Visual History of the World




From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists


The Contemporary World

1945 to the present

After World War II, a new world order came into being in which two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, played the leading roles. Their ideological differences led to the arms race of the Cold War and fears of a global nuclear conflict. The rest of the world was also drawn into the bipolar bloc system, and very few nations were able to remain truly non-aligned. The East-West conflict came to an end in 1990 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the consequent downfall of the Eastern Bloc. Since that time, the world has been driven by the globalization of worldwide economic and political systems. The world has, however, remained divided: The rich nations of Europe, North America, and East Asia stand in contrast to the developing nations of the Third World.

The first moon landing made science-fiction dreams reality in the year 1969.
Space technology has made considerable progress as the search for new
possibilities of using space continues.





SINCE 1948


see also: United Nations member states -

see also collection: David Roberts "A Journey in the Holy Land"

see also: Marc Chagall


The State of Israel's fight for existence determines its policies and identity to this day. Between the wars, and especially after 1945, many Jews settled in Palestine and cultivated and developed the country with determination and idealism. However, from the beginning, no satisfactory political solution could be found for the consequent expulsion of the Palestinians who were already living in the area. Relations with Israel's Soviet-backed Arab neighbors have long been strained to breaking point. The US-Israeli alliance has become central to both countries' foreign policies, helping to ensure Israeli supremacy in the Middle East. After a series of military defeats, most Arab countries eventually reached an accommodation with Israel, leaving the Palestinians isolated in their struggle for a state of their own.



History of Israel






Part I

Introduction- Jewish history in Israel
Birth of Judaism and Israel 1400 BCE - 586 BCE
Babylonian, Persian and Greek rule 586 BCE - 150 BCE
The restoration of Jewish rule 174 BCE - 64 BCE
Roman rule 64 BCE - 330
Byzantine (Christian Roman) rule 330 - 631
Arab rule 636 - 1099
Crusader rule 1099 - 1291
Mamluk (Egyptian - Islamic) rule 1260 - 1517
Ottoman (Turkish - Islamic) rule 1517 - 1917
The Zionist Movement
1897–1917: The Zionist Revolution
1917–1948: British rule: the Jewish national home
The League of Nations Mandate
The growth of Arab resistance and immigration restrictions
The 1939 White Paper and the Holocaust
1945–1947: Jewish uprising against British rule
The United Nations decides to partition Palestine
The War of Independence: The civil war phase
Israel 1948 - Present
The State of Israel declared
The War of Independence/Nakba: the Arab invasion phase
Labour Party rule 1948–1977
1948–1953: Ben Gurion and mass immigration
1954–1955: Moshe Sharett and the Lavon Affair
1955–1963: Ben-Gurion II: Sinai Campaign & Eichmann Trial

Part II

1963–1969: Levi Eshkol and the Six-Day War


Part III

1969–1975: Golda Meir and Yom Kippur War
1975–1976: Yitzhak Rabin I: Operation Entebbe, start of Religious Settlements

Part IV

Likud domination 1977–1992
1977–1981: Menachem Begin I: the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty
1981–1983: Begin II: the First Lebanon War
1984–1988: Yitzhak Shamir/Shimon Peres rotation government and first Intifada
1988–1992: Shamir II: the Gulf War and Soviet immigration
1992–1995: Rabin II: Oslo peace talks
Direct elections for the Premier 1996–2005
1996–1999: Binyamin Netanyahu - the peace process slows
1999–2001: Ehud Barak and withdrawal from South Lebanon
2001–2006: Ariel Sharon and withdrawal from Gaza and the Northern West Bank
2006–2009: Ehud Olmert and growing Islamist confrontation
2009-present: Netanyahu II

Part V

List of Prime Ministers; List of presidents of the State of Israel

Part VI

Chagall in Israel

Part VII

United Nations member states - Israel


Likud domination 1977–1992

1977–1981: Menachem Begin I: the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty

Egyptian President Anwar el-Sādāt (left) shaking hands with Israeli Prime
Minister Menachem Begin as U.S. President Jimmy Carter looks on at
Camp David, Maryland, September 6, 1978.

In a surprise result, the Likud led by Menachem Begin won the 1977 elections. This was the first time in Israeli history that the government was not led by the left. A key reason for the victory was anger among Mizrahi Jews at discrimination, which was to play an important role in Israeli politics for many years. Moroccan-born David Levy made a major contribution to winning Mizrahi support for Begin. Many Labour voters voted for the Democratic Movement for Change in protest at high-profile corruption cases. The party joined in coalition with Begin and disappeared at the next election.

In addition to starting a process of healing the Mizrahi-Ashkenazi divide, Begin's government included Ultra-Orthodox Jews and was instrumental in healing the Zionist - Ultra-Orthodox rift. Begin's liberalization of the economy led to hyper-inflation but enabled Israel to begin receiving US financial aid. Begin actively supported Gush Emunim's efforts to settle the West Bank, thus laying the grounds for intense conflict with the Palestinian population of the occupied territories.

