History of Israel


History of Israel

The State of Israel ( _he. מדינת ישראל, "Medinat Yisrael") was established in 1948 after nearly two thousand years of Jewish dispersal, and 55 years of Zionist agitation. In the sixty years since it achieved independence, its Arab neighbours have been in constant conflict with Israel and fought a number of wars; however Israel has also engaged in many negotiations and attempts to reach peace. Within Israel, democracy has survived under difficult circumstances and the country has, despite war, ethno-religious conflict, boycotts, mass migration and terror attacks, prospered. Since the foundation of the Zionist movement, a steadily growing percentage of the world's Jews have moved to Israel and, at present, some 40% of the world's Jewish population resides in Israel. [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/jewpop.html, Statistical Abstract of Israel No. 51, Central Bureau of Statistics 2000]

Before Independence

Jewish History in Israel before the formation of the Zionist movement

Evidence of a Jewish presence in Israel dates back 3,400 years, to the formation of the religion. The name "Jews" derives from their origin in Judah. Over the course of this long history, the Jews have several times been dispersed and then returned from exile, buttressed by the power and influence of their holy book, The Tanakh (the Old Testament).

In 66 CE the Jews broke free of Rome (The Jewish-Roman wars), naming their new kingdom, Israel (to distinguish it from Roman-controlled Judah). The revolt was defeated and Jerusalem destroyed by Titus in the year 70 CE. A second Jewish revolt in 135 CE also renamed the country "Israel," and its defeat led to the renaming of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina. [Martin Goodman, Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations, Penguin 2008 page 490] Jews were barred from living there and the Roman province, Judah, became known as Palaestina; no other revolt led to a province being renamed. The names "Palestine" (in English) and "Filistin" (in Arabic) derive from this Latin name. [ see by Martin Goodman (historian), published by Allen Lane 2007. ]

While their numbers were smaller, Jews continued to see the Land of Israel as their spiritual home and Promised Land and maintained a constant presence in the country.

The name Palestine fell out of use under the Crusaders, who called the kingdoms they established there "Outremer" (overseas). During the Crusades, Jews in Israel were massacred, burnt alive or sold into slavery. [ [http://www.biu.ac.il/js/rennert/history_9.html Jerusalem in the Crusader Period] Jerusalem: Life throughout the ages in a holy city] David Eisenstadt, March 1997] The murder of Jews began during the Crusaders' travels across Europe and continued in the Holy Land. [See The History of the Jews in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem by Joshua Prawer, 1988, see also http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_cru1.htm (accessed Nov. 2007)] From 1260 - 1300 Israel became the frontier between Mongol invaders (who were Crusader allies) and the Mamluks of Egypt. The conflict impoverished the area and severely reduced its population. Sultan Baybars of Egypt eventually expelled the Crusaders and Mongols.

The collapse of the Crusades was followed by the expulsion of Jews from England (1290) and later France (1391). Moslem defeats led to expulsions from Austria (1421), Spain (the Alhambra decree 1492) and Portugal (1497). Each expulsion and wave of religious persecution led to movement of Jews to Israel.

Under the Ottomans (1517—1917) and the other Muslim states, the area was part of the province of Syria.

When the British conquered the area in 1917, they named it "Palestine" and defined the boundaries.

By the 19th century, the Land of Israel was a part of the Ottoman Empire populated mostly by Muslim and Christian Arabs, as well as Jews, Greeks, Druze, Bedouins and other minorities. In 1844, Jews constituted the largest population group in Jerusalem and by 1890 an absolute majority in the city, although as a whole the Jewish population made up far less than 10% of the total. [cite web
url = http://www.adl.org/israel/advocacy/how_to_respond/establishment.asp?x

title = How to Respond to Common Misstatements About Israel
publisher = Anti-Defamation League
year = 2006
accessdaymonth = 4 October | accessyear=2006
] [cite web
url = http://www.mideastweb.org/palpop.htm
title = The Population of Palestine Prior to 1948
publisher = MidEastWeb.org
year = 2005
accessdaymonth = 4 October | accessyear=2006
]

1897-1917: The Zionist Revolution

During the 19th century the spread of Enlightenment ideals across Europe led to the emancipation of Jews across the continent. It also led to a counter-reaction of Europeans who sought to prevent Jews from being granted citizenship and who saw them as an alien, non-European community. Opponents of Jewish civil rights called themselves antisemites and became increasingly well organized as the century wore on. In Tzarist Russia, the government actively encouraged pogroms in an effort to divert popular resentment at the government and to drive out the Jewish population.

A small section of the millions of Jews who fled Russia, headed for Palestine. Mikveh Israel was founded in 1870 by Alliance Israelite Universelle, followed by Petah Tikva (1878), Rishon LeZion (1882), and other agricultural communities founded by the members of Bilu and Hovevei Zion.

Antisemitism, pogroms and the growth of nationalism in Europe led to an increase in the number of Jews who considered the possibility of re-establishing themselves as an independent nation. Left-wing antisemitism and the desire to preserve their identity led some socialist Jews to seek solutions within their own community.

In 1897, the First Zionist Congress proclaimed the decision "to establish a home for the Jewish people in Eretz-Israel secured under public law." [ [http://www.wzo.org.il/home/movement/first.htm] ] The movement made little political progress before the First World War and was regarded with suspicion by the Ottoman rulers of the Holy Land. Zionism attracted religious Jews, secular nationalists and left-wing socialists. Socialists aimed to reclaim the land by working on it and formed collectives. This was accompanied by Revival of the Hebrew language.

During World War I, the British sought Jewish support in the fight against Germany. This and support for Zionism from Prime-Minister Lloyd-George [ "God, Guns and Israel", Jill Hamilton, UK 2004, Especially chapter 14. ] led to foreign minister, Lord Balfour making the Balfour Declaration of 1917, stating that the British Government "view [ed] with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people"..."it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine". The British invasion force, led by General Allenby, included a force of Jewish volunteers (mostly Zionists), known as the Jewish Legion. [ "God, Guns and Israel", Jill Hamilton, UK 2004, Especially chapter 15 ]

1917-1945: British Mandate: The Jewish National Home

After World War I, the League of Nations formally assigned the Palestine mandate to the United Kingdom, endorsing the terms of the Balfour Declaration and additionally requiring the British an independent Jewish Agency that would administer Jewish affairs in Palestine.An additional treaty was signed with the USA (which did not join the League of Nations) in which the USA endorsed the terms of the mandate. [A Survey of Palestine prepared for the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, 1946, chapter 1 ]

Following Arab rioting in 1921, the British mandatory authorities enacted a system of immigration quotas to ensure that Jewish immigration did not disrupt Palestine's economy. An exception was made for Jews with over 1000 Pounds in cash (a large sum in those days), or professionals with over 500 Pounds, who would be allowed in despite the quotas. A decision was made to remove Transjordan from the mandate and allow an independent state to be created there. [ Palestine Royal Commission Report (the Peel report) London 1937, chapter 10, page 283. ]

Arab attacks on isolated Jewish settlements and British failure to protect the Jews, led to the creation of Haganah (Defence) a mainly socialist Jewish militia dedicated to defending Jewish settlements. Following the 1929 Arab riots, the Revisionist Zionist leader, Jabotinsky, created a right-wing militia called the Irgun Tzvai Leumi, (National Military Organization, known by its acronym "Etzel"), in the thirties this merged with Haganah.

Jewish immigration grew slowly in the 1920s. However, the increased persecution of European Jews by the European Fascist powers (such as the Third Reich) resulted in a marked increase in Jewish immigration.

