From Camp David to Lebanon 1982 – Apartheid and Colonialism in Israel
In Part 1 (1914-1948) of our series on the history of Israel, we shed light on the period leading up to the founding of the state. A phase of illegal and legal land seizure, as a result of which the State of Israel was founded unilaterally, in contradiction to UN Resolution 181 and against the will of the Arab states. The result was war from day one.
Part 2 (1948-1956) ended with the Suez Crisis. As a result of this second war, Great Britain lost its dominant position in the Middle East. Since then, Israel has aligned itself with the USA in all matters. Another result was the stationing of UN troops on the border between Israel and Egypt.
In addition to the 6-Day War and the Yom Kippur War, Part 3 (1956-1973) dealt with a topic that receives little geopolitical attention when it comes to Israel – Israel’s water strategy. This is surprising, to say the least, as Israel is also extremely consistent in its approach to this issue, regardless of the interests of its neighboring states.
In this fourth part, we look at Israel’s development from the 1973 Yom Kippur War to the end of the war in Lebanon in 1982.
Our original intention was to present the history of Israel up to October 7, 2023 in four parts. During our research, however, we found many details that we considered so important that our plans became obsolete. Above all, we came across a pattern that was practically always the same, according to which Israel deliberately provoked conflicts with its neighboring states and opponents in practically every case in order to fabricate reasons for military action. Since 1948, the aim has been to create a Greater Israel, including the expulsion of the indigenous Arab population.
We are therefore committed to the detailed facts, which prolongs our series.
From the Yom Kippur War to 1982
Egypt’s failure leads to rapprochement with the USA
Although the Yom Kippur War ended militarily in October 1973, it was not concluded politically until March 21, 1979 with the Camp David Accords, which brought about a major political change in the Middle East.
Even after the 6-Day War and before the Yom Kippur War, there were significant political shifts in Egypt.
Although the successor to Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar as-Sadat, sought to liberate Israel in 1973 by trying in vain to recapture the Egyptian peninsula of Sinai, he then aligned himself politically with the USA.
The Camp David Accords of 1979
This rapprochement between Egypt and the USA enabled the USA to broker the Camp David Accords in September 1979.
In it, Israel undertook to evacuate the Sinai. In return, Egypt guaranteed free passage through the Suez Canal and that the Strait of Tiran would remain open.
The map shows in red the military airfields abandoned by Israel on the Sinai Peninsula as part of Camp David. Blue is the replacement on Israeli territory
With this treaty, however, Egypt violated its obligations in the Arab League and betrayed its allies, such as Syria, which did not get the Golan Heights back. The Camp David Accords were therefore nothing more than a divide-et-impera move by the USA and Israel, which softened the Arab front against Israel’s expansionist policy. The beneficiaries were Israel and Egypt, the victims the Palestinians and the other Arab states.
Although the Arab League excluded Egypt due to this disloyalty, it also lost one of its most important members and weakened itself as a result. Egypt was readmitted to the League in 1989. However, the League only regained its clout in 2023 with the peace agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran (non-member) and Saudi Arabia and Syria, which was readmitted to the League in 2023. We reported on this in the article “Peace breaks out – Arab Spring without blood“
The Lebanon War 1982
A war follows Ben Gurion’s script
In Part 3, we looked at Ben Gurion’s strategy and proved that Greater Israel is indeed in the script of the State of Israel and that its creation has been pursued gradually but consistently since 1948.
Our quote from Ben Gurion’s diary proves that the destruction of Lebanon is a step towards the realization of Greater Israel. We consider Gurion’s words to be emblematic of Israeli policy, which is why we are publishing them here once again:
“The Achilles heel of the Arab coalition is Lebanon. Muslim domination in this country is artificial and can easily be overthrown. A Christian state should be established there with its southern border on the Litani River. We would sign a treaty of alliance with this state. Then, when we have broken the strength of the Arab League and bombed Amman, we could wipe out Transjordan; after that Syria would fall. And if Egypt still dared to wage war against us, we would bomb Port Said, Alexandria and Cairo. This would end the war and settle the score with Egypt, Assyria and Chaldea in the name of our ancestors.”
If you know and understand the strategy of Israel’s first prime minister, the war against Lebanon in 1982 is anything but a surprise.
This war took place far removed in time from the 6-Day War of 1967 and Yom Kippur 1973. Nevertheless, it is closely related to them. Causally and even conceptually, it can be traced back to the first days of the existence of the state of Israel.
The war in Lebanon, which Israel started in 1982, is another war that Israel waged outside the territory that it claimed for itself with the declaration of independence in 1948. The situation that Israel claimed as a reason for war had been created by Israel’s own actions over many years.
Expulsions were and still are a dominant element of Israeli policy.
All Israeli wars since 1948 have caused flight and displacement among the Palestinians. There are long lists of Palestinian places that simply no longer exist as a result of this inhumane policy. Because after the expulsion, these places were razed to the ground. There should be no memory, because memory causes resistance.
