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History, The War of 1973

shuttle diplomacy, Golda Meir, Sephardic Jews, Yitzhak Rabin, diplomatic means

Nasser died in 1970; soon after, newly elected Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat attempted to regain the Sinai Peninsula from Israel through diplomatic means. Negotiations to resolve the dispute failed, and on October 6, 1973, Egyptian and Syrian military forces launched a surprise attack on Israeli positions along the Suez Canal and in the Golan Heights. Despite initial Egyptian and Syrian advances, Israel pushed Syria back beyond the 1967 cease-fire line and crossed the Suez Canal to take a portion of its west bank in Egypt. During the fighting, the USSR supplied arms to Egypt and Syria, and the United States provided arms to Israel. The Arab-Israeli War of 1973 (called the Yom Kippur War by Israel and the Ramadan War by Arabs) ended with a cease-fire in late October. Israel suffered heavy losses in the fighting despite its ultimate military successes. Parliamentary elections were postponed until December. The Labor Party remained in power, and Golda Meir retained her position as prime minister.

Traveling back and forth between the countries in a process known as shuttle diplomacy, U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger helped negotiate a military disengagement between Israeli and Egyptian forces in January 1974 and another between Israel and Syria in May. Kissinger arranged a second agreement between Egypt and Israel in 1975. A tense but relatively peaceful stalemate resulted. Israel agreed to withdraw from the canal zone, and Israel and Syria returned to the 1967 cease-fire boundaries.

The costly war caused increased unrest in Israel and growing criticism of the countryís leaders. The government appointed a commission of Supreme Court justices, the state comptroller, and two former military chiefs to investigate Israelís lack of preparedness for the Arab strike. The commissionís report was highly critical of the military. Meir resigned following the report in the spring of 1974 and was replaced by Yitzhak Rabin, a member of her cabinet. Economic problems and turmoil within the Labor Party undermined Rabinís tenure. The 1977 Knesset elections brought the Likud bloc to power and Menachem Begin to the office of prime minister, ending almost three decades of Labor Party dominance. Begin attracted strong support from Sephardic Jews who resented the treatment they had received under the Labor establishment.



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