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The Palestinian Arab-Israeli conflict for dummies (Part Two, 1948-1970)

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So, where were we? Well, yes… the war of 1948.
It’s a minefield.
The “Jewish question” as it has been inherited, after centuries of antisemitism culminating in the Holocaust, mostly still prevents an objective approach to the problem. In addition, the Jewish written sources are abundant all over the question of Palestine, and on the other hand they are very poor (and often partial) by the Arab-Palestinian side. So that the most reliable sources seem to be precisely the Israeli ones, who have painstakingly recovered objectivity, and are considered – in Israel – almost blasphemous. As far as I could ascertain, mainly from Israeli extreme left/humanitarian sources, the former Jewish and then Israeli forces were infinitely superior in numbers, resources, organization and strategic capabilities in prevention.

Without going into details:
– the Jews could count on very heavy economic aid from abroad and equally important acts of sabotage to block outside Palestine aid (weapons) obtained by the Arabs-Palestinians abroad;
– the Arab armies would have been disconnected, disorganized, unmotivated. Their leaders corrupt and interested. The Palestinian population, terrified and badly armed.
It is said that there was since years a plan to invade the whole of Palestine, a plan made by Jews, also aimed at the evacuation of the natives, trusting in the moment of absolute imbalance that would result from the departure of the British. There are plenty of chronicles relating to those facts, by both Arab and Israeli authors. In this respect, some Israeli authors use talking about a real “removal” on the side of the Israeli people. Removal of unjustifiable facts, that nonetheless spearheaded the establishment of the State of Israel.

If we want to make a prediction, it will take, say, ten years to obtain reports officially impartial of that historical moment. [I wrote this some time ago, and I’m actually afraid I was deeply wrong. Let’s be optimistic though.]

Let’s get back to us. We are always in 1948. Within weeks, the newborn State of Israel (just proclaimed) occupies most of the territory that would be the State of Palestine, as well as West Jerusalem, which should have been internationalized.
Remain under Arab and somewhat Palestinian control:
– the Gaza Strip, under Egyptian control;
– the West Bank, under Jordanian control:
– East Jerusalem, under Jordanian control.

The UN sends, in order to mediate and arrange an agreement between Israelis and Arab-Palestinians, Count Folke Bernadotte. It’s a bad idea. The Count develops some proposals, rejected by both sides, and on September 17, 1948 he was assassinated by the Stern Gang (see below, part 1) and some people – the more mischievous – say with the connivance of the Israeli military and political leaders.
On 11 December 1948 the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 194, emphasizing the idea of an international regime for Jerusalem, and to solve – at least economically – the problem of Palestinian refugees.

On May 11, 1948, Israel becomes a member of the UN with the understanding that he will favor the resolutions 181 and 194 (which will not happen.)

In 1949 is signed the armistice with neighboring Arab States and it is established an “armistice line”, not to be crossed, among the parties. Neither the armistice nor the line would be respected.
Things were going badly since some years, and they plunge into a worse situation in 1956, when Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser realizes to be a nationalist and is determined to nationalize the Suez Canal (i.e. to seize control, including economic control, the most important, of the channel that allows passage from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.)

As a result, it sparks off the second conflict in the Arab-Israeli world. (It would be better have a map here, but never mind… for the time being.)
Well, when Egypt decides to nationalize the Suez Canal, that is in Egypt, immediately England, France and Israel, do team up and wage war against Egypt.
In practice, Israel seizes the opportunity and invades the Sinai and the Gaza Strip. Full stop. The UN intervenes, forcing Britain and France to desist. Israel is forced to leave the Sinai, but maintains control over the Gaza Strip. Only in 1957, Israel finally withdrew from the Gaza Strip, meanwhile were involved the UN Emergency Forces.

In fact, it is the Egyptian President Nasser who sponsors the formation of a Palestinian national consciousness, which was previously rather poor. As a matter of fact the Palestinians have never had the urge to belong to something other than an Arab State around there. But “around there” was their homeland.
In this respect, the creation of a Palestinian identity is at the same time due to Nasser , who theorized it, and Israel who tried to annihilate the native population of that land, encouraging a nationalist reaction on the part of the Palestinian people in favor of a true nation that, practically there by centuries, no one had theorically ever fancied.

