Overview of the Conflicts in Palestine and Israel

Pamela Olson
19 September 2004

It occurred to me that while some of you have a favorite olive tree in the West Bank, others might have trouble finding Palestine on a map. So here is a brief summary of the conflicts that I hope might clear some things up. It is a very complicated story, and everyone has his own version. I encourage you to seek out other accounts. This is the story as well as I know it.

Here are a couple of maps of the West Bank and Gaza in relation to Israel, for reference:

    The Beginning of Zionism

A Jewish Viennese journalist named Theodore Herzl was a witness the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe in the late 1800s. Herzl concluded that the only solution to the Jewish problem was the mass exodus of Jews from their places of residence. Originally he wrote that it didn't matter where Jews went, but eventually he decided that a national home in Palestine was the answer.

He published a pamphlet, The Jewish State, in 1896, but Zionism was not his idea alone. Zionism came in outline form to European Jewry during Herzl’s early years. It was given its name in 1885 by Nathan Birbaum, a Viennese Jewish writer. Its aim was a national revival of the Jewish people in its ancestral home, and Zion was one of the biblical names for Jerusalem.

Although others had suggested solutions to anti-Semitism, Herzl was the first to call for immediate political action. Jewish reaction to his plan was mixed. Many Jews rejected it as too extreme, but some responded with enthusiasm and asked him to head what was to become the Zionist movement.

He convened the first Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland, August 29-31, 1897. The congress adopted the Basle Program and established the World Zionist Organization to help create the economic foundation for the proposed Jewish state. Herzl was elected president of the organization and chaired the first six Zionist congresses. He spent much of his time in his remaining years meeting with world leaders, both Jewish and non-Jewish, trying to enlist financial and political support for his dream of a Jewish state. He died in 1904 before his dream could become reality.

Nevertheless, Herzl left an enduring legacy in that he established two guiding principles of policy that persist in Zionism to this day: non-recognition of a Palestinian national entity and forming alliances with great powers external to the Middle East. Initially, that meant The British Empire.

A Russian named Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952) moved to London in 1904 and became active in Zionist affairs. Zionism was not a cohesive element early on. A political wing followed in Herzl's footsteps by seeking great power support; a practical wing believed that Jewish immigration, land acquisition, and settlement in Palestine was the right path. Weizmann resolved the differences by adopting both policies. Great power support and settlement in Arab lands became the hallmarks of Zionism, and they continue in this day.

During the First World War, British policy became gradually committed to Weizmann's idea of establishing a Jewish home in Palestine (Eretz Israel). After discussions in the British Cabinet, and consultation with Zionist leaders, the decision was made known in the form of a letter by Arthur James Lord Balfour to Lord Rothschild in 1917. The letter, known as the Balfour Declaration, represented the first political recognition of Zionist aims by a Great Power. This success set the tone of future Zionist diplomacy.

An ardent Zionist named Jabotinsky, however, warned his more radical fellows how difficult it would be to subdue the Palestinians: "To think that the Arabs will voluntarily consent to the realization of Zionism in return for the cultural and economic benefits we can bestow on them is infantile. This childish fantasy of our ‘Arabo-philes’ comes from some kind of contempt for the Arab people, of some kind of unfounded view of this race as a rabble ready to be bribed in order to sell out their homeland for a railroad network."


Along came World War II and the Holocaust, which swung a horribly guilty world opinion heavily in favor of some kind of major reparation for Jews. Conveniently enough, most Europeans were Christians and had read the Bible, or at least been told a fair summary of it. It was a compelling story that, unfortunately, did not record the intervening time or include the Palestinians. The phrase the Zionists used over and over was, "We are a people without a land, and Palestine is a land without a people." Apparently, well over a million Palestinians didn't count as people.

Britain was tired of its unruly mandate in Palestine anyway, drained by an Arab revolt in 1936 (by those non-existent Palestinians, no doubt) and the Balfour Declaration had already been signed. The Zionists had the world's ear, and the Arab world had been carved up by the great powers. Britain had promised Palestine to both the Arabs and the Jews, but no matter. They turned the whole mess over to the UN.

According to Thomas Friedman in his book From Beirut to Jerusalem:

    "Israel’s high profile in the media is not only the result of the West looking in but also the result of Israel reaching out—sometimes frantically—to grab the world by the throat. From the day Israel was born as a nation, its leaders have invited, and even at times demanded, that the world take heed of its uniqueness and judge it with a different yardstick from other nation-states.

