Friday, 30 January 2015

Israel & the Jews (IV): 1948 Onwards


Israel & the Jews : Part-IV : Israel After 1948
Israel & the Jews : Part-III : Events Leading upto Creation of Israel
Israel & the Jews : Part-II  : BCE to the Jewish Ordeal
Israel & the Jews : Part-I    : FAQs, Truths & Interesting Facts

Israel & the Jews
FAQs, Truths & Interesting Facts
Part - 4
Part-C : Israel, 1948 Onwards
Details about specific periods and episodes would be in separate blog-posts that would follow Part-4, as a part of this blog-series.

Israel's Evolving Geography
through Maps

(Includes parts of current Jordan, Syria, etc.)

Area of Israel/Palestine
was part of the Ottoman Empire
till it was defeated in World War-I

Area of Israel/Palestine went under the
British Mandate for Palestine after World War-I
duly approved by the League of Nations.
The Mandate provided for creation of a Jewish nation
as per the Balfour Declaration of 1917

Out of the Area of the British Mandate for Palestine (above) meant
for the Jewish nation, a massive 77% was chopped off as an
exclusive Arab Muslim state of TransJordan (Jordan).
That left meagre 23% of the area for the Jewish nation.

Out of the Area of the British Mandate for Palestine, the left-off
meagre 23% of the area for the Jewish nation
(after creating Jordan (map above) on 77% for Arab Muslims)

The combined area of 21 Arab Islamic nations is a whopping 13.487 million sq km,
compared to which the above area for the Jewish nation
 was a negligible 28,000 sq km—a mere 0.20%! 

Further partition of the above meagre 23% (28,000 sq km)
between the Jews and the Arab Muslims
as per the UN Partition Plan of 1947

Israel's Birth
14 May 1948

UN Partition Plan 1947 was accepted by the Jews. In view of the scheduled termination of the British Mandate for Palestine on 15 May 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the Zionist Organization and the President of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared the establishment of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948.

However, the UN Partition Plan 1947 was NOT accepted by the Palestinian Arab Muslims. They were also opposed to the creation of the Jewish nation.

First Joint Arab Attack
15 May 1948
a day after Israel's birth

Israel was but a day old when its neighbours, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Transjordan (Jordan), attacked it on 15 May 1948. Saudi Arabia sent a military contingent. Yemen too declared war though it did not participate in the war.

The attacking Arab armies targeted civilian establishments too—the Egyptian air-force bombed civilian areas in Tel Aviv and elsewhere. Civilian damages and causalities as collaterals while targeting military sites or places (even in civilian areas) where armaments are located or hidden in understandable; but to go after the civilian targets themselves—that was clear violation of the International Law.

While the Israeli army allowed Arab civilians to flee the areas they advanced in; the Arab armies massacred Jewish civilians, even after they surrendered. The Arab refugee problem arose because the Israeli army did not kill the civilians. On the other hand, there was no Jewish refugee problem because the Arab armies did not spare the Jewish civilians—they killed them.

Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Palestine, declared a holy war and ordered the Muslims to murder the Jews. The Arab army went about exterminating the Jews lest they be burdened with any Jewish refugee problem. Abd al-Ahlman Azzah Pasha, the secretary general of the Arab League declared: “This will be a war of extermination and momentous massacre, which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.

Though newly established—only a day old—Israel’s ragtag army managed to repel the attack, though at a great human cost. The Jews fought bravely: with the Holocaust memories still fresh in their minds, they knew it was a matter of life and death for them—if they lost their slaughter at the hands of the Arabs was almost certain.

The war lasted for about a year, after which a ceasefire was declared. Temporary borders—the Green Line—were established.

In the process of driving out and pushing back the aggressors in the war, Israel managed to capture more land than was allotted to it under the UN Plan. Fortunately, that helped Israel save Jews living in those areas, else those Jews would have faced a sorry fate.

Post-1948 War

Jordan and Egypt grabbed the Palestine-Arab land. They occupied the areas that were to go to the Palestine Arabs as per the UN Partition Plan: Jordan annexed the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; and Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip. It appears that neither Jordan nor Egypt desired an independent Palestinian state. Strangely, their occupation was neither condemned by the UN nor by any human rights group. Communists and leftists only target Israel—that allows them to appear pro-Muslim, and hence liberal.

Israel’s UN Membership

11 May 1949. By majority vote, Israel was admitted as a member of the United Nations on 11 May 1949.

India’s Shameful Stand under Nehru a Third Time. India's first shameful stand under Nehru was of opposing the UN vote in November 1947 which led to the creation of Israel. Please click here to check the previous blog-post. India's second shameful stand under Nehru was of not recognising Israel after it was created, even though many nations had recognised it. India under Nehru followed up on its first two shameful stands by yet another one when in 1949 India voted against the admission of Israel to the United Nations.

