Middle East 1979-2000


Camp David
Sept 1978: Carter (USA), Sadat (Egypt) & Begin (Israel)
  1. 1. Establish peace between Egypt and Israel
  • signed 1979
  1. 2. Resolve question of Palestine
  • Not agreed
  • Did not guarantee full Israeli withdrawal from pre-1967 areas
  • Did not agree to Palestinian state
  • Israel continued to expand into Palestinian areas during talks

Intifada (‘Shaking off’)
Dec 1987: Palestinian uprising in West Bank and Gaza Strip
Not initiated by PLO leadership (then in Tunis) but popular uprising of civil disobedience from many previously non-activist teenagers, women and men.
  • massive demonstrations
  • general strikes
  • refusal to pay taxes
  • boycotts of Israeli products
  • political graffiti
  • establishment of underground schools (since regular schools were closed by the military as reprisals for the uprising)
  • More militant protest included stone throwing, Molotov cocktails and the erection of barricades to impede the movement of Israeli military forces.
  • United National Leadership of the Uprising (coalition of PLO parties)
  • Intifada created world attention
  • Israel tried to smash Intifada (Yitzhak Rabin, Defence Minister)
  • 1000 Palestinians killed 1987-1991, leaders arrested, began to lose focus and organisation
  • Palestinians killed 250 suspected Israeli collaborators
Intifada moved ownership of Palestinian issues from PLO in Tunis to Occupied Territories and pressure on PLO to act and engage in meaningful dialogue.
Palestinian National Council met in 1988, recognized Israel, proclaimed Palestine as state in West Bank and Gaza, renounced terrorism. Israel called the PLO a terrorist organisation and that nothing had changed.

Madrid Conference & Washington talks
Following the rejection of their attempts, PLO didn’t support USA in Kuwait War and so were isolated post-war with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait cutting off financial aid. US was keen to stabilise the Middle East and so encouraged Israel to meet with Arab countries and Palestinians at Madrid in Oct 1991. Israeli PM agreed to meet only on condition PLO were not invited and the Palestinian question was not raised. In Washington talks, Palestinians represented by Occupied Territories (with unofficial advice from PLO). PM Shamir admitted his strategy was to drag talks out for ten years, by which stage the Israeli annexation of West Bank would be complete.
With escalation of Israeli crackdown on Palestinian activists, talks stalemated, delegates were discredited as Islamists, activists, terrorists or combination. Islamist groups (eg Hamas) began attacks on Israeli targets – became more feared by Israel than PLO.

Oslo Accords
Fear of rising Islamism pushed Israel back to the PLO, resulting in secret negotiations in Oslo. The ‘Declaration of Principles’ (signed Washington, Sept 1993)
  • mutual recognition of Israel & Palestine
  • Israel withdraw from Gaza strip, Jericho, and parts of West Bank within five years
  • Palestinian Authority – self-government. Arafat elected as President Jan 1996
  • PM Netanyahu (1996-99) opposed the agreement and did little
  • Accords a start, but too vague and many key issues not addressed (nature of the Palestinian entity to be established, the future of the Israeli settlements and settlers, water rights, the resolution of the refugee problem and the status of Jerusalem)
  • Throughout term of ‘withdrawal’ Israel continued to build settlements in the West Bank
  • By 2000, PA controlled 40% of West Bank and 65% of Gaza Strip. Palestinian areas surrounded by Israel and entry/exit points controlled.

Camp David II

Fall 2000 Uprising (‘Second Intifada’)