~ Read Israel and Palestine Conflict forum questions from Pakistan with answers from a Jewish Israeli. Learn Palestinian Authority facts and misconceptions. ~
The Israel/Palestine conflict is plagued with misconceptions and misinformation disseminated in all parts of the world. This is especially true in Pakistan under government censorship (which includes some pages on Wikipedia and content on YouTube), deference to the attitudes of its fanatic neighbor Iran, dependency upon its supporter Saudi Arabia, and its own history of religious animosity for beliefs other than the Sunni Muslim sect. In addition, illiteracy rates in Pakistan are among the highest in the world.
What follows are questions from Pakistanis about Israel, a country their government will not allow them to visit. The questions themselves indicate the degree of erroneous information influencing Pakistani opinions about Israel, Israeli Arabs, and Arabs living under the Palestinian Authority. Hopefully, the facts presented in the following answers will help give a greater understanding of the current situation west of the Jordan River.
TABLE OF CONTENTS - Jump to Section
Creation of Israel
1948 Israel War of Independence
1956 Suez Crisis
1967 Six Day War
1973 Yom Kippur War
1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty
Oslo Accords 1993
Second Intifada and Security Fence
Israeli Checkpoints and Border Crossings
Operation Protective Edge in Gaza 2014
Everyday Palestinian Life
Pakistan and the Palestinians
How Was Israel Created?
It's interesting that the Pakistani posting the question above believes that the Palestinians "gave Jews a place to live" in Israel. It is also interesting that there is a perceived ingratitude. This perception comes from classic Islam which teaches that Jews and Christians must remain subservient to Muslims. As you can read in the answer above, Palestinian Arabs had nothing to do with giving Jews the land of Israel.
Another popular misconception in Pakistan is that Israel was created because of the Holocaust during World War II. The fact is, almost one hundred years ago the British declared in 1917 its desire to create a Jewish Homeland with its issuance of the Balfour Declaration. Britain then presented its partition of the land in 1922.
Jewish Presence in the Land of Israel
Since the return from Egypt during the Exodus 3,500 years ago, there have always been members of the Twelve Tribes of Israel living in the land of Israel. The twelve sons of Israel (whose name was changed from Jacob) were the great grandchildren of the patriarch Abraham, who was given the land (originally settled by the accursed Canaanite people) 4,000 years ago by the God he worshiped. One of the Tribes of Israel was the Tribe of Judah; the term 'Jew' is a reference to those of this tribe, the tribe of Israel's royalty.
Of his eight sons, Abraham bequeathed the land of his covenant with God (Genesis 17:1-15) to his son Isaac, the only child born of his beloved wife Sarah. His other seven sons received an inheritance and moved to the east. To Isaac was born Jacob and his twin Esau. The deed to the land of Abraham's covenant was bequeathed to Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel), and Esau was given an inheritance of land in what is today southern Jordan.
Thus, the deed to the Jewish Homeland is one of the oldest in the world. When Abraham's wife Sarah died, he purchased a field and a burial site from a Hittite man and the transfer of property was witnessed by members of the non-Arab Hittite tribe. Abraham and his wife Sarah, Isaac and his wife Rebecca, Jacob and his wife Leah are buried in the family crypt in a double cave on the land Abraham purchased in Hebron, Israel. The deed is recorded in Genesis 23 (read the text in the Urdu language), predating the life of Muhammad by 27 centuries.
Hebron was named for Abraham's ancestor, Eber, the father of the Hebrew language and of the several tribes of Hebrews living in Ur of the Chaldees.
About a thousand years later, the land of the Tribes of Israel had recognized boundaries under the reign of King David. During this time, the military boundaries extended from the Nile to the Euphrates Rivers.
The land of Israel has been ruled by Ancient Egyptians, Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Sunni Arab Caliphates, the Shia Fatimid Caliphate, Crusaders, Ayyubids, Mameluks, Mongols, Ottomans and the British.
The Balfour Declaration
"His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object ..."
– from The Balfour Declaration, November 2, 1917
Fast forward a few thousand years from the Biblical Kingdom of Israel to the aftermath of World War I. The lands of the Ottoman Empire were in the hands of the Allied Powers. United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour issued a declaration on November 2, 1917, which called for the establishment of a Jewish Homeland in their ancestral land, a place where 85,000 Jews were already living at that time and where more were arriving every day from Russia and Europe.
The territory was called Palestine, because that was the ancient Greek word for the area, named after the ancient Philistines who were not Arabs but of Greek origin from the Isle of Cyprus. There was never a tribe of people known as Palestinians and there was never a nation or state of Palestine.
The San Remo Conference
At the end of World War I, the Allied Powers – Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan (and the U.S. as a neutral observer) – met to distribute the land of the Ottoman Empire. They held a conference in San Remo, Italy.
There it was determined that Britain be given a mandate to establish a Jewish Homeland in the ancestral Jewish territory and the Balfour Declaration was confirmed by all parties as part of the British Mandate.
In the breakup of the Ottoman Empire in 1917, as the Allies carved up the territory, the land in the map below was put under the governorship of the British Mandate and represented about one-half-of-one-percent of the lands of the Middle East to be portioned.
These new nations were created by the victors of World War I, who carved up the Ottoman Empire into new political boundaries. These Mandates were given to the French and the British by the Allied Powers:
Israel (Jewish Homeland)
The British assumed the Ottoman role, with appointed governors, in:
After World War II, the British created these new nations from the former East India Company (part of the British Crown since 1858):
Under its Mandate for Palestine, the British divided the region into a Jewish Homeland called Palestine and a region for Arabs called Transjordan (meaning 'across the Jordan River').
Transjordan was designated for Arab residents and it was given 74 percent of the British Mandate. Although no Jews lived in Transjordan, Arabs residing in the Jewish Homeland of Palestine were allowed to remain, pending their transfer when given autonomous rule in Transjordan. The land designated for the Jewish Homeland represented one-tenth-of-one-percent of the Mandate lands of the Middle East.
This division of the land was approved by the 56 member nations of the League of Nations in 1922 – the forerunner of the United Nations – and ratified in 1923.
This is quite similar to the way India and Pakistan were created by the British Parliament with the division of the former British East India Company (assumed by British Crown rule in 1858) after World War II in 1947. Before that, there was no country called Pakistan and no tribe called Pakistani people. The separation of Pakistan from India was an attempt to provide a separate region for a population which was predominantly Muslim. However, Muslims still lived in India and people of other religions, including Hindus, lived in the new Pakistan.
According to the British representative in the area, Transjordan was:
"... intended to serve as a reserve of land for use in the resettlement of Arabs once the National Home for the Jews in Palestine, which [Britain was] pledged to support, became an accomplished fact. There was no intention at that stage of forming the territory east of the River Jordan into an independent Arab state."
Sir Alec Kirkbride, British Mandate Governor of Transjordan (1920 – 1946) and of the Jewish Homeland (1922 - 27 and in 1937- 39)
In order to permanently establish the entities of Transjordan and the Jewish Homeland, a 1936 British Royal Commission of Inquiry (known as the Palestine Royal Commission or the Peel Commission) proposed transferring all of the Arabs of Palestine to Transjordan, as was the original British intent.
Arab riots broke out. All the while, more and more Jews were entering the Jewish Homeland as they fled the growing Nazi movement in Eastern Europe and Hitler's election as Führer of Germany in 1934. In 1935, Hitler cancelled the citizenship of 500,000 German Jews.
The Jewish population in the Mandate land now numbered 450,000. During the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in the Jewish Homeland of Palestine against the British, the Arabs were brutally suppressed by the British army. The uprising left 8,864 Arabs dead and 14,760 wounded. According to Arab historian Walid Khalidi:
"Over ten percent of the adult male Palestinian Arab population between 20 and 60 was killed, wounded, imprisoned or exiled. Estimates of the number of Palestinian Jews killed range from 91 to several hundred."
The Arabs also attacked Jews and often vandalized their farms and businesses. Arab volunteers from neighboring Syria, Mandate Transjordan and Iraq flooded the Mandate Jewish Homeland and assisted in attacking the British forces. More and more foreign Arabs entered the Jewish Homeland and became de facto immigrants.
The Arabs demanded a further partitioning of the Mandate Jewish Homeland and objected to the proposed population exchange. Additionally, the Arabs demanded that Jewish immigration be halted. After three years of rioting, the British formulated a new policy for the mandate which was known as The White Paper of 1939.
The White Paper of 1939
The British policy paper severely limited Jewish immigration to the Mandate lands, just when Eastern European Jews needed a new homeland the most. At this point, most Jewish immigration became clandestine under a newly developed Jewish underground movement in the Jewish Homeland.
The White Paper forbade the sale of Arab owned properties to Jews, a practice that had been ongoing since the 1880s. To appease the rioting Arabs, the British formulated a new policy against transferring Arabs from the Jewish Homeland to Transjordan.
The paper evaluated the possibility of further dividing the Jewish Homeland with a region exclusively for Arabs, but concluded that a small Arab conclave could not be self-supporting as most Arabs in the Jewish Homeland were employed by Jewish businesses and had little independent economy. Therefore, the paper concluded that the land west of the Jordan River should not be further divided.
The League of Nations unanimously voted against approving the White Paper, but offered no plan of its own for the final independence of the Jewish Homeland and Transjordan. With the outbrake of World War II in 1939, discussions were halted.
With no approved decision on transferring Arabs from the Jewish Homeland, Britain made the surprise move to grant Transjordan, with a total population of 400,000, complete independence. On April 18, 1946, the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan was recognized by the League of Nations and the British Mandate for Transjordan ended on May 25, 1946.
The British further limited Jewish immigration to the Mandate Jewish Homeland and established yearly maximum quotas. On the Island of Cyprus, the British imprisoned 50,000 Jews in internment camps for attempting to illegally immigrate to the Jewish Homeland. Pressure was mounting against the British from U.S. President Harry S. Truman to allow more Jews to immigrate.
A major news story of 1947 involved the Exodus 1947, a ship transporting 4,515 Holocaust survivors from France to the Mandate Jewish Homeland. As the ship neared Haifa port in the Mandate, the British Royal Navy intercepted it. The British sent the Jews to Germany where the passengers were forcibly removed to displaced persons camps.
Out of frustration in reaching a consensus on increasing quotas of Jewish immigration and about the Arabs living in the Mandate Jewish Homeland, the British referred the matter to the United Nations in November, 1947. The U.N. drafted its own plan, Resolution 181(II), recommending a further division of the Palestine Jewish Homeland into separate areas for Arabs and Jews, with each receiving approximately 50 percent of the Mandate; the area in and around Jerusalem was recommended to be governed by an international regime. The resolution, however, allowed Jews to live in Arab areas and Arabs to live in Jewish areas, with each side responsible for the protection of minority rights in their respective areas.
While the plan was being considered by the Jewish residents, the Arabs rejected it completely and refused further discussions to negotiate. In November, 1947, Arabs began attacking Jewish buses. Violence escalated and Jews organized defense militias and mandatory subscription for military training for all Jewish men and women. Over the next four months, it is estimated that 2,000 – 4,000 Jews and Arabs died from violence under the watchful eyes of British soldiers. Amid continuing violence, more than 100,000 middle class Arabs sold their properties and permanently left the country.
Claiming to represent all Arabs in the Mandate Jewish Homeland, the Arab Higher Committee (a group banned by the British) announced to the Secretary General of the U.N. on February 6, 1948, that it would not accept any partition plan nor would it accept a Jewish state.
"The Palestinian Arabs consider any attempt by Jewish people or by whatever power or group of power to establish a Jewish state in an Arab territory to be an act of aggression that will be resisted by force ...
"The prestige of the United Nations would be better served by abandoning this plan and by not imposing such an injustice ... The Palestinian Arabs make a grave declaration before the U.N., before God and before history that they will never submit to any power that comes to Palestine to impose a partition. The only way to establish a partition is to get rid of them [Jews] all: men, women, and children."
– Haj Amin al-Husseini, Grand Mufti (Sunni Muslim cleric) of Jerusalem
This was the state of affairs when the British announced they were leaving the country and that the British Mandate would end on May 14, 1948. No provisions were made for governorship or leadership after the British withdrawal. Further, the British did nothing to assure that the outnumbered Jewish population would survive their withdrawal and a wholesale slaughter of Jews seemed inevitable. The Jews were left to their own devises.
In contrast, the Arabs in the area were surrounded by well-equipped Arab armies preparing to assist them on the announced date of the British withdrawal. It is a well-known fact that the British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin and a number of British military officers predicted an Arab military victory.
