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Is Peace Possible Between Israel And Palestine? Essay, Research Paper
?The Arab world is not in a compromising mood? Nations never concede; they fight. You won?t get anything by peaceful means or compromise. You can, perhaps get something, but only by the force of your arms?But it?s too late to talk of peaceful solutions? (Bard 1). The Arab League Secretary Azzam Pasha said this statement on September 16, 1947, eight months before the state of Israel was established. The Arabs held this mentality in a time when Israel was not yet a fact. This trait was hereditary in the sense that it was taught to their children, who taught it to their children, and so on. Those are the people who are living in Arab countries, and still despise everything about Israel and believe that, no matter what, negotiations are useless. This is especially true today with the Palestinians, for as Suha Arafat, wife of Yasser Arafat, stated, ?I have always rejected normalizing relations with (Israeli) women? They always invite me to their functions and I categorically refuse because I hate Israel? (Bard 2). This statement proves that though the Israeli?s try to normalize relations with the Palestinians, they refuse because they want nothing to do with Israel. From the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 to the present, there have been five wars, all of which have ended with peace treaties that did not do much. A peace treaty will never normalize the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the Middle East because so many have failed in the past.
May 14, 1948 was a victorious day for the Jewish people; the state of Israel was born. The excitement, however, was short lived because the armies of Syria, Iraq, Trans-Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon entered Israel the next day in an effort to erase it off the map. ?The Arabs themselves expected the new state to be swept off the map in months if not weeks? (Ross 30). The majority of the Arab world fiercely opposed the state of Israel and refused to recognize it in any way. As Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League said on May 15, 1948, ?This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre? (Bard 1). So it was; over 6,300 Israelis were killed in the War of Independence (Israeli Casualties in Battle). Rhodes Peace Pact did not force the Arabs to recognize Israel as a state, allowing its legal existence to be ignored. This peace treaty did not bring true peace because it would take decades before Arab countries would recognize the state of Israel (Blumberg 84). Even though a cease-fire was in effect, the war continued as Arabs closed the Suez Canal to Israel shipping and Israel (in retaliation) did not allow the 700,000 Arab refugees return to their homes (Regan 22).
The problem was that no Arab State wanted those refugees so camps were set up in Gaza Strip, which was controlled by Egypt, and the West Bank, which was controlled by Jordan (23). This inability to find a ?home land? for the people now called Palestinians would lead to many of Israel?s conflicts with the Arab world. The Arabs did not want their Palestinian brothers in their countries but, for some reason, Israel, the Jewish State, was supposed to take them in even though it had the best reason not to. Was Israel, which had just won the war, now supposed to take back their enemies? Of course not.
From 1949 to 1956, there was no peace in Israel, because Egypt continued attacking Israel from one side while Syria continued attacking from the other. In 1953, in order to try to stop the violence, Israel passed the Land Acquisition Law, offering payment for property taken from Arab citizens of Israel who lived there between May 4, 1949 and April 1, 1952 (Silverman 54). However that did not appear to stop the terror in the region or make peace with its neighbors. On October 14, 1956 Egyptian President Nasser said, ?[o]ur hatred is very strong. There is no sense in talking about peace with Israel. There is not the smallest place for negotiations? (Bard 1). This statement represents how Arabs felt?and still feel?about trying to negotiate with Israel: it was useless. Just ten days after those horrific words were uttered, Jordan, Syria and Egypt established a pact against Israel. On October 29, 1956 Israel attacked Egypt in the Sinai Peninsula, starting the Suez War. Israel began bombing military targets, while Britain and France sent in their troops to seize the Suez Canal; Egypt sank three cement filled ships, which effectively closed the canal for many months. Great Britain and France fought side by side with Israel. This war was a major victory as well as a loss for Israel. It lost 231 soldiers in the war for nothing; because although it captured the Gaza Strip and Sharm el Sheikh, Israel had to give it up to the UN in 1957 in a cease-fire agreement. After the cease-fire there were still much tension between the Arabs and the Israelis, and among the Arab states themselves. ?The Arab states competed against each other for dominance in the Arab world?(The 1956 Sinai Campaign1). In order to be the best they had to show off how strong and powerful they were; unfortunately Israel became the guinea pig.
