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By Milton-Edwards, Peter Hinchcliffe

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Extra resources for Conflicts in the Middle East since 1945 - 2nd Edition (The Making of the Contemporary World)

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Islamist violence against Israel, manifest in suicide bombs over the 1948 border, added new dimensions to the conflict and attempts to establish security and peace at one and the same time. The election of a Labour government led by former army general Ehud Barak on a pro-peace platform in 1999 promoted an illusion that peace might become possible again. Yet the bitter fall-out and absence of genuine compromise on final status issues dogged the talks process throughout 1999 and 2000. Palestinian frustration at perceived Israeli arrogance crystallized around the deliberately provocative visit of former Likud Minister Ariel Sharon to Jerusalem’s Islamic holy site the Dome of the Rock in September 2000 and a new Intifada broke out.

So many increasingly insurmountable frontiers between these communities became a form of partition unanticipated by the country’s rulers. The British struggled for a political solution to the ever-deepening divisions between Jews and Arabs in Palestine under their rule. One commission after another was formed to address the issue. Both the Zionist movement in Palestine and the Palestinian Arab factions were steadily undermining British rule. In 1937 the Peel Commission first proposed the partition of Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state, with a third area containing Jerusalem.

In 1973 Nasser’s successor, President Anwar Sadat, announced that he was preparing to attack Israel in an attempt to recover territory lost in the war of 1967. Sadat had been making such statements for a number of years while conducting a low-key campaign of attrition across the canal, so such announcements were not treated seriously. But although both American and Israeli intelligence networks were to a great extent aware of the plans, little was done in preparation for an attack. Nevertheless, on 6 October, the Egyptians crossed Suez and the Syrians attacked the Golan Heights.

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