The Middle East: The Origins of Arab-Israeli Wars
in Ngaire Woods, ed., Explaining International Relations since 1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 219-40.
The Middle East
has been one of the most volatile and violent subsystems of the
international political systems since the end of the Second World War.
Postwar history in the Middle East has been punctuated by an unusually
high number of full-scale, inter-state wars. The aim of this chapter is
to explore the underlying causes of the largest category of Middle
Eastern wars, namely, the Arab-Israeli wars. Wars which are not
directly related to the Arab-Israeli conflict, like the Yemen war of
1961-64 and the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88, lie outside the scope of this
chapter. Within the scope of this chapter are all seven major
Arab-Israeli wars: the 1948 Palestine war, the 1956 Suez war, the June
1967 Six-Day War, the 1969-70 War of Attrition, the October 1973 Yom
Kippur War, the 1982 Lebanon war, and the 1991 Gulf war. It is the
origins of these wars which will be examined here in an attempt to see
whether any general patterns emerge.
The Level-of-Analysis Problem
dealing with the origins of wars, as with any other class of
international events, it is important to be clear about the level of
analysis. J. David Singer, in a famous article, identified the two most
widely employed levels of analysis in International Relations: the
international system and the national sub-systems. The first level of
analysis focuses on the international system and its impact on the
behaviour of states. The second focuses on domestic influences on
states' behaviour vis-א-vis other states. The first level of analysis
has the advantage of giving generalizable and parsimonious explanations
of the external behaviour of states whereas the second level calls for
richer detail, greater depth and more intensive portrayal of the
domestic roots of international events.
Another well-known treatment of the level of
analysis problem in International Relations is the book by Kenneth
Waltz, Man, the State and War. This book is more directly relevant to
the present inquiry than J.David Singer's article because it deals
specifically with the causes of war. Waltz discusses the contribution
which classical political theory makes to our understanding of the
nature and causes of war. He does so by identifying three principal
themes or images of international relations: war as the consequence of
the nature and behaviour of man, as the outcome of the internal
organization of states, and as the product of international anarchy.
In Waltz's analysis the state is the most important
actor in international politics and the principal cause of war in the
international system. All three images are concerned with influences
that incline the state to go to war: the first image stresses the
personality and beliefs of the leader as a cause of war; the second
image stresses domestic political forces as the cause of war; while the
third image stresses the regional and international power game as the
cause of war. Waltz's conclusion is that the first two sets of
influences are relatively unimportant whereas the third set of
influences is critical. In other words, states do not resort to war
because of the personality of the leader or because of their domestic
political structure or ideology but because of pressures emanating from
the international environment.
Waltz's three images of international relations
constitute a useful analytical framework for thinking about the causes
of war. One of the strengths of the framework lies in its universal
applicability. The framework can be employed to analyse the causes of a
single war or a series of wars in any region at any period in history.
The post-1945 Middle East is no exception. If applied to the outbreak
of Arab-Israeli wars, this framework would suggest three lines of
inquiry: the psychological factors rooted in human nature, the
organizational and ideological factors rooted in the domestic
environment, and the systemic factors rooted in the international
environment. The framework would also suggest that systemic factors are
much more important than the other two sets of factors in explaining
the outbreak of Arab-Israeli wars.
Yet, precisely because it is so broad and
all-encompassing, Waltz's analytical framework is less than ideal for
the purposes of this particular chapter. In the first place, there is
no justification for assuming a priori that systemic factors connected
with the regional and international power-game are more important than
the other factors in motivating states to go to war. This is an
empirical question which can only be answered after reviewing the
relevant empirical evidence. Secondly, the relative weight of
individual, domestic, and systemic influences is likely to vary from
one Arab-israeli war to another. Thirdly, these three sets of
influences cannot always be fitted into neat and separate categories
because they intermingle and shade into one another.
A different analytical framework is therefore
proposed here, a framework tailored to the particular circumstances of
the Middle East. This framework identifies three central factors that
contribute to the outbreak of wars in the Middle East: the Arab-Israeli
conflict, inter-Arab relations, and the involvement of the Great Powers
in the affairs of the region. Like Waltz's framework, this alternative
analytical framework involves a three-fold division. But whereas
Waltz's three levels are the individual, the state and the
international system, this framework focuses attention on three sets of
interaction between states. States are the principal unit of analysis
in this framework. The states in question are Israel, her Arab
neighbours and the Great Powers: Britain, France, the United States and
the Soviet Union. These states dominated the international politics of
the Middle East in the aftermath of the Second World War. And it is the
policies and actions of these states which are assumed to be the
principal cause of war in the region. A word of explanation about the
three factors that make up this framework of analysis may therefore be
Israel, the Arab States and the Great Powers
conflict between Israel and the Arabs is one of the most profound and
protracted conflicts of the twentieth century and the principal
precipitant of wars in the Middle East. There are two major dimensions
to this conflict: the Israeli-Palestinian dimension and the
Israeli-Arab dimension. The origins of the conflict go back to the end
of the nineteenth century when the Zionist movement conceived the idea
of building a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. This
project met with bitter opposition on the part of the Arab population
of the country. The upshot was a clash between two national movements
for possession of Palestine. There were two peoples and one land, hence
The neighbouring Arab states became involved in this conflict on
the side of the Palestinian Arabs in the 1930s. After the creation of
the State of Israel in 1948, the main weight of the conflict shifted
from the local or inter-communal level to the inter-state level. In
1967 the conflict was further complicated by Israel's capture of the
West Bank from Jordan, the Golan heights from syria and the Sinai
peninsula from Egypt. From this point on, these states had a direct
territorial dispute with Israel quite apart from their commitment to
the Palestinian cause.
On the root cause of the conflict there are widely
divergent views. Most Arabs maintain that the root cause of the
conflict is the dispossession and dispersal of the Palestinian Arabs,
an original sin which was compounded by Israel's subsequent territorial
acquisitions. In their view, Israel is an inherently aggressive and
expansionist state and the real source of violence in the
region. Most Israelis, on the other hand, maintain that the
root cause of the conflict is not territory but the Arab rejection of
Israel's very right to exist as a sovereign state in the Middle East.
