After decades of bloody animosity, representatives of Israel and Palestine meet on the southern lawn of the White House and sign a framework for peace. The “Declaration of Principles” was the first agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians to end their conflict and share the holy land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea which they both claim as their homeland.
Fighting between Jews and Arabs in Palestine dates back to the 1920s, when the two groups claimed the territory under British control. The Jews were Zionists, recent emigrants from Europe and Russia who came to the ancient homeland of the Jews to establish a Jewish national state. The native Arabs (they have not yet called themselves Palestinians) sought to stem Jewish immigration and create a secular Palestinian state.
On May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was proclaimed and five Arab nations were attacked in support of the Palestinian Arabs. The Israelis fought the Arab armies and seized substantial territory initially allocated to the Arabs during the partition of Palestine by the United Nations in 1947. After two successive ceasefires negotiated by the UN, the State of Israel entered into formal armistice agreements with Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria in February 1949. These agreements left Israel under permanent control over the territory it had conquered during the conflict.
The departure of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs from Israel during the war left the country with a substantial Jewish majority. Israel restricted the rights of the Arabs who remained. Most of the Palestinian Arabs who left Israeli territory retreated to the West Bank, then controlled by Transjordan (now Jordan), and others to the Gaza Strip, controlled by Egypt. Hundreds of thousands of exiled Palestinians have settled permanently in refugee camps.
By the early 1960s, the Palestinian Arab diaspora had formed a cohesive national identity. In 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was established as an umbrella political organization for several Palestinian groups and intended to represent all of the Palestinian people. The PLO called for the destruction of the State of Israel and the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
During the Six Day War of 1967, Israel seized control of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights. Israel permanently annexed East Jerusalem and set up military administrations in the occupied territories. Although Israel offered to return part of the seized territory in return for “Israel’s security demands”, the Arab League opted against formal negotiations in the Khartoum resolution on September 1, 1967.
The Sinai was then returned to Egypt in 1979 as part of an Israeli-Egyptian peace deal, but the rest of the occupied territories remained under Israeli control. A faction of Israelis called for the permanent annexation of these areas, and in the late 1970s, nationalist Jewish settlers settled in the territories to achieve this goal.
After the 1967 war, the PLO was recognized as the symbol of the Palestinian national movement and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat organized guerrilla attacks against Israel from PLO bases in Jordan and, afterwards 1971, from Lebanon. The PLO has also coordinated terrorist attacks against Israelis at home and abroad. Palestinian guerrillas and terrorist activities have provoked heavy reprisals from the Israeli armed forces and intelligence services. By the end of the 1970s, Arafat had achieved international acceptance of the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
Violence escalated in the 1980s, with clashes between Palestinians and Jewish settlers in the occupied territories. In 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon to dislodge the PLO. In 1987, Palestinian residents of Gaza and the West Bank launched a series of violent protests against the Israeli authorities known as the intifada, or “shake” it. Shortly after, Jordan’s King Hussein relinquished all administrative responsibility for the West Bank, thereby strengthening the PLO’s influence there. As the intifada raged, Yasser Arafat proclaimed an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on November 15, 1988. A month later, he denounced terrorism, recognized the right of the State of Israel to exist and authorized the start of “land” for peace “with Israel.
Israel refused to open direct talks with the PLO, but in 1991 Israeli diplomats met with a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation at the Madrid peace conference. In 1992, Labor Party leader Yitzhak Rabin became prime minister of Israel, and he vowed to move the peace process forward quickly. He froze new Israeli settlements in the occupied territory and authorized secret negotiations between Israel and the PLO that began in January 1993 in Oslo, Norway. These talks resulted in several key agreements and culminated in the historic peace accord of September 13, 1993.
On the southern lawn of the White House that day, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and PLO foreign policy official Mahmoud Abbas signed the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements. The accord called for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip and the city of Jericho in the West Bank, and the establishment of a Palestinian government that would eventually be granted authority over much of the West Bank. President Bill Clinton presided over the ceremony and more than 3,000 spectators, including former Presidents George Bush and Jimmy Carter, watched in amazement as Arafat and Rabin seal the deal with a handshake. The old bitter enemies had first met at a reception at the White House that morning.
In his remarks, Rabin, a former senior general in the IDF, told the crowd: “We soldiers who have returned from the battle are stained with blood; we who saw our relatives and friends being killed before our eyes; we who fought against you, the Palestinians; today we say to you in a loud and clear voice: Enough blood and tears. Enough! “And Arafat, the guerrilla leader who for decades has been the target of assassinations by Israeli agents, said that” the battle for peace is the most difficult battle of our lives. It deserves all of our lives. efforts because the land of peace aspires to a just and comprehensive peace. ”
Despite attempts by extremists on both sides to sabotage the peace process with violence, the Israelis completed their withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho in May 1994. In July, Arafat entered Jericho amid much jubilation Palestinian Authority and established its government – the Palestinian Authority. In October 1994, Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize for their reconciliation efforts.
In September 1995, Rabin, Arafat and Peres signed a peace accord providing for the expansion of Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank and democratic elections to determine the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. A little over a month later, on November 4, 1995, Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist during a peace rally in Tel Aviv. Peres became Prime Minister and pledged to continue the peace process. However, terrorist attacks by Palestinian extremists in early 1996 swayed Israeli public opinion, and in May Benjamin Netanyahu of the right-wing Likud party was elected prime minister. Netanyahu insisted that PA President Arafat fulfill his obligation to end Palestinian extremist terrorism, but the sporadic attacks continued and the peace process stalled.
In May 1999, Ehud Barak of the Labor Party defeated Netanyahu in national elections and pledged to take “bold steps” to forge comprehensive peace in the Middle East. However, protracted negotiations with the PLO ended in failure in July 2000, when Barak and Arafat failed to reach an agreement at a summit in Camp David, Maryland. In September 2000, the worst violence since the Intifada erupted between Israelis and Palestinians after Likud leader Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount, Jerusalem’s holiest Islamic site. Seeking a strong leader to quell the bloodshed, the Israelis elected Sharon prime minister in February 2001. Although Arafat pledged to join America’s “war on terror” after the September 11, 2001 attacks, he was not able to win the favor of US President George. W. Bush, who was strongly pro-Israel. In December 2001, after a series of Palestinian suicide bombings against Israel, Bush did nothing to stop Israel as it reconquered areas of the West Bank and occupied parts of Ramallah, effectively imprisoning Arafat at the Authority’s headquarters. Palestinian.
After Israel rejected an alternative peace plan presented by the Arab League in March 2002, Palestinian attacks escalated, prompting Israel to once again turn to military intervention in the West Bank. A cycle of terrorist attacks, IDF retaliation and failed diplomacy continued for the next two years.
At the end of October 2004, information revealed that Arafat was seriously ill. He was flown to Paris for treatment and fell into a coma in early November. He was pronounced dead on November 11.
Mahmoud Abbas became the new president of the PLO and was elected president of the Palestinian Authority in January 2005. The following year Hamas, regarded by many observers as a terrorist organization, took control of the legislature. Palestinian, complicating any potential negotiations. Despite the Israeli withdrawal from the disputed territory of Gaza and the fact that both sides are apparently committed to a two-state solution, peace in the region remains elusive.