Arab -Israeli conflict 1945-1979
Crisis in the Middle East
Roots of the conflict 1900-1945
Modern day Israel
Located on the
Eastern side of the
Origins of the Conflict
Jews claim land back to 2000 BCE
For hundreds of years, the Israelites were
invaded, exiled and conquered
Jewish Diaspora: Romans disperse Jews and
raze Jerusalem (70 CE)
Ottoman Empire takes over in 1517:
Palestine is now part of the Ottoman
The break-up of the Ottoman empire
At the turn of the 20th century most of the ME
was still under Ottoman control but the empire
Young Turk movement
European powers wanted influence in the crumbling
The Zionist Movement (1898)
Zionism: the establishment of a Jewish state in
Palestine: the ancient homeland of the Jews.
The movement was founded by Theodore Herzl in
the late 19th century.
Because of Jewish persecution the Zionist
movement was gaining popularity among Jews
Jewish settlers began to move to Palestine.
World War I
Ottoman Turkey joined the Central powers—UK
and France began to plot the division of the
Britain promises Palestinian Arabs an Arab state in
exchange for their help in defeating the Ottoman
At the same time Britain also issued The Balfour
Issued in 1917; declared that a there should be a Jewish
national home in Palestine. Free Palestine
Desire to encourage Jewish businessmen in America to
support Wilson’s call for war loans.
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The Mandate System:
An authorization granted by the League
of Nations to a member nation to govern
the former German or Turkish colonies,
such as the British mandate in Palestine.
(San Remo Conference)
The Balfour Declaration was included in the
obligations for the governance of Palestine;
thus binding Britain to Jewish interests.
The British Mandate in Palestine,
Continued Jewish immigration, British support
for the Zionist position, rejection of Arab
demands for independence were met with
resentment and led to several bloody clashes
which created bitterness on all sides.
Source analysis 1922-1945
Peel Report 1937: Chapter X. - Conclusion: Considering the
attitude which both the Arab and the Jewish representatives
adopted in giving evidence, the Commission think it
improbable that either party will be satisfied at first sight with
the proposals submitted for the adjustment of their rival claims.
For Partition means that neither will get all it wants. It means
that the Arabs must acquiesce in the exclusion from their
sovereignty of a piece of territory, long occupied and once
ruled by them. It means that the Jews must be content with
less than the Land of Israel they once ruled and have hoped to
rule again. But it seems possible that on reflection both parties
will come to realize that the drawbacks of Partition are
outweighed by its advantages. For, if it offers neither party all it
wants, it offers each what it wants most, namely freedom and
To both Arabs and Jews Partition offers a prospect--and there
is none in any other policy--of obtaining the inestimable boon
British White Paper- 1939
The Royal Commission and previous commissions of Enquiry have
drawn attention to the ambiguity of certain expressions in the Mandate,
such as the expression `a national home for the Jewish people', and
they have found in this ambiguity and the resulting uncertainty as to the
objectives of policy a fundamental cause of unrest and hostility
between Arabs and Jews. His Majesty's Government are convinced
that in the interests of the peace and well being of the whole people of
Palestine a clear definition of policy and objectives is essential.
1. The objective of His Majesty's Government is the establishment
within 10 years of an independent Palestine State in such treaty
relations with the United Kingdom as will provide satisfactorily for the
commercial and strategic requirements of both countries in the future
2. Jewish immigration during the next five years will be at a rate which,
if economic absorptive capacity permits, will bring the Jewish
population up to approximately one third of the total population of the
country…of some 75,000 immigrants over the next five years.
After the period of five years, no further Jewish immigration will be
permitted unless the Arabs of Palestine are prepared to acquiesce in it.
The impact of WWII on the British
Mandate in Palestine.
6,000,000 Jews were
killed as a direct result of
Hundreds of thousands
more were left homeless
after World War II
Many countries would
not allow displaced Jews
to live in their countries
UK was looking for an
honorable way out of the
situation in Palestine.
Day 2: 1945-1948
The last years of the British Mandate, UNSCOP
1. Haganah: An underground Jewish group created in 1920,
Haganah became a countrywide organization that involved
2. Irgun: An extreme Jewish organization founded in 1931 after
a split within Haganah. They were more militant and
advocated armed insurrection against the British and Arabs.
3. Lehi: Radical armed Zionist group dedicated to the creation of
a Jewish state in Palestine. Lehi was responsible for the
assassination of the UK’s top official in Palestine.
4. United Resistance: In 1945 these three underground groups
joined together with the aim of creating an independent
5. UN SCOP: United Nations special Committee on Palestine.
Britain and the post-war ME
Following WWII UK had significant holdings in the ME
but faced financial difficulties.