Rapid Jewish migration led to a large-scale Arab rebellion in Palestine (1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine). The Jewish Agency leader, Ben-Gurion responded to the revolt with Havlagah, a policy of not responding to Arab attacks in order to prevent polarization. The Irgun Tzvai Leumi left the Haganah because of its failure to avenge Arab attacks on Jews.

Concerned that sympathy for the Palestinian Arabs would damage Anglo-Arab/Muslim relations, Britain responded by creating a Royal Commission chaired by Lord Peel. The Peel Commission recommended the partition of Palestine into two separate autonomous regions for Jews and Arabs, with Britain maintaining overall control over the territory. However, the increasing probability of major war in Europe prompted Britain to focus on Arab goodwill and prevent immigration by the growing numbers of Jews trying to enter Palestine. The result was the 1939 White Paper which restricted Jewish immigration to 75,000 over the next five years (further levels requiring Arab consent) and a promise to establish an independent Palestine under Arab majority rule within the next ten years. [Darwin, J: "Britain and Decolonisation", page 115. Palgrave Macmillan, 1988]

The 1939 White Paper broke with the terms of the British Mandate as decreed by the League of Nations. Despite this, the Jewish Agency leader, Ben-Gurion, decided to support Britain in the coming conflict with Germany and Palestine's Jewish youth were called on to volunteer for the British Army (both men and women). The Etzel also supported this policy, however a small group dedicated to fighting the British broke away and formed the Lehi (group) (Stern Gang), led by Avraham Stern. According to Arthur Koestler, Stern's parents had been on a boat the British returned to Europe in the 1930's where they were killed by the Nazis. [ Arthur Koestler, , 1949] ..

1945-1948: Jewish uprising against British rule

After the end of World War II, The British Labour Party won the elections in Britain with a manifesto which included a promise to create a Jewish state in Palestine and rescind the 1939 White Paper. However the Labour Foreign Minister, Ernest Bevin, decided to persist with existing policy, due to the continued importance of cordial Anglo-Arab relations to British strategic concerns throughout the region. Britain directly controlled Transjordan, Sudan, Kuwait, the Arab Emirates, Bahrain and the Yemen. It had treaties of alliance with Iraq and Egypt.

In 1943 the USSR released the Revisionist Zionist leader, Menachem Begin from the Gulag and he migrated to Palestine, taking command of the Etzel with a policy of increased conflict against the British. Begin's family had been murdered by the Nazis. At about the same time Yitzhak Shamir escaped from the camp in Eritrea where the British had been holding him without trial and assumed command of the Lehi. Shamir's parents were murdered by the Polish villagers they grew up among. The Second World War left all surviving Jews (the minority) in central Europe as refugees, almost all wanted to leave Europe and many opted to move to Palestine. Growing illegal immigration caused the British to take counter measures against the Jewish community and in June 1946 the British arrested thousands of Jews, including the leadership of the Jewish Agency, holding them without trial.

In July 1946 the Kielce Pogrom in Poland led to a massive wave of Jews seeking to escape Europe (such pogroms were still taking place in Eastern Europe). [ Yehuda Bauer, "Brichah: Flight and Rescue", Random house 1970).] In Palestine, Jewish militias (the Haganah, Etzel and Lehi) decided to form a unified Jewish resistance movement against the British.

The union broke up over the Eztel's July 1946 bombing of the British Military Headquarters in Palestine the King David Hotel bombing, killing 92 (most of them civilians). [Darwin, J: "Britain and Decolonisation", page 117. Palgrave Macmillan 1988]

In the days following the attack, Tel-Aviv was placed under curfew and over 120,000 were interrogated by CID. [ The Times 30/7/46 pg.4 3/8/1946 Pg.4. That is almost 20% of the entire Jewish population of Palestine.] The British government decided to imprison illegal Jewish immigrants to Palestine, holding them indefinitely and without trial on Cyprus. The prisoners were mostly holocaust survivors, including children and orphans. The camps were funded by taxation of the Jewish community in Palestine. Prisoners subsequently began to be released and allowed to move to Palestine at a rate of 750 a month.

Intensifying hostility between the Jewish independence movement and British forces resulted in increased concern over the wider implications of British policy in Palestine. The conflict severely undermined Anglo-American and Anglo-Arab relations, both of which were vital to Britain's post-war international strategy. As a result Ernest Bevin announced the decision to refer the Palestine problem to the UN, which maintained overall responsibility for the region.

In July 1947 Bevin ordred an illegal immigrant ship, the Exodus 1947, to be sent back to Europe. The passengers were forcibly removed at Hamburg.

Warbox
conflict=1948 Arab-Israeli War
partof=the Arab-Israeli conflict


caption=David Ben Gurion (First Prime Minister of Israel) publicly pronouncing the Declaration of the State of Israel, May 14, 1948. Tel Aviv, Israel, beneath a large portrait of Theodore Herzl, founder of modern political Zionism|date=November 1947–March 1949
place=Middle East
casus=Safeguard the security and right to self-determination of inhabitants of Palestine in an independent state []
result=Israeli victory, Tactical and strategic Arab failure, 1949 Armistice Agreements
territory=State of Israel established from captured territories, Jordanian occupation of West Bank, Egyptian occupation of the Gaza Strip
combatant1=flagcountry|Israel
Haganah
Irgun
Lehi
Palmach
Foreign Volunteers
combatant2=
commander1=flagicon|Israel Yaakov Dori, flagicon|Israel Yigael Yadin
commander2=flagicon|Jordan John Bagot Glubb,
strength1=flagcountry|Israel: 29,677 initially rising to 115,000 by March 1949
strength2=: 3,500-6,000
casualties1=6,373 KIA (4,000 troops and about 2,400 civilians)
casualties2=Unknown (between 10,000 and 15,000)|

In September 1947 the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) reported in favour of partition in Palestine, a suggestion ratified by the UN General Assembly on November 29, 1947. [Butler, L.J.: "Britain and Empire", page 78. I.B. Tauris, 2002] The result envisaged the creation of two states, one Arab and one Jewish, with the city of Jerusalem to be under the direct administration of the United Nations.

The General Assembly resolution required Britain to allow unrestricted Jewish migration into a port on the coast, however Britain refused to implement the resolution and continued to incarcerate Jewish migrants in Cyprus.

1948: War of independence and statehood

Concerned that partition would severely damage Anglo-Arab/Muslim relations, Britain refused to cooperate with the UN, denying the UN access to Palestine during the interim period. Final evacuation was completed by May 1948. After the evacuation Britain continued to hold Jews of "fighting age" on Cyprus until March 1949. Fighting between the Arab and Jewish communities of Palestine began in November 1947, immediately after the UN decision to create a Jewish state. The Arab States declared they would greet any attempt to form a Jewish state with war and leaders of the Palestinian-Arab community promised a "fight to the death". [Benny Morris, "1948", Yale 2008 chapter 2 especially pages 50, 61, 65-71]

Fighting spread as the British gradually withdrew. The Arab League could not invade before the British withdrew but planned to invade the day after the British left. In this phase, before the British departure, the struggle was a civil war. Arab forces consisted of village militias buttressed by the Arab Liberation Army, a force of Arab volunteers from across the Middle-East and European mercenaries including British deserters, German Nazis and some Yugoslavs. The Jews had the Haganah militia (including many World War II veterans) and a several thousand strong professional force called the Palmach.

Initially the Arabs had the advantage as the British maintained an embargo on Palestine's seas preventing the Jews from importing arms or man power while Arab states could supply local Arabs who also occupied more strategic areas and out-numbered the Jews. The Jews, however, were better organized and believed themselves to be fighting for their lives. Jewish taxes had funded both the British army in Palestine and British support for the Arab population so the Jewish economy benefited from the British departure while the Arab economy collapsed as the war expanded. The Jews had an independent taxation system through the Jewish Agency and could raise funds more effectively.