According to this view, the basic Arab objective is the liquidation of
the State of Israel while Israel acts only in self-defence and in
response to the Arab challenges. But whatever one's view of
the origins and nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict, there can be no
doubt that this conflict has been a major cause of wars in the Middle
A second source of tension and instability which at
least on one occasion, in June 1967, helped to tip the balance in
favour of war, is to be found in the relations among the Arab states.
In theory all Arab states subscribe to the ideal of Arab unity but in
practice inter-Arab relations are characterized more by conflict than
by co-operation. Israel is widely held to be one of the few solid
pillars propping up Arab unity, the one issue on which all Arabs,
whatever their other differences may be, can agree. Opposition to
Israel follows naturally from the belief that the inhabitants of the
various Arab states, including the Palestinians, form a single nation
and that Israel has grossly violated the sacred rights of this nation.
A distinction needs to be made, however, between the
rhetorical and the operational levels of Arab foreign policy. Whereas
at the rhetorical level the Arab states were largely united in their
commitment to oppose Israel, at the operational level they remained
deeply divided. The conservative states tended to advocate containment
of the Jewish state, while the radical states tended to advocate
confrontation. For this reason, the conventional wisdom on Israel's
role in inter-Arab relations is not entirely convincing. As a number of
scholars have pointed out, the conflict with Israel has imposed
enormous strain on the inter-Arab system. Far from serving as
a goad to unity,the question of how to deal with Israel has been a
serious source of dissension and discord in inter-Arab politics.
A third source of instability and war in the Middle
East is the involvement of the Great Powers in the affairs of the
region. Two features of the Middle East help to account for the
interest and rivalry it has evoked among the Great Powers in the
twentieth century: its geostrategic importance and its oil reserves.
Great Power involvement is not a unique feature of the Middle East but
one that affects, in varying degrees, all regions of the world. What
distinguishes the Middle East is the intensity, pervasiveness and
profound impact of this involvement. No other part of the Third World
has been so thoroughly and ceaselessly caught up in Great Power
rivalries. No other sub-system of the international political system
has been as penetrated as the Middle East.
The dominant Great Powers in the Middle East were
the Ottoman Empire until its dissolution in 1918, Britain and France
until, roughly, the Suez war of 1956, the United States and the Soviet
Union from Suez until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, and
the United states on its own since 1991. So much stress has been laid
on the role of these external powers that the history of the modern
Middle East, in the words of Malcolm Yapp, has often been written as
though the local states were `driftwood in the sea of international
affairs, their destinies shaped by the decisions of others.'
Yet this is a false picture, popular as it is with Middle Easterners
and outsiders alike. From Yapp's detailed historical survey it emerges
quite clearly that the dominant feature in the relations between
international and regional powers is the manipulation of the former by
the latter. A perceptive survey of the period 1955-1967 by Fawaz
Gerges reaches the same conclusion: the superpowers were rarely able to
impose their will on the smaller states of the Middle East.
Although the local states depended on their respective superpower
patrons for diplomatic support, economic aid and the supply of arms,
they managed to retain considerable freedom of action. Yet no account
of the origins of Arab-israeli wars would be complete if it ignored the
role played by outside powers.
When the role of the Great Powers is considered alongside the
other two factors - the Arab-Israeli conflict and inter-Arab relations
- we begin to get some idea as to why the international politics of the
Middle East are so complex, endemically unstable, and prone to violence
and war. Against this background what is surprising is not that seven
full-scale Arab-Israeli wars have erupted in the postwar period,but
that some of the other crises in this volatile region did not end up in
war. Our next task is to assess the relative weight of these three
factors in the origins of each successive Arab-Israeli war, bearing in
mind that these factors often interact in complex and curious ways.
The 1948 Palestine War
1948 Arab-Israeli war was the climax of the conflict between the Jewish
and Palestinian national movements which had been three decades in the
making. As the mandatory power in Palestine, Britain had repeatedly
tried and failed to find a solution that would reconcile the two rival
communities in the country. In February 1947, the British cabinet
decided to refer the problem to the United Nations and the struggle for
Palestine entered its most critical phase. The United Nations, on 29
November 1947, passed its famous resolution which proposed the
partition of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. The
Jews accepted the partition plan; all the Arab states and the
Palestinians rejected it vehemently. The Palestinians launched a
campaign of violence to frustrate partition and Palestine was engulfed
by a civil war in which the Jews eventually gained the upper hand. At
midnight on 14 May 1948, upon expiry of the British mandate, the Jews
proclaimed the establishment of an independent state which they called
Israel. The following day the regular armies of the Arab states
intervened in the conflict, turning a civil war into the first
full-scale Arab-Israeli war, a war which ended in defeat for the Arabs
and disaster for the Palestinians.
Arab solidarity in the struggle for Palestine was more apparent
then real. The Arab states, loosely organized in the Arab League,
loudly proclaimed their solidarity with the Palestine Arabs and
promised to provide money and arms. But behind the rhetoric of
solidarity, the reality was one of national selfishness and dynastic
rivalries, notably between King Farouk of Egypt and King Abdullah of
Jordan. King Abdullah who had reached a secret agreement with the
Jewish Agency to partition Palestine at the expense of the
Palestinians, was reluctant to play the part assigned to him in the
Arab League's invasion plan. The Arab League's invasion plan was
designed to prevent the creation of a Jewish state whereas his plan was
to let the Jews have their state and annex to his kingdom much of
territory assigned by the UN to the Arab state. Divisions of
this kind go a long way to explain the failure of the Arab states to
coordinate their diplomatic and military strategies in the battle for
Of the Great Powers Britain was most directly
involved in the lead up to the Palestine war. Britain's policy during
the twilight of the Palestine mandate is a subject of some contention.
Pro-Zionist writers have assigned to Britain a large share of the blame
for the outbreak of the Palestine war, claiming that Britain armed and
encouraged her Arab allies to wade into Palestine and destroy the
Jewish state at birth. There is no evidence, however, to sustain this
charge, and considerable evidence to suggest that Britain tried to
persuade the Arabs not to resort to war.
On the other hand, Britain refused to assume
responsibility for implementing the UN partition plan on the grounds
that the use of force would be required. So the real charge against
Britain is not that she plotted war against the infant Jewish state but
that her abdication of responsibility at the critical moment allowed
Palestine to slide into chaos, violence and bloodshed.
