Monday, April 22, 2002

A Short History Of Mid-East Resolutions

With thanks to The MidEast Web Gateway

Theodore Herzl's pamphlet "Der Judenstaat"(The Jewish State)is published in 1896 calling for establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine under Turkish or German rule.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 calls for part of Palestine to be under British rule and for Syria and Lebanon to be given to France. Britain also offers to back Arab demands for postwar independence from the Ottomans. In 1916, Arabs revolt against the Ottomans in the belief that Britain will help establish Arab independence in the Middle East. The Arabs later claim that Palestine was included in the area promised to them, but the British deny this.

1917--Britain issues the Balfour Declaration . The declaration states Britain's support for the creation of a Jewish national home in Palestine, without violating the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities. The Arabs do not accept any proposals for institutions that include Jews so none are created.

During the 1920s Arab nationalists instigate riots against Jews in Palestine. The major instigators are Haj Amin El-Husseini, later Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and Arif -El Arif, a prominent Palestinian journalist. This leads to evacuation of the Jewish community of Hebron. About half the 5,000 residents of the Jewish quarter of the old city of Jerusalem are forced to flee as well. The violence leads to the formation of the Hagana Jewish self-defense organization.

The Peel and Woodhead commissions of 1937 and 1938 recommend partitioning Palestine into a small Jewish state and a large Arab one. The commission's recommendations also include voluntary transfer of Arabs and Jews to separate the populations. Arab leadership rejects the plan outright. In response to the resulting riots, the British begin limiting immigration and the 1939 White Paper decrees that 15,000 Jews will be allowed to enter Palestine each year for five years. Thereafter, immigration will be subject to Arab approval.

The immigration limitation has disastrous consequences for Jews in Europe during World War II. Six million Jews perish in The Holocaust. The Zionist underground groups, in particular the Irgun and Lehi ("Stern gang") dissident terrorist groups use force to try to drive the British out of Palestine by bombings and by the kidnapping and murder of British personnel.

The UN brings pressure to bear on the British to allow immigration. The Arabs bring pressure on the British to block it. The British declare Palestine to be ungovernable and give the Palestine mandate to the United Nations.

The United Nations Special Commission on Palestine recommends that Palestine be divided into an Arab state and a Jewish state. The commission calls for Jerusalem to be put under international control. The UN General Assembly adopts this plan on Nov. 29, 1947 as UN Partition Resolution (GA 181) . The Jews accept the UN decision, but the Arabs reject it. The Arab league, at the instigation of Haj Amin Al-Husseini,
declares a war to rid Palestine of the Jews.

On May 14, 1948, the Jews proclaim the independent State of Israel , and the British withdraw from Palestine. The next day, neighboring Arab nations attack Israel. Palestinian attempts to set up their own state are blocked by Egypt and Jordan. Israel defeats the Arab League and holds the 'west bank' of the Jordan.

UN Resolution 194 calls for cessation of hostilities and return of refugees who wish to live in peace. Hostilities cease but the refugee problem is not solved. Negotiations break down because Israel refuses to readmit all of the refugees.

In 1956, Egypt closes the Straits of Tiran and Suez Canal to Israeli shipping. After a series of Egyptian border raids, the Israelis, with British and French backing, invade the Sinai Peninsula and close the Suez canal. Israel subsequently withdraws under pressure from the UN and, in particular, the United States. Israel obtains guarantees from the UN that international waterways will remain open to Israeli shipping and a UN force was stationed in Sinai.

In 1967,Syria attempts to divert the waters of the Jordan for irrigation projects and Israel attempts to stop the diversion by force. In the spring of 1967, Egyptian President Gamal Nasser again closes the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping and dismisses the UN peace force from the Sinai Peninsula. Israel attacks the Egyptians on June 5, 1967. The Syrians and Jordanians begin shelling Israeli territory. Six days later, the UN again negotiates a cease-fire. Israel again captures the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Israel also now holds Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Syria's Golan Heights.

UN Resolution 242 calls for negotiations of a permanent peace between the parties, and for Israeli withdrawal from lands occupied in 1967.

A revolt by the PLO against the Jordanian government leads to their expulsion from Jordan in 1970. PLO fighters stream into Lebanon and turn it into a base for attacks on Israel.

October 1973, Egypt and Syria launch a surprise attack against Israel. Syrians make inroads in the Golan and Egyptians cross the canal and capture a strip of the Sinai peninsula. Israel reconquers the Golan and advancs into Syria. In Sinai, Israeli forces cross the canal and cut off the entire Egyptian third army. The war is over within a month.

In 1978, Egypt and Israel sign the Camp David framework agreements, leading to a peace treaty in 1979. Israel withdraws from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982.
Israeli responds to PLO attacks from Lebanon with an invasion in 1982, resulting in expulsion of the PLO from Lebanon. Arafat and the PLO relocate to Tunis.

In 1994, Israel and Jordan sign a peace treaty.
In 1995, Israel and the PLO sign the Oslo Interim Agreement .

Negotiations for a final agreement break down in July, 2000. Palestinians insist that refugees should have the right to return to Israel, which would produce an Arab majority in Israel. Israel insists on annexing key portions of the disputed lands and on leaving most settlements intact, and offer only a limited form of Palestinian statehood.

Palestinian violence erupts on September 28, 2000, triggered by Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which is also the site of the Al-Aqsa mosque holy to Muslims.

It hasn't slowed down much since.


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