In the early stages 100,000 Palestinian Arabs, mainly the upper-classes and better off fled to neighbouring states. [Benny Morris, "1948", Yale 2008 chapters 3 & 4 ] Before May 1948, 150,000 more fled or were evicted during fighting as the Jews slowly overpowered the Arab forces. Jewish preparation for the Arab invasion led to the eviction of hostile Arab communities who controlled access routes. In Haifa the Arab Higher Committee (who were based in Syria) refused to allow a negotiated cease fire with the Jews or allow the Arab population to remain under Jewish control thus contributing to the departure of the cities Arab population. [Benny Morris, "1948", Yale 2008 chapter 4 especially pages 140-147] There was particularly heavy fighting on the road to Jerusalem, whose 100,000 strong Jewish community was cut off from the rest of the country and this led the Jews to destroy most of the Arab villages along the narrow route they eventually established between Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv.

The impending Arab invasion provided an incentive for Palestinian-Arabs to leave in the expectation that they would soon return. In 1948 Jews were known as a nation with no military tradition who had easily been slaughtered over the preceding century, while the Arabs were a famous warrior nation and an Arab victory was widely anticipated. On May 14 1948, the last British forces left Haifa, and the Jewish Agency, led by David Ben-Gurion, declared the creation of the State of Israel, in accordance with the 1947 UN Partition Plan. U.S. President Harry S. Truman immediately recognized the new state, followed hours later by Soviet premier Joseph Stalin. Arab League members Egypt, TransJordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq declared war and announced their rejection of the UN partition decision. They claimed the right of self-determination for the Arabs of Palestine over the whole of Palestine. [The declaration of war can be read at: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/arab_invasion.html] Saudi-Arabia and Sudan also sent forces to participate in the invasion.

The invading Egyptian and Iraqi armies were poorly trained and equipped as the British had feared they would support the Nazis during the Second World War. The Jordanian "Arab Legion" however, was well trained and had aided the British in Palestine. Many Arab Legion forces were still in Palestine when the British left. Arab Legion commanders were high-ranking British officers (who resigned from the British Army in 1948). The Commander-in-Chief was a British General, Glubb Pasha.

The invading Arab armies were initially successful but met far harder Jewish resistance then they expected, causing them to slow their advance. On May 29, 1948 the British initiated United Nations Security Council Resolution 50 and declared an arms embargo on the region. Czechoslovakia violated the resolution supplying the Jewish state with critical military hardware to match the heavy equipment and planes used by the invading Arab states.

In early June, the UN declared a month-long truce. Large numbers of Jewish immigrants, many of them World War II veterans and Holocaust survivors began arriving, and many joined the newly-created Israel Defense Forces (IDF). [cite web |url=http://www.hagana.co.il/show_item.asp?levelId=59798&itemId=47310&itemType=3 |publisher=hagana.co.il |title=גיוס חוץ לארץ |accessdate=2007-12-11 |language = Hebrew ] When the fighting resumed, Israel gained the upper hand.

Arab supply routes were long and fragile and as the war dragged on they had problems replenishing their ammunition supplies. The Jordanian 'Arab Legion', refrained from invading Israeli territory and focused on occupying the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In March 1949, after many months of battle, a permanent ceasefire went into effect and Israel's interim borders, later known as the Green Line, were established. By that time Israel had conquered the Gallillee and Negev.

Following the ceasefire declaration, Britain released over 2,000 Jewish prisoners it was holding on Cyprus and recognized the state of Israel. On May 11, 1949, when the war ended, Israel was admitted as a member of the United Nations. [ [http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/gov_un_mem_dat-government-un-membership-date NationMaster - UN membership date (most recent) by country ] ]

The war for Israel's Independence was the costliest in its history. Out of a Jewish population of 650,000, some 6,000 men and women were killed in the fighting, including 4,000 soldiers in the IDF. The exact number of Arab losses is unknown but the estimates ranged from 10,000 to 15,000 people.Fact|date=November 2007

According to United Nations figures, 711,000 Palestinians left Israeli-controlled territory between 1947 and 1949 and, over the next few years 850,000 Jews left the Arab world. [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/11/04/america/nations.php Group seeks justice for 'forgotten' Jews - International Herald Tribune ] ]

At the end of the war, Egypt remained in occupation of the Gaza Strip and Transjordan annexed the "West Bank" and eastern Jerusalem, including the Old City. Except in Jordan, Arab refugees that left Palestine were settled in refugee camps and denied full citizenship and rights by the Arab countries that hosted them.

After Independence

The new state established a 120-seat parliament, the Knesset, which first met in Tel Aviv but moved to Jerusalem after the 1949 ceasefire. In January 1949, Israel held its first elections. The first President of Israel was Chaim Weizmann. David Ben-Gurion was elected prime minister.

From 1948 until 1977 all governments were led by Mapai and the Alignment, predecessors of the Labour Party. Early on, a religious status quo agreement was reached between Ben-Gurion and the Rabbinate. One component of the agreement was the exemption of yeshiva students from military service.

Labour Party Rule 1948 - 1977

1948 - 1953: Ben Gurion and mass immigration

In the early years, Labour Zionists led by David Ben-Gurion dominated Israeli politics and the economy was run on primarily socialist lines.

In 1950 the Knesset passed the Law of Return which granted all Jews the right to immigrate to Israel.

Over the next few years, virtually the entire Jewish populations of Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt were driven out. Jews were not permitted to live in or enter Saudi-Arabia. About 500,000 Jews left Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia by the late sixties. The property these Jews abandoned (much of it in city centres) is a matter of dispute.

From 1948 to 1951, mass immigration brought some 700,000 Jews to Israel, doubling the population and leaving an indelible imprint on Israeli society. ["Immigrants in Turmoil: Mass Immigration to Israel and its Repercussions in the 1950s and After" Dvora Hacohen, Syracuse University Press, 2003] Most immigrants to Israel in the early years were either Holocaust survivors or Jews fleeing Arab lands; the largest groups in the first 3 years (over 100,000 each) were from Iraq, Romania and , although immigrants arrived from all over Europe and the Middle East. [ Source: Professor Moshe Sikron, http://www.lib.cet.ac.il/pages/item.asp?item=12938 (Hebrew) ]

From 1948 to 1958, the population rose from 800,000 to two million. During this period, food, clothes and furniture were rationed in what became known as the Austerity Period ("Tkufat haTsena"). Immigrants were mostly refugees with no possessions and were housed in temporary camps known as ma'abarot.

By 1952, over 200,000 immigrants were living in temporary tents or pre-fabricated shacks built by the government. Most of the financial aid Israel received were private donations from Jews outside the country (mainly in the USA). ["Mishtar HaTsena" (in Hebrew), Dr Avigail Cohen & Haya Oren, Tel-Aviv 1995]

The need to solve the economic crisis led Ben-Gurion to sign a reparations agreement with West Germany. During the Knesset debate some 5,000 demonstrators gathered and riot police had to cordon the building. During the debate, the Herut leader Menachem Begin and Ben-Gurion called each other fascists and Begin branded Ben-Gurion a "hooligan." [ Haaretz 8/1/1952, http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3306796,00.html (Hebrew accessed 10/10/2007)]

Dalia Ofer estimates that by 1952 about 400,000 Israelis were Jews who had been severely displaced by the Holocaust, and the Israeli government's demand for German reparations was in lieu of the expenses involved in resettling them. [ Dalia Ofer, "Holocaust Survivors as Immigrants: The Case of Israel and the Cyprus Detainees in Modern Judaism", Vol. 16, No. 1 (Feb., 1996), pp. 1-23] Israel received several billion marks and in return Israel agreed to open diplomatic relations with Germany.

