Assignment: Camp David Accords
This situation left a legacy of bitterness and despair that has inscribed itself indelibly in modern Middle Eastern history, pitting the Arab-Islamic world against a diminutive but invincible Jewish state. Facing hostile Arab neighbors on all sides, Israel fought and won three wars of self-defense with Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon: the Suez Crisis in 1956, the Six Days’ War in 1967, and the Yom Kippur War in 1973. In the 1967 war, Israel seized and kept control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Desert (Egypt), the West Bank (Jordan), and the Golan Heights (Syria). In the 1973 war, Israel was in a position to conquer all of Egypt but—under heavy diplomatic pressure from the United States—decided against doing so. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter brokered the Camp David Accords—a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. This historic deal included large U.S. subsidies to both parties, but it worked: Egypt and Israel have not exchanged blows since 1973.
Sadly, the Middle East and Palestine continue to be cauldrons of conflict and violence. In the 1980s and 1990s, a protracted Palestinian uprising called the intifada in the occupied territories (disputed Arab lands Israel seized in the 1967 Six Days’ War) caused deaths and suffering on both sides. Although it is common to speak of two separate uprisings, it is ongoing to this day.
Relations between Israel and the Palestinians went from bad to worse in 2006 after voters in the West Bank and Gaza gave Hamas a mandate—an outsized majority in the new Palestinian parliament. The outcome set the stage for a struggle between militant Hamas and the more moderate Fatah. The struggle split the territories politically, with Fatah controlling the West Bank (under the leadership of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) and Hamas controlling Gaza.
Thereafter, Israel bombed and invaded Gaza twice, once at the end of 2008 in retaliation for rocket attacks and again in 2014. Residences believed to be harboring Hamas fighters were targeted in 2014, but there was much “collateral damage.” Many Palestinian civilians were killed or injured, many buildings including schools and hospitals were damaged or destroyed, and much of impoverished and isolated Gaza was left in ruins.
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