Disclaimer: On this page we will stick strictly to historical facts and data relating to the geographical crisis of the region and the peoples who live there and have immigrated. We will NOT touch base on religious differences nor do we have any intention or desire to.

Defined: Palestine & Israel

The region has a long and tumultuous history as a crossroads for religion, culture, commerce, and politics. The Palestine region or parts of it have been controlled by numerous different peoples, including the Paleo-Canaanites, Amorites, Ancient Egyptians, Israelites, Moabites, Ammonites, Tjeker, Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, (Umayads, Abbasids, Seljuqs, Fatimids), French Crusaders, (Ayyubids, Mameluks, Ottoman Turks), the British, Jordianians (1948–1967, on the "West Bank") and Egyptians (in Gaza), and modern Israelis and Palestinians. [1]


For a great summary of Palestine/Israel from 10,000 BCE until 1900 CE, click here

Pre-Zionist resettlement in Palestine met with various degrees of success. For example, little is known of the fate of the 1210 "aliyah of the three hundred rabbis" and their descendants. It is thought that few survived the bloody upheavals caused by the Crusader invasion in 1229 and their subsequent expulsion by the Muslims in 1291. After the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453 and the expulsion of Jews from Spain (1492) and Portugal (1498), many Jews made their way to the Holy Land. Then the immigration in the 18th and early 19th centuries of thousands of followers of various Kabbalist and Hassidic rabbis, as well as the disciples of the Vilna Gaon and the disciples of the Chattam Sofer, added considerably to the Jewish populations in Jerusalem, Tiberias, Hebron, and Safed. The number of Jews migrating to the land of Israel rose significantly between the 13th and 19th centuries, mainly due to a general decline in the status of Jews across Europe and an increase in religious persecution. The expulsion of Jews from England (1290), France (1391), Austria (1421), and Spain (the Alhambra decree of 1492).

The rise of Zionism, the national movement of the Jewish people started in Europe in the 19th century seeking to recreate a Jewish state in Palestine, and return the original homeland of the Jewish people. The "First Aliyah" was the first modern widespread wave of Zionist aliyah. Jews who migrated to Palestine in this wave came mostly from Eastern Europe and from Yemen. This wave of aliyah began in 1881–82 and lasted until 1903. [2] A rapid increase in population had created economic problems in Eastern Europe. The problems affected Jewish societies in the Pale of Settlement, Galicia, and Romania. Russian persecution of Jews was also a factor. In 1881, the czar Alexander II of Russia was assassinated, and the ruling bodies blamed the Jews for the assassination. Consequently, in addition to the May Laws ( laws proposed by minister of internal affairs Nikolai Ignatyev and enacted on 15 May, 1882, by the Emperor Alexander III of Russia. Originally, regulations of May 1882 were intended only as temporary measures until the revision of the laws concerning the Jews, but remained in effect for more than thirty years) , major anti-Jewish pogroms swept the Pale of Settlement. A movement called Hibbat Zion (love of Zion) spread across the Pale (helped by Leon Pinsker's pamphlet Auto-Emancipation), as well as the similar Bilu movement, which both encouraged Jews to immigrate to Ottoman Palestine. About 2 million of the 3.5 million went to the United States. Only a small minority of 25,000 Jews moved to Ottoman Palestine.[3]

The First Aliyah laid the cornerstone for Jewish settlement in Israel and created several settlements - Rishon LeZion, Rosh Pinna, Zikhron Ya'akov, Gedera etc. Most settlements met with financial difficulties and most of the settlers were not proficient in farming. Baron Edmond James de Rothschild took several of the settlements under his wing, which helped them survive until more settlers with farming experience arrived in subsequent aliyot.

In 1896, Theodor Herzl, a Jewish journalist living in Austria-Hungary, published Der Judenstaat ("The Jews' State" or "The State of the Jews"), in which he asserted that the only solution to the "Jewish Question" in Europe, including growing antisemitism, was through the establishment of a state for the Jews. Political Zionism had just been born.[4] A year later, Herzl founded the Zionist Organization (ZO), which at its first congress, "called for the establishment of a home for the Jewish people in Palestine secured under public law". Serviceable means to attain that goal included the promotion of Jewish settlement there, the organisation of Jews in the diaspora, the strengthening of Jewish feeling and consciousness, and preparatory steps to attain those necessary governmental grants.[5]

In 1914, war broke out in Europe between the Triple Entente (Britain, France and the Russian Empire) and the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary and in November, 1914, the Ottoman Empire). The Hussein–McMahon Correspondence, was an exchange of letters (14 July 1915 to 30 January 1916) during World War I, between the Sharif of Mecca, Husayn bin Ali, and Sir Henry McMahon, British High Commissioner in Egypt, concerning the political status of lands under the Ottoman Empire. Growing Arab nationalism had led to a desire for independence from the Ottoman Empire. In the letters Britain agreed to recognize Arab independence after WWI "in the limits and boundaries proposed by the Sherif of Mecca", not including areas in which France had interests. The letter from McMahon to Hussein dated 24 October 1915 declared Britain's willingness to recognize the independence of the Arabs subject to certain exemptions:

