Thursday, September 16, 2010

(INFO) Milestones In Israel-Arab Relations

Between War and Peace: Landmarks in Israel-Arab Relations

One of the most common myths highlights the Palestinian issue as a decisive factor in our relations with the Arab nations. We have compiled for you here a short chronology of our encounters with the Arab countries, so you can let history speak for itself: the wars, the peace agreements and the focal points of conflicts between Israel and the Arab states long before the Palestinian issue...

The facts show: The Arab countries do not rally around to help the Palestinian issue
The attitude of the Arab nations towards Palestinians has always been ambivalent. On one hand, these countries’ leaders tend to portray the Palestinians as an oppressed arm of the Arab people, and make comments in the media against the so-called oppression and injustice. On the other hand, they view the subject of the Palestinians as a tool and not an objective. It does not comprise a central axis of their policy nor a major factor in determining their policy – not towards the West and not towards Israel. Based on the facts, it often appears that the Arab leaders see the Palestinians as a potentially subversive element and fear the “Lebanonization” of their countries. Here are some data to illustrate the point:

  • In the 1950s, Arafat, Abu Mazen and other Fatah leaders active in the Muslim Brotherhood were expelled from Egypt for subversive activities.
  • Jordan allowed them to set up an organizational and terror infrastructure, but in 1970 they mounted a failed attempt to overthrow their hosts, the Hashemite regime, caused a civil war, and were expelled.
  • Lebanon was forced to take them in, and then in 1975, after they had imposed a reign of terror on southern Lebanon, they tried to dismiss the government in Beirut, caused an invasion by Syria and a series of bloody civil wars.
  • In 1990 they participated in Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. Tens of thousands of Saddam Hussein’s Palestinian cronies were expelled from Iraq when the dictator was deposed in 2003.
  • The Arab countries did not rally to help the Palestinians in any significant way during Operation Peace for Galilee (1982), the first Intifada (1987-1992) or the second one (since 2000), or Operation Cast Lead (Dec. 2008-Jan. 2009). They do not use their oil as a weapon on the Palestinians’ behalf or convene Palestinian leaders for a summit; they ban mass demonstrations and provide negligible assistance.

Long before the Palestinian issue: The roots of the Israeli-Arab conflict in the modern era at the beginning of the 20th century
The Israeli-Arab conflict, as it is known today, took root back at the beginning of the 20th century, upon the second wave of Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel up until 1914, when the Arabs first began to reveal discomfort in view of the increased Jewish settlement, and started suspecting they would end up a minority in the country. The sense of threat grew when Tel Aviv, the first Hebrew city, was founded outside the walls of Jaffa. Upon the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 and the British attempt to conquer the Land of Israel, the Arabs considered the Jews living here part of the colonial camp that they perceived as being cruel. The Jewish Brigades that helped the British overthrow the Ottoman rulers in 1917, and the financial success of the Jewish Yishuv, which widened the socioeconomic gap between the two peoples, led to the initial buildup of the hostile attitude that has persisted ever since among the Arabs in the Land of Israel.

1917: The Balfour Declaration – Fodder for Arab nationalism
Britain published the Balfour Declaration stating that it looked favorably on the establishment of a national home for the Jews in the Land of Israel. The non-Jewish communities were mentioned in the declaration only as possessing rights, and not as having national rights. The Arabs were furious, and a hostile nationalistic culture began to develop. In 1919 Palestinian national conferences began to take place, headed by the extreme Palestinian nationalist Musa Kazim al-Husayni. The emerging Palestinian nationalism was broader than clan affiliations and separate from the larger Arab nation.

The 1920s: The history of Arab uprisings against the Jews
1920: The 1920 riots - The Arabs attacked Jewish settlements. In the Nabi Musa riots, six Jews were murdered in a lynch perpetrated by Arabs in Jerusalem and property was plundered.
March 1920: Tel Hai riots – Arabs in the Galilee entered Tel Hai to search for French soldiers who had taken refuge there, and sought to confiscate the Jews’ weapons. Joseph Trumpeldor was killed at the end of the battle.
1921: The Jaffa riots – An especially brutal slaughter by an Arab crowd in Jaffa. The outcome: 43 Jews murdered, 140 Jews wounded.
1922: Publication of the first “White Paper ratifying the Balfour Declaration regarding the right of the Jews to a national home in Palestine (albeit not in all of it).
1929: The 1929 riots and the Hebron massacre – 133 Jews were slaughtered. The riots were incited by the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, who had lost political power to the moderate Nashashibi family.

