When the British Mandate officially ended on May 14, 1948, the Jews in Israel immediately gratefully and joyously accepted the U.N.’s offer and proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. However, the Arabs living in the land rejected the U.N.’s two-state offer and refused to take their state. Instead, five Arab states – Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq – declared war on Israel and immediately invaded Israel on May 15 with the goal of eliminating it. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) was established, and Israel fought for its existence in the War of Independence from May 1948 to July 1949. So here, we’ll discuss the State of Israel: 1948-1990.
Despite being greatly outnumbered, Israel won the war and in 1949 signed armistice agreements with Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon (Iraq withdrew its forces without signing an armistice). As a result of the war, the State of Israel now included more territory than it had under the original U.N. partition plan. In particular, Israel included all of present-day Israel minus the West Bank, which was part of Jordan, and the Gaza Strip, which was part of Egypt. Also, Jerusalem was divided under the Israeli and Jordanian rule.
In 1989 the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union by 1991 enabled hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews to be able to leave the Soviet Union and immigrate to Israel. In addition, Israel had been working throughout the late 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s to rescue Ethiopian Jews and bring them to safety in Israel. So let’s look at the recent new waves of immigration to Israel.
1990s: Continual Efforts Towards Peace
Although in the 1991 Gulf War Israel was attacked by Iraqi missiles, the 1990s were, for the most part, a decade of significant steps towards Middle East Peace. In 1991 the Madrid Peace Conference on the Middle East outlined a framework for bilateral peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinians and Israel and Syria.
When Yasser Arafat ostensibly renounced terrorism and recognized Israel’s right to exist in 1993, Israel agreed to negotiate in order to try to live in peace. Even though the terrorism against Israeli citizens continued, in 1993 Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin met with PLO leader Yasser Arafat in Washington, D.C. On September 13, 1993, Rabin and Arafat famously shook hands on the White House Lawn as Israel and the PLO, representative of the Palestinian people, signed the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self Government Arrangements for the Palestinians.