The British washed their hands of the fate of the Jews they were entrusted to protect under the British Mandate.
Israel Independence and 1948 Arab-Israel War
The borders of Egypt were established at the end of the Ottoman rule in 1922 and the borders of the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan were finalized in 1946. Both were independent nations with internationally recognized and accepted borders.
As the last British troops sailed away from the Jewish Homeland of the British Mandate, the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel was proclaimed on May 14, 1948, by Head of the Jewish Agency David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister.
The State of Israel was immediately recognized by Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, Iceland, Iran, Ireland, Nicaragua, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Soviet Union, United States, Uruguay, and Yugoslavia.
Upon declaring statehood, Israel was attacked on all fronts by well-equipped armies from Lebanon, Transjordan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and troops and/or pilots from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, Morocco and Pakistan. It was also attacked from within by the tens of thousands of Arabs living in Israel.
Israel had only three underground militias and 18,900 mobilized and armed men and women.
Israel had no tanks, military aircraft, heavy machine guns, artillery, armored vehicles, anti-tank or anti-aircraft weapons. It had no assistance from the U.S. and the entire region was under a U.S. arms embargo and had been for some time.
Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League predicted:
"It will be a war of annihilation. It will be a momentous massacre in history that will be talked about like the massacres of the Mongols or the Crusades."
Pasha vocalized the Arab intent of the war: the total annihilation of the Jewish population. To the Arabs in the Levant, it was never a question of where Jews would live and where Arabs would live. The attack by Arab nations was their decision that Jews should not be allowed to live at all, and this has been the underlying cause of the Israel/Palestine conflict to this day and the reason today's Arab Palestinians refuse to negotiate.
Pasha's prophecies were proved wrong.
Israel won its War of Independence. Egypt and Jordan, however, occupied parts of the Jewish Homeland when a ceasefire was called. A new map was drawn under the Armistice lines of January, 1949. The areas controlled by Egypt and Jordan were not final border lines, but temporarily held under cessation of hostility agreements and were government by military rule.
Compare this to the Partition of India. In the Partition of India, the estimates are that 200,000 to 500,000 were killed in military conflicts between India and the new Pakistan, which has been described as 'retributive genocide.' The warfare created 10 million refugees who fled their homes for one side of the partition or the other. No compensation was ever paid to them for what they left behind. Today, there are still Hindus living in Pakistan and Muslims living in India.
Under the Armistice map, no provision was made for Arabs living within Israel or for Arabs living in areas then occupied by Egypt and Transjordan, and none of the parties even considered the creation of a separate conclave for them. There was only Israel, Jordan and Egypt.
When the war ended, one-half of Jerusalem was held by Israel and one-half was occupied by Transjordan.
All Jews were expelled from the part of the Mandate Jewish Homeland now occupied by Transjordan and from the Gaza Strip now occupied by Egypt.
Population of Israel in 1949
Population of Jordan in 1949
(includes Jordan's occupied territories in the Jewish Homeland)
Under Transjordan's occupation of half of Jerusalem, a barbed wire fence divided the city and Jews were no longer allowed access to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism since the patriarch Abraham first entered the land 4,000 years ago. All Jews were expelled from East Jerusalem and their properties were confiscated, 34 synagogues were destroyed and Jewish cemeteries were desecrated.
On April 24, 1950, Transjordan formally annexed the territories it occupied in the Jewish Homeland, though this was only recognized by Britain (except for Jerusalem), Iraq and Pakistan. Arabs in this territory were given the option of Jordanian citizenship, which most of them accepted.
Egypt did not annex the Gaza Strip and continued to occupy under military rule.
Arabs living within Israel were immediately given full citizenship, voting rights, freedom of the press, freedom of movement and assembly, and freedom of worship. Two Arabs served in the First Knesset (Parliament) and Arabs have served in every Knesset since, winning 13 seats in the last elections on March 17, 2015.
At the encouragement of the attacking Arab armies, 700,000 Arabs fled to other countries during the war, primarily to Syria, Lebanon, and to land either in or occupied by Transjordan and Egypt. Most of these refugees are no longer alive, and their second, third and fourth generation descendants still live in the Arab nations where their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents fled.
Most refugees who fled to Jordan have been granted citizenship. All Christian refugees and about 60,000 of the Shiite Muslims who fled to Lebanon have also been given citizenship. Refugees without citizenship in their host countries provide a cheap source of labor, without having any rights or access to services.
“The Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the UN, and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders do not give a damn whether Arab refugees live or die.”
– former Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Jordan
The refugee host countries have no incentive to grant citizenship to these residents and continue to profit from maintaining their refugee status, generation after generation.
Since 1948, the other Arab countries also keep these descendants in perpetual refugee status because this generates funds from the United Nations for their maintenance. It also tugs at the heart of world sympathies for 'refugees', even though – after 67 years – few of those original refugees exist. This is the only group in the world which has ever been given a hereditary refugee status.
"600,000 Jews in Israel absorbed almost one million Jewish refugees forced to leave their homes in Arab countries when Israel statehood was proclaimed in 1948. While 200 million Arabs who had incited the Arabs of Palestine to reject 181 [U.N. Resolution] and go to war, and who have all the oil fields of the Middle East, instead to absorb a less number of Arab brothers and sisters who fled Palestine, put them in miserable camps, without granting them citizenship, treating them like leprous dogs, and using them as cannon fodder against Israel."
– Azmi Bishara, PhD, is an Arab who was born in Nazareth, Israel, in 1956. He founded and led the Arab Student Union at Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1976, is a former member of the Israel Knesset (Parliament), a former professor at the Arab Bir Zeit University near Ramallah, and now heads the Doha Institute in Qatar.
And, many of the 1948 refugees were not originally born in Mandate Palestine, but had arrived from other countries in search of temporary employment by Jews. To receive funds under UNRWA (the U.N. agency which provides assistance solely to Palestinian refugees), one must only show that he lived for a minimum of only two years in the land.
Compensation for Palestinian refugees from all UN agencies has amounted to billions of dollars over the years. Money has been paid to four generations of the original 700,000 refugees and now covers five million Palestinians every year – 40 percent of the funding is paid by the U.S. government, which has encouraged the 'perpetual refugee' status.
Refugee assistance and funding is also paid for adopted children throughout these generations, no matter who their parents were. (Former PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat 'adopted' 60 'orphans', but they never lived in his household and were not included in his will when he died.)
