20.4 Conflicts in the Middle East

Modern Israel was established in 1948 under the United Nations Partition Plan. Arab nations rejected the UN plan as illegal, even though it offered Palestinians territory for their own state. Instead, they called for the destruction of Israel.

Photo of soldiers working amid a pile of provisions in the desert.

The Iran-Iraq War lasted eight years and took an enormous toll on both countries. These Iraqi soldiers were photographed near Basra, Iraq, in 1984.


  • Explain the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the obstacles to peace.
  • Explain the causes and effects of conflicts in Lebanon and Syria.
  • Understand why Iraq became a battleground.

Key Terms

  • Yasir Arafat
  • intifada
  • Yitzhak Rabin
  • Jerusalem
  • militia
  • Saddam Hussein
  • no-fly zone
  • weapon of mass destruction (WMD)
  • insurgent

Israel and Palestine

Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict. In 1948, five Arab nations invaded the newly independent Israel and were defeated. Israel and its Arab neighbors fought three more wars, in 1956, 1967, and 1973. In these wars, Israel fought for its existence, and in the process of turning back attacking Arab forces gained more land. Between and since these wars, Israel has faced many terrorist attacks within its borders, and ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza and Lebanon. The United States and other nations worked to find a solution to the long-standing conflict.

The West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights

In the Six Day War of 1967, in response to ongoing hostility by its Arab neighbors, Israel took control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan along with the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. Israel also took the Golan Heights from Syria.

Angered by their loss in the Six Day War, Arab countries held a summit at Khartoum several months later and issued the “Three No's”: no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel, and no peace with Israel. In 1973, these Arab nations attacked Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments