You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security. List of prime ministers of Israel. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. See Article History. You can learn more about this topic in the related articles below.
David Ben-Gurion first time, — Moshe Sharett — David Ben-Gurion second time, — Levi Eshkol — Golda Meir — Yitzhak Rabin first time, — Menachem Begin — Shimon Peres first time, — Yitzhak Rabin second time, — Yasser Arafat was PLO chairman from until his death in He was also the leader of Fatah, the largest PLO group.
Despite these factional differences, the majority of Palestinians regarded the PLO as their representative until it began to lose significance after the Oslo accords and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in Hamas, which is an Islamist group and not a component of the PLO, emerged in the late s. The rise of Hamas, especially in the s, further diminished the authority of the PLO. In —, fighting with the Jordanian army drove the PLO leadership out of the country, forcing it to relocate to Lebanon.
When the Lebanese civil war started in , the PLO became a party to the conflict. After the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in , the PLO leadership was expelled from the country, relocating once more to Tunisia.
Until , Israel did not acknowledge Palestinian national rights or recognize the Palestinians as an independent party to the conflict. Israel refused to negotiate with the PLO, arguing that it was nothing but a terrorist organization, and insisted on dealing only with Jordan or other Arab states.
It rejected the establishment of a Palestinian state, demanding that Palestinians be incorporated into the existing Arab states. This intransigence ended when Israeli representatives entered into secret negotiations with the PLO, which led to the Oslo Declaration of Principles. In , Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat indicated to UN envoy Gunnar Jarring that he was willing to sign a peace agreement with Israel in exchange for the return of Egyptian territory lost in the Sinai Peninsula.
When this overture was ignored by Israel and the US, Egypt and Syria decided to act to break the political stalemate.
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The surprise attack caught Israel off guard, and the Arabs achieved some early military victories. This turn of events prompted American political intervention, along with sharply increased military aid to Israel. After the war, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger pursued a diplomatic strategy of limited bilateral agreements to secure partial Israeli withdrawals from the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights while avoiding negotiations on more difficult issues, including the fate of the West Bank and Gaza. This strategy also positioned the United States as the sole mediator and most significant external actor in the conflict, a position it has sought to maintain ever since.
Sadat eventually decided to initiate a separate overture to Israel. He traveled to Jerusalem on November 19, and gave a speech to the Knesset. It was a powerful symbol of recognition that Israel has been expecting other Arab heads of state to repeat, without due consideration of the particular circumstances that brought Sadat to Jerusalem. They worked out two agreements: a framework for peace between Egypt and Israel, and a general framework for resolution of the Middle East crisis, in other words, the Palestinian question.
The first agreement formed the basis of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty signed in The second agreement proposed to grant autonomy to the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for a five-year interim period, after which the final status of the territories would be negotiated. Only the Egyptian-Israeli part of the Camp David accords was implemented.
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The Palestinians and other Arab states rejected the autonomy concept because it did not guarantee full Israeli withdrawal from areas captured in or the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. In any case, Israel sabotaged negotiations by continuing to confiscate Palestinian lands and build new settlements in violation of the commitments Begin made to Carter at Camp David. In December , the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza began a mass uprising against the Israeli occupation. Rather, it was a popular mobilization that drew on the organizations and institutions that had developed under occupation.
It also included stone throwing, Molotov cocktails and the erection of barricades to impede the movement of Israeli military forces.
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This broad-based resistance drew unprecedented international attention to the situation facing Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and challenged the occupation as never before. From to , Israeli forces killed over 1, Palestinians, including over under the age of Israel also engaged in massive arrests; during this period, Israel had the highest per capita prison population in the world.
During the first intifada , Israel instituted a secret policy of targeted killing in the Occupied Territories. These operations were conducted by undercover units who disguised themselves as Arabs to approach and execute their targets, or by snipers who killed from a distance. Political divisions and violence within the Palestinian community escalated, especially the growing rivalry between the various PLO factions and Islamist organizations Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Palestinian militants killed over Palestinians suspected of collaborating with the occupation authorities and about Israelis during this period. Palestinian activists demanded that the PLO adopt a clear political program to guide the struggle for independence. The Israeli government did not respond to these gestures, claiming that nothing had changed and that the PLO remained a terrorist organization with which it would never negotiate.
After the Gulf war, the PLO was diplomatically isolated. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia cut off financial support they had been providing, bringing the PLO to the brink of crisis. The administration of President George H. Bush pressed a reluctant Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to open negotiations with the Palestinians and the Arab states at a multilateral conference convened in Madrid, Spain, in October In subsequent negotiating sessions held in Washington, Palestinians were represented by a delegation from the Occupied Territories.
Residents of East Jerusalem were barred by Israel from the delegation on the grounds that the city is part of Israel. Although the PLO was formally excluded, its leaders regularly consulted with and advised the Palestinian delegation. Although Israeli and Palestinian delegations met many times, little progress was achieved. Prime Minister Shamir announced after he left office that his strategy was to drag out the Washington negotiations for ten years, by which time the annexation of the West Bank would be an accomplished fact. Human rights conditions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip deteriorated dramatically after Yitzhak Rabin became prime minister in This development undermined the legitimacy of the Palestinian delegation to the Washington talks and prompted the resignation of several delegates.