In 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was created; it was founded by Egypt, directed against Jordan and then taken over by Syria. ?1967 the PLO had decided that their primary goal was the destruction of the state of Israel? (PLO 1). After a period of relative calm, border incidents between Israel and Syria, Egypt, and Jordan increased. In May 1967, President Nasser requested the withdrawal of UN forces from Egyptian territory, and he mobilized his units in the Sinai, and closed the Gulf of Aqaba to Israel. At that point Israel, which had no UN forces stationed on its territory, responded by mobilizing. On June 5, 1967 Israel launched a massive air assault that almost destroyed the Arab airforce. With air superiority safekeeping its ground forces, Israel captured and controlled the Sinai Peninsula within three days and then focussed on the Jordanian frontier, capturing Jerusalem’s Old City, and on the Syrian border and gaining the Golan Heights and the West Bank. The war, which ended on June 10, is known as the Six-Day War.
On November 22 the UN passed Resolution 242, which called for Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories; in return Arab states would recognize Israel’s independence and guarantee secure borders for Israel. However the events did not follow Resolution 242. The Arabs and Palestinians declared their intention to continue fighting Israel, and in turn Israel refused to return the Occupied Territories under such conditions. Terrorist attacks persisted, and Israel and Egypt continued to engage in fire for several years. As a result, the Six-Day War was followed by what has come to be known as the War of Attrition. Although cease-fire agreements eventually ended this situation, the region remained unsteady.
In 1969, the War of Attrition between Egypt and Israel occurred, when Egypt?s president Gamal Abdel Nasser broke the cease-fire agreement and began military attacks on Israeli territory (Tessler 445). It all started July 1, 1967, when Egypt began firing at Israeli positions near the Suez Canal. On October 21, 1967, Egypt sank the Israeli destroyer Eilat, killing 47 soldiers. Less than a year later, Egyptian artillery began to shell Israeli positions along the Suez Canal. The bloody War of Attrition lasted roughly three years. Israel lost 15 combat aircraft, most of which were shot down by antiaircraft guns and missiles. The Israeli death toll between June 15, 1967, and August 8, 1970, was 1,424 soldiers and more than 100 civilians. Another 2,000 soldiers and 700 civilians were wounded (Bard 1).
On September 5, 1972, PLO terrorists murdered eleven Israeli athletes at the Olympic games in Munich, Germany (Silverman 90). Once again, issues between the Israelis and Arabs were unresolved. Just one month later, on October 5, following those horrific events in Munich, the new Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat, attacked Israel. Syria, not wanting to be left out, aided the attack on Israel on October 6, 1973. The attack started during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kipper. The Yom Kippur War took the Israelis completely by surprise. It took the Israelis three weeks to organize, counterattack, and halt the enemy advance. Two thousand Israeli soldiers died in battle (Goldschmidt 282-283).
In 1976, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin ordered an invasion of several Arabic nations, which resulted in the rescue of over a hundred Israeli hostages, who had been hijacked and held by Palestinian terrorists at the airport at Entebbe, Uganda. In 1977, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat arrived in Jerusalem. He was the first Arab leader to visit Israel. This was the beginning of peace negotiations between Egypt and Israel. In 1978, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat joined Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and U.S. President Jimmy Carter in signing the Camp David Accords. Under those agreements, Egypt recognized Israel’s right to exist. In return, Israel agreed to give back to Egypt the part of the Sinai it still occupied. Israel had returned the far western part of the Sinai in 1975. Sadat and Begin also agreed there was a need for national independence for the Palestinians. In talks leading up to the accords, Egypt and Israel received promises of large amounts of U.S. economic and military aid (Vogele 1). In 1979, the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty was signed in Washington D.C., ending thirty years of hostility between the two nations. It was also the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab state (Silverman 91). Most Arab leaders strongly opposed the Camp David Accords and the 1979 treaty. As a result, Egypt was expelled from the Arab League, an organization of Arab nations, in 1979. In 1981, Sadat was assassinated by an Egyptian religious group that opposed the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty (Vogel 1).
