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H i s t o r y   o f   P a l e s t i n e  - 1900-1979


1845-1914 - Jews in Palestine


The number of Jews in Palestine was small in the early 20th century; it increased from 12,000 in 1845 to nearly 85,000 by 1914. Most people in Palestine were Arabic speaking Muslims and Christians. Support for the Zionist movement came largely from Jews in Europe and North America.


1896-1916 - Zionist movement


Theodore Herzl

Bild: Theodore Herzl

In 1896 following the appearance of anti-Semitism in Europe, Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism tried to find a political solution for the problem in his book, 'The Jewish State'. He advocated the creation of a Jewish state in Argentina or Palestine.

In 1897 the first Zionist Congress was held in Switzerland, which issued the Basle programme on the colonization of Palestine and the establishment of the World Zionist Organization (WZO).

In 1904 the Fourth Zionist Congress decided to establish a national home for Jews in Argentina.

In 1906 the Zionist congress decided the Jewish homeland should be Palestine.

In 1914 With the outbreak of World War I, Britain promised the independence of Arab lands under Ottoman rule, including Palestine, in return for Arab support against Turkey which had entered the war on the side of Germany.


1916 - Sykes-Picot Agreement

Sykes-Picot Agreement

Britain and France signed the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which divided the Arab region into zones of influence. Lebanon and Syria were assigned to France, Jordan and Iraq to Britain and Palestine was to be internationalized.


1917 - Balfour Declaration


Bild: Arthur J. Balfour

Arthur J. BalfourThe British government therefore issued the Balfour Declaration on November 2, 1917, in the form of a letter to a British Zionist leader from the foreign secretary Arthur J. Balfour: �His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors 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 the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.


1918 - Jews migration

After World War I ended in 1918, Jews began to migrate to Palestine, which was set aside as a British mandate with the approval of the League of Nations in 1922.

After World War I the terms of the Balfour Declaration were included in the mandate for Palestine approved by the League of Nations in 1922. The mandate entrusted Great Britain with administering Palestine and with assisting the Jewish people in �reconstituting their national home in that country.�

Large-scale Jewish settlement and development of extensive Zionist agricultural and industrial enterprises in Palestine began during the British mandatory period, which lasted until 1948. The Jewish community, or Yishuv, increased tenfold during this era, especially during the 1930s, when large numbers of Jews fled Europe to escape persecution by the Nazis. Tel Aviv became the country's largest all-Jewish city, dozens of other towns and villages were founded, and hundreds of Jewish agricultural collectives (kibbutzim) and cooperatives were established.

Many Jewish political parties founded in Eastern Europe as part of the world Zionist movement developed bases in mandatory Palestine. They included labor, orthodox religious, and nationalist groups whose leaders emigrated from Europe and after 1948 became political leaders and officials in the new Jewish state.

The Yishuv extended its institutions after World War I. Among these institutions was an assembly with a National Council that managed the community's day-to-day affairs in education, health, social welfare, and other services. Jewish religious life was supervised by a Rabbinical Council that controlled marriage, divorce, and other family matters. Local government institutions were also developed to run the city of Tel Aviv and many smaller Jewish settlements. The educational system, cultivating Hebrew language and culture, expanded, and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem was founded.

The World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency for Palestine assisted the Yishuv by raising funds abroad, recruiting Jewish immigrants, and seeking political support from Western governments.


1919 - Palestinians first National Conference

The Palestinians convened their first National Conference and expressed their opposition to the Balfour Declaration.

1920 - San Remo Conference

The San Remo Conference granted Britain a mandate over Palestine and two years later Palestine was effectively under British administration, and Sir Herbert Samuel, a declared Zionist, was sent as Britain's first High Commissioner to Palestine.

1922 - A Mandate of Palestine

A Mandate of Palestine

The Council of the League of Nations issued a Mandate for Palestine. The Mandate was in favor of the establishment for the Jewish people a homeland in Palestine.

1929 - The riots 

The Riots 1929In August 1929, the century's first large-scale attack on Jews by Arabs rocked Jerusalem. The riots, in which Palestinians killed 133 Jews and suffered 116 deaths. Mostly inflicted by British troops were sparked by a dispute over use of the Western Wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque ( this site is sacred to Muslims, but Jews claimed it is the remaining of jews temple all studies shows clearly that the wall is from the Islamic ages and it is part of al-Aqsa Mosque). But the roots of the violence lay deeper in Arab fears of the burgeoning Zionist movement, which aimed to make at least part of British-administered Palestine a Jewish state.

The British had made promises to both Arabs and Zionists. The 1917 Balfour Declaration supported the establishment of a "national home" for the Jews, while pledging that nothing would be done to " prejudice the civil and religious rights" of