America played a less central but equally
controversial role in the events surrounding the Palestine war.
American policy was a series of swings of the pendulum between the
pro-Zionist White House and the pro-Arab State Department. In the fall
of 1947, against the advice of the State Department, President Harry
Truman decided to support partition. In March 1948, the State
Department concluded that partition was impracticable and submitted
instead a proposal for a United Nations trusteeship over Palestine.
Both Truman and the State Department later urged the Jews to delay
their declaration of independence and undertake on-the-spot
negotiations in Palestine. But when the Jews proclaimed their state,
Truman, without consulting the State Department, accorded it immediate
de facto recognition.
If America was first to accord de facto recognition
to the State of Israel, the Soviet Union was first to accord de jure
recognition. The Soviet Union supported partition and the creation of a
Jewish state chiefly in order to weaken the British position in the
Middle East. In early 1948 the Soviet Union permitted the emigration of
Eastern European Jews and sent a shipment of 10,000 rifles and 450
machine-guns. During the summer of 1948, in violation of the UN
embargo, the Jews received more substantial shipments of arms from the
Eastern bloc which helped to tip the military balance against their
The critical factor in the outbreak of the Palestine
war was thus the dispute between the Jews and the Arabs. The
Palestinian attack on the Jews provoked the civil war while the Arab
invasion in May 1948 provoked the official war. Inter-Arab rivalries
contributed much less to the outbreak of this war than they did to the
subsequent military defeat. None of the Great Powers wanted war in
Palestine but Britain lost control of the situation while support from
Washington and Moscow encouraged the Jews to proceed to statehood by
force of arms.
The 1956 Suez War
If in 1948 the Great Powers played only a limited
role on the Middle East stage, in 1956 the reverse was true. The war
which broke out in October 1956 pitted Britain, France and Israel
against Egypt. One of the many paradoxes of this war was that Britain
and Israel, despite the bitter legacy of the past, joined arms to
attack an Arab state which had long been associated with Britain.
Another paradox was that Britain and France, old sparring partners in
the Middle East, found themselves on the same side in this war.
The motives which produced this unlikely alliance
are not difficult to fathom. Britain was the primary mover. After the
Free Officers' revolution of July 1952, Britain came under growing
pressure to withdraw its forces from the strategically important Suez
Canal base. With Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser as President, Egypt became
the standard-bearer of radical pan-Arab nationalism. Prime Minister
Anthony Eden regarded Nasser as the chief enemy of the British presence
in Egypt and as the chief threat to the entire British position in the
Arab world. Comparing Nasser with Hitler, Eden was convinced that the
right response to this challenge was confrontation, not appeasement.
For Eden, Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal in July 1956 was
the last straw. He concluded that Nasser would have to be removed from
power if Britain were to maintain her position as a Great Power in the
Middle East. The French also regarded Nasser as an enemy, not least
because of his arms supplies to the Algerian rebels, and they too
firmly set their face against appeasement. To the Israelis Nasser was a
bitter and dangerous foe and they were particularly troubled by his
actions in closing the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping and in sending
fedayeen units across the border into Israel. But it was the Czech arms
deal of September 1955 which began to tip the balance in the Israeli
cabinet in favour of a preemptive strike against Egypt.
Thus the three countries had their own reasons for
wanting to go to war with Egypt. But although their war aims were not
identical, they were all united by the determination to knock Nasser
off his perch. The French took the lead in mediating between Israel and
Britain and in organising the secret meeting on 22 October 1956 at
which the infamous collusion took place. At this meeting a plan of
action was agreed and embodied in what became known as the Protocol of
Sטvres. The tripartite attack on Egypt a week later proceeded broadly
in line with this plan. Collusion led directly to the collision at Suez.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of Suez
was that it was the result of a war plot. Indeed, while conspiracy
theories are common, especially in the Middle East, Suez is one of the
few genuine war plots of modern history. Britain, France and Israel
deliberately, carefully and secretly planned their joint attack on
Egypt. The Arab world was deeply divided in the mid-1950s between the
radical states led by Egypt and the conservative monarchies led by Iraq
but this division was not a direct cause of the Suez war. Similarly,
the Soviet Union and the United States, though increasingly involved in
the affairs of the Middle East, played no direct part in the events
that led to war. Once the war broke out, the Soviet Union scored some
cheap propaganda points by threatening rocket attacks against the
attackers while the real pressure for halting the attack came from
Washington. The crucial factor in the origins of the Suez war was the
convergence of British, French and Israeli plans to inflict a military
defeat on Egypt and to bring about the downfall of Nasser.
The Six-Day War
Whereas the Suez war had been the result of deliberate planning,
the Arab-Israeli war of June 1967 was the result of a crisis slide.
President Nasser appeared to challenge Israel to a duel but most
observers agree that he neither wanted nor expected a war to take
place. What he did do was to embark on an exercise in brinkmanship
which went over the brink. On 13 May 1967 Nasser received a Soviet
intelligence report which claimed that Israel was massing troops on
Syria's border. Nasser responded by taking three successive steps which
made war virtually inevitable: he deployed his troops in Sinai near
Israel's border, he expelled the United Nations Emergency Force from
Sinai, and, on 22 May, he closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli
shipping. On 5 June Israel seized the initiative and launched the
short, sharp war which ended in a resounding military defeat for Egypt,
Syria and Jordan.
The decisive factor in triggering the crisis that led to the
Six-Day War was inter-Arab rivalries. It may sound perverse to suggest
that the war owed more to the rivalries between the Arab states than to
the dispute between them and Israel, but such a view is supported by
the facts. The Arab world was in a state of considerable turmoil
arising out of the conflict and suspicions between the radical and the
conservative regimes. A militant Ba'th regime rose to power in Syria in
February 1966 and started agitating for a war to liberate Palestine.
President Nasser came under growing pressure to stop hiding behind the
skirts of the United Nations and to come to the rescue of the embattled
regime in Damascus. Nasser suspected his Syrian allies of wanting to
drag him into a war with Israel while they suspected that, if push came
to shove, he would leave them to face Israel on their own. Nasser's
first move, the deployment of the Egyptian army in Sinai, was not
intended as a prelude to an attack on Israel but as a political
manoeuvre designed to deter the Israelis and to shore up his prestige
at home and in the Arab world. This move, however, started a chain
reaction which Nasser was unable to control.
