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Summary of the Arab-Israeli conflict

Discuss about the Arabs at War for Military Effectiveness.

The UN was founded in 1945 immediately after the end of the Second World War to substitute the League of Nations, which had been established in 1919 to prevent occurrence of future world conflicts after the end of the world war I of 1914-1918. This was because of the failures of the League of Nations that the UN was formed. The UN was established with the sole aim of maintaining world peace and stability through respecting the human rights of all races in the world. According to the UN Charter of 1945, their aim is to save the coming generations from the problems caused by war. The UN has several structures that help in the executing of its roles. The organization has the following branches; The Secretariat, The International Court of Justice (ICJ), The Security Council, The Economic and Social Council, Trusteeship Council and The General Assembly. All these branches work mutually to ensure the main objective of maintaining international peace and security is achieved.

However, it is imperative to note that the UN has come under intense criticism since its inception in the course of maintaining international peace especially in regions that have been marred with wars. Some continents, for instance Africa, have perceived the UN as being biased in executing its roles. There is a belief that the UN works for powerful members with veto power in the Security Council such as the USA, Britain, France, Russia and China. As a result, this has been a major obstacle in trying to maintain stability in war prone areas like the Middle-East, especially the Arab-Israeli conflict. There are many instances where UN has been accused of being the perpetrator of the war instead of being the mediator. For example one of its roles that has been controversial up to date was the creation of a new state, Israel, by partitioning Palestine, which up to now created tensions between Israel and Palestine in what is known the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Therefore, this paper aims to study the summary of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the role of UN in the Arab-Israeli conflict, how effective the UN has been in trying to find peace between Israel and Palestine and eventually give the conclusion on the same matter.

The conflict between Arab and Israel means that the political tensions involving military differences and disputes between a number of Arab states and Israel. The Arab-Israeli conflict can be traced way back in the late 19th century when the Zionist movement was established in response to the persecution of the European Jews and the desire to join the then modern Europe. The Jewish persecution led to their immigration into Palestine, which by then was part of the Ottoman Empire. By the time the First World War ended in 1918, Britain took over the state of Palestine and established their rule there. The region came to be known as British-mandate Palestine, meaning that the British ruled over the Jews and the Arabs who were living in this region up to 1948.

During the period of their rule the British gave the eastern part of the British-Mandate Palestine along the River Jordan to Emir Abdullah the then king of Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan (the present Jordan). This created resentment among the Arab population who perceived Abdulla as a darling of the British, thus war broke out between the Arabs and the Jews leading to death of many Jews and Arabs. The Jews described the violence as a riot while the Palestinians described it as a revolt (Pollack et al., 2012).

Due to the series of war between the Arabs and the Jews, the Peel Commission was formed in 1936 which came with a proposal that Palestine be split into smaller Jewish units and the remaining part be subjected under the Transjordan Kingdom under Emir Abdulla. Many Arabs objected this proposal except Abdulla who had been branded pro-Britain, while the Jews reluctantly agreed. Eventually, the Peel Commission was never implemented. In 1947, after the establishment of the United Nations (UN) and the expiry of the British-Mandate Palestine, the UN General Assembly met and came up with the recommendation of splitting Palestine into two regions, one Jewish state and one Arab state.

On May 1948 The Jewish People Council supported the proclamation which called for the formation of a Jewish State in Eretz Israel, to be known as Israel. The declaration was made by David Ben Gurion, the executive Head of the world of Zionist Organization (Lesch, et. al., and Development of the Arab-Israel conflict). On other hand, the Arabs were against this decision thus they revolt against the plan leading to fighting between the Jews and the Arabs; many lost their lives. The Palestinians perceived the partition plan as unrepresentative of the demographic distribution of the Arabs and the Jews living in Palestine at the time (Weinberger & Peter, 2011).

During the period of the war, the Jews took control of many parts that were granted to them by the League of Nations. During this time, the first refugees of Palestine came up. Many flee their homes because of fear over what the Israelis could do to them. After the declaration of a new state of Israel, all neighbor states, including Egypt, attacked Israel unfortunately, the determined Israeli militia repulsed all of them.

In 1949 a cease-fire Agreement was signed between Israel and the Arab states. The agreement lasted for 18 years albeit episodes of violent attacks were occasionally witnessed by the conflicting blocks. In 1967, the war between Israel and the rest of the Arab nations came into force. Egypt and Jordan amassed their troops along the Israeli border. Israel responded by capturing the old city of Jerusalem and the entire west Bank; she went ahead to capture Golan Heights of Syria. Egypt and Syria attacked the overconfident Israel that led to massive losses on the Israeli but eventually she was able to defeat both the Syrian and Egyptian armies (Pilkington &Harry, 2002).

