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SPECIAL REPORT / ISRAEL at 50

Decades Of Conflict

April 12, 1998

Border disputes between Israel and its Arab neighbors dominated the first few decades of the nation's existence, starting with the invasion by Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq that immediately followed the proclamation of the Jewish state.

Following are highlights of Israel's efforts to defend its independence.

Jan. 7, 1949: Cease-fire is declared, with Israel defeating the Arab coalition and increasing its territory by about 50%, taking western Galilee, a broad corridor through central Palestine to Jerusalem and part of modern Jerusalem. With Jordan taking control of eastern Palestine and the Old City of Jerusalem and with Egypt in charge of the Gaza Strip, Palestinians find themselves without a state, and a refugee crisis is born.

May 11, 1949: Israel's government, with Chaim Weizmann as president and David Ben-Gurion as prime minister, is admitted to the U.N.

Dec. 14, 1949: Israel strengthens its claim on Jerusalem, moving its capital there from Tel Aviv.

1950: Israeli government passes Law of Return, providing for free and automatic citizenship for all immigrant Jews.

1956: Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal and bars Israeli shipping.

Oct. 29, 1956: In a coordinated attack, Britain, France and Israel attack Egyptian territories, capturing the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip.

November 1956: Israel withdraws from the Sinai under pressure from U.S. and U.N.

March 1957: U.N. forces are sent to keep peace in the Sinai and Gaza Strip. Israel retreats from both but succeeds in keeping open its shipping lanes.

1963: Ben-Gurion resigns as prime minister, to be replaced by Levi Eshkol.

May 1967: U.N. removes its peacekeeping force from the Gaza Strip and Sinai in response to demands by Nasser. Nasser then sends troops into Sinai and closes the Strait of Tiran, blocking Israel's Red Sea port of Eilat.

June 5, 1967: Six-Day War begins when Israel launches airstrikes against Egypt and Syria. Jordan joins Egypt and Syria in a counterattack. Israel nearly destroys the entire air forces of these countries, and Israeli ground troops defeat those of the Arab states. Israel captures the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the Sinai.

June 10, 1967: U.N. arranges a cease-fire, ending the war. Israel officially makes the eastern half of Jerusalem part of Israel.

Feb. 26, 1969: Eshkol dies. Golda Meir succeeds him as prime minister.

April 1969-August 1970: Israeli and Egyptian forces engage in intense fighting along the Suez Canal. Soviet Union provides military assistance to Egypt in the conflict, which is ended by a U.S.-sponsored cease-fire.

September 1970: Nasser dies and is succeeded as president of Egypt by Anwar Sadat.

Oct. 6, 1973: Full-scale war breaks out when Egyptian and Syrian forces attack Israeli positions along the Suez Canal and in the Golan Heights. The attack occurs on Yom Kippur, the most sacred Jewish holy day. Israel pushes back the Arab forces and recaptures the Golan Heights, plus some additional Syrian territory

*

Sources: Times staff and wire reports; Columbia Encyclopedia; CQ Researcher; "The Timetables of Jewish History" by Judah Gribetz; Congressional Quarterly; World Book Encyclopedia; 1998 Information Please Almanac

Researched by JULIA FRANCO / Los Angeles Times

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