Israel History: The Second Intifada

By | November 6, 2021

Sharon’s demonstrative visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on September 28, 2000, accompanied by 1,000 police officers, triggered serious and long-lasting Palestinian unrest (“Al-Aksa” or “second intifada”). On December 10, 2000, E. Barak submitted his resignation to force new elections for the office of Prime Minister. At the end of 2000 / beginning of 2001, however, he tried to conclude a framework agreement with the Palestinians. After the Likud candidate, A. Sharon , had won the election for Prime Minister on February 6, 2001, E. Barak declared all agreements between Camp David and Taba to be “null and void” at the handover on March 7, 2001 in order to avoid A.To give Sharon a free hand. This formed a government of national unity with the participation of the Labor Party with S. Peres as Foreign Minister and with the involvement of the religious and right-wing parties. A. Sharon declared Israel’s security interests to be the top priority and announced that he would not conduct any new final status negotiations, but would only talk to the Palestinians about a new interim agreement, albeit not directly with J. Arafat.

The violent clashes in Israel escalated to an extremely asymmetrical guerrilla war: attacks on Israeli settlements and settlers in the occupied territories as well as repeated suicide bombings in the Israeli heartland by the Palestinian side (perpetrated mainly by Hamas or Jihad Islami) followed by the Israeli side v. a. targeted attacks on Palestinian police stations, among others. Institutions of the autonomy authority and preventive “liquidations” of people suspected of terrorism that violate human rights. After severe terrorist attacks in early December 2001, A. Sharon declared J. Arafat “no longer relevant” and put him in his residence in Ramallah under house arrest.

According to politicsezine, to the Israeli border for terrorists to make insurmountable, the blockade began in May / June 2002 of the Autonomous Region in the West Bank by a wall, but only partially green along the official “line” of 1967. A report by the International Court of Justice in The Hague from 9.7. 2004, according to which the border fortification system expanded from autumn 2002 is contrary to international law and must be removed again, was not accepted by Israel.

The peace plan published on February 25, 2002 (Abdallah Plan)of the then Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdallah , according to which Israel should withdraw behind the borders of 1967 and in return be diplomatically recognized by the Arab countries and receive security guarantees, ultimately failed because of A. Sharon  - as did the “historic” resolution of the UN Security Council of March 13, 2002, in which the USA first approved the formulation “a region in which two states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within secure and recognized borders”.

In the new elections on January 28, 2003 – for the first time again using the old electoral law, i.e. without direct election of the Prime Minister – the Likud under A. Sharon achieved a clear victory. At the summit meeting on 4 June 2003 in Aqaba with US President George W. Bush and the new temporary Palestinian Prime Minister M. Abbas , A. Sharon was the first Israeli head of government to advocate a Palestinian state. In the shadow of the US-led war on terrorism, Israel tightened its preventive policy of liquidating the leadership of Palestinian organizations (including Hamas head Sheikh A. Yassin , March 22, 2004). These measures, which were heavily criticized internationally, were related to A. Sharon’s plans, first expressed at the end of January 2004, to unilaterally abandon all Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the West Bank. In autumn 2004, the Knesset approved while these – controversial within Israel – Plans Sharon , but broke over the end of 2004 the conservative Orthodox coalition government.

After the death of J. Arafat on January 11, 2004, the expected internal Palestinian power struggles and unrest did not occur. On January 9, 2005, M. Abbas was elected as the new President of the Palestinian Authority. The new coalition formed by A. Sharon on December 29, 2004 with the participation of the Labor Party of S. Peres started talks with M. Abbas , who in turn negotiated with Hamas , Islamic Jihad and Fatah on March 17, 2005 to suspend the fighting until the end of 2005. With the complete evacuation of the Gaza Strip, which was carried out as plannedand the withdrawal of the settlers in August 2005 (official handover to the Palestinian Authority: September 12, 2005), the Israeli government made it clear that it wanted to expand the remaining settlements in the West Bank and not give back any more areas.

