Although Israel's independence on May 14, 1948, triggered the first full-scale war, armed conflicts between Jews and Arabs had been frequent since Great Britain received the League of Nations mandate for Palestine in 1920. From 1945 to 1948 Zionists waged guerrilla war against British troops and against Palestinian Arabs supported by the Arab League, and they had made substantial gains by 1948. The 1948–49 War reflected the opposition of the Arab states to the formation of the Jewish state of Israel in what they considered to be Arab territory.
As independence was declared, Arab forces from Egypt, Syria, Transjordan (later Jordan), Lebanon, and Iraq invaded Israel. The Egyptians gained some territory in the south and the Jordanians took Jerusalem's Old City, but the other Arab forces were soon halted. In June the United Nations succeeded in establishing a four-week truce. This was followed in July by significant Israeli advances before another truce. Fighting erupted again in August and continued sporadically until the end of 1948. An Israeli advance in Jan., 1949, isolated Egyptian forces and led to a cease-fire (Jan. 7, 1949).
Protracted peace talks resulted in armistice agreements between Israel and Egypt, Syria, and Jordan by July, but no formal peace. In addition, about 400,000 Palestinian Arabs had fled from Israel and were settled in refugee camps near Israel's border; their status became a volatile factor in Arab-Israeli relations.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.