The Nation Israel: A History
Over the next few weeks, I will be thoroughly reviewing the Israel-Palestine conflict, starting with the history of the nation and concluding with recommendations for US policy. This article is intended for everyday American citizens, who have little-to-no control over Israeli policies. Instead, this article is aimed at helping us understand the conflict. Please feel free to comment if you believe a fact is wrong, misinterpreted, or otherwise vague.
Organizations from both sides of the political spectrum in the United States have their version of history organized, written, and even summarized in videos. Vox portrays the nation Israel in a poor light, while PragerU has the highest respect for the nation’s establishment.
However, given the vast history of Israel, both sources are able to use historical events to convince the viewer of their narrative. The question in all of this remains: what is the truth? In the interest of answering, here is the abridged history of Israel.
After the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1922, Arabs occupied the land given to Britain under the British Palestinian Mandate, which purposed the land to become a home for the Jews. However, the British betrayed their promises to the Jews and handed a majority of the land to the Hashemite family.
The royal family established Transjordan, which today is Jordan, and later implemented the death penalty for selling land to a Jew in order to preserve the land for Arabs. Therefore, as Arab nations in Africa and the Middle East evicted Jews, they migrated to what is now Israel. However, the local Arabs felt Israel was their land, as had been for years, so the massive migration forced conflict over culture and land.
Thus, in the 1930s, the Arabs rebelled against Britain. The Jews felt that immigration quotas, similar to that of the United States today, were void under the British Palestinian mandate, while Arabs felt that their land was being overwhelmed by non-natives. Eventually, Britain formed the Peel Commission, brokering a two-state solution which Jews accepted but Arabs rejected. Thus, the fighting in Israel continued.
After World War II, the United Nations (UN) created another two-state solution under Resolution 181. This resolution was again rejected by the Arabs, who claimed that the UN was favoring Jews over Arabs.
Transjordan, having formed its own state, was not considered as potential land for Jews, as it was a neighboring nation with sovereignty. Following the terms of the resolution, Israel declared independence in 1948. The local Arabs, along with five neighboring nations, rejected Israeli statehood and declared war on Israel.
Finally, armistice agreements were established, in which Israel gained some Palestinian land (red areas in image). These armistice lines held until 1967.
The Suez Crisis once again started the struggle between Israelis and Arabs. Under a joint plan with Britain and France, Israel invaded the Sinai Peninsula in 1956, and was subsequently condemned by the United States. While the Suez Crisis also had ramifications between the European nations and the US, perhaps its longstanding result was causing tensions to rise in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed in 1964 to liberate Palestine through violence. Due to their hatred of Jews, the organization did not recognize Israel as a state and represented only the Arabs who originally lived in the territory held by Israel.
Then in 1967, the Six-Day War began, and Israel, realizing that survival would require a pre-emptive strike against their enemies, captured the Sinai Peninsula, which had previously been held by Egypt. Jordan attacked East Jerusalem, and Israel responded by taking the entirety of the West Bank. Syria refused to stop fighting, so Israel took Golan Heights, after which a ceasefire was established. Both Israeli citizens and the neighboring nations laid claim to the captured land.
In 1973, Egypt attempted to take back land during the Yom Kippur War, but was ultimately rebuffed by Israeli forces. Israel gave Egypt the Sinai Peninsula as part of the Camp David Accords in 1978, but written in the agreement was a five-year transitional withdrawal from the West Bank.
However, the Arab League rejected the agreement, removing Egypt from the Arab League. At this point, Israel began settling into the West Bank, seeing that their neighbors would never agree to a Palestinian state there.
In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon to combat terrorism after the death of the Israeli diplomat to Britain. Unfortunately, this allowed the Lebanese militias and Palestinians to fight without hindrance, resulting in the death of many Palestinians. These deaths are frequently attributed to the Israeli forces’ reluctance to interfere.
Following the First Intifada and the formation of Hamas, the Oslo Accords were established in 1993, indicating that the Palestinian Authority and Israel would again meet. This meeting would take place after a 5 year interim period, and final borders would be established.
The system implemented for this process was very specific, separating land in the West Bank under Areas A-C, each constituting a different governance system. The interim period management was poorly planned, and resulted in Palestine’s subsequent rejection of all peace treaties offered in the 2000 Camp David summit.
Following the end of the Second Intifada, Israel voted to forcibly remove all settlers from the Gaza Strip in hopes of establishing peace. To this day, Israelis still speak of their own soldiers pulling Israeli families from their homes in the Gaza Strip, an action termed shameful and catastrophic. Once Israel removed its people, Hamas split from the Palestinian Authority and used the land to attack Israel. In response, Israel blockaded the Gaza Strip.
Lastly, in 2008, the Palestinian Authority rejected an offer to hand over the West Bank. Since then, no peace treaties have been offered or established.
This is the military and legal history of Israel’s formation. In the next article, the Israeli settlements will be discussed, referencing the history provided here.