Arab-Israeli Conflict

Download 83.13 Kb.
Date conversion20.04.2016
Size83.13 Kb.

Arab-Israeli Conflict

1. Introduction to West Asia (Geographical facts)

Most of the area known as West Asia today is inhabited by the Arab people. However, the Arab people did not live in a single country. The entire Arab world was divided into more than ten countries. There is a country in West Asia which is not Arabic. It is called Israel. The people living in Israel are known as Jews. The Arabs and the Jews hated each other very much.

Source A

Study the following map. Shade Israel in blue and the Arab countries in yellow.

Source B

The following table shows the population figures, official languages and major religion of the countries in West Asia and North Africa.


(ten thousands)

Official language


















Saudi Arabia














Hebrew, Arabic














United Arab Emirates
















Refer to the following website for interactive information on West Asia, including modern socio-political map, historic political borders, topographic/resources map, Muslim population

Study Sources A and B and answer questions 1 and 2.

  1. Identify two disadvantages of the Jews in the Arab-Israeli conflicts.

Israel was surrounded by the Arab countries in the north, east and south. (Source A)

Compare with the Arab countries, the population size in Israel was much smaller.

This was a great disadvantage of the Jews in the Arab-Israeli conflicts. (Source B)

Source C

The following is a map of Israel. Label the following countries / areas on the map.




Gaza Strip


Golan Heights


Sinai Peninsula


West Bank (of the River Jordan)


2. Major wars between Israel and the Arab countries

Study the sources below and answer the questions that follow.

Source A

The following is a chronological table which shows the major wars fought between Israel and the Arab countries in the period 1948-1982.


The Arab-Israeli War

Just on the next day after Israel declared its independence (May 15, 1948), the Arab countries of Egypt, Transjordan1, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon attacked Israel. Although Israel was attacked on three fronts, the Israeli army defeated its enemies and even extended Israel own borders. Many Arabs living in Israel became refugees and had to flee to other Arab countries.


The Suez Canal War

When Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956, Britain and France, together with Israel, attacked Egypt. The war only ended when the United Nations intervened on the side of Egypt.


The Six-Day War

Israel attacked Egypt, Syria and Jordan. This was the most successful war for Israel. Israel occupied the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank from Jordan and the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. The Israelis immediately began building Jewish settlements in these areas.


The October War

Egypt and Syria attacked Israel. In this war, the Arab countries received aid from the Soviet Union whereas Israel received aid from the United States. Israel successfully halted the enemy attack. During the war, the Arab countries reduced oil exports to the West as revenge. This led to an oil crisis2.


The Lebanon War

Since Lebanon provided refuge to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) which carried out terrorist attacks against Israel, Israel attacked and defeated Lebanon. Lebanon agreed to expel the Palestine Liberation Organization. Israel then withdrew its force.

Refer to the following website for maps on the Arab Israel Conflicts.

>The Arab Invasion 1948

>The Sinai Campaign 1956

>Six Day War-June 1967

>October War 1973

Source B

The following table shows the casualties of the major Arab-Israeli Wars.






Death: 6,000

Wounded: 15,000

Death: 15,000

Wounded: 25,000

725,000 Palestinian refugees


Casualties: 1,200 (including British and French)

Death: 1,600

Wounded: 4,500

Taken prisoner: 6,100


Death: 983

Wounded: 4,517

Missing / Taken prisoner: 15

Death: 4,296

Wounded: 6,121

Taken prisoner: 7,550

410,000 Palestinian refugees


Death: 2,838

Wounded: 8,800

Missing / Taken prisoner: 508

Death: 8,446

Wounded: 18,949

Missing / Taken prisoner: 8,551


Casualties: about 2,000

Taken prisoner: about 10

Casualties: about 3,000

Taken prisoner: 5,000

Source C

A Palestinian woman describes what it was like to arrive in Jordan as a refugee:

Refer to the following website for information on Palestine refugee.

  1. Despite such disadvantages, explain why Israel could survive and sometimes even gained victory in the Arab-Israeli conflicts since its independence since 1948.

Suggested answer: Foreign Assistance: Western countries, like Britain and the US,

provided Israel with modern weapons, allowing Israel to gain advantage over the

Arabs in the Arab-Israeli conflicts.

3. What do you conclude from Sources A, B and C about the effects of the Arab-Israeli Wars?

Suggested answer:

Giving rise to the refugee problem (Source A); Oil crisis (Source A); Terrorist

attacks (Source A); Heavy casualties (Source B); Suffering of the refugees (Source


Source D

The following extract is adapted from the national charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization. This organization was established in 1964 as the political organ of the Palestinian Arabs. In 1969, Yasir Arafat, became its chairman.

Source: The Palestinian National Charter: Resolution of the Palestine National Council July 1-17, 1968

4. Identify the methods used by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to free the Palestinians from Israeli rule.

