Since the United Nations partition of PALESTINE in 1947 and the establishment of the modern state of ISRAEL in 1948, there have been four major Arab-Israeli wars (1947-49, 1956, 1967, and 1973) and numerous intermittent battles. Although Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979, hostility between Israel and the rest of its Arab neighbors, complicated by the demands of Palestinian Arabs, continued into the 1980s.
THE FIRST PALESTINE WAR (1947-49)
The first war began as a civil conflict between Palestinian Jews and Arabs following the United Nations recommendation of Nov. 29, 1947, to partition Palestine, then still under British mandate, into an Arab state and a Jewish state. Fighting quickly spread as Arab guerrillas attacked Jewish settlements and communication links to prevent implementation of the UN plan.
Jewish forces prevented seizure of most settlements, but Arab guerrillas, supported by the Transjordanian Arab Legion under the command of British officers, besieged Jerusalem.
By April, Haganah, the principal Jewish military group, seized the offensive, scoring victories against the Arab Liberation Army in northern Palestine, Jaffa, and Jerusalem. British military forces withdrew to Haifa; although officially neutral, some commanders assisted one side or the other.
After the British had departed and the state of Israel had been established on May 15, 1948, under the premiership of David BEN-GURION, the Palestine Arab forces and foreign volunteers were joined by regular armies of Transjordan (now the kingdom of JORDAN), IRAQ, LEBANON, and SYRIA, with token support from SAUDI ARABIA. Efforts by the UN to halt the fighting were unsuccessful until June 11, when a 4-week truce was declared. When the Arab states refused to renew the truce, ten more days of fighting erupted. In that time Israel greatly extended the area under its control and broke the siege of Jerusalem. Fighting...