    No one is more aware of this than Israeli statesman Abba Eban, who, in 1947, had the difficult task of presenting the Jewish people’s claim for statehood before the United Nations, which was then considering the idea of partitioning Palestine.

    ‘It was not easy to make our case,’ recalled Eban. ‘The entire region rejected us. We were forming a state for people who were not yet here. And we were not a majority in our country. We had to seize the ears of the world. We could not just rely on pure juridical arguments. We could not argue like Ghana. We had to make ourselves exceptional. So we based our claim on the exceptionality of Israel, in terms of the affliction suffered by its people, and in terms of our historical and spiritual lineage. We knew we were basically appealing to a Christian world for whom the biblical story was familiar and attractive, and we played it to the hilt. We are still the victims of our own rhapsodic rhetoric, and our rhapsodic defense. [But] we chose the line. We chose to emphasize at the beginning of our statehood that Israel would represent the ancient Jewish morality. Some Israelis now complain about being judged by a different standard [from other countries in the Middle East]. But the world is only comparing us to the standard we set for ourselves. You can’t go out and declare that we are the descendants of kings and prophets and then come and say, ‘Why does the world demand that we behave differently from Syria?’’"

The UN Partition Plan, passed in November of 1947, gave 55% of Palestine to the Jews and 45% to the Palestinians. The Jews owned less than 10% of the land, and in the land they were going to be given by the UN, they only had a slim majority (58% vs. 42%) over the Palestinians.

Those 42% Palestinians said, "Why should these newcomer immigrants have dominion over me and our land all of a sudden?" And the rest of the Arab world said, "Why are you giving away land that isn't yours? We don't want to be another colony for you. You've used us and lied to us and brutalized us enough."

As for the Zionists, future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin had this to say the day after the UN vote to partition Palestine:

    "The Partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized... Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever."

    The War of 1948

The Jews managed to amass vast sums of money from wealthy Jews around the world, especially American Jews, and with this money they purchased a formidable armory. The Arabs leaders were badly organized, had outdated equipment, and were too busy entrenching themselves in their new roles as puppet governors to fight as hard or as well as they should. The Palestinians were mostly farmers and shopkeepers.

The Jews largely believed that they were fighting either for their survival (often equating Arabs with Nazis), for their God given rights to the land, or for both. They fought hard and they fought well.

Outrages occurred on both sides, as they tend to do in war. Jewish forces committed terrorism against their British overlords in order to convince them to leave. The most famous was the King David Hotel bombing in July of 1946, in which 91 people were killed (among them 15 Jews). On February 22, 1948, four trucks exploded on Ben Yehuda Street, killing around 50 Jews, an attack which took place with apparent British complicity. In April of 1948, the massacre at Deir Yassin, in which over 100 Palestinian villagers, men, women, and children were systematically murdered by Israeli forces, terrorized many more villages into submission.

When the dust cleared in 1948, Jews had control of 78% of Palestine, while Jordan had control over the West Bank, and Egypt had control over Gaza. It was treacherous of the Jordanian and Egyptian governments to seize Palestinian land, but they largely allowed the Palestinians to live there in their normal way.

In the course of the war, Israel drove around 800,000 Palestinians off the land they controlled, and they destroyed around 400 Palestinian villages completely. This was the beginning of the largest and most protracted refugee problem in modern history. Their numbers now in the millions, many Palestinian refugees have been living in camps and shantytowns in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, and Lebanon for more than fifty years.

    "Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushua in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population."

      ~David Ben Gurion, first Prime Minister of Israel, quoted in The Jewish Paradox, by Nahum Goldmann, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1978, p. 99.

UN General Assembly Resolution 194 was adopted on 11th December 1948. It provides the legal foundation for the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their stolen land in Israel. Israel ignored it and continues to do so. A Jewish-dominated state was and is more important to them than the rights of 800,000 (and now many millions of) people.

    The Six-Day War

In June of 1967, Israel pre-emptively attacked almost all of its neighbors, saying they had intelligence that the neighbors had planned to attack them. In only six days, Israel won control over the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai of Egypt, and Syria's Golan Heights, proving itself to be the sole superpower of the region.

In November of 1967, just after the war ended, the UN passed Resolution 242 unanimously. It is the legal foundation for the Middle East peace process. It calls on Israel to withdraw its military and civilian presence from all of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem in accordance with applicable international laws. Needless to say, Israel did not and does not comply.