Because of the ensued war, the UN Security Council came up with Resolution 242, which called for the liberation of all territories that had been captured by the Israeli armed forces. Israel was supposed to acknowledge and honor the territorial integrity, political independence of all conquered states, so that peace and harmony could be achieved (Fagan & Geraldine 2012).

The intervention of UN led to negotiations of interim peace accords. For instance, the Syrian Accord was signed; the Egyptian Accord was also signed after the Egyptian president Sadat visited Jerusalem, this led to a lasting peace between Egypt and Israel. In 1993, the Palestinian Liberation Organization reached an agreement with Israel over peace deal. This agreement came to be known as the Oslo Accords. The Oslo deal led to majority of the Gaza Strip and the major Arab cities in the West Bank to come under the Palestinian control. The peace deal was signed between the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. The significance factor about the Oslo deal was that it ended the existential conflict between Israel and Palestine. Both affirmed the existence of each other (San Francisco, 2009).

The Oslo deal later came to prove elusive as it did not end the fighting between Palestinians and the Israelis. After assassination of the Israeli Prime Minister Rabin, many Israelis were convinced that the peace deal was not forthcoming, thus they voted in the then opposition leader to take up the premiership, Binyamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu signed the peace deal with the Palestinians in 1998 under the auspices of USA but still it bore no fruits. When Prime Minister Barak took over from Netanyahu, he attempted to reach a peace deal with Yasser Arafat unfortunately they reached a deadlock when the Palestinian leader requested for the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees to their pre 1948 homes, something that Israel totally objected (Barfoot, 2010).

After the collapse of the peace deal, the then Israel opposition leader Aerial Sharon visited the Temple Mount. The visit provoked the Palestinians to attack Israel. The violence came to be known as the Second Intifada, it included suicide bombings on Israeli buses, hotels and other public places. The Temple Mount to the Palestinian Muslims was known as Haram al-Sharif, meaning a ‘Noble Sanctuary’ that no Jew was supposed to step on (Pollack, et al., 2012).

When Ariel Sharon took over from Barak he promised to end the stalemate with the Palestinians. He started by building a security fence between Israel and the West Bank and engaging in a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza (Rubin, Melanie & Hiroyuki, 2013). In the process war broke out at Gaza between Israeli forces and the Hamas of Palestine, this led to damages and injuries inflicted on the civilians. Fortunately, Aerial Sharon was able to limit the effectiveness of the Hamas missiles by deploying a missile defense called the Iron Dome in 2012.

The Jews had the belief that Israel was destined to be their promised land as stated in the Bible. It was the land promised to the descendants of Abraham and his only son Isaac; any other force that would come in between them and the Promised Land would not be condoned.

On other hand, the Muslims, according to the Quran, believed that Israel was their promised land. It was the land that had been promised to the elder son of Abraham Ishmael, from whom Arabs claim descent (Masters, Harold, Wallace & Lauri, 2011). 

The rise of Zionism among the Jews and the reactionary Arab Nationalism, also known as the Pan- Arab Movement, contributed greatly to this conflict. These movements were ever competing with each other hence creating tensions in the region.

The role of UN in the Arab-Israeli conflict started specifically after the Second World War in 1945 when Britain extricated herself from the Palestine region. After Britain had failed to implement the policies that would appease both the Jews and the Arabs in the then British-Mandated Palestine, she decided to hand over the administration of the controversial Palestine to the UN. In response the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to establish the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) to investigate and make recommendations on the Israel-Palestine conflict. However, no Arab country was included in the UNSCOP even though Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon were already members of the UN by then.

The majority UNSCOP recommendation was that Palestine be partitioned into two, each comprising the Arab state and the Jewish state. India and Yugoslavia who were members of the UNSCOP did not accept the idea of partitioning Palestine but instead proposed granting of self-determination to Palestine. The UN rejected self-determination to Palestine arguing that it was not applicable to Palestine (Singleton & Amy, 2013). The decision to deny a self-rule to Palestine Arabs by the UN was going against one of the principles of the UN Charter of 1945, which was categorically against oppression of the minorities and denial of the minority political rights. Additionally, passing a proposal that the Arab states surrender part of their land for the settlement of the Jewish community was a problem of the UN own making. Most of the Jews were refugees who had escaped the Nazi aggression in Germany under Hitler (Esty et al., 2011). Under the proposal, the Arabs would occupy 45 percent of the land compared to the Jews’ 55 percent (Weinberger & Peter, 2004).

