294 - Peace for Life

Palestine-Israel Conflict
Historical & Geopolitical
25 November 2010
by Rey Claro Casambre
and the
Study Commission on Peace
This paper aims to provide a brief
historical background and
geopolitical perspective on the
decades-long conflict between the
Palestinians and the Israelis, and
the role of the US in this conflict
The history of the
Palestine-Israel conflict may
be discussed in four periods
From ancient times to the end of World War I
The British Mandate of Palestine – 1917-1948
The establishment of the state of Israel and
the Israel-Arab Wars (1948-1982)
Peace talks, the 1st and 2nd Intefada, to the
Ancient Times to the End of World War I
1250 BC - Israelites conquer Canaan; King David,
Solomon (965-928)and other Hebrew rulers
586BC - Jews driven out by Assyrian conqueror
Succession of Assyrian, Persian (539BC), Greek
(333BC), Egyptian, Syrian, Roman Byzantine (63
BC), and Arab rulers from Damascus (661-750), Iraq
(750-1258), and Cairo (969-1099, 1187-1516), and
the Crusaders (1099-1187) .
Palestine incorporated into the Ottoman Empire from
Zionism – the movement to establish a separate
Jewish state in Palestine – was born in the end of the
19th century
The Middle East in 1917
Middle East in 1917
The British Mandate (1917-48)
The Balfour Declaration of 1917 pledged
Britain’s support for “the establishment
in Palestine of a national home for the
Jewish people” and paid lip service to
safeguarding the civil and political rights
of the non-Jewish communities in
Successive waves of migrations
increased Jewish population in Palestine
from less than 6% in 1903 to 31% in 1945
29 Nov 1947 - UN Resolution 181 – partitioning
Palestine into a Jewish state (56.5% of Palestine)
and a Palestinian state (43%); rejected by the
Palestinians and Arab states.
14 May 1948 - State of Israel proclaimed in Tel
Aviv at 4:00 P.M. , recognized by US President
15 May 1948 - British Mandate ends. Declaration
of State of Israel comes into effect.
The Arab-Israeli Wars
1949 – First Arab-Israeli War
1956 – Suez Campaign (Oct 29-Nov 5)
1967 - Six-Day War (June 5-10)
1973 - October War (Yom Kippur)
1982 - Israeli invasion of Lebanon
Six-Day War
June 5-10
October 1973 War
(Yom Kippur)
Peace Talks
and the Intefada
1978 Camp David Accords between Israel and
Egypt; Israel turns over Sinai to Egypt in exchange for
recognition of right to exist
1987 - the outbreak of the first Palestinian intefada
in December 1987 triggered by death of Palestinian youths
run over by Israeli lorry (military personnel carrier)
1988 - Yasser Arafat's condemnation of terrorism
and recognition of the state of Israel in December 1988.
1991 October - The Madrid peace conference
1992 - secret Israeli-Palestinian talks in Oslo, Norway
1993 Declaration of Principles (DoP), signed by Yasser
Arafat and Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin:
set up the Palestinian Authority, but
failed to resolve the issues of :
return of Palestinian refugees
the status of Jerusalem
Israeli settlements
final Palestine-Israel borders
1994 – Arafat returned to Gaza Strip and West bank to
head the Palestinian Authority
wielded full
authority and
control by
sealing off the
Palestiniangoverned areas
from the rest of
the Occupied
Territories and
from Israel.
Some highlights in recent history of Palestine
1974 - The Arab Summit in Rabat recognized the PLO as the sole
legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
1987 - Relations between Israel and the Palestinians entered a new
phase with the intifada, a series of uprisings in the occupie
d territories that included demonstrations, strikes, and rock-throwing
attacks on Israeli soldiers.
1988 - The Palestinian National Conference meeting in Algiers declared
the State of Palestine as outlined in the UN Partition Plan 181.
1993 – Israeli PM Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat signed an
historic peace agreement wherein Israel agreed to allow for Palestinian
self-rule (Palestinian National Authority), first in the Gaza Strip and the
West Bank town of Jericho, and later in other areas of the West Bank.