As part of the comprehensively disastrous package of short-term, medium-term and long-term policies of the Nehru-Indira Dynasty in all fields—economic, defence, foreign, internal and external security, language, education, culture, and so on—that laid the concrete foundations of India’s misery (Please click here for the blog on "Blunders of the Nehruvian Era") through their poverty-perpetuating, misery-multiplying and problems-spawning potential; India chose not to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

Since the time of Nehru, the Congress wanted votes of the Indian Muslims cheaply. Don’t do anything worthwhile for them to enhance their living conditions and their economic and educational status; just throw emotional sops at them to get their votes. Should foreign policies be decided on communal grounds—and that too by self-proclaimed “secularists”, who condemned the rest as communal!

Such was the "great idealist" and freedom-fighter Nehru. Why bother about the freedom of another young, fledgling country? Why bother about another set of people—the Jews—who suffered for centuries like the Hindus? A leader who could have been indifferent to the enslavement of its own friendly neighbour of centuries (Tibet) could not have been expected to be sensitive to the travails of a distant country. He could talk, of course. Ventilate against colonialism in Africa—it required only talking, no action. But, do nothing against the bestial treatment of Indian Tamils in Sri Lanka!

What mattered for Nehru and the Congress were votes—votes that came the cheap and convenient way. And, that required pandering to the Indian Muslims. It is another matter that the patriotic Indian Muslims would have heartily supported India's stand if India had done the right thing: favoured Israel.

Things changed in 1992 with the wise, non-Dynasty Prime Minister Narsimha Rao in the saddle, who established full diplomatic relations with Israel.

Israel's Difficult Decade

Holocaust survivors and Jews from Arab and Muslim lands, many of whom faced persecution and expulsion, migrated in large numbers to Israel between 1948 and 1958 more than doubling its population from 800,000 to two million.

Managing and providing for such overwhelmingly large number of refugees was a huge problem. Rationing of food and other items had to be resorted to. The period therefore came to be known as the Austerity Period. Many refugees arrived with no possessions and were housed in tent cities.

Agreement with West Germany. The dire need to provide for the immigrants required massive funds. To get the badly needed money, the Israeli PM Ben-Gurion signed a reparations agreement with West Germany. The move triggered massive protests in Israel—angry Jews could not stomach the idea of accepting monetary compensation for the Holocaust. However, the funds proved timely and very helpful in rehabilitation and development.

Fedayeen Attacks in the 1950s. Israel was frequently attacked by Palestinian Fedayeen in the 1950s, mainly from the Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip. Israel was forced to conduct counter-raids.

Suez Crisis, 1956. Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal and closed it for Israeli shipping. In 1956, Britain and France conducted operations aimed at regaining control of the Suez Canal. Israel joined the alliance as it too was an affected party. Israel overran the Sinai Peninsula belonging to Egypt. The UN, however, made Israel withdraw in return for guarantees of Israeli shipping rights in the Red Sea and the Canal.

1964. Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). PLO was established in 1964. PLO initially committed itself to "armed struggle as the only way to liberate the homeland". They launched a wave of attacks against the Israeli/Jewish targets around the world. They carried out a massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. Israel retaliated by organising an assassination campaign against the organizers of the massacre.

Second Joint Arab Attack
Six-Day War 1967

We can forgive the Arabs for killing our childern.
We cannont forgive them for forcing us to kill their children.

~ Golda Meir, Former Israeli Prime Minister

Arab nationalists led by the Egyptian President Nasser refused to recognize Israel, and gave a call for its destruction. Egypt announced a partial blockade of Israel's access to the Red Sea, and expelled UN peacekeepers stationed in the Sinai Peninsula since 1957. Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq mobilised their forces against Israel.

The closure of the Straits of Tiran by Egypt was illegal and amounted to an act of war. Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein, the Egyptian President since 1956 (till his death in 1970) himself admitted: “We knew the closing of the Gulf of Aqaba meant war with Israel…the objective will be Israel’s destruction.”

Brig. Gen. Ariel Sharon (who later became PM), left,
with Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Begin
on the Southern Front of the Six Day War
in the Sinai Desert on June 16, 1967

The war was not really over the Straits of Tiran; its actual purpose was to wipe Israel from the map, and exterminate the Jews.

Hafiz al-Assad of Syria exhorted his soldiers: “Strike the enemy’s settlements, turn them into dust, pave the Arab roads with the skulls of Jews…” The Arab aggressors wanted it to be a battle of annihilation of Jews and liquidation of Israel.

Learning of imminent joint attack by Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq, Israel tried diplomatic options to avert the crisis. However, when that yielded no results, and realising that whoever struck first would have a decisive advantage, Israel wisely conducted pre-emptive air-attacks on the Egyptian, Syrian and Iraqi military airfields on the morning of June 5, 1967.