In early May 1967 the old quarrel between Israel and
the Arabs seemed almost irrelevant. As Malcolm Kerr observed in The
Arab Cold War, the Arabs were more preoccupied with one another than
they were with Israel. Even when the Israelis first appeared on the
scene, they were merely there as a football for the Arabs, kicked onto
the field first by the Syrian hot-heads and then again by Nasser. The
Israelis, however, took a different view of themselves. It became a
case of the football kicking the players.
The superpowers did very little to prevent the slide
towards war. The Soviets fed Nasser with a false report about Israeli
troop concentrations and supported his deployment of Egyptian troops in
Sinai in the interest of bolstering the left-wing regime in Damascus
and in the hope of deterring Israel from moving against this regime.
Their subsequent attempts to restrain Nasser had very little effect.
They probably hoped to make some political gains by underlining their
own commitment to the Arabs and the pro-Israeli orientation of American
foreign policy. But they seriously miscalculated the danger of war and
they were swept up in a fast-moving crisis which they themselves had
helped to unleash.
America features very prominently in Arab conspiracy
theories purporting to explain the causes and outcome of the June war.
Mohamed Heikal, Nasser's confidant, for example, claims that Lyndon
Johnson was obsessed with Nasser and that he conspired with Israel to
bring him down. Such explanations, however, are transparently
self-serving in that they assign all the blame for the war to America
and Israel and overlook the part played by Arab provocations and
In fact, the American position during the upswing
phase of the crisis was hesitant, weak and ambiguous. President Johnson
initially tried to prevent a war by restraining Israel and issuing
warnings to the Egyptians and the Soviets. Because these warnings had
no visible effect on Nasser's conduct, some of Johnson's advisers toyed
with the idea of unleashing Israel against Egypt. Johnson himself was
decidedly against giving Israel the green light to attack. His signals
to the Israelis amounted to what William Quandt termed `a yellow light'
but, as for most motorists, the yellow light amounted to a green
The War of Attrition
March 1969-August 1970 Israeli-Egyptian War of Attrition was a direct
result of the problems created for the Arab world by the Six-Day War.
Israel had not only won a resounding military victory but ended the war
in possession of large tracts of Arab land - the Golan Heights, the
West Bank and the Sinai peninsula. UN Resolution 242 of 22 November
1967 called on Israel to withdraw from these occupied territories in
return for peace with the Arabs but the Israelis and the Arabs
interpreted Resolution 242 rather differently and Israel's position
progressively hardened. Israel became attached to the new territorial
status quo and was confident of her ability to maintain this status quo
indefinitely. Her strategy was to sit tight on the new case-fire lines
until the Arabs had no alternative but to accept her terms for a
short period the Arabs closed ranks against the common enemy and the
bitter consequences of defeat but the old divisions gradually
reasserted themselves. The main division was between the advocates of a
political settlement and those who believed that what was taken by
force could only be recovered by force. At the summit conference held
in Khartoum in late August 1967, these divisions were papered over by
means of a resolution which was dubbed the three `noes' of Khartoum -
no recognition, no negotiations and no peace with Israel. The
conference demonstrated the uselessness of pan-Arabism as a framework
for deciding a realistic policy towards Israel. The political option
was rejected even at a time when an Arab military option palpably and
painfully was not available. While Arab unity was preserved at the
declaratory level, at the practical level each Arab state was left to
decide for itself how to go about recovering the territory it had lost.
President Nasser adopted a strategy which fell into
three phases: the purely defensive phase of re-equipping and
reorganizing the Egyptian armed forces, leading to the second phase of
active deterrence, which would be followed finally by the liberation of
the territory that had been lost. Nasser's central aim after the 1967
defeat was to lift the Middle East dispute from the local level, at
which Israel had demonstrated its superiority, to the international
level. He therefore set out to involve the Soviet Union as deeply as
possible in the Middle East problem. If a satisfactory political
settlement could be reached with Soviet help, that would be fine, but
if a political solution could not be found, the Soviet Union would be
under some obligation to help Egypt develop a military option against
Soviet Union stepped up considerably its material and military support
to Syria and Egypt after the 1967 defeat and it also became deeply
involved in the diplomacy of the Middle East dispute. Although it was
opposed to the resumption of all-out war, it supported the Egyptian
commando raids across the Suez Canal which developed, by March 1969,
into what became known as the War of Attrition.
Nasser decided to begin a war of attrition only
after it became clear that diplomacy alone could not dislodge Israel
from Sinai and after enlisting Soviet support for limited military
action against Israel. The aim of the war was to bring about Israel's
withdrawal from Sinai. The strategy adopted was that of a limited but
prolonged war which would exact heavy casualties, exhaust Israel
psychologically, and impose an intolerable burden on her economy.
Israel's aim during the run-up to the War of Attrition and during the
war itself was to preserve the territorial, political and military
status quo created by the Six-Day War. In all other Arab-Israeli wars,
the side that started the war did so in order to preserve the status
quo. This was true of the Arabs in 1948 and of Israel in 1956 and 1967.
In the War of Attrition, the side that started the war, Egypt, was not
out to defend but to change the status quo.
The Yom Kippur War
War of Attrition ended in a military draw between Israel and Egypt and
it was followed by a deadlock on the diplomatic front which was not
broken until 6 October 1973 when Egypt and Syria launched their
well-coordinated surprise attack against Israel. The Yom Kippur War can
be traced to three factors: the failure of all international
initiatives for the resolution of the Arab-Israeli dispute; the
emergence of an Arab coalition which was able and willing to do battle
with Israel; and the steady flow of arms from the superpowers to their
International initiatives for the resolution of the Arab-Israeli
conflict failed largely as a result of Israeli intransigence. After
Anwar Sadat succeeded Gamal Abdel Nasser as President in September
1970, there was a distinct shift in Egyptian policy away from military
activity towards the quest for a political solution. Sadat's public
declaration in February 1971 of his readiness for a peaceful agreement
with Israel was a significant turning-point in the generation-old
conflict. But the deadlock over the implementation of UN Resolution 242
could not be broken because Israel flatly refused to return to the
lines of 4 June 1967. On 4 February 1971, Sadat put forward his own
plan for an interim settlement, based on a limited Israeli pull-back
from the Suez Canal and the reopening of the canal for international
shipping, but this plan, too, was rejected by Israel. Continued Israeli
stone-walling persuaded Sadat, by November 1972, that a resort to force
was essential in order to break the pattern of standstill diplomacy.
