Thursday, April 23, 1998 Published at 08:07 GMT 09:07 UK
Israel and the Intifada
Can a regular army fight civil unrest?
The former BBC Middle East correspondent, Tim Llewellyn, looks back at the history of Israel.
Israel's survival and progress has been almost as much a result of Arab disunity and political bungling as of the Israelis' own skills, ingenuity, commitment - and the massive, almost uncritical support they receive from the United States.
Attempts to undermine the Palestinian national movement by organising and financing pro-Israeli groups (the "Village Leagues") made little ground.
In late 1987, a spontaneous yet well-organised uprising - the "Intifada" - began in Gaza and spread like a fire across the West Bank and into Jerusalem itself.
Although the PLO was not the author of the uprising, it quickly added its organisational weight and approval, and took or tried to take much of the credit for it.
First moves towards peace
In 1988, the PLO officially accepted the existence of Israel, the "two-state solution". As a consequence, the United States joined most of the rest of the rest of the world in recognising the PLO and beginning a limited dialogue with its leaders. However, a Palestinian fringe group's attack on holidaymakers on an Israeli beach temporarily stopped the exchange.
Yasser Arafat, the PLO Chairman, who now lived in exile with his movement in Tunis, was caught between his powers of leadership and long-term political acuity. He decided to go along with public Palestinian opinion. Many on the Arab "street" supported Saddam Hussein as a supposedly committed and coherent enemy of Israel, and because of a general dislike of the rich Kuwaitis.
Scores of thousands of Palestinians whose earnings had been returned to families in the occupied territories and who had consistently paid their PLO dues were kicked out of their lucrative positions in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
The PLO was broke, seemingly helpless and isolated.
The History of Israel
Part 1: The return of the Jews to the promised land
Part 2: The birth of Israel
Part 3: Israel builds a nation
Part 4: Israel in war and peace
Part 5: Israel and the PLO
Part 6: The Intifada
Part 7: The road to Oslo