Suggested answer:

The methods used by the Palestine Liberation Organization

Armed struggle and popular revolution (Article 9)

To mobilize the Arab nations to fight for the liberation of Palestine (Article 15)

To equip the Palestinian with military, human, moral and spiritual capabilities

(Article 15)

Source E

A PLO member hijacked a British airliner in 1970. Afterwards she justified what she had done in these words:

5. How did the PLO member defend her action of hijacking the British airliner?

Suggested answer:

It was the Jews who occupied Palestine in the first place. The objective of the

Palestine Liberation Organization was to free the Palestinian from Israeli rule. It

was proper to revenge on the Jews.

Study the following statement.

6. “In any war, there is no winner. Both sides are in fact losers of the war.” Do you agree with this statement? Explain your answer with reference to Sources A to E above and your own knowledge.

Students can agree or disagree with the statement, but they must support their

views with sufficient reasons.


Students can discuss with examples on how the two countries suffered in the

Arab-Israeli conflict. Examples like causalities, damaging of flats and economic

destruction can be given.


Students can say Israel was the winner. Apart from certain destructions, at least

Israel could declare independence, and it sometimes gained victory in the

Arab-Israeli conflicts.

On the other hand, students can say the Arabs were the winner. The actions of the

Palestine Liberation Organization successfully shocked the Jews and arouse

international attention. Even some countries try to reconcile the Israeli-Palestinian


3. Peace-making attempts between Israel and the Arab countries

Conflicts between Israel and the Arab countries had lasted for nearly half a century. The Arab countries were not able to destroy Israel. Meanwhile, Israel was not able to eliminate Palestinian resistance or terrorist activities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. By the end of the 1970s, both sides had been tired of incessant warfare. They began to talk about peace.

The following are major attempts to make peace between Israel and the Arab world.
Israeli-Palestinian relationship

Camp David Accord (1979)

US president Jimmy Carter, Egypt’s President Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Begin met in Camp David. Israel agreed to return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt. Egypt renounced its claim over the Gaza Strip and recognized Israel. Both countries agree to return to normal relation.

Madrid Peace Conference (1991)

In October 1991, the United States and the Soviet Union sponsored this conference and invited Israeli, Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian, and Palestinian representatives to hold peaceful talks.

Israel-PLO Accord (1993)

The PLO renounced the use of terrorism and acknowledged Israel’s right to exist, while Israel recognized the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. Both sides agreed to a set of guidelines for a five-year interim period of Palestinian self-government.

Cairo Accords (4 May 1994)

As a result of the Oslo peace process, the Gaza-Jericho Agreement -- also known as the Cairo Accords -- included an Israeli military withdrawal from about 60 percent of the Gaza Strip (Jewish settlements and their environs excluded) and the West Bank town of Jericho. A five-year period began in which a permanent resolution was to be negotiated on Jerusalem, settlements, Palestinian refugees, and sovereignty.

Taba Agreement (28 September 1995)

In Washington, D.C., PLO chairman Arafat and Israel's Prime Minister Rabin signed the Taba Agreement, known as Oslo II, to expand Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza and to allow Palestinian elections. In those elections, held on January 20, 1996, Arafat won roughly 85 percent of the votes in his bid to head the Palestinian National Authority.

Wye River Memorandum (23 October 1998)

After a peace summit held by U.S. president Bill Clinton, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat signed an agreement calling for further Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the Palestinian Authority to combat terrorist organizations more effectively.

4 September 1999

The Israelis and Palestinians sign a revised deal aimed at reviving the peace process.

21 March 2000

Israel hands over some of the West Bank territory to the Palestinians which amounted

to 6.1 percent of the total Occupied Territories. This completed the transfer agreement made at Wye River in 1998.
Peace Summit at Camp David (25 July 2000)

A peace summit which was hosted at Camp David by U.S. president Bill Clinton between Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat ended without agreement.

April 2002

Israel launched military raids against the Palestinian Authority and suspected terrorists in the West Bank.

April 30, 2003
The road map to a permanent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is released. There are three phases: Phase I (April to May 2003): ending terror and violence, normalizing Palestinian life, and building Palestinian institutions. Phase II (June 2003-December 2003): transition. In the second phase, efforts are focused on the option of creating an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders and attributes of sovereignty. Phase III (2004-2005): permanent status agreement and end of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon planned to withdraw settlements from Gaza and parts of the West Bank

November 11, 2004
Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat dies at age 75.
February 8, 2005
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas agree to a ceasefire. The summit, which was hosted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II, is the first high-level meeting between Palestinian and Israeli leaders in over four years.

Israeli Jordan relationship

Jordan-Israel peace treaty (26 October 1994)

Jordan signs a peace treaty with Israel, ending a 46-year official state of war.

Israeli-Syrian relationship

June 1976

Large-scale intervention by Syrian troops in Lebanon against the PLO and the Lebanese National Movement.

15-16 December 1999

Israeli-Syrian peace talks, broken off in 1996, resumed in Washington.2000

March 2000

Israeli-Syrian peace negotiation failed.

Refer to the following website for major attempts to make peace between Israel and the Arab world.
A West Asia Peace Chronology provided by US Department of State

A quick guide to the West Asia peace process since 1993 provided by BBC News Online.