The districts of Mersina and Alexandretta, and portions of Syria lying to the west of the districts of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo, cannot be said to be purely Arab, and must on that account be excepted from the proposed limits and boundaries. With the above modification and without prejudice to our existing treaties concluded with Arab Chiefs, we accept these limits and boundaries, and in regard to the territories therein in which Great Britain is free to act without detriment to interests of her ally France, I am empowered in the name of the Government of Great Britain to give the following assurance and make the following reply to your letter: Subject to the above modifications, Great Britain is prepared to recognize and support the independence of the Arabs within the territories in the limits and boundaries proposed by the Sherif of Mecca. [6]

McMahon's promises were seen by the Arabs as a formal agreement between them and the United Kingdom. On the basis of McMahon's assurances the Arab Revolt began on 5 June 1916. However, the British and French also secretly concluded the Sykes–Picot Agreement on 16 May 1916. This agreement divided many Arab territories into British- and French-administered areas and allowed for the internationalisation of Palestine. Hussein learned of the agreement when it was leaked by the new Soviet government in December 1917, but was satisfied by two disingenuous telegrams from Sir Reginald Wingate, High Commissioner of Egypt, assuring him that the British government's commitments to the Arabs were still valid and that the Sykes-Picot Agreement was not a formal treaty.[7] The Sykes-Picot Agreement defined areas of British and French control as well as spheres of interest. Britain's authority was to extend in southern Iraq (Mesopotamia) and from the Egyptian border to Iraq. The agreement identified this as the 'red zone.' In addition, the ports of Acre and Haifa on the Mediterranean Sea were to be under British control. The French authority was to include a coastal strip of Syria and Lebanon as well as a portion of Palestine west of the Jordan River. The agreement identified this as the 'blue zone.' A 'brown zone' was established as well. This territory was to be administered internationally. Palestine, including Jerusalem, was part of the internationalized area." [8] Hussein called on the Arab population in Palestine to welcome the Jews as brethren and co-operate with them for the common welfare.[9] The details of such agreement can be seen in the picture below.

The Balfour Declaration (dated 2 November 1917) was a letter from the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.

His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.[10]

The "Balfour Declaration" was later incorporated into both the Sèvres peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire, and the Mandate for Palestine. The original document is kept at the British Library. The declaration was in contrast to the McMahon-Hussein correspondence, which promised the Arab independence movement control of the Middle East territories "in the limits and boundaries proposed by the Sherif of Mecca" in exchange for revolting against the Ottoman Empire. The issuance of the Declaration had many long lasting consequences, and was a key moment in the lead up to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

Balfour had come under criticism in the House of Commons, when the Liberals and Labor Socialists moved a resolution 'That secret treaties with the allied governments should be revised, since, in their present form, they are inconsistent with the object for which this country entered the war and are, therefore, a barrier to a democratic peace.'[11] In response to growing criticism arising from the mutually irreconcilable commitments undertaken by the United Kingdom in the McMahon-Hussein correspondence, the Sykes–Picot Agreement and the Balfour declaration[12] the 1922 Churchill White Paper stated that:

it is not the case, as has been represented by the Arab Delegation, that during the war His Majesty's Government gave an undertaking that an independent national government should be at once established in Palestine. This representation mainly rests upon a letter dated 24 October 1915, from Sir Henry McMahon, then His Majesty's High Commissioner in Egypt, to the Sharif of Mecca, now King Hussein of the Kingdom of the Hejaz. That letter is quoted as conveying the promise to the Sherif of Mecca to recognise and support the independence of the Arabs within the territories proposed by him. But this promise was given subject to a reservation made in the same letter, which excluded from its scope, among other territories, the portions of Syria lying to the west of the District of Damascus. This reservation has always been regarded by His Majesty's Government as covering the vilayet of Beirut and the independent Sanjak of Jerusalem. The whole of Palestine west of the Jordan was thus excluded from Sir. Henry McMahon's pledge.[13]

Historians and scholars searching through the declassified files in the National Archives discovered evidence that Palestine had been pledged to Hussein. The Eastern Committee of the Cabinet, previously known as the Middle Eastern Committee, had met on 5 December 1918 to discuss the government's commitments regarding Palestine. Lord Curzon chaired the meeting. General Jan Smuts, Lord Balfour, Lord Robert Cecil, General Sir Henry Wilson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and representatives of the Foreign Office, the India Office, the Admiralty, the War Office, and the Treasury were present. T. E. Lawrence also attended. According to the minutes Lord Curzon explained:

"The Palestine position is this. If we deal with our commitments, there is first the general pledge to Hussein in October 1915, under which Palestine was included in the areas as to which Great Britain pledged itself that they should be Arab and independent in the future . . . the United Kingdom and France - Italy subsequently agreeing - committed themselves to an international administration of Palestine in consultation with Russia, who was an ally at that time . . . A new feature was brought into the case in November 1917, when Mr Balfour, with the authority of the War Cabinet, issued his famous declaration to the Zionists that Palestine 'should be the national home of the Jewish people, but that nothing should be done - and this, of course, was a most important proviso - to prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. Those, as far as I know, are the only actual engagements into which we entered with regard to Palestine."[14]

