Arab-Israeli War: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – Part Nine
On May 14, 1948 the leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine declared independence in accordance with the UN resolution, and Israel was established as the Jewish state. The U.S. recognized the State of Israel de facto the following day. This marked a major turning point, as the Zionist movement had accomplished its principal goal. As a result, many Zionist institutions became government institutions in the new Jewish stated, and the three Zionist militias were combined to form the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
The Provisional Council of Israel’s first constitutional act was a Proclamation that:
“All legislation resulting from the British Government’s White Paper of May, 1939, will at midnight tonight become null and void. This includes the immigration provisions as well as the land transfer regulations of February, 1940.”
Israel shares land borders with Lebanon in the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories (or State of Palestine) comprising the West Bank and Gaza Strip on the east and southwest respectively, and finally Egypt and the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea to the south. In its Basic Laws, Israel defines itself as a Jewish and Democratic State; it is the world’s only Jewish-majority state.
Arab-Israeli War of 1948
The following day, a military coalition of four Arab countries—Egypt, Syria, Transjordan and Iraq along with Palestinian Arab (modern descendants of the people who have lived in Palestine over the centuries, and who today are largely culturally and linguistically Arab due to Arabization of the region) forces entered what had been British Mandatory Palestine launching the Arab-Israeli War against the new State of Israel.
Violent campaigns carried out by Jewish underground groups against the British forces and officials in Mandatory Palestine initially turned into civil war between the Arab and Jewish populations in response to the UN Partition Plan of 1947 to divide Palestine into three areas: an Arab state, a Jewish state and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem. The ongoing civil war transformed into an inter-state conflict between Israel and the Arab states. Jordan declared privately to Yishuv emissaries on May 2 it would abide by a decision not to attack the Jewish state.
The invading forces took control of the Arab areas and immediately attacked Israeli forces and several Jewish settlements. The 10 months of fighting, interrupted by several truce periods, took place mostly on the former territory of the British Mandate and for a short time also in the Sinai Peninsula and southern Lebanon.
As a result of the war, the State of Israel retained the area that the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 had recommended for the proposed Jewish state and also took control of almost 60% of the area allocated for the proposed Arab state including the Jaffa, Lydda and Ramle area, Galilee, some parts of the Negev, a wide strip along the Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem road, West Jerusalem, and some territories in the West Bank (a landlocked territory near the Mediterranean coast of Western Asia, forming the bulk of the Palestinian territories.)
Transjordan took control of the remainder of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Egyptian military took control of the Gaza Strip (a Palestinian region on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea that borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the east and north.) No Arab Palestinian state was created. In 1949 all the belligerents – except the Iraqis and the Palestinians – signed the 1949 Armistice Agreements which established Armistice Demarcation Lines between Israeli forces and the forces in Jordanian-held West Bank, also known as the Green Line.
The conflict triggered important demographic changes in the area and through the Middle East. Around 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from the area that became Israel and they became Palestinian refugees (originally included Arabs whose normal places of residence were in Israel and Jews who had their homes in Mandatory Palestine, but now refers to patrilineal descendants of Arab refugees originating in the Mandate.) In the three years following the war, about 700,000 Jews immigrated to Israel with one-third of them having fled, or having been expelled, from their previous countries of residence in the Middle East.
Palestine: Part 10 – All Palestine Government
Palestine: Part 8 – Partition and Civil War