In its early years Israel sought to maintain a non-aligned position between the super-powers. The USSR had widespread support in Israel, however in 1952 an anti-semitic public trial was staged in Moscow of a group of Jewish doctors accused of trying to poison Stalin (the Doctors' plot), followed by a similar trial in Czechoslovakia (Slánský trial). That and the failure of Israel to get invited to the Bandung Conference (of non-aligned states), effectively ended Israeli non-alignment.

Israel's solution to the diplomatic isolation resulting from Arab boycotts was to establish good relations with the United States and the emerging states in Africa. ["Israel's Military Aid to Africa, 1960-66", Abel Jacob in The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2 (Aug., 1971), pp. 165-187] and Asia. The Israeli government extended recognition to the People's Republic of China in 1950, but diplomatic relations were not established until 1992.

A second election was held in 1951, giving much the same result.

At the end of 1953, Ben Gurion retired to Kibbutz Sde Boker in the Negev.

1954 - 1955: Moshe Sharett and the Lavon Affair

In January 1954 Moshe Sharett became Prime-Minister of Israel, however his government was brought down by the Lavon Affair, a crude plan to disrupt US-Egyptian relations, involving Egyptians planting bombs at American sites in Egypt. The plan failed when the eleven agents were arrested. Defence Minister Lavon was blamed despite his denial of responsibility. [ (Hebrew) http://www.knesset.gov.il/lexicon/heb/lavon.htm ]

In the aftermath of the affair the government resigned and Ben-Gurion returned to the post of Prime-Minister winning the 1955 election.

1955 - 1963: Ben-Gurion II: Sinai Campaign & Eichmann Trial

In 1955, Czechoslovakia began supplying arms to Egypt, and France became Israel's principle arms supplier. [Middle East Review of International Affairs Volume 2, No. 4 - November 1998 ISRAEL AND THE UNITED STATES: CAN THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP SURVIVE THE NEW STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENT? http://meria.idc.ac.il/journal/1998/issue4/jv2n4a7.html ]

Rudolph Kastner, a minor political functionary, was accused of collaborating with the Nazis and sued his accuser. Kastner lost the trial and was assassinated two years later. In 1958 the Supreme Court exonerated him.

The Egyptian government began recruiting former Nazi rocket scientists for a missile program. [ http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/Egypt/Missile/2362.html accessed 18/10/2007 Nasser and the Missile Age in the Middle East (Contemporary Security Studies) by Owen Sirrs, Routledge 2006 The Germans involved had worked on the V1 and V2 programs. ] Some Nazi war criminals found asylum in the Arab world, including Alois Brunner. [ [http://www.wymaninstitute.org/articles/2003-04-syria.php David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies: Welcome ] ]

The Sinai Campaign came about as conflict between Egypt and Israel increased in 1956. During the Fifties', hundreds of Israelis were killed in Fedayeen attacks from (Egyptian occupied)Gaza into Israeli territory. The attacks began as private initiatives by Palestinian refugees and the victims were frequently Jewish refugees from Arab countries. Fedayeen attacks led to a growing cycle of violence as Israel launched reprisal attacks against Gaza and the Egyptian government organized and sponsored the Fedayeen.

In 1956 Egypt blockaded the Gulf of Aqaba, and closed the Suez canal to Israeli shipping. The canal was then nationalized, to the dismay of its British and French shareholders. In response, France and the United Kingdom entered into a secret agreement with Israel to take back the canal by force.

In accordance with this agreement (which was not officially admitted until very much later), Israel invaded the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula in October 1956. Israeli forces reached the canal in short order and then French and British forces stepped in on the pretext of restoring order. It is believed the French also agreed to build a nuclear plant for the Israelis and that by 1968 this was able to produce nuclear weapons.

The Israeli, French and United Kingdom forces were victorious, but withdrew in March 1957 due to pressure from the United States and USSR. The United Nations established the UN Emergency Force (UNEF) to keep peace in the area. In return for the withdrawal Israel was guaranteed freedom of access to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal and action to end attacks from Gaza. [ http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/dpko/co_mission/unef1backgr2.html#three accessed 28/7/2008 ] In practice the Suez Canal remained closed to Israeli shipping.

In October 1957 a deranged man threw a handgrenade inside the Knesset wounding Ben-Gurion. [ [http://www.knesset.gov.il/history/eng/eng_hist3.htm History of the Third Knesset ] ]

Ben-Gurion was once again victorious in the 1959 elections.

In May 1960 the Mossad located Adolf Eichmann, one of the chief administrators of the Nazi Holocaust, in Argentina and kidnapped him to Israel. In 1961 he was put on trial and after several months found guilty and sentenced to death. He was hanged in 1962 and is the only person ever sentenced to death by an Israeli court.

Testimonies by Holocaust survivors at the trial and the extensive publicity which surrounded it has led the trial to be considered a turning point in public awareness of the Holocaust. ["The Eichmann Trial and American Jewry: A Reassessment", Françoise S. Ouzan in Jewish Political Studies Review 19:1-2 (Spring 2007), see also Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem (published 1963)]

In 1961 a Herut non-confidence motion over the Lavon affair led to Ben-Gurion's resignation.Ben-Gurion declared that he would only accept office if Lavon was fired from the position of the head of Histadrut, Israel's labor union organization (due to his role in the Lavon Affair). His demands were accepted and he won the 1961 election.

In 1962 the Mossad began assassinating German rocket scientists working in Egypt after one of them reported the missile program was designed to carry chemical warheads. This action was condemned by Ben-Gurion and led to the Mossad director, Isser Harel's resignation. [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20030220/ai_n12678748 Obituary:Isser Harel | Independent, The (London) | Find Articles at BNET.com ] ]

In 1963 Ben-Gurion quit again over the Lavon scandal. His attempts to make his party Mapai support him over the issue failed, and Ben-Gurion left the party to form Rafi. Levi Eshkol became leader of Mapai and the new Prime-Minister.

1963 - 1969: Levi Eshkol and the Six-Day War

In 1964, Egypt, Jordan and Syria developed a unified military command. Israel completed work on a national water carrier, a huge engineering project designed to transfer Israel's allocation of the Jordan river's waters towards the south of the country in realization of Ben-Gurion's dream of mass Jewish settlement of the Negev desert.The Arabs responded by trying to divert the headwaters of the Jordan and this led to growing conflict between Israel and Syria. [ http://www.kinghussein.gov.jo/his_periods3.html accessed 17/10/2007]

In 1964, Israeli Rabbinical authorities accepted that the Bene Israel of India were indeed Jewish and most of the remaining Indian Jews migrated to Israel. The 2000 strong Jewish community of Cochin had already migrated in 1954.

In the 1965 elections Levi Eshkol was victorious.

Until 1966, Israel's principal arms supplier was France, however in 1966, following the withdrawal from Algeria, announced France would cease supplying Israel with arms (and refused to refund money paid for 50 warplanes [ http://hnn.us/articles/751.html accessed 17/10/2007 ] ).

In 1966 security restrictions placed on Arab citizens of Israel were lifted and efforts began to integrate them into the country's life. Black and white TV broadcasts began.

In 1967, Syria, Egypt and Jordan amassed troops along the Israeli borders and Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping. Nasser demanded that the UNEF leave Sinai, threatening escalation to a full war. Egyptian radio broadcasts talked of a coming genocide. [ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1627015,00.html, http://www.sixdaywar.co.uk/timeline.htm, Whose Voice? Nasser, the Arabs, and 'Sawt al-Arab' Radio By Laura M. James in TBS (Transnational Broadcasting Studies) 16 2006 http://www.tbsjournal.com/James.html ] .