Begin had been tortured by the KGB as a young man and one of his first acts was to instruct the Israeli secret service to "use wisdom rather than violence" in interrogations. "In July 1977, Begin met with President Carter in Washington. Their talks revealed a wide disparity of views. Begin defended Israel’s right to establish and expand Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. Carter reminded him that the United States opposed such actions as contrary to international law."

In November 1977, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat broke 30 years of hostility with Israel by visiting Jerusalem at the invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Sadat's two-day visit included a speech before the Knesset, and was a turning point in the history of the conflict. The Egyptian leader created a new psychological climate in the Middle East in which peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours seemed possible. Sadat recognized Israel's right to exist and established the basis for direct negotiations between Egypt and Israel.

Following Sadat's visit, 350 Yom Kippur War veterans organized the Peace Now movement to encourage Israeli governments to make peace with the Arabs.

In March 1978, eleven armed Lebanese-Palestinians reached Israel in boats and hijacked a bus carrying families on a day outing, killing 35 people, including 13 children. The attackers opposed the Egyptian-Israeli peace process. Three days later, Israeli forces crossed into Lebanon beginning Operation Litani. After passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 425, calling for Israeli withdrawal and the creation of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peace-keeping force, Israel withdrew its troops.

In September 1978, U.S. President Jimmy Carter invited President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin to meet with him at Camp David, and on September 11 they agreed on a framework for peace between Israel and Egypt and a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. It set out broad principles to guide negotiations between Israel and the Arab states. It also established guidelines for a West Bank-Gaza transitional regime of full autonomy for the Palestinians residing in these territories and for a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. The treaty was signed on March 26 1979, by Begin and Sadat, with President Carter signing as witness. Under the treaty, Israel returned the Sinai peninsula to Egypt in April 1982. The final piece of territory to be repatriated was Taba, adjacent to Eilat, returned in 1989.

In December 1978 the Israeli Merkava battle tank entered use with the IDF.

Development of Israel by decade
  1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
Population (millions) 1.4 2.1 3 3.9 4.8 6
 % of world's Jews 7%   20% 25% 30% 39%
GDP per capita 1995 NIS 10,100 16,800 27,800 36,000 42,400



Following the agreement Israel and Egypt became the two largest recipients of US military and financial aid (Iraq has now overtaken them by a large margin, as the United States has caused Saddam Hussein to be overthrown).


1981–1983: Begin II: the First Lebanon War

On 30 June 1981, the Israeli air-force destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor that France was building for Iraq.

Three weeks later, Begin won yet again, in the 1981 elections (48 seats Likud, 47 Labour). Ariel Sharon was made defense minister. The new government annexed the Golan Heights and banned El Al from flying on the Sabbath.


1982 Lebanon War

The 1982 Lebanon War (Hebrew: מלחמת לבנון‎, Milhemet Levanon), (Arabic: الإجتياح‎, Al-Ijtīāḥ, "the invasion"), called Operation Peace for Galilee (Hebrew: מבצע שלום הגליל, or מבצע של"ג Mivtsa Shlom HaGalil or Mivtsa Sheleg‎) by Israel, and later also known colloquially in Israel as the First Lebanon War, began on 6 June 1982, when the Israel Defense Forces invaded southern Lebanon. The Government of Israel decided to launch the military operation after the assassination attempt against Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Shlomo Argov, by the Abu Nidal Organization, a mercenary organization opposed to the PLO.

After attacking the PLO, as well as Syrian, leftist and Muslim Lebanese forces, Israel occupied southern Lebanon and eventually surrounded the PLO and elements of the Syrian army. Surrounded in West Beirut and subjected to heavy bombardment, they negotiated passage from Lebanon with the aid of Special Envoy Philip Habib and the protection of international peacekeepers.

With the establishment of Israel and the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, Lebanon became home to more than 110,000 Palestinian refugees after fleeing their homes in the former Palestine. After its founding in 1964 and the radicalization among Palestinians, which followed the Six Day War, the PLO became a powerful force, then centered in Jordan. The large influx of Palestinians from Jordan after “Black September” caused an additional demographic imbalance within Lebanese society and its democratic institutions established earlier by the National Pact. By 1975, the refugees numbered more than 300,000 and the PLO in effect created an unofficial state-within-a-state, particularly in Southern Lebanon, which then played an important role in the Lebanese Civil War. Continual violence near the Lebanese border occurred between Israel and the PLO starting from 1968; this had previously peaked during Operation Litani in 1978. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was created after the incursion, following the adoption of Security Council Resolution 425 in March 1978 to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Southern Lebanon, restore international peace and security, and help the government of Lebanon restore its effective authority in the area. With the completion of Israeli withdrawals from Sinai in March 1982, under the terms of the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty, the Likud-led government of Israel hardened its attitude to the Arab world and became more aggressive.

