(ISRAEL and the MIDDLE EAST to 1979 – continued)

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ISRAEL and the MIDDLE EAST to 1979 (7 of 7)

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Israeli Controls in the Occupied Territories

In 1976, Israeli settlers in the West Bank (called Judea and Samaria by religious Jews) numbered 3,176. With the coming to power of the Likud Party and Menachem Begin in 1977, this number would increase to 20,600 by 1982. Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip was increasing also. Following the agreement between Sadat and Begin at Camp David in December, 1977, the Gaza Strip was no longer considered as part of Egypt. Begin had wanted Egypt to take responsibility for Gaza, but Sadat did not want it, and Begin was not about to turn the strip over to the Arabs who lived there.

In Gaza, the Israelis allowed the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups to organize – groups favored by the Israelis because they were hostile to the PLO. The PLO was secular and for national self-determination, and the Brotherhood was for an Islamic authority. The Israelis allowed the Brotherhood to receive funds from Saudi Arabia and Jordan, funding denied some other social and charitable groups.

With the expansion of settlements and an appearance of Israeli determination to remain in the occupied territories indefinitely, Palestinian mayors, city councilmen and various civic, professional and labor organizations, on 1 October 1978, signed a declaration defying Israeli authority and affirming the unity of the Palestinian people under the leadership of the PLO. The Israelis warned the majors that they would be held responsible for disturbances in their district. The Israelis restricted public meetings and freedom of movement in the territories, including the movements of the mayors. They diminished the role of the mayors as providers of social and economic services, limiting funds that they could receive from abroad. And they moved more strongly against hostile political organizing.

Economic Controls

In the late 1960s the Israelis decided to allow Palestinians to work in Israel, Moshe Dayan claiming that such interaction and a better knowledge of one another would reduce hostilities. Attracted by the higher wages, around 30 percent of the work force on the West Bank went to work for Israelis, and in the Gaza strip it was 40 percent.

Israelis were happy to hire Palestinian labor and to sell goods to the Palestinian consumers, but some Israelis did not want competition from the Palestinians and had lobbied their government for protection. Israeli officials were split between economic integrationists and protectionists, and the protectionists won. A Palestinian shoe factory, for example, was not allowed to sell its shoes to the Israelis. Israel's government also put restrictions on Palestinian growers selling their products to the Israelis. Palestinian entrepreneurs had to apply for licenses from the Israeli authorities for any economic activity they wished to initiate, while Israeli entrepreneurs had an open market to the Palestinians.

The Israelis did little to develop an economic infrastructure in Palestinian areas. Under Israeli authority, banking among the Palestinians remained undeveloped. Israel did allow Palestinian growers to sell their products to Jordan, while trade between the Palestinians and the rest of the world was subject to Israeli permission and Israeli interests.

The Israelis were also exercising authority over use of water, to their advantage, with consequences for Palestinian agriculture. In 1967, the Israelis confiscated almost all West Bank water wells, and they began restricting well drilling and water pumped by Palestinians. The amount of water allocated to Palestinians was to be capped at 1967 levels.

Israeli settlements were growing in number, and the settlements were drawing water from neighboring Palestinian areas. Palestinians were seeing Israeli swimming pools being filled while their communities had barely enough water. Israeli settlements, according to experts, were using three to five times as much water per capita as their Palestinian neighbors. While Israeli settlements were getting priority access to water, Palestinian fields drying and farmers were being put out of work.

In 1965, before the Israeli occupation, the Palestinians were farming on 2,435 square kilometers of land. After 1980 that had been reduced to 1,707 square kilometers – a reduction of 30 percent.

As the Palestinians saw it, they had more grievances against the Israelis than did the American colonists against the British in 1776.


Occupation: Israel over Palestine, Second Edition, edited by Naseer Aruri
for the Association of Arab-American University Graduates, Inc. Belmont Massacusettes, 1989

Personal Witness: Israel through My Eyes, by Abba Eban, 1992

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, by David E. Long, University of Florida Press, 1997

Arafat: from Defender to Dictator, by Said K. Aburish, 1998

Behind the Myth: Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Revolution, by Andrew Gowers and Tony Walker, 1992

Years of Upheavel, by Henry Kissinger, 1982

"Yasser Arafat," by the Nobel e-Museum, http://www.nobel.se/peace/laureates/1994/arafat-bio.html

Muslim Brotherhood in Syria,1965-'85, by OnWar.com, http://www.onwar.com/aced/data/sierra/syria1965.htm

Anwar Sadat, by Cecil Ramnaraine (online)

The Yom Kipper War (online)

Copyright © 1998-2018 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.