1. Introduction to West Asia (Geographical facts)
Most of the area known as West Asia today is inhabited by the Arab people. However, the Arab people did not live in a single country. The entire Arab world was divided into more than ten countries. There is a country in West Asia which is not Arabic. It is called Israel. The people living in Israel are known as Jews. The Arabs and the Jews hated each other very much.
Study the following map. Shade Israel in blue and the Arab countries in yellow.
The following table shows the population figures, official languages and major
religion of the countries in West Asia and North Africa.
Population Official language Religion
Turkey 6889 Turkish Muslim
Egypt 7190 Arabic Muslim
Iran 6747.6 Persian Muslim
Iraq 2580 Arabic Muslim
Saudi Arabia 2267 Arabic Muslim
Syria 1839.2 Arabic Muslim
Yemen 2015 Arabic Muslim
Israel 690 Hebrew, Arabic Jewish
Jordan 548 Arabic Muslim
Lebanon 460 Arabic Muslim
Kuwait 264.5 Arabic Muslim
United Arab Emirates 423 Arabic Muslim
Oman 253 Arabic Muslim
Bahrain 70.7 Arabic Muslim
Qatar 74.4 Arabic Muslim
Refer to the following website for interactive information on West Asia, including
modern socio-political map, historic political borders, topographic/resources map,
Study Sources A and B and answer questions 1 and 2.
1. Identify two disadvantages of the Jews in the Arab-Israeli conflicts.
Israel was surrounded by the Arab countries in the north, east and south. (Source A)
Compare with the Arab countries, the population size in Israel was much smaller.
This was a great disadvantage of the Jews in the Arab-Israeli conflicts. (Source B)
The following is a map of Israel. Label the following countries / areas on the map.
Egypt Gaza Strip
Israel Golan Heights
Jordan Sinai Peninsula
Lebanon West Bank (of the River Jordan)
2. Major wars between Israel and the Arab countries
Study the sources below and answer the questions that follow.
The following is a chronological table which shows the major wars fought between Israel and the Arab countries in the period 1948-1982.
The Arab-Israeli War
Just on the next day after Israel declared its independence (May 15, 1948), the Arab
1countries of Egypt, Transjordan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon attacked Israel. Although
Israel was attacked on three fronts, the Israeli army defeated its enemies and even extended Israel own borders. Many Arabs living in Israel became refugees and had to flee to other Arab countries.
The Suez Canal War
When Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956, Britain and France, together with Israel, attacked Egypt. The war only ended when the United Nations intervened on the side of Egypt.
The Six-Day War
Israel attacked Egypt, Syria and Jordan. This was the most successful war for Israel. Israel occupied the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank from Jordan and the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. The Israelis immediately began building Jewish settlements in these areas.
1 Transjordan: At the end of World War I, the territory now comprising Israel, Jordan, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Jerusalem was awarded to the United Kingdom by the League of Nations as the mandate for Palestine. In 1922, the British created the semi-autonomous Arab Emirate of Transjordan in all Palestinian territory east of the Jordan river. The British installed the Hashemite Prince Abdullah I of Jordan, while continuing the administration of Palestine and Transjordan under a single British High Commissioner. The mandate over Transjordan ended on 22 May 1946; on 25 May, the country became the independent Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan.
Transjordan has opposed the creation of the State of Israel in May 1948, and took part in the attack by the Arab states on the newly founded nation, and the subsequent warfare. The armistice agreements of 3 April 1949 left Jordan in control of the West Bank.
In 1950, Transjordan annexed the West Bank, and the country was renamed "the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan".
The October War
Egypt and Syria attacked Israel. In this war, the Arab countries received aid from the Soviet Union whereas Israel received aid from the United States. Israel successfully halted the enemy attack. During the war, the Arab countries reduced oil exports to
2the West as revenge. This led to an oil crisis.
The Lebanon War
Since Lebanon provided refuge to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) which carried out terrorist attacks against Israel, Israel attacked and defeated Lebanon. Lebanon agreed to expel the Palestine Liberation Organization. Israel then withdrew its force.
Refer to the following website for maps on the Arab Israel Conflicts.
>The Arab Invasion 1948
>The Sinai Campaign 1956
>Six Day War-June 1967
>October War 1973
The following table shows the casualties of the major Arab-Israeli Wars.
1948-49 Death: 6,000 Death: 15,000
Wounded: 15,000 Wounded: 25,000
725,000 Palestinian refugees
1956 Casualties: 1,200 (including British Death: 1,600
and French) Wounded: 4,500
Taken prisoner: 6,100
2 1973 oil crisis: The 1973 oil crisis began on October 17, 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC, consisting of the Arab members of OPEC plus Egypt and Syria) announced, as a result of the ongoing October War, that they would no longer ship petroleum to nations that had supported Israel in its conflict with Syria and Egypt (i.e., to the United States and its allies in Western Europe).
the effects of the Arab Oil Embargo are clear - it effectively doubled the real price of crude oil at the refinery level, and caused massive shortages in the US. This exacerbated a recession that had already begun, and led to a global recession through the rest of 1974.