Precursors to war
On 10 July 1981, violence erupted in South Lebanon and Northern Israel. Israel renewed its air strikes and after five days, the PLO began shelling northern Israel. On July 17, the Israel Air Force launched a massive attack on PLO buildings in downtown Beirut. "Perhaps as many as three hundred died, and eight hundred were wounded, the great majority of them civilians." The Israeli army also heavily targeted PLO positions in south Lebanon without success in suppressing[weasel words]Palestinian rocket launchers and guns. The strategy of the PLO, years later copied by Hezbollah, consisted of widely dispersing artillery and ammunition stockpiles, which largely neutralized the far more powerful Israeli aircraft and artillery. As a result, thousands of Israeli citizens who resided near the Lebanese border headed south. On 24 July 1981, United States envoy Philip Habib brokered a ceasefire badly needed by both parties. Between July 1981 and June 1982, the Lebanese-Israeli border "enjoyed a state of calm unprecedented since 1968."

US Secretary of State, Alexander Haig filed a report with US President Ronald Reagan on Saturday 30 January 1982 that revealed Secretary Haig's fear that Israel might, at the slightest provocation, start a war against Lebanon. On 21 April 1982, after a landmine killed an Israeli officer while he was visiting a South Lebanese Army gun emplacement in Taibe, Lebanon, the Israeli Air Force attacked the Palestinian-controlled coastal town of Damour, killing 23 people. On 9 May, Israeli aircraft again attacked targets in Lebanon. Later that same day, UNIFIL observed the firing of rockets from Palestinian positions in the Tyre region into northern Israel, but none of the projectiles hit an Israeli settlement--the gunners had been ordered to miss. Major-General Erskine (Ghana), Chief of Staff of UNTSO reported to the Secretary-General and the Security Council (S/14789, S/15194) that from August 1981 to May 1982, inclusive, there were 2096 violations of Lebanese airspace and 652 violations of Lebanese territorial waters (Chomsky, 1999, p. 195; Cobban, 1984, p. 112). There were more than 240 PLO attacks against Israeli targets, and Israel considered them violations of the ceasefire. The freedom of movement of UNIFIL personnel and UNTSO observers within the enclave remained restricted due to the actions of Amal and the South Lebanon Army under Major Saad Haddad's leadership with the backing of Israeli military forces.

International reaction
U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim noted: "After several weeks of relative quiet in the area, a new cycle of violence has begun and has, in the past week, steadily intensified." He further stated: "There have been heavy civilian casualties in Lebanon; there have been civilian casualties in Israel as well. I deeply deplore the extensive human suffering caused by these developments." The President of the U.N. Security Council, Ide Oumarou of Niger, expressed "deep concern at the extent of the loss of life and the scale of the destruction caused by the deplorable events that have been taking place for several days in Lebanon". Secretary Haig's critics have accused him of "greenlighting" the Israeli Invasion of Lebanon in June 1982. Haig denies this and says he urged restraint. The American reaction was that they would not apply any undue pressure on Israel to quit Lebanon as the Israeli presence in Lebanon may prove to be a catalyst for the disparate groups of Lebanon to make common cause against both Syrian and Israeli forces. Haig's analysis, which Ronald Reagan agreed with, was that this uniting of Lebanese groups would allow President Elias Sarkis to reform the Lebanese central Government and give the Palestinian refugees Lebanese citizenship.

Palestinian and Lebanese forces
A Lebanese national army unit of 1,350 was under the operational control of the UNIFIL commander, HQ located at Arzun with sub-units attached to UNIFIL Battalions. The Palestinian forces continued to grow in Lebanon with full-time military personnel numbering around 15,000, although only 6,000 of these, including 4,500 regulars, were deployed in the south. They were armed with 60 aging tanks, many of which were no longer mobile, and 100 to 200 pieces of artillery (Sayigh, 1999, p. 524). According to Israeli analysts Schiff and Ya'ari (1984), the PLO more than tripled its artillery from 80 cannons and rocket launchers in July 1981 to 250 in June 1982. The same authors also refer to Israeli intelligence estimates of the number of PLO fighters in southern Lebanon of 6,000 as "divided into three concentrations; about 1,500 south of the Litani River in the so-called Iron Triangle (between the villages of Kana, Dir Amas, and Juya), Tyre, and its surrounding refugee camps; another 2,500 of the Kastel Brigade in three districts between the Litani and a line running from Sidon to northeast of Nabatiye; and a third large concentration of about 1,500–2,000 men of the Karameh Brigade in the east, on the slopes of Mount Hermon".

Israeli Casus Belli
One of the reasons for the invasion, according to Sheldon L. Richman was "the discrediting and destruction of the PLO, which, by June 1982, had observed its cease-fire with Israel for about a year and had been pursuing a diplomatic strategy." Although the PLO had observed the ceasefire, Israel continued looking for the "internationally recognized provocation" that Secretary of State Alexander Haig said would be necessary to obtain American support for an Israeli invasion of Lebanon. On 3 April 1982 Israeli diplomat Yacov Bar-Simantov was assassinated by the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Fraction; this incident was blamed on the PLO by Israel. On 3 June 1982 an anti-Arafat splinter group which was not a part of the PLO and was headed by Abu Nidal paralyzed Israeli diplomat Shlomo Argov in an assassination attempt in London. Prime Minister Menachem Begin had been informed by Israeli intelligence that the PLO was not involved in the attack on Argov, but withheld this information from his Cabinet. Sami Moubayed would write in 2008 that Rafael Eitan, who was then the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, responded to the aforementioned information by saying: "Abu Nidal, Abu Shmidal. I don't know, we need to screw the PLO." In late 1981, Begin compared Arafat to Adolf Hitler, telling a high-ranking Israeli general at the Waldorf-Astoria, "I want to see Arafat in his Bunker!".


