chapter  24
Israel and Palestine
Pages 13

While Israel has maintained constant vigilance against its Arab neighbors and developed the premier military force in the Middle East, it has also sought to achieve diplomatic solutions that would provide for national security. In 1979 Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat met in the United States and under the careful guidance of President Jimmy Carter achieved a historic breakthrough as both countries signed a peace agreement in which the Israelis gave back the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in exchange for diplomatic recognition and a pledge by the Egyptian government not to engage in any further attempts to invade Israel. In 1994 Jordan signed a similar peace agreement with Israel normalizing relations. However, although the Israel-Egypt Peace Accord and the Jordanian agreement were significant diplomatic breakthroughs, the most intractable problem has been the Palestinian homeland and the ongoing intifada (uprising) of the Palestinian people led by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and its successor groups in the Gaza Strip (Hamas) and on the West Bank of the Jordan River (Fatah). Despite countless international diplomatic efforts involving U.S. presidents and international organizations such as the United Nations, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues with periods of calm broken by periods of terrorist attacks in major Israeli cities followed by Israeli retaliation against a new generation of fighters such as the Hamas and Hezbollah organizations.2