Terror tactics and attempts to find a lasting peace

Key learning themes:

    • The Gun and Olive Branch speech
    • The reasons for the emergence of Fatah, the PLO, and the role of terror tactics
    • Reasons for the Camp David Agreements of 1978 including the motives of Sadat and Carter
    • The Egypt Israeli Peace Treaty of 1979
    • Attempts to achieve peace between Israel and the PLO including the motives of Rabin, Yasser Arafat and the USA
    • The terms and results of the Oslo Peace Accords of 1993
  1. Yasser Arafat: the Gun or the Olive Branch


  2. The Peace Process from From Camp David to Oslo
      Camp David Accords, 1978

      See the excellent Encyclopedia Britannica article on the Camp David accords.

      After 1973 Yom Kippur War, Henry Kissinger began a process of shuttle diplomacy in which he hoped to bring Egypt and Israel closer to an agreement over Sinai and the disputed territories. Early in his presidency (from 1976), Jimmy Carter met with leaders of the Middle East and with Sadat in particular who wanted to pursue peace talks on the basis of resolution 242. Sadat initiated direct talks with Israel when he visited the country and made a speech to the Knesset. Jimmy Carter invited both Begin and Sadat to the presidential retreat of Camp David. The summit lasted for 13 days and almost broke down. On the last day Begin finally agreed to allow the Knesset to vote on the fate of the Israeli settlements on the Sinai peninsula.

      • The accords included:
        • A process for Palestinian Self-Government in the West Bank and Gaza
        • A Framework for the conclusion of a peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel
        • A framework for similar peace treaties between Israel and its other neighbours

      The peace treaty concluded between Israel and Egypt the following year (March 1979) formally ended the state of war between the two states. Israel agreed to withdraw from Sinai, Suez was opened to Israeli shipping, and diplomatic relations between the two countries were normalized. However, other Arab countries did not follow Egypt’s lead, and instead expelled Egypt from the Arab League. The PLO also rejected the accords.

      The origins of the next set of accords, signed at Oslo in 1993, have to do with Israel’s relationship with the PLO, the changing attitude of the PLO and the end of the Cold War.

      Israel’s determination to eradicate the PLO led to its invasion of the Lebanon in 1982 during which time its Christian allies carried out a massacre in the villages of Shatila and Sabra in September 1982 see the following BBC education clip

      Popular uprising within Israel in 1987, the Intafada, took Israel and the PLO by surprise. Arafat’s change of tune from this point may well have been motivated by a desire to regain the initiative and to maintain recognition as the de facto leader of Palestine.

      Hamas and the Intifada are explored in the following
      BBC education video

      See also: Article on the role of non-violent resistance in the Palestinian resistance from the First Intifada: an interview with Mubarak Awad

      Arafat adopted a new strategy. In 1988 the PLO affirmed Resolution 242, recognized the Israeli state, and called for a peaceful settlement between Israel and Palestinian state on the West Bank. He proclaimed a Palestinian state on 15th November 1988 and in the following December renounced ‘terrorism in all its forms, including state terrorism’. He said that he accepted UN Security Council Resolution 242 and Israel’s right “to exist in peace and security” and Arafat’s statements were greeted with approval by the US administration, which had long insisted on these statements as a necessary starting point for discussions between the US and the PLO.

      On 2 April 1989, Arafat was elected by the Central Council of the Palestine National Council, the governing body of the PLO, to be the president of the proclaimed State of Palestine starting point for official discussions between the US and the PLO.
      It represented a shift away from the PLO’s primary aims and towards the establishment of two entities – the state of Israel within the 1949 armistice lines, and a Palestinian state on the West Bank and the Gaza strip.

      Meanwhile, the end of the Cold War in 1991 and the US-led coalition to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in the same year created a new situation in which the US could foster better relations with Middle Eastern countries and – without the Soviet threat – could exercise greater leverage over Israel. At the same time, the US was accused of ‘double standards’ by ejecting Hussein from Kuwait but tolerating Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. In June 1993, Yitzhak Rabin was elected Prime Minister in Israel on a peace platform. A series of secret talks began between Arafat and Rabin which culminated in the Oslo Accords, signed onthe White House Lawn in 1993. Two years later
      Oslo Peace Accords, 1993

      BBC Bitesize video:


      1. Individual task: Produce a flow chart showing the reasons for, terms and results of the Camp David Agreements of 1979;
      2. Paired task: Hot seating. Each pair given a different leader: Rabin and Arafat.
        • Research career and achievements and motives;
        • Prepare questions and answers
        • Carry out hot seat with one student as interviewer and the other as the leader
        • Individual or paired planning of essay using planning grid on the question: how far did Israel’s relationship with Palestinians change between 1967 and 1995?
          • The Six Day War
          • The Oslo Peace accords, 1993 and 1995
        • Peer assess each others’ work using mark scheme for question c


      Recent news on Palestine:

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