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View series: The Middle East since the beginning of the 20th century

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Continuation of the Israeli-Arab Conflict

This map is part of a series of 18 animated maps showing the history of The Middle East since the beginning of the 20th century.

Shocked by their defeat in 1948, the Arab States were forced to recognize that their armies were ill-equipped for war.

In 1955, Nasser managed to obtain arms from the Soviet Union. The following year, when the Americans refused to finance the construction of the Aswan Dam, he nationalized the Suez Canal, symbol of the presence of foreigners in Egypt.

Faced with the threat of a new power in Egypt, Israel, France and Great Britain drew up a secret plan for military action. Late in October 1956, the Israeli Army launched an attack on the Sinai Peninsula. This gave France and Great Britain a pretext for a military expedition to separate the two sides, but instead launched an attack against Nasser.

Supported by the USSR and the United States, the UN condemned this move and forced the three attacking parties to withdraw from Egyptian territory in December.

The Suez crisis reinforced Nasser’s prestige, but divisions among the Arabs increased demands for a Palestine state.

Threatened by this situation, but also keen to protect the gains made in 1948, Israel launched the third Israeli-Arab war in 1967.

On 5 June, Arab aviation was destroyed in a few hours and, after 6 days of war, the Israeli troops had taken control of the Golan Heights in Syria, the West Bank, Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula.

The UN adopted Resolution 242 but was unable to impose a solution for the conflict.

Seeking to establish a stronger basis for negotiation, Egypt and Syria chose 6 October 1973, day of the Jewish festival Yom Kippur, for the start of the fourth Israeli-Arab war. Syrian troops moved onto the Golan Heights, while Egyptian tanks crossed the Suez Canal. But once the first surprise attacks were over, the Israeli Army was able to re-establish its position in the North, and advanced across the Suez Canal.

The Arab oil-producing states’ decision to limit production and the risk of seeing the United States and the USSR enter into the conflict helped bring an end to hostilities in the region. On 22 October, the UN adopted Resolution 338 establishing a cease-fire.

Once again, negotiations for a global solution to the conflict began but failed to reach an agreement.

As a result, Egypt decided to negotiate directly with Israel and signed the Camp David Accords in September 1978. These Accords restored the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in return for Egypt’s recognition of the State of Israel.

Meanwhile, a new conflict broke out in Lebanon when the Israeli Army began a long period of direct confrontation with the Palestinians, Shiite groups supported by Iran, and Syria which had installed its army in Lebanon during the civil war of 1975-1976.

In July 1981, the Syrians rejected a peace agreement proposed by the United States, and Israel annexed the Golan Heights.

In 1991, the defeat of Iraq in the first Gulf War opened up new perspectives. The Israeli-Palestine peace process was already under way and had succeeded in negotiating a peace agreement between Jordan and Israel in October 1994.

On the other hand, Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in March 2000 did not lead to the reestablishment of normal relations between these two countries, while hostility between Syria and Israel will continue until Israel ends its occupation of the Golan Heights'