Contrary to all predictions, Israel won the Arab-Israeli war and took 22 percent more of the territory than it had received from the UN, while Egypt and Jordan took the rest of Palestine. Most had thought that the newly established state had faced a superior Arab enemy. But the war in 1948 showed that Israel was the strong party. The result was also that the Israeli state was largely emptied of Palestinians. Around 650,000 Palestinians fled or were displaced from the Israeli-controlled areas and were never allowed to return home. Just under 150,000 Palestinians remained within Israel’s borders after the war ended. At the same time, the Jewish population increased dramatically due to Jewish immigration from Europe and the Arab countries. Finally, the ancient dream of the Jews, a separate state for all the Jews of the world, had come true. The Palestinian state died in childbirth and had disappeared from the map. The Palestinians therefore call the day Israel was created for al-nakba , disaster.
According to cellphoneexplorer, the Palestinians were now either under Israeli rule or as refugees in the surrounding Arab countries. They lived there year in and year out. The total defeat showed that the Arab countries were unable to liberate Palestine. The Palestinians had to do the work themselves. Therefore, the Palestinians gradually flocked to the various guerrilla groups that were being established. In 1964, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was established under the leadership of Yassir Arafat. The Palestinians would no longer find themselves just being refugees or living under occupation. But it would once again turn out that Israel’s military muscle was far stronger than any other party in the Middle East.
6: Israeli expansion
During six days in June 1967, Israel occupied the Golan Heights from Syria, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the Old City of Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan. The area they occupied was about three and a half times larger than the whole of Israel. What was Israel to do with the newly occupied territories? And how should the international community react? There were few clear answers to these questions. The support for Israel was enormous throughout the Western world. Israel was still considered by the West to be a small Jewish state that deserved everything well after the Holocaust , was devoid of guilt and defended itself against the superior and aggressive Arab countries. But this had little root in reality. Peace attempts were made, but they did not lead to any results.
From 1948 to 1967, no Israelis or Jews lived in the areas occupied by Israel during the Six Day War. After the war, Israel called for massive settlement construction , spread throughout the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights. It was about creating “facts on the ground”. In this way, Israel wanted to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, but Israel had no clear plan for what would happen to the people who lived there, the Palestinians.
Today, more than 600,000 settlers live in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The West Bank is fragmented into Israeli settlements that are growing and making the areas dominated by Palestinians less and less interconnected. In addition, the network of roads to and from the settlements in the West Bank divides the area into smaller and smaller pieces. A cohesive Palestinian state seemed increasingly remote.
7: The Oslo agreement
Until 1993, the PLO, the legitimate representative of the Palestinians, was not recognized as a party to the conflict. But as early as the 1970s, PLO leader Arafat had become convinced that the Palestinians needed to change strategy. Violence and terror no longer worked. But he had to proceed cautiously to change the PLO’s policy. Instead of demanding that the Palestinians regain all of old Palestine, and thus effectively remove Israel, Arafat advocated a small Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, side by side with Israel: a two-state solution . It would still take many years for something like this to be seen in the distance.
On 13 September 1993, the Oslo Accords, as the result of the negotiations in Norway is called, were signed on the lawn in front of the White House. This was no ordinary peace agreement. Israel and the PLO recognized each other, but otherwise the agreement was only a timetable and a starting point with a long list of vaguely formulated intentions. Fearing to be marginalized, Arafat accepted the agreement, with all its shortcomings and compromises. The PLO could hardly have hoped for a better agreement – given the great imbalance in the balance of power. But Israel had all the good cards in hand.
Several agreements were negotiated over time, but both the solution to the conflict, the dream of the Palestinian state and peace only became more distant with each passing day. The setbacks overwhelmed every little bit of progress.
8: Gaza Strip
When Hamas won the Palestinian elections in 2006, the new Hamas regime was boycotted by a united Western world. Several wars between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip followed with heavy Palestinian losses. Hospitals, schools, homes, refugee camps and UN properties and offices were attacked. Nothing was spared in Israel’s fight against what they referred to as the “Hamas terrorists.” The United States fully supported Israel. The Gaza Strip was declared “enemy territory”. Deliveries of food, other necessary goods, fuel and the supply of electricity were reduced to a minimum subsistence level.
The Gaza Strip was – and is – an isolated and abandoned place. In the West Bank, Arafat’s supporters rule with great support from the international community. The Palestinians have become a deeply divided people. The Palestinian population is also geographically divided into two: in the isolated Gaza Strip and in the West Bank.
9: Israel’s headache
Israel’s biggest problem today is that Israel wants the whole country, without knowing what will happen to the Palestinians living there. Gradually but surely it is being expanded, and the settlements are now the size of Norwegian cities. The area in the West Bank that should have become a future Palestinian state is being divided into smaller and smaller pieces. It will be an impossible solution to remove the settlements, the Israeli network of roads and other infrastructure and give the land back to the Palestinians.
Israel has won on all points, the Palestinians have lost. They have suffered defeat after defeat and are left with less and less of the area that should once have become the state of Palestine. A two-state solution with an Israel and Palestine side by side is more distant than ever, a separate Palestinian state as well.