In subsequent decades the British government maintained that the Balfour Declaration was not inconsistent with the McMahon pledges. The Balfour declaration was carefully worded, and ambiguous. The phrase 'Jewish homeland' had no legal value in international law, as opposed to 'state' while the choice of stating such a homeland would be found 'in Palestine' rather than 'of Palestine' was also no accident.[15] Explication of the wording has been sought in in the correspondence leading to the final version of the declaration. The phrase "national home" was intentionally used instead of "state" because of opposition to the Zionist program within the British Cabinet. Following discussion of the initial draft the Cabinet Secretary, Mark Sykes, met with the Zionist negotiators to clarify their aims. His official report back to the Cabinet categorically stated that the Zionists did not want "to set up a Jewish Republic or any other form of state in Palestine immediately"[16] but rather preferred some form of protectorate as provided in the Palestine Mandate. In approving the Balfour Declaration, Leopold Amery, one of the Secretaries to the British War Cabinet of 1917–18, testified under oath to the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry in January 1946 from his personal knowledge that:

"The phrase 'the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people' was intended and understood by all concerned to mean at the time of the Balfour Declaration that Palestine would ultimately become a 'Jewish Commonwealth' or a 'Jewish State', if only Jews came and settled there in sufficient numbers."[17]

Both the Zionist Organization and the British government devoted efforts over the following decades, including Winston Churchill's 1922 White Paper, to denying that a state was the intention.[13] However, in private, many British officials agreed with the interpretation of the Zionists that a state would be established when a Jewish majority was achieved.[18] The initial draft of the declaration, contained in a letter sent by Rothschild to Balfour, referred to the principle "that Palestine should be reconstituted as the National Home of the Jewish people."[19] In the final text, the word that was replaced with in to avoid committing the entirety of Palestine to this purpose. Similarly, an early draft did not include the commitment that nothing should be done which might prejudice the rights of the non-Jewish communities. These changes came about partly as the result of the urgings of Edwin Samuel Montagu, an influential anti-Zionist Jew and Secretary of State for India. Montagu, the only Jewish member of the British cabinet, voiced his opposition by declaring:

'The policy of His Majesty’s Government is anti-Semitic in result and will prove a rallying ground for anti-Semites in every country of the world.'[20]

The Arabs expressed disapproval in November 1918 at the parade marking the first anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. The Muslim-Christian Association protested the carrying of new "white and blue banners with two inverted triangles in the middle". They drew the attention of the authorities to the serious consequences of any political implications in raising the banners.[21] On November 1918 the large group of Palestinian Arab dignitaries and representatives of political associations addressed a petition to the British authorities in which they denounced the declaration. The document stated:

...we always sympathized profoundly with the persecuted Jews and their misfortunes in other countries... but there is wide difference between such sympathy and the acceptance of such a nation...ruling over us and disposing of our affairs.[22]

The San Remo conference was an international meeting of the post-World War I Allied Supreme Council, held at Villa Devachan in Sanremo, Italy, from 19 to 26 April 1920. Resolutions passed at this conference determined the allocation of Class "A" League of Nations mandates for administration of the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire territories in the Middle East. The precise boundaries of all territories were left unspecified, to "be determined by the Principal Allied Powers," and were not finalized until four years later. The conference decisions were embodied in the Treaty of Sèvres (Section VII, Art 94-97). As Turkey rejected this treaty, the conference's decisions with regard to the Palestine mandate were finally confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922.

The San Remo Resolution adopted on 25 April 1920 incorporated the Balfour Declaration of 1917. It and Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations were the basic documents upon which the British Mandate for Palestine was constructed. Under the Balfour Declaration, the British government had undertaken to favour the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine without prejudice to the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country. Britain received the mandate for Palestine and Iraq; France gained control of Syria, including present-day Lebanon. Under the agreement, Great Britain granted France a 25 percent share of the oil production from Mosul, with the remainder going to Great Britain[23] and France undertook to deliver oil to the Mediterranean. The draft peace agreement with Turkey signed at the conference became the basis for the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres. Germany was called upon to carry out its military and reparation obligations under the Versailles Treaty, and a resolution was adopted in favor of restoring trade with Russia.[24]