Egypt got the Sinai back when it formally recognized and supported Israel. The Egyptian president kissed the Israeli prime minister and everyone conveniently forgot about the refugee problem, the original sin of Israeli ethnic cleansing, the issue of the occupied West Bank and Gaza, and the UN resolutions which affirmed the rights of Palestinians to the West Bank and Gaza and for the refugees created in 1948 to return to their homeland.

With a few hefty checks from the U.S., Jordan also recognized and vowed to protect Israel. Syria remains intransigent on the issue, and the US remains hostile to Syria. Lebanon... I'll skip Lebanon. I'll just say Lebanon didn't get all its territory back from Israel until the year 2000, and not on any good terms.

    The First Intifada

Things were bad in the West Bank and Gaza for a long time, with the population not given the right to vote or equal protection or benefits under Israeli law. They were treated like second-class citizens and a cheap and docile labor pool and had no control over their destinies. They were being absorbed into Israel without being given any rights, and Israel was building large prefabricated cities called settlements inside Palestinian land, further restricting their movement, confiscating their land, and causing them to live in fear of these heavily-armed intruders.

Israel was getting away with its racist system for a long time, hoping the Palestinians would simply remain in their submerged status indefinitely as a non-people while Israel slowly annexed their land. But finally in 1987, the Palestinian population collectively rose up in non-violent protest. Enough. They wanted rights or they wanted a state. Israel responded by killing about 300 Palestinians and injuring and imprisoning thousands.

But the damage had been done. Israel woke up and realized they had neighbors who had their own identity and their own wishes.

Thomas Friedman again:

    “The West Bankers and Gazans were no longer whining about this or that Israeli arrest of house demolition; they were going out and literally daring the Israelis to arrest them, or shoot them, by the hundreds. They were no longer waiting for others to save them; rather, they were taking responsibility for saving themselves—not as individuals, but as a community. The fact that in the early stage of the uprising masses of Palestinians took to the streets meant that Israel could no longer control these 1.7 million people with a few hundred border policemen and Shin Bet agents. It required whole battalions of the Israeli army—thousands of men around the clock—and this led to thousands of public confrontations.

    In the first year of the uprising, the army arrested nearly 20,000 Palestinians, killed more than 300, and injured between 3,500 and 20,000, depending on whose figures one trusts. (During the same period only 11 Israeli soldiers and civilians died at the hands of the Palestinians, while some 1,100 were injured.)

    I once met a strapping, muscle-bound twenty-year-old Palestinian man in the Kalandia refugee camp by the name of Jameel. With his physique, he would have been an elite commando in any Palestinian army. But when I asked him whether he was trying to hurt Israelis when he threw a stone, he answered in a way that made me realize how much the stone was really meant for him—meant to liberate him from his own sense of impotence and humiliation.

    ‘A woman is being raped,’ said Jameel, ‘and while she is being raped she uses her nails to scratch the body of the rapist. Is that violence? We have been raped for years, but instead of our brothers helping us, they stood around and watched.’

    And now that you have taken your destiny into your own hands?

    ‘The wounds of the rape are starting to heal,’ he said. ‘The woman is combing her hair and looking in the mirror again.’”


    “Abu Laila, one of the leaders of the uprising in the Kalandia refugee camp, north of Jerusalem, told me one night in an almost dreamlike voice of the raw hurt he was expressing by taking stone in hand against the Israelis. ‘When I throw a stone, I feel there is a movie going on in my head. And it is showing all the pain, all the time that I spent in prison, all the times the Israelis asked me for my identity card, all the insults Israeli soldiers said to me. I see all the times the soldiers beat me, and beat my parents. That is what I feel when I throw a stone.”

Thomas Friedman said the following about Israel’s response to the First Intifada:

    “I was at a dinner party in Herzliya in the summer of 1988 and was seated next to one of the most senior Labor Party Cabinet ministers—a man deeply involved in security matters. We talked about the usual things—America, the economy, the Arabs—before I asked him what kind of moral challenge the Intifada was posing to the Israeli army. The Labor Minister was eating some lamb at the time. He stopped chewing, turned to me with a piece of lamb on his fork, and said straightaway, ‘If you ask me, the sooner the Palestinians return to terrorism, the better it will be for us.’”