From that point he started planning the military offensive which was
code-named `Operation Spark'.
Under the leadership of Golda Meir, Israel kept raising her price
for a political settlement just when Egypt became convinced of the need
for a historic compromise. Immobilism was the hallmark of Mrs. Meir's
foreign policy. Holding on to the territories acquired in 1967
gradually replaced the quest for a settlement as Israel's top priority.
Mrs Meir continued to proclaim Israel's desire for peace but this was a
pious hope rather than a plan of action. Her actual strategy was to let
Sadat sweat it out, with his range of options constantly
narrowing, until he was left with no choice but to accept Israel's
terms for a settlement. The consequences of this strategy were to miss
the opportunities for a peaceful settlement of the dispute and drive
Israel's opponents to launch another round of fighting.
Israel's intransigence gave the Arab states a
powerful incentive to set aside their differences and formulate a joint
strategy for the recovery of their territory. The early 1970s were an
era of rapprochement and growing co-operation in inter-Arab politics.
Relations between Egypt and Syria developed into an effective strategic
partnership and the relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia also
improved after Nasser's death. On the Arab side, Sadat was the main
mover and planner on the road to war. His strategy was to mobilize all
the resources of the Arab world, including the use of the oil weapon,
for the forthcoming confrontation with Israel. It was he who took the
lead in forging the alliance with Syria, in setting strictly limited
aims for the joint operation, and in provoking the international crisis
in which the superpowers, he believed, were bound to intervene in order
to secure a settlement.
Soviet policy in the period 1970-1973 was
inconsistent and contradictory. The Soviet Union's overall policy of
detente with the United States led it to behave with great caution in
the Middle East. It was Moscow's refusal to give Egypt the weapons she
needed to have a viable military option against Israel that prompted
Sadat, in July 1972, to expel the Soviet military advisers from his
country. By the beginning of 1973, however,the Soviets resumed arms
supplies to Egypt in the knowledge that an offensive against Israel was
being planned. The Soviets continued to urge their Arab allies to avoid
war while supplying them with sufficient arms to enable them to resume
The United States contributed to the outbreak of the Yom Kippur
War indirectly and inadvertently by supporting the Israeli policy of
trying to maintain an untenable status quo. Republican President
Richard Nixon and his National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger,
approached the Middle East from a globalist perspective and sought to
keep the Soviet Union out of the area. They perceived Israel as a
strategic asset and a bastion of regional stability. They embraced the
Israeli thesis that a strong Israel was the best deterrent to war in
the Middle East. In accordance with this thesis, they provided Israel
with economic and military aid on an ever growing scale while declining
to put pressure on her to return to the pre-1967 lines. Even after
Sadat expelled the Soviet advisers, the Americans persisted in this
standstill diplomacy which eventually drove Egypt and Syria not to
accept Israel's terms for a settlement but to resort to war.
The 1982 Lebanon War
1982 Lebanon war was the result of the unresolved dispute, or only
partially resolved dispute, between Israel and the Arabs. The origins
of this war can be traced back to the rise to power in Israel of the
right-wing Likud Party headed by Menahem Begin in 1977. It was Israel's
invasion of Lebanon in June 1982 which started the war in Lebanon and
provoked the clash with the PLO and Syrian forces on Lebanon's
territory. Officially the war was called `Operation Peace for the
Galilee' to suggest that its purpose was purely defensive, to secure
the Galilee against attacks from the PLO forces stationed in southern
Lebanon. But the broader aims of the war were to create a new political
order in Lebanon, to establish Israeli hegemony in the Levant and to
pave the way to the absorption of the West Bank in line with the
Likud's nationalistic ideology of Greater Israel. In this sense, the
Israeli invasion of Lebanon was only the culmination of a long process
of Israeli intervention in domestic and regional Arab politics.
Internal political divisions in Lebanon and inter-Arab rivalries
did not directly cause the war but they facilitated and encouraged
Israeli intervention. Lebanon itself had no territorial dispute with
Israel and had only half-heartedly participated in the 1948
Arab-Israeli war. But the weakness of the Lebanese state and the
fragmentation of Lebanese politics not only permitted but invited
intervention by outside powers, notably Syria and Israel. Palestinian
presence in Lebanon greatly added to this internal turmoil which in
1976 erupted into a civil war. Syria intervened in the civil war on the
side of the Christian forces against the Lebanese left and the PLO. By
maintaining a large military presence in Lebanon, Syria became the de
facto arbiter of Lebanese politics. And this accentuated further the
geopolitical contest between Syria and Israel for mastery in the
Another major rift in the Arab world opened up when
President Sadat signed the Camp David accords with Israel in 1978 and a
peace treaty in 1979. Throughout the Arab world Sadat was denounced as
a traitor and Egypt was drummed out of the Arab League. President Hafez
al-Assad was one of Sadat's fiercest critics, arguing that the only way
to negotiate with Israel is by maintaining a united Arab front. Sadat
argued in self-defence that Egypt's peace treaty with Israel was only a
first step towards comprehensive peace in the Middle East. The Likud
government, however, exploited Egypt's disengagement from the conflict
in order to press its strategic advantage against the rest of Israel's
Arab opponents and especially against the Palestinians.
The chief architect of Israel's war in Lebanon was
defence minister Ariel Sharon. A ruthless and cynical politician, he
was also a great believer in using force to solve political problems.
Sharon's `big plan' had a number of objectives. The first objective was
to destroy the military infrastructure of the PLO in southern Lebanon
and thereby to break the backbone of Palestinian resistance to the
imposition of permanent Israeli rule over the West Bank. The second
objective was to help Bashir Gemayel, leader of one of the Christian
militias, in his bid for power so as to bring about a new political
order in Lebanon and one which was expected to be amenable to a peace
agreement with Israel. The third objective was to defeat the Syrian
forces in Lebanon and to replace the Syrian protectorate of the country
with an Israeli protectorate. In short, the idea was to use Israel's
military power in order to accomplish a politico-strategic revolution
round Israel's eastern and northern borders. It was not the
much-vaunted Israeli aspiration to peaceful co-existence with the Arabs
that inspired this war but Sharon's relentless drive to assert Israeli
hegemony over the entire region.
