What made peace hard in the Arab-Israeli conflict
The peace treaty between Israel and Palestine was signed by the two presidents, Yitzhak Rabin (Israeli president) and Yasser Arafat (Palestinian president) in 1993. The peace treaty didn’t last for very long because the two countries as a whole didn’t like the peace treaty because lots of different groups didn’t agree with it.
When the Israelis were given land in Palestine by the US, They were outraged. They had owned it for almost the last 2000 years. The Palestinians didn’t see why they had to give up their land to the Israelis. What made it worse was the fact that the Israelis took over Jerusalem (sacred place to both Israelis and Palestinians) during the war in 1967. The Israeli Jews wanted Jerusalem because that is where the Wailing Wall is (the last standing wall of their ancient mosque). The Palestinian Muslims wanted Jerusalem because they believe that their prophet Mohammed descended to heaven there. The fact that both sides wanted Jerusalem made peace difficult because they wanted a place that is holy to both of them, and were willing to fight for it.
During the wars, seven hundred thousand Palestinians were forced out of the country by the Israelis. They had to become refugees and they had really poor living conditions because most of them lived in makeshift huts and tents. Also, they had poor water supply and a lack of food. They were living in poverty, and this made the situation even worse because they all hated the Israelis even more because they had driven them out and made them live like this. This made peace more difficult because the Palestinians have no quality of life and they hate the Israelis even more. When reporters from Britain and America went to the refugees over there to get some news, they found out that their life was awful for them and then Britain and America started feeling sorry for them. The PLO thought because the fact Britain and America were feeling sorry for them, that they should stop using terrorism. The HAMAS however, didn’t stop using terrorism. This made peace more difficult because there was still terrorism and people dying from this.
HAMAS are a Palestinian group who do not accept the state of Israel. They are terrorist organisations who use suicide bombings to try to get what they want, which is to destroy Israel and establish an Islamic state of Palestine. They are worse than the PLO ever were. They think terrorism is the answer because if they use terrorism they will be able to scare the Israelis so much they will eventually surrender. HAMAS challenged the PLO and Arafat for support so they would be able to get bombs and weapons. The Israelis didn’t like HAMAS because they were terrorizing their citizens and they were killing lots of people. This made peace more likely because if the Israelis didn’t like what HAMAS were doing, they would try to make peace to make HAMAS stop.
Israel is a small country of less than 5 million people but there are still many different views on how the country should be run. The Labour party is one of the two most powerful parties in Israeli politics. They believe that peace is an important for the wellbeing of their country. The other one is the Likud party. The Likud believe that there should be no Palestinian state and if the Palestinians do something to them they will hit back even harder. Likud won every election in Israel since 1977 up to 1992 which is when the Labour party won. This helped make peace possible because the politicians in the labour party were willing to sign a peace treaty with Yasser Arafat of the PLO.
Israel however still had their super power, the USA. When USA heard that Russia had collapsed at the end of the cold war, they didn’t support Israel so strongly because there was no Russia to compete with because they were not helping Palestine anymore. When Russia collapsed, the Arab countries had no support. This was because Russia (USSR) and they had no money from them or weapons. Because of this, other countries felt more sympathetic towards them. Because lots of the Arab countries were looking to the US for money and weapons now, the US had more influence over them. This made peace easier because if the US had more influence over them then they could make them make peace.
The gulf war was the war between Iraq and the UN when Saddam Hussein tried to take over Kuwait. The USA went over to Kuwait and stopped him from invading. Lots of Arab countries supported the USA when they were trying to stop Saddam Hussein. Then the Arab countries asked USA why they were on Israel’s side because they did the same as Saddam Hussein in taking over land that was not theirs. The Arabs thought this was very hypocritical of them because they weren’t stopping the Israelis from something that Saddam Hussein had done. Bush (USA president) wanted to keep the Saudi Arabia and Egypt on his side so the other countries would be more sympathetic towards the Palestinians. This made the peace treaty more likely because then the Palestinians would be more willing to make peace because this put pressure on the Israelis to make peace.
The members of Likud believe that the entire country of Israel should be theirs, and there should be no form of division of it for the Palestinians. They are not willing to make peace and share their land with the Palestinians at all. The Labour party thought that Jerusalem should still belong to the Jews, but they still thought they should give some land back to the Palestinians in return for peace. When Arafat and the PLO heard of this proposition, they accepted this resolution, and they had high hopes at the prospect of peace after nearly 40 years of constant negotiating.