With the outcome of the First World War, the relations between Zionism and the Arab national movement seemed to be potentially friendly, and the Faisal–Weizmann Agreement created a framework for both aspirations to coexist on the former Ottoman Empire's territories. However, with the defeat and dissolution of the Arab Kingdom of Syria in July 1920 following the Franco-Syrian War, a crisis fell upon the Damascus-based Arab national movement. The return of several hard-line Palestinian Arab nationalists, under the emerging leadership of Haj Amin al-Husseini, from Damascus to Mandatory Palestine marked the beginning of Palestinian Arab nationalist struggle towards establishment of a national home for Arabs of Palestine.[25] Amin al-Husseini, the architect of the Palestinian Arab national movement, immediately marked Jewish national movement and Jewish immigration to Palestine as the sole enemy to his cause,[26] initiating large-scale riots against the Jews as early as 1920 in Jerusalem and in 1921 in Jaffa. Among the results of the violence was the establishment of the Jewish paramilitary force Haganah. In 1929, a series of violent anti-Jewish riots was initiated by the Arab leadership. The riots resulted in massive Jewish casualties in Hebron and Safed, and the evacuation of Jews from Hebron and Gaza.[27]

In the early 1930s, the Arab national struggle in Palestine had drawn many Arab nationalist militants from across the Middle East, most notably Sheikh Izaddin al-Qassam from Syria, who established the Black Hand militant group and had prepared the grounds for the 1936 Arab revolt. Following the death of al-Qassam at the hands of the British in late 1935, the tensions erupted in 1936 into the Arab general strike and general boycott. The strike soon deteriorated into violence and the bloody revolt against the British and the Jews.[28] In the first wave of organized violence, lasting until early 1937, much of the Arab gangs were defeated by the British and a forced expulsion of much of the Arab leadership was performed. The revolt led to the establishment of the Peel Commission towards partitioning of Palestine, though was subsequently rejected by the Palestinian Arabs.

The Peel Commission, formally known as the Palestine Royal Commission, was a British Royal Commission of Inquiry, headed by Lord Peel, appointed in 1936 to investigate the causes of unrest in British Mandate for Palestine following the six-month-long Arab general strike in Mandatory Palestine. On July 7, 1937, the commission published a report that, for the first time, stated that the Mandate had become unworkable and recommended partition.[29] The Arabs opposed the partition plan and condemned it unanimously, as it would give the Jews the "best land in all of Palestine... including 82% of all citrus production in the country, Arab and Jewish". In the land that was proposed to constitute the Jewish state, Arab ownership was four times that of Jews, including Galilee in which 98% of the land proposed to be under Jewish control was Arab owned. Further, the Arab areas would not be independent, they were to be united with Trans-Jordan under King Abdullah's control. However, the Arabs were offered valuable areas to the east of Jordan, the Southern portion of the Beisan sub-district where irrigation would have been possible, the town of Jaffa, and an extension of the area south of Jaffa-Tel Aviv.[30] The Arabs objected to the principle of awarding territory to the Jews and demanded that the UK keep its old promise of an independent Arab state. They argued that the creation of a Jewish state and lack of independent Palestine was a betrayal of British word.[31]

The Jewish leadership accepted partition with mixed feelings as an opportunity for sovereignty. However, some historians note that in a letter to his son in October 1937, David Ben-Gurion wrote that "A Jewish state must be established immediately, even if it is only in part of the country. The rest will follow in the course of time. A Jewish state will come.".[32] In favor of partition, as the only solution to the Arab-Jewish "deadlock". It outlined ten points on: a Treaty system between the Arab and Jewish States and the new Mandatory Government; a Mandate for the Holy places; the frontiers; the need for Inter-State Subvention; the need for British Subvention; tariffs and ports; nationality; civil service; Industrial concessions; and the Exchange of land and populations.[33]

The report stated that if Partition is to be effective in promoting a final settlement it must mean more than drawing a frontier and establishing two States. Sooner or later there should be a transfer of land and, as far as possible, an exchange of population. Citing as precedent the 1923 Greek and Turkish exchange, which addressed the constant friction between their minorities. While noting the absence of cultivable land to resettle the Arabs, which would necessitate the execution of large-scale plans for irrigation, water-storage, and development in Trans-Jordan, Beersheba and the Jordan Valley. The population exchange, if carried out, would have involved the transfer of up to 225,000 Arabs and 1,250 Jews.[34]

The Arab leaders, both in the Husseini-controlled Arab Higher Committee and in the Nashashibi National Defense Party denounced partition and reiterated their demands for independence,[29] arguing that the Arabs had been promised independence and granting rights to the Jews was a betrayal. The Arabs emphatically rejected the principle of awarding any territory to the Jews.[31] With the Arab Higher Committee also lobbying, hundreds of delegates from across the Arab world convened at the Bloudan Conference in Syria on 8 September and wholly rejected both the partition and establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.[35]

On 20 August 1937, the Twentieth Zionist Congress expressed that at the time of the Balfour Declaration it was understood, that the Jewish National Home was to be established in the whole of historic Palestine, including Trans-Jordan, and that inherent in the Declaration was the possibility of the evolution of Palestine into a Jewish State.[36] The Peel Plan proved to be the master partition plan, on which all those that followed were either based, or to which they were compared, ushering in a fundamental change in the British outlook on Palestine's future.[33]