Israeli armor advances against Egyptian troops at the start of
the Six-Day War June 5, 1967 near Rafah, Gaza Strip

Jordan too, ignoring Israel’s repeated peaceful overtures, began shelling Jewish civilian population centres. Syrian and Iraqi MIGs along with the Jordanian air-force bombed civilian population.

Israel triumphed over the vastly numerous combined Arab military might. The war ended in 6 days; and came to be known as the Six-Day War.

As the news of Israeli victory spread, Arab Muslim mobs in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Tunisia, Libya and Morocco began attacking Jewish neighbourhoods and burning synagogues. Significantly, Arab Muslims living in Israel and Israel-occupied territories faced no such attacks!

In the war, Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank from Jordan, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt; and expanded Jerusalem's boundaries to incorporate East Jerusalem within it. The 1949 Green Line then served as the administrative boundary between Israel and the occupied territories.

Israel after Six-Day War

After winning the war, the Israeli cabinet decided on 19 June 1967 that Israel would give back Sinai that it had won to Egypt and the Golan to Syria in exchange for peace.

However, both Egypt and Syria rejected the offer!

Similarly, Israel desired to exchange the West Bank with Jordan for peace; but King Hussein of Jordan did not respond till many years later when Jordan renounced its claim to the West Bank in favour of the PLO.

The UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 22 November 1967 stated, inter alia: “[The UN Security Council] (1) Affirms that the fulfilment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both of the following principles: (i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict; (ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”

Israel accepted the UN resolution. However, the Arab states rejected it—for it required making peace with Israel.

The Arab leaders declared at a summit in Khartoum: “No peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel.”

The Palestinian National Charter explicitly denied Israel’s right to exist and resolved continued armed struggle to liberate all of Palestine—that, under their definition, included all of Israel.

I think that this is the first war in history that on the morrow the victors sued for peace and the vanquished called for unconditional surrender.

— Abba Eban, then Israel’s Foreign Minister, after Israel’s decisive victory over Arab armies in the 1967 Six Day War

Third Joint Arab Attack
Yom Kippur War 1973

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for the Jews. It falls each year on the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, which is 9 days after the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Yom Kippur may fall between September 14 and October 14 depending upon the year.

In 1973, Yom Kipper fell on 6 October. It is on that day when Israel and the Jews the world over were busy observing Yom Kipper that the Egyptian and the Syrian armies launched a surprise attack against Israel in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights respectively.

Ariel Sharon (who later became PM) and Moshe Dayan
in October 1973 in the Sinai Desert during the Yom Kippur

The attack did come as a surprise to the Israelis because after defeating the Arab armies on several occasions in the past—particularly the joint Egypt-Syria-Jordan-Iraq army in 1967 in the Six-Day War—Israel was a little laid back and didn’t expect the Arabs to take to war again.

Golda Meir during the 1973 Yom Kippur War

In the war, the Egyptian forces successfully crossed the Suez Canal and the cease-fire lines, and advanced virtually unopposed into the Sinai Peninsula. Taken by surprise, it took Israel three days to mobilise and halt the Egyptian offensive. Israel counterattacked, crossed the Suez Canal into Egypt, and began advancing towards Cairo in over a week of heavy fighting that took a heavy toll on both sides. By October 24, the Israelis had completed their encirclement of Egypt's Third Army and the city of Suez.

Moshe Dayan (R) on the banks of the Suez Canal

Syrian too made initial gains, thanks to the surprise attack, but after three days when Israel was able to mobilise its forces, the Syrians were pushed back to the pre-war ceasefire lines. Within a week, in a counter-offensive, the Israeli artillery began to shell the outskirts of Damascus.

Israel ultimately triumphed. The UN-brokered ceasefire became effective on 26 October 1973.

Notably, even though Israel had nuclear weapons since the 1960s, it hasn’t used them, even when badly cornered and taken by surprise, and when it suffered heavy casualties, like in this Yom Kippur War of 1973.

India & Israel; India-China War 1962 & Yom Kipper 1973; Nehru & Golda Meir : A Sharp Contrast. Please click here for the blog on "Blunders of the Nehruvian Era".

Continued Conflict &
Quest for Peace

Entebbe Rescue Operation, 1976.

Israeli commandos carried out a daring mission to rescue 102 hostages who were being held by the Palestinian guerrillas at Entebbe International Airport in Kampala, Uganda in July 1976.

Egypt–Israel Accord, 1978 and Israel–Egypt Peace Treaty, 1979
Sadat, Carter, Begin (L to R)

The Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and the Israeli PM Menachem Begin signed the Camp David Accords in 1978 and the Israel–Egypt Peace Treaty in 1979; following which Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula that belonged to Egypt, and agreed to negotiate on the autonomy for Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The Camp David Accords won Sadat and Begin Nobel Peace Prize in  1978.

