The UN and the Arab-Israeli Conflict

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The UN and the Arab-Israeli Conflict

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The UN and the Arab-Israeli Conflict


A lot of time has been spent at the UN relating to the Arab Israeli conflict.


The UN was the “midwife” of Israel’s birth.


The UN took over responsibility of Palestine from the British.

The UN recommended Partition of Palestine and the creation of the State of Israel.


It was the UN that instigated truces, ceasefires, and sent unarmed observers to implement them, for the first time in its history.


After the 1948-1949 War, the UN took responsibility for the nearly 750,000 Palestinian refugees.


The UNRWA was created to handle the issue of refugees.

(UN Relief Works Agency)

Came up with the definition of a Palestine refugee: A person ‘whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the Period of June 1 1946 to May 1948 and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 and 1967 conflicts.


Most of the funding comes from America and Europe.

At first, it provided just food and shelter, clothing.

Today, it provides schools, healthcare and emergency aid.


Today there are 59 refugee camps in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon West Bank and Gaza Strip.


The UN greatest success was the handling of the Suez Crisis.

Both the US and USSR condemned the British-French military action and acted quickly to force the withdrawal of British and French forces from the Canal Zone.


The UN also put together its first ever peace keeping military force in a weeks time, and received support from its member countries.


Lester B Pearson, Canadian Prime Minister 1963-1968.

Canada’s Secretary of State for External Affairs

“This is the most popular army in history- an army which everyone fights to get into”


The UN supervised the gradual withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Sinai and monitored the Israeli-Egyptian border.

6000 troops from 10 countries under Canadian command.


For ten years, the UN supervised the Egypt-Israeli border and won world praise for maintaining peace there.

However, in 1967 the UN was criticised for its role that led to the Six-Day War.


UN troops had been on Egyptian soil for ten years, but were asked to partially leave by Nasser so he could be ready for an Israeli attack.

The UN stated that a partial withdrawal was not possible (all or nothing) so Nasser requested for a complete withdrawal.

Nasser would end up closing the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping.

Two weeks later they would be at war.


Many blamed UN secretary General U Thant for failing to stand up to Nasser.

Many suggest that the UN withdrawal should have been debated at the UN in an emergency meeting as Nasser requested.

Others suggest he should have agreed to a partial withdrawal.


However, U Thant was in a difficult position…

Canada left right away, the first time Egypt asked for a withdrawal.

Israel refused to have UN troops on its territory.

Nasser had threatened to disarm the UN force if they didn’t leave.


UN Resolution 242

The UN was not able to stop the fighting in the 1967 war for 6 days.

UN resolution 242 was adopted following the war which called for a just and lasting peace in the middle east.

Little progress has been made, but it did lead to talks between Egypt and Israel in 1979.


The UN and the 1973 October War

The UN was able to declare a ceasefire based on a deal between the USA and the USSR.

A UNEF force was created and used to monitor ceasefire lines in the Sinai and Golan Heights.


Following the 1973 War, the UN and its role in the Arab –Israeli conflict grew less and less.





sraeli conflict would no longer occupy the UN as obsessively as it once did…the Secretary


eneral who succeeded U Thant was hardly a major player. The 1973


ar made it clear the Arab-Israeli conflict had now become an issue for great powers who did not need the UN very much in their wheeling and dealing.


Arafat at the UN, 1974.

Yasser Arafat was flown to the UN building in New York amidst the tightest security in the organization’s history.

This was following Black September and the hijacking and hostage taking by several PLO members.


Arafat hinted at a possible mini state solution, as opposed to the destruction of Israel.

This was a major shift in Arafat’s demands.


In the aftermath of the October War, the guerilla chief had made strategic decision to turn away from the armed struggle, and the Terror tactics this involved, to negotiate a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict… Arafat recognized that the Jewish state, then a twenty-five years old, was the military superpower of the region, enjoying the full support of the United States and the recognition of nearly all of the international community. Israel was here to stay.


Despite being considered a terrorist by many western nations, Arafat was able to speak at the UN because of the Soviet Union and several other countries help.


An excerpt fro Arafat’s



The roots of the Palestinian question are not the result of a conflict between two religions or two nationalisms. Neither is it a border conflict between two neighboring states. It is the cause of a people deprived of its homeland , dispersed and uprooted, and living mostly in exile and in refugee camps… Today I have come bearing an olive branch (a symbol of peace) and a freedom fighter’s gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.


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