By Tom Segev
The founding of Israel in 1948--one of the seminal occasions of the century--offers a heroic narrative with few parallels in sleek historical past. In 1949, a debatable best-seller in Israel, Tom Segev attracts on millions of declassified records besides own diaries and correspondence to reconstruct the unvarnished tale of Israel's first year.
Segev finds the lofty aspirations that guided the state's leaders in addition to the darker facet of the Zionist utopia: the friction among the early settlers and the immigrants, the shortcoming of good-faith negotiations with the Arabs; the conflict among spiritual and secular factions; the day-by-day collision of the Zionist delusion with the critical realities of lifestyles within the new kingdom. Unflinching in its observations, this daring chronicle is indispensible for knowing the dilemmas that proceed to confront--and divide--Israeli society.
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The Green Line 11 Shortly after th e conclusion of the agreem ent w ith Egypt and before the conclu sion of the one w ith Lebanon, sim ilar talks be gan w ith Transjordan. T hese talks, too, opened in Rhodes and were m ediated by Ralph Bunche. T here, at the H otel des Roses, the agreem ent was signed, after little m ore th an an opening cere mony concluding w ith the signing of the agreement, w hich lasted altogether only seven m inutes. N ot m ubh happened b e tw een the Israelis and the Jordanians in Rhodes.
By the end of 1949 all that was left of it was a "Prim e M inister" with a secretary, who passed the time issuing communiques to the press. On the West Bank, Abdul lah's influence was increasing. He derived his authority from a Palestinian leadership conference which took place in December 1948, the so-called Jericho conference. Abdullah based his claim on this "conference" and Israel recognized it. 68 Y et th e contacts w ith the King w ent on steadily. Am ong other issues, there w ere discussions about regulation of everyday life in di vided Jerusalem .
In tim e th is would generate retaliatory actions, lead ing, in turn, to renewed warfare. T h e p artition line agreed upon betw een Israel and Jordan was entirely arbitrary, often in total disregard of the disrupted population on the spot. As a result of this agreem ent, thousands of Arab villagers found them selves living on the Israeli side of the line, w hile som e of th eir lands re m ained on the Jordanian side. O n the other hand, som e lands be *The United Nations Special Comm ittee on Palestine (UNSCOP), which had prepared the Partition Resolution of 1947, had allotted 6 2 percent of the territory of Palestine to the Jewish state and 38 percent to the Arab one.
1949: The First Israelis by Tom Segev