According to Bickerton, and Carla, the first Palestinian Intifada was an uprising against the Gaza and West Bank occupation by Israel, and it marked a period of bloodletting (1989 to 1993), injuries and loss of lives, that typifies the relationship between the State of Israel and Palestine (272). The author addresses history students, political scientist and those interested in Middle Eastern studies in elaborating the use of war, an extension of politics through unpopular means as being quite prevalent in the Middle East, an area that is traditionally volatile and one which has seen wars and known little of peace. The Israeli occupation was as a result of military daring, ingenuity and the application of the Art of War which saw an outnumbered Israel fight against multiple enemies. The war only lasted six days, but Israel made significant territorial gains by capturing the Golan Heights, a natural fortress, source of water and an area of strategic importance from Syria. Furthermore, spectacularly, Israel extended its sovereignty by seizing the Suez Canal from Egypt, the West Bank, and Gaza from Jordan.
On December 1987, Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank sought to express their frustration from the brutal Israeli occupation of their land and in response began an uprising. The character of the military rule was by abuses of fundamental human rights and the anger against the Zionist reached fever pitch when an IDF jeep killed four Palestinians. In response, a protest movement arose, and it was characterized by boycotts against Israeli products and institutions, civil disobedience, throwing of petrol bombs and stones against IDF and the use of barricades. To quell the protest, Israel deployed an 80000 strong contingent who meted excessive force on locals and even used live rounds killing around three hundred Palestinians and injuring thousands. Furthermore, Israel sought to create conditions that would necessitate the departure of Palestinians by making life very difficult for them. Water supplies were cut off, crops destroyed, infrastructure demolished and educational institutions closed.
While the Jewish resolve and occupation hard hit Palestine, they were able to pose the first real challenge to Israel's authority and in so doing sped up the finding of a temporary solution and even setting conditions for an enduring solution. Furthermore, the Intifada led to a show of solidarity by Arab nations who since 1948 have been in opposition to the existence of the state of Israel (Bickerton & Carla, 273). Moreover, via a unanimous decision, the UN asserted that IDF was guilty of war crimes as many of the victims of the uprising were un-armed combatants (women and children). Furthermore, the attempts to relocate Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza impeded the peace process. Besides that, the intifada encouraged members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization who under the leadership of Yasser Arafat sought for a two-state solution which would provide for an independent Palestine.
As earlier mentioned, the Intifada significantly affected the Palestinians as they could not lead a normal life. Curfews were imposed, and the limited movement, Israel began importing labor, prices of basic goods skyrocketed, and more importantly, the death toll was rising. Furthermore, the militant wing of the PLO could not cope up with the well-equipped, sufficiently trained and motivated security services, defense forces and intelligence networks of the Israelis. Moreover, the sheer brutality characterized by raids on mosques and indiscriminate killings forced the Palestinians to a negotiating table; they had no alternative. Consequently, a peace process began and in 1993 during the Madrid conference; there was also signing of the Oslo Accords to mark an end to the wave of violence; although the outcome was not optimal as either party would have wished, nonetheless, it was acceptable.
The September 1993 Israel PLO accord
The shaking of hands between Israelis Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat was a symbolic action and good precedence for the peace process during the Oslo Accords signing ceremony on the 13th of September 1993, in Washington. The two leaders haso signed been engaged in rhetoric, and their hands signed battle orders as each sought to achieve their political means. Following decades of war between Israel and her Arab neighbors who were in support of Palestine, the Oslo accord provided hope for a better Middle East with lessing of war and greater peace. Furthermore, the Oslo accords marked a peace process which would lay the foundation of the establishment of the right of self-determination and the two-state processes. Nonetheless, not all Israelis were happy with the move, in fact, the Oslo Accords would cost the life of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 when he got assassinated by Yigal Amir, a radical ultranationalist who was strongly opposed to peace with the Palestinians.
The Oslo accords started in months of secret negotiations and covert peace actions, moreover, the agreements were based on the Camp David Accord which was a larger plan to ensure stability in the region. Nonetheless, the process had several obstacles as Israel wanted to negotiate with elected Gaza and West Bank representatives. In fact, according to Bickerton & Carla, it was when Israel stopped recognizing Jordan and Egypt as representatives of the Palestinian people that it started serious negotiations with the PLO (314). However, Israel had also set its conditions among them the recognition by Palestine. The accord addressed issues of Israeli withdrawal of its soldiers from Palestinian territories in phases to allow for the simultaneous autonomy of Palestinian authorities in providing essential services such as security.
Bickerton and Carla also address the empowerment of Palestinian institutions for instance through the National Authority (PNA) creation, which is an interim governing body that has nonetheless been marred by infighting (315). The PNA got tasked with leading Palestine as the Gaza-Jericho agreement that followed the first Oslo Accord saw fruitful negotiation and an understanding that led Israel to promise to withdraw from Jericho. On matters outcomes of the accords, a period of relative peace ensued, but the two parties kept blaming each other for provocations; moreover, Israel made contingency plans in readiness for the aftermath of failed peace talks. In response, Palestine made defensive preparations unlike Israel which had made offensive arrangements and its actions, if any things were to assure the locals that they might be able to hold an Israeli invasion. Nonetheless, from a strategic point of view, Israel had established its IDF as a force whose military genius allowed it to victory over more massive armies; thus the PLO would be an easy opponent.
Camp David 2
The 2002 Camp David Summit meeting was an effort to end the decades' long Israeli-Palestine conflict, and it was hosted by US President Bill Clinton who invited Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat (Bickerton & Carla, 396). The second Camp David Accord hoped to build on the success of the first; President Jimmy Carter had succeeded to broker a peace deal between Israel and Egypt in 1978. Moreover, the Clinton led negotiations sought to address outstanding issues between Israel and Palestine which five years after signing the Oslo accords would not discuss. However, as the differences between Israeli and Palestinian ideologies were greatly protracted, the summit was a failure as it ended without an agreement being reached; the Palestinian delegation even considered it a trap. During the conference, either side adopted hard stances or utilized an all-or-nothing approach which made it difficult for the two parties to reach an amicable solution.
Territorial integrity and sovereignty was a highly contested issue as the Palestinian delegation maintained their claim for the autonomy of the Gaza and West Bank in alignment with the provisions of UN Resolution 242. The Decree calls for full withdrawal of Israel from occupied territories that got captured during the Six Day War. However, Israelis hardliners and right-wing conservatives disparaged Palestinian claims to Israelis territory, therefore, rendering the two-state solution a mere heresy (Bickerton & Carla, 397). In addition to land, Jerusalem was a contested issue as the Old City houses a number of fundermental religious significances comprising of the Western Wall for Jews and the Temple Mount, the Holy Sepulchre for Christians and while only the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque are for Muslims. Furthermore, Palestinians were in opposition to Israeli control of Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. Also, Israel required Arafat, to declare the conflict over and make no more demands but at the same time allow Israel to use its airspace, set up radar stations, have a standby force and have the West Bank under its control.
Bickerton, Ian J., and Carla L. Klausner. A history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007.
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