On 6 June 1982, Israeli forces under direction of Defense Minister Ariel Sharon invaded southern Lebanon in "Operation Peace of the Galilee".

Course of the fighting
Israel's publicly stated objective was to push PLO forces back 40 kilometres (25 mi) to the north. Israeli forces pushed in from Southern Lebanon. The first battle was at Beaufort Castle, where 6 Israeli soldiers and at least 4 PLO fighters were killed. Israeli troops took control of the castle. Israeli forces took the town of Jezzine, which was held by Syrian tanks and Infantry. One Syrian armored battalion was destroyed, with Israel losing 7 dead and 8 tanks. Operation Mole Cricket 19 was launched, with the Israeli air force winning a dramatic victory over Syrian aircraft, shooting down 29 Syrian planes and also destroying 17 Syrian anti-aircraft missile batteries, with no losses of its own. Israeli forces fought their way into the Syrian-held town of Sultan Yacoub, but became surrounded. They managed to escape, losing 30 dead. Sultan Yacoub was one of the few objectives the IDF decisively failed to take in the war. The Israelis soon reached Beirut but were determined to drive the PLO from southern Lebanon. Tyre and Sidon (major cities in South Lebanon, still within the 40-kilometre (25 mi) limit) were heavily damaged, and the Lebanese capital Beirut was shelled for ten weeks, killing both PLO members and civilians.

The Israeli Air Force shot down 86 Syrian aircraft, with no air combat losses of its own. This was the largest combat of the jet age with 150 fighters from both sides. It also performed ground attacks, notably destroying the majority of Syrian anti-aircraft batteries stationed in Lebanon. AH-1 Cobra helicopter gunships were used widely against Syrian armor and fortifications. The IAF Cobras destroyed dozens of Syrian armored fighting vehicles, including some of the modern Soviet T-72 main battle tanks.

An agreement was reached later in 1982, and American, French, and Italian peacekeepers, known as the Multinational Force in Lebanon, sent more than 14,000 PLO combatants out of the country in August and September. About 6,500 Fatah fighters relocated from Beirut to Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, both North and South Yemen, Greece, and Tunisia—the latter of which became the new PLO headquarters. Philip Habib, Ronald Reagan's envoy to Lebanon, provided an understanding (i.e., assurance) to the PLO that the Palestinian civilians in the refugee camps would not be harmed. However, the United States Marines left West Beirut two weeks before the end of their official mandate following the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing.

On 14 September 1982, Bachir Gemayel, the newly appointed President of Lebanon, was assassinated by Habib Shartouni of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party. Israeli forces occupied West Beirut the next day, in violation of the Habib agreement. At that time, the Lebanese Christian Militia, also known as the Phalangists, were allied with Israel. The Israeli command authorized the entrance of a force of approximately 150 Phalangist fighters' into the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, claiming there was a remaining force of approximately "2000 PLO terrorists" in the camps. The result was the Sabra and Shatila massacre in which at least 800 civilians were slaughtered by the Phalangists, who themselves suffered only two casualties. Meanwhile, Israeli troops surrounded the camps with tanks and checkpoints, monitoring entrances and exits. Further Israeli investigation by the Kahan Commission of Inquiry found that Ariel Sharon bears "personal responsibility" for failing to prevent the massacre, and for failing to act once he learned that a massacre had started, and recommended that he be removed as Defense Minister and that he never hold a position in any future Israeli government. Sharon initially ignored the call to resign, but after the death of an anti-war protester following an anti-war protest, he did resign as Israel's Defense Minister, however, he remained in Begin's cabinet as a Minister without portfolio. He later became Prime Minister of Israel.


Outcome of the war

It is estimated that around 17,825 Lebanese were killed during the war, with differing estimates of the proportion of civilians killed. Beirut newspaper An Nahar estimated that 5,515 people, both military and civilian, were killed in the Beirut area alone during the conflict, while 9,797 Syrian soldiers, PLO fighters, and other forces aligned with the PLO, as well as 2,513 civilians were killed outside of the Beirut area. Approximately 675 Israeli soldiers were killed.

The security buffer zone
In September 1982, the PLO withdrew most of its forces from Lebanon. With U.S. assistance, Israel and Lebanon reached an accord in May 1983 that set the stage to withdraw Israeli forces from Lebanon while letting them patrol a "security zone" together with the Lebanese Army.

The instruments of ratification were never exchanged, however, and in March 1984, under pressure from Syria, Lebanon canceled the agreement.

In January 1985, Israel started to withdraw most of its troops, leaving a small residual Israeli force and an Israeli-supported militia, the South Lebanon Army in southern Lebanon in a "security zone", which Israel considered a necessary buffer against attacks on its northern territory. The Israeli withdrawal to the security zone ended in June 1985.