Unfortunately, the Islamic countries, particularly the religious fundamentalists there—and there are plenty of them and they manage to have an upper hand and a decisive say—rarely like to be at peace with peace. They would go against anyone who counsels peace, and would lap up the belligerent.

Given their bend, the 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty created dishevel among the fundamentalists in the Arab world. Egypt's membership in the Arab League was suspended—reinstated only in 1989. Said Yasser Arafat, PLO Leader: “Let them sign what they like. False peace will not last.” Members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad ultimately assassinated Sadat on 6 October 1981.

Coastal Road Massacre of Israelis by PLO in 1978. PLO guerrillas conducted a raid into Israel from South Lebanon on 11 March 1978 killing 38 Israeli civilians and injuring 71.

Early 1980s. Israeli Settlements. Israel provided incentives to its citizens to settle in the occupied West Bank. A law was passed declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 1980 reaffirming 1967 annexation of Jerusalem by Israel. Israel had already extended its laws and administration to East Jerusalem. In 1981, Israel annexed the Golan Heights.

Destruction of Iraq Nuclear Reactor, 1981. The Israeli air force destroyed Iraq's under construction nuclear reactor just outside Baghdad on 7 June 1981.

PLO Attacks, 1982. PLO launched a series of attacks and missiles into northern Israel in 1982. Israel retaliated by destroying PLO bases in Lebanon and defeating the Syrians. Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 1986, maintaining only a borderline buffer zone.

Jewish Immigration in the 1980s and 1990s. Several waves of Ethiopian Jews immigrated to Israel in the 1980s and 1990s. Many Russian Jews immigrated to Israel during 1990-94.

The First Intifada, 1987. Palestinian uprising erupted against Israel in the occupied West Bank and Gaza in 1987.

Oslo Accords-I 1993. On 13 September 1993, Shimon Peres on behalf of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas for the PLO signed the Oslo Accords, with the Israeli PM Rabin and the PLO Chairman Arafat in Washington DC shaking hands. It was officially witnessed by the United States and Russia. As per the same, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) gained the right to govern parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; and in return the PLO recognized Israel's right to exist and pledged an end to terrorism.

Israel–Jordan Treaty of Peace, 1994. Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994. Jordan thus became the second Arab country (the first was Egypt) to normalize relations with Israel.

Palestinian suicide attacks continued. Despite the Accords, the Palestinian suicide attacks continued against Israel, leading to criticism of the Accords within Israel; and culminating in the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995 by a far-right-wing Jew who opposed the Accords.

Oslo-II or Taba Accord, 28 September 1995. The Accord, which built further on Oslo-I, was first signed in Taba in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt by Israel and the PLO on 24 September 1995, followed by signing of the same on 28 September 1995 at Washington DC by the Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin and the PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and witnessed by the US President Bill Clinton and by the representatives of Russia, Egypt, Jordan, Norway, and the European Union.

Hebron Accord, 1997. Under this Accord, Israel withdrew from the city of Hebron in the West Bank, handing it over to the PLO. Incidentally, Hebron is regarded as the traditional birthplace of the biblical patriarch Abraham. Jews have lived continually in Hebron from the biblical times.

Wye River Memorandum, 1998. Following the Israel-PLO summit at Wye River, USA held between 15–23 October 1998, this agreement was signed on 23 October 1998. It sought to resume the implementation of the Oslo-II Accord.

Camp David Summit, 2000

Israel-PLO summit between the Israeli PM Ehud Barak and the PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat took place at Camp David, USA, with the US President Bill Clinton lending a helping hand. Various meetings were conducted between 11 July 2000 and January 2011.

US President Clinton with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, left,
and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat at the
Camp David during peace talks, July 11, 2000.

To somehow clinch peace Israel’s Barak startled the world with his extremely generous proposal to Arafat. Barak offered almost all the territory the Palestinians were demanding: about 94–96% of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip. In lieu of the 4–6% land that Israel would retain for security purposes, it would cede 1–3% of its land to the Palestinians.

Further, Israel agreed for Arab Jerusalem as the capital for Palestine that would include East Jerusalem. Barak even agreed for the Arab control over the entire Temple Mount despite its historic and religious significance to Jews, retaining control only over the Western Wall, which has no significance for Muslims. Israel also generously offered USD 30 billion as aid to Palestine.

Yet, Arafat rejected the Israel proposal, without even offering a counter-proposal.

Why did Arafat reject the highly generous Israeli peace proposal? Arafat was afraid of making peace with Israel, regardless of what Israel offered. He knew that any peace-accord with Israel would result in his being branded a traitor by the radical Islamic groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad (Sadat was murdered for suing for peace with Israel).