Hence and for some years there are significant issues in the sense that there are fights, but the Palestinians take note not only of not getting their independent State, but that, quietly and firmly, the Israelis are invading their home. Palestinian home.
And in 1964 they founded the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
Skip a few years of skirmishes (in 1965 the military wing of Fatah, the Palestinian nationalist underground movement born in 1959, began an armed struggle against Israel, in 1966 Israel attacked the village of Al-Samuh doing a lot of dead, and prepare – they said, but actually it’s sure – the nuclear bomb with the help of the French.)
On June 5, 1967 following an accumulation of Egyptian troops on the border (and a whole host of other things: such as increase of Arab nationalism, the desire for revenge of President Nasser), Israel simultaneously attacks Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

The war, namely the third Arab-Israeli conflict, lasts for six days (and so will be remembered, with undeniable fancy, as the “Six Day War”) and is disastrous for the Arab states, mainly because of the Israeli air force.

Israel occupies all of Palestine (i.e. what was missing: the Gaza Strip and the West Bank) and East Jerusalem and, in addition, as a rule, the peninsula of Sinai, and furthermore the Golan Heights, which belonged to Syria. Needless to say that the Six Day War created another bit of Palestinian refugees, indeed more than 300 000 people flee to Egypt, Jordan and Syria.
The UN Security Council adopts then a Resolution (237) by calling the Israeli government to facilitate the return of refugees. Without any success.

Needless to say that immediately after the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Israel began to confiscate Palestinian land – so much for the Geneva Convention – and establishes the well-known Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, that are today the main reason and excuse to perpetuate the conflict and in particular for the construction of the infamous wall or fence.
On 22 November 1967 the UN adopts Resolution 242 which demands the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from “…territories occupied” in the conflict, and asserted the need to achieve a just solution to the refugee problem and guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of “every State” in the region. We must repeat: the Resolution also states the need to reach a fair accommodation of the refugee problem.

Resolution 242, approved by the U.S. and Israel only because of its ambiguous formulation, is forcibly interpreted by the United States and Israel. Better: mischieviously misinterpreted in the sense that it authorizes the continuation of Israeli control over the occupied territories.
The problem is submitted again to the Security Council in January 1976 and the related answers, which obviously included an agreement on the “green line” and the existence of a Palestinian State, meet the obvious U.S. veto.
In subsequent years, the armed Palestinian factions – who have not got a damn in terms of concrete armed action – begin to organize politically and aggregate into the PLO.
In 1969, Yasser Arafat (head of Al Fatah faction) takes control of the PLO and becomes its President.

The clashes continued: humiliations and violence on the Palestinians that cause actions that cause reactions that cause other actions of the Palestinians and so on, leading to some UN initiative: resolutions to wind.
The Palestinian resistance, namely thousands of armed Palestinian of PLO, has now moved to Jordan, where evidently has a lot of problems and creates a lot of problems. In September 1970, while, on the one hand, there is some attempt to make sense of the UN resolutions and there are negotiations between the representatives of Egypt, Jordan and Israel, the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) hijacks four airplanes and make them land at the Mafrak airport in Jordan.
The same month, the Jordanian government (i.e. King Hussein) is fed up, and its army makes a massacre of Palestinians. It’s hundreds of dead, an episode that will be remembered as “Black September”. Skirmishes then follow among armed Palestinian factions and armies of Jordan and even Syria, because the armed Palestinian groups after “Black September” were moved to the north (note: see map! But which map?). The leadership of the Palestinian resistance finally moves into Lebanon, alas, with resultant disastrous consequences.

Here it should be noted that the Arab countries neighboring to Palestine and Israel have been around the Palestinian issue for their own interests (for example, in order to annex parts of Palestine) and finally they all gave up, by concluding bilateral agreements with Israel. So that solidarity with the Palestinian people survives in these Arab states, at present, almost exclusively at the level of popular sentiment.


Written by pipistro

April 27, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Posted in Israel, Palestine

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