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Israel Declaration of Independence and the First Arab-Israeli War

Continued unrest and violence, combined with the continued failure to produce a partition plan that was acceptable to all interested parties, had persuaded the British government to relinquish its mandate in Palestine to the United Nations (UN). As the date of the British withdrawal neared, violence intensified as Jews and Arabs attempted to consolidate their long-term positions.

On 14 May 1948, just before the last British troops were due to leave Haifa, Israel declared itself an independent state. The Palestinians called this Nakba, or the Catastrophe. The move immediately touched off the first Arab-Israel war, or as Israel refers to it, the War of Independence. On 15 May 1948, troops from Egypt, Trans-Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq were mobilised to assist the Arab Liberation Army in Palestine. In all, between 20,000 and 25,000 Arab troops were dispatched to the conflict.

In the early fighting, the Arab forces made some headway. However, the offensive stalled and two weeks after the war began the United Nations Security Council ordered a four week ceasefire in an attempt to find a diplomatic solution. During this period, both sides were prohibited from re-arming under threat of United Nations sanctions. Despite the United Nations threats, however, both sides ignored the prohibition and made preparations for renewed fighting. Another UN partition plan was rejected by both sides. The new round of fighting favoured the Israelis, who were able to consolidate their positions, and in some areas the fighting added to the region under their control.

On 17 September 1948 the UN mediator, Count Folke Bernadotte, was assassinated by members of Lehi, a Jewish terrorist group that were dedicated to the establishment of Israel.

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