Avi Rafah, Ras en-Naqb, and Sharm el-Sheikh

Avi Shalaim wrote in his book, The politics of partition, 1921-1951: King Abdullah, the Zionists, and Palestine, “The clash between Arabs and Jews in Palestine is one of the deepest, gravest, and most protracted international conflicts of modern times. It is difficult to imagine more bitter enmity than that between the Arabs and Jews during the decades leading up to and following the emergence of the State of Israel.

Indeed, the Arab-Israeli conflict has sometimes been described as a ‘pure’ conflict, that is to say one in which the interests of the two prot- agonists are completely and irreconcilably opposed. ” For years now countless tragedies have been encountered on both sides, the majority of which the Palestinians have encountered which includes the ruthless killing of even children by the Israeli forces and the demolition of the Palestinian houses.

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The Palestinians on the other hand reply to this kind of Israeli atrocities by any available means this may include rocket attacks on Jewish settlements or suicide bombings. Palestinians are constantly trying to get this territory back by any means possible, and then come the issue of the Palestinian refugees who despite having their own homeland are being forced to live in neighboring countries because Israel refuses to acknowledge them. The international community and the UN have criticized Israel countless times on target killings and human rights violation but Israel seems adamant.

The only way through this conflict as the international community or the West saw was to provide the Palestinian with a homeland and to persuade Israel to leave the Arab territories. There had been treaties and accords for this purpose over the past many years, the first prominent among them were Camp David Accords which was initiated by the President of US Jimmy Carter. The accord was agreed between the President of Egypt and the prime minister of Israel Menachem Begin. Two agreements were signed between Egypt and Israel the framework consisted of three parts.

The first part outlined to establish a self governing authority in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and to implement the UN resolution 242, which called for “the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” to be achieved by “the application of both the following principles:”. “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict” and: “Termination of all claims or states of belligerency”. The second part of the agreement was concerned about the relations between Israel and Egypt.

The third part defined to principles upon which Israel was supposed to improve its relations with neighboring Arab countries. Egyptian sovereignty was to be exercised on the internationally recognized border between Egypt and the mandated Palestine. The withdrawal of Israeli forces from Sinai and the use of airfields by Israel al-Arish, Rafah, Ras en-Naqb, and Sharm el-Sheikh for civilian purposes only. The right of free passage by ships of Israel through the Gulf of Suez and the Suez Canal based on the Constantinople Convention of 1888 applying to all nations.

The Strait of Tiran and Gulf of Aqaba are international waterways to be open to all nations for unimpeded and non suspend able freedom of navigation and over flight. The construction of a highway between the Sinai and Jordan near Eilat with guaranteed free and peaceful passage by Egypt and Jordan; and the stationing of military forces were also agreed upon in the accord. The signing of this agreement triggered enough hatred for Sadat in the Arab world that he was assassinated as he was seen as a traitor to the Palestinian cause.

Israel greatly benefited from this accord as compared to Egypt because peace on the border meant that the Israeli forces could now lower their alert level. The peace agreement was also seen as an agreement between the Israelis and the President of Egypt only because his people or the rest of the Arab world, which his assassination confirmed, did not share his views. Perhaps the most notable step in the peace process was the Oslo process in 1993, in which a framework for the future relations between the Israelis and the Palestinians were worked out.

A US president, Bill Clinton this time, PLO’s Chairman Yasser Arafat representing Palestine and Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin representing the Israelis, again initiated this. This accord provided the creation of a Palestinian authority, which was to be responsible for the administration of territory assigned under its control. This accord also called for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from some parts of Gaza and the West Bank. Both sides accepted territorial compromise as the basis for the settlement of their long and better conflict.

The Oslo accord was a great breakthrough for Israel, a number of Arab states thought about establishing diplomatic relations with Israel after PLO’s recognition of Israel. The Arab League too debated upon lifting of economic sanctions from Israel, which have been in place since the creation of Israel. Every thing changed for Israel and its neighboring Arab countries after the Oslo accord. Still after the Oslo process, the expansions of settlements continued and hence further disturbing the already worsening economic conditions.

There fore creating doubts, frustration, and thereby causing a drop in the support for the Oslo agreement. The agreement has five chapters, which consist of thirty-one articles, seven annexes, and nine attached maps. The most important part of this agreement was the recognition of Palestinian Interim Self- Government Authority. The agreement also provided a safe passage of transport and person between the Gaza strip and the West Bank, it refrained each sides from any kind of hostile propaganda against each other.

Palestinian Police was given the authority to be established and operate in coalition with the Israeli forces. The agreement also outlined the plan for the transfer of power from Israel to the Palestinian authorities. The agreement divided the territory into three areas Area A which was supposed to be under the control of Palestinian authority, Area B comprised both of the Palestinian and the Israeli authorities, the Palestinian was to control civilian authority while Israel continued to be in charge of security, Area C was to be under exclusive control of Israel.

