Israel - The Presidential Brief

The Current Situation In Israel And Palestine
Israel is in a situation unlike any other country around the world. Israel has been fighting for its survival since it became a country in 1948. It is surrounded by hostile nations that want to destroy or at least diminish it. There is tremendous tension between the Palestine Liberation Members and Israeli officials and citizens. There have been peaceful rallies and bloody bus bombings. People in Israel today are unsure about preceding with peace negotiations or standing firm in stopping present day terrorist activities. Protests, shouting matches, and violent disputes between Israelis are common occurrences. No one person, the college professor, the taxi driver, or the merchant is sure that their solution to these life and death problems are the right decision.

On Friday, May 14, 1948, after much deliberation the modern state of Israel was voted into existence by the United Nations. Finally the Jews around the world had a country to call their own. Unfortunately, the road ahead of them was not an easy or peaceful one.

There are many organizations that have dedicated their existence to destroying the people and country of Israel. The leader in this battle against Israel is Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement. Hamas uses many tactics to achieve its goals of terrorism. These tactics include intensive educational/propaganda programs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip areas. Suicide bombings, riots, rock throwing, car bombings, stonings, and many other destructive terrorist activities are also used periodically to gain news attention to their radical fundamentalist beliefs. Since its formation in 1988 Hamas has vowed to do anything possible to halt the peace process which they feel is unfair to Palestinians and other Arabs. The group is not condoned by the Palestine Liberation Organization, yet very little concrete action has been taken to stop this group. The philosophy of Jihad, or holy war, is the basis for Moslem actions to obliterate all Jews from this area.

To the contrary, there are many Israeli organizations that have dedicated their existence to preserving Israel and never letting it be conquered.

On the surface, the reason for the conflict over this small piece of land in the middle east seems simple: two groups of people, Jews and Palestinian Arabs, have been competing for the same piece of historical land. What has made the conflict so bitter and emotional is the fact that the land being fought over was sacred to both sides.

For Jews, the establishment of the state of Israel represented a return to their biblical homeland after 2,000 years of exile and persecution, and the near extinction of the Jewish people in the Nazi Holocaust of WWII. For Palestinians, who had lived in the area they had called Palestine for 1,000 years, the land was also a spiritual home for their Islamic religion.

Since 1979, there has been a movement towards peace in the middle east. After engaging in many armed conflicts between their two countries over the years, Israeli President Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar- el- Sadat signed an unprecedented peace treaty at Camp David, Maryland in 1979. Israel agreed to return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in exchange for recognition as a country and an agreement for peace between the two nations. This was called the Camp David Agreement and it was signed with the aid of the United States President Jimmy Carter.

Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in lands captured by Israel during several wars, however, were not affected by the Camp David Agreement. They remained very frustrated by what they considered Israeli occupation and started a movement called the Intafada in 1987. This uprising generally consisted of Palestinian boycotts, demonstrations and throwing rocks at Jewish citizens in the occupied areas. Israeli police and soldiers often fought back. These rock throwing activities and the use of armed Israeli soldiers to put down the revolt drew tremendous criticism around the world.

The peace process continued. In 1993 Israeli Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasir Arafat signed a peace accord. The PLO agreed to recognize Israelís right to exist and Israel gave the Palestinians self rule in the West Bank town of Jericho and the Gaza Strip. In 1994 Jordan and Israel formally ended their hostilities and began trade