Arafat and the other Palestinian leaders didn’t really care for the Palestinians and their sufferings; they just wanted to keep themselves in the saddle—and that required a continued state of conflict. Arafat conveniently searched for excuses to reject Israel’s peace offer.

It is worth noting that Arafat didn’t even offer a counter-proposal to Israel’s offer. What if Israel had accepted his proposal? How would he then wriggle out of it! Arafat’s unwillingness to accept such a generous peace offer from Israel meant that he was really unwilling to accept any peace offer that left Israel in existence.

Clinton dejected. President Clinton, who had devoted his precious time to help clinch a solution for peace, was furious at Arafat’s rejection of such a generous Israeli proposal (made a little more generous through the persuasion of Clinton), and even called Arafat a liar.

Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia disappointed with Arafat. In the Camp David Summit 2000, Bandar of Saudi Arabia had served as a crucial intermediary between the PLO and the US. Bandar was a  member of the royal Saudi family, and was a Saudi diplomat in the US for over 20 years. Bandar’s help was sought by Arafat, and for that he had himself requested Crown Prince Abdullah, the acting monarch of Saudi Arabia.

Bandar was in fact quite taken aback at the Israel offer—he hadn’t expected it could be so magnanimous. Realising there couldn’t be a better deal, he impressed upon Arafat to accept it. He even told Arafat it would be a crime to refuse such an offer. Yet, Arafat refused!

Yasser Arafat (1929-2004) was the Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). He was opposed to Israel's existence for a very long time—only in 1988, by accepting the UN Security Council Resolution 242, did he modify that position.

He shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres of Israel in 1994 for the Oslo Accords (pl. see above). Sadly, he failed to live up to it, for he felt his leadership position was better assured by being in a state of permanent conflict with Israel. Ultimately, he failed to achieve anything worthwhile for his people. Indeed, the Palestinians suffered grievously for decades thanks to his non-visionary and selfish and self-serving leadership. It has been claimed by many that he had amassed an enormous fortune for himself, even as his people suffered and remained in poverty and want.

Yasser Arafat regarded the Nazi war criminal Husseini, the then Grand Mufti of Palestine, as “our hero”, and boasted of being “one of his troops”!

Second Intifada Begins. This was allegedly pre-planned by Yasser Arafat.

Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Under Ariel Sharon, who became the PM in 2001, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip.

Israeli West Bank Barrier. Under Sharon the Israeli West Bank barrier was constructed to defeat the Intifada.

Second Lebanon War, 2006. In July 2006, Hezbollah artillery attacked Israel’s northern border. That led a month-long Second Lebanon War.

Destruction of Syrian Nuclear Reactor, 2007. Israeli Air Force destroyed a nuclear reactor in Syria on 6 September 2007.

Current Geographical Status
of Israel & Palestine

While Israel has long since withdrawn from the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip that it had occupied in the Six-Day War in 1967, it has not done so in respect of the West Bank, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem.


Following the Israel–Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979 Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula that belonged to Egypt, and dismantled its settlements there.

Gaza Strip

Under the Oslo Accords-I of 1993 the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) gained the right to govern the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Strip has been under the control of the Palestinian Authority since Israel's 2005 withdrawal. However, a power-sharing breakdown between the Palestinian parties Fatah and Hamas in 2007 turned the strip into a lawless, Hamas-ruled region where militants have flourished. Israel dismantled its settlements when it quit the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Settlements Removed

Golan Heights

The Golan Heights captured from Syria in the Six-Day War in 1967 is still with Israel—it annexed it in 1981. Israel has since built its settlements there.

West Bank

The West Bank captured from Jordan in the Six-Day War in 1967 is partially with Israel, and the remaining is under the control of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rules out of the government headquarters in Ramallah.

Current Status of Jerusalem

Jerusalem is the largest city in Israel, and is its declared capital. West Jerusalem was under the control of Israel, while it captured East Jerusalem in the Six-Day War in 1967.

Old City of Jerusalem

In 1980, through its Jerusalem Law, Israel declared a complete and united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Most of the foreign embassies are, however, located in Tel Aviv. The Jews mostly live in West Jerusalem, while the Muslims mostly reside in East Jerusalem.

This status of Jerusalem as capital of Israel is in dispute, as Palestine too regards Jerusalem as its capital.

Historically, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital. The Jewish or the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) mentions Jerusalem over 669 times and Zion (meaning Jerusalem or the Land of Israel) 154 times, while the Christian Bible mentions Jerusalem 154 times and Zion 7 times. King David established the city of Jerusalem as the capital of the Land of Israel.

Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Jerusalem is not mentioned even once in the Koran. To the Jews the entire city is sacred, whilst to Arabs only the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque is sacred.

Jerusalem remained under Turkish Ottoman Empire rule from 1517 to 1917, and under British rule from 1917 to 1948.

For details on Temple Mount, please click here to check the previous blog-post.

Israel has concerns regarding the welfare of Jewish holy places under possible Palestinian control, as many of their holy sites had been desecrated when under the Muslim control. However, Israel has accorded due respect to the holy sites of the Muslims and the Christians under their control.

Israeli Settlements in the West Bank

Israel has built settlements in the West Bank, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. In the West bank the settlements are mostly in its western part.

As per an estimate, about 400,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank in 121 officially recognised settlements, over 300,000 live in East Jerusalem and over 20,000 in the Golan Heights.

Their presence is contentious. Most nations and the UN consider these settlements as illegal, being in occupied territories. The International Court of Justice also held the settlements as illegal in a 2004 advisory opinion.

The Israeli settlements in the West Bank make up what Israel calls the Judea and Samaria: the historical biblical names for the territory covered by the West Bank. Samaria corresponds to part of the ancient Kingdom of Israel; and Judea corresponds to part of the ancient Kingdom of Judah.

It is worth noting that all of Palestine, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem would have been with the Palestinians, and there would have been no Israeli settlements there had the Palestinians represented by Yasser Arafat accepted the peace deal in 2000 at Camp David. But, Arafat let go of the golden opportunity (pl. see above) for peace and prosperity, and chose continued conflict and wretched life for his people over tranquility, progress and development—all for the sake of his own selfish desire to continue to be in power, even if his people continued to suffer a never-ending war and conflict!

Since the borders remained unaccepted by the PLO, Israel considers the region of the West Bank as “unallocated” and NOT “occupied territories”. Being so, Israel’s contention is that Jewish settlements in an “unallocated” territory are not illegal.

Incidentally, upon relinquishing control of Sinai and the Gaza Strip, Israel had dismantled its settlements there.

Palestinian National Authority
(PA or PNA)

Following the 1993 Oslo Accords (pl. see above), the Palestinian National Authority (PA or PNA) was established in 1994 as the interim self-government body for Areas A and B of the West Bank and for the Gaza Strip. East Jerusalem was excluded from the Accords. Area-A of the West Bank were those where the PNA had exclusive internal security and civilian controls, while Area-B were the rural areas where the PNA had only civilian controls. External security and foreign affairs are excluded from the domain of the PA, and remain with Israel. The remaining areas (about 61% of the West Bank: including Israeli settlements, the Jordan Valley region, etc.) were designated as Area-C which remained under the Israeli control.

Israel withdrew unilaterally from the Gaza Strip in 2005, thereby expanding Palestinian Authority control to the entire strip

The Chairman of PA since 2005 is Mahmoud Abbas, who belongs to Fatah (of late Yasser Arafat). Salam Fayyad is the PM since 2007. Currently, as Hamas controls Gaza, the PA’s authority is limited to the West Bank only. The PA is dependent upon finance from the Arab League and various aid agencies.

Palestinian Authority’s attempt to gain UN membership as a fully sovereign state failed in 2011. The UN representation of Palestine was upgraded in November 2012 to a non-member observer State. Its mission title was changed from Palestine (represented by PLO) to State of Palestine.

We plan to eliminate the state of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian state. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion. We Palestinians will take over everything, including all of Jerusalem.
~ Yasser Arafat

Oh, Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters and the Americans and their supporters. Oh, Allah, count them one by one, and kill them all, without leaving a single one.
~ Sheik Ahamd Bahr, deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council


In 2006 legislative elections Hamas emerged victorious and nominated Ismail Haniyeh as the Authority's Prime Minister. But, the national unity Palestinian government collapsed when a violent conflict broke out between Hamas and Fatah. The PA's Chairman Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the Hamas-led government and appointed Salam Fayyad as the PM.

Some Palestinian groups, including Hamas, want Palestinians to control not only the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, but also all of Israel proper! Hamas views the peace process as religiously forbidden and politically inconceivable.

Terrorist Organisation. Hamas/its military wing is designated as a terrorist organization by Australia, Canada, Egypt, the EU, Israel, Japan, the UK and the US; and is banned in Jordan. However, it is not considered to be so by Iran, Turkey, China, Russia and some Arab nations. Currently, Hamas obtains most of its finance from Iran.

Hamas and Gaza Strip. Internal power-struggle between Fatah and Hamas erupted into the Battle of Gaza in 2007. Consequent to the same, Hamas took full control of the Gaza Strip.