Political results
In the voting in the Knesset on the war, only Hadash opposed the war (and even submitted a no-confidence motion against the Israeli government). Hadash Knesset member Meir Vilner said in the Knesset plenary session that: "The government is leading Israel to an abyss. It is doing something that in the course of time might lead to crying for generations." In response, they were condemned, and calls were heard, among others from the editor of Yediot Ahronoth, to prosecute them for treason. Left-wing Knesset members, including Shulamit Aloni and Yossi Sarid, were absent from the plenary for the vote. Even the Labour faction voted in support. By mid January 1983 Rabin was saying that the Israeli attempt to impose a peace agreement on Lebanon by the use of force was a "mistake" based upon an "illusion".

Syria backed the anti-Arafat PLO forces of Abu Musa in the Beka valley from May 1983. When Arafat castigated the Syrian government for blocking PLO supplies in June 1983, the Syrian government declared Arafat a persona non grata on 24 June 1983.[36]

With the withdrawal of the PLO leadership from Tripoli in December 1983 there was an Egyptian-PLO rapprochement, this was found to be encouraging by the Reagan administration but was condemned by the Israeli government.

But heavy Israeli casualties, alleged disinformation of Israeli government leaders and the Israeli public by Israeli military and political advocates of the campaign, and lack of clear goals led to increasing disquiet among Israelis. This culminated in a large protest rally in Tel Aviv, organized by the Peace Now movement, following the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre. Organizers claimed 400,000 people participated in the rally, and it became known as the "400,000 rally". Other estimates put the figure much lower.

In 2000, when Ehud Barak was Israeli Prime Minister, Israel finally withdrew from the security zone to behind the Blue Line. Lebanon and Hezbollah continue to claim a small area called Shebaa Farms as Lebanese territory, but Israel insists that it is captured Syrian territory with the same status as the Golan Heights. The United Nations has not determined the final status of Shebaa Farms but has determined that Israel has complied with UNSC resolution 425. The UN Secretary-General had concluded that, as of 16 June 2000, Israel had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 425 of 1978, bringing closure to the 1982 invasion as far as the UN was concerned.



The 1982 Lebanon War had a number of lasting consequences:

-From the standpoint of the Israeli Military, the invasion was a limited success, removing PLO presence from Southern Lebanon and destroying its infrastructure, as well as increasing deterrence on other Arab anti-Israeli militant organizations. The Syrian military was weakened by combat losses, especially in the air.
-Increased erosion of the consensus against criticizing the military in Israeli public opinion and disillusionment with its leadership, a process which is commonly held to be rooted in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War.
-The invasion that also targeted many Shiite Lebanese, has brought about the switching of sides of Amal Movement, which used to fight against the PLO prior to the invasion.
-The invasion is popularly held to be the major catalyst for the creation of the Iranian and Syrian supported Hezbollah organization, which by 1991 was the sole armed militia in Lebanon not supported by Israel and by 2000 had completely replaced the vanquished PLO in Southern Lebanon.
-The Lebanese Council for Development and Reconstruction estimated the cost of the damage from the invasion at 7,622,774,000 Lebanese pounds, equivalent to US$2 billion at the time.
-Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden said in a videotape released on the eve of the 2004 U.S. presidential elections that he was inspired to attack the buildings of the United States by the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon in which towers and buildings in Beirut were destroyed in the siege of the capital.
-The withdrawal of the IDF back to South Lebanon in the summer of 1983, led to one of the bloodiest phases of the Lebanese war, where the Christian Militia (the Lebanese Forces) was left alone to defend the "Mountain" area which comprised the Aley and Chouf districts against a coalition of Druze PSP, Palestinian PLO, Syrian Army, Lebanese Communist, and Syrian Social National Party. The result was catastrophic on the civilian population from both sides, especially on the Christian population (more than 5,000 killed from both sides). The war ended after the Christian forces and civilians withdrew to the town of Deir el Kamar where they were besieged for 3 months before all hostilities ceased and they were transported to East Beirut.

Israeli troops in South Lebanon, June, 1982.


In the decades following the 1948 war, Israel's border with Lebanon was quiet compared to its borders with other neighbours. But the 1969 Cairo agreement gave the PLO a free hand to attack Israel from South Lebanon. The area was governed by the PLO independently of the Lebanese Government and became known as "Fatahland" (Fatah was the largest faction in the PLO). Palestinian irregulars constantly shelled the Israeli north, especially the town of Kiryat Shmona, which was a Likud stronghold inhabited primarily by Jews who had fled the Arab world. Lack of control over Palestinian areas was an important factor in causing civil war in Lebanon.

In June 1982, the attempted assassination of Shlomo Argov, the ambassador to Britain, was used as a pretext for an Israeli invasion aiming to drive the PLO out of the southern half of Lebanon. Sharon agreed with Chief of Staff Raphael Eitan to expand the invasion deep into Lebanon even though the cabinet had only authorized a 40 kilometer deep invasion. The invasion became known as the 1982 Lebanon War and the Israeli army occupied Beirut, the only time an Arab capital has been occupied by Israel. Some of the Shia and Christian population of South Lebanon welcomed the Israelis, as PLO forces had maltreated them, but Lebanese resentment of Israeli occupation grew over time and the Shia became gradually radicalized under Iranian guidance. Constant casualties among Israeli soldiers and Lebanese civilians led to growing opposition to the war in Israel.