In Palestine the UK had to figure out what to do with the
mandate. Key issues:
Growing US interest in Palestine
Cold War: Soviet interests in Palestine.
Actions of Arabs and Jews during the war = increased violence.
Pro-Jewish support following the Holocaust
Developments in Palestine 1945-46
Arabs and Jews were unhappy to see the return
of the British post WWII.
Arabs suffered from a lack of political structure and
leadership and were in a poor position to represent
their own interests.
Jewish Agency—Jews were in a better political
position. The agency led by David Ben Gurion
continued to represent Jewish interests to the British.
Zionist Underground activity had begun to increase.
Diplomacy and the role of the United
Committee of Enquiry was set up in November 1945 to
resolve the Arab-Israeli situation.
Final recommendation= partition was rejected as unworkable
and not in the best interest of the population.
Meanwhile, President Truman supported the Zionists
and supported increased Jewish immigration into
Palestine—this angered the British government.
King David Hotel
Hotel was the headquarters of the British
Mandate government and military command
King David Hotel bombing 7/22/46
After WWII the British decided to enforce tough measures to regain their
authority—they were frustrated with the actions of sabotage and violence
carried out by the underground resistance groups.
The British launched a campaign to search for weapons and imprisoned
The King David Hotel bombing was an attack carried out by the militant
Zionist group Irgun.
Telephoned warnings were sent to the switchboard by the hotel's main
lobby, the Palestine Post newspaper, and the French consulate.
No evacuation was carried out.
91 people were killed and 46 were injured.
• Controversy has arisen over the timing and adequacy of these
warnings and the reasons why the hotel was not evacuated.
Jewish Agency condemned the attack
Worsened relations between the British and Palestinian Jews
Britain desired to turn over the mandate to the UN.
UNSCOP is established in May of 1947.
11 man committee toured Palestine.
1. Palestinian Arabs refused to cooperate fully—believed the committee was
weighted against them.
2. Jewish groups offered full cooperation and promoted their interests.
Event that influenced their decision
• A ship that carried Jewish emigrants, that left France on July 11, 1947,
with the intent of taking its passengers to Palestine.
• Most of the emigrants were Holocaust survivor refugees, who had no
legal immigration certificates to Palestine.
• Following wide media coverage, the British Navy seized the ship, and
deported all its passengers back to Europe.
• Realizing that they were not bound for Cyprus, the emigrants conducted
a 24-hour hunger strike, refusing to cooperate with the British
• But the British government had no intention of backing down or relaxing
its policy. Were sent to Germany.
• During this time, media coverage of the human ordeal intensified and
the British became pressed to find a solution.
• The matter came to the attention of UNSCOP and helped influence their
UNSCOP Report, August 1947
End to the mandate
Co-operate in an economic Union and share
Jerusalem would be governed under an international
Jewish state would be larger than the Arab state.
The UN vote for Partition, November
2/3 vote was needed
13 against—ALL Islamic countries voted against the
Final plan approved by the
3 ―cantons‖ each,
connected at points
Day three: From partition to war
Fatah—a radical Palestinian organization founded in
the 1950’s, including Yasser Arafat, to liberate
Arab League—Organization started in 1945 to
promote Arab affairs and cooperation.
The UN decision was met by outrage in the Arab world.
The Arabs had no clear political strategy to pursue—they
were suspicious of each other and some Arab leaders had
their own self interest in mind.
The Arab League proclaimed jihad against the Jews which
gave them a bad reputation in much of the world.
The Jewish movement had superior leadership and
organization. They also had experienced soldiers many
who had fought during WWII.
Gain control of vital areas of the Hebrew State and defend its borders
A month before the declaration of the state of
Israel an number of Arabs were killed by Jewish
paramilitaries in the village of Deir Yassin near
Jerusalem—100-254 were killed.
The event encouraged Arab states to unite and
intervene in 1948, against the creation of the
state of Israel.
Israel is Born!
May 14, 1948 in Tel
Aviv, the state of Israel
PM—David Ben Gurion
On the same day, Arab
forces from neighboring
The Arab-Israeli War (1948)
On May 15, 1948, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon,
Saudi Arabia and Syria invaded the newly formed
Israel—combined population equals 40 million
(Jewish state 750,000).
Arab countries committed less than 30,000 men while
the Jews had over 65,000 in the field.
The Arabs were not prepared for conflict and often
pursued their own political and territorial objectives.
Israel was able to import heavy weaponry.
With support from the United States, Israel was
able to not only defeat the Arabs, but expand
Negotiations began in January 1949 on the
Greek Island of Rhodes and an agreement was
signed in February.
Israel after the
20% more than
she had been
promised in the
Consequences of the war
750,000 Palestinian Arabs were expelled or fled.
Most have still not been able to return and are scattered
in neighboring countries.