The hardship resulting from the targeted Israeli expulsions was so great from the outset that the UN felt compelled to set up a special relief organization for Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, UNRWA, which was founded in December 1949. According to UNRWA, there were officially 5.5 million registered Palestinian refugees as of 2019. This figure roughly corresponds to the number of non-Arab residents in Israel. The actual number of refugees is likely to be significantly higher.
The wars of 1967 and 1973 also led to hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, refugees and homeless people. To a large extent also to Lebanon.
Jordan and the “Black September”
The occupation of the West Bank by Israel in 1967 drove a large number of Palestinians to Jordan. The armed forces of the PLO and other Palestinian organizations also went to Jordan with the Jordanian troops.
There they wanted to force certain political changes in their favor, which was tantamount to an attempted coup. Ultimately, the fighting, some of which was fought with heavy weapons, led to the Jordanian civil war of 1970-71. Even Syrian troops intervened in the conflict on the side of the Palestinians. The fighting reached its climax in September 1970, and the term “Black September” was coined by the Palestinians.
The expulsion of the PLO from Jordan to Lebanon
The Jordanian state, which was the only Arab state to be more pro-Western than the others from the outset due to its British history, cracked down hard, also with the help of generous arms supplies from the UK and the USA. It drove the Palestinian armed groups out of the country. They went to Lebanon.
As a result of all this, according to various sources, in 1982 there were between 270,000 and 450,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon alone, a poor country with a population of around 5 million.
Heterogeneous militia structures in Lebanon
As described by Ben Gurion, there had already been considerable tension between Arab nationalists and pro-Western Christians since the 1950s. The arrival of armed PLO fighters in 1970-71 strengthened the Arab nationalists and inflamed tensions. The Lebanese civil war then broke out openly in the spring of 1975. The Israeli invasion was therefore only one aspect of an already confusing situation.
War tacitly authorized by the USA
At the beginning of the Israeli war in Lebanon in 1982, Syrian troops were operating in Lebanon alongside pro-Western and pro-Arab militias.
Israel started this war in 1982 with the knowledge of the USA without necessity. Israel cited two assassinations as the official reason for its intervention: One on the Israeli embassy in Paris in 1982 and another on an Israeli diplomat in London in the same year. Israel blamed these actions on the PLO and interpreted them as a breach of the 1981 ceasefire agreement between the two sides.
UN resolutions disregarded once again
At the beginning of the war, Israel invaded Lebanon through the demilitarized zone. With UNIFIL – a UN observer mission in Lebanon – the UN had created this buffer between Israel and Lebanon in the border area between Lebanon and Israel in order to prevent a military escalation between the two countries.
This was yet another time in its history that Israel disregarded UN Security Council resolutions. As this was done with the acquiescence of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, the USA and France, both of which had troops on the ground, Israel feared no consequences.
Israel’s invasion had a significant impact on the ongoing civil war. The aim of Israel’s aggression was firstly to destroy the PLO’s infrastructure throughout Lebanon. Israel achieved this goal.
In addition, Israel wanted to end Syria’s influence in Lebanon. The latter as a prerequisite for the third goal – the installation of a pro-Israeli regime. In order to achieve its goals, Israel waged a ruthless war, even resorting to massacres in refugee camps. One example is the Sabra and Shatila massacre. Israeli troops surrounded the camps. The justification for this was the claim that armed resistance was being put up from within the camp. Israel then left the rest to allied militias. However, their excessive violence was not directed against armed groups, but against the unarmed refugees in the camps. The number of slaughtered victims is still unknown today, with figures ranging from 450 to 3,000 dead.
Syria’s influence in Lebanon was weakened. However, Israel was unable to completely eliminate Syria’s influence. Lebanon did not come to rest and remained an unstable state with frequently changing governments, which benefited Israel.
In the Arab world, Syria not only maintained its influence, it emerged from the war stronger. The fact that Syria stood up for the Palestinians in Lebanon – against Israel and the USA – played an important role in this.
As a result of this war, Israel occupied southern Lebanon until the year 2000; the entire south until 1985, after which it created a buffer zone to Israel. The associated goal of preventing attacks on Israel could not be achieved.
However, there was one factor that Israel did not have on its radar in 1982 – Iran. In October 1982, Iran sent a contingent of 2000 men from its Revolutionary Guard to Lebanon. The resulting influence ultimately led to the founding of Hezbollah.
The 1982 war in Lebanon was ultimately just a continuation of Israel’s strategy laid down by Ben Gurion in 1948. Although Israel did not succeed in dominating Lebanon with the war, it did succeed in destabilizing this state, which was one of the richest countries in the Middle East in the 1960s and was called the Switzerland of the Middle East, to this day. The lasting destruction of state structures in Lebanon benefited Israel. But it was also the prerequisite for the rise of Hezbollah.
Our series will continue in the coming days.
▪ ▪ ▪ This article by Dr. Peter Hanseler was co-authored by René Zittlau, a German citizen and linguist born in 1960, who specializes in Russian, Czech and Slovak as well as the culture and history of Eastern European countries, which gives him an independent view of the political and economic development in the respective countries, which he also knows through visits and longer stays. He first worked for the intelligence services and then in the private sector. After training as an SAP consultant, he worked as a managing director for companies in various sectors, primarily in Central and Eastern Europe.