Israel's 40-Year Quandary

April 15, 1988

Report Outline
Special Focus

Introduction

In the four decades since the establishment of Israel, war has been a constant factor. Now Israelis are fighting among themselves over the fate of the occupied territories. Israel at 40 is a deeply divided nation, but there is one thing on which Israelis agree: There is no going back to the uneasy truce that existed before the Palestinian uprising began.

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Overview

It is a pattern that typifies this country, almost continually under siege since its founding in 1948: The crisis atmosphere of the last five months—caused by the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip—has failed to interrupt plans for numerous events commemorating Israel's 40th anniversary. But no amount of anniversary hoopla can distract Israelis for long from the violence in the occupied territories. It has already claimed the lives of more than 130 Palestinians, one Israeli soldier and a 15-year-old Jewish girl.

The rioting began December 9 in Gaza and quickly spread to the West Bank, areas that have been occupied by Israel since its lightning victory in the Six-Day War of June 1967. A sense of urgency developed as Israeli troops failed to contain the disturbances. Secretary of State George P. Shultz flew to the Middle East to press for a U.S.-sponsored peace plan that calls for negotiations under the sponsorship of an international conference.

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