the Creation of the State of Israel
On May 15, one day after the creation of the State of Israel, the Arab armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon invaded the new Jewish state. The Arab forces were significantly larger than Israel's and were better equipped. Yet, coordination and organization were lacking and the Arab armies were often at odds with each other, seeking to incorporate territory from Palestine into their own states. Despite their small numbers, the Jews were well-organized, well-disciplined and well-trained.
The war was marked by long periods of fighting and temporary cease-fires. Finally, fighting officially ended in January 1949, at which time Israel held the 5,600 square miles allotted to it by the UN partition plan plus an addition 2,500 square miles. Transjordan held the eastern sector of Jerusalem and the West Bank and Egypt held the Gaza Strip.
From January to July 1949, armistice agreements were signed with Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria based on the frontlines as they were at the end of the fighting. These lines created the borders of the new state and as a result, Israel gained control of the areas which would have been part of the Arab state envisioned by the UN had the Arab world not gone to war with Israel. At the time, Israel hoped that the armistice agreements would lead to official Arab-Israeli peace treaties.
The Arab states, however, refused to recognize Israel's existence and negotiate peace and remained in a state of war with the Jewish state. They continued their economic, political, social and cultural boycott of the Jewish state which was instituted by the Arab League in 1945. The Arab economic boycott of Israel prohibited Arab peoples, companies and states from conducting business both with Israel and with other companies who do business with Israel. They also embarked on a campaign to isolate the Jewish state in the international community.
Some Arab leaders attempted secret negotiations with Israel. Tragically, some of them were murdered, including King Abdullah of Jordan who was assassinated in Jerusalem in 1951.
The Arab states provided little help to Palestinians who became refugees after the war. Only Jordan offered Palestinian Arabs citizenship. Refugee camps were set up and maintained primarily by the United Nations and other international relief organizations.
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