Israel threatened Hamas with economic sanctions in the Gaza Strip unless it agreed to accept prior Israeli-Palestinian agreements, forswear violence, and recognize Israel's right to exist. Hamas, however, responded with rocket attacks and incursions into Israeli areas through the underground tunnels that it built.

Suicide bombings and Rocket attacks by Hamas and its incursions into Israel and, in response, Israeli air raids into the Gaza Strip are periodic occurrences. The latest (June 2014) round of fighting was sparked when members of Hamas in the West Bank murdered three Israeli youths who were studying there on June 10. Israel responded by arresting some members of Hamas in the West Bank and by air strikes against Hamas in Gaza. Hamas and other Gaza groups launched dozens of rockets into Israel.

Criminally Callous and Uncaring of their Own People. Hamas and other such terrorist organisations who claim to represent the Palestinians care so little for their own people that they deliberately store weapons and rockets at civilian locations like educational institutions and hospitals and in residential areas. Why? Let Israel, seeking only to destroy weapons and rockets by bombing, do the collateral damage of killing civilians, particularly women and children, so that they can publicise to the whole world how cruel and unjust the Israelis are! Provoke and then claim victimhood!! They don’t mind sacrificing their own people, including women and children, for the purpose!!! High time the world at large wakes up to their heartless machinations. Because, if the world starts condemning them rather than the Israelis, their nefarious game would be over, and they would think twice before sacrificing women and children in their selfish game.

The radical rejectionists (of peace with Israel) like Hamas deliberately engage in provocative acts like suicide bombings, launching of rockets into Israel, killing innocent Israeli civilians to drive the Israeli electorate against any negotiations for peace; so that the conflict continues and their chances of somehow obliterating Israel from the map of the world sometime in future remain alive.

Terrorism on the part of these groups is NOT a response of the depressed, the desperate, the exasperated, and the hopeless victims; it is a well thought-out, deliberate tactic that could pave way for the ultimate destruction of Israel.

Saudi Arabia’s Commendable Stand for Peace. Speaking on the sidelines of the world assembly of Islamic scholars in Jeddah in August 2014, Saud bin Faisal Al Saud, the Saudi Foreign Minister stated that the Middle-East needs peace and co-existence more than ever and Saudi Arabia would like President Abbas [of Palestine] to follow the policy of negotiations for lasting peace. He further said that for the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip, Hamas is solely responsible for the Palestinian calamity; and that the Arab World was increasingly frustrated with Hamas which has been seeking more wars.


Hezbollah is a Shia Islamist militant group based in Lebanon, and has been classified as a terrorist organisation by the US, the UK, the EU, France, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Hezbollah leaders are followers of Ayatollah Khomeini and it is funded by Iran. Its forces were trained and organized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Insecurity faced by Israel

Palestinian organizations like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade indulge in suicide attacks on Israeli civilian targets. Palestinian suicide bombers have targeted civilian buses, restaurants, shopping malls, hotels and marketplaces.

Palestinians launch rocket and mortar attacks across the borders into Israel disrupting normal life in the border areas of Israel.

Israel had to construct security barriers in parts of the West Bank to protect itself from Palestinian suicide bombers. This has helped drastically reduce the terrorist attacks.
Why can’t the Camp Davis Proposals
of 2000 be implemented now?

Terms offered by Israel to PLO at Camp David in 2000 (pl. see above) were very generous. They were better that what is currently talked about as a two-nation (Palestine and Israel, side by side) solution. However, Arafat and PLO refused that once-in-a-life-time offer. Current Palestinian leadership would perhaps be too happy to accept the same terms if offered by Israel now, but given Israel’s experience after the offer in 2000, it is doubtful if Israel would ever do so.

Israel had offered those over-generous terms in 2000 for it desperately sought permanent peace in the interest of national development and prosperity of its people. However, besides the refusal of the Israel’s offer and besides making no counter-offer, the Palestinian groups, at the instance of PLO/Arafat, indulged in targeting innocent Israeli civilians through terrorist activities that included suicide-bombings.

Israeli leadership felt increasingly convinced by the terrorist acts of the Palestinian groups that they don’t really wish to leave Israel in peace, and seek only its destruction, even if it takes decades, and even if meanwhile their own people have to grievously suffer. Many feel that Palestinians now seeking statehood, and thus a two-state solution, is only an interim step forward for them, in the absence of a better alternative, to finally get rid of Israel at some future date.

