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... ssinger had begun intense "shuttle diplomacy" to achieve peace. In May Israel withdrew from land she had captured from Syria in the war and returned to the town of Quneitra, while holding on the strategic Golan Heights. On April 12 that year municipal elections were held in the West Bank in accordance with Jordanian law. The result was a victory for National Bloc, largely composed of pro-PLO and New Communists. They now controlled Nablus, Hebron and Ramallah, but lost to pro-Jordanian candidates in Jericho and Bethlehem. The question of Jewish settlements was a major issue in the election.
In 1975 secret buying West Bank land by the Israel Lands Authority had prompted unrest. Strikes broke out and the suppression by the military administration resulted 17,000 Palestinians to leave the West Bank. Yitzhak Rabin took power in April 1974 from Golda Meir; he faced a divided labour party, plus downturn economy, which led to high inflation because of oil ambargo and high cost of rearming. Later in April 1977, Rabin resigned because of financial scandals and replaced by Peres. Effects of inflation and impatience over perceived international hostility to the Jewish State, made for a new right-wing tendency just before the general election in may 1977. Over the years Israel's political orientation had changed, from being a nominally non-aligned socialist state to a firm ally of the west, particularly of the USA.On November 19-20, Sadat became the first Arab leader to visit Israel and Knesset (Israeli Parliament). Later, on December 25-26 Begin became the first Israeli leader visiting an Arab country, where he announced his plan for returning the Sinai to Egypt and for Palestenian "self-rule" in "Judea, Samaria and Gazza". In March, a Palestinian group killed 37 Israelis, resulting 7000 Israeli troops invading south Lebanon to seal the border against further raids, but after Syria threatened to back the Palestinians, Israel called a cease fire.
They accepted UN troops along the Litani River, and begun withdrawing troops. Israel's departure from Lebanon did not stop the civil war. Later the peace process got underway again when Sadat and Begin met for talks in Camp David, USA, in September 1978. Two framework agreements were signed on September 18. The first proposed "full autonomy" for the West Bank and Gazza Strip Palestinians. The second agreement committed Israel and Egypt to signing a peace treaty within three months, and proposed similar treaties in time between Israel and each of her other neighbours, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
However two important issues remained unresolved: the first problem was the future of Jewish settlements in the territories and secondly the status of east Jerusalem. After the personal negotiations of President Carter the two sides signed a peace treaty on March 26,1979, in Washington. The terms of their new treaty included: "i) Israeli military and civilian withdrawal from the whole Sinai Peninsula over three years, ii) installation of UN forces in key border areas; iii) restoration of normal diplomatic relations between the countries; iv) guaranteed rights of passage for Israeli shipping and cargo in the Suez Canal; v) the recognition of the Straits of Tiran and Gulf of Aquaba as international waterways; vi) Egyptian agreement to sell Israel oil from her Sinai oilfields; and vii) negotiations towards granting "full autonomy" to the Palestenians of the West Bank and Gaza."*Palestenian autonomy was enshrined in the peace treaty, but what it meant in reality was uncertain, therefore PLO reacted these proposals. Once again they engaged in violent actions. The peace talks with Egypt had inspired a new grouping within Israel opposed to the Land of Israel Movement. Called Peace Now, with the belief that security could only come through peace. Meanwhile, the 6000 strong UNIFIL forces in the south Lebanon were powerless to stop Israel's "Peace for Galilee" campaign.
Within a month, the Israeli Defence Forces reached the Lebanese capital, Beirut. As PLO fighters were ensconced in civilian areas of the city, many civilians died in the attack. At first Israel denied collusion, but following widespread Peace Now demonstrations in the country against the massacre, Sharon resigned as Defence Minister; but Begin said Israeli troops would only leave Southern Lebanon if there was an overall peace agreement and a stable government in Beirut, and if all 22000 Syrian troops in the Bekaa Valley left too. An agreement was signed on May 17, 1983 between Lebanese and Israeli officials stating the Israeli withdrawal plus an end to the state of war existing between the two countries; and finally the creation of a "security region" in the south to prevent reinfiltration of the PLO. The last troops had left in June 1986, leaving behind a six-mile security zone controlled by their substitute military force, the "South Lebanon Army". For their part 12000 PLO fighters had been forced to leave Beirut and go to neighbouring Arab states.
An estimated 175000 displaced refugees required emergency aid. The PLO's political and welfare infrastructure was destroyed. These resulted a dissension in the PLO. On the other hand Arafat's ability to secure 4700 PLO detainees from Israeli prisons in an exchange for 6-captured Israeli's in December 1983 impressed the Arab states. On August 30, a UN conference on Palestine held in Geneva, awarded the PLO the diplomatic status of a sovereign state, and adapted a program of action to create a Palestinian state. Attacks against civilians continued however.On August 28, 1983, Menachem Begin had announced his plan to resign as Israel Prime Minister; he was succeeded by former Foreign Minister, Itzhak Shamir on October 10. On March 22, the opposition carried a bill calling for new elections.The following issues divided Israel: i) Lebanon with the left criticising Likud for putting military conscripts in a compromising position, and for allowing excessive civilian causalities; and with the right critical of the failure to remove the PLO presence; the 400 percent rate of inflation partly fuelled by the Lebanese campaign; West Bank settlements and the treatment of Palestinians; the growing gulf between secular Zionists and Orthodox Jews; and Israel's loss of allies.
In the elections voters deserted the two major groupings for the smaller parties and the result was inconclusive. After much bargaining, the Allignments and Likud agreed on a national coalition government. The coalition government pursued the Camp David autonomy talks, and sought direct negotiations with Jordan. Relations with Egypt had deteriorated after the recall of Egyptian ambassador. Israel received military aid from the USA, and also increased contacts with France, the UK, West Germany and China. Peres maintained his efforts for diplomatic advance and met king Hassan of Morocco. He tried to show PLO as "the greatest obstacle to peace". At the same time, the Israel's economy was at last improving, but political and financial scandals continued.
Also the terror in the streets increasingly continued. The February 11, 1985 agreement between Arafat and Hussein proposed a joint Palestinian-Jordanian delegation at peace talks. The most important improvement in the further years was Palestine National Council's (PNC) rejecting terrorism in all its forms including "institutionalised terrorism" and repeating the earlier commitments restricting the violence to Israel and the occupied territories. Immediately all Arab states except Syria plus countries from the Non-aligned Movement and China. The USSR recognised the proclamation but not the state itself. Israel denounced the declaration and began campaigning against it. "The USA said the PLO statements were 'an advance' but still 'too vague' "*. Within Israel a lobby for talks with PLO was getting strength.
After forty-one years of the state of Israel, the chances for a resolution to the Palestinian problem have never appeared so distant or so close. Interpretation of the BookThis book is written in 1988, and the book includes the historical development of the Israel State and the Palestinian conflicts until the year 1987. It is a highly descriptive book, involving information but lacking of personal views of the writer's. Meanwhile, the description of the conflict with detailed examples of events, helps the reader to understand the issue more clearly and easily.In my opinion this conflict between the two states affects the neighbouring countries in the region as well as the other states that have strategic interests in the Middle East. Therefore it is not a two-player game, instead it is a multi player game, and with each player having own goals and own rules. Also in the Middle East, religion becomes an obstacle in the solution of the conflicts.
The observation of the conflict by taking the religion in to consideration is not well mentioned in the book. As it is well seen in this book too, like in almost all the countries of the Middle East, these two countries have strong impact of military on their policies, and also their foreign affairs are too much dependent to their internal political structures..
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