After 1948, 851,000 Jews were forced to flee from these Arab nations where they had lived for thousands of years (well before the era of Islam) because of anti-Jewish hatred and violence after Israel's victory in the 1948 War of Independence:
Aden, Algeria, Afghanistan, Bahrain, East Bengal (modern Bangladesh), Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, and Yemen
Additionally, 33,000 Jews immigrated to Israel from India.
In Pakistan, all that is left today of the vibrant Jewish community which once lived there is the Jewish cemetery which is part of the Mewa Shah graveyard in the Lyari River neighborhood of old Karachi.
The total value of property these Jewish refugees left behind is valued at more than $300 billion today. The land they owned comprised of more than 38,610 square miles (100,000 sq km), which is four times the size of modern Israel.
Most of these Jews immigrated to Israel because no other country would allow them entrance, which reaffirmed the need for a Jewish Homeland.
Riots broke out, property was burned and many Jews were killed in the predominantly Muslim countries. In Pakistan, an angry mob stormed Karachi's Magane Shalom synagogue, burning the Torah scrolls (Hebrew Bible) and destroying the building. Most of the refugee Jews lost their homes, synagogues, businesses, financial assets, and they left with little more than the clothing on their backs.
These Jewish refugees have never received compensation from the Arab countries which evicted them. Unlike Palestinians, they have never received funding from U.N. refugee agencies.
At the same time, tens of thousands of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust were arriving on the shores of Israel.
Israel's Jewish population more than doubled between 1948 – 1951. The newly arriving refugees were housed in tents and aid for their absorption was collected from Jewish communities throughout the world. It was a massive undertaking by the new country to provide shelter, food, clothing, medical care, Hebrew language lessons, schools for children and employment.
By 1951, a quarter of a million Jewish immigrants were living in tents in Israel and 80 percent of these were refugees from Islamic countries.
More than 2,000,000 Jewish immigrants would arrive in Israel over the next 20 years. Although the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNRWA) was established in 1950, no assistance for the care of Jewish refugees was ever provided by the United Nations.
1956 Suez Crisis
Even though Armistice lines were drawn and substantial portions of the Mandate Jewish Homeland were now under the control of Egypt and Transjordan due to military invasion, peace was elusive. During the Egyptian Revolution in 1952, Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew the monarchy in Egypt and took over power. Prior to this, Egypt had been occupied by the British for 74 years with the cooperation of the corrupt monarch, King Farouk I of Egypt.
Nasser made clear his desire to secure leadership of the Arab world in place of other contenders. To this end, he led a campaign to remove all foreign influence, especially the British. He organized Palestinian fedayeen (one of whom was the Egyptian Yasser Arafat) to commit terrorist attacks against Israel from bases he established for them in Egypt (the Sinai Peninsula), the Gaza Strip, Jordan and Syria.
Nasser took control of the Suez Canal, which was supervised by the British military and built by The Suez Canal Company, owned primarily by French stockholders. The Suez Canal is a man-made waterway which connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. It extends 101 miles along the border between Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula, shortening the trading route between east and west by thousands of nautical miles. At the time, fully two-thirds of Europe's oil imports came through the canal.
When the Suez Canal Company was nationalized by Nasser on July 30, 1956, he closed the canal to Israeli ships. Earlier, in 1953, he blockaded Israel's access to the Red Sea from the Israeli port of Eliat.
Nasser then attacked Israel from the Gaza Strip, injuring 1300 Israeli civilians. Nasser was defeated by Israel forces under the command of future Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. But, a greater campaign against Egypt was inevitable. Nasser was arming his country to the teeth with advanced Soviet weapons in his bid to be the military leader of the Arab world.
In a coalition of France, Britain and Israel, Egypt was attacked on October 29, 1956, in order to regain control of the Suez Canal, Gaza and parts of the Sinai Peninsula. Israel had another objective: to regain its access to the Red Sea from the Straits of Tiran.
As fighting ensued, Israel gained control of the Gaza Strip by November 3, 1956, and then over the entire Sinai Peninsula.
On November 5, Egypt surrendered to the coalition forces.
There was an immediate reaction in Pakistan to this news: 300,000 people assembled in a public protest of the attack on Egypt and vigilantes burned down the British High Commission in Karachi. The Syrian military blew up an Iraqi oil supply pipeline in protest to Iraq's support for the attack on Egypt. Saudi Arabia sanctioned oil embargoes against Britain and France.
The U.N. called for all forces to withdraw troops. In Tel Aviv, 100,000 angry Israelis marched in protest of U.N. demands for Israel to leave the Gaza Strip, the Sinai, and evacuate its military positions on the Gulf entrance to the Red Sea in the Sinai. After enduring eight years of border raids from Egypt, Israel would not abandon its hold on these regions without assurances that Egypt would not again attack.
On November 7, 1956, the U.N. created the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) to defend access to the Suez Canal, Israel's access to the Red Sea, and to prevent attacks on Israel from the Sinai and from Gaza. By April, 1957, the Suez Canal was reopened for shipping, the U.N. peacekeeping forces were in place, and Israel relinquished the Gaza Strip and the Sinai to Egyptian control.
But Egypt refused to declare peace with Israel, which led to the full-scale war ten years later.
Yasser Arafat and the fadayeen were removed from the Gaza Strip and the Sinai. They reorganized themselves in Kuwait where they adopted the name Fatah, meaning 'conquest.' (This is the name under which the PLO still operates today.)
The 1967 Six Day War
The areas of Judea and Samaria (often referred to as the West Bank of Jordan or the West Bank of the Jordan River) were occupied by Transjordan (now called the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan or Jordan) and the Gaza Strip was once again occupied by Egypt until the Six Day War in 1967. Then, the map was redrawn.
The Palestine Liberation Organization
At the first Arab League Summit in Cairo, Egypt, in 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was created by Egyptian President Nasser to "liberate Palestine" from Jewish control through armed battle. In 1964, using the word 'Palestine' meant the sovereign nation of Israel – not the portion of land already occupied by Egypt and Jordan. Creation of another separate territory for Mandate Palestine's Arabs was never the goal. About 40 percent of Israel's land under the Mandate Jewish Homeland was already under Arab control by Egypt and Jordan.
The stated goal under the PLO Charter was to free all of the land under the former British Mandate and to:
"prohibit ... the existence and activity of Zionism."