It is against the background of this unfair treatment by the UN on the Palestine Arab that led to the prolonged conflict between Israel and other Arab nations, specifically Palestine. This was again aggravated by the religious differences of the Arabs and the Jews. Moreover, during the intense period of the war the UN conspicuously took a back seat instead of solving the conflict.

The big question that one is left asking is, has the UN been effective in finding a long lasting solution to the Arab-Israel conflict? It is a question that can be answered by looking at the role of the UN in the whole process of the Arab-Israeli conflict (Clay, Cynthia, and Ray, 2010).

One important factor to note is that some members of the UN Security Council were propagating their own interests and ambitions in the Arab-Israeli conflict, especially during the period of cold war. For instance, USA, a member with veto powers, sometimes made decision that were personal and not binding to the UN (Chevalier & Roger 2011). In 1964, the USA supplied Israel with new advanced planes and missiles that were used to attack the other Arabic states. Such decisions compromised the ability of the UN in dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict. There was little involvement of UN as an institution in political decision-making. The process was largely dominated by the Security Permanent Members US, France, Britain, Soviet Union and China (Pollack et al., 2012).

After the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict, the UN voted over several times for international peace to reign in the Arab world, unfortunately USA was always against any resolution that revolved around granting independence to Palestine (Bolton, Robert and Dorothy, 2013). It was therefore noted by the UN that the major obstacles to achieving peace in the Israeli-Palestine conflict, were the USA and the Soviet Union. For instance, in 1974 when the UN General Assembly voted for the Palestine’s’ right to elf determination under the Palestinians Liberation Organization (PLO), the USA together with Israel, Bolivia and Dominican Republic voted against the proposal (Rzhevsky & Nicholas, 2005).

The Israel-Palestine diplomacy was at the discretion of the USA. The UN was only left with the role of giving verbal condemnations when and where they felt suitable. The USA always worked against the principles of the UN by organizing bilateral talks between the conflicting states, instead of having such talks under the auspices of the UN. In 1994 the Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright claimed that the US goal was to make the efforts of the UN look irrelevant (Weinberger & Peter, 2004)


The UN is an important international organization with well outlined objective of maintaining world peace and security. Despite the numerous criticisms directed towards the organization, the institution has succeeded in some areas especially in preventing future world war. On the contrary, the organization failed and has failed in solving the Arab-Israeli conflict. The reason for this failure can be attributed to the vested interests in the region by some of the permanent members of the Security Council, especially the USA (Carroll and Michael, 2012). It must not go unnoted that this conflict was also a making of the UN itself by failing to recognize Palestine as an independent state, a decision that was against the principles of the UN Charter. Secondly, by settling the Jews on a foreign land without considering the future repercussions, was a diplomatic blunder by the UN.


Lesch, Ann M. and Tschirgi (2010).“Origins and Development of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

Pollack, Kenneth, M. (2012). “Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness,” University of Nebraska Press, pp 93-94, 96.

San Francisco Chronicle (2009). “A Time of Change; Israelis, Palestinians and the Disengagements.”

Weinberger, Peter E. (2011). “Incorporating Religion into Israeli-Palestine Peacemaking: Recommendations for Policymakers.”

Fagan, Geraldine M. (2012). Believing in Palestine- Religious Policy After Communism. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Pilkington, Harry K. (2002). Looking West?: Cultural Globalization and Palestine Youth Cultures. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Rzhevsky, Nicholas P. (2005). An Anthology of Israel Literature from Earliest Writings to Modern Fiction: Introduction to a Culture. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe. Print.

Singleton, Amy C. (2013). No Place Like Home: The Literary Artist and Israel Search for Cultural Identity. Albany, NY: State.

Barfoot, C. (2010). Beyond Pug's Tour: National and Ethnic Stereotyping in Theory and Literary Practice. Amsterdam: Rodopi, Print.

Bolton, Robert, and Dorothy .G (2013). Arab conflicts: Making Bad Relationships Good and Good Relationships Better. New York.

Carroll, Michael. (2012). Handbook of Politics in UAE: [...]. London [u.a.: SAGE. Print.

Chevalier, Roger. (2011). A Guide to Politics: New York: AMACOM, American Management Association. Print.

Clay, Cynthia, and Ray Olitt. (2010). Transforming Political Agenda in UAE. Print.

Esty, Katharine C, Richard Griffin, and Marcie (2011). Politics of USA and Middle East. New York. Print.

Masters, Harold, Wallace, and Lauri. (2011). Arab-Israel Conflict. Australia: South-Western Cengage Learning. Print.

Rubin, Melanie, and Hiroyuki. (2013). Ways of Avoiding Conflicts: Portland. Oxford Press. Internet resource.

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