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The Palestinian Arab-Israeli conflict for dummies (Part Three, 1971-1992)

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We are in 1971. As we said, the Palestinian armed resistance has managed to be hunted by the joined Jordanian/Syrian forces and pushed toward north (Lebanon). In April of 1971 there are no more Palestinian guerrilla bases in Jordan, but in the meantime more than 4500 people died, including 4000 civilians. It was then developed a draft of peace agreement between Jordan and Israel, that includes the return of their boundary to prior to 1967. Israel does not accept and nothing is done.
In particular, Golda Meir, the Israeli Prime Minister, refuses to return the Sinai to Egypt, at the request of the new Egyptian president, Anwar el-Sadat (Nasser having died in September 1970) who would have always aimed at finding an agreed solution to the Middle East problem.
In 1972 the King of Jordan (Hussein) proposes the creation – under him – of a “United Arab Kingdom” among Palestinians, in the West Bank, and Jordan on the East Bank. Proposal that is naturally understood by the Arab states as a way to annex the West Bank, causing a deterioration of relations between Jordan and Egypt.
The “Palestinian resistance” is alive and active and blatantly chooses to interest the world to the problem of Palestine. It is a choice perhaps bloody “effective” in terms of pressure on Israel, but, on the one hand, it gets an indiscriminate reaction and on the other, it takes away the Palestinian movement from any possible international sympathy. In fact, it doesn’t actually get any advantage, and on the contrary it pushes for many years forward any Western intervention in favor of the Palestinian cause.
Let’s move on.

During the Olympics of 1972, in Monaco, the armed Palestinian gang named “Black September” (which took its name from the episode of repression that took place in Jordan two years before) kidnaps the Israeli athletes in the Olympic village and, as a result of the German armed intervention, nine of them are killed. As it turned, began a fierce retaliation by Israel, is bombed Lebanon (where in the meanwhile Palestinian guerrillas had settled) and up to 1973 it follows a series of assassinations, of alleged Palestinian leaders, in Europe (Rome and Paris), in Lebanon (Beirut) and elsewhere, historically orchestrated by Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence service.

In 1973, after yet another Egyptian request to return the Sinai (occupied in 1967), Egypt, Syria and Jordan (with financial support from Libya’s Gaddafi, who directs a suspension of oil supplies to force the U.S. to put pressure on Israel) join to make war on Israel. On October 6, 1973 during the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur (annual fast of atonement), the armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan attack Israel.
It is the fourth Arab-Israeli conflict, that will be remembered just as Yom Kippur War.
But what does it mean that they “attack”? That the Egyptian army, in the south, crosses the Suez Canal and goes to the Sinai (occupied in 1967 by Israeli forces) meanwhile the Syrian-Jordanian army tries to re-occupy the Golan Heights to the north. The fact is that, despite the surprise, the Arab armies are not organized and militarily prepared to deal with the Israeli army, which immediately enjoys of the massive U.S. military assistance, and is able to react and move into Egyptian territory, do meatballs of the Arab armies, invade Syria and stop to some 30 km toward Damascus.

However, in the meantime, the Arab countries of OPEC (oil suppliers to half the world) agree to reduce production, blocking supplies to U.S. and Holland, and raising the price of oil to all pro-Israel countries.
The economic blackmail on oil does work. Never take off the gas to us Westerners! The UN Security Council (Resolution 338) requires an immediate ceasefire and has the start of negotiations for a “just and lasting peace” in the Middle East.

On 21 December 1973 the UN convenes the peace conference on the Middle East and it is attended by Egypt, Jordan, Israel, USA and USSR.
Meanwhile there has grown up a faction by “politics” more moderate within the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization, President Arafat), who obtained, on 14 October 1974, through Resolution 3210 of the UN General Assembly, to participate the plenary deliberations on Palestine issue. It’s the first time that a person, representing a movement of liberation, not a Member State, may apply and direct their proposals to the Assembly of the UN.
Follows a series of resolutions that tend to confirm the “status” of the PLO in the UN and the Palestinian people’s right to self determination. And so forth, of similar resolutions there will be plenty.
But they all agree? Blessed and peaceful? The hell!
The blockade Israel / USA – with the tacit approval of the Western bloc – often tries to impose on the Palestinians the peace of the victors “by providing, or better, very slowly returning to them, far less than it had been removed. At the same time are increased Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, the Palestinians still suffer the economic decisions of Israel and, moreover, they must implement Israeli decisions on the management of water resources (which the Palestinians still are not able and cannot handle), that is distributed by Israel at will and for the benefit of Jewish settlers.

In the meantime – we are between 1973 and 1974 – a palestinan bloc of guerrillas has settled in villages (Shiite Muslims) in southern Lebanon, on the border with Israel, where there are many Palestinian refugees, and intends to take some control on the local independence movement (Muslim), ultimately, to launch from the Lebanese territory any possible action against Israel.
Israel bombards the Lebanon positions on several occasions from 1973 onwards.
Local populations are between two fires: the Israeli army on one side and Palestinian guerrillas on the other. It starts a wave of refugees from southern Lebanon to Beirut.
In 1975 it starts the civil war in Lebanon and the Palestinian guerrillas joins the patriotic movement Libanese. It will end in 1976, also in order to fight against the Syrian army, which supports the government of President of Lebanon.