The Plan of the PLO was annihilation of the Jews in Israel and of the State of Israel. The creation of the PLO by the Arab League was the precursor of the Six Day War of 1967.
In May, 1967, Syria and Egypt mobilized their armies on Israel's borders and prepared to invade. Egypt evacuated the U.N. (UNEF) peace-keeping forces from the Sinai Peninsula. The PLO carried out guerrilla and terrorist attacks against Israel from positions in Jordan. On May 26, when the war was in the planning stages by Egypt, Syria and Jordan, Egyptian President Nasser declared:
"Our basic objective will be to destroy Israel."
When Egypt once again blocked Israel's access to the Red Sea at the Straits of Tiran – violating the ceasefire agreement brokered by the U.N. in 1956 – war was declared.
One June 5, 1967, Israel launched a preemptive strike on Egypt and destroyed most of the Egyptian air force within an hour. With inexplicable skill, less than 200 Israeli pilots destroyed the largest air force in the Arab world.
The armies of Egypt and Syria – which had been planning the war for months – were quickly joined by Jordan and Iraq, supported by troops and/or pilots from Algeria, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia and the PLO.
Prisoners of War
On June 10, the war ended with Israel victorious. A ceasefire agreement was signed the next day. Like the Biblical week, for six days there was war and on the seventh day there was a Sabbath rest.
"Our airmen, who struck the enemies' planes so accurately that no one in the world understands how it was done and people seek technological explanations or secret weapons; our armored troops who beat the enemy even when their equipment was inferior to his; our soldiers in all other branches ... who overcame our enemies everywhere, despite the latter's superior numbers and fortifications – all these revealed not only coolness and courage in the battle but ... an understanding that only their personal stand against the greatest dangers would achieve victory for their country and for their families, and that if victory was not theirs the alternative was annihilation."
– Yitzhak Rabin, Israel Prime Minister 1974-77 and 1991-95, speaking three weeks after the end of the Six Day War
Unlike the days of Israel's War of Independence, most people in the United States and other western countries watched newsreels of this war every day on their television sets. For many American Christians, their view of Jews, Judaism and Israel were forever changed, for they saw the hand of God in Israel's victory and, more importantly, the fulfillment of ancient Bible prophecies.
On the eve of the Six Day War, PLO founder Ahmad al-Shukeiri famously boasted that the war would "throw the Jews into the sea." On the June 23, 1967, cover of Life Magazine, a young, victorious Israeli solder was featured happily swimming in the waters of the Suez Canal, which was once again in Israeli hands.
At the end of the Six Day War, the map of Israel was redrawn. Jerusalem was reunited and Jordan was pushed back across the Jordan River to its original boundaries under the British Mandate and its Declaration of Independence in 1946. Egypt was forced out of Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, and was pushed back to a position on the Egyptian side of the Suez Canal.
Syria was pushed off of the Golan Heights, which it had used for years to launch indiscriminate attacks which killed 140 Israeli civilians and wounded hundreds of others in the valley below.
War of Attrition
In humiliation from Egypt's defeat, President Nasser publicly resigned from his office on June 9. After considerable persuasion, he returned to the presidency the next day, bitter with avowed revenge against Israel for his disgracing defeat in the war.
On June 15, 1967, he rallied with Jordan and the PLO (with its bases in Syria and Jordan) to launch a three year long War of Attrition against Israel.
On September 1, 1967, the Arab League Summit met in Sudan. In attendance were the leaders of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, and Sudan. The conference agreed to grant financial assistance to Egypt and Jordan for their losses in the war. The countries also agreed to end the oil embargo which Arab nations had imposed on the first day of the Six Day War. Ending the embargo was due to severe loss of their own incomes and not for any sympathies with countries dependent upon their oil exports.
Further, the leaders passed the Khartoum Resolution and agreed "to ensure the withdrawal of the aggressive Israeli forces from the Arab lands which have been occupied since the aggression of June 5." The 'Arab Lands' referred to were the lands occupied by Egypt and Jordan since their aggression in 1948, and held by them for only 19 years.
They sought to do this while promising to maintain a state of hostility against Israel. The third paragraph of the Khartoum Resolution contained what has come to be known as the 'Three No's:
"Our basic aim is to liberate the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River."
– Yasser Arafat, 1970
Clearly, peace talks were not on the table.
In 1968, Yasser Arafat's Fatah fedaydeen terrorists carried out attacks against Israeli civilians from bases inside Egypt, Jordan and Syria, which made international headlines. In a meeting in Cairo on February 4, 1969, the Egyptian born Arafat was elected Chairman of the PLO.
The War of Attrition escalated when Egypt began an all-out military assault on the Israeli positions in the Sinai in 1969.
1,424 soldiers and 127 civilians.
1,828 and 2,500 captured
The Soviets moved 4,000 of its military troops and 100 – 150 pilots into Egypt to assist its regional ally. The Soviets also brought advanced anti-aircraft missiles and other artillery to Egypt. Military forces were also sent to Egypt from Kuwait and from Cuba.
The War of Attrition ended abruptly on September 28, 1970, when Egyptian President Nasser died of a heart attack.
With the death of Nasser, Arafat's PLO lost its main supporter. Arafat also lost his main controller. A PLO offshoot, the PFLP (Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine), began an international rampage with the hijacking of five passenger jetliners. Three were diverted to the PLO base in Jordan. All were blown up in front of television cameras.
From its base in Amman, Jordan, the PLO began extracting taxes from Palestinians to fund its terrorists (the most highly-paid of all militants) and ran a mafia-type system of tolls and extortion within Jordan. It set up its own checkpoints and issued its own vehicle license plates.
It even issued its own flag: an exact duplicate of the Jordanian flag without the seven-pointed star which represented the hills of Amman.
In the years 1968 – 1969, there were more than 500 armed conflicts between PLO militants and Jordanian security forces. There were more than 3,000 PLO attacks on Israel from its Jordanian base, which resulted in Israeli reprisal attacks.
At this point, the PLO threatened the throne of King Hussein and carried out three assassination attempts. In September, 1970, an all-out Civil War began for the rule of Jordan. The war is referred to as Black September.
The Jordanian army attacked the PLO headquarters on September 16 and war broke out. A Syrian armored division entered northern Jordan in an effort to aid Arafat and to establish Jordan as part of its vision of 'Greater Syria.' The Syrians were buzzed by the Israel Air Force and retreated back to Syrian soil.