Israel responded by calling up its civilian reserves, bringing much of the Israeli economy to a halt. The Israelis set up a national unity coalition, including for the first time Menachem Begin's party, Herut in a coalition.

During a national radio broadcast, Prime-Minister Levi Eshkol stammered, causing widespread fear in Israel. To calm public concern Moshe Dayan (Chief of Staff during the Sinai war) was appointed defense minister.

On the morning before Dayan was sworn in, June 5 1967, the Israeli air force launched pre-emptive attacks destroying first the Egyptian air force and then later the same day destroying the air forces of Jordan and Syria. Israel then defeated (almost successively) Egypt, Jordan and Syria. By June 11 the Arab forces were routed and all parties had accepted the cease-fire called for by UN Security Council Resolutions 235 and 236.

Israel gained control of the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the formerly Jordanian-controlled West Bank of the Jordan River, including East Jerusalem. On November 22 1967, the Security Council adopted Resolution 242, the "land for peace" formula, which called for the establishment of a just and lasting peace based on Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967 in return for the end of all states of belligerency, respect for the sovereignty of all states in the area, and the right to live in peace within secure, recognized boundaries.

For the first time since the end of the British Mandate, Jews could visit the Old City of Jerusalem and pray at the Western Wall to which they had been denied access by the Jordanians (in contravention of the 1949 Armistice agreement). In Hebron, Jews gained access to the Cave of the Patriarchs (the second most holy site in Judaism) for the first time since the 14th Century (previously Jews were only allowed to pray at the entrance). [http://www.chabad.org/special/israel/points_of_interest_cdo/aid/588225/jewish/Cave-of-the-Patriarchs.htm Accessed December 2007] . A third Jewish holy site, Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem also became accessible.

After 1967 the USA began supplying Israel with aircraft. Anti-Semitic purges led to the final migration of the last Polish Jews to Israel.

In early 1969, fighting broke out between Egypt and Israel along the Suez Canal. In retaliation for repeated Egyptian shelling of Israeli positions along the Suez Canal, Israeli planes made deep strikes into Egypt in the 1969-1970 "War of Attrition". The United States helped end these hostilities in August 1970, but subsequent U.S. efforts to negotiate an interim agreement to open the Suez Canal and achieve the disengagement of forces were unsuccessful.

In as much as the 1949 Armistice lines were no longer direct borders, and Israel now had the responsibility of administration of Golan, Gaza, West Bank, and Sinai, the opportunity to unite divided Jerusalem was taken, and formal annexation completed. In the late seventies, Israel also formally annexed the Golan. Gaza and the West Bank, overwhelmingly Palestinian, remained as administrative territories, pending a final settlement. Sinai, remained in a military occupation, although its sparse population required little administration.

In late 1969, Levi Eshkol died in office, of a heart attack, and was succeeded by Golda Meir.

1969 - 1975: Golda Meir and Yom Kippur War

In the 1969 election, Golda Meir became Prime Minister with the largest percentage of the vote ever won by an Israeli party and the first female prime minister of Israel.

In September 1970 King Hussein of Jordan drove the Palestine Liberation Organization out of his country. The center of PLO activity now shifted to Lebanon, where the 1969 Cairo agreement gave the Palestinians autonomy within the south of the country. The area controlled by the PLO became known as Fatahland and contributed to the 1975-1990 Lebanese Civil War.

During 1971, violent demonstrations by the Israeli Black Panthers, made the Israeli public aware of resentment among Mizrahi Jews at ongoing discrimination and social gaps. [ 30 years to the Black Panthers in Israel by Sami Shalom Chetrit, http://www.kedma.co.il/Panterim/PanterimTheMovie/EnglishArticles.htm accessed October 2006 ]

Increased Soviet antisemitism contributed to a wave of Jews braving offical sanction and applying to emmigrate to Israel. Many Jews were refused exit visas and became known as Prisoners of Zion.

In 1972, 11 members of the Israeli team to the Munich Olympics were kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists. During an apparently botched rescue by the German security forces, all 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were killed (probably by the terrorists) and five of the terrorists were shot. The three surviving unharmed Palestinian hijackers were released without charge by the Germans one month later. The Israeli government responded with an assassination campaign against the organizers.

The expulsion of Soviet advisors by the new Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat, led to Israeli complacency about the military threat from the Arab world.

The Yom Kippur War began on October 6 1973 (the Jewish Day of Atonement), the holiest day in the Jewish calendar and a day when adult Jews are required to fast. The Syrian and Egyptian armies launched a surprise attack against the unprepared Israeli Defence Forces. For the first few days there was a great deal of uncertainty about Israel's capacity to repel the invaders, however the Syrians were repulsed and, although the Egyptians captured some territory in Sinai, Israeli forces crossed the Suez Canal and were heading towards Cairo when a cease fire was agreed. Although the war's results were generally favourable to Israel, it cost over 2,000 dead and resulted in a heavy arms bill. The war generally made Israelis more aware of their vulnerability.Following the war, both Israelis and Egyptians showed greater willingness to negotiate. On January 18 1974, following extensive diplomacy by US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, a Disengagement of Forces agreement was signed with the Egyptian government, and on May 31 with the Syrian government.

On the international scene, the war led the Saudi Government to initiate the oil embargo against countries trading with Israel. As a result many African and Asian countries broke off relations with Israel. Israel was banned from participation in the Asian Games.

In May 1974, Palestinians attacked a school in Ma'alot, holding 102 children hostage. Twenty-two children were killed. In November 1974 the PLO was granted observer status at the UN and Yasser Arafat addressed the General Assembly.

Later that year the Agranat Commission, appointed to assess responsibility for Israel's lack of preparedness for the war, exonerated the government of responsibility and held the Chief of Staff and head of military intelligence responsible. Despite the report, public anger at the Government, led to Golda Meir's resignation.

1975 - 1976: Yitzhak Rabin I: Operation Entebbe, start of Religious Settlements

Following Meir's resignation, Yitzhak Rabin (Chief of Staff during the Six Day War) became prime minister.

Modern Orthodox Jews (Religious Zionist followers of the teachings of Rabbi Kook), formed the Gush Emunim movement and began an organized drive to settle the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In November 1975 the United Nations General Assembly, under the guidance of Austrian Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, adopted Resolution 3379 which asserted Zionism to be a form of racism. The General Assembly rescinded this resolution in December 1991 with Resolution 46/86. ("See also Israel, Palestine and the United Nations.")

In July 1976, an Air France plane carrying 260 people was hijacked by Palestinian and German terrorists and flown to Uganda, then ruled by Idi Amin Dada. There, the Germans separated the Jewish passengers from the Non-Jewish passengers, releasing the non-Jews. The hijackers threatened to kill the remaining, 100-odd Jewish passengers (and the French crew who had refused to leave). Despite the distances involved, Rabin ordered a daring rescue operation in which the kidnapped Jews were freed. [ http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Terrorism/entebbe.html accessed 17/10/2007 many websites erroneously describe the hostages as Israelis. Although most were Israeli, they were all Jewish and the terrorists policy was to hold Jews. ] UN Secretary General Waldheim described the raid as "a serious violation of the national sovereignty of a United Nations member state" (meaning Uganda). [National Review, July 9, 2007, Vol. LIX, No. 12, see also http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/14/world/europe/14cnd-waldheim.html?_r=1&pagewanted=3&hp&oref=slogin] Waldheim subsequently turned out to be a former Nazi officer, whose name appeared on a 1947 list of wanted war criminals submitted to the UN by Yugoslavia. [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,961050-1,00.html Sequels Running Out of Answers - TIME ] ]

In 1976, the ongoing Lebanese Civil War led Israel to allow some South Lebanese to cross the border and work in Israel.

