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Post Column: Israeli-Arab conflicts quelled on this day in '75

Since its founding in 1948, the state of Israel has been a problem for the rest of the Middle East. Conflict has been common between the countries belonging to the Arab League, a regional organization of Arab nations in and around North Africa, the Horn of Africa, Southwest Asia and the state of Israel.

The conflict stems from the fact that the land that is considered holy to the Israelites is also considered to belong to the people of Palestine, which means it also belongs to Muslims. A series of riots and revolts began in the area in the late 1920s; then a full-scale civil war emerged in 1947, which led to the creation of the state of Israel.

The conflict, which began as a nationalistic fight over territory after the collapse of the former Ottoman Empire, evolved into a series of large-scale conflicts between the members of Arabic countries and Israel over who owns what territory in the region. 

On Oct. 6, 1973, the Fourth Arab-Israeli War began when a coalition of Arab forces led by Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack against Israel on its holiest day, Yom Kippur. They entered the territories known as the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights. These territories had been captured by Israel during the Six Day War in 1967. Both the U.S. and the Soviet Union had stakes in the conflict and led massive resupply efforts to their allies in the region, almost leading to a conflict between the two superpowers.

After repelling the offensive by both Egypt and Syria, the Israelites led their own counterattack in which they were able to fire on the Syrian city of Damascus and cross the Suez Canal into Egypt. After the failure of a United Nations peace agreement, the Israelites pushed deeper into Egypt, encircling the city of Suez on Oct. 24. As a result, a second ceasefire was cooperatively established that ended the conflict just a day later.

A United Nations summit conference took place in December of 1973 in which all parties were invited, along with the U.S. and Soviet Union. The conference was forced to adjourn in January 1974 when Syria refused to attend.

Then-Secretary of State of the U.S. Henry Kissinger began conducting meetings between Israel and the Arab states to create a peace or disengagement agreement. It finally happened when the agreement known as Sinai I was signed Jan. 18, 1974. In this agreement, Israel agreed to pull back its forces west of the Suez Canal and on the majority of the front so that United Nations, Egyptian and Israeli security zones could be created.

Another Egyptian-Israeli disengagement agreement, the Sinai Interim Agreement, was signed in Geneva on this day, Sept. 4, in 1975. The purpose of the agreement, which left Israel still holding close to two-thirds of the Sinai Peninsula, was for Egypt to gain back as much of the Sinai as they could through diplomacy. With this agreement Egypt strengthened its ties with the West but diminished its ties with the Arab world at the same time.

Matt Bair is a junior studying history, political science and classics and a columnist for The Post. Feeling historical? Chat history with him at

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