COUNTRYAAH, the Israeli government was squeezed from two
directions during the year. Many Israelis believed that
Prime Minister Ehud Barak was too lenient towards
Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, but at the same time
Barak's government received international criticism for the
violence against Palestinians. In December, Barak was forced
to step down.
The only real highlight of the year for Barak was the
withdrawal from Lebanon in May. Barak had hoped, within the
framework of a peace agreement with Lebanon and Syria, to
withdraw Israeli forces from southern Lebanon by July 2000.
But when the number of Israeli soldiers killed in Lebanon
exceeded 900, Barak chose to unilaterally call back his
troops on May 24.
About 6,500 members of the Israeli-supported militia SLA
(Southern Lebanese Army) fled to Israel with their families.
Some of them later returned to Lebanon.
The trips around the presidential post were a severe blow
to the government. The incumbent President Ezer Weizman
resigned May 28 after it emerged that when he was a member
of the government he had received money gifts without taxing
money. The government's candidate for new president,
Minister of Regional Cooperation Shimon Peres, lost the
Knesset presidential vote. Instead, the right-wing Likud
candidate Moshe Katsav was appointed new president.
During some summer weeks, 14 of the coalition
government's 22 ministers left their missions. Everyone
believed that Barak had offered the Palestinians major
concessions in the US negotiations in July. The heaviest
defender was Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister
David Levy from Barak's own Labor Party. Shlomo Ben-Ami,
Minister of Public Security, was appointed acting Foreign
On September 28, Ariel Sharon, Likud leader and military
responsible for the massacres of Palestinians in Lebanese
refugee camps in 1982, made an unexpected visit to the
Temple Mount, or as the Arabs call it, Haram al-Sharif. This
height in Jerusalem is sacred to both Jews and Muslims.
The Palestinian protests against the visit turned parts
of Israel into a war zone when Arabs with Israeli citizenship
joined a Palestinian uprising in the Palestinian-controlled
areas. In October, the UN General Assembly passed a
resolution condemning Israeli violence. 92 countries voted
for the resolution, six voted against; Sweden and 45 other
countries abstained, and 45 countries did not participate.
Barak tried to form a unifying government to unite the
Israelis, but it failed. On December 10, he filed his
resignation, and a new election to the Prime Minister's post
was announced until February 6. Barak said he hoped the
people would give him a new mandate to work for peace.
Israel visited by German President Johannes Rau on
February 15-19, by Pope John Paul II and by Jordan's King
Abdullah on April 23. Chinese President Jiang Zemin also
visited Israel in April. Two months later, after an American
pressure, Israel broke an agreement that they had concluded with
China to sell an advanced Phalcon airplane system to the
For the Soviet Union was a Jewish state preferred over the continued presence
of a British military base, and Soviet support was therefore crucial to the
formation of the State of Israel. By contrast, London and Washington did not
consider the divide a viable path, and US Secretary of Defense James Forrestal
therefore suggested President Truman send troops to make Palestine a UN
protectorate. In the end, however, the UN General Assembly adopted the split
plan with 33 votes against 13 (the Arab countries and India) and 10 whites. The
armed Zionist organizations occupied the larger cities and began to expel all
Palestinians on the grounds that an attack by the Arab countries was
imminent. The ethnic cleansing policy reached a tentative climax with the April
1948 massacre of Deir Yassin. Irgun, who was led by the later Israeli Prime
Minister, Menahem Begin.
On May 14, 1948, the English High Commissioner withdrew from Palestine
and Ben Gurión proclaimed the establishment of the State of
Israel. Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon responded by immediately
attacking the country militarily. The Zionist cleansing policy has now reached
its climax. 600-800,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes and had to
go into exile in Lebanon, in the eastern part of Palestine (West Bank of the
Jordan River) and in Egypt (especially Gaza). In Israel's official history, it
was claimed that the attacking Arab countries had called on the Palestinians to
flee. Only when Israel's military archives were opened to Israeli historians in
the late 1980s could they prove that the official history writing was wrong. Ben Gurion himself had called for ethnic cleansing, and this expulsion policy was
implemented throughout 1948 with a system that was only repeated during the
ethnic cleansing in the Balkans in the 1990s.
In January 1949, a ceasefire was concluded with the Arab countries. Israel
had then increased its territory by 40% according to the sharing plan. Crucial
to the victory were the Soviet weapons and aircraft that Israel had acquired
through Czechoslovakia. Yet the young state immediately took sides with the
other party in the Cold War, forming a close strategic alliance with the United
States that continues to exist to this day. However, there was no simple or
immediate alliance. When Israeli, English, and French troops invaded Egypt in
1956 in return for the nationalization of the Suez Canal, this step was
counteracted by both the United States and the Soviet Union, and the invasion
troops were forced to retreat.
The diaries of the late Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett show that Israel
forced the Eisenhower government in the United States to bet on Tel Aviv rather
than Cairo as its primary ally in the Middle East. It happened, among other
things. with acts of sabotage aimed at Western interests in Cairo by a Zionist
agent network. These events have gone down in history as "the Lavons case". US
disruption of credits and weapons to Egypt forced its country's President Gamal
Abdel Nasser into the arms of the Soviet Union, paving the way for a further
rapprochement between Israel and the United States.
1967 June wars
In June 1967, with the aim of expanding its borders, Israel conducted North
American weapons in the so-called «6 Day War». After that, Israel occupied all
of Palestine, the Syrian Golan Heights and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula.
UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 22, 1967, required Israeli
withdrawal from all occupied territories, but Israel refused to comply with the
resolution, citing the need for "safe borders" in defense of "Arab aggression
against its existence". A new military conflict broke out in 1973, when Egyptian
troops crossed the Suez Canal and brought down the myth of the Israeli
military's invincibility, although the fence poles had not been moved much on
the battlefield when the ceasefire was concluded.
In 1977, Menahem Begin was elected prime minister, implying a break in
Israel's political life since independence. For the first time in the history of
the State of Israel, the labor party stood outside the government. Begins
'election victory partly reflected the social tensions between, on the one hand,
the Ashkenazi Jews of European descent with a higher cultural and economic level
and traditional workers' party supporters, and on the other, the Oriental Jews
who originated from the Arab countries, the Middle East and North Africa. A
group often mistakenly mistaken for the Sephardi Jews. They were often
subjected to ashkenazi discrimination's. Oriental Jews were culturally
closer to Arabs than European Jews and made up 55% of the population, but their
average income was only two-thirds of the Ashkenazis. Due. their
distancing from the Europeans - who sometimes turned into fanaticism -
constituted the electoral basis of the right wing.