At the end of 1976, Rabin resigned after it emerged that his wife maintained a dollar account in the United States (illegal at the time), which had been opened while Rabin was Israeli ambassador. The incident became known as the Dollar Account affair.

Shimon Peres replaced him as prime minister, leading the Alignment in the subsequent elections.

In January 1977, French authorities arrested Abu Daoud, the planner of the Munich massacre, releasing him a few days later. [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,945702-3,00.html L'Affaire Daoud: Too Hot to Handle - TIME ] ]

In March 1977 Anatoly Sharansky, a prominent Russian Zionist was sentenced to 13 years hard labour.

Likud Domination 1977 - 1992

1977 - 1981: Menachem Begin I: The Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty

In a surprise result, the Likud led by Menachem Begin won the 1977 elections. This was the first time in Israeli history that the government was not led by the left. Mizrahi anger at discrimination was a key factor in the victory and was to play an important role in Israeli politics for many years. Moroccan born David Levy made a major contribution to winning Mizrahi support for Begin.

In addition to starting a process of healing the Mizrahi-Ashkenazi divide, Begin's government included Ultra-Orthodox Jews and was instrumental in healing the Zionist - Ultra-Orthodox rift. Begin's liberalization of the economy led to hyper-inflation but enabled Israel to begin receiving US financial aid. Begin actively supported Gush Emunim's efforts to settle the West Bank, thus laying the grounds for intense conflict with the Palestinian population of the occupied territories.

In November 1977, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat broke 30 years of hostility with Israel by visiting Jerusalem at the invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. During the 2-day visit, which included a speech before the Knesset, the Egyptian leader created a new psychological climate in the Middle East in which peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours seemed a realistic possibility. Sadat recognized Israel's right to exist and established the basis for direct negotiations between Egypt and Israel.

Following Sadat's visit, 350 Yom Kippur war veterans organized the Peace Now movement to encourage Israeli governments to make peace with the Arabs.

In March 1978, eleven armed Lebanese-Palestinians reached Israel in boats and hijacked a bus carrying families on a day outing, killing 35 people including 13 children.Three days later, Israeli forces crossed into Lebanon commencing Operation Litani. After passage of Security Council Resolution 425, calling for Israeli withdrawal and the creation of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon peace-keeping force (UNIFIL), Israel withdrew its troops.

In September 1978, U.S. President Jimmy Carter invited President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin to meet with him at Camp David, and on September 11 they agreed on a framework for peace between Israel and Egypt and a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. It set out broad principles to guide negotiations between Israel and the Arab states. It also established guidelines for a West Bank-Gaza transitional regime of full autonomy for the Palestinians residing in these territories and for a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. The treaty was signed on March 26 1979, by Begin and Sadat, with President Carter signing as witness. Under the treaty, Israel returned the Sinai peninsula to Egypt in April 1982. In 1989, the governments of Israel and Egypt concluded an agreement that resolved the status of Taba, a resort area on the Gulf of Aqaba.

The Arab League reacted to the peace treaty by suspending Egypt from the organisation and moving its headquarters from Cairo to Tunis. Sadat was later assassinated by members of the Egyptian army which had opposed his efforts to make peace with Israel.

Following the agreement Israel and Egypt became the two largest recipients of US military and financial aid (Iraq has now overtaken them by a large margin). [for further information see http://usinfo.state.gov/usa/infousa/trade/files/98-916.pdf accessed November 2007]

1981 - 1983: Begin II: The First Lebanon War

On the 30th June 1981, the Israeli air-force destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor that France was building for Iraq.

Three weeks later, Begin was victorious yet again in the 1981 elections.

In the decades following the 1948 war, Israel's border with Lebanon was quiet compared to its borders with other neighbours, however the 1969 Cairo agreement gave the PLO a free hand to attack Israel from South Lebanon. The area was governed by the PLO independently of the Lebanese Government and became known as "Fatahland" (Fatah was the largest faction in the PLO).Palestinian irregulars constantly shelled the Israeli north, especially the town of Kiryat Shmona which was a Likud stronghold inhabited primarily by Jews from the Arab world. Lack of control over Palestinian areas was an important factor in causing civil war in Lebanon. In June 1982, the attempted assassination of the ambassador to Britain led to an Israeli invasion aiming to drive the PLO out of the southern half of Lebanon. The invasion expanded and became known as the 1982 Lebanon War with the Israeli army occupying Beirut, the only time an Arab capital has been occupied by Israel. While some Lebanese did at first welcome the Israelis, almost all Lebanese came to resent Israeli occupation. Heavy Israeli casualties led to increasing disquiet at the war among Israelis as well.

In August 1982, the PLO withdrew its forces from Lebanon (moving to Tunisia). The Lebanese president, Bashir Gemayel, whose election was partially engineered by Israel, agreed to recognize Israel and sign a peace treaty but was assassinated before any agreement could be signed. The day after his assassination Phalangist Christian forces entered two Palestinian refugee camps and massacred the occupants.

The massacre led to biggest ever demonstration in Israel against the war with as many as 400,000 (almost 10% of the population) gathering in Tel-Aviv. An inquiry was appointed to investigate Israeli responsibility for the massacre and concluded that the Defence Minister Sharon bore moral responsibility and recommended that he never again be allowed to hold the post (it did not forbid him from being Prime-Minister).

1984 - 1988: Yitzhak Shamir / Shimon Peres rotation government and first Intifada

In September 1983, Begin resigned and was succeeded by Yitzhak Shamir as prime minister. The 1984 election was inconclusive and led to a power sharing agreement between Shimon Peres of the Alignment and Shamir of Likud. Peres was prime minister from 1984-1986 and Shamir from 1986-1988.

In 1984, during a severe famine in Ethiopia, thousands of Ethiopian Jews were secretly air-lifted to Israel.

In June 1985, Israel withdrew most of its troops from Lebanon, leaving a residual Israeli force and an Israeli-supported militia in southern Lebanon as a "security zone", which Israel considered a necessary buffer against attacks on its northern territory.

By July 1985 Israel's inflation, buttressed by complex index linking of salaries had reached 480% per annum and was the highest in the world. Peres introduced emergency control of prices and cut government expenditure successfully bringing inflation under control.

In 1986 Natan Sharansky, a famous Russian human rights activist and Zionist refusenik (denied an exit visa) was released from the Gulag in return for two Soviet spies.

Growing Israeli settlement and continuing occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, led to a Palestinian Intifada (uprising) in 1987. Israeli attempts to suppress the uprising failed and the first intifada continued until 1991. Human Rights abuses by Israeli troops led a group of Israelis to form B'Tselem, an organization devoted to improving awareness and compliance with Human Rights requirements in Israel.

1988 - 1992: Shamir II: The Gulf War and Soviet immigration

The Alignment and Likud remained neck and neck in the 1988 elections, Shamir successfully formed a national unity coalition with the Labour Alignment.

In March 1990, Alignment leader Shimon Peres engineered a defeat of the government in a non-confidence vote and then tried to form a new government. He failed and Shamir became Prime-Minister at the head of a right-wing coalition.

In 1990, the Soviet Union finally permitted free emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel. Prior to this, Jews trying to leave the USSR faced persecution; those who succeeded arrived as refugees.

Over the next few years some one million Soviet citizens migrated to Israel, there was concern that some of the new immigrants had only a very tenuous connection to Judaism and many were accompanied by non-Jewish relatives.

In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, triggering the Gulf War between Iraq and a large allied force, led by the United States. Iraq attacked Israel with 39 Scud missiles. Israel did not retaliate. Israel provided gas masks for both the Palestinian population and Israeli citizens.