The unsuccessful first attempt at mediation: Arabs reject the Partition Plan
1936: The Peel Commission - Commission recommended dividing the land into two states. After the riots in the Land of Israel, Britain set up a commission that divided Israel into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Arabs rejected the plan.
1947: The War of Independence - The Arabs initiated the fighting and Israel won the war for its independence, which started because of the opposition by the Arabs in Israel and the Arab states to the Partition Plan. Their opposition did not stop Ben-Gurion from proclaiming the establishment of the State in Tel Aviv in 1948.
1949: Signing of the “Green Line – After the War of Independence, ceasefire agreements were signed with Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. The geographical line that marked the ceasefire was called the “Green Line.”

Chronology of wars and peace: All the wars and peace agreements
Israel found itself attacked repeatedly by the armies of the Arab countries surrounding it. Only a few years separate between Israel’s wars, but the days of calm gave rise to a nation with a strong economy and led to the signing of two peace agreements with hostile neighboring states – first Egypt and then Jordan. On the winding road to peace, two leaders from both sides fell victim to political assassination – Anwar Sadat paid with his life after signing the peace agreement with Israel, and Yitzhak Rabin was murdered by one of his own people after signing the Oslo Accords.

1948-9 War of Independence Broke out after the Arab armies invaded with the intention of destroying the Jewish state and taking over the strategic strip along the Mediterranean coast. The end of the war: Egypt conquered Gaza, expelled Palestinian activists, banned Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini and his followers from Gaza, and declared a curfew. Iraq conquered Samaria and transferred it to Jordan, which annexed Judea and Samaria in April 1950 and prohibited Palestinian nationalist activity. The source of the term “West Bank” is the Jordanian annexation. Syria conquered Hamat Gader in the Golan Heights.

1956 Sinai Campaign Egypt clashed with Britain and France over control of the Suez Canal. The war broke out due to France and Israel’s opportunity to neutralize Egyptian President Nasser’s aggression in North Africa and the Middle East.

June 1967 Six Day War Erupted as a result of Nasser’s aggression and violation of the 1956-7 agreements that led to Israel’s withdrawal from the Sinai. Egypt formed an axis with Syria and Jordan to annihilate Israel. They blocked the Straits of Tiran and the southern port of Eilat, removed the UN forces from the Sinai, and posted an Egyptian force there. Syria and Jordan bombed Jerusalem and the kibbutzim near the Sea of Galilee.

1969-70 War of Attrition A war that transpired along the Suez Canal in an Egyptian attempt to wear down the IDF forces’ fighting spirit in the Sinai Peninsula and Suez Canal, and arouse opposition on the Israeli home front to the continued occupation of the Sinai.

1973 Yom Kippur War Started by Egypt, Syria and Iraq, and led by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who was determined to conquer the Sinai Peninsula and shock smug Israel, which was riding the waves of success in the wake of the Six Day War.

1978 First peace agreement with an Arab country: Sadat – A brave leader who paid with his life

After signing the peace agreement with Egypt following the Camp David Accords, Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula that it had conquered from Egypt, in exchange for peace. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Sadat who signed the agreements. On Oct. 6, 1981, during a parade observing the Yom Kippur War, Sadat was assassinated by his opponents, members of the Egyptian Jihad.

1982 Operation Peace for Galilee (First Lebanon War) Israel against Syria and the Palestinian terror organizations that were operating against Israel out of Lebanese territory. The reason for the invasion: after being expelled from Jordan the Palestinian terror organizations had managed to establish bases in Lebanon due to the country’s weak government, and were carrying out terrorist operations in Israeli territory.

1994 Signing of the peace agreement with Jordan Between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Jordanian King Hussein, through the mediation of American President Bill Clinton. It was decided in the agreements that the Jordan River would demarcate the borderline. Israel handed over 300 sq. km to Jordan. Diplomatic relations were established and embassies were opened. Israel committed itself to place 50 million cubic meters of water at Jordan’s disposal each year and to share the water from the Yarmuk River.

