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© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. Historic Palestine refers to a small area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, which includes Jerusalem. Despite fundamental religious, linguistic, and cultural differences, Arabs and Jews lived there in relative peace for hundreds of years.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. But in the late 1800s, Russian and Romanian Jews seeking to escape vicious persecution immigrated to Palestine, bolstering the Jewish presence there and unsettling the Arab communities.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. Around the same time, followers of a movement known as Zionism intensified their efforts to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. In 1917, British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour appeared to champion the Zionists’ cause in the so-called Balfour Declaration.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. When Hitler and the Nazis came to power in Germany in the 1930s, nearly quarter of a million European Jews moved to Palestine, then under British jurisdiction.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. In 1936, Palestinian Arabs rose up against the expanding Jewish communities and against British authorities, who they blamed for the increased Jewish migration. British forces restored order in 1939, the year World War II broke out.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. As World War II was drawing to a close, many Jews grew tired of the British administration in Palestine. One group, led by future Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, carried out a series of terrorist acts against British interests, the most notorious of which was the 1946 bombing of the King David hotel in Jerusalem.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. A year later, Britain asked the United Nations (UN) to resolve the Palestinian problem, which had grown even more explosive after the massive influx of Jews that followed World War II.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. In 1947, the UN voted to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab sectors, leaving Jerusalem as an international city, neither wholly Jewish nor wholly Arab.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. The Jews accepted the terms of the resolution, but the Arabs rejected them. They were outraged that the Jews, who at the time comprised only a third of the Palestinian population, should be awarded more than half the land.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. After the UN resolution passed, Jewish and Arab forces in Palestine went to war. The Jews drove the Arabs out of most of the areas allocated for the Jewish state and a few allocated for the Arab state, notably the west part of Jerusalem.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. After Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion declared independence for Israel in 1948, Arab armies from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq invaded. The smaller Israeli army beat them badly and forced them to sign unfavorable armistice agreements.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. After the armistice agreements, Israel ended up with 78% of historic Palestine, leaving Egypt and Jordan to take control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. These two Arab states received most of the 700,000 Palestinian Arabs who had fled their homes during the fighting.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. In 1967, with tensions between the Israelis and their neighbors escalating, Israel launched a surprise attack against the Arab armies gathering on its borders. The war lasted only six days, but at the end of it Israel owned or controlled all of what was once Palestine, including Gaza and the West Bank.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. The UN called on Israel to withdraw its troops from those territories. But the Israeli government—afraid that withdrawal would leave Israel vulnerable to attack—not only refused to bring home the troops but also encouraged thousands of Israeli Jews to move to the territories to build homes and establish communities.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. Demoralized by the decisiveness of the Israeli victory, some Palestinian Arabs joined the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The PLO, which was chaired by Yasser Arafat, rejected Jewish claims to any of historic Palestine and called on Arabs to wage an “armed struggle.”