Israeli propaganda surrounding the invasion dwelt on
the security threat posed by the PLO presence in southern Lebanon. But
in July 1981 the United States had negotiated a cease-fire between the
two arch-enemies, the PLO and Israel, and over the next year the border
between Lebanon and Israel remained quiet. It was not the military
power of the PLO but its growing political moderation that provoked
anxiety in Jerusalem. The war party was simply waiting for a pretext to
invade Lebanon and on 3 June 1982 a pretext arrived in the form of an
assassination attempt against the Israeli ambassador in London. The
attempt was ordered not by the PLO but by the renegade terrorist, Abu
Nidal. But on 6 June, six Israeli divisions crossed the border into
Lebanon, signalling that a full-scale war was intended rather than a
small retaliatory raid.
The United States played only a limited role in the
events leading up to the war in Lebanon while the Soviet role was
negligible. Neither superpower was particularly interested in Lebanon
but they became involved in response to promptings by their local
allies. Israeli propaganda charged the Soviet Union with aiding and
abetting the PLO. But Soviet policy, as usual, was confused and
contradictory. It is true that the Soviets enabled the PLO to stockpile
large quantities of weapons in Lebanon but at the same time they were
urging the PLO to suspend military action and to moderate its position
so as to open the way to a political solution. The arms were given
reluctantly to placate the PLO and enable it to negotiate from a
position of relative strength.
The United states was dragged into the Lebanese
quagmire by her importunate Israeli ally. Republican President Ronald
Reagan looked at the Middle East through Cold War spectacles and held
decidedly pro-Israeli views. To secure American backing Israeli
officials stressed that their plan would weaken the pro-Soviet forces
in the Middle East: Syria, the PLO, and the radical factions in
Lebanon. At a meeting in Washington in May 1982, Secretary of
State Alexander Haig told Ariel Sharon that the United States would
understand a military move only in response to an `internationally
recognized provocation'. Sharon chose to interpret Haig's convoluted
statement as a `green light' to invade Lebanon. While the Reagan
administration did not positively desire war in Lebanon, it had not
done enough to prevent it. On 1 September 1982 President Reagan
belatedly announced his plan for a Palestinian homeland in association
with Jordan. It was a good plan but, like so many other plans for the
peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute, it foundered on the
rocks of Israeli intransigence.
The 1991 Gulf War
invasion and annexation of Kuwait on 2 August 1990 provoked a
protracted and tense international crisis which culminated in war on 16
January 1991. All the Arab states of the Middle East and the Gulf,
Israel, Iran, Turkey, and the great powers were involved, in one way or
another, in the Gulf crisis and war. By far the most important factor
in precipitating this war, however, was the crisis in inter-Arab
relations. The Gulf war even surpassed the Six-Day War as the nadir of
pan-Arabism in the post-World War II era.
The Gulf war had its origins in an Arab-Arab conflict which
Saddam Hussein, the President of Iraq, tried, with only partial
success, to turn into an Arab-Israeli conflict and which ended up as a
conflict between the Western powers and Iraq - the first major conflict
of the post-Cold War era.
Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was the last chapter in
the Iran-Iraq war. During this war, which was started by Iraq in 1980
and lasted eight years, the oil-rich Gulf states and the Western powers
helped create a monster in the shape of Saddam Hussein. Nevertheless,
they expected this monster to behave reasonably after the war, at least
as far as their interests were concerned. But on 2 August 1990, Saddam
suddenly turned against his makers by gobbling up Kuwait.
Saddam accused Kuwait of stealing Iraqi oil by
extracting more than its share from the Rumaila oil field, which
straddles the border between the two countries,and of inflicting
massive losses in oil revenue on Iraq by exceeding its OPEC production
quota, thereby depressing the price. But Saddam's motives for annexing
Kuwait went well beyond this technical dispute over oil quotas and oil
prices. Saddam was a gambler playing for big stakes. He annexed Kuwait
for both economic and geopolitical reasons. He was strapped for cash,
so he went on a big bank raid. But he also wanted to improve Iraq's
access to the Persian Gulf and to secure her dominance over the entire
region. In 1990, as in 1980, he moved against a neighbouring country as
part of the same drive for power, wealth, territorial expansion, and
military aggrandizement. The second move, however, was a considerably
more serious violation of international law than the first because it
was an attempt to snuff out an independent state and a member of the
The Arabs were so deeply divided in their response
to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait that not even the fiction of a unified
Arab nation could be sustained. Sudan, South Yemen and the PLO sided
with Iraq. Egypt and Jordan wanted to mediate, to work out an Arab
solution to the dispute and to forestall outside intervention. Nearly
all the other Arab states denounced the Iraqi invasion and some
perceived it is a threat to their own security. The merger of Iraq and
Kuwait would have been a formidable combination both in economic and in
geopolitical terms. It was widely suspected that Saddam's next target
would be the Saudi oil-fields just across the border from Kuwait. Syria
was another potential target. Syria and Iraq were united by the same
Ba'th ideology but divided by bitter enmity and there was a danger that
Iraq would sooner or later seize the opportunity to settle old scores.
Thus, some of the most conservative regimes in the Arab world found
themselves on the same side as the more radical regimes in opposing the
Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
Israel's position in the Gulf crisis and war was
distinctly anomalous. On the one hand, Iraqi aggression against a
fellow Arab country seemed to support the often-repeated Israeli claim
that much of the violence and instability in the Middle East is
unrelated to the Arab-Israeli conflict. On the other hand, by posing as
the champion of Palestinian national rights, Saddam managed to mobilize
a significant degree of Arab popular opinion, secular as well as
Islamic, on his side. On 10 August 1990, Saddam shrewdly proposed a
possible Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait if Israel withdrew from all
occupied Arab territory. This proposal, though rejected outright by
both Israel and America, created some sort of a linkage between the
Gulf crisis and the Arab-Israeli crisis. For the remainder of the Gulf
crisis, Israel tried to maintain a very low profile. Even Iraqi missile
attacks on Israeli population centres, following the outbreak of
hostilities, could not elicit military retaliation on Israel's part.
