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The Israeli Palestinian conflict Part IV – Yom Kippur War, treaties and agreements

Published:Saturday | December 10, 2016 | 12:00 AMPaul H. Williams

By the end of the Six-Day War of 1967 the Israelis had occupied Syria's Golan Heights and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. Three years later, Anwar Sadat replaced Gamal Abdel Nasser as Egypt's president. He wanted the United States to persuade its ally, Israel, to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula. To win the American's favour, he expelled Russian military advisers from Egypt in 1972. The American, however, did nothing significant in return. So, Sadat decided to start a fight with Israel, thus knee-jerking the Americans.

On October 6, 1973, on the Jewish religious holiday of Yom Kippur, Egypt attacked the Israelis in the Sinai across from the canal zone. The Egyptians, using Russian antiaircraft and antitank missiles, surprised the Israelis with their newfound military prowess. The Israeli losses were heavy, and the fighting spread to the Golan Heights as the Syrians tried to recapture the land taken from them in the Six-Day War. Yet, the Israeli setback was not for long. Israeli forces crossed the Suez Canal into Egypt, on October 15, cutting off Egypt's supply to their forces in the Sinai causing the Egyptians there to perish. Egypt's losses were devastating.

On October 22, the UN passed a resolution for an immediate cease fire, but the Israelis would not relent. The Russians threatened to intervene to help Egypt, while the United States responded by putting its nuclear power on alert to protect Israel. But, it also demanded that Israel stop its advancement. Anwar Sadat got what he had wanted, US intervention, despite Egypt's defeat. Israel might have won the war, but about 1854 Israelis were killed, and hundred more wounded. And there seemed to be no end to conflict between the Arabs and the Jews.

The first major attempt at obtaining peace came in 1978 when the American president, Jimmy Carter, mediated a meeting between Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, at Camp David, Maryland, USA. In return for peace Israel agreed to return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and withdraw its forces from there. But many contentious issues for the Palestinians remained unresolved.


Fifteen years after Camp David, Israeli representatives and Yasser Arafat, then leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, met secretly in Oslo, Norway. Arafat agreed to recognise Israel's right to exist in return for a phased withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin agreed to a five-year programme leading to the creation of a Palestinian state. Jericho and most of the Gaza were returned to Palestinian self-rule, while Israel continued to occupy the rest.

In 1995, there was a second Oslo meeting, for as the Arabs and Jews continued to jostle for lands, the tension intensified significantly. And at a peace rally to support the Oslo agreements in Tel Aviv's Kings of Israel Square on November 5, Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli, Yigal Amir, who perhaps felt Israel was too soft with the Palestinians.

Five years later, there was a second Camp David meeting between United States President Bill Clinton, Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The meeting failed to produce on agreement on the status of Jerusalem and the return of Palestinian refugees. A few weeks after the talks ended an Israeli politician, Ariel Sharon, visited the Al Aqsa Mosque-Temple Mount complex with Israeli police. A Palestinian uprising ensued.

The hilltop where the mosque is located is regarded the Noble Sanctuary by the Muslims, where the Dome of the Rock is said to mark the place from which Muhammad ascended to Heaven. It was built on the ruins of the ancient Jewish Temple destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. The temple's exposed Western Wall is the holiest site in Judaism.

January 2001 saw a another meeting between the Jews and the Arabs with the United States in Taba, Egypt to consider a plan that would have given Palestinians a state and Israel six per cent of the West bank for a reduced number of settlements. They, however, could not work out the details regarded the occupation of Jerusalem, the return of Palestinian refugees and Israel's refusal to give up the settlement complex west of Jericho, which splits the West Bank into two.

Next week,

the conclusion.