In August 1982, the PLO withdrew its forces from Lebanon (moving to Tunisia). Israel helped engineer the election of a new Lebanese president, Bashir Gemayel, who agreed to recognize Israel and sign a peace treaty. Gemayal was assassinated before an agreement could be signed, and one day later Phalangist Christian forces led by Elie Hobeika entered two Palestinian refugee camps and massacred the occupants. The massacres led to the biggest demonstration ever in Israel against the war, with as many as 400,000 people (almost 10% of the population) gathering in Tel-Aviv. In 1983, an Israeli public inquiry found that Israel's defense minister, Sharon, was indirectly but personally responsible for the massacres. It also recommended that he never again be allowed to hold the post (it did not forbid him from being Prime Minister).


1984–1988: Yitzhak Shamir/Shimon Peres rotation government and first Intifada

In September 1983, Begin resigned and was succeeded by Yitzhak Shamir as prime minister. The 1984 election was inconclusive and led to a power sharing agreement between Shimon Peres of the Alignment (44 seats) and Shamir of Likud (41 seats). Peres was prime minister from 1984-1986 and Shamir from 1986-1988.

In 1984, continual discrimination against Sephardi ultra-orthodox Jews by the Ashkenazi ultra-orthodox establishment led political activist Aryeh Deri to leave the Agudat Israel party and join former chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in forming Shas, a new party aimed at the non-Ashkenazi Ultra-Orthodox vote. The party won 11 seats in the first election it contested and over the next twenty years was the third largest party in the Knesset. Shas established a nationwide network of free Sephardi orthodox schools.

In 1984, during a severe famine in Ethiopia, 8,000 Ethiopian Jews were secretly transported to Israel. In 1986 Natan Sharansky, a famous Russian human rights activist and Zionist refusenik (denied an exit visa) was released from the Gulag in return for two Soviet spies.

In June 1985, Israel withdrew most of its troops from Lebanon, leaving a residual Israeli force and an Israeli-supported militia in southern Lebanon as a "security zone" and buffer against attacks on its northern territory.

By July 1985 Israel's inflation, buttressed by complex index linking of salaries, had reached 480% per annum and was the highest in the world. Peres introduced emergency control of prices and cut government expenditure successfully bringing inflation under control.

In August 1987, the Israeli government cancelled the IAI Lavi project, an attempt to develop an independent Israeli fighter aircraft. The Israelis found themselves unable to sustain the huge development costs and faced US opposition to a project that threatened US influence in Israel and US global military ascendancy. In September 1988, Israel launched an Ofeq reconsaissance satellite into orbit, using a Shavit rocket, thus becoming one of only eight countries possessing a capacity to independently launch satellites into space (two more have since developed this ability).

Growing Israeli settlement and continuing occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, led to the first Palestinian Intifada (uprising) in 1987 which lasted until the Madrid Conference of 1991, despite Israeli attempts to suppress it. Human rights abuses by Israeli troops led a group of Israelis to form B'Tselem, an organization devoted to improving awareness and compliance with human rights requirements in Israel.


1988–1992: Shamir II: the Gulf War and Soviet immigration

Yitzhak Shamir (left) addressing the Knesset, 1988.

The Alignment and Likud remained neck and neck in the 1988 elections (39:40 seats), Shamir successfully formed a national unity coalition with the Labour Alignment.

In March 1990, Alignment leader Shimon Peres engineered a defeat of the government in a non-confidence vote and then tried to form a new government. He failed and Shamir became Prime-Minister at the head of a right-wing coalition.

In 1990, the Soviet Union finally permitted free emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel. Prior to this, Jews trying to leave the USSR faced persecution; those who succeeded arrived as refugees.

Over the next few years some one million Soviet citizens migrated to Israel, and there was concern that some of the new immigrants had only a very tenuous connection to Judaism and many were accompanied by non-Jewish relatives.

In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, triggering the Gulf War between Iraq and a large allied force, led by the United States. Iraq attacked Israel with 39 Scud missiles. Israel did not retaliate. Israel provided gas masks for both the Palestinian population and Israeli citizens.

In May 1991, during a 36 hour period, 15,000 Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jews) were secretly airlifted to Israel.

The coalition's victory in the Gulf War opened new possibilities for regional peace, and in October 1991 the U.S. President, George H.W. Bush and Soviet Union Premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, jointly convened a historic meeting in Madrid of Israeli, Lebanese, Jordanian, Syrian, and Palestinian leaders. Shamir opposed the idea but was forced into compliance when the Bush administration withheld its loan guarantees needed by Israel to absorb the newcomers from Soviet Union.


1992–1995: Rabin II: Oslo peace talks

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin speaking at the White House following the
signing of an accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, 1993.

In the 1992 elections, the Labour Party, led by Yitzhak Rabin, won a significant victory (44 seats) promising to pursue peace while promoting Rabin as a "tough general" and pledging not to deal with the PLO in any way.