Study the sources below and answer the questions that follow.

Source A

The following extract is adapted from the speech made by US President G. Bush in the Madrid Conference on October 30, 1991.

Source: Remarked by Bush October 30, 1991

What is the tactic used by President Bush to persuade the Arabs and the Israelis to end their hostilities? Explain your answer.

Suggested answer:

President Bush tried to persuade the Arabs and the Israeli to end their hostilities

by stating the suffering of the children in his speech. The strategy was to move them

by sentiments. Children were innocent. They should bear no responsibilities in the

Arab-Israeli conflicts. He hoped they could end the conflicts, and also the suffering

of the innocent children.

Source B

The following extract is adapted from the letter written by Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization to Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel on September 9, 1993.

Source C

The following extract is adapted from the letter written by Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel to Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization on September 9, 1993.

Source: both sources are from

  1. What are the factors that make Israel and the PLO come to an agreement in 1993?

Source B shows that the Palestine Liberation Organization was willing to solve

international conflicts peacefully.

Source C shows that as the Palestine Liberation Organization began to amend

their proposals, the Government of Israel, headed by Rabin, was also willing to

commence negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization to solve the


  1. Do you agree that using negotiation was better than violence in solving international conflicts? Explain your answer with reference to Sources A to C and using your own knowledge.




The Twentieth Century World: War, Revolution and Technology. UK: Cambridge University Press 1998.
Origin of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Why did the Jews and the Arabs hate each other so bitterly? The main source of conflict is that both of them claim that the land of Israel belong to them.

Chronological table relating to the origin of the Arab-Israeli conflicts.

Between 1800 and 1500 BC

It is thought that a Semitic people called Hebrews left Mesopotamia and settled in Canaan.
According to the Bible, Abram (a leader of the Jews) came to settle in Canaan (nowadays Israel). Here is what the Bible says:
The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. …” He [Abram] took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran [the place where Abram lived at the time of his departure], and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

Genesis, Chapter 12, verses 1 and 5

About 1000 BC

It is estimated that king David conquered Jerusalem and established an Israelite kingdom over much of Canaan.

63 BC

The Romans conquered Canaan.


The Romans drove the Jews out of Jerusalem. The Romans named the area Palaestina, which became Palestine in English. Most of the Jews left Palestine and scattered over Europe and Asia.

7th century

The Arabs conquered Palestine and settled here. They lived here until nowadays.


Palestine was under the rule of the Ottoman Turks. They shared the same religion of the Arabs – Islam and allowed the Arabs to live in Palestine.


The Jews began to migrate to Palestine and wanted to rebuild the Jewish land. This movement was called Zionism.


Palestine became a mandate of Britain. Britain adopted a policy of “divide and rule” and encouraged the Jews to return to Palestine. Britain promised to establish a national home for the Jewish people.


Britain divided Palestine into two administrative districts. Jews would be permitted only west of the River Jordan (Palestine). To the east, the area was called Transjordan. Thus, the Jewish National Home was reduced to only 22% of the original Palestine.


The United Nations agrees to partition western Palestine to a Jewish state (this excluded the West Bank). This was rejected by the Arabs who wanted to remove the Jews entirely from Palestine.


Israel declared its independence but was immediately invaded by the Arab countries. The Arab-Israeli War broke out.

Refer to the following website for a brief history on Israel and Palestine.

Refer to the following website for the history of Palestinian question

Palestine, Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict

BBC News: In Depth: Israel and the Palestinians

CNN: Mideast: Land of Conflict

Washington Post: War and Peace in the West Asia

Online NewsHour: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

1 Transjordan: At the end of World War I, the territory now comprising Israel, Jordan, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Jerusalem was awarded to the United Kingdom by the League of Nations as the mandate for Palestine. In 1922, the British created the semi-autonomous Arab Emirate of Transjordan in all Palestinian territory east of the Jordan river. The British installed the Hashemite Prince Abdullah I of Jordan, while continuing the administration of Palestine and Transjordan under a single British High Commissioner. The mandate over Transjordan ended on 22 May 1946; on 25 May, the country became the independent Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan.

Transjordan has opposed the creation of the State of Israel in May 1948, and took part in the attack by the Arab states on the newly founded nation, and the subsequent warfare. The armistice agreements of 3 April 1949 left Jordan in control of the West Bank.

In 1950, Transjordan annexed the West Bank, and the country was renamed "the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan".

2 1973 oil crisis: The 1973 oil crisis began on October 17, 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC, consisting of the Arab members of OPEC plus Egypt and Syria) announced, as a result of the ongoing October War, that they would no longer ship petroleum to nations that had supported Israel in its conflict with Syria and Egypt (i.e., to the United States and its allies in Western Europe).

the effects of the Arab Oil Embargo are clear - it effectively doubled the real price of crude oil at the refinery level, and caused massive shortages in the US. This exacerbated a recession that had already begun, and led to a global recession through the rest of 1974.

The database is protected by copyright © 2016
send message

    Main page