chapter  13
21 Pages

The Palestinian Uprising

Israel did not succeed in ameliorating its Palestinian problemthrough its invasion of the Lebanon. Israel’s allies in that country, the Maronite Christians, having been abandoned by the Americans and realizing that Israel was not going to support them militarily, had to deal with the Muslim majority. The pro-Israeli commander in the south of Lebanon, Haddad, died of cancer on 15 January 1984, and was succeeded by Brigadier Antoine Lahad, but Israeli hopes of an unbreachable security zone on its northern border were not realized. The PLO was still able to attack Israelis in Israel. The defection of a minor party from the Likud coalition forced a general election in Israel which took place against the background of the trial of Gush Emunim settlers and two Israeli army officers for the attempted assassinations in 1980 of three West Bank Palestinian mayors and other measures intended to drive the Palestinians from territories Israel had occupied in 1967. Not only had the invasion of the Lebanon resulted in higher Israeli casualties than the June 1967 War, but it was costing $1m a day at a time when domestic inflation was around 15 per cent a month and the country was virtually bankrupt. The election on 23 July 1984 was inconclusive and enabled the ultra orthodox religious factions to dictate a government of national unity with Peres from the Labour side as Prime Minister and Shamir as Foreign Minister, the two men to exchange posts after eighteen months. Sharon, censored for the Sabra and Shatila massacres, emerged as Minister of Commerce and Industry, and Rabin, Peres’s rival, became Minister of Defence. Shamir asked for American mediation with Syria to enable an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, but little came from the efforts of Richard Murphy, the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. In January 1985 Israel announced a unilateral withdrawal from the

Lebanon to be completed by July, but retained the commitment to intervene if threatened.1