Following the report publication the British Government released a statement of policy, agreeing with its conclusions and proposing to seek from the League of Nations authority to proceed with a plan of partition.[29] In March 1938, the British appointed the Woodhead Commission to "examine the Peel Commission plan in detail and to recommend an actual partition plan". The Woodhead Commission considered three different plans, one of which was based on the Peel plan. Reporting in 1938, the Commission rejected the Peel plan primarily on the grounds that it could not be implemented without a massive forced transfer of Arabs (an option that the British government had already ruled out).[37] With dissent from some of its members, the Commission instead recommended a plan that would leave the Galilee under British mandate, but emphasised serious problems with it that included a lack of financial self-sufficiency of the proposed Arab State.[37] The British Government accompanied the publication of the Woodhead Report by a statement of policy rejecting partition as impracticable due to "political, administrative and financial difficulties".[38]

The renewed violence, which had sporadically lasted until the beginning of WWII, ended with around 5,000 casualties, mostly from the Arab side. With the eruption of World War II, the situation in Mandatory Palestine calmed down. It allowed a shift towards a more moderate stance among Palestinian Arabs, under the leadership of the Nashashibi clan and even the establishment of the Jewish–Arab Palestine Regiment under British command, fighting Germans in North Africa. The more radical exiled faction of al-Husseini however tended to cooperation with Nazi Germany, and participated in the establishment of pro-Nazi propaganda machine throughout the Arab world. Defeat of Arab nationalists in Iraq and subsequent relocation of al-Husseini to Nazi-occupied Europe tied his hands regarding field operations in Palestine, though he regularly demanded the Italians and the Germans to bomb Tel Aviv. By the end of World War II, a crisis over the fate of the Holocaust survivors from Europe led to renewed tensions between the Yishuv and the Palestinian Arab leadership. Immigration quotas were established by the British, while on the other hand illegal immigration and Zionist insurgency against the British was increasing.[27]

On 29 November 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted Resolution 181(II)[39] recommending the adoption and implementation of a plan to partition Palestine into an Arab state, a Jewish state and the City of Jerusalem.[40] That plan can be seen as detailed below:

On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly voted 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions and 1 absent, in favour of the modified Partition Plan.

Most Jews in Palestine and around the world reacted to the UN resolution with satisfaction, but some did not. Mainstream Zionist leaders emphasized the "heavy responsibility" of building a modern Jewish State, and committed to working towards a peaceful coexistence with the region's other inhabitants:[41] Some Revisionist Zionists rejected the partition plan as a renunciation of legitimately Jewish national territory.[42] Begin warned that the partition would not bring peace because the Arabs would also attack the small state and that "in the war ahead we'll have to stand on our own, it will be a war on our existence and future".[43] Begin was sure that the creation of a Jewish state would make territorial expansion possible, "after the shedding of much blood."[44] Some Post-Zionist scholars endorse Simha Flapan's view that it is a myth that Zionists accepted the partition as a compromise by which the Jewish community abandoned ambitions for the whole of Palestine and recognized the rights of the Arab Palestinians to their own state. Rather, Flapan argued, acceptance was only a tactical move that aimed to thwart the creation of an Arab Palestinian state and, concomitantly, expand the territory that had been assigned by the UN to the Jewish state.[44]

Arab leaders and governments rejected the plan of partition in the resolution and indicated that they would reject any other plan of partition.[45] The Arab states' delegations declared immediately after the vote for partition that they would not be bound by the decision, and walked out accompanied by the Indian and Pakistani delegates.[46] They argued that it violated the principles of national self-determination in the UN charter which granted people the right to decide their own destiny.[47] The Arab delegations to the UN issued a joint statement the day after that vote that stated: "the vote in regard to the Partition of Palestine has been given under great pressure and duress, and that this makes it doubly invalid"[48] On 16 February 1948, UN Palestine Commission to the security council reported that: "Powerful Arab interests, both inside and outside Palestine, are defying the resolution of the General Assembly and are engaged in a deliberate effort to alter by force the settlement envisaged therein."[49] The Arabs were against the establishment of an international regime in Jerusalem too.

In a British cabinet meeting at 4 December 1947, it was decided that the Mandate would end at midnight 14 May 1948, the complete withdrawal by 1 August 1948, and Britain would not enforce the UN partition plan.[50] On 11 December 1947, Britain announced the Mandate would end at midnight 14 May 1948 and its sole task would be to complete withdrawal by 1 August 1948.[51] During the period in which the British withdrawal was completed, Britain refused to share the administration of Palestine with a proposed UN transition regime, to allow the UN Palestine Commission to establish a presence in Palestine earlier than a fortnight before the end of the Mandate, to allow the creation of official Jewish and Arab militias or to assist in smoothly handing over territory or authority to any successor.[52]

The United States declined to recognize the All-Palestine government in Gaza by explaining that it had accepted the UN Mediator's proposal. The Mediator had recommended that Palestine, as defined in the original Mandate including Transjordan, might form a union.[53] The Partition Plan with Economic Union was not realized in the days following the 29 November 1947 resolution as envisaged by the General Assembly.[54] It was followed by outbreaks of violence in Mandatory Palestine between Palestinian Jews and Arabs known as the 1947–48 Civil War.[55] At midnight on 14 May 1948, the British Mandate expired,[56] and Britain disengaged its forces. Earlier in the evening, the Jewish People's Council had gathered at the Tel Aviv Museum, and approved a proclamation, declaring "the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel".[47][57] The 1948 Arab–Israeli War began with the invasion of, or intervention in, Palestine by the Arab States on 15 May 1948.[58]