But failed to resolve the issues of return of Palestinians to Palestine,
Jewish settlements, Jerusalem and final Israel-Palestine borders.
1994 Jan - PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat elected President of the PNA.
Camp David Summit, 11 July 2000
Israeli Prime Minister
Ehud Barak, US
President Bill
Clinton and
Palestinian President
Yasser Arafat failed
to reach an
agreement on
resolving the IsraelPalestine conflict.
September 2000 – Opposition Likud Party candidate
Ariel Sharon’s visit to Jerusalem sparks 2nd Intifada,
which lasts throughout 2001.
March 2002 - Saudi Peace Initiative
Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia proposed a Saudi peace
initiative in March 2002 that formally changed the Arab world?s
position on Israel.
The proposal, endorsed by the Arab League, asked Israel to
withdraw to the 1949 borders and establish an independent and
sovereign state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. It
stipulated that displaced refugees should either be allowed to
return to their homes or be compensated for their loss of
In return, the Arab states would consider the Arab-Israeli conflict
over, sign comprehensive peace treaties with Israel, and
normalize relations.
The proposal was received with skepticism by Israel and had
little practical effect.
13 March 2002 - U.N.
Resolution 1397
The U.S. pushes through the
passage of U.N. Resolution 1397
by the Security Council,
25 November an
cessation of all acts of violence"
and "affirming a vision of a region
where two states, Israel and
Palestine, live side by side within
secure and recognized borders".
March 2002 - Israeli forces attack Palestinian cities
Operation Defensive Shield, Israel's largest military
operation in the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day
War. Its goals was launched purportedly
 to enter cities and villages which have become
havens for terrorists;
 to catch and arrest terrorists and, primarily, their
dispatchers and those who finance and support them;
to confiscate weapons intended to be used against
Israeli citizens;
 to expose and destroy terrorist facilities and
explosives, laboratories, weapons production
factories and secret installations.
Attack on Arafat’s HQ at Ramallah
(14 March 2002)
12 April 2002 – Massacre at Jenin Refugee Camp
IDF used heavy
bulldozers to
flatten apartment
buildings in Jenin,
burying trapped
occupants alive.
Foreign media
was prevented
from entering the
camps for two
weeks after the
IDF troops occupy Bethlehem and attack the
Church of the Nativity, where 200
Palestinians sought refuge for 39 days
June 2002 – Israel starts construction
of the West Bank Apartheid Wall
The Wall will run over 650 km deep inside West
Bank, will de facto annex nearly 50% of it.
The Wall takes on a variety of forms, but
always with watchtowers, concertina wire,
and bulldozed buffer zones.
The Wall is a blatant violation of international law,
particularly on the annexation of occupied land
(United Nations Charter, art. 2.4).
The Wall has devastated every aspect of
Palestinian life, and has incited strong
protest not only by the Palestinians but by
the international community as well.
US, European Union, Russia and the UN
propose a “Road Map to Peace”
called for an independent Palestinian state
peacefully coexisting with Israel
requires the PNA to undertake democratic
reforms and abandon the use of terrorism.
Israel must support and accept the
emergence of a reformed Palestinian
government and end settlement activity of
the Gaza Strip and West Bank as the
Palestinian threat is removed.
June 2003 Arab Summit
Arab leaders hold a two-day summit in Egypt, announce their
support for the US-EU-Russia-UN Road Map and promised
to work on cutting off funding to terrorist groups.
21 Aug 2003 – Israel assassinates
Ismael Abu Sinaub, 3rd most senior
Hamas leader
Five Israeli missiles incinerated
Ismail Abu Shanab in Gaza
City, killing one of the most
powerful voices for peace in
Hamas and destroying a sevenweek ceasefire. Hamas
declared an immediate end to
the truce and vowed a bloody
revenge for the death of Abu
Shanab, who was married with
11 children. He had advocated
the existence of a Palestinian
state alongside Israel, not
replacing it.