Sharon’s change of course since 2003/04 (the abandonment of the settlements in the Gaza Strip) weakened his position in the Likud so much that in November 2005 he was unable to obtain a majority in the Knesset to replace two ministries. Since, after the election of S. Peres as chairman of the Labor Party, his successor, the previous chairman of the Histadrut, Amir Peretz (* 1952), terminated the government coalition with the Likud in November 2005, both party chairmen agreed early elections for March 28, 2006. At the end of November, A. Sharon announced his exit from Likud and carried out – as a split from the Likud – the re-establishment of a new center party (Kadima).

After A. Sharon left politics on 5 January 2006 (due to a serious illness), E. Olmert – also Kadima – initially took over the post of Prime Minister on a provisional basis.

After the Knesset election on March 28, 2006, 12 parliamentary groups moved into parliament. Under E. Olmert’s leadership, Kadima became the strongest party (29 out of 120 seats), but felt dependent on several allies to form a stable government. She found this in the Labor Party, the second largest group with 19 seats, and in the Orthodox Shas (16 seats) and the new Pensioners’ Party (7 seats). The remaining Likud wing around B. Netanyahu (party chairman from December 20, 2005) only won 12 seats.

Since the unrest in the Gaza Strip also endangered Israel’s security, the new Israeli coalition formed on May 5th, 2006 decided to abandon the policy of unilateral measures at least for the time being and to offer M. Abbas negotiations (including an informal meeting between E. Olmert and M. Abbas in Petra, June 22, 2006).

The kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by a Hamas commando on June 24, 2006, the Israeli government took as an opportunity for new military actions in the Gaza Strip , but emphasized the temporary nature of the measures. When a command of the Shiite Hezbollah militia kidnapped two Israeli soldiers across the Lebanese border on July 12, 2006, this was also done to create a second front for Israel. Israel reacted immediately and with unexpected severity (bombing and ground offensives from July 21st / August 1st in southern Lebanon with massive destruction of the infrastructure, high civilian casualties and mass exodus as well as an air and sea blockade until the beginning of September 2006; Lebanon , Story). After the end of this new war, which surprised the world public (ceasefire on August 14, 2006), the armed conflicts in the Gaza Strip continued.

At the end of October 2006, Avigdor Lieberman (* 1958) and his right-wing nationalist party Israel Beitenu became part of the government.

After a bloody power struggle between Hamas and Fatah militias in 2006/07 that intensified like a civil war, the political and territorial division of the Palestinians became apparent; As a result, a new starting position emerged for the efforts to regulate the Middle East conflict. After Hamas completely assumed power in the Gaza Strip and M. Abbas appointed an emergency government under Salam Fayyad (* 1952) in mid-June 2007, which in fact remained limited to the West Bank, Israel signaled greater concession towards the moderate forces of Fatah West Bank.

After M. Katsav had to resign from his office as President in June 2007 in connection with charges of sexual offenses, S. Peres was elected Israel’s ninth President – unopposed – by parliament.

In connection with investigations into corruption and illegal party donations, Prime Minister E. Olmert submitted his resignation on September 21, 2008. T. Livni , acting Foreign Minister and successor to E. Olmertin party leadership, failed to form a new government. The conflict between Israel and Hamas intensified in the course of 2008. The south of Israel was fired at with grenades and rockets from the Gaza Strip. Israel took commandos, targeted Hamas activists, and repeatedly sealed off the borders. A ceasefire brokered by Egypt on June 19, 2008 remained fragile. It ended when Hamas responded to the killing of six of its fighters on November 5, 2008 with massive rocket attacks. Israel then intervened with air and ground troops and closed all access routes into the Gaza Strip on November 14, 2008. On December 27, 2008, the Israeli army began Operation »Cast Lead«, initially with air strikes against Hamas facilities; The conflict ended on January 18, 2009 with a ceasefire. Around 1,430 people died and large parts of the infrastructure were destroyed.

In early parliamentary elections on February 10, 2009, the Likud won 27 seats with its top candidate B. Netanyahu , making it the second strongest power after the Kadima with 28 seats. B. Netanyahu formed a coalition with the Labor Party and smaller parties, including the nationalist Israel Beitenu party. Its chairman A. Lieberman became deputy head of government and foreign minister.

Israel History - The Second Intifada