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Introduction

1. Early Times
(1000 BCE - 1917)

2. Establishment of Israel (1880 - 1947)

3. The New State
(1947 - 1974)

 

 


The History of Israel
- A Chronological Presentation


4. Peace With The Arabs? (1993 - 1996)

1993 - The Oslo Process
Behind the scenes the Israeli leadership was informed, via a Norwegian mediator, that the PLO, which since the Gulf War had been internationally marginalized, and whose influence also was declining in the Palestinian territories, had expressed willingness to negotiate with Israel. Secret meetings between Israeli representatives and PLO members began in Oslo in January 1993. Significant progress was made, and in August that year a "Declaration of Principles" began to take shape.

The document described the principles for a 5-year transitional period with Palestinian self-government, starting with Gaza and Jericho, aiming to eventually include all major Palestinian population centres on the West Bank. After the transitional period the parties were to negotiate a final status agreement. The questions of final borders, the future status of Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugee problem were deferred to a later phase.

Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin
shakes PLO leader Yasser Arafat's
hand at the White House, 1993.

 

In order to achieve the PLO's approval of the document, the Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, offered to recognize the PLO, under Yasser Arafat's leadership, as the rightful representative of the Palestinian people.

Arafat accepted the gesture and reciprocated by recognizing Israel's right to exist in peace and security, and declared that the PLO would give up the use of terrorism and violence. On september 13, 1993 Arafat and Rabin, at a ceremony hosted by the American president, Bill Clinton, shook hands on the "Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government," also known as the Oslo Agreement, outlining the guidelines for the coming peace process.

1994 - Establishment of the Palestinian Authority
The implementation of the agreement on Palestinian self-government went anything but smoothly. While Israel and the PLO were negotiating the details of the arrangement, Palestinians from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Yasser Arafat's own Fatah organization were trying to derail the process. During the autumn of 1993 fifteen terror attacks cost the lives of 19 Israelis.

In February 1994 a member of the radical, Jewish organization, Kach, gunned down 29 Arabs at the "Tomb of the Patriarchs" in Hebron. Over a hundred were wounded, before the assailant himself was overpowered and killed.

Most of Gaza and an area
around the town of Jericho are
transferred to Palestinian
control, May 1994.

The Israeli government condemned the massacre, offered financial compensation to the families of the victims, and declared the Kach movement a terrorist organization. Israel and the PLO subsequently agreed on the stationing of interna-tional observers in Hebron, the only town in the West Bank that houses both Jews and Arabs.

In the months of March and April Hamas directed a series of terror attacks against Israeli busses and similar targets, claiming a total of 17 Israeli lives. Despite the setbacks the negotiations between Israel and the PLO continued, and on May 4, 1994 the parties signed an agreement detailing the conditions for the establishment of a "Palestinian Authority," and the implementation of the first phase of the peace proccess, called "Gaza and Jericho First." Israel pulled its troops out of the agreed areas, which were transferred to Palestinian control. Shortly after, Arafat arrived at Gaza Airport as chairman of the Palestinian Authority.

1994 - Peace with Jordan
Since Jordan had already relinquished all claims to the West Bank, it was in reality only pressure from other Arab states that had prevented it from making a separate peace with
King Hussein, Clinton and Rabin at
the presentation of the peace treaty
between Israel and Jordan, 1994.
Israel. So when the general atmosphere in the region allowed, the two countries seized the opportunity to negotiate a peace treaty, which only involved marginal territorial adjustments. The deal was concluded on July 25, 1994, and signed at an official ceremony on October 26, 1994. Jordan thus became the second Arab country to make peace with Israel.


1995 - The Oslo II Agreement
During the summer of 1994 the Palestinian terror intensified, and the follwing year almost 100 Israelis (mainly civilians)
were killed in suicide bombings and other attacks. The

Area A: territory under Pale-
stinian control, Area B: terri-
tory under joint Palestinian-
Israeli control.

Islamist organizations, Hamas and Islamic Jihad were responsible for the majority of the attacks.

Despite the Palestinian Authority's poor performance on preventing terror, Israel and the PLO on September 28, 1995 signed the so-called "Oslo II Agreement," outlining further Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank. In return the agreement, like its predecessor, contained a series of demands to be met by the Palestinian Authority. It soon became clear, however, that the Palestinian Authority was still not honoring its side of the agreement. Nevertheless Israel did - with some delays - carry out the projected withdrawals.

The moment when Rabin is shot,
November 4, 1995 (from Israeli TV).

1995 - The Murder of Rabin
In yet another assault on the peace process the Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, was murdered by a right-wing radical Orthodox Jew during a peace rally in Tel Aviv. The assassin was caught and later sentenced to life inprisonment. Deputy prime minister Shimon Peres took over the post as prime minister. The peace pro-cess continued, and in the following three months Israeli forces were withdrawn from most of the larger Palestinian cities.

At the May 1996 Israeli general election Shimon Peres and the Labor Party sought a renewed mandate to continue the peace process with Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. But a fresh wave of suicide attacks committed by Hamas, in which 57 Israelis were killed in a single week in March-April 1996, sent tremors through the Israeli public, and Benjamin Netanyahu from the right-wing Likud Party, who were opposed to the negotiations with the PLO, won the election.

Continue: Chapter 4 - Peace With The Arabs? - Page 3


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