The PLO gave up using terrorism and their plan of trying to drive the Israelis into the sea because they now knew it wouldn’t work. This made peace more possible because they were no longer killing people unnecessarily. Another reason why this made peace more possible was because no one would have sat down at a table if Yasser Arafat was there, because he was the leader of the PLO, which was the terrorist group. Another reason why peace was more possible was because reporters went over to where the refugees lived and found out how they had to live. They found they lived in horrible makeshift tents and they had little food and little water. They realised that people had been born and had died as refugees and had no quality of life. The PLO realised that using terrorism wasn’t getting them anywhere and they needed to stop to be able to get peace.
Palestinian civilians aged around fourteen in the Israeli streets started to rebel against the Israeli soldiers by throwing stones at the tanks. The soldiers became irritated and started to shoot them. People were outraged on both the Palestinian and the Israeli sides. These were just kids they were shooting and they weren’t doing any harm by throwing stones at the tanks. This made peace more likely because the people on the Palestinian side were angry that the Israeli soldiers were just shooting their children dead, and they wanted it to stop. This would have made them want to sign the peace treaty.
People started to feel sorry for the Palestinians and not blame them for the fact that peace was not possible. When the PLO stopped using terrorism, peace was more possible because they were not trying to kill people to try and get what they wanted. However, HAMAS had not stopped using terrorism and were using suicide bombers and promising people would go to paradise if they died for their country and their religion. Arafat (leader of the PLO) was losing popularity to them and people started listening to HAMAS instead of Yasser Arafat. This made peace more likely because Yasser Arafat needed some sort of victory against HAMAS, so he signed the peace treaty.
In 1993, when the two countries of Israel and Palestine signed a peace treaty, Clinton was there as the peacemaker. He wanted to be seen like this because it made him look good to everyone else and also may have helped him win a next election because he has done something really good. One of the reasons Yasser Arafat agreed to the peace treaty was because he needed some sort of success against HAMAS. He wanted to have some more popularity again amongst his people so they would listen to him and not HAMAS.
Yitzhak Rabin wanted to make peace because his country was facing economic problems and the government was spending far too much on the army and weapons. Also Yitzhak Rabin wanted peace because the Intifada was making Israel look bad because of their occupation and control of Palestinian territories. The first Intifada ended when Israel granted limited autonomy to the Palestine national authority in the 1993 peace agreement.
Lots of things were really necessary to change on both sides for peace between Israel and Palestine. There were lots of things each side did that the other hated. Lots of things did change and made peace possible.
First of all, one thing that changed was the new winner of the general Israeli elections in 1992. The Labour party won the next election which made Yitzhak Rabin the president. The labour party were in favour of making peace with Palestine, unlike the Likud who had been in power since 1977. The Likud who were against making peace in Israel were not in power any more so they could not stop the peace treaty. Because the labour party was in control, lots of other people in Israel thought that the peace treaty was a good idea. This was a really important thing to happen because if the Labour party had not been elected there was not going to be any chance of Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat signing a peace treaty.
Also in Palestine lots of things changed. The PLO stopped terrorism because people found out how the refugees were living, which made peace possible because they weren’t killing loads of the opposite side. This was quite an important reason because if the PLO hadn’t given up terrorism, no one would have sat down at a table with Yasser Arafat and tried to make peace if he was the leader of a terrorist group.
Also the fact that HAMAS were becoming more popular in Palestine made Yasser Arafat want to do something good so he would be more popular again, and people would listen to him and not to HAMAS. This was not as much an important reason as the other reasons because Yasser Arafat would have wanted peace anyway, no matter whether HAMAS was going to carry on with terrorism. Also this was not as important because HAMAS didn’t originally sign the peace treaty, so they were not really part of the agreement. They only made peace more difficult after the treaty had been signed.
Overall both the Israelis and the Palestinians had something in their society that changed to make the peace treaty work. Some things still didn’t work out though because although the PLO stopped terrorism, HAMAS still used it. Also, even though the labour party won in 1992, the Likud party won the next election. The Likud were not in favour of peace so this did not work out because the Likud spent vast amounts money on the army again.