As for the commanders in the field:

    “The abundance of reporters in Israel... clearly curtailed the amount of force Israel could use against Palestinians. An Israeli colonel in the West Bank was quite explicit when I asked him about the deterrent effect television has had on his treatment of West Bankers and Gazans.

    ‘I used to be stationed in south Lebanon,’ said the colonel, ‘and in south Lebanon there is nothing between you and God Almighty. The only question you ask yourself when you are going to blow up someone’s house is whether to use 50 kilos of dynamite or 25 kilos. Here in the West Bank you have to explain every little move you make to ten different people.’

    A senior Israeli commander in the West Bank said that he told his men specifically, ‘Do not beat anyone if you see a television camera. If you are already beating someone and you see a camera, stop. If you see someone else beating someone and you see a camera, stop him.’ The same officer told me, ‘Look, when my soldiers are involved in something not so kosher with Palestinians in a village, and television is not around, I can live with it. I may not like what they did, but I can live with it. But if television is there, I cannot live with it. Not at all.’”

    The Oslo Peace Process

So, their backs against the wall, with Palestinians quickly claiming the moral high ground with their Gandhi-style non-violent civil disobedience, and with Israel embarrassed to keep cracking down on them with deadly force, Israel agreed to begin the Oslo Peace Process.

But after 13 years of halting talks and so-called Generous Offers, things had not gotten any better, and in fact had gotten worse. Nothing concrete or fair was offered the Palestinians, and Israel continued to build more settlements and checkpoints deep inside Palestinian land, making independence and freedom less and less feasible for the Palestinians. At the same time Israel increased their military capabilities to an alarming degree. The Palestinians were held at arms’ length with false promises while Israel kept on preparing for... what?

    The Second Intifada

On September 28, 2000, Ariel Sharon entered the holiest Islamic site in Palestine, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, with an armed garrison.

Ariel Sharon is a known war criminal who was forced to resign from the Israeli government in disgrace in 1983 for his responsibility in several massacres of innocent Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, including the Sabra, Chatila, and Qana atrocities. He was summoned to Belgium in 2001 to appear before a court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but he didn’t show. Sharon gradually climbed back up into favor, especially with the more extreme elements of Israel, and not long after the Al-Aqsa stunt he was elected Prime Minister.

Palestinians were outraged by this spit in the face after all they had already gone through, and they protested mostly peacefully except for the boys who took up rocks, as they tend to do.

Israel’s response was deadly and out of proportion. During the first two weeks of the conflict, which became known as the Second Intifada, from September 29 until October 12, 2000, B'Tselem (an Israeli human rights group, btselem.org) reported 14 Palestinian security servicemen and 54 Palestinian civilians killed, including 15 children under 18.

In the same period, 2 Israeli civilians and 5 Israeli soldiers were killed.

In five months Israel had killed 84 Palestinian children under 18 alone, and at least 300 adults. Towns were invaded, people were injured, terrified, arrested, humiliated. Desperate or crazy or outraged or fed-up Palestinians, seeing that the world was standing by and allowing this outrage, started on the morally devastating guerrilla tactic of suicide bombing civilians. The first suicide bombing in Israel took place in March of 2001, six months after the Intifada began, according to Reuters.

Palestinians had no tanks, no jet planes, no helicopters, nothing but their bodies and their lives and their despair to fight with. It was the only card they had, and they played it. Israel responded with more devastating force. Things spiraled down and down.

The tactic all along among the hardcore Zionists has been to get the Palestinians to exit the premises, go to Jordan, and give Israel to the Jews. Nevermind that nearly 40% of the Jewish population of Israel is recent immigrants from Russia, Ethiopia, etc., many of whom have been lied to about the economic and political conditions in Israel to get them to come and be a ‘fact on the ground’, i.e. another Jew to legitimize the notion of a Jewish state. (If it weren't for these immigrants, Palestinians would have a clear majority over Jews in Israel and the Occupied Territories.)

One method of getting rid of Palestinians slowly enough not to arouse world anger all at once is to make their lives unlivable. Take away their livelihoods, their access to education and to each other, split up families, separate people from their land, split up neighborhoods, and make it impossible for Palestinians ever to be able to fight for their rights again. Many will find the situation unbearable and leave. (Many already have.) Others will stay and be made destitute, marginalized, trapped, humiliated, and helpless.

