of
western Galilee, central Palestine, a southern littoral bordering Egypt, and the port of
Jaffa; (iii) an international zone in Jerusalem and Bethlehem; and (iv) economic union
between all regions."*

On Jan. 12, 1948 the Jewish Agency and Jewish National Council announced plans for a
limited government. Meanwhile violence was causing many Jewish people's death. On May 14,
1948 the state of Israel was established in Tel Aviv. It also committed the new state to
the United Nations Charter. At least one percent of the Jewish populations lost their
lives in the war. The war not only formed the Jewish State; it also changed the demography
of the region. For the first time in the 1900 years the Jewish formed a majority in their
own state.

On January 23, 1950 the Israeli parliament declared West Jerusalem as the capital on April
24 the Jordanian parliament incorporated the West Bank and East Jerusalem. On May 25, 1950
Britain, France and the USA jointly stated their opposition to the violation of 1949
armistice lines, and committed themselves to preventing an arms race in the region. All
the bordering Arab States remained in a state of war with Israel.

Meanwhile the Canal Zone had become a source of conflict between Egypt and the Suez Canal
Company runs by Britain and France. Israel attacked Egyptian positions in Gaza and the
Sinai on Oct 29; Britain and France then issued ultimatoms to both sides to withdraw from
the Canal. The three main consequences of the brief Suez war were: "i) diminution of
Britain's role in the region; ii) increasing ties between the Soviet Union and the radical
Arab States of Egypt, Syria and Iraq; and iii) a growing US role in the region, backing
Israel and conservative Arab states, partly to counter the Soviet Union's influence."*

From the Israeli Palestinian perspective, the war changed little. Israel demonstrated its
military ability, but its forced withdrawal from the Sinai showed up its diplomatic
weakness and left her with insecure borders. Furthermore Syria still bombarded settlements
from the Golan Heights. Palestinians realised that Egyptian supports alone could not help
win back-lost lands. The PLO ("Palestine Liberation Organisation- set up in 1964, calling
for the liberation of all Palestine by ‘armed struggle' "*) placed its forces under the
commands of Egypt Syria and Iraq, and Nasser closed the Gulf of Aqaha to Israeli shipping.
Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban told the UN it would break isolation by force if
necessary. Egypt and Jordan signed a joint defence pact and warned other nations against
supporting Israel. Iraqi forces moved through Jordan towards Israel. Early on the morning
of June 5, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike on Egyptian airfields; Jordanian moved
against Israel. Thus began the Six-Day War.

Israel had "i) captured the Gaza Strip and the entire Sinai peninsula up to the Suez
Canal; ii) gained control of East Jerusalem iii) captured the Golan Heights in the north
from Syria."* Israeli forces now occupied more than three times as much territory as they
did post 1948. The Arab world, however, shocked by the extent of their defeat, resolved
not to negotiate with Israel.

On November, 22 the UN Secretary Council unanimously adopted Resolution 242 proposed by
Britain demanding: "i) Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories; ii) mutual respect
for the sovereignty of all states in the area with secure boundaries; iii) freedom of
navigation in international waterways; iv) a just settlement of the refugee problem and v)
demilitarized zones."* Both Israel and the frontline Arab states (except Syria) accepted
the resolution, though disagreed over the definition of Israeli withdrawal. The PLO
rejected the Resolution, as it made no mention of Palestinian national rights.

Meanwhile a "War of Attrition"* begun with Israel around the Suez Canal and costing 177
Israeli lives and 681 Fedayeen casualties in 1968. By summer 1971 all Fedayeen were
expelled from the kingdom and fled to Syria and Lebanon after the eleven day "Black
September" conflict. In revenge Fedayeen killed the Jordanian premier, Wasfi al-Tal.

By September 1975 Israel had withdrawn a further 40 kilometres in the Sinai creating a UN
demilitarized buffer zone. Both sides promised to not use force and non-military cargoes
en route to Israel could again travel the canal. In return the USA promised to help Israel
militarily and economically, to discuss with her over a Geneva peace conference and
general Middle East settlement and finally not to deal with a PLO under its "present
orientation".

The two years that followed the war saw new and apparently contradictory trends emerge:
"i) the willingness of Arab states to negotiate disengagement's agreements with Israel ii)
Arab use of the oil weapon to punish pro-Israeli Western States iii) increased Palestinian
terrorism."* Arab states restricted the flow of oil to most western nations, thus forcing
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