In 1948, after the World War II, the British mandate of Palestine ended (Karsh 6). What followed was the approval of the partition plan by the United Nations. The plan sought to create two states: Arab and Jewish. The partition plan also included dividing Palestine into eight parts. The Jewish state was given three parts and three were also given to the Arab state.
The Jewish leaders embraced the plan, but the Palestinian Arab leaders rejected it and supported the Arab League (US Department of State n. p.). The five Arab League nations included Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. Israel went ahead to declare its independence. The nations were not happy with this and invaded the territory of the former Palestinian command. The war broke out.
The Palestinian Arab leaders claimed that the plan endorsed by the United Nations violated the right to decide their own destiny and that it was unworthy (US Department of State n. p.). The injustice against the Palestinians included the atrocities committed by the Israelis, the formation of a Jewish nation on the territory that belongs exclusively to the Palestinian Arabs. Israel gained the upper hand and repelled the inter-communal conflict. After the war, Jordan took mandate of West Bank and Egypt retained the Gaza Strip. Israel was left with the western part of Jerusalem and larger partition of the Palestine. Jordan also controlled the eastern part which included the religious sites. The other territories, not captured by Israel, were controlled by the Arab League nations. This war resulted in Al-Naqba, that is, Palestinian exodus. The war led to the displacement of approximately 750,000 Palestinian Arabs. This resulted in the emergence of Palestinian refugee problem (Gelber 207). Consequently, over about 800,000 Jews in the Arab countries were forced to leave and others among them moved back to Israel.
During the 1948 Israel-Arab war, ethnic cleansing was the order of the day. The Haganah group, previously considered a terrorist organization by the British, used violence to defend the Jewish society, Haganah attacked Palestinian Arabs and the British in Palestine (US Department of State n. p.). After the Israel independence, Haganah effectively became the state army.
The violent acts left scores dead and other Palestinians expelled. The Irgun and Stern Gang, terrorist groups that also fought alongside the Haganah, forced the Palestinian Arabs to leave Israel (Ross 34). A major humanitarian crisis followed the emergence of the refugees who were not allowed to return to their homes despite the agreement signed. The refugee problem was the most controversial issue in the Israel-Arab conflict.
The declaration of independence by Israel was largely attributed to the need of having a Jewish state in the Arabian region. Hence the 1948 Israel-Arab war was referred to as the War of Independence by the Jews. Furthermore, the periods of violence and the holocaust against Jews in the past centuries were also accredited to the absence of the Jewish homeland (Ross 36).
The Israel-Arab conflict illustrates the intertwining of peace and justice. Both the Jews and the Palestinian Arabs consider themselves victims of the injustice inflicted by either side. The partition plan aimed at isolating the Jews and the Arabs in an attempt to end the holocaust and ethnic killings in the region. The oppression and holocaust of the Jewish people in Europe, also led to the establishment of the Jewish state.
Gelber, Yoav. Palestine, 1948: War, Escape and the Emergence of the Palestinian Refugee Issue. Brighton: Sussex Academic Printer, 2006. Print.
Karsh, Efraim. The Arab-Israeli Conflict: the 1948 War. New York: Rosen Pub, 2009. Print.
Ross, Stewart. Causes and Consequences of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. London: Evans Brothers, 2004. Print.
US Department of State. “The Arab-Israeli War of 1948“. Web.