Israel - The Presidential Brief

The Current Situation In Israel And Palestine

Israel is in a situation unlike any other country around the world.
Israel has been fighting for its survival since it became a country in 1948. It
is surrounded by hostile nations that want to destroy or at least diminish it.
There is tremendous tension between the Palestine Liberation Members and Israeli
officials and citizens. There have been peaceful rallies and bloody bus
bombings. People in Israel today are unsure about preceding with peace
negotiations or standing firm in stopping present day terrorist activities.
Protests, shouting matches, and violent disputes between Israelis are common
occurrences. No one person, the college professor, the taxi driver, or the
merchant is sure that their solution to these life and death problems are the
right decision.

On Friday, May 14, 1948, after much deliberation the modern state of
Israel was voted into existence by the United Nations. Finally the Jews around
the world had a country to call their own. Unfortunately, the road ahead of
them was not an easy or peaceful one.

There are many organizations that have dedicated their existence to
destroying the people and country of Israel. The leader in this battle against
Israel is Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement. Hamas uses many tactics to
achieve its goals of terrorism. These tactics include intensive
educational/propaganda programs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip areas. Suicide
bombings, riots, rock throwing, car bombings, stonings, and many other
destructive terrorist activities are also used periodically to gain news
attention to their radical fundamentalist beliefs. Since its formation in
1988 Hamas has vowed to do anything possible to halt the peace process which
they feel is unfair to Palestinians and other Arabs. The group is not condoned
by the Palestine Liberation Organization, yet very little concrete action has
been taken to stop this group. The philosophy of Jihad, or holy war, is the
basis for Moslem actions to obliterate all Jews from this area.

To the contrary, there are many Israeli organizations that have
dedicated their existence to preserving Israel and never letting it be conquered.

On the surface, the reason for the conflict over this small piece of
land in the middle east seems simple: two groups of people, Jews and Palestinian
Arabs, have been competing for the same piece of historical land. What has
made the conflict so bitter and emotional is the fact that the land being fought
over was sacred to both sides.

For Jews, the establishment of the state of Israel represented a return
to their biblical homeland after 2,000 years of exile and persecution, and the
near extinction of the Jewish people in the Nazi Holocaust of WWII. For
Palestinians, who had lived in the area they had called Palestine for 1,000
years, the land was also a spiritual home for their Islamic religion.

Since 1979, there has been a movement towards peace in the middle east.
After engaging in many armed conflicts between their two countries over the
years, Israeli President Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar- el- Sadat
signed an unprecedented peace treaty at Camp David, Maryland in 1979. Israel
agreed to return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in exchange for recognition as a
country and an agreement for peace between the two nations. This was called the
Camp David Agreement and it was signed with the aid of the United States
President Jimmy Carter.

Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in lands captured by Israel
during several wars, however, were not affected by the Camp David Agreement.
They remained very frustrated by what they considered Israeli occupation and
started a movement called the Intafada in 1987. This uprising generally
consisted of Palestinian boycotts, demonstrations and throwing rocks at Jewish
citizens in the occupied areas. Israeli police and soldiers often fought back.
These rock throwing activities and the use of armed Israeli soldiers to put down
the revolt drew tremendous criticism around the world.

The peace process continued. In 1993 Israeli Minister Yitzhak Rabin and
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasir Arafat signed a peace
accord. The PLO agreed to recognize Israel\'s right to exist and Israel gave the
Palestinians self rule in the West Bank town of Jericho and the Gaza Strip. In
1994 Jordan and Israel formally ended their hostilities and began trade and
economic exchanges.

Even though the peace process was continuing, not all Israeli citizens
believed in giving up land that had been won during wars for peace. As the
peace process led by Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister, and Yassir
Arafat moved at a slow but steady pace, an Israeli extremist murdered Yitzhak
Rabin at a peace rally on November 4,