The overall fighting, leading to around 15,000 casualties, resulted in cease fire and armistice agreements of 1949, with Israel holding much of the former Mandate territory, Jordan occupying and later annexing the West Bank and Egypt taking over the Gaza Strip, where the All-Palestine Government was declared by the Arab League on 22 September 1948.[28] Through the 1950s, Jordan and Egypt supported the Palestinian Fedayeen militants' cross-border attacks into Israel, while Israel carried out reprisal operations in the host countries. The 1956 Suez Crisis resulted in a short-term Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and exile of the All-Palestine Government, which was later restored with Israeli withdrawal. The All-Palestine Government was completely abandoned by Egypt in 1959 and was officially merged into the United Arab Republic, to the detriment of the Palestinian national movement. Gaza Strip then was put under the authority of Egyptian military administrator, making it a de facto military occupation. In 1964, however, a new organization, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), was established by Yasser Arafat.[40]

The 1967 Six Day War exerted a significant effect upon Palestinian nationalism, as Israel gained authority of the West Bank from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt. Consequently, the PLO was unable to establish any control on the ground and established its headquarters in Jordan, home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, and supported the Jordanian army during the War of Attrition, most notably the Battle of Karameh. As early as 1967, Israeli settlement policy was started by the Labor government of Levi Eshkol. The basis for Israeli settlement in the West Bank became the Allon Plan,[61] named after its inventor Yigal Allon. It implied Israeli annexation of major parts of the Israeli-occupied territories, especially East Jerusalem, Gush Etzion and the Jordan Valley.[62]However, the Palestinian base in Jordan collapsed with the Jordanian-Palestinian civil war in 1970. The PLO defeat by the Jordanians caused most of the Palestinian militants to relocate to South Lebanon, where they soon took over large areas, creating the so-called "Fatahland".

Palestinian insurgency in South Lebanon peaked in the early 1970s, as Lebanon was used as a base to launch attacks on northern Israel and airplane hijacking campaigns worldwide, which drew Israeli retaliation. The Likud government of Menahem Begin, from 1977, was more supportive to settlement in other parts of the West Bank, by organizations like Gush Emunim and the Jewish Agency/World Zionist Organization, and intensified the settlement activities.[63] In a government statement, Likud declared that the entire historic Land of Israel is the inalienable heritage of the Jewish people, and that no part of the West Bank should be handed over to foreign rule.[64] Ariel Sharon declared in the same year (1977) that there was a plan to settle 2 million Jews in the West Bank by 2000.[65] During the Lebanese Civil War, Palestinian militants continued to launch attacks against Israel while also battling opponents within Lebanon. In 1978, the Coastal Road massacre led to the Israeli full-scale invasion known as Operation Litani. Israeli forces, however, quickly withdrew from Lebanon, and the attacks against Israel resumed. The "Drobles Plan" from the World Zionist Organization, dated October 1978 and named "Master Plan for the Development of Settlements in Judea and Samaria, 1979-1983", was written by the Jewish Agency director and former Knesset member Matityahu Drobles. In January 1981, the government adopted a follow up-plan from Drobles, dated September 1980 and named "The current state of the settlements in Judea and Samaria", with more details about settlement strategy and policy.[66] In 1980, Israel annexed East Jerusalem. [60] In 1982, following an assassination attempt on one of its diplomats by Palestinians, the Israeli government decided to take sides in the Lebanese Civil War and the 1982 Lebanon War commenced. The initial results for Israel were successful. Most Palestinian militants were defeated within several weeks, Beirut was captured, and the PLO headquarters were evacuated to Tunisia in June by Yasser Arafat's decision.[40]

The first Palestinian uprising began in 1987 as a response to escalating attacks and the endless occupation. In 1988, the Palestine Liberation Organization published the Palestinian Declaration of Independence relying on Resolution 181, arguing that the resolution continues to provide international legitimacy for the right of the Palestinian people to sovereignty and national independence.[59] By the early 1990s, international efforts to settle the conflict had begun, in light of the success of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1982. Eventually, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process led to the Oslo Accords of 1993, allowing the PLO to relocate from Tunisia and take ground in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, establishing the Palestinian National Authority. The peace process also had significant opposition among radical Islamic elements of Palestinian society, such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, who immediately initiated a campaign of attacks targeting Israelis. Following hundreds of casualties and a wave of radical anti-government propaganda, Israeli Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli fanatic who objected to the policy of the government. This struck a serious blow to the peace process, from which the newly elected government of Israel in 1996 backed off.[27]