After the signing of the Camp David Accords, the PLO continued to launch guerrilla attacks on Israel, especially from southern Lebanon. In 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon in an effort to destroy PLO strongholds and halt terrorist attacks on northern Israel. After a 10-week siege of the Muslim sector of a PLO stronghold in West Beirut, Israel forced the Palestinians to accept a U.S. sponsored plan whereby the PLO guerrillas would evacuate Beirut and go to several Arab countries that had agreed to accept them. Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 1985, but Israeli forces remained in southern Lebanon until 2002.
Peace proposals were often created in order to stop the violence between Israel and its Arab neighbors. In 1988, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat renounced terrorism and recognized the existence of the state of Israel at a special United Nations session in Geneva, Switzerland (Tessler 485). At a peace conference in Madrid, Spain in 1991, Arabs and Israelis sat at the same table for direct discussions for the first time. In 1992, Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles, Oslo I, was signed. The treaty stated that Israel and PLO recognized each other?s political and lawful rights, agreed to end the years of conflict, and pledge to work for coexistence, peace, and security (Benvevisti 217). However in 1994, an Israeli extremist fired on Muslims worshiping at a Mosque in Hebron. Twenty-nine people were killed and many more wounded. Although Israeli leaders condemned the attack, the PLO temporarily stopped talks with Israel (Goldschmidt 356). In 1994, Israel signed a peace treaty with Jordan. In 1994, terrorist suicide bombings began, launched by extremist members of the Muslim organizations Hamas and Islamic Jihad protesting the peace process. In 1995, a young Israeli extremist opposed to the peace process assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Rabin. Several times Israel withdrew its forces from some Palestinian cities, trying to make peace with the Arabs. In 1996, sixty-eight Israelis were killed by terrorist suicide bus bombings. From 1993-1996, 316 Jews were killed by Arab terrorists even as the Jews were giving away Holy Land for the sake of peace (Benvenisti 97). The total number of Israeli casualties in battle (from War of Independence to 2001) is estimated to be over 21,000 (Israeli Casualties in Battle). If this type of warfare continues in which hundreds of Israeli soldiers die every year, Israel will one day cease to exist because it will no longer be able to defend itself against its Palestinian neighbors and their Arab brothers. Civilians are also killed every year and if this continues, there will not be an Israeli population to speak of.
Anyone who takes a look into the history of events between Israel and the Arab states can see that none of the previous peace treaties have worked, but for some reason, everyone is pushing for another one that will most likely fail. The only peace treaty that will have a chance of working in the Middle East (that is already proposed) is the Saudi Peace Proposal proposed by Prince Abdullah. The proposal calls for Israel?s withdrawal from the territories that it captured in 1967 in the Six-Day War in exchange for recognition of Israel as a state. It is possible that this will stop violence for a short time, but as long as Yasser Araffat is the leader of the PLO and of terrorist organizations, there will not be peace between Israel and Palestine. President Bush once said that one cannot negotiate with terrorists; the question now is whether Arafat is a terrorist or a peacemaker. The answer is simple: Arafat is a terrorist, and President Bush should not force Prime Minister Sharon to negotiate with a terrorist.
If Arafat is not a terrorist then why does he head Fatah and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (terrorist groups) (Kalman 1)? President Bush must face the truth about the Arab terror against Israel; he has to ?see that the goal of the Arab world has always been, and still is, to destroy the state of Israel?(Podhoretz 2). The fact is that after the Oslo peace accords in September 1993, Palestinians killed more Israelis than in the 15 years that preceded the accord (Kelly 2). If there was no peace as a result of that accord, why should anyone expect peace after any other accord that Arafat is in charge of, as he was in Oslo? How can a man that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, now urge Palestinians to ?sacrifice themselves as martyrs in jihad (holy war) for Palestine?(Kalman 2)? Is this a man that anyone can negotiate with?
Reuters reports that on April 1, 2002 ?one of Lebanon?s most prominent Shiite Muslim cleric [gave] his blessing to female suicide bombers, like [the] one who struck in
Jerusalem on Friday (March 29, 2002), calling them authors of a ?new, glorious history for Arab and Muslim women??(Par. 1). President Bush must see that between the terrorists operating out of the PLO and the al-Qaida network there is no moral difference. He should recognize that to sponsor the establishment of a state run by the murderers of the PLO would be equivalent to putting the Taliban back into power in Afghanistan (Podhoretz 4). To assail Israel now and make Sharon pull Israeli troops out of Palestinian territory without fully completing their task of rooting out the terrorists would be like telling Bush that he has to pull out American troops from Afghanistan because our troops are invading their land.