Lack of progress in the Washington talks, human rights violations and economic decline in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip accelerated the growth of a radical Islamist challenge to the PLO. Violent attacks against Israeli military and civilian targets by Hamas and Islamic Jihad further exacerbated tensions. The first suicide bombing occurred in Eventually, Rabin came to believe that Hamas, Jihad and the broader Islamic movements of which they were a part posed more of a threat to Israel than the PLO.
The fear of radical Islam and the stalemate in the Washington talks brought the Rabin government to reverse the long-standing Israeli refusal to negotiate with the PLO. Consequently, Israel initiated secret negotiations directly with PLO representatives. The talks were conducted in Oslo, Norway. It established that Israel would withdraw from the Gaza Strip and Jericho, with additional withdrawals from further unspecified areas of the West Bank during a five-year interim period. The key issues—such as the extent of the territories to be ceded by Israel, the nature of the Palestinian entity to be established, the future of the Israeli settlements and settlers, water rights, the resolution of the refugee problem and the status of Jerusalem—were set aside to be discussed in final status talks.
In January , elections were held for the Palestinian Legislative Council and for the presidency of the PA, which were won handily by Fatah and Yasser Arafat, respectively.
The PLO accepted this deeply flawed agreement with Israel because it was weak and had little diplomatic support in the Arab world. Hamas introduced the tactic of suicide bombings in this period. Some were done in retaliation for Israeli attacks, including a massacre by an American-born Israeli settler of 29 Palestinians who were praying at the Ibrahim mosque in Hebron. Others seemed motivated by a wish to derail the Oslo process. The Oslo accords set up a negotiating process without specifying an outcome. The process was supposed to have been completed by May Barak at first concentrated on reaching a peace agreement with Syria, a strategy aimed at weakening the Palestinians.
When he failed to convince the Syrians to sign an agreement, Barak turned his attention to the Palestinian track. These projects were understood by most Palestinians as marking out territory that Israel sought to annex in the final settlement. Final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians only got underway in earnest in mid The Palestinian areas were surrounded by Israeli-controlled territory with entry and exit controlled by Israel. The Palestinians, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution and their understanding of the spirit of the Oslo Declaration of Principles, sought Israeli withdrawal from the vast majority of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including East Jerusalem, and recognition of an independent state in those territories.
The distance between the two parties, especially on the issues of Jerusalem and refugees, made it impossible to reach an agreement at the Camp David summit.
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Although Barak offered a far more extensive proposal for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank than any other Israeli leader had publicly considered, he insisted on maintaining Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem. This stance was unacceptable to the Palestinians and to most of the Muslim world.
Arafat left Camp David with enhanced stature among his constituents because he did not yield to American and Israeli pressure. Barak returned home to face political crisis within his own government, including the departure of coalition partners who felt he had offered the Palestinians too much. But the Israeli taboo on discussing the future of Jerusalem was broken. Some Israelis began to realize for the first time that they would never achieve peace if they insisted on imposing their terms on the Palestinians; the majority came to believe that if that was the case, Israel would have to learn to live with the conflict indefinitely.
The following day, Palestinians threw rocks at Jews praying at the Western Wall. Israeli police then stormed the Temple Mount and killed at least four and wounded unarmed protesters. By the end of the day Israeli forces killed three more Palestinians in Jerusalem. These killings inaugurated demonstrations and clashes across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
In October there were widespread solidarity demonstrations and a general strike in Arab and mixed towns inside Israel, in the course of which police killed 12 unarmed Palestinian citizens of Israel.
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It was a conscious escalation in the use of force designed to avoid a protracted civil uprising, like the first intifada , and the international sympathy it won the Palestinians. On some occasions, armed PA policemen, often positioned at the rear of unarmed demonstrations, returned fire.
Israel characterized the spreading protests as acts of aggression. Soon, the use of force expanded to include tanks, helicopter gunships and even F fighter planes. Civilian neighborhoods were subjected to shelling and aerial bombardment. There were over such attacks from through , compared to 22 incidents from to by Islamist opponents of the Oslo process. Palestinian-Israeli negotiations resumed briefly importantly, with no US presence at Taba in the Sinai in January Ariel Sharon handily won the election.
A cycle of targeted killings of Palestinian militants and Palestinian attacks inside Israel culminated in a suicide bombing in Netanya on March 27, , during the Passover holiday. The attack killed 30 Israelis. In retaliation, Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield, a full-scale tank invasion of the West Bank that lasted for several weeks. Armored Caterpillar bulldozers razed swathes of the Jenin refugee camp and tanks ringed the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Israel justified this offensive as hot pursuit of terrorist suspects, with the full backing of the George W. Bush administration in Washington.