The coalition's victory in the Gulf War opened new possibilities for regional peace, and in October 1991 the U.S. President, George H.W. Bush and Soviet Union Premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, jointly convened a historic meeting in Madrid of Israeli, Lebanese, Jordanian, Syrian, and Palestinian leaders. Shamir opposed the idea but was forced into compliance when the Bush administration withheld its loan guarantees needed by Israel to absorb the newcomers from Soviet Union.

1992 - 1995: Rabin II: Oslo peace talks

In the 1992 elections, the Labour Party, led by Yitzhak Rabin, won a significant victory promising to pursue peace while promoting Rabin as a "tough general" and pledging not to deal with the PLO in any way.

On September 13 1993, Israel and the PLO signed a Declaration of Principles (DOP) [ [http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Peace/dop.html Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements] Jewish Virtual Library] on the South Lawn of the White House. The declaration was a major conceptual breakthrough achieved outside of the Madrid framework which specifically barred the foreign-residing PLO leaders from the process, the condition insisted upon by Itzhak Shamir. It established an ambitious set of objectives relating to a transfer of authority from Israel to an interim Palestinian authority. The DOP established May 1999 as the date by which a permanent status agreement for the West Bank and Gaza Strip would take effect.

In February 1994, a follower of the Kach movement killed 25 Palestinian-Arabs at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron (Cave of the Patriarchs massacre). Kach had been barred from participation in the 1992 elections (on the grounds that the movement was racist). It was subsequently made illegal.

Israel and the PLO subsequently signed the Gaza-Jericho Agreement in May 1994, and the Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities in August, which began the process of transferring authority from Israel to the Palestinians.

On July 18 1994, a Jewish day centre in Argentina was blown up , killing 85 people. Argentine investigators concluded the attack was by Lebanese Hezbollah with Iranian assistance.

On July 25 1994 Jordan and Israel signed the Washington Declaration which formally ended the state of war that had existed between them since 1948 and on October 26 the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace, witnessed by US President Bill Clinton. [ [http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace%20Process/Guide%20to%20the%20Peace%20Process/Main%20Points%20of%20Israel-Jordan%20Peace%20Treaty Main Points of Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty October 26, 1994] Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs] [ [http://www.kinghussein.gov.jo/peacetreaty.html Treaty of Peace between The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and The State of Israel] King Hussein website]

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat signed the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on September 28 1995, in Washington. The agreement was witnessed by President Bill Clinton on behalf of the United States and by Russia, Egypt, Norway and the European Union and incorporates and supersedes the previous agreements, marking the conclusion of the first stage of negotiations between Israel and the PLO.

The agreement allowed the PLO leadership to relocate to the occupied territories and granted autonomy to the Palestinians with talks to follow regarding final status. In return the Palestinians recognized Israel's right to exist and promised to abstain from use of terror.

However the agreement was opposed by Hamas and other Palestinian factions which launched suicide bomber attacks at Israel. Rabin had a barrier constructed round Gaza to prevent attacks.

Tensions in Israel, arising from the continuation of terrorism and anger at loss of territory, led to the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin by a right-wing Jewish radical on November 4 1995.

Direct Elections for the Premier 1996 - 2005

In 1996 the Israeli electoral system was changed to allow for direct election of the Premier. It was hoped this would reduce the power of small parties to extract concessions in return for coalition agreements. Instead the system resulted in increased fracturization of Israeli politics with the larger parties winning fewer votes and the smaller parties becoming more attractive to voters. By the 2006 election the system was abandoned.

1996 - 1999: Binyamin Netanyahu - the peace process slows

In February 1996 Rabin's successor, Shimon Peres, called early elections. The May 1996 elections were the first featuring direct election of the prime minister and resulted in a narrow election victory for Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu. A spate of suicide bombings reinforced the Likud position for security. Hamas claimed responsibility for most of the bombings.

Despite his stated differences with the Oslo Accords, Prime Minister Netanyahu continued their implementation, but his Prime Ministership saw a marked slow-down in the Peace Process.

In January 1997 Netanyahu signed the Hebron Protocol with the Palestinian Authority, resulting in the redeployment of Israeli forces in Hebron and the turnover of civilian authority in much of the area to the Palestinian Authority.

1999 - 2001: Ehud Barak and withdrawal from South Lebanon

In the election of July 1999, Ehud Barak of the Labour Party became Prime Minister.

On March 21 2000 Pope John Paul II arrived in Israel for a historic visit.

In 2000, Israel unilaterally withdrew its remaining forces from the "security zone" in southern Lebanon. Several thousand members of the South Lebanon Army left with the Israelis.

The UN Secretary-General concluded [ [http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2000/20000618.sc6878.doc.html Security Council endorses Secretary-General's conclusion on Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon as of 16 June] United Nations, 18 June 2000] that, as of June 16 2000, Israel had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 425. Lebanon claims that Israel continues to occupy Lebanese territory called "Sheba'a Farms" (however this area was governed by Syria until 1967 when Israel took control). The Sheba'a Farms provide Hezbullah with a ruse to maintain warefare with Israel. The Lebanese government did not assert sovereignty in the area (in contravention of the UN resolution) which came under the control of Hezbollah. In the Fall of 2000, talks were held at Camp David to reach a final agreement on the Israel/Palestine conflict. Ehud Barak offered to meet most of the Palestinian teams requests for territory and political concessions, including Arab parts of east Jerusalem however Arafat abandoned the talks witout making a counter proposal. [ [http://www.iris.org.il/camp_david2.htm Israeli Proposal to Palestinians and Syria] Information Regarding Israel's Security (IRIS)]

On September 28 2000, Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount, sparking widespread Palestinian riots. This marked the beginning of the al-Aqsa Intifada. Israel claims that the Palestinians had been planning violence far in advance of Sharon's visit, and that his visit was used as an excuse for the planned violence to be launched. In his book "The High Cost of Peace", Yossef Bodansky describes the event: "When Sharon expressed interest in visiting the Temple Mount, Barak ordered GSS chief Ami Ayalon to approach Jibril Rajoub with a special request to facilitate a smooth and friendly visit... Rajoub promised it would be smooth as long as Sharon would refrain from entering any of the mosques or praying publicly... Just to be on the safe side, Barak personally approached Arafat and once again got assurances that Sharon's visit would be smooth..." (p354)

In October 2000, Palestinians destroyed Joseph's Tomb, a Jewish shrine in Nablus. They also stoned worshippers at the Western Wall and attacked another Jewish shrine, Rachel's Tomb.

In 2001, with the Peace Process increasingly in disarray, Ehud Barak called a special election for Prime Minister. Barak hoped a victory would give him renewed authority in negotiations with the Palestinians. Instead opposition leader Ariel Sharon was elected PM. After this election the system of directly electing the Premier was abandoned.

2001 - 2006: Ariel Sharon and withdrawal from Gaza and the Northern West Bank

The failure of the peace process, increased Palestinian terror and occasionally attacks by Hizbullah from Lebanon, led much of the Israeli public and political leadership to lose confidence in the Palestinian Authority as a peace partner. Most felt that many Palestinians view the peace treaty with Israel as a temporary measure only. However many Israelis were anxious to disengage from the Palestinians.

In response to a wave of suicide bomb attacks, Sharon began construction of a barrier round the West-Bank.

In December 2003, Ariel Sharon announced he would consider a unilateral withdrawal from parts of the occupied territories. This crystallized as a plan for total withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

In 2004, the Black Hebrews were granted permanent residency in Israel.

In 2005 civilians were evacuated from Gaza (some forcibly) and the residential buildings demolished. Disengagement from the Gaza Strip was completed on September 12 2005. Military disengagement from the northern West Bank was completed ten days later.