After Prime Minister Sharon announced war on terrorism and began sending Israeli troops into Palestinian territories, there have been fewer suicide bombings. While Israel was occupying the major Palestinian towns, there were no suicide bombings for about eight days, but as soon as Israel started pulling out, suicide bombings began again. On April 6, 2002, President Bush urged Israel to begin pulling out of the West Bank immediately. Prime Minister Sharon said that Israel?s assault was a response to a murderous insanity that has over taken their Palestinian neighbors; he also accused Yasser Arafat of heading a ?regime of terror?. He said that Israel would push on until it has destroyed Arafat?s terror infrastructure and the murderers hiding in different places have been arrested (Associated Press 1-2). In essence, what Sharon is trying to do is to keep the nation of Israel a nation, and save as many Israeli lives as possible from the murdering Palestinian suicide bombers. His job as the Prime Minister is to lead his country and to defend it. Since March 29, there have been more than 1,500 Palestinians arrested by Israel, five to six hundred of which are fugitives, and seventy to eighty of whom were involved in planning attacks on Israel. The remaining 820 detainees are held because they are believed to be a threat in some way to Israel (Associated Press 3). Israel must do everything in its power to protect itself against terror.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is supposedly the leader of his people and must lead his people towards peace instead of war. It is easy to see that he is leading his people towards suicide bombings, and not towards an attempt at peace with Israel. He wants to overtake Israel and make it Palestine. With all the former peace treaties between Israel, Arafat insisted on attaining everything or nothing. When President Clinton met with Arafat and Prime Minister Barak at Camp David in December of 2000, the best deal that Arafat will ever be offered was proposed. It would have given him 95% of the West Bank Territory and Jerusalem was to become an international city. Such an offer will not be extended again because everything that Israel was willing to offer was offered then and there, and Arafat refused. Now Arafat should negotiate with Israel rather than Israel with Arafat because he has gotten more things than he dreamed could of from Israel and is still not satisfied. Forcing Israel to negotiate with Arafat is the same as forcing America to negotiate with Bin Ladin. If America is not willing to negotiate with a terrorist, then why should Israel have to?
Everyone is familiar with the phrase ?history repeats itself and those that don?t learn it are bound to repeat it.? No where does this phrase apply more than to the Middle East and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It is seen that throughout Israel?s existence, peace treaties and cease-fires were made and then they were broken. Israel has gone through five wars and has had to pay with not only lives but land as well because of the terms of these peace treaties. Israel won all of that land rightfully in the wars, but it, unlike any other country, had to give back all of the land that it had won. Israel has done everything to make peace possible so that it can remain a nation and safeguard its people against the terror that the Palestinians evoke on them daily with suicide bombings, car bombings, rock throwing or lynching. In the recent past, (in the War against Terror) Israel has shown the world that when it is allowed to take actions into its own hands, it can control the violence. One has only to look at the history of the conflicts and the outcome to see that no peace treaty has ever worked in the area, and that no peace treaty ever will work until terrorism ceases to exist. In order to accomplish this, Arafat must cut all of his ties to any terrorist organizations and take control of his people and lead them to believe that there is a way to live with their Israeli neighbors in peace.
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Blumberg, Arnold. The History of Israel. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1998.
Goldschmidt, Arthur, Jr. A Concise History of the MIDDLE EAST. United States of America: Westview Press, 1999.
Kalman, Matthew. Terrorists Says Orders Come From Arafat. 3 Mar. 2002. 11 Apr. 2002 .
Kelly, Michael. Promises But Never Peace. 5 Apr. 2002. 7 Apr. 2002 .
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Regan, Geoffrey. Israel and the Arabs. Minneapolis: Learner Publications Company, 1984.
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Ross, Stewart. Causes and Consequences of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Texas: Raintree Steck Vaughn Publishers, 1995.
Silverman, Maida. ISRAEL: The Founding Of A Modern Nation. New York: Dial Books of Young Readers, 1998.
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