This uncharacteristic Israeli forbearance ultimately defeated Saddam's
efforts to turn an Arab-Arab conflict into an Arab-Israeli one.
The Soviet Union, in the final stages of
disintegration, was unable to play an independent role in dealing with
the crisis and America was left to do all the running. The Iraqi
annexation of Kuwait presented America with a series of challenges - to
its interests in oil, to its interests in Saudi Arabia and to its
prestige in the Gulf. It also challenged the old territorial order that
Britain and France had imposed on the region after the breakup of the
Ottoman Empire. Each of these challenges was serious enough; the
combination ensured that Iraq's aggression would not go unanswered.
America refused to negotiate, and took the lead in
sending troops to the Gulf, building up an impressively large
coalition, passing all the necessary resolutions in the United Nations
and issuing an ultimatum to Iraq. When Iraq failed to comply, America
and her allies launched Operation Desert Storm. The two aims of the
operation were to eject the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait and to restore
the Kuwaiti government and these aims were quickly and easily achieved.
The overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the villain of the piece, was not an
official war aim but his survival in power certainly took some of the
sheen off the allied victory.
brief survey of the origins of Middle East wars reveals a bewildering
array of political forces operating in the region. The three factors
identified at the beginning of this chapter - the Arab-Israeli
conflict, inter-Arab relations and Great Power involvement - are
unquestionably all important in explaining the causes of war. Yet the
relative weight of each factor varies considerably from war to war.
Naturally enough, in the majority of Middle East wars, the most salient
factor was the Arab-Israeli conflict. Inter-Arab relations were a
salient factor in the outbreak of the Six-Day War of June 1967 and the
1991 Gulf War. Great Power involvement is not as salient a factor as
the first two but it did contribute to the outbreak of the Suez war and
the Gulf war.
Keeping in mind the three levels of analysis suggested by Kenneth
Waltz helps us to make sense of the complex forces that culminated in
seven full-scale Arab-Israeli wars. Far from leaving us with the
impression of bewildering complexity, this analytical device helps us
to pinpoint the salient factors in the making of each of these wars.
Our empirical survey, however, illustrates not only the strengths but
the limitations of this analytical device. Waltz suggests that level
three (systemic factors) is much more important than level two
(domestic factors) or level one (personality factors) in explaining why
states go to war. Our survey suggests that the three levels of analysis
intermingle and shade into one another. While systemic factors are
indeed critical in shaping foreign policy, domestic and personality
factors also play a part. It is too simplistic therefore to confine an
account of the origins of a war to one level of analysis, however
significant and revealing it might be. The other two levels of analysis
also need to be taken into consideration and, just as importantly, the
inter-relationship between the three levels needs to be explored.
Britain's decision to attack Egypt in 1956, for
example, cannot be adequately explained in terms of Britain's Great
Power interests in the region; Eden's personal and highly subjective
image of Nasser as another Hitler was a crucial ingredient in this
decision. Similarly, Nasser's actions during the crisis of May-June
1967 were shaped much more by a desire to bolster his personal prestige
at home and in the Arab world than they were by a desire to challenge
Israel to a duel. Finally, Israel's decision to invade Lebanon in 1982
owed much more to the Greater Israel ideology of the Likud and to Ariel
Sharon's incorrigibly aggressive instincts than to any external threat.
To sum up, when discussing the origins of each Arab-Israeli war,
the aim should not be to single out one factor but to assess the
relative weight of various factors. Because there are so many factors
at play, and because these factors are so closely related to one
another, it is difficult to determine the precise causes of each
Arab-Israeli war. But difficulty should not be confused with
 J. David Singer, `The
Level-of-Analysis Problem in International Relations', in Klaus Knorr
and Sidney Verba, eds., The International System: Theoretical Essays
(Princeton, 1961), pp. 77-92.
 Kenneth N. Waltz, Man, the State and War: A Theoretical Analysis (New York, 1959).
 See, for example, David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East (London, 1977).
 See, for example, Yehoshafat Harkabi, Arab Strategies and Israel's Response (New York, 1977).
Kerr, The Arab Cold War: Gamal Abd al-Nasir and his Rivals, 1958-1970
(London, 1971); Michael C. Hudson, Arab Politics: The Search for
Legitimacy (New Haven, 1977); Fouad Ajami, The Arab Predicament: Arab
Political Thought and Practice since 1967 (Cambridge, updated edn.
1992); and Stephen M. Walt, The Origins of Alliances (Ithaca, 1987).
 L. Carl Brown, International Politics and the Middle East: Old Rules, Dangerous Game (Princeton, 1984), p. 4.
 M.E. Yapp, The Near East since the First World War (London, 1991), p. 3.
 Ibid., p. 438.
 Fawaz A. Gerges, The Superpowers and the Middle East: Regional and International Politics, 1955-1967 (Boulder, 1994).
 Avi Shlaim, Collusion Across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement and the Partition of Palestine (Oxford, 1988).
 Ilan Pappי, Britain and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1948-51 (London, 1988).
 Kerr, The Arab Cold War, p. 126.
 Mohamed Heikal, 1967: Al-Infijar [1967: The Explosion] (Cairo, 1990), pp. 371-72.
 William B. Quandt, Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict since 1967 (Washington D.C., 1993), p.48.
 Mohamed Heikal, The Road to Ramadan (London, 1975), pp. 46 and 165.
 Yaacov Bar-Siman-Tov, The Israeli-Egyptian War of Attrition, 1969-1970 (New York, 1980), p. 3.
Heikal, Sphinx and Commissar: The Rise and Fall of Soviet Influence in
the Arab World (London, 1978), pp. 253-54; and Galia Golan, Soviet
Policies in the Middle East: From World War II to Gorbachev (Cambridge,
1990), pp. 82-85.
E. Schulze, `The Politics of Intervention: Israel and the Maronites,
1920-1984' (D.Phil. thesis, University of Oxford, 1994).
 Patrick Seale, Asad: the Struggle for the Middle East (London, 1988).
a fuller account see Avi Shlaim, `Israeli Interference in Internal Arab
Politics: The Case of Lebanon', in Giacomo Luciani and Ghassan Salamי,
eds., The Politics of Arab Integration (London, 1988), pp. 232-55.