Following the withdrawal, the Israeli town of Sderot and other Israeli communities near the frontier became subject to constant shelling and mortar bomb attacks from Gaza.

In 2005 Sharon left the Likud and formed a new party called Kadima. He was joined by many leading figures from both Likud and Labour.

On April 14 2006, Ariel Sharon suffered a severe hemorrhagic stroke and Ehud Olmert became Acting Prime Minister. [cite web| url=http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/705050.html| date=11 April 2006| title=Cabinet approves appointment of Ehud Olmert as interim PM| first=Nir| last=Hasson| format=HTML| accessdate=2006-11-06]

2006—2008: Ehud Olmert

Ehud Olmert was elected Prime Minister after his party, Kadima, won the most seats in the 2006 legislative elections.

On June 25, 2006, a Hamas force crossed the border from Gaza and attacked a tank, kidnapping a wounded Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. On July 12, Hezbollah attacked Israel from Lebanon, shelled Israeli towns and attacked a border patrol, kidnapping two wounded Israeli soldiers. These kidnappings led Israel to declare the Second Lebanon War, which lasted through August 2006. Olmert announced on July 30, 2008 that he would be stepping down as Prime Minister following elections for a new party leader in September 2008.

ee also

*History of Levant
*History of the Jews in the Land of Israel
*History of Zionism
*Paris Peace Conference, 1919
*Faisal-Weizmann Agreement (1919)
*1949 Armistice Agreements
*Camp David Accords (1978)
*Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty (1979)
*Madrid Conference of 1991
*Oslo Accords (1993)
*Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace (1994)
*Camp David 2000 Summit
*History of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
*Peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
*Projects working for peace among Israelis and Arabs
*List of Middle East peace proposals
*International law and the Arab-Israeli conflict

Further reading

*Berger, Earl "The Covenant and the Sword: Arab-Israeli Relations, 1948-56", London, Routledge K. Paul, 1965.
*Bethell, Nicholas "The Palestine Triangle: the Struggle Between the British, the Jews and the Arabs, 1935-48", London: Deutsch, 1979 ISBN 023397069X.
*Bregman, Ahron "A History of Israel", Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002 ISBN 0333676327.
*Butler, L.J. "Britain and Empire: Adjusting to a Post-Imperial World" I.B. Tauris 2002 ISBN 1-86064-449-X
*Darwin, John "Britain and Decolonisation: The Retreat from Empire in the Post-War World" Palgrave Macmillan 1988 ISBN 0-333-29258-8
*Davis, John, "The Evasive Peace: a Study of the Zionist-Arab Problem", London: J. Murray, 1968.
*Eytan, Walter "The First Ten Years: a Diplomatic History of Israel", London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1958
*Israel Office of Information "Israel’s Struggle for Peace", New York, 1960.
*Herzog, Haim "The Arab-Israeli Wars: War and Peace in the Middle East from the War of Independence to Lebanon", London: Arms and Armour; Tel Aviv, Israel: Steimatzky, 1984 ISBN 0853686130.
*Laqueur, Walter "Confrontation : the Middle-East War and World Politics", London: Wildwood House, 1974, ISBN 0704500965.
*Laqueur, Walter & Barry Rubin (editors) "The Israel-Arab Reader: a Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict", New York, N.Y. : Penguin Books, 1984 ISBN 0-14-022588-9.
*Lucas, Noah "The Modern History of Israel", New York: Praeger, 1975.
*Gilbert, Martin "Israel : A History", New York: Morrow, 1998 ISBN 0688123627.
*O’Brian, Conor Cruise "The Siege: the Saga of Israel and Zionism", New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986 ISBN 0671600443.
*Oren, Michael "Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East", Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002 ISBN 0195151747.
*Pappe, Ilan "The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-51", London: I.B. Tauris, 1992 ISBN 1850433577.
*Rubinstein, Alvin Z. (editor) "The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Perspectives", New York: Praeger, 1984 ISBN 0030687780.
*Lord Russell of Liverpool, "If I Forget Thee; the Story of a Nation’s Rebirth", London, Cassell 1960.
*Sachar, Howard M. "A History of Israel", New York: Knopf, 1976 ISBN 0394485645.
*Samuel, Rinna "A History of Israel: the Birth, Growth and Development of Today’s Jewish State", London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1989 ISBN 0297793292.
*Schultz, Joseph & Klausner, Carla "From Destruction to Rebirth: the Holocaust and the State of Israel", Washington, D.C. : University Press of America, 1978 ISBN 0819105740.
*Segev, Tom "The Seventh Million: the Israelis and the Holocaust", New York: Hill and Wang, 1993 ISBN 0809085631.
*Talmon, J.L. "Israel Among the Nations", London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1970 ISBN 0297002279.
*Wolffsohn, Michael "Eternal Guilt? : Forty years of German-Jewish-Israeli Relations", New York: Columbia University Press, 1993 ISBN 0231082746.

*"Facts about Israel: History", Jerusalem: Israel Information Centre, 2003."Further reading on Lavon Affair"
*Doron Geller: "The Lavon Affair" [http://www.jafi.org.il/education/juice/service/week2.html]
*List of books and articles covering the affair [http://users.skynet.be/terrorism/html/israel_susannah.htm]
*Jack Riemer: "Author unravels the scandal that brought down Ben-Gurion" [http://www.jewishsf.com/bk970221/etdown.htm]
*Israeli government's summary (in Hebrew) [http://www.knesset.gov.il/lexicon/heb/lavon.htm]

References

External links

* [http://www.dinur.org/1.html?rsID=219 The Jewish History Resource Center] Project of the Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
* [http://naamz.org NAAMZ, Israeli Advocacy Group]
* [http://www.israelgenealogy.com Israel GenWeb - Jewish Genealogy Resources]
* [http://www.allabouttruth.org/history-of-israel.htm History of Israel] - the biblical account.
* [http://www.mideastweb.org/briefhistory.htm History of Israel and Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict]
* [http://www.mideastweb.org/timeline.htm Timeline of Israeli and Palestinian History from Earliest Times]
* [http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3284752,00.html Full Profile of Israel] Ynetnews Lexicon
* [http://www.etzel.org.il/english/index.html] Etzel website
* [http://www.mideastweb.org/misrael.htm Extensive political historical and detailed maps of Israel and Palestine]
* [http://www.zionism-israel.com/zionism_history.htm A history of Zionism and the creation of Israel]
* [http://www.zionism-israel.com/photos.htm A photo gallery of the history of Zionism and the creation of Israel]
* [http://www.eretzyisroel.org/~dhershkowitz/ First Photos of the Holy Land]
* [http://www.zionism-israel.com/zionism_timeline.htm A timeline of Zionism and Israeli history]
* [http://www.mideastweb.org/labor_zionism.htm Labor Zionism and Socialist Zionism]
* [http://www.zionism-israel.com/zionism_documents.htm Zionism: Historical Source Documents and texts]
* [http://www.jsource.org/jsource/zion.html "Zionism" — from the Jewish Virtual Library]
* [http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH00un0 "Centenary of Zionism" from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs]
* [http://www.jafi.org.il/education/index.html The Jewish Agency for Israel — The Department for Zionist Education]
* [http://domino.un.org/unispal.nsf The UNISPAL web site] contains the full texts of hundreds of official documents, including those of the League of Nations and the United Nations, the British government, the Israeli government, the Palestinian authority, and many others.
* [http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/halevi.israel Economic History of Israel] from EH.NET's Encyclopedia
* [http://www.historyexplorer.net/?Other_History_Timelines:Timeline_-_History_of_Israel Israel History Timeline]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7385661.stm "History of Israel: Key events"] , BBC


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