Arab-Israeli War of 1948–49

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Arab-Israeli War of 1948–49


Palestinian war, the war between the Arab states (Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen) and Israel.

The war was the result of imperialist schemes aimed at suppressing the national liberation movement of the peoples of the Near East, which had intensified after World War II, and, especially, at exacerbating the Arab-Jewish antagonism in Palestine. Rivalry among the imperialists was also a contributing factor. England and the USA provoked the war with the intention of thwarting the implementation of the UN General Assembly resolution of Nov. 29,1947, on the termination of the British mandate in Palestine and the partition of the country into two states, Arab and Jewish. England counted on retaining its position in Palestine, and the USA hoped to increase its influence there; with these aims, they took advantage of the dependence of some Arab governments on them and the extremism of the Israeli bourgeois Zionist circles.

The war began on the night of May 14, 1948, several hours after the proclamation of the state of Israel on part of Palestinian territory.

During the war, which was interrupted by several short-term armistices, the Israeli forces, with financial, military and other support from the USA, other imperialist countries, and Zionist organizations, seized an area of 6,700 sq km, including part of the territory which had been assigned to the Arab state by the UN General Assembly resolution and also part of Jerusalem, thus enlarging Israel’s territory by almost 48 percent over the land designated by the UN.

About 900,000 Arab inhabitants were expelled from the territory seized by Israel, creating the problem of the Palestinian refugees, who remained in neighboring Arab countries in extremely difficult circumstances.

The armistice agreements between Israel and the neighboring Arab countries were signed in 1949: with Egypt on Feb. 24, with Lebanon on March 23, with Jordan on Apr. 3, and with Syria on July 20. The other Arab countries that participated in the war did not conclude an agreement. However, these agreements did not determine a final territorial settlement.

Israel refused to implement the UN General Assembly resolution of Dec. 1, 1948, which called for the Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland and for Israel to pay indemnity for relinquished property to those who did not wish to return; other questions that had arisen in consequence of the Arab-Israeli War of 1948–49 and were exploited by the imperialists and the reactionary forces in Israel remained unsettled. All of this gave rise to ceaseless Arab-Israeli conflicts, such as the Anglo-French-Israeli aggression against Egypt in 1956 and the Israeli aggression against the Arab countries in 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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