Enter the Hafrada Wall. The Israelis claim the Wall they are building between themselves and the Palestinians is for security (security from responses they provoked). But it is not being built on the border between Israel and Palestine. It is being built in and around Palestinian cities deep inside West Bank territory. It cuts the region into several self-contained prisons with gates controlled by the Israelis.

Sometimes the Wall circles a town completely, sometimes it runs between towns and their land, making it impossible for farmers to work. Sometimes it cuts right into the heart of Palestine to surround settlements (Jewish towns built illegally inside the West Bank and Gaza which are used as military bases, steal land, control water resources, and house armed ideological settlers) and include them in the land Israel is unilaterally, illegally annexing from the West bank. Sometimes the Wall runs down the middle of roads, splitting neighborhoods in two and making transportation difficult or impossible. It ruins lives with incredible effectiveness.

Basically it's half land-grab, half collective racist imprisonment of a population, and a case of ethnic cleansing if they do manage to make the Palestinians leave. (Or a brutal form of Apartheid if the Palestinians stay in their prisons.) It was found to be illegal by the International Court of Justice, but Israel doesn't recognize or follow international law and hasn't since its foundation.

Here is a map of the Wall, with current and proposed layout.

Here's an alternative and fairly balanced brief history of the conflicts.

An article about American support for the Jewish state.

For a hint of the degree to which Israel controls the media discourse, thus convincing an astonishing number of people that Palestinians are simply terrorists who hate Jews for no reason, check out camera.org, honestreporting.com, and the following vignette by Thomas Friedman:

    “The speed with which Israelis would move to correct mistakes I made in The New York Times was measured not in days but in hours and minutes. After the Israeli government was formed following the July 1984 elections, my soft-spoken assistant, Moshe Brilliant, dictated by telephone to New York the list of new Cabinet ministers, which was released late at night and close to deadline. Moshe began with the Prime Minister and then read the names of the other new ministers over the telephone. When he got to the Minister of Religious Affairs, he said, ‘veteran National Religious Party leader Yosef Burg...’

    Well, the person taking dictation in New York heard ‘Bedouin’ instead of ‘veteran.’ Sure enough, the Cabinet list was published and it read, ‘Bedouin National Religious Party leader Yosef Burg.’ Considering that Burg was an Orthodox Jew, a bigger mistake would be difficult to make. The first edition of The New York Times hits the streets about 11:00 p.m. At 11:01 p.m. someone called Burg in Israel, and at 11:02 p.m. he or one of his staff called the Times. By 11:03 p.m. the Cabinet list had been corrected for later editions.”

Friedman again (I happen to have a list of quotes from his book on hand):

    "In recent years many Israelis could be heard wishing for the day when their country might be reported on like Norway, or even Syria. They cite the famous saying by the French philosopher Montesquieu: ‘Happy the people whose annals are blank in history books.’ A year after the Intifada began, there were signs that their dreams were beginning to come true—that stories of Isaraeli troops shooting a three-year-old Palestinian boy, while dispersing a demonstration of ten- and eleven-year-old Palestinian children, were becoming boring to the West and worth only a small mention in the newspaper. The audience in the West seemed to be starting to lose interest in the misbehavior of Israeli Jews. If I were Israeli I would think twice before celebrating this newfound anonymity. When Israeli repression is no longer viewed as news, it means that the West no longer expects anything exceptional of Israel and Israel no longer expects anything exceptional of itself. That can only be a sign that something very essential in Israel’s character and the character of the Jewish people has died."

If there will ever be peace, both sides must acknowledge the wrongs they have done and talk to each other as equals. People from both sides, especially the leaders, should meet children from the other side. We're all human and we all want security. Nobody is offering it right now, though.

If the international community doesn't step in, Israel can squeeze the Palestinians right down to suicide or submission, putting their own civilians in danger all the way and creating an unbearably dark chapter in world history. My friends here, and all Palestinians and Israelis, deserve better than that.

There's much more to it, but this is a start. Comments, revisions, and corrections are welcome, as always.

Also, if you prefer to check the Palestine Letters page on my website instead of getting my long-ass emails in your inbox, just let me know.



Some quotations from past and current Prime Ministers of Israel:

David Ben Gurion, 1949 - 1954, 1955 - 1963

"We must expel Arabs and take their places."

    ~1937, Ben Gurion and the Palestine Arabs, Oxford University Press, 1985.

"We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population."

    ~May 1948, to the General Staff. From Ben-Gurion, A Biography, by Michael Ben-Zohar, Delacorte, New York 1978.