US role in the conflict
1948 - Israel wins the first war against its Arab
neighbors leading to the establishment of the
state of Israel. The US lobbied for Israel and was
the first country to recognize Israel in the United
1956 Suez Crisis - Israel, France, and Britain
attack Egypt in October of 1956 after the Suez
crisis but the US comes out against the war
forcing UN intervention and an end to hostilities.
1967 Six-Day War - US backs Israel in its third war
in the region against the armies of Egypt, Jordan and
Syria. Israel gains control of the Gaza Strip, East
Jerusalem, Syria's Golan Heights, and Egypt's Sinai
1973 -October/Yom Kippur War - Egypt and Syria
attack Israel in October of 1973 in an attempt to
reclaim lands lost in the Six-Day War. Israel initially
suffers major losses until the United States arranged
a massive airlift of weapons which helped Israel in its
1978 Camp David Accords - US President Jimmy Carter mediates
negotiations between Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israel's Menachem Begin
leading to the Camp David Accords, the prerequisite to the 1979 EgyptianIsraeli Peace Treaty.
1982 War of Lebanon -- Israel gets explicitly involved in the Lebanese
Civil War, attacking Syrian and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
forces. The US mediates an agreement with the PLO to withdrawal which
leads to American troop deployment in Lebanon.
1991-Current - Peace Process -- The US has played a mediating role
between Israel and its neighboring Arab countries, leading to the Madrid
Conference (1991), Oslo Process/Accords (1993), the Israeli-Jordanian
Peace Treaty (1994), and most recently the Roadmap For Peace.
2006 War with Lebanon - Israel attacks Lebanon in retaliation for the
Hezbollah kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. Questions arose about whether or
not Israel used American supplied weapons during the conflict.
Israel largest recipient of military aid from
1976-2004; since then 2nd only to Iraq
US stockpiles war materials in Israel that it ccan
use in any part of the world, while Israel can and
also has used these its military offensives such as
the 2006 war in Lebanon. From USD 800 M worth
in 2007, the stockpile will be increased to USD 1
billion in 2011
Since 1985, Israel received nearly USD 3 B in
military aid with preferential terms (early delivery,
can be used for R&Dto buy military hardware , eg
warplanes from the US)
Straight from the US State Department’s
“U.S. assistance will help ensure that Israel
maintains its qualitative military edge over
potential threats, and prevent a shift in the security
balance of the region. U.S. assistance is also
aimed at ensuring for Israel the security it requires
to make concessions necessary for
comprehensive regional peace.” (in justifying
FY2011 Foreign Operations budget)
Pipeline Geopolitics and Israel
Israel is part of the Anglo-American military axis,
which serves the interests of the Western oil giants
in the Middle East and Central Asia. Not
surprisingly, Israel has military cooperation
agreements with Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Oil and natural gas are also factors in Israel’s
insistence in maintaining control of occupied
territories in the West Bank and Gaza strip.
The Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Pipeline
While the official reports state that the BTC pipeline
will "channel oil to Western markets", what is rarely
acknowledged is that part of the oil from the
Caspian sea would be directly channeled towards
Israel. In this regard, an underwater Israeli-Turkish
pipeline project has been envisaged which would
link Ceyhan to the Israeli port of Ashkelon and from
there through Israel's main pipeline system, to the
Red Sea.
The objective of Israel is not only to acquire
Caspian sea oil for its own consumption needs but
also to play a key role in re-exporting Caspian sea
oil back to the Asian markets through the Red Sea
port of Eilat. The strategic implications of this rerouting of Caspian sea oil are farreaching.
What is envisaged is to link the BTC pipeline to
the Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, also
known as Israel's Tipline, from Ceyhan to the
Israeli port of Ashkelon.
US-Israel targetting Iran
US has stepped up its political and economic
offensive against Iran as part of the “axis of evil”
and threatens to invade and occupy it unless it
dismantles its nuclear weapons program
Israel has been pushing the US to take more
aggressive military actions against Iran, which it
accuses of preparing a nuclear attack on Israel.
Iran remains the main obstacle to the consolidation
of US hegemony and control of the Middle East
and its resources