Israel, which on Tuesday signed accords to normalise ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, has had a turbulent history with the Arab world, including eight wars. The two Gulf States are the third and fourth Arab countries to establish formal relations with Israel, after Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties with the Jewish state in 1979 and 1994, respectively. Let’s take a look into the turbulent relationship of Israel and the Arab States.
Israel is created on May 14, 1948, formed out of part of Palestine three years after the end of World War II, when the Nazis killed more than six million Jews. Israel immediately comes under attack by its Arab neighbours, but repels them.
More than 7,60,000 Palestinians are driven out or flee, becoming refugees. In 1956, Israel attacks Egypt alongside Britain and France, which are seeking to overturn the nationalisation three months earlier of the strategic Suez Canal. They eventually withdraw under pressure from both the United States and the then-Soviet Union.
In June 1967, Israel wins a crushing victory over its Arab neighbours in the Six-Day War.
It seizes the West Bank, including east Jerusalem from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria as well as the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt.
In 1973, Egypt and Syria launch a surprise attack on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur to try to win back their lost territories but are held off.
Two peace deals
The year after the historic visit in 1977 by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem, Israel and Egypt agree on peace terms after talks brokered by the United States. The Camp David accords are the first peace agreement between Israel and an Arab state. The peace treaty is signed in 1979 by Israeli PM Menachem Begin and Sadat.
A second peace accord, with Jordan, comes in 1994, signed by prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Abdel Salam Majali. The Wadi Araba Treaty formally ends 46 years of war between the two neighbours.
The first Palestinian intifada, or uprising, erupts in 1987. It ends in 1993 when Israel agrees to limited Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The so-called Oslo accords are sealed with a historic handshake between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Rabin.
The second intifada breaks out in 2000 when right-wing Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon pays a provocative visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in annexed east Jerusalem. The Israeli army reoccupies much of the West Bank in a series of large-scale military operations. In 2005, Israel withdraws all troops and settlers from Gaza after 38 years of occupation.
US for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
In December 2017, US President Donald Trump recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a declaration condemned by the Palestinians, who regard east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. In May 2018, Washington transfers its embassy to Jerusalem.
Trump brokered deal
On August 13, Trump says Israel and the UAE have reached a “historic” agreement to normalise ties. Under the deal, Israel agrees to “suspend” annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, without saying for how long. On September 11, Trump announces that Bahrain and Israel will also normalise relations. The Palestinian authorities condemn the deal as a “stab in the back”.
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