1967 Death: 983 Death: 4,296
Wounded: 4,517 Wounded: 6,121
Missing / Taken prisoner: 15 Taken prisoner: 7,550
410,000 Palestinian refugees
1973 Death: 2,838 Death: 8,446
Wounded: 8,800 Wounded: 18,949
Missing / Taken prisoner: 508 Missing / Taken prisoner: 8,551
1982 Casualties: about 2,000 Casualties: about 3,000
Taken prisoner: about 10 Taken prisoner: 5,000
A Palestinian woman describes what it was like to arrive in Jordan as a refugee:
“We arrived in Amman (the capital of Jordan) as street beggars,
we knocked at people’s doors. They sent us to a camp at Gerash
and gave us bread, just throwing it at us, so it was good luck to
them that caught it, and the devil take the rest. One day, after
about two months, the winter came, all of a sudden, with torrential
rain and even snow, and it all came through into the tent and one
of my children, the youngest, died of cold in the snow and the
Refer to the following website for information on Palestine refugee.
2. Despite such disadvantages, explain why Israel could survive and sometimes even
gained victory in the Arab-Israeli conflicts since its independence since 1948.
Suggested answer: Foreign Assistance: Western countries, like Britain and the US,
provided Israel with modern weapons, allowing Israel to gain advantage over the
Arabs in the Arab-Israeli conflicts.
3. What do you conclude from Sources A, B and C about the effects of the
Giving rise to the refugee problem (Source A); Oil crisis (Source A); Terrorist
attacks (Source A); Heavy casualties (Source B); Suffering of the refugees (Source
The following extract is adapted from the national charter of the Palestine Liberation
Organization. This organization was established in 1964 as the political organ of the
Palestinian Arabs. In 1969, Yasir Arafat, became its chairman.
Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. This it is the
overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. The Palestinian Arab
people assert their absolute determination and firm resolution to continue
their armed struggle and to work for an armed popular revolution for the
liberation of their country and their return to it. They also assert their
right to normal life in Palestine and to exercise their right to
self-determination and sovereignty over it.
The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national duty
and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the
Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine.
Absolute responsibility for this falls upon the Arab nation – peoples and
governments – with the Arab people of Palestine in the vanguard.
Accordingly, the Arab nation must mobilize all its military, human,
moral, and spiritual capabilities to participate actively with the
Palestinian people in the liberation of Palestine. It must, particularly in
the phase of the armed Palestinian revolution, offer and furnish the
Palestinian people with all possible help, and material and human
support, and make available to them the means and opportunities that
will enable them to continue to carry out their leading role in the armed
revolution, until they liberate their homeland.
Source: The Palestinian National Charter: Resolution of the Palestine National Council July 1-17, 1968
4. Identify the methods used by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to free
the Palestinians from Israeli rule.
The methods used by the Palestine Liberation Organization
Armed struggle and popular revolution (Article 9)
To mobilize the Arab nations to fight for the liberation of Palestine (Article 15)
To equip the Palestinian with military, human, moral and spiritual capabilities
A PLO member hijacked a British airliner in 1970. Afterwards she justified what she had done in these words:
“(Israel) is in no position to accuse me of air piracy and hijacking
when (Israel) has hijacked me and my people out of our land.
My deed cannot be judged without examining the underlying
5. How did the PLO member defend her action of hijacking the British airliner?
It was the Jews who occupied Palestine in the first place. The objective of the
Palestine Liberation Organization was to free the Palestinian from Israeli rule. It
was proper to revenge on the Jews.
Study the following statement.
6. “In any war, there is no winner. Both sides are in fact losers of the war.” Do you agree with this statement? Explain your answer with reference to Sources A
to E above and your own knowledge.
Students can agree or disagree with the statement, but they must support their views with sufficient reasons.
Students can discuss with examples on how the two countries suffered in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Examples like causalities, damaging of flats and economic destruction can be given.
Students can say Israel was the winner. Apart from certain destructions, at least Israel could declare independence, and it sometimes gained victory in the Arab-Israeli conflicts.
On the other hand, students can say the Arabs were the winner. The actions of the Palestine Liberation Organization successfully shocked the Jews and arouse international attention. Even some countries try to reconcile the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts.
3. Peace-making attempts between Israel and the Arab countries
Conflicts between Israel and the Arab countries had lasted for nearly half a century. The Arab countries were not able to destroy Israel. Meanwhile, Israel was not able to eliminate Palestinian resistance or terrorist activities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. By the end of the 1970s, both sides had been tired of incessant warfare. They began to talk about peace.
The following are major attempts to make peace between Israel and the Arab world.
Camp David Accord (1979)
US president Jimmy Carter, Egypt’s President Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Begin
met in Camp David. Israel agreed to return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt. Egypt renounced its claim over the Gaza Strip and recognized Israel. Both countries agree to return to normal relation.
Madrid Peace Conference (1991)
In October 1991, the United States and the Soviet Union sponsored this conference and invited Israeli, Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian, and Palestinian representatives to hold peaceful talks.
Israel-PLO Accord (1993)
The PLO renounced the use of terrorism and acknowledged Israel’s right to exist, while Israel recognized the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. Both sides agreed to a set of guidelines for a five-year interim period of Palestinian self-government.
Cairo Accords (4 May 1994)
As a result of the Oslo peace process, the Gaza-Jericho Agreement -- also known as the Cairo Accords -- included an Israeli military withdrawal from about 60 percent of the Gaza Strip (Jewish settlements and their environs excluded) and the West Bank town of Jericho. A five-year period began in which a permanent resolution was to be negotiated on Jerusalem, settlements, Palestinian refugees, and sovereignty.
Taba Agreement (28 September 1995)
In Washington, D.C., PLO chairman Arafat and Israel's Prime Minister Rabin signed the Taba Agreement, known as Oslo II, to expand Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza and to allow Palestinian elections. In those elections, held on January