Pakistani General Zia ul Haq (future President of Pakistan) took command of one Jordanian Division and led the slaughter of Palestinians.
The bloody conflict ended with 25,000 Palestinians dead and 100,000 homeless. The PLO was routed and set up new headquarters in Lebanon. Yasser Arafat was never allowed to set foot on Jordanian soil again.
From his new base in Lebanon, Arafat orchestrated the killing of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany.
Sadat and Assad
On October 15, 1970, Muhammad Anwar El-Sadat became Egypt's president.
Upon assuming office, he immediately arrested his political opponents and ordered the Soviet force of 25,000 to leave Egypt.
A career military officer, Sadat was quick to formulate his own plan to attack Israel, secure sovereign control of the Suez Canal and regain the Sinai Peninsula.
In Syria, head of the military Hafez al-Assad overthrew the government in 1970 and appointed himself as Syria's Prime Minister.
Together, these two new leaders planned the 1973 Yom Kippur War against Israel.
No, Egypt did not regain the Sinai during the 1973 war. Egypt tried, but it miserably failed.
No, Israel in fact eventually did give the Sinai to Egypt, but that was at a much later date.
The 1973 Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur is the holiest day in Judaism, a day of fasting and prayer, judgment and repentance, forgiveness and atonement. In Israel, all businesses and restaurants are closed and the streets are absent of traffic. For 25 hours, the most pious do not even drink water. On Yom Kippur 1973, the day was also the Sabbath – marking the holiest juncture of time on the Jewish calendar.
This is why the day was chosen by Syria and Egypt, together with a coalition of forces from other Arab nations, to simultaneously invade Israel in a surprise attack.
But there was another reason that particular date was chosen to attack Israel: the Islamic commemoration of Muhammad's Battle of Badr and his expulsion of Jewish tribes from Medina in 624 CE.
"This people, small as it is, surrounded as it is by enemies, has decided to live.
"And if we have to pay the price for living, we have to pay it. "
– Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel 1969 – 1974
All reserve Israeli forces were deployed, virtually the entire male population over the age of 18.
On the third day of battle, at 10:00 pm, Israel's 75-year-old Prime Minister Golda Meir ordered the activation of nuclear bombs.
Israel's situation was desperate. Soviet resupply shipments arrived for the aggressors on the second day of the war. None arrived for Israel.
On the fourth day of relentless battle, a miracle occurred on the northern front. Syrian tanks were pushed back across the 1967 Armistice lines by an Israeli brigade with only 20 tanks still operational.
This was the turning point of the war in Israel's favor.
On the southern front, future Israel prime minister and then retired Major General Ariel Sharon led his forces in the second largest tank battle in world military history.
At the end of 17 days of fighting, Israel was minutes away from occupying both Damascus and Cairo. Israel had captured 45,000 Egyptian troops of the Third Army and had them surrounded in the desert without a food or water supply.
Soviet Union leader Leonid Brezhnev informed Washington that it would land troops and invade Israel. The Soviets had nuclear submarines already in position in Egyptian waters. America put its nuclear forces on high alert. U.S. nuclear missiles were readied in their silos and two aircraft carriers with nuclear strike forces were ordered to the Eastern Mediterranean.
At this point the defeated aggressors, pitifully claiming 'Israeli aggression', petitioned the U.N. for a ceasefire. Under U.S. pressure, Israel reluctantly accepted the ceasefire.
Total Troops Deployed
Prisoners of War
After the war, as more of the Israeli soldiers succumbed to their wounds, the Israel Defense Ministry now declares its number of fallen soldiers from this war is 2,688.
Eleven Little-Known Facts about the Yom Kippur War:
1. Every deployed Israeli tank was hit at least once in battle. Half were hit twice or more.
2. The enemy tanks had advanced infrared night-fighting capabilities; the Israeli tanks did not. Israelis fought with older tanks with commanders exposed in open turrets.
3. There was not one Israeli civilian casualty.
4. Arabs received Russian resupply of weapons, at times landing every ten minutes during the war. The Russians gave them full information gathered from its satellites.
5. The U.S. sent Israel no resupplies until the eleventh day of battle, when Israel's victory was assured. No European country except Portugal would allow the U.S. planes carrying these vital shipments to land for refueling en route. The U.S. never supplied Israel with information from surveillance satellites.
6. The British refused to send Israel spare parts for the British-made Centurion tanks used by Israeli forces and France refused to send parts for the French-made aircraft used by the Israeli air force.
7. France and Britain imposed an arms embargo, refused to send military equipment Israel had already paid for, and their embargo included medical equipment. The embargo was not lifted until 1994.
8. During the war, England continued to ship new tanks to the Persian Gulf States and France continued shipments of tanks to Saudi Arabia and fighter aircraft to Egypt.
9. The Saudis and Persian Gulf states raised the price of oil by 70 percent and stopped shipments to the U.S. and the Netherlands. (Western Europe was purchasing 80 percent of its oil from the Middle East and the U.S. was purchasing 11 percent.)
10. As a result of the Yom Kippur War, the PLO began to send its officers for military training in Pakistan.
11. There were rumors of reports from Syrian soldiers that legions of heavenly beings were seen in the skies over Israel and some Syrian witnesses say that is the reason Syria turned and retreated from the Golan Heights.
"They were coming, thousands and thousands, shouting 'Allahu Akbar! (God is great!) Let us attack them for the Arabs, let us offer a holocaust to Mohammad!', and they were slaughtering everyone in their path, men, women and children."
– Christian Maronite priest Father Mansour Labaky, survivor of the Darmour Massacre
The 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty
In Lebanon, a Civil War broke out in 1975. From his headquarters now In Lebanon, Arafat took the side of the Lebanese National Movement (LNM). On January 9, 1976, Arafat and the LNM – with terrorist forces from Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya – attacked the Christian town of Darmour, killing and dismembering 684 Christian civilians.
In 1976, Syria invaded Lebanon and took control of the country for 29 years. Thus, Syria became the address for the PLO terrorist group in its continuing attacks upon Israel. It is important to note that then Syrian President Hafez al-Assad considered himself to be the only legitimate representative of Palestinian Arabs, not Yasser Arafat. He always maintained that Lebanon, Jordan and Israel were parts of 'Greater Syria.'
