The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: 1973-1993 Video

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  • 1:45 What Each Side Wants
  • 2:45 Palestine Liberation…
  • 3:28 Israeli Settlements &…
  • 4:28 First Lebanon War &…
  • 6:12 Oslo Accords
  • 7:48 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Alexandra Lutz

Alexandra has taught students at every age level from pre-school through adult. She has a BSEd in English Education.

After a failed 1973 attempt to reclaim land won by Israel in the Six-Day War, independent groups, such as the PLO, Fatah and Hezbollah, have promoted Palestinian goals. The first Intifada in the West Bank and Gaza was ended by the Oslo Accords.

Background to the Modern Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

On the eve of World War I, the British Empire looked to the people of the Eastern Mediterranean as potential allies in their struggle against the Ottoman Empire. Britain promised both Jews and Arabs their independence if they would help the war effort, setting off a conflict that endures to this day.

After WWII, the UN finally authorized both a Jewish and non-Jewish state. Non-Jews, now called Palestinians, refused to accept the partition and did not create their nation. But Israel did declare its independence in 1948, triggering a war with its Arab neighbors. In the aftermath, Egypt took possession of the Gaza Strip while Jordan took the West Bank - both of which had been designated for the Palestinian state.

There has been chronic conflict in the Middle East ever since, but perhaps more than any other clash, the Six-Day War helped define the modern Israeli-Palestinian struggle. In May 1967, Egyptian president Gamal Nasser announced his intention to destroy Israel, ousted UN peacekeepers and moved his army into position along Egypt's border with Israel, and then closed off Israeli access to the Straits of Tiran. Jordan positioned troops for invasion from the West Bank, while Syria prepared to invade through the Golan Heights. Israel made a decisive pre-emptive strike, crippling all three Arab forces in a matter of six days and taking control of the territories from which they had planned to invade, including all of the Sinai Peninsula.

What Each Side Wants

Historically, Arab nations have refused to recognize or be at peace with Israel until it does three things: return all territory captured in the Six-Day War, recognize a Palestinian nation with a capital in Jerusalem, and allow Palestinian refugees to return to the land in Israel they lived on prior to 1948.

In response, Israel feels it cannot withdraw from all of the disputed territories because it has faced too many threats over the years from within them. However, Israel has been willing to concede on Palestinian statehood. Finally, Israel believes that accepting Palestinian refugees as citizens would threaten its national identity and security, since they would constitute a near majority of the population.

Egypt and Syria launched the 1973 Yom Kippur War in an attempt to reclaim Golan, Sinai, and Gaza by force but were again routed by Israel. Several independent groups have since emerged trying to secure Palestinian goals.

The Palestine Liberation Organization

Back in 1964, the leaders of several Arab governments created the Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO, to promote Palestinian rights. But some Palestinians wanted an independent voice, like Yasser Arafat, and created Fatah, a secretive body that fought against Israel without the help of the Arab League. In 1969, Arafat took over the PLO and the group became infamous for attacks, such as the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Despite this notoriety, Arafat appeared at the U.N. in 1974, bringing international attention to the Palestinians' demands.

Israeli Settlements and Peace with Egypt

Following the Six-Day War, the Israeli government had begun settling Jewish residents into the captured territories. Initially, those settlements were tiny outposts to keep an eye on the borders, but as time went by and the population increased, the settlements became hotly contested real estate, the frequent target of attacks by different parties fighting against Israel, and the focus of many negotiations over the decades.

In 1979, Israel agreed to gradually withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula, including the forcible removal of Israeli settlers, when Egypt became the first Arab nation to recognize Israel diplomatically. This 'Land for Peace' deal was a result of the Camp David Accords, negotiated and signed in the United States. Many historians today cite this agreement as the primary motivation behind Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's assassination by Muslim extremists in his own country, who objected to peace with Israel.

First Lebanon War and First Intifada

In 1982, PLO members in Southern Lebanon increased their attacks on towns in Northern Israel and shot the Israeli ambassador to Britain. Israel retaliated, chasing the PLO deep into Lebanon as far as Beirut. This conflict is often called the First Lebanon War. In the aftermath, a new group called Hezbollah emerged in Lebanon, calling for the destruction of Israel and the end of Western involvement in the Middle East. Three years later, most of the Israeli army withdrew from Lebanon, but some troops remained in the southern part of the country until 2000 and were frequently harassed by Hezbollah militants.

Throughout the 1980s, tensions increased between Israelis and Palestinians living throughout the region. In 1987, they reached the boiling point as a result of legitimate and rumored attacks, plus retaliations. In the Gaza Strip and West Bank, Palestinians rebelled against Israeli authority in an uprising known as the Intifada. For six years, there were suicide bombs, riots, boycotts, strikes, arson, and violence using improvised weapons and traditional munitions supplied by the PLO.

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