Israel History Between 1977 and 2001

By | December 22, 2021

From Begin to Rabin (1977-1995)

In 1977 the leadership of the government passed to the Likud led by M. Begin. The Camp David Agreements (1978) between Begin and Egyptian President A. Sadat to initiate a peace plan in exchange for the restitution of Sinai (completed in 1982) dissociated Egypt from the anti-Israeli Arab front. The separate peace with Egypt was signed in Washington the following year, but the annexation of the Golan (1981), as well as Tel Aviv’s intransigence towards the establishment of an independent Palestinian state claimed by the PLO confirmed the difficulty of extend the peace process to other interlocutors.

To eliminate the Palestinian guerrilla bases in Lebanon, Israeli forces invaded the country in 1982, reaching as far as Beirut. The occupation of southern Lebanon followed until 1985, when the Israeli forces completed the withdrawal while maintaining only control of a ‘security strip’ close to the border, but the armed intervention failed in its aim to annihilate the Palestinian organizations nor did the attempt to install an allied government in Beirut. For Israel history, please check

A growing political uncertainty led, after Begin’s resignation (1983), to the formation of governments of national unity characterized by the alternation between S. Peres and Y. Shamir in the office of prime minister. At the same time, from the end of 1987 the country had to face a state of semi-permanent revolt in the occupied Palestinian territories (formerly intifāḍa), while the negotiations between Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the Palestinians (not officially represented by the PLO for the opposition of the government of Y. Shamir) at the Madrid conference (1991) ran aground on the question of Jerusalem and the differences over the future of the West Bank and Gaza.

In 1992, after 15 years, the return of Labor at the helm of the country with a government led by Y. Rabin favored the resumption of dialogue, with the setting aside of the underlying issues (fate of East Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees, problem Israeli settlements, borders and security), postponed to negotiations on the final status of the West Bank and Gaza. In 1993 the Oslo accords sanctioned the mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO and allowed the signing of a joint declaration for the development of the peace process between the two peoples; in 1994 the first agreement was signed in Cairo on the initiation of Palestinian autonomy in the Gaza Strip and Jericho (constitution of the Palestinian National Authority); in the same year the peace treaty with Jordan was signed. But then the unsatisfactory progress of the negotiations favored the resumption of discontent in the occupied territories and the growth of Islamic-inspired formations, protagonists of repeated anti-Israeli terrorist actions; at the same time the problem of the security of the Palestinian population was highlighted by the extremism of the Israeli settlers. 1995 saw progress, however, with the Israeli withdrawal from major cities in the West Bank following the signing of the agreement known as Oslo II. The agreement was condemned by the right, which mobilized against the Rabin government in a climate of general tension that culminated in the assassination of the premier (November 4) at the hands of an Israeli Jewish extremist.

From Netanyahu to Barak: 1996-2001

After a wave of Palestinian terrorist attacks (February-March 1996), B. Netanyahu returned Likud to rule the country with an unstable far-right coalition. The failure to proceed with the peace agreements and the heavy security measures, together with the intensification of Israeli settlements, produced, in an increasingly tense internal political climate, a succession of crises in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Nonetheless, in October 1998 the meetings at Wye Plantation (Maryland) between B. Clinton, Y. ‛Arafāt and Netanyahu, with the contribution of King Ḥusayn of Jordan, led to the signing of an agreement which established the withdrawal of Israel from 13.1% of the territory of the West Bank.

In a country deeply divided between a party in favor of the creation of a Palestinian state and the other uncertain about the return of the occupied territories and conditioned by the religious sectors, in the early elections of 1999 the Shas, an ultra-Orthodox formation of the far right, became the third party in Israel, joining forces in the new government (1999) chaired by the Labor Party E. Barak. In July 2000 at the Camp David summit, strongly supported by Barak and Clinton, the Israeli premier presented ‛Arafāt with the most advanced proposal ever offered to end the conflict: for the first time, Israel’s control over the whole was questioned. of Jerusalem and B. showed his willingness to expand the percentage of territory of the West Bank to be ceded to the Palestinians, but the Palestinian leader refused, retreating to questions of principle. In this context, while the secularization campaign launched by the government languished, the so-called second intifāḍa broke out (September 2000), which put even more jeopardy the now precarious political coalition that supported Barak in Parliament.

Israel History Between 1977 and 2001