In Egypt, President Sadat charted a different course. Egypt was beset with economic problems after its military losses in the Yom Kippur War. A failing economy led to hundreds of thousands rioting in the streets of Cairo in January, 1977, over the cost of bread. In an effort to improve domestic conditions in Egypt, President Sadat sought increased ties to the west and an end to his military alliance with Syria.
In an effort to regain control of the Sinai Peninsula, he initiated dialogue with Israel through U.S. diplomats. When his overtures were favorably received in Jerusalem, he made the historic decision to visit Israel.
The 1978 Camp David Accords
On November 20, 1977, Sadat became the first leader of an Arab country to formally recognize the State of Israel and the first to visit. He gave a speech before the Israel Knesset (Parliament) which led the way to formal agreements between Egypt and Israel.
This led to final negotiations between Egypt and Israel which took place with U.S. President Jimmy Carter in Camp David, Maryland. The talks began on September 5, 1978, and lasted for 13 days. The main points the parties agreed to were:
~that Israel would begin a phased withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula but would retain the Gaza Strip;
~that only a limited, monitored Egyptian military presence would be placed in the Sinai;
~that the Suez Canal would be open to Israeli ships;
~that the Straits of Tiran would be open for international shipping;
~that the two nations would cease hostilities;
~and that full diplomatic ties between the nations would be established.
The final Israel/Egypt Peace Treaty was signed in Washington D.C. on March 26, 1979. Israel relinquished the lucrative oil fields it had developed in the Sinai and evacuated all Israeli civilians and military personnel. Egypt refused to take control of the Gaza Strip, so it remained with Israel.
On December 10, 1979, Sadat and Begin were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. In his acceptance speech, Sadat said:
"Let us put an end to wars, let us reshape life on the solid basis of equity and truth. And it is this call, which reflected the will of the Egyptian people, of the great majority of the Arab and Israeli peoples, and indeed of millions of men, women, and children around the world that you are today honoring. And these hundreds of millions will judge to what extent every responsible leader in the Middle East has responded to the hopes of mankind."
The Arab world ostracized Egypt for recognizing Israel, negotiating with Israel and making peace with Israel – violating the Three No's of the Khartoum Agreement of 1967. In 1979, the Arab League suspended Egypt's membership and moved its headquarters from Cairo to Tunis, Tunisia.
On October 6, 1981, during a parade celebrating Egypt's crossing of the Suez Canal during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Sadat was assassinated by an Islamic jihadist who opposed Egypt's peace treaty with Israel.
Other events in the Middle East deflected attention from Palestinian issues. On January 16, 1978, the Shah of Iran (a U.S. ally) was evicted and the radical Ayatollah Khomeini came back to Iran to take his place. The Iranian Revolution ensued and culminated on April 1, 1979, with the declaration of the Islamic Republic of Iran. On November 4, 1979, the U.S. Embassy in Iran was seized and 60 American diplomats were taken hostage. (This is when U.S. sanctions on Iran began.) The Israeli embassy in Tehran was handed over to Yasser Arafat's PLO.
According to Asharq Al-Awsat, London's Arabic international newspaper, the revolution resulted in more than six million Iranian's fleeing the country and thousands murdered.
On December 24, 1979, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and toppled the government, beginning a nine-year siege.
On June 7, 1981, Israel took a preemptive move and bombed the nuclear reactor being built near Baghdad in Iraq.
“Israel’s citizens, together with Jews and Arabs, American, and other coalition soldiers who fought in the Gulf War may owe their lives to Israel’s courage, skill, and foresight in June 1981. Had it not been for the brilliant raid at Osiraq, Saddam’s forces might have been equipped with atomic warheads in 1991. Ironically, the Saudis, too, are in Jerusalem’s debt. Had it not been for Prime Minister Begin’s resolve to protect the Israeli people in 1981, Iraq’s SCUDs falling on Saudi Arabia might have spawned immense casualties and lethal irradiation.”
– Louis René Beres, professor of Political Science at Purdue University, writing for Temple International and Comparitive Law Journal 9(2), 1995
In July of 1979, Saddam Hussein became president of Iraq during a power struggle in which he killed hundreds in opposition to him. On September 22, 1980, he invaded Iran, which led to an eight year war between the two countries and took the lives of over 1,000,000 people. Arafat sided with Iraq and lost his financial support from Iran in the process.
Yasser Arafat felt very much sidelined. Not only had he lost all support from Egypt and Iran, but now he lost the attention of the Arab world which was focused on Iran and Iraq. In the wake of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, other Arab countries ruled by monarchies were much more concerned about their own futures than the so-called 'plight' of Palestinians.
1982 Lebanon War
From his PLO base in Beirut, Lebanon, and aided by Syria, Arafat stepped up attacks on Israel's northern border. PLO forces were given military training by Pakistan, and Pakistan sent actual troops to the PLO in Lebanon.
Israel invaded his stronghold in southern Lebanon and Arafat was forced to leave the country and move his headquarters to Tunisia. In a hastily cobbled together agreement with Israel, the U.S. provided Arafat a safe passage out of Lebanon with an escort of 800 U.S. Marines. The U.S. also coordinated the release of 50 Pakistani prisoners of war captured by Israeli forces.
"Our struggle will end only when this entity [Israel] is obliterated. We recognize no treaty with it, no ceasefire, and no peace agreements."
– from the Hezbollah Manifesto
"There is no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israel."
– Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary-General of Hezbollah
Most of Arafat's followers, however, remained in Lebanon. Amongst them arose a new group: Hezbollah. Hezbollah, founded in 1985, is a Shia terrorist group funded by Iran and dedicated to the Islamic Revolution.
When Arafat was forced to leave Lebanon, Hezbollah took over terrorist attacks in Lebanon against Israel, against U.S. forces in Lebanon, and against Lebanon's newly elected Maronite Christian president, Bachir Gemayel.
Gemayel, as head of the Christian Phalange party, had a bloody history dealing with the PLO. Battles between his group, the Lebanese Christian Forces, and the PLO killed thousands between 1976 and 1982.
It was Gemayel's desire to drive all of the PLO operatives from Lebanon and to remove Syrian troops and influence. A month after his election as president, on September 14, 1982, he was assassinated by Syrian agents.