1986 Ron Arad falls captive to the Shi’ite militia group Amal
On Oct. 16, 1986, navigator Ron Arad parachuted out of the damaged Phantom jet he was flying over the Lebanese city of Sidon, as part of a mission to bomb terrorist targets in the Sidon region. The jet suffered a technical malfunction that caused ammunition near the plane to explode, and the two airmen ejected at Arad’s initiative. Pilot Yishai Aviram was rescued and navigator Arad fell captive to the Shi’ite militia Amal. About a year after he was taken, Israel received photographs and letters from Ron’s captors and his case drew attention from the international community. When the negotiations for his release failed in 1988, Ron was transferred by Mustafa Dirani, Amal’s head of security, to forces in Lebanon supported by Iran. Since then a great deal of contradictory information has arrived regarding Arad’s fate and whereabouts. Today the State of Israel believes that Ron Arad’s fate is in the hands of Iran or Iran-backed Lebanese forces who never publicly admitted they are holding Arad or that they possess information as to his condition or location. Nevertheless, Israel will never cease its efforts to return him home and the public will never forget. Since his capture, songs have been written (“When You Come”), and billboards put up (“Ron Arad was born to be free”), imprinting his name in the hearts of us all.

1987 First Intifada The violent uprising of the Palestinians against Israeli rule.

1993 Signing of the Oslo Accords After years of refusing to talk to the PLO due to its chosen path of terror, Israel agreed to hold a series of covert talks in Oslo with Palestinian representatives. At the end of the talks an agreement was signed between the two sides, according to which Israel recognized the PLO as the legal and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and committed itself to revoking the law banning meetings with members of the PLO and the declaration that the PLO is a terrorist organization. The Palestinians committed themselves to recognizing the State of Israel’s right to exist in peace and security and to renounce terror and violence. Signed on the agreement, whose benefactor was United States President Bill Clinton, were Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. The two latter men, along with Shimon Peres who served as Foreign Minister in the Rabin government, received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Nov. 4, 1995 Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered at the end of a rally in support of the Oslo Accords, entitled “Yes to Peace, No to Violence.” Assassin Yigal Amir, an extremist rightwing student who opposed the Oslo agreements, was arrested on the spot. The Rabin assassination was a turning point in the relations between the left and the right in the State of Israel.

Since 2000 Second Intifada – Sept. 28, 2000. Popular and violent protest activities turned into terror and guerilla actions. It was in the Second Intifada that the Palestinians began carrying out suicide terror attacks on a widespread scale.

2006 Kidnapping of soldier Gilad Shalit, who is still being held captive by Hamas in Gaza
In the early morning hours of Sunday, June 25, 2006, during a terrorist attack on the Kerem Shalom crossing near the Egyptian-Israeli border, IDF soldier Gilad Shalit from Mitzpe Hila in the Galilee was kidnapped and has been held prisoner ever since by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The terrorists crossed through a tunnel into Israeli territory and attacked Shalit’s tank which was on a routine patrol. The tank commander, Hanan Barak z”l, and Pavel Slotzky z”l were killed in the attack. Another soldier in the tank was killed and yet another wounded. Gilad Shalit, the fourth soldier in the tank, was wounded in the arm and shoulder, pulled out of the tank, and taken captive by the terrorists into Gazan territory. Shalit’s captors, members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the Popular Resistance Committees and the Army of Islam, are demanding the release of terrorists being held in prison in Israel in exchange for Shalit’s return. Gilad Shalit’s family has extensive public support in Israel and worldwide, and the State of Israel is doing everything within its power to return Gilad Shalit home safely.

2006 Second Lebanon War The war started on July 12, 2006, after the kidnapping of IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev by Hezbollah. From the moment the war started, Hezbollah operatives fired thousands of Katyushas on northern Israel, striking as far as Hadera. The goal of the war was to restore Israel’s deterrent force. In the course of the war, Beirut’s international airport was attacked and closed, and a full naval and aerial shutdown was imposed on Lebanon. By July 18, the Air Force had managed to destroy most of Hezbollah’s long-range rocket arsenal.

2008 Operation Cast Lead in Gaza Ever since 2001, Palestinians have been firing primitive Qassam rockets which have became more sophisticated over time. In August 2005, all the Palestinian factions began launching massive upgraded Qassam rockets at Sderot and the western Negev. On June 25, 2006, they attacked an IDF post near the Sufa crossing and Kibbutz Kerem Shalom. Two IDF soldiers were killed in the attack and Corporal Gilad Shalit was abducted into Gaza. On December 27, 2008, the war began during which infrastructure in Gaza was bombed and tunnels were destroyed. Some 1,300 Palestinians were killed, and many Gazans became refugees. (source)

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