When Israel declared its independence in May 1948, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon declared war. Israel defeated the combined Arab armies and enlarged its territory.
1956 Suez Crisis
After Egypt nationalized the British and French controlled Suez Canal, a vital trade route for oil, Israel, Britain, and France attacked. They quickly captured the canal and the Sinai Peninsula. President Eisenhower opposed the attack and the US and UN imposed a cease-fire and a withdrawal from the Sinai.
1967 Six-Day War
Israel launched a surprise attack after Egypt expelled UN peacekeepers and mobilized its army. Syria, Jordan, and Iraq joined the fighting, but Israel decimated the Arab forces, and captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, Gaza and Sinai from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
1973 Yom Kippur War
On the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israeli forces in the Sinai and the Golan Heights. After initial gains by Egypt and Syria, Israel repelled both armies and a cease-fire was declared. Israel later withdrew from parts of the Sinai and the Golan Heights.
1979 Camp David Accords
After Egyptian President Sadat’s surprise visit to Jerusalem, US President Jimmy Carter brokered peace between Egypt and Israel. Egypt became the 1st Arab nation to recognize Israel (the right to exist) and Israel withdrew from the rest of Sinai. Sadat was assassinated in 1981.
1987-90 First Intifada
Angered by Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians began an uprising. Early on, the uprising was largely stone-throwing youths attacking Israeli soldiers; in 1989, the first suicide attack occurred in Israel.
1993-94 Oslo Accords & Peace with Jordan
After secret negotiations in Norway produced the Oslo Accords in 1993, Israel turned over control of parts of the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinians as a first step toward statehood. Led by Yasir Arafat, Palestinians recognized Israel’s right to exist. The following year, Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty.
2000-05 Second Intifada
After a failed attempt by President Clinton in 2000 to negotiate a final settlement between the Palestinians and Israel (Camp David II), a second, more violent uprising began. Dozens of suicide bombings in Israel and an Israeli crackdown in Gaza and the West Bank left more than 1000 Israelis and more than 4000 Palestinians dead.
2002-2003 Arab Peace Initiative & The Roadmap
Arab League countries would recognize Israel if Palestinian state is established (1967 West Bank & Gaza lines) and “just solution” reached on refugee issue. Western power (“Quartet”) response is Roadmap to Peace – timetable for reaching two-state solution, stopping violence on both ends, and est Palestinian govt…all by 2005.
2003 Security Barrier
Israel began erecting a “separation barrier” to keep Palestinian terrorists from entering Israel from the West Bank. Suicide bombings drop 90%, but the path of the barrier – a combination of fence and wall – makes daily life more difficult for thousands of Palestinians.
2005-06 Israeli Withdrawal / Hamas Victory
Israel, acting to “disengage” from the Palestinians, evacuated 21 settlements in Gaza and 4 in the West Bank and pulled out all troops from Gaza. In January 2006, the Islamic militant group Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel, won Palestinian legislative elections. The US and many other countries cut off aid to the Palestinians. Civil War erupts in Gaza, and Hamas defeats forces loyal to Palestinian President Abbas, who retains power in the West Bank. Israel and Egypt begin blockade of Gaza borders to choke out Hamas.
2006 Lebanon War
The militant group Hezbollah, which controls much of southern Lebanon and is backed by Iran and Syria, fired rockets into civilian area of Israel and kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. Israel responded with air strikes and a ground invasion. A month of fighting left more than 1500 people dead and more than 1million displaced.
2007-09 Gaza War
Israel attempted to stop years of rocket fire and arms imports into Gaza by opening fire on the territory. The two month action resulted in the death of nearly 1500 Palestinians. Subsequent Israeli blockade on all trade and travel in/out of Gaza. Israeli actions drew international ire and UN investigations of war crimes, as 1.5 m Gazans rely on foreign aid (food, medicine, etc)
2010 Flotilla Incident
Israeli forces opened fire on a convoy attempting to break Israeli-Egyptian blockade and deliver humanitarian aid to Gazans. Israel was harshly criticized by the international community for actions which took place in international waters, killing 9 and wounding many others. Destroyed Israeli relations with Turkey. UN rules both sides at fault.
2010 Renewed Talks
Israeli and Palestinian leaders meet in DC in Sept for the first time since 2008 to resume direct peace negotiations in Washington. Talks quickly fall apart when Israel restarts settlement building in West Bank.
2011 UN Bid for Statehood
With the breakdown of talks, PA President Mahmoud Abbas indicates he will appeal directly to the UN for admission as full member state, essentially creating international recognition of a Palestinian nation. Since Security Council decides admission, US is likely to use power to veto admission – believing a two-state solution can only be compromised directly between the Israelis and Palestinians.
* Information from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special_reports/middle_east_crisis/ and http://www.worldbookonline.com/student/article?id=ar027260&st=arab-israeli+conflict