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. Outside the Arab world, “armed struggle” was widely viewed as a euphemism for terrorism. The PLO, or groups affiliated with it, carried out a series of terrorist acts in the early 1970s, including the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. A year after Munich, Egyptian and Syrian forces caught the Israeli army off guard and appeared poised for a historic victory. But Israeli forces regrouped and ended up taking control of even more land. After the war, tensions between Israel and its Arab neighbors steadily mounted.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. There was a momentary thaw in 1978, when U.S. president Jimmy Carter brokered successful negotiations between Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin. In exchange for Egyptian recognition of the Jewish state, Israel returned land under Israeli occupation to Egypt.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. But any positive momentum generated by the agreement was soon disrupted: Egypt was quickly ostracized by the other Arab states, President Sadat was assassinated in 1981, and an Arab intifada—or uprising against the Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank—broke out in 1987.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. More than 1,200 people (the vast majority Palestinians) died during the intifada, which raged until 1993 when Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met secretly in Oslo to discuss the terms of a peace agreement.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. Israeli president Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn to conclude the deal, which involved trading land for peace—Israel withdrawing from parts of Gaza and the West Bank, and the PLO limiting its claims to those territories while accepting those of the Jews to the rest of historic Palestine.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. But again, optimism gave way to pessimism and even despair, particularly after the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin by a Jewish extremist opposed to Oslo-style concessions.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. Hopes were revived in 2000, when U.S. president Bill Clinton invited new Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat, now the Palestinian president, to Washington for more negotiations. Barak went further than any previous Israeli leader by offering the Palestinians all of Gaza and most of the West Bank.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. But Arafat felt that in restricting their claims to those two territories, the Palestinians had compromised enough. So, even though an agreement at times appeared tantalizingly close, the negotiations failed, with the status of Jerusalem one of the key sticking points.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. Two months after the failed talks, the second Arab intifada broke out, apparently in response to a visit by Ariel Sharon—a man many Arabs considered a war criminal—to a Muslim (and Jewish) holy site in Jerusalem. Sharon became the new Israeli prime minister in January 2001, the same month George W. Bush became the new U.S. president.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. The peace process seemed utterly stalled on September 11, 2001, the day al-Qa‘ida terrorists struck the United States. However, shortly after the attacks, President Bush announced America’s commitment to a Palestinian state and encouraged both the Israelis and the Palestinians to return to negotiations.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. But violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories only escalated, with more Palestinian suicide bombings and deeper incursions of Israeli troops into Palestinian towns.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. Hopes flickered in April 2003, with the publication of the Road Map, the official guide to peace in the Middle East. It called on the Palestinians to end terrorism and the Israelis to freeze settlements, while deferring the thorny issue of drawing borders for a Palestinian state.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. Against the spirit of the Road Map but with implicit U.S. support, Prime Minister Sharon announced that he would act unilaterally—that he would, in effect, decide the borders of the Palestinian state, himself. The first step of Sharon’s disengagement plan was the evacuation of all Israeli settlers from Gaza.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. In the run-up to the Gaza evacuation, President Arafat died and was replaced by a moderate, Mahmoud Abbas, in whom the Israelis placed a greater trust. With Abbas’s election and the August 2005 evacuation of Israeli settlers from Gaza, peace prospects were looking up.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. On January 4, 2006, as the world was waiting for withdrawals from the West Bank, Sharon suffered a massive stroke. It ended his political career and left unanswered the question of how much land he had been prepared to hand over to the Palestinians.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. A second shock reverberated throughout the Middle East three weeks later, when Hamas— an Islamic organization derided in the West for its suicide bombers but valued in the Palestinian territories for providing services—convincingly beat Fatah, President Abbas’s party, in parliamentary elections.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. In the Israeli elections that followed shortly after, Kadima (the party Sharon had formed in 2005) won, making Kadima leader Ehud Olmert Israel’s new prime minister. Olmert said he would order some withdrawals but that the West Bank’s most populated Jewish settlements would remain intact.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. But then a series of events set the Middle East alight. On June 25, 2006, Hamas militants captured an Israeli soldier in Gaza, prompting Israel to bomb strategic targets in Gaza, killing many civilians, and to arrest several Hamas politicians.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. Then, on July 12, the sequence repeated itself in Lebanon, as Hezbollah (another pro- Palestinian group responsible for numerous terrorist acts against Israel) captured two more Israeli soldiers. Israel responded to this second provocation by declaring war on Hezbollah and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. A massive air assault on strategic parts of Lebanon’s infrastructure disabled some of Hezbollah’s weapons and killed a contested number of militants. But the main victims of the Israeli attacks were Lebanese civilians, whose suffering was shown nightly on televisions around the world.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. If Israel was trying to make the Lebanese people turn on Hezbollah for provoking war, the strategy appeared to fail. When a cease-fire took effect in August 2006, most Arabs viewed Nasrallah as a hero, while outside Israel and the United States people considered the Israeli response at best disproportionate and at worst criminal.
© 2007 ProQuest-CSA LLC. All rights reserved. © 2007 Getty Images, Inc. With trust between Israel and the Palestinians at such low levels, there appears little hope in the short term for a revival of the peace process. Israel’s massive separation barrier encircling the West Bank provides a powerful physical reminder of all that divides the Israelis and Palestinians.
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