Arab-Israeli Conflict 1949-1982 Thesis

Pages: 6 (1953 words)  ·  Style: Chicago  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: History - Israel  ·  Buy This Paper

Arab Israeli

THE ARAB -- ISRAELI CONFLICT:

As James L. Gelvin points out, for half a century following the end of World War II in 1945, the Western world "viewed the Middle East as a geographical area steeped in conflict between the people of Israel and their Arab neighbors," but in more recent times, a number of important events, such as "the emergence of a theocratically-based government in Iran and Iraq's attempt to seize control of Kuwait" 1 in the early 1990's, have added additional perspectives to this earlier view on the Middle East and with the invasion of Iraq by the United States in 2003, the on-going situation usually referred to as the Arab-Israeli conflict has become a penultimate example on how two radically different cultures see the world and their place within it.

Since the founding of the state of Israel in 1947, five major military confrontations and a number of smaller battles have occurred between Israel and its Arab neighbors, all of which "exemplify the intractability of this conflict which at times has threatened to involve other outside nations," especially the United States. Thus, the complex mosaic of two major religions, being Judaism and Islam, serving as the backdrop for this conflict best explains this "modern struggle between two cultures which have over the last fifty years made numerous claims" to the exact same piece of land known as Palestine. 2

Following the results of the 1948 War which came to a close with the withdrawal of Egyptian forces from the Negev, "an area which the United Nation's partition has assigned to Israel in 1947," 3 after a tenuous new cease-fire on January 7, 1949, relations between the government of Israel and its Arab enemies remained extremely tense and despite on-going diplomatic efforts by the U.N., the United States and Great Britain to reduce tensions and offer a number of plans for an overall Arab-Israeli settlement, "a variety of factors combined together to prevent these efforts," most importantly being a pattern of border clashes and incidents which resulted from the 1949 armistice agreements. 4

During the early 1950's, other factors began to influence the tension-filled relations between Israel and its Arab enemies, one being the Arab call for the liberation of Palestine from the hands of the Israelis which the government of Israel interpreted as a desire to destroy the Jewish state. The Arab League also initiated a boycott on all trade with Israel, while Egypt began to set up blockades at the Strait of Tiran and at the Suez Canal. These and other actions increased Israel's desire to attack Egypt, especially when Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser "resisted British efforts to organize the Baghdad Pact, a Western supported alliance" which included Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Turkey, aimed at "checking the expansion of Soviet influence in the Middle East." 5

On October 29, 1956, Israel launched an offensive attack against Nasser's Egyptian government in the Sinai Peninsula in response to Egypt's on-going attempts to block Israel from using the Suez Canal. One day later, France and Britain issue an ultimatum for an immediate cease-fire, the withdrawal of all Egyptian and Israeli forces and the Egyptian acceptance of a temporary occupation of the canal zone by the Israelis in order to assure "the freedom of shipping through this highly-important waterway." Israel quickly accepted this but Egypt did not which then led to more military confrontations between Israeli and Egyptian forces. Under strong pressure from the U.N., the U.S. And the Soviet Union, all forces withdrew from the canal zone and in mid November of 1956, Israel and Egypt "accepted the presence of the U.N. Emergency Force whose mission was to "help protect Israel's southern boundaries from Arab attack as well as to insure the freedom of Israeli navigation through the Strait of Tiran." 6 However, Israel remained technically at war with Egypt and the remainder of the Arab world for many years to come.

This 1956 confrontation between Israel and Egypt then led to the 1967 War in June of that year. As Ami Isseroff maintains, tensions between these two nations increased throughout the early and mid-1960's and came to a head when Israel "began to implement its National Water Carrier plan which pumped water from the Sea of Galilee to irrigate south and central Israel." This water plan had been agreed upon in 1955 but Arab governments in the region "refused to participate...because of the implied recognition of Israel" as a state. Also, the newly-established Palestinian Fatah movement "seized on Israel's diversion of water as an imperialist event which soon led Yasser Arafat to begin "calling for war to eliminate Israel." Nasser of Egypt then decided to create the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as a "tame alternative to the Fatah," due to its extremely violent agenda against the state of Israel. 7

This war lasted only four days (June 5th to the 9th) and its eventual outcome greatly complicated the Arab-Israeli conflict and made the situation much worse for the Palestinian people, many of whom became refugees. Overall, as Akram Fouad Khater puts it, the key issues of this war "were quite clear, being the final settlement of Israel's borders and the ultimate deposition of the Palestinian refugees" from lands given to Israel by the U.N. In 1948. 8 in August of 1967, the Arab states met in the city of Khartoum in the Sudan and adopted a resolution that Israel must unconditionally withdraw from all the territories it had gained from the June 1967 War. In principle, the Arab leaders at this meeting stated in no uncertain terms that "we will not be at peace with Israel, will not recognize it as a sovereign state, will not negotiate with it and will continue to insist on the rights of Palestinians to remain in their own country." 9

On November 22, 1967, the U.S. And the Soviet Union, totally immersed in the Arab-Israeli conflict, worked out an agreement on a framework which encouraged the settlement of the disputes between Israel and the Arabs. The result of this agreement is known as U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 which focused upon "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East" in which every state can live in peace and security. 10 This resolution contained two important principles -- first, that Israel must withdraw its armed forced from all territories occupied in the recent conflict, and second, all hostilities must be terminated, along with greater respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the region and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force. 11 However, by early 1970, Israel and Egypt had once again renewed their fighting in what is called the War of Attrition in which Israel bombed targets inside of Egypt which led President Nasser to seek out more Soviet support. This war lasted until August of 1970 when another cease-fire took effect between Israel and Egypt with the Israelis in principle agreeing to withdraw their forces from the Sinai Peninsula.

In October of 1973, Egypt and the nation of Syria launched a joint attack against Israel, known as the October War or the Yom Kippur War, backed by the new President of Egypt Anwar Al-Sadat who replace Nasser following his death in September of 1970. In this conflict, Golda Meir of the Israeli government "rebuffed Sadat's offers to negotiate a settlement" concerning the Suez Canal which then led Egypt to cross the Suez into Israeli territory. The Israeli government also "ignored repeated intelligence warnings" concerning Egypt attacking.

In September of 1975, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's diplomatic efforts resulted in a second Israeli-Egyptian disengagement agreement called Sinai II which forced Israel to further withdraw its forces from several key territories and the Egyptian oil fields. As a result, Egyptian forces were allowed to move up to a line which Israel had previously occupied, creating a sort of buffer zone equipped with "early warning electronic monitoring systems operated by U.S. technicians to alert both governments to violations" in this new agreement. 14

Between 1975 and early 1979, the tensions between Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and other Arab states continued to ebb and flow, especially regarding the PLO with its unceasing attitude that Israel must be destroyed at all costs. On March 26, 1979, Egyptian President Sadat normalized relations between Egypt and Israel by signing a peace treaty in Washington D.C. In November, Sadat addressed the Israeli Knesset and "expressed his deep desire that Egypt and Israel live together in permanent peace based on justice" and listed a number of conditions which he felt were necessary for such peace. This gesture then brought Israeli Prime Minister Menachim Begin into the picture who then presented Israel's response to Sadat. Everything soon came to a head when Sadat and Begin agreed to meet at Camp David in Maryland with… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Arab-Israeli Conflict 1949-1982.  (2008, October 28).  Retrieved February 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/arab-israeli-conflict-1949-1982/4129061

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"Arab-Israeli Conflict 1949-1982."  Essaytown.com.  October 28, 2008.  Accessed February 19, 2019.
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