On September 13 1993, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed a Declaration of Principles [82] on the South Lawn of the White House. The declaration was a major conceptual breakthrough achieved outside of the Madrid framework which specifically barred foreign-residing PLO leaders from the negotiation process, and a pre-condition insisted upon by Itzhak Shamir. These principles established objectives relating to a transfer of authority from Israel to an interim Palestinian authority, as a prelude to a final treaty establishing a Palestinian state. The DOP established May 1999 as the date by which a permanent status agreement for the West Bank and Gaza Strip would take effect.

In February 1994, a follower of the Kach movement killed 25 Palestinian-Arabs at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron (Cave of the Patriarchs massacre). Kach had been barred from participation in the 1992 elections (on the grounds that the movement was racist). It was subsequently made illegal.

Israel and the PLO signed the Gaza-Jericho Agreement in May 1994, and the Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities in August, which began the process of transferring authority from Israel to the Palestinians.

On July 18 1994, a Jewish day centre in Argentina was blown up, killing 85 people. Argentine investigators concluded the attack was by Lebanese Hezbollah with Iranian assistance.

On July 25 1994 Jordan and Israel signed the Washington Declaration which formally ended the state of war that had existed between them since 1948 and on October 26 the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace, witnessed by US President Bill Clinton.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat signed the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on September 28 1995, in Washington. The agreement was witnessed by President Bill Clinton on behalf of the United States and by Russia, Egypt, Norway and the European Union and incorporates and supersedes the previous agreements, marking the conclusion of the first stage of negotiations between Israel and the PLO.

The agreement allowed the PLO leadership to relocate to the occupied territories and granted autonomy to the Palestinians with talks to follow regarding final status. In return the Palestinians recognized Israel's right to exist and promised to abstain from use of terror.

However the agreement was opposed by Hamas and other Palestinian factions which launched suicide bomber attacks at Israel. Rabin had a barrier constructed around Gaza to prevent attacks.

Tensions in Israel, arising from the continuation of terrorism and anger at loss of territory, led to the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin by a right-wing Jewish radical on November 4 1995.


Direct elections for the Premier 1996–2005
In 1996 the Israeli electoral system was changed to allow for direct election of the Premier. It was hoped this would reduce the power of small parties to extract concessions in return for coalition agreements. Instead the system resulted in increased fracturization of Israeli politics with the larger parties winning fewer votes and the smaller parties becoming more attractive to voters. By the 2006 election the system was abandoned.

1996–1999: Binyamin Netanyahu - the peace process slows

Benjamin Netanyahu, 1996.

In February 1996 Rabin's successor, Shimon Peres, called early elections. The May 1996 elections were the first featuring direct election of the prime minister and resulted in a narrow election victory for Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu. A spate of suicide bombings reinforced the Likud position for security. Hamas claimed responsibility for most of the bombings.

Despite his stated differences with the Oslo Accords, Prime Minister Netanyahu continued their implementation, but his Prime Ministership saw a marked slow-down in the Peace Process. Netanyahu also pledged to gradually reduce US aid to Israel.

In January 1997 Netanyahu signed the Hebron Protocol with the Palestinian Authority, resulting in the redeployment of Israeli forces in Hebron and the turnover of civilian authority in much of the area to the Palestinian Authority.

1999–2001: Ehud Barak and withdrawal from South Lebanon

Ehud Barak, 1999.

In the election of July 1999, Ehud Barak of the Labour Party became Prime Minister. His party was the largest in the Knesset with 26 seats.

On March 21 2000 Pope John Paul II arrived in Israel for a historic visit.

In 2000, Israel unilaterally withdrew its remaining forces from the "security zone" in southern Lebanon. Several thousand members of the South Lebanon Army (and their families) left with the Israelis.

The UN Secretary-General concluded that, as of June 16 2000, Israel had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 425. Lebanon claims that Israel continues to occupy Lebanese territory called "Sheba'a Farms" (however this area was governed by Syria until 1967 when Israel took control). The Sheba'a Farms provide Hezbullah with a ruse to maintain warfare with Israel. The Lebanese government did not assert sovereignty in the area (in contravention of the UN resolution) which came under the control of Hezbollah.

In the Fall of 2000, talks were held at Camp David to reach a final agreement on the Israel/Palestine conflict. Ehud Barak offered to meet most of the Palestinian teams requests for territory and political concessions, including Arab parts of east Jerusalem; however, Arafat abandoned the talks without making a counterproposal.

On September 28, 2000, Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount, arguably providing the Palestinians with a pretext for the launching of the al-Aqsa Intifada. Israel claims the Palestinians had planned violence far in advance of Sharon's visit. In his book The High Cost of Peace, Yossef Bodansky describes the event: "When Sharon expressed interest in visiting the Temple Mount, Barak ordered GSS chief Ami Ayalon to approach Jibril Rajoub with a special request to facilitate a smooth and friendly visit... Rajoub promised it would be smooth as long as Sharon would refrain from entering any of the mosques or praying publicly... Just to be on the safe side, Barak personally approached Arafat and once again got assurances that Sharon's visit would be smooth..." (p354)

In October 2000, Palestinians destroyed Joseph's Tomb, a Jewish shrine in Nablus. The Arrow missile, a missile designed to destroy ballistic missiles, including Scud missiles, was first deployed by Israel.