In July 1977 a group of guerrillas of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) hijacks an Air France plane departed from Israel and forces it to land in Entebbe, Uganda, a country hostile to Israel. The Israeli government sends in Uganda (with route over the Red Sea) two Boeing loads of paratroopers and four Hercules of support. The action on the territory of Uganda takes about 90 minutes. The seven hijackers are killed, are destroyed eleven Ugandan MIG on the ground, and are released the 109 hostages.
In 1978 Israel occupies the southern part of Lebanon, where it controls and makes use of mercenary forces of the South Lebanese Army, who lead all sorts of dirty military action on their behalf, against the Palestinian guerrillas, civilians and even against the multinational forces in the meantime unnecessarily sent by the UN. In March 1978, a resolution of the UN Security Council (no. 425) requires an immediate and unconditional Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, but it remains a dead letter.
Also in 1978, in the south of Lebanon was founded the Islamic movement called Hezbollah.
The situation of the Palestinians under occupation is so wretched that on November 10, 1978, under pressure from the “Arab Bloc”, the UN General Assembly adopts a resolution politically devastating for Israel – no. 3379 – which determines that Zionism is a form of racism. Note that the Assembly has virtually no power to enforce its decisions, actually it is the Security Council that adopts binding decisions in the international arena. (Anyway, the resolution would be canceled a few years later.)

Between September and November 1977 at Camp David (USA) were meanwhile concluded agreements between Sadat (Egypt) and the Israeli Prime Minister Begin, with the mediation of U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Those agreements pose the basis for the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel and for the Israeli withdrawal from Sinai. The peace between Egypt and Israel would be signed in Washington on March 26, 1979. The Sinai would be returned to Egyptians in 1980.
The Arabs feel betrayed because Israel, in agreement with Egypt, no longer have to worry about attacks from the south and it is free to attack Lebanon in the north. Also for that, Sadat would be assassinated by fundamentalist killers in 1981.

In 1982, with the excuse to hunt down “terrorists”, Israel invades Lebanon again. Its military forces, supported by the Lebanese Maronite Christian militias, head toward Beirut (where are Arafat, and PLO guerrillas). With U.S. mediation, narrowly Arafat and his men succeed to escape from Beirut, but leave the field open to the Christian Maronite militia, under the control of Israel, that pick on the refugees (civilians) in the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Shatila. It ‘a massacre: they kill some 1700 people. Sharon, then defense minister, on the field, undergoes later a kind of “process” assigned to an Israeli commission, attesting its vicarious liability and at least forces him to resign. (Confident in the application of Belgian law, which permits to prosecute anyone for war crimes committed anywhere, the relatives of those Palestinians have tried to prosecute Sharon. Though, under U.S. pressure, Belgium has “reinterpreted” the law in so that it could not be applied to the case.
International reactions to the massacres of Sabra and Shatila are unanimous, but Israel, despite international disapproval and at least a resolution of the UN Security Council, withdraws from Lebanon only in 1985, while maintaining the military forces in the south end.

In 1985, Arafat, who fled from Lebanon and is isolated, holds an agreement with King Hussein of Jordan, which will be broken in 1986, following U.S. pressure, after a series of terrorist attacks by Palestinians, including the seizure of the Italian cruise liner “Achille Lauro ” and the killing of a Jewish paralyzed passenger. Those attacks are unanimously considered harmful for the Palestinian cause. So much so that Israel can easily bomb the PLO headquarters, which in the meanwhile had settled in Tunis.
Between 1985 and 1987 OLP is discredited (Arafat, as well), Israeli repression in the occupied territories is extremely hard, are deported and imprisoned hundreds of Palestinians, are built new settlements, but the Palestinian factions reach a new “unity”.

On December 9, 1987, breaks out the first intifada (uprising).
Meanwhile, Arafat (who still receives – and keeps – inexhaustible funds and aid, for example from Saudi Arabia, but begins to realize that if you do not act politically do not get a damn for the Palestinian people, that, in this situation, sooner or later would have blown him up, officially renounces, in 1988, to terrorism and accepts the UN resolution 242, implicitly recognizing Israel’s existence.
The fact is that, with or without money, with or without politics, it’s not easy to keep under control the most heated factions of an oppressed people. Arafat should give a shot at the rim and a shot at the barrel and can not openly condemn the actions (even the most violent) of his people, who probably really does not control either. The problem is that officially Arafat can not admit that he has no power over much of the Palestinian resistance. And at the same time he is old, he’s got nothing to lose and still is a tough cookie that the Israelis would like to put to the ground, relying on the softer line of anyone else .

So the usual sequence seems to be this:
1) a terrorist attack is done;
2) hence Israel blames Arafat, because they want annihilate him politically;
3) then Arafat denies, but cannot do that too emphatically, otherwise it means that he does not control anything or anyone and loses credibility among his people.
However, doing so he also makes a series of unforgivable errors of political expediency. He is silent with respect to some unjustifiable acts of terrorism and, more importantly, supports the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1991.
Result: Saudi Arabia cuts off funds to the PLO, and Arafat finds himself isolated internationally, virtually next to a dictator, Saddam Hussein, whose military and political fate is sealed.
In other words, even the deep hatred for Israel and enjoyment for a few Scud missiles launched at Israel by Saddam, with the Palestinians that sing (but this happened in many Arab countries without their rulers were to fall into suicidal statements) would not allow him to lose sight of the Palestinian cause, with a minimum of realism and opportunities.

After the Gulf War, Bush Sr. – not George W. – in anticipation of increasingly important and lucrative interests in the area, pushes to stabilize the Middle East region and urges Israel to meet with Arabs, and with some Palestinian representatives (but not the Arafat’s PLO).
In June 1992 the Israeli Labor Party of Yitzhak Rabin defeats the right wing party (Likud), wins the election and promised an autonomy agreement with the Palestinians. With this you must not think that the Israeli labourists have been, or now are, all unconditionally in favor of a solution to the Palestinian problem. Surely Rabin worked effectively on it, for reasons of pure realism. That is: beyond what one feels or thinks, in one way or another, the problem must be solved and in the most appropriate and sustainable as possible. Thus, he is assassinated.



Written by pipistro

May 5, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Posted in Israel, Palestine

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