Military defeat split the Arab League
Jordan gained territory
Great Britain lost all influence in the region
Replaced by the US
Demographic shifts: The Palestinian Diaspora,
Jewish immigration and the economic
development of the Israeli state
Diaspora—dispersion, scattering or forced exile.
Intifada—Arabic for ―uprising‖. Name given to
the period of Palestinian resistance to Israeli
occupation from 1987.
The origins of the Palestinian Diaspora,
Palestinians claim that the Israelis followed a
conscious policy of expulsion that started under
the British Mandate
The role of the UN in the refugee crisis
Majority of Palestinians fled to neighboring
UN passed a resolution calling for a return of
Palestinians to their homes and compensation if
they choose not to return.
Israel would still have control of the land they
gained in the 1948 war.
Plan was rejected by the Arab states.
UN role continued:
UN relief and Works agency (UNRWA) helped
set up camps in neighboring countries.
Irrigation projects, healthcare and schools were
Approximately 35% of Palestinian refugees are
still under UN control—the remainder have
become part of the population of other Arab
Jewish immigration (Aliyah)
Israel passed laws forbidding the return of Palestinian
refugees to claim land and property—many new Israeli
settlements were built in the West Bank.
Law of return (1950)
Right of every Jew to settle in Israel
Citizenship Law (1952)
Immediate citizenship to immigrants.
Ashkenazim—Jews from France, Germany and Eastern Europe.
Sephardim—Jews from Spain and Portugal
Oriental—Jews from Iran, Iraq and Morocco.
Within 30 years Israel became an industrial
economic power in the region.
Initially, Israel had to import raw materials and
relied on outside help via loans in order to
advance transport, aid agriculture and build the
basic infrastructure in order to sustain the new
The Suez crisis of 1956
The Egyptian Revolution and the
emergence of Nasser
Egyptian army officers (Free Officers Movement) during
the War of Independence of Israel plotted to over
through the monarch of Egypt because he was corrupt
The Egyptian Revolution eventually resulted in Gamal
Abdul Nasser as prime minister and president.
Land redistribution program
Aswan Dam project
Control flooding of the Nile
Loans were initially scheduled to come from the US and UK through
the World Bank
Nasser started to look for more sophisticated weaponry.
Chinese and Russians were willing to sell arms
Russians offered to lend money for the dam.
Nasser aids Algerians against France.
Nasser supported the dismissal of Jordan's pro-British
head of Army.
Egypt’s diplomatic recognition of Communist China
In retaliation the US, UK and France refuse to loan
money for Aswan Dam.
Crisis to war
Arab-Israeli conflict becomes intertwined with the Cold
Nasser nationalizes Suez canal.
Cut off UK sea links
Tripartite talks—US, UK and France announced that
that the Suez canal was to be an international waterway
whose board would report to the UN.
Secretly military preparations were started by the
UK and France.
The plan included an Israeli invasion of Egypt.
UK and France would intervene, occupy the canal
zone and remove Nasser.
October –November 1956
War lasted one week
War worsened Arab Israeli relations.
1. Israel quickly captured most of Sinai and Gaza
2. Anglo-France ultimatum to both sides to withdraw.
3. Egypt rejected and appealed to the UN.
British and France aircraft attack Egyptian airfields.
America orders a ceasefire
1956 Suez Crisis
Israel withdrew fully within
a year, and the original
border was restored
The development of Arabism and the emergence
of the PLO
Arabism before 1948
Identified with Arab nationalism and an awakening of
consciousness among intellectuals in the Arab world.
Pan-Arab ideology that has not been very successful at uniting the
Arabs in a a union of nation states.
• Arab League (1945) currently has 22 members
Began during WWI and continued after the
defeat of the Ottoman empire.
The mandate system frustrated the Arabs and
resulted in the more radical development of
Arabism in the 1930’s.
Founded by Michel Aflaq and attempted to combine
socialism with the vision of a pan-Arab nation.
Nasser and Arab Socialism
The Arab-Israeli war helped create a more radical strain of
nationalism and Arabs found a common focal point of hatred
In the 1950’s the Arab Nationalist movement became hostile
towards the West and Israel while promoting a type of socialism
that promoted social progress and the celebration of a shared
history language and culture.
The movement had difficulty unifying politically however found
some success from Nasser in Egypt.
Nasser became the leader of the pan-Arab ideological movement which
tried to unite the Arab cause and reached its height in the years after the
Suez crisis of 1956.
Nasser saw the potential of a united Arab world.
Nasser and Arab Socialism continued…
1958-1961—Egypt and Syria merge to become
the United Arab Republic.
After the Arab defeat in the war of 1967, support
for Pan-Arabism declined, and Nasser simply
focused on recovering lost territory.
