Israel Recent History Part I

By | December 22, 2021

The negotiations with Egypt, which began with the visit of the Egyptian president A. al-Sādāt to Jerusalem on November 20, 1977, continued with substantial success towards the achievement of a peace agreement between the two countries, also thanks to the assiduous mediation of the United States. From May 14 to June 13, 1978 the Israelis carried out a large-scale military operation in southern Lebanon, particularly directed against the armed movements of the PLO stationed there; and this, in conjunction with the advances in Egyptian-Israeli conversations, led to an accentuation of the differences between Egypt and the rest of the Arab world. For Israel geography, please check

On September 17, 1978 M. Begin, al-Sādāt and the American President J. Carter signed a preliminary agreement for a peace treaty at Camp David, which provided for the Israeli withdrawal from Sinai, a system of mutual military guarantees and a project of Palestinian autonomy for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The peace treaty was finally approved on March 26, 1979, together with a plan to evacuate the Israelis in various stages from the Sinai, with the relative dismantling of the plant settlements, the preparation of security measures (in which the States were called to participate United), the decision to establish normal relations between Israel and Egypt, and the commitment to continue the discussion on autonomy for the West Bank and Gaza.

It was at this point that the differences that had already emerged during the entire negotiation period deepened in the ministerial coalition: in the face of those who intended to make use of the peace with Egypt to confirm supremacy over the entire Arab side, they found themselves in the minority ministers who, on the other hand, also due to the difficult economic situation and rising inflation, were more open to the possibility and tried to extend the pacification process. Thus it was that M. Dayan left the foreign ministry on 21 October 1979 (later replaced by Y. Shamir), and E. Weizman (25 May 1980) the defense department. Nor did the resolution of the EEC summit in Venice on June 15 on the Palestinian problem succeed in attenuating the intransigence of Begin and the majority.

Also due to the increasingly precarious economic situation, the prime minister decided to call the elections in advance on June 30, 1981: held in a climate of tension (Israeli aerial bombing of the Tamūz nuclear power plant near Baghdād), these confirmed, albeit slightly, the numerical supremacy of Likud on Labor (48 seats against 47), so that the new government confirmed the stance with Shamir in Foreign Affairs and A. Sharon in Defense, while R. Eitan was chosen as Chief of Staff and, as ambassador, was sent to Washington M. Arens. On the Israeli side, therefore, the aggressive thrust was accentuated (bombings in Lebanon against Palestinian bases, which involved civilians and retaliated artillery fire from the guerrillas on Israeli locations), while, despite the hesitation, al-Sādāt was unable to escape to Israeli conditioning and US pressure.

The truce between the Israeli government and the PLO, reached on July 24 with the mediation of P. Habib, envoy of the US President R. Reagan, was only momentary: Israel was determined to impose his own peace on the chessboard through the destruction of the political-military structure built in Lebanon by the Palestinians. It was in this climate that the deadly attack of 6 October against al-Sādāt matured, followed by the dispatch of military contingents to the Sinai by Great Britain, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

The strategic agreement with the United States was finalized in the autumn (agreement of 30 November between Sharon and C. Weimberger), the withdrawal from Sinai completed on 25 April 1982 (however, the dispute over the border area of ​​Taba remained, resolved only in December 1988 ), the government took the opportunity of the wounding of the ambassador in London, S. Argov (3 June), to start the ” Peace in Galilee ” operation, which from 6 June started in southern Lebanon up to invest Beirut and to provoke a direct confrontation with Syrian troops, which however prevented the attempt to cut the Beirut-Damascus road. The siege of Palestinian-controlled neighborhoods of the capital by Lebanese fighters and Syrian contingents lasted until 24 September, despite the

On the other hand, the unexpectedly high losses suffered by the Israelis (over 500 killed), the violence imposed on civilians and the governmental attitude that had accompanied the entire campaign, led Israel to the creation of a commission of inquiry, even if the General C. Herzog’s nomination as new President of the Republic (April 22, 1983) confirmed the authoritativeness of military prestige. With the signing of a peace treaty with A. Ǧumayyil, who was later repudiated by Lebanon, Begin considered his work finished and withdrew from public life: on September 3, 1983, Israeli troops retreated along the Awali River and Begin’s successor, Shamir, was able to prepare early elections for July 23, 1984. The results marked progress for Labor (45 seats), Alignment (Alliance between the Labor Party and the United Workers’ Party, MAPAM) prevented the exploitation of success, however. Labor leader S. Peres and Likud leader, Y. Shamir, agreed on an alliance government at the head of which they would alternate, each for half the term. This ministry, immediately distinguished by its commitment to manage the immigration of about 10,000 very poor Ethiopians of the Falasha Jewish minority, proceeded, also due to the intensification of the attacks of the Lebanese resistance (killing in February 1985 of 12 soldiers in the explosion of a ‘auto-kamikaze), to the gradual withdrawal from Lebanon. However, under direct military control there remained a border belt between 7 and 18 km deep where about 115,000 Lebanese lived in about fifty villages and in which, among other things, the collaborationist militia entrusted to Major A. Laḥad operates.

In any case, during the Peres presidency, it was possible to reduce inflation to about 30% per year, also thanks to the commercial triangulations with South Africa and the participation in the fruitful arms sale to Iran. In addition, important diplomatic initiatives took place: conversations in Helsinki with representatives of the USSR in view of the resumption of consular relations (June 18, 1986), a visit by Peres himself to the king of Morocco Ḥasan iiin Ifrane (22-23 July), Peres met with Egyptian President H. Mubārak in Alexandria (11-12 September). Nonetheless, these initiatives did not yield any significant results. In particular, Peres’ repeated refusal to join the banned International Conference on the Middle East, under the auspices of the United Nations and with the participation of the member states of the Security Council as well as all interested parties including the PLO, highlighted that the foreign policy of Israel essentially remained unchanged. This approach, in the second phase of the legislature, with the Shamir presidency, was clearly criticized, among other things, by the EEC in the resolutions of 23 February and 12 March 1987, and was dramatically contested by the explosion of the intifāḍa (starting from December 1987), or the civil protest of the Palestinian population of the territories occupied by the Israel in 1967.

Israel Recent History