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The Arab-Israeli Conflict . Roots of the Conflict . The Middle East . Covers the expanse of territory from Morocco to Turkey, as well as countries bordering the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Persian Gulf

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the arab israeli conflict

The Arab-Israeli Conflict

Roots of the Conflict

the middle east
The Middle East
  • Covers the expanse of territory from Morocco to Turkey, as well as countries bordering the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Persian Gulf
  • Strategic location and its enormous oil resources made the area attractive to industrial powers throughout the 20th century
  • Britain and France maintained a foothold there after WWI as a result of the mandate system
  • After WWII, USSR and USA attempted to impose their presence there
  • Hostility between Arabs and Jews helped fuel the tensions in the region
  • USA and USSR acted as arms suppliers and negotiators in the area
  • Although no direct confrontation occurred between them in the Middle East, there were a number of close calls
a jewish homeland
A Jewish Homeland
  • During WWI, Britain had promised
    • independence to the Arabs
    • A homeland for the Jews (Balfour Declaration of 1917)
  • The new Jewish state of Israel was created out of the British mandate of Palestine in 1948
  • This created a displacement of Palestinian Arabs in the region
  • Both Arabs and Jews claim the right to Palestine, and each side maintains that its very survival depends on its control of this tract of land.
balfour declaration
Balfour Declaration
  • In 1917, Britain, anxious to enlist the support of Jewish people in the war effort, issued the Balfour Declaration, which promised British support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
  • The declaration also claimed that no action would be taken to infringe on the rights of non-Jewish Palestinians
  • These promises were contradictory: the rights of Palestinian inhabitants were bound to be infringed upon by a large influx of Jewish immigrants
the 1930s and 1940s
The 1930s and 1940s
  • Palestinian Jewish communities received substantial support from American Jews
  • WWII ad the ensuing Holocaust created a crisis in Palestine
  • Pressure was put on the British to raise the quotas imposed on immigration to Palestine
  • Zionist forces began to attack both the British and Arabs
  • Refugees were smuggled into Palestine
  • When illegal immigrants were caught by the British, they were interned in camps on the island of Cyprus
  • Finally, the UN stepped in and, with the help of the Soviets, who wished to see the British leave Palestine, agreed to partition the region into separate Arab and Jewish states
  • May 14, 1948, the new Jewish state of Israel was created and granted membership in the United Nations
the first arab israeli war 1948
The First Arab-Israeli War (1948)
  • Soon after Israel’s creation, it was attacked by Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon.
  • The Arabs vastly outnumbered the Israelis but were ill-trained in the art of war and unable to unite behind their field commanders
  • Czechoslovakian Communists, fronting for the USSR, provided the Zionists with weapons
results and consequences of the first arab israeli war 1948
Results and consequences of the First Arab-Israeli War (1948)
  • The Israelis won and occupied more territory than even the UN had allocated them in May of 1948.
  • The first Arab-Israeli War increased rather than diminished the animosity between the two peoples.
  • 900,000 Palestinian Arabs became refugees – many of whom would occupy refugee camps administered by the United Nations in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, or other nearby areas.
  • Even though it was the USSR that had supplied the Israelis, the Arabs blamed the USA for the imposition of this Jewish state in the heart of the Arab world
  • From this time onward, the United States found itself inevitably drawn into the Israeli camp, the USSR took an increasingly pro-Arab stance.

1. By the end of the Second World War, what two significant changes had occurred which would later impact superpower involvement in the Middle East?

2. Why was nationalism so intense within both the Israeli and Arab communities?

3. Identify three reasons for Britain’s involvement in Middle Eastern affairs.

4. a) What was the Arab League (which Britain initially supported)?

b) After its inception, what became the Arab League’s objective(s)?

5. a) What is a Zionist?

b) How did Europe in general feel about the Zionist movement?

6. Britain’s navy refusal to let Jewish refugees reach their destination showed Jewish leaders that Britain was not following up on the Balfour Declaration.

7. What was the Balfour Declaration?

8. Why did British opinion begin to shift against the Jews?

9 a) Why do you think Britain handed over responsibility for Palestine to the United Nations?

b) What did the United Nations recommend?

c) Did Britain support this recommendation?

10. What happened on 14 May 1948?