In the years following the Six-Day War, and especially in the 1990s during the peace process, Israel re-established communities destroyed in 1929 and 1948 as well as established numerous new settlements in the West Bank.[67] Most of the settlements are in the western parts of the West Bank, while others are deep into Palestinian territory, overlooking Palestinian cities. These settlements have been the site of much inter-communal conflict."[67] The issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and, until 2005, the Gaza Strip, have been described by the UK[68] and the WEU[69] as an obstacle to the peace process. The United Nations and the European Union have also called the settlements "illegal under international law."[70][71] The consensus view[74] in the international community is that the existence of Israeli settlements in the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights is in violation of international law.[75] The Fourth Geneva Convention includes statements such as "the Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies".[76]

Since June 1989, Israel has formally restricted the movement of Palestinians, imposing a magnetic-card system whereby only those with such a card were allowed to leave the Strip: Israeli authorities did not issue magnetic cards to released prisoners, former administrative detainees, or people who had been detained and released without charges being filed against them. January 1991 marked the beginning of the permanent closure policy, whereby each resident of Gaza who desired to travel within Israel or the West Bank was required to have a personal exit permit. In March 1993, Israel imposed an overall closure on Gaza with newly built checkpoints; and, from October 2000, Israel imposed a comprehensive closure on the Gaza Strip.[79] When the Al-Aqsa Intifada broke out in September 2000 Israel put trade restrictions on the Gaza Strip and closed the Gaza International Airport. The economic effects worsened after the creation of a ‘buffer zone’ in September 2001, that would seal all entry and exit points in the Palestinian Territories for "security reasons." After 9 October 2001, movement of people and goods across the ‘Green Line’ dividing the West Bank from Israel, and between the Gaza Strip and Israel, was halted, and a complete internal closure was effected on 14 November 2001.[80] The worsening economic and humanitarian situation raised great concern abroad. According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in January 2003, the Israeli blockade and closures had pushed the Palestinian economy into a stage of de-development and drained as much as US $2.4 billion out of the economy of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.[81]

In 2005, Israel's unilateral disengagement plan, a proposal put forward by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was enacted. All residents of Jewish settlements in the Gaza strip were evacuated, and all residential buildings were demolished.[72] However, the disengagement was more than compensated by transfers to the West Bank.[73] The 2006–2007 economic sanctions against the Palestinian National Authority were economic sanctions imposed by Israel and the Quartet on the Middle East against the Palestinian National Authority and the Palestinian territories following the January 2006 legislative elections that brought Hamas to power.[77] The sanctions were imposed after Hamas refused to renounce violence, to respect previous agreements and to recognize the State of Israel.[78] Throughout 2006, the Karni crossing remained only partially operational, costing Palestinians losses of $500,000 a day, as less than 10% of the Gaza Strip's minimal daily export targets were achieved. Basic food commodities were severely depleted, bakeries closed and food rationing was introduced.[82]

In June 2007 Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip and removed Fatah officials. Following the Battle of Gaza, the international sanctions were terminated in June 2007 while at the same time a new and more severe blockade of the Gaza Strip was initiated. Following the takeover, Egypt and Israel largely sealed their border crossings with Gaza, on the grounds that Fatah had fled and was no longer providing security on the Palestinian side.[84] In September 2007, the Israeli cabinet voted to tighten the restrictions on the Gaza strip. The cabinet decision stated, "the movement of goods into the Gaza Strip will be restricted; the supply of gas and electricity will be reduced; and restrictions will be imposed on the movement of people from the Strip and to it."[83] Throughout mid-2008, Israel continued to inspect all humanitarian aid for Gaza and delivering approved items through the crossing points of Karni, Kerem Shalom, Erez, and Sufa. According to Gisha NGO, items that have at various times been denied importation into Gaza in 2010 include jam, halva, razor blades, light bulbs, candles, matches, books, musical instruments, crayons, clothing, shoes, mattresses, sheets, blankets, pasta, margarine, glucose, varieties of canned food, coffee, chocolate, nuts, food wrappers, fishing rods, coriander, sage, vinegar, nutmeg, cardamon, biscuits,and potato chips, varieties of baby formula, wheat grain, shampoo, plaster, tarpaulin sheets for huts, irrigation pipes, gas for soft drinks, size A4 paper, buttons, cosmetics, toys, newspapers, industrial salts, food flavoring, and livestock such as chicken, donkeys, and cows.[85][86]

Under a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in June 2008, Israel agreed to lift its blockade of Gaza Strip. At Egypt's request, Israel did not always respond to Palestinian cease fire violations by closing the border.[87] Israel accused Hamas of transporting weapons into Gaza via tunnels to Egypt, failing to stop rocket attacks, and noted that Hamas would not continue negotiating the release of Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit, who had been held by Hamas since 2006.[88] Hamas' decision alienated it from the government of Egypt, which had linked the opening of the Gaza-Egypt border crossing with Shalit's release.[89] In the early stage of the cease-fire, Israeli officials had stated that they found "a certain sense of progress" on Shalit's release.[90]