The formation of the PLO
Islamic fundamentalism offered an alternative
path to Arabism.
In frustration with the lack of progress made for
the poor and Arab unity, some sought
representation and action through the
Palestinian Liberation Organization.
A minority of Palestinians came to believe that the
liberation of their homeland had to happen in order for
Arab unity to become a reality.
1954-they took the name Fatah and were led by Yasser
Arafat, Khali al-Wazir, and Salah Khalaf out of Damascus.
Used Guerilla warfare which would attract others to their cause and
encouraged armed conflict as a means to recover Palestine
1964—at the Arab summit in Cairo the PLO was officially
established and formed and umbrella under which other
resistance groups would operate (first leader Ahmad
1969—Yasser Arafat becomes the leader of the PLO.
Palestinian Activism, 1967-1969
Karemeh, March 1968
Black September, 1970
Palestinian recognition of the UN, 1974
The Entebbe raid, July 1976
1. Explain the causes of the event
2. Explain the actual event
3. What were the effects of the event
4. How did the event tie into the larger Arab-Israeli crisis
5. Visual—can include media coverage of the actual event.
Day 7: Six Day war and Yom Kippur war
After the 1956 war, Egypt agreed to the
stationing of a UN peacekeeping force in the
Sinai in order to keep that border region
Nasser also agreed to reopen the Straits of Tiran
to Israeli shipping. As a result, the border
between Egypt and Israel remained quiet for a
Causes of the six day war 1967
The creation of the PLO
April 1967 Israel shot down a Syrian MIG jet resulting in
the unification of Arab states.
In the spring of 1967, the USSR fed the Syrian
government false information that Israel was planning to
invade Syria. In response, Nasser closed the Straits to
Israeli ships and demanded UN withdraw from Sinai—
the buffer was removed.
The Six-Day War (1967)
Egypt and other Arab states, began a new plan to invade Israel
After it became clear that the attack was imminent, Israel
During the first 24 hours Israeli jets destroyed the air forces of Egypt,
Jordan, Iraq and Syria which ensured themselves victory in the war.
The resulting six day war ended with an overwhelming Israeli
Israel re-took the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the West
Bank and all of Jerusalem—tripled in size.
UN sponsored cease-fire ended the conflict.
Effects of the war
15,000 Arabs died and Nasser resigned.
Decline in pan-arabism and growth in
fundamentalist Palestinian and Islamic
More Palestinian refugees scattered throughout
Effects of the Six Day War
Golan Heights, Gaza,
and Sinai Peninsula
(ensures access to
Developments between the wars: 1967-
Initially Israel declared herself ready to hand
back territories in return for a guarantee of full
and lasting peace and recognition of Israel’s
right to exist. Events led to a change in policy.
1967-1970 War of attrition between Egypt and Israel.
Anwar Sadat takes control in Egypt.
Seeks détente with the USA
Goes to war against Israel.
The Yom Kippur War (1973)
Egypt and Syria lead a surprise attack on Israel during
the holy day of Yom Kippur in 1973
At first, Israel has heavy losses, but the United States
sent more than 2 Billion dollars in military aid, and Israel
After several weeks, a truce was signed, but no official
treaty; Israel actually gained more land as a result of the
Consequences of the war
Israel claimed victory on the battlefield but
realized they could be beaten.
Politically, Sadat emerged as a world figure and
hero to the Arabs.
UN passed resolution 338 which called for a
No Arab countries recognized Israel as an independent
state until Egypt (president Anwar Sadat) approached
Israel with a proposal in 1977
He would officially recognize Israel in exchange for the
Sinai Peninsula being returned to Egypt
The Camp David Accords
US president Carter invited the two leaders
(Sadat and Menachem Begin) to Camp David in
The Camp David accords were signed in
As a result, Israel and Egypt became the
two largest recipients of US military aid
End of IB unit
Blood and Tears documentary.
Why no Palestine?
The intifadas of 1987 and 2000!
Palestinians practice civil disobedience against Israel;
boycotts, riots, attacks on Israeli soldiers
Not successful (not much change), but it did bring
attention to the situation from the rest of the world
Led to the Oslo accords
1993 – Oslo peace accords: Israel & PLO agree on a
plan for autonomy in West Bank and Gaza for the
1994 – Gaza and Jericho given to Palestinian Authority
(government for Palestinians)
But no peace?
Arafat, leader of the
denounces the violence,
but says he cannot
control it—he dies.
Jan 9, 2005 Mahmoud
Abbas elected President
of the Palestinian
Can there ever be peace?
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and
Mahmoud Abbas were working towards peace
but Sharon suffered a stroke and the Palestinian
Islamist group Hamas, swept Palestinian
Ariel view of security barrier