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING
- Fouad Ajami, The Arab
Predicament: Arab Political Thought and Practice since 1967 (Cambridge,
updated edn. 1992). A searching examination of the changes in Arab
society in the aftermath of the June War.
- Sidney D. Bailey, Four
Arab-Israeli Wars and the Peace Process (London, 1982). A detailed
account of the 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973 wars with an emphasis on
United Nations Peacemaking. Includes numerous appendices of UN reports
- L. Carl Brown,
International Politics and the Middle East: Old Rules, Dangerous Game
(Princeton, 1984). Reflections on international politics in the Middle
East by a historian of the region.
- Trevor N. Dupuy, Elusive
Victory: the Arab-Israeli Wars, 1947-1974 (London, 1978). A full and
balanced account of the wars written by an American military historian.
- Yair Evron, The Middle
East: Nations, Superpowers and Wars (London, 1975). An analysis of
international politics in the Middle East mainly in the period 1967 -
- Fawaz A. Gerges, The
Superpowers and the Middle East: Regional and International Politics,
1955-1967 (Boulder, 1994). A perceptive analysis of the relationship
between superpowers and local powers and of the origins of the 1956 and
- Galia Golan, Soviet
Policies in the Middle East: From World War II to Gorbachev (Cambridge,
1990). A general account of Soviet policies in the Middle East which
includes a chapter on every major war.
- Yehoshafat Harkabi, Arab
Strategies and Israel's Response (New York, 1977). An analysis of the
aims of the two sides in the conflict by one of the leading Israeli
students of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
- Mohammed Heikal, Sphinx
and Commissar: The Rise and Fall of Soviet Influence in the Middle East
(London, 1978). An illuminating inside account of Soviet-Arab
relations, written by a prominent Egyptian journalist who was close to
- Chaim Herzog, The
Arab-Israeli Wars (London, 1982). An Israeli view of the Arab-Israeli
wars written by a former Director of Military Intelligence and
President of the State of Israel.
- l.David Hirst, The Gun
and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East (London,
1977). An account of the escalation of violence since the 1880s which
focuses on the relations between the Jews and the Palestinian Arabs.
- Netanel Lorch, One Long
War: Arab versus Jew since 1920 (Jerusalem, 1976). A brief account of
the Arab-Israeli conflict, with a chapter on every major war, written
by an Israeli military historian.
- Elizabeth Monroe,
Britain's Moment in the Middle East, 1914-1971 (London, 1981). A
general account of British policies in the Middle East which also
covers the evolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
- Ritchie Ovendale, The
Origins of the Arab-Israeli Wars (London, 1984, 2nd edn., 1992). Relies
mainly on British official documents to trace the origins of the 1948
and 1956 wars. Very sketchy about subsequent wars.
- William Quandt, Peace
Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict since 1967
(Washington DC, 1993). A highly informative and readable account of
- Nadav Safran, Israel -
the Embattled Ally (Cambridge, 1978). An informative account of Israel
and America in international politics.
- Peter Shearman and Phil
Williams (eds.), The Superpowers, Central America and the Middle East
(London, 1984). A collection of essays on Soviet and American policies
towards the Middle East.
- Avi Shlaim, War and Peace
in the Middle East: A Critique of American Policy (New York, 1994). A
brief introduction to the international politics of the Middle East
since the end of the First World War.
- Steven Spiegel, The Other
Arab-Israeli Conflict: Making America's Middle East Policy from Truman
to Reagan (Chicago, 1985). A president-by-president account of
America's involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
- M.E. Yapp, The Near East
since the First World War (London, 1991). A comprehensive political
history with many insights on the involvement of the Middle East in
international politics and a useful annotated bibliography.
C H R O N O L O G Y
for the partition of Palestine.
Dec. 1947-May 1948 Civil war in Palestine.
of the State of Israel and outbreak of the Palestine war.
armistice agreements with Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
Tripartite Declaration (Britain, France and the
United States) on
regulating the supply of arms to
the Middle East.
Free Officers' revolution in Egypt.
The Baghdad Pact concluded between Iraq and Turkey.
The Czech arms
between Egypt and Syria.
nationalizes the Suez Canal.
29 Oct. 1956
Outbreak of the Suez war.
Israeli withdrawal from Sinai.
Egypt merge to form the United Arab Republic (UAR).
The Palestine Liberation Organization
(PLO) founded on the
initiative of the Arab League to represent
in Syria followed by increased PLO activity against Israel.
5-10 June 1967 The Six-Day War.
1 Sept. 1967
Arab League summit at Khartoum:
"The three noes".
22 Nov. 1967
UN Security Council resolution
March 1969-Aug. 1970 The Israeli-Egyptian War of Attrition.
civil war, "Black September".
28 Sept. 1970
Nasser dies and Anwar el-Sadat succeeds.
Sadat's peace overture.
Soviet military advisers.
6-25 Oct. 1973 The Yom Kippur War.
UN Security Council resolution
338 calls for direct negotiations.
21 Dec. 1973
Geneva peace conference.
18 Jan. 1974
31 May 1974
Israeli-Syrian disengagement agreement.
Arab League summit at Rabat recognizes PLO as
"the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian
4 Sept. 1975
agreement, Sinai II.
Outbreak of the Lebanese civil war.
Syrian military intervention in Lebanon.
Labour in Israeli elections.
1 Oct. 1977
Joint statement by the US and the
USSR for reconvening the Geneva peace conference.
historic visit to Jerusalem.
2-5 Dec. 1977
Arab Front of Steadfastness and Opposition meets in
The Camp David Accords signed by Israel and Egypt.
2-5 Nov. 1978
Arab League summit at Baghdad denounces the Camp
Treaty of Peace between Egypt and
Israel signed in White House.
invasion of Afghanistan.
war between Iraq and Iran.
6 Oct. 1981
assassinated and Husni Mubarak succeeds.
withdrawal from Sinai completed.
6 June 1982
1 Sept. 1982
The Reagan plan for
Middle East peace.
withdraws from Lebanon, but forms "security zone" in the south.
2 Aug. 1990
Iraq invades Kuwait
16 Jan 1991
Outbreak of the Gulf War
defeats Likud in Israeli elections.
13 Sept. 1993
Israel and the PLO sign the Oslo accord.
26 Oct. 1994
Israel and Jordan sign peace treaty.