The Palestinian groups do not genuinely seek peaceful co-existence with Israel. Hamas charter itself makes this clear. Here are extracts from its charter:

“…It strives to raise the banner of Allah  over  every  inch  of Palestine… Israel will exist and  will  continue  to  exist  until  Islam  will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it… The  land  of  Palestine  is  an  Islamic  Waqf  [Holy   Possession] consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgment Day. No  one can renounce it or any part, or  abandon  it  or  any  part  of  it… Palestine is  an  Islamic  land... Since  this  is  the  case,  the Liberation of Palestine  is  an  individual  duty  for  every  Moslem wherever he may be… The day the enemies usurp part of Moslem  land,  Jihad  becomes  the individual duty of every Moslem. In the face of the Jews' usurpation, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised… [Peace]  initiatives,   and   so-called   peaceful   solutions   and international conferences are in contradiction to the  principles  of the Islamic Resistance Movement… Those conferences are no more than a means to appoint the  infidels  as  arbitrators  in  the  lands  of Islam... There is no solution for the Palestinian problem  except  by Jihad… The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees,  and  the rocks and trees will cry out: 'O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.’…”

Israel’s experience of being generous has been bitter. Israel found to its dismay that when it withdrew from the Gaza Strip and removed its settlements in the hope of enduring peace, the Strip was soon dominated by Hamas, and it became the launching pad for suicide-bombings and rocket-attacks on Israel.

Israel perhaps feels that doing the same with the West Bank what it did with the Gaza Strip (withdrawing and dismantling settlements) would open up another huge front for attacks against it.

In other words, Israel now has reasons to believe that a two-state solution rather than ushering in permanent peace may ultimately result in its opposite: a violent enemy-state ranged against Israel. Not that it has to be so. There are many sane voices among the Palestinians. However, the unfortunate experience has been that the voices of the sane are often drowned and the hot-headed, violent fundamentalists come to dominate, as has already happened in the Gaza Strip with the dominance of the Hamas. Who knows if it is Hamas today in the Gaza Strip, it may be ISIS tomorrow in the West Bank!

However, if in due course Hamas is side-lined or wiped out and a powerful, effective sane leadership wanting peaceful co-existence and prosperity emerges in Palestine that reassures Israel that a two-state solution would indeed mean lasting peace, there is little reason why Israel would not go for that solution.

Israel in Contrast

Arab States : All Islamic States : No Religious Freedom. All the Arab states, including those surrounding Israel, discriminate against other religions. They are all non-secular, Islamic States. Many even discriminate against the various sects of Islam: many Sunni-states are up against non-Sunnis, and many non-Sunni states discriminate against Sunnis! Jews, who had lived there earlier for centuries, have been driven away or wiped out.

Status of Refugees. Many Arabs are living as refugees in camps for over six decades since 1948 in Palestinian Arab areas. Why are they not absorbed by the Arab countries (there are 21 of them) and given a dignified lifestyle? Is this their care for the fellow Arabs? Or, do they want them to remain so in the hope that their desperation would one day help erase Israel, and then they could go and settle there?

Hundreds of thousands of Jews were driven away from Arab countries, where they had been living for centuries. They were forced to migrate to Israel or to western countries. Did Israel keep them in camps as refugees so that one day they would go back to their Arab lands?

Israel: A Secular, Democratic State. In sharp contrast to the Arab states, Israel is a secular, democratic nation. Many Muslims, Christians and other minorities are citizens of Israel, and live there without suffering any discrimination. While many Arab nations tortured or humiliated the Jews living there for centuries and either threw them out or exterminated them, Israel never reciprocated.

There are two million Muslims with Israeli citizenship,
with full access to their religious sites in Jerusalem.

Muslims living in Israel don’t look forward to migrating out of the country; rather they prefer to continue living there—they won’t get that freedom, safety and living conditions elsewhere, including in Muslim nations!

Israel: Governed by Rule of Law. Israel is the only nation in the Middle-East that operates under the rule of law. Its record on human rights compares well with that of others. Its Supreme Court is among the best in the world.

Education. Israel teaches peaceful coexistence with Israel's Arab neighbours, as part of its education program. Arabic is one of the required languages in Israeli high schools. In sharp contrast, textbooks in Palestinian schools portray Jews in most derogatory manner and promote hatred of Israel.

Treatment of Civilians. Israel never deliberately targets civilian areas. It goes after only military targets. It’s only when the Palestinians deliberately launch rocket-attacks from civilian sites or store weapons in civilian areas that the collateral damage is civilian.

However, in the wars since 1948, the Arabs have deliberately targeted civilian areas in Israel! The targets of the various organisation of the Palestinians like PLO, Hamas and others have been civilians. Their suicide-bombers and rocket-attacks target civilians.

During the wars since 1948, when the advancing Israeli army came across Arab civilians, they allowed them to flee, they didn’t kill them. This led to Arab refugee problem.

However, when the Arab armies advanced or were on the attack and they came across Jewish civilians, they didn’t spare them, they killed them! There was therefore no Jewish refugees problem ever!!

* * * * *

Rajnikant Puranik
January 31, 2015

1 comment:

  1. What a great compilation. Todah rabah! Shalom!