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Israel & the West Bank Region

Two of these, the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights, were formerly internationally recognized territories of Egypt and Syria, respectively. The Sinai was ceded back to Egypt under the terms of the Camp David accords. The Golan Heights remains under Israeli occupation.

Because of the strategic importance and past history of the Golan Heights -- it overlooks much of northern Israel, and was regularly used before 1967 for Syrian rocket attacks on Israeli towns -- the Israelis have been reluctant to give it up. Nor have the Syrians shown any interest in signing a peace treaty with Israel. Nevertheless, Golan is less fundamental an issue for Israelis than is the West Bank.

The Gaza Strip and the West Bank, in contrast, are not former territories of Arab states. Under the post-World War I settlement that drew most Middle East boundaries, these areas were both simply parts of the British "Mandate" of Palestine (Fromkin, 1989, pp. 445ff). There was no distinction between them and any other part of the Palestine Mandate. At that time, in the view of European statesmen, the concern was not over conflict between Arabs and Jews in Palestine, but rather the fear that Jewish and Arab nationalists would join hands against the imperial powers (p. 17).

A generation later, after World War II, the hope of unity among Jews and Arabs in Palestine had vanished. The rising scale of Jewish immi


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