The Arab-Israeli Conflict
Until very recently this dispute has seemed the most intractable of all ‘regional conflicts’ and during the cold war it was also probably the most dangerous. This was because the strategic importance of the Middle East, its richness in oil, and the exceptionally powerful Jewish lobby in the United States led the superpowers to take a close interest in the region. With the United States aligned with Israel and the Soviet Union giving its support to the ‘radical’ Arab states, Arab-Israeli wars, of which there have been six since 1948 (see Box 10.1), at times threatened world war. It is true that a peace treaty was signed between Israel and Egypt (the most powerful Arab state and traditional leader of the Arab world) in 1979, following negotiations mediated by the United States at Camp David, but Egypt was at once ostracised by the Arabs for this breaking of ranks, and Camp David failed to grapple with the heart of the problem. Why has this conflict been so intractable? What solutions have been canvassed? What lessons does this tragic situation contain?
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