First Intifada 1987 Begins
The First Intifada (the word means tremor or uprising) began when riots broke out in Jabalya in the Northern Gaza Strip on December 9, 1987. It is often said that the uprising began because of a traffic accident on December 8, in which an Israeli semi-truck lost control and plowed into two vans carrying Palestinian workers, killing four of them. Rumors circulated among some Palestinians that the crash was a deliberate retaliation for the fatal stabbing in the back of the neck of Jewish businessman Shlomo Takal in Gaza City on December 6. As unfortunate as these kinds of events are, they are not all that uncommon in Israel and when events like these occur in other parts of the world, they don't start a six-year spree of terror.
The real seeds of the First Intifada began in the autumn of 1987 and far away from the Middle East. In preparation for the upcoming visit of Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev to the United States to meet with President Ronald Reagan to begin nuclear disarmament talks, U.S. Jews and civil rights leaders called for linkage, demanding that two million Soviet Jews be given free and unrestricted rights of emigration. A massive rally was planned for Gorbachev's arrival on December 7 in Washington D.C. The rally was to take place on the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the United States Capitol.
On Sunday morning, December 7, 1987, it was 33°F (1°C) in Washington D.C. when buses began to arrive carrying Jews from all 50 U.S. states and Canada. Also in attendance were leaders of the National Council of Churches, the United Council of Catholic Bishops, dozens of U.S. Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, U.S. Presidential candidates (including Vice President George H.W. Bush), U.S. governors, mayors and world civil rights leaders.
When the rally began at 2:00 PM, there were 250,000 thousand people standing in the bitter cold for the two-hour ceremony.
Founding of Hamas
The prospect of two million Soviet Jews being free to immigrate to Israel was anathema to the enemies of a Jewish Homeland in the Middle East, who immediately devised a deadly plan of action. The plan comprised:
1) starting the First Intifada
2) and creating the Hamas (The Islamic Resistance Movement) terrorist organization to direct it.
The short-term goal of Hamas was to dissuade Jewish immigration, especially of freed Soviet Jews. The long-term goal of Hamas was the destruction of Israel and the imposition of Islamic Sharia law from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
Hamas was founded by Sheikh Ahmed Ismail Hassan Yassin who lived in the Northern Gaza Strip about five minutes away from the scene of the first Intifada riot in Jabalya. Together with other operatives in Syria, Qatar and Egypt, Sheikh Yassin issued a Charter in 1988.
Excerpts from the Hamas Charter:
~ "For our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave, so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield, to be followed by further steps and reinforced by successive battalions from the multifarious Arab and Islamic world, until the enemies are defeated and Allah’s victory prevails."
~ "The Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinct Palestinian Movement which owes its loyalty to Allah, derives from Islam its way of life and strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine."
~ Initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement.
~ "There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. The initiatives, proposals and International Conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility."
~ "The liberation of that land is an individual duty binding on all Muslims everywhere."
~ "We must imprint on the minds of generations of Muslims that the Palestinian problem is a religious one, to be dealt with on this premise."
~ "The members of other religions must desist from struggling against Islam over sovereignty in this region."
Not to be outdone, the PLO entered the Intifada and began its own series of attacks on Israeli civilians and military personnel, directed by Arafat from his base in Tunisia. Stone-throwing riots were planned in advance with notices given to the press that these would be photo ops.
Before the Intifada, fully 40 percent of the Palestinian work force was employed in Israel. As attacks increased against Israelis, many Palestinians lost their jobs and unemployment in their communities soared.
Jordan Gives West Bank Back to Israel
On July 31, 1988, Jordan's King Hussein relinquished any claim to the territories he invaded in 1948 and annexed to Jordan, all of which had already reverted back to Israeli control after the Six Day War in 1967. Hussein retained his custodianship of some Islamic sites in Jerusalem to protect them from Arab militants.
King Hussein revoked Jordanian citizenship for Arabs in these territories, except for Jerusalem residents living on the eastern side of the old 1948 line which divided Jerusalem until 1967.
Arafat, still exiled to Tunisia, was never consulted about Jordan's decision. King Hussein had four objectives in this announcement:
1) to remove the possibility of a final conclusion that 'Jordan is Palestine', which many Israelis supported and which used to be the opinion of the Kingdom of Jordan;
2) to deny Arabs in the West Bank the right to live in Jordan;
3) to divorce himself from Palestinian terrorism against Israel;
4) and to pave the way to his own peace treaty with Israel, following Egypt's lead.
In 1989, the Intifada became increasingly more deadly when, after more than 100 years of extreme ethnic and religious persecution, Mikhail Gorbachev finally allowed Jews to leave the Soviet Union without restrictions.
In that same year, the U.S. denied these Soviet Jews refugee status to enter the U.S. For many, going to Israel – the Jewish Homeland – was their only option.
From 1989 – 2013, more than 1,000,000 Jews immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union.
Iraq Invades Kuwait
On August 2, 1990, the Middle East was rocked by a surprise event: Iraq invaded Kuwait and took control of the country. As in the Iran/Iraq War of 1980 – 1988, Yasser Arafat sided with Iraq and immediately lost his financial support from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
On January 17, 1991, a U.S. coalition of 34 nations attacked Iraq in the First Gulf War. More than 50 percent of the $60 billion cost to free Kuwait was funded by Saudi Arabia. In an attempt to draw Israel into the war and breakup the U.S. coalition of Arab nations against Iraq, Saddam Hussein launched 39 SCUD missile attacks against Israel.
Because Iraq threatened to use chemical weapons in its SCUD attacks on Israel, every air raid siren forced Israelis – Jews and Arabs – to don gas masks and enter sealed rooms.
By the end of February, 1991, Iraq was eradicated from Kuwait and Kuwait evicted 400,000 Palestinian workers from its country because of Arafat's support of the Iraqi invasion. Palestinians represented 40 percent of Kuwait's population at the time. When this labor force was removed, Arafat's PLO lost substantial funding from a mandatory five percent 'tithe' to the PLO which had been withheld from every Palestinian worker's paycheck in Kuwait. This was part of Arafat's punishment for supporting Iraq.
The Madrid Conference
The PLO was collapsing financially. Sensing its vulnerable state as an opportunity, the U.S. and the Soviet Union sponsored a peace conference in Madrid, Spain, on October 30, 1991. In attendance were Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Palestinian representatives. The conference led to later bilateral negotiations between Israel and Arafat, representing the Palestinians, and between Israel and Jordan.