In 2001, with the Peace Process increasingly in disarray, Ehud Barak called a special election for Prime Minister. Barak hoped a victory would give him renewed authority in negotiations with the Palestinians. Instead opposition leader Ariel Sharon was elected PM. After this election, the system of directly electing the Premier was abandoned.

2001–2006: Ariel Sharon and withdrawal from Gaza and the Northern West Bank

Ariel Sharon, 2002.

The failure of the peace process, increased Palestinian terror, and occasional attacks by Hizbullah from Lebanon led much of the Israeli public and political leadership to lose confidence in the Palestinian Authority as a peace partner. Most felt that many Palestinians viewed the peace treaty with Israel as a temporary measure only. Many Israelis were thus anxious to disengage from the Palestinians.

In response to a wave of suicide bomb attacks, culminating in the "Passover massacre", Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield, and Sharon began construction of a barrier around the West Bank.

In January 2003 separate elections were held for the Knesset. Likud won the most seats (27). An anti-religion party, Shinui, won 15 seats on a secularist platform, making it the third largest party (ahead of orthodox Shas). Internal fighting led to Shinui's demise at the next election.

In December 2003, Ariel Sharon announced he would consider a unilateral withdrawal from parts of the occupied territories. This crystallized as a plan for total withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

In 2004, the Black Hebrews were granted permanent residency in Israel. The group had begun migrating to Israel 25 years earlier from the United States, but had not been recognized as Jews by the state and hence not granted citizenship under Israel's Law of Return. They had settled in Israel without official status. From 2004 onwards, they received citizen's rights.

In 2005, all Jewish settlers were evacuated from Gaza (some forcibly) and their homes demolished. Disengagement from the Gaza Strip was completed on September 12, 2005. Military disengagement from the northern West Bank was completed ten days later.

Following the withdrawal, the Israeli town of Sderot and other Israeli communities near the frontier became subject to constant shelling and mortar bomb attacks from Gaza.

Israeli riot police being delivered by helicopter to forcibly evacuate Israeli
settlers from a synagogue roof, Kefar Darom, Gaza Strip, 2005.

In 2005 Sharon left the Likud and formed a new party called Kadima, which accepted that the peace process would lead to creation of a Palestinian state. He was joined by many leading figures from both Likud and Labour.

The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza was interpreted by the Palestinians as a Hamas victory and the January Palestinian legislative election, 2006 was won by Hamas, which rejected all agreements signed with Israel, refused to recognize Israel's right to exist, and claimed the Holocaust was a Jewish conspiracy.

On April 14, 2006, Ariel Sharon was incapacitated by a severe hemorrhagic stroke, and Ehud Olmert became Acting Prime Minister.

2006–2009: Ehud Olmert and growing Islamist confrontation

An Israeli soldier en route to southern Lebanon in August 2006 takes
a photograph of himself with his digital cell phone camera.

Ehud Olmert was elected Prime Minister after his party, Kadima, won the most seats (29) in the Israeli legislative election, 2006.

In 2005 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was officially elected president of Iran; since then, Iranian policy towards Israel has grown more confrontational. Israeli analysts believe Ahmadinejad has worked to undermine the peace process with arms supplies and aid to Hezbullah in South Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza and is developing nuclear weapons, possibly for use against Israel. Iranian support for Hizbullah and its nuclear arms program are in contravention of UN Security Council resolutions 1559 and 1747. Iran also encourages Holocaust denial.

Following the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, Hizbullah had mounted periodic attacks on Israel which did not lead to Israeli retaliation. Similarly, the withdrawal from Gaza led to incessant shelling of towns around the Gaza area with only minimal Israeli response. The failure to react led to criticism from the Israeli right and undermined the government.

Ehud Olmert, 2006.

On June 25, 2006, a Hamas force crossed the border from Gaza and attacked a tank, capturing wounded Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. On July 12, Hezbollah attacked Israel from Lebanon, shelled Israeli towns and attacked a border patrol, taking two dead or badly wounded Israeli soldiers. These incidents led Israel to initiate the Second Lebanon War, which lasted through August 2006. The Israeli army proved unable to prevent Hizbullah from shelling the north of Israel, and the military failure led to a public inquiry.

In 2007 education was made compulsory until the age of 18 for all citizens (it had been 16).

Olmert also came under investigation for corruption and this ultimately led him to announce, on July 30, 2008, that he would be stepping down as Prime Minister following election of a new leader of the Kadimah party in September 2008. Tzippi Livni won the election, but was unable to form a coalition and he remained in office until the general election.

On December 27, 2008, following the collapse of an unofficial cease-fire between Israel and Gaza and resumption of shelling of southern Israeli towns from Gaza, Israeli forces mounted a three-week campaign in Gaza, leading to widespread international protests.

2009-present: Netanyahu II
In the 2009 legislative election Likud won 27 seats and Kadima 28; however, the right-wing camp won a majority of seats, and President Shimon Peres called on Netanyahu to form the government.

Russian immigrant-dominated Yisrael Beiteinu came third with 15 seats, and Labour was reduced to fourth place with 13 seats.


see also: United Nations member states -



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