Palestine 1948 To Present

Emergence of a Palestinian identity.

The catastrophe of 1948 (also called an-nakba) and the experience of exile shaped Palestinian political and cultural activity for the next generation. The central task of reconstruction fell to Palestinians living outside Israel--both in the West Bank and Gaza communities and in the new Palestinian communities outside the former British mandate. (Arabs living within the State of Israel remained in an ambiguous, isolated situation and were regarded with some suspicion by both Israelis and Palestinians.) The new leaders came disproportionately from among those who had moved to various Middle Eastern states and to the West, even though four out of five Palestinians had remained within the borders of the former mandate. By the mid-1960s, despite Israeli efforts to forestall the emergence of a new Palestinian identity, a young, educated leadership had arisen, replacing the discredited traditional local and clan leaders.

The role of camps.

Palestinian refugee camps differed depending on the country in which they were located, but they shared one common development--the emergence of a "diaspora consciousness." In time this consciousness grew into a new national identity and reinvigorated social institutions, leading to the establishment of more complex social and political structures by the 1960s. A new Palestinian leadership emerged from the schools UNRWA had established, as well as from the universities of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, western Europe, and the United States. Palestinians living in the UNRWA-administered refugee camps felt isolated, politically powerless, disoriented, bitter, and resentful. They remained unassimilated and were generating a new sense of identity based on a Nasser-inspired pan-Arabism, the cultivated memory of a lost paradise (Palestine), and an emerging pan-Islamic movement

The role of Palestinians outside formerly mandated Palestine.

By the late 1960s a class of educated and mobile Palestinians had emerged, with fewer than half of them living in the West Bank or Gaza. They were working in the oil companies, civil services, and educational institutions of most Arab states in the Middle East., they joined the process of reshaping Palestinian consciousness and institutions. Thus, Palestinians entered a new stage of the struggle for nationhood.

Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

An Arab summit meeting in Cairo in 1964 led to the formation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). A political umbrella organization of several Palestinian groups, the PLO thereafter consistently claimed to be the sole representative of all Palestinian people. Its first leader was Ahmad Shuqayri, a protégé of Egypt. In its charter (the Palestine National Charter, or Covenant), the PLO delineated its basic principles and goals, the most important of which were the right to an independent state, the total liberation of Palestine.

Fatah and other guerrilla organizations.

Several years before the creation of the PLO, a secret organization had been formed: the (Harakat at-Tahrir al-Watani al-Filastini), known from a reversal of its Arabic initials as Fatah. Both the PLO and Fatah undertook the training of units for raids on Israel. In addition to Fatah, the largest and most influential guerrilla organization, several others emerged in the late 1960s. The most important ones were the (PFLP); the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-General Command, a splinter group from the PFLP); as-Sa'iqah, backed by Syria; the (DFLP); and the Popular Struggle Front (PSF). These groups joined forces inside the PLO despite their differences in ideology and tactics In 1969 Yasser Arfat, leader of Fatah, became chairman of the PLO's executive committee and thus the chief of the Palestinian national movement Despite their differences in tactics and ideology, the guerrilla organizations were united in rejecting any political settlement that did not include what they characterized as the total liberation of Palestine and the return of the refugees to their homeland, goals that were to be achieved through armed struggle.They also sought to establish a nonsectarian state in which Jews, Christians, and Muslims could live in equality. Most Israelis doubted the sincerity or practicality of this goal and viewed the PLO as a terrorist organization committed to destroying not only the Zionist state but also Israeli Jews.

Moving toward self-rule.

The approaching end of the Cold War left the Palestinians diplomatically isolated, as did PLO support for Iraqi President Saddam Hussin who had invaded Kuwait in August 1990 but was defeated by a U.S.-led alliance on January-February 1991. Funds from Saudi Arabia, , and the Arab Gulf states dried up. The Palestinian community in Kuwait, which had consisted of about 400,000 people, was reduced to a few thousand. Economic hardship was compounded by the fact that during the continuing incidents along the Lebanese border and in the occupied territories Israel imposed severe travel restrictions on Palestinian day labourers. The overall result was a loss of jobs, a loss of morale, and loss of support for the PLO leadership in Tunis However, prospects for a settlement of the outstanding issues between the Palestinians and Israel became significantly altered by several factors: the convening of an international peace conference between Israeli and Arab delegates (including Palestinians from the occupied territories as part of a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation) at Madrid in October 1991, sponsored by the United States and the Soviet Union (later Russia) the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991; and the replacement, in the Israeli general elections of June 1992, of Shamir and the Likud-bloc government with a Labour Party government that was committed to the implementation of Palestinian autonomy within a year Although progress at the Madrid peace conference was discouraging, secret meetings held in Norway from January 1993 between PLO and Israeli officials produced promising results. On Sept. 13, 1993, the PLO and Israel signed a historic "Declaration of Principles" in Washington, D.C. It included mutual recognition and terms whereby governing functions in the West Bank and Gaza would be progressively handed over to a Palestinian Council for an interim period of five years, during which time Israel and the Palestinians would negotiate a permanent peace treaty to settle on the final status of the territories. The Israelis completed their withdrawal from the West Bank town of Jericho and the Gaza Strip in May 1994. On July 1 'Arafat entered Gaza in triumph. Four days later he swore in members of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Jericho, which by the end of the year had assumed control of education and culture, social welfare, health, tourism, and taxation . On Sept. 28, 1995, 'Arafat, Prime Minister Rabin, and Foreign Minister Perez signed an agreement in Washington providing for the expansion of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and for elections of a chairman and a legislative council of the PA. The PA would gain control over six large West Bank towns (Janin, Nabulus, Tulkarm, Qalqiyah, Ram Allah, and Bethlehem) as well as control over most of Hebron. Israel would also gradually redeploy from some 440 villages, which would come under Palestinian rule. Security for these areas would rest with the Palestinian police, although Israelis would be guaranteed freedom of movement. Reaffirming the commitment made in the 1993 peace accord, permanent-status negotiations were to be concluded by 1999 In October 1995, as West Bank villages, towns, and cities were handed over to the PA, right-wing religious and extremist nationalist Israelis stepped up their rhetoric against Rabin and the peace process. On Nov. 4, 1995, Israelis were stunned when Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish . Peres, Rabin's successor, quickly expressed his determination to continue the planned Israeli deployments Elections were held in PA-administered areas on Jan. 20, 1996, in which about three-fourths of Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza voted. Arfat secured more than 88 percent of the vote and assumed the chairmanship of the PA on February 12. He also remained chairman of the PLO. Fatah won 55 seats in the 88-seat legislative council.Hamas, however, did not participate in the election and continued its opposition to the peace process. The progress toward peace was further cast into doubt when Niteniaho, right-wing leader of the Likud Party, was elected prime minister of Israel in May 1996.

The End

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