In August 2008, the first NGO-organized attempts to breach Israel's maritime closure of the Gaza Strip occurred when two vessels, containing activists from the Free Gaza Movement and International Solidarity Movement, sailed from Cyprus towards Gaza, carrying hearing aids and balloons. The boats reached Gaza on 23 August 2008 after the Israeli government allowed the boats free passage.[91] Four more voyages occurred from October until December 2008, as passengers were transported another boat called the "Dignity", a 66-foot yacht owned by the Free Gaza Movement.[92] The Dignity was rammed three times while it was sailing in international waters by the Israeli Navy and significant damage was incurred.[93] On 28 October 2008, the Dignity, carrying 26 activists and medical supplies, docked in a strip harbor without interference. Israel had initially decided to stop the vessel, but the decision was made to let it through just before it reached Gaza.[92] The Dignity sailed to Gaza four times before it was attacked on December 30, 2008 in international waters, as it sailed towards Gaza to deliver medicine and medical help.[94]

In August 2008, it was reported that Israel despite the ceasefire was still allowing in very few goods.[95] A WikiLeaks cable from the US embassy in Tel Aviv dated 3 November 2008 revealed that Israel still maintained the economy of the Gaza strip "on the brink of collapse" without "pushing it over the edge,". The cable said that "Israeli officials have confirmed to Embassy officials on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis."[96] Israel has combined the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza's land borders with a maritime blockade of Gaza's port and coastline by the Israeli Navy. Israeli patrol boats regularly cruise off Gaza’s coastline and routinely fire on Palestinian fishing vessels that go more than 6 nautical miles from shore. Palestinian fishing was originally to be permitted up to 20 nautical miles (37 km) offshore under the 1994 Gaza–Jericho Agreement.[97] Israel has intercepted a number of vessels providing aid for Gaza, claiming that they may be providing goods that may be used to build arms.

Leading up to the collapse of the 2013–14 Israeli–Palestinian peace talks, in the face of Netanyahu's perceived reluctance to make desired concessions, Mahmoud Abbas decided to forge a deal with Hamas.[98] With its alliance with Syria and Iran weakened, the loss of power by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt after a coup d’ètat in Egypt, and the economic impact of the closure of its Rafah tunnels by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi,[98] on 23 April 2014, ending seven divisive years, Hamas agreed to reconciliation under a unity government with the other main Palestinian faction, Fatah.[99][100] This Palestinian unity government was sworn in by 2 June 2014[101][102] and Israel announced it would not negotiate any peace deal with the new government and would push punitive measures.[103] Netanyahu took Palestinian unity as a threat rather than an opportunity.[98][104] On the eve of the agreement he stated that the proposed reconciliation would "strengthen terrorism", and called on the international community to avoid embracing it.[105] Most of the outside world, including the European Union, Russia, China, India, Turkey, France and the United Kingdom, proved cautiously optimistic, and subsequently expressed their support for new arrangement. The United States, more skeptical, announced it would continue to work with the PNA-directed unity government.[106]

On 17 September 2014, a UN official said that the amount of building materials entering Gaza may quadruple under a reconstruction plan agreed to by the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the UN. According to the deal, use of the building materials will be overseen by the UN.[107][108] An international conference took place on 12 October 2014 in Cairo, where donors pledged US$5.4 billion to the Palestinians with half of that sum being "dedicated" to the reconstruction of Gaza, which was more than the US$4 billion Abbas first sought.[109] Japan pledged US$100 million in January 2015.[110] The EU pledged €450 million to rebuilding Gaza.[111] As of 1 February 2015, only US$125 million of the $2.7 billion for reconstruction had been paid out, leaving tens of thousands of Gazans still homeless. Only one percent of the needed building material had been delivered. The mechanism agreed between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, meant to allow delivery of such material, have not worked.[112] On 15 September 2014, a Fatah spokesperson accused Hamas of misappropriating US$700 million of funds intended to rebuild Gaza.[113][114] On 6 January Hamas spokesperson said that Palestinian national consensus government ministers admitted redirecting rebuilding funds to PNA budget.[115]

Just How Bad ?

Arab Riots
Arab Riots
Arab Riots
Arab Riots
Arab Riots
War of Independence
Sinai Campaign
Six Day War
War of Attrition
Yom Kippur War
First Lebanon War
First Intifada
Second Intifada
Second Lebanon War
Operation Cast Lead
Operation Pillar of Defense
Operation Protective Edge

Table of data above from http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/casualtiestotal.html

Additional Resources

The history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has a convenient elasticity; it changes dramatically depending on who is telling it and where they start the story. Therefore, it is important to note that a historic timeline of events concerning this conflict is always difficult to present in an objective manner. For this reason, certain events of the timeline include both a Palestinian (on the right side) and an Israeli (on the left side) perspective.
This timeline was compiled by Negar Katirai while working as a Research Associate at the Council on Foreign Relations. Thanks also to Dr. Mark LeVine,University of California-Irvine, for reviewing this document. Copyright © 2001 American Documentary, Inc.

Cincinnati Palestine Solidarity Coalition


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