This process saw a downfall with the assassination of Rabin and the Likud party coming into power, which came as a serious blow to the peace process. The Likud party destroyed homes of the Arabs, confiscated their lands, started building new Jewish settlements, and opened an archeologist tunnel near Muslim Holy places in Old Jerusalem. Avi Shlaim wrote in his book International Relations of the Middle East, “That the basic reason for the failure of Oslo to resolve the conflict is that Israel, under the leadership of the Likud, reneged on its side of the deal.

By resorting to violence, the Palestinians contributed to the breakdown of trust without which no political progress is possible. But the more fundamental cause behind the loss of trust and the loss of momentum was the Israeli policy of expanding settlements on the West Bank which carried on under Labour as well as Likud. This policy precluded the emergence of a viable Palestinian state without which there can be no end to the conflict. ” In May 1999, the Likud party was overthrown and the Labor party came into power by a landslide victory.

Ehud Barak was elected as the prime minister but Barak lacked Rabin’s vision and his style was arrogant and authoritarian and he approached diplomacy as the extension of war by other means. Under Barak’s regime the expansion of Jewish settlement which was seen as a barrier to the peace process. There fore one more agreement with this new government was needed and quite necessary because a deadlock had been created between the Israelis and the Palestinians. On July5, 2000 Bill Clinton invited Arafat and Barak to negotiate the peace process.

Barak appeared believing that America would help impose his agenda in the final settlement. Barak suggested an independent Palestinian state, which would consist of the whole Gaza Strip and most of the West Bank, he also agreed for the return of the refugees that would involve 500 people a year. He agreed on partitioning of the city of Jerusalem, but the Palestinian authority refused this point because they wanted exclusive sovereignty over all Arab suburbs and over Temple Mount.

The Palestinian authority was divided on the proposal some saw it as a historical breakthrough others saw it as a compromise with their national right. Further more the delegation came under pressure from Egypt and Saudi Arabia not to compromise the holy places of the Muslims. Therefore, Arafat rejected most of the proposals, the summit ended in failure, and very easily, Barak and Clinton put the whole blame of the failure on the shoulders of Arafat. The Palestinians accused Bill Clinton of siding with Barak, therefore Arafat returned home once again empty handed.

According to Ken Booth and Tim Dunne, in their book, Worlds in Collision: Terror and the Future of World Order “the policy of using US moral, material, and military support to give Israel the confidence to go forward in the peace process, has not achieved the desired results. The best proof is Bill Clinton. He was, in the words of one Israeli newspaper, the last Zionist. Yet, even he could not sweet talk Israel into a final settlement. If Clinton could not do it, nobody can. That leaves only one possible path to progress: an externally-imposed solution. ” [1] The failure of the Summit at Camp David started an outbreak of violence began.

The violence was further sparked by the visit of Israel’s opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount, the site of Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. There fore the second intifada, an Arabic word for uprising, started. The Palestinians saw the Israeli-American proposal at Camp David a complete surrender to Israel’s demand, they knew that they have been malevolently duped with not even a minimal solution to the issues which constitute the Palestine question. It is against this background and Sharon’s provocative visit to Al ‘Aqsa that the Second Intifada erupted.

The uprising resulted in a new wave of brutal killings from the Israeli side to stop the rebellion which included the killing of a 12 year old, the Palestinian responded by suicide bombings attack on Israeli civilians. An article in Australian for Palestine stated that “Since the Al ‘Aqsa Intifada, Israel defines the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories as “a situation of hostility” rather than a “belligerent occupation” and therefore it contends that the Hague Regulations which protect civilians under military occupation no longer apply.

Furthermore, it contends that it is not responsible for compensating the Palestinians for any damage caused or any property taken. ” This incident also increased the international involvement; according to a report, Israel annually receives $1. 2 billion in economic aid and $1. 8 billion in military aid from the United States, excluding loan guarantees, besides that many humanitarian groups also responded greatly after this incident. the incident also provided a significant shift in U.

S policy. The Palestenian leader was now not welcomed in Washington by the new Bush adminstration, furthermore Bush called on to the Palestinians “to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror”, hence clearly indicating the shift of policy towards the Palestinian leader. To maintained peace he also outlined detailed steps prominent among them were the Palestinian rejection of terrorism (suicide bombing) and an end to Israel’s settlement expansion.

Haig Khatchadourian in his book, The Quest for Peace between Israel ad Palestinians, said, “Consequently, its brilliant military victories over the Arab states are bound to remain very incomplete victories so long as it clings to the land that Palestinians rightfully call their own. Only when the heavy chains binding occupier and occupied are broken, and Palestinians become their own masters, can real peace and stability in the region become more than a wistful hope. For then not just sulh but salaam should become the order of the day between the majority of West Bank and Gaza Palestinians, and Israel. ”