"There has been Anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?"

    ~Quoted by Nahum Goldmann in Le Paraddoxe Juif (The Jewish Paradox), pp. 121-122.

"Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves... politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves... The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country."

    ~quoted on pp 91-2 of Chomsky's Fateful Triangle, which appears in Simha Flapan's "Zionism and the Palestinians pp 141-2 citing a 1938 speech.

"If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England, and only half by transferring them to the Land of Israel, I would choose the latter, for before us lies not only the numbers of these children but the historical reckoning of the people of Israel."

    ~Quoted on pp 855-56 in Shabtai Teveth's Ben-Gurion in a slightly different translation.

Golda Meir, 1969 - 1974

"There is no such thing as a Palestinian people... It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn't exist."

    ~statement to The Sunday Times, 15 June, 1969.

"How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to."

    ~March 8, 1969.

"Any one who speaks in favor of bringing the Arab refugees back must also say how he expects to take the responsibility for it, if he is interested in the state of Israel. It is better that things are stated clearly and plainly: We shall not let this happen."

    ~1961, in a speech to the Knesset, reported in Ner, October 1961

"This country exists as the fulfillment of a promise made by God Himself. It would be ridiculous to ask it to account for its legitimacy."

    ~Le Monde, 15 October, 1971

Yitzhak Rabin, 1974 - 1977, 1992 - 1995

"We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, What is to be done with the Palestinian population?' Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said 'Drive them out!"

    ~leaked censored version of Rabin memoirs, published in the New York Times, 23 October 1979.

"[Israel will] create in the course of the next 10 or 20 years conditions which would attract natural and voluntary migration of the refugees from the Gaza Strip and the west Bank to Jordan. To achieve this we have to come to agreement with King Hussein and not with Yasser Arafat."

    ~Rabin, a "Prince of Peace" by Clinton 's standards, explaining his method of ethnically cleansing the occupied land without stirring a world outcry, quoted in David Shipler in the New York Times, 04/04/1983 citing Meir Cohen's remarks to the Knesset's foreign affairs and defense committee on March 16.

Menachem Begin, 1977 - 1983

"[The Palestinians] are beasts walking on two legs."

    ~speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, "Begin and the 'Beasts,"' New Statesman, June 25, 1982.

Yizhak Shamir, 1983 - 1984, 1986 - 1992

"The past leaders of our movement left us a clear message to keep Eretz Israel from the Sea to the River Jordan for future generations, for the mass aliya (Jewish immigration), and for the Jewish people, all of whom will be gathered into this country."

    ~at a Tel Aviv memorial service for former Likud leaders, November 1990. Jerusalem Domestic Radio Service.

"The settlement of the Land of Israel is the essence of Zionism. Without settlement, we will not fulfill Zionism. It's that simple."

    ~Maariv, 02/21/1997.

"(The Palestinians) would be crushed like grasshoppers... heads smashed against the boulders and walls."

    ~in a speech to Jewish settlers, New York Times, April 1, 1988

Benjamin Netanyahu, 1996 - 1999

"Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations in China, when world attention focused on that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories."

    ~Speaking to students at Bar Ilan University, from the Israeli journal Hotam, November 24, 1989.

Ehud Barak, 1999 - 2001

"The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more..."

    ~August 28, 2000. Reported in the Jerusalem Post August 30, 2000

"If we thought that instead of 200 Palestinian fatalities, 2,000 dead would put an end to the fighting at a stroke, we would use much more force..."

    ~quoted in Associated Press, November 16, 2000.

"I would have joined a terrorist organization."

    ~his response to Gideon Levy, a columnist for the Ha'aretz newspaper, when Barak was asked what he would have done if he had been born a Palestinian.

Ariel Sharon, 2001-present

"It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands."

    ~addressing a meeting of militants from the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.

"Everybody has to move, run and grab as many (Palestinian) hilltops as they can to enlarge the (Jewish) settlements because everything we take now will stay ours...Everything we don't grab will go to them."

    ~addressing a meeting of the Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, Nov. 15, 1998.

"Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that... I want to tell you something very clear: Don't worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it."

    ~October 3, 2001, to Shimon Peres, as reported on Kol Yisrael radio.

"Israel may have the right to put others on trial, but certainly no one has the right to put the Jewish people and the State of Israel on trial."

    ~25 March, 2001 quoted in BBC News Online

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