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Madam Speaker, the recent focus on Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict that continues today is vital and important to our world peace. There are a lot of people out there trying to revise history, however.
The State of Israel was established in 1948 by British mandate after the Holocaust of World War II. The Jewish people lay claim to this area since Biblical times. The establishment of the Jewish State of Israel merely formalized the return of their indigenous homeland by international agreement. Both the United States and the U.N., including the Soviet Union, recognized the State of Israel.
The day after the Jewish state was established in 1948, it was invaded by six surrounding Arab nations. A negotiated cease-fire ended hostility, with Jerusalem being split in the middle between Israel and Jordan.
In 1967 Israel was once again invaded by Syria from the north, Jordan from the east and Egypt from the southwest. During the war, Israel defended itself and expanded its border by including the Golan Heights that was controlled by Syria, the West Bank, controlled by Jordan, and Gaza, controlled by Egypt.
Some would have you believe that the establishment of the State of Israel changed the borders of Arab states in agreements that had existed for centuries. That is simply incorrect. The boundaries of the Middle East countries were fixed by Western powers after Turkey was defeated in World War I. The French took over Syria and Lebanon. The British took over Palestine and Iraq. The areas allotted to Israel had been under the control of the Ottoman Empire from 1517 to 1917. During this 400-year reign of the Turks, the Holy Land was only sparsely populated. The few folks living there were an oppressed Jewish population and mostly revolving Muslim immigrant groups, but also there were small groups of Christians in the area.
The actual boundaries of what became the State of Israel were set by the United Nations in 1947. When formally established in 1948, the attacks on the tiny new state of Israel began immediately by the neighboring Arab states.
Yasser Arafat formed the Palestine Liberation Organization, or the PLO, in 1964. He formed a state within a state in the Palestinian homeland of Jordan. Arafat many times stated that Jordan is Palestine. It was not until the 1967 war that the Arab nations backed the PLO for the purpose of taking back land that Israel had won in that defensive war of 1967. In 1967 Arab forces massed against Israel, surrounding the tiny nation.
Egyptian President Nasser was allowed to kick the U.N. peacekeepers out of the Sinai Peninsula, which acted as a buffer between Egypt and Israel. The world watched as hundreds of thousands of Arab troops tried to ``drive Israel into the sea.'' The unexpected brilliance of the Israeli military stopped the aggression from all directions, and Israel was secure for a moment.
As a result of that war for survival, Israel fairly won land: The Sinai, the West Bank and Gaza. Everywhere else in the world, territory acquired in self-defense is only returned in the context of a negotiated peace. Israel has never been fully afforded that negotiated peace. Israelis have returned land time and time again when a peaceful settlement was reached. Soon they may run out of land to give away.
In the Camp David accords of 1978, Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt in return for a peace treaty. Jordan and Syria have less formal but similar agreements with Israel.
Now one issue is whether Israeli Jews that have settled into the West Bank should leave or not be allowed to have natural expansion of their own communities. This should be negotiated between the Israeli Government and the Palestinians. The United States should not interfere in and prevent negotiations by picking winners and losers.
This year the United States is picking the loser of Israel. The United States should help broker negotiations and help get all parties to negotiate, but not demand either side take a certain position.
Israel has been a longtime ally of the United States, and our interest should be that the sides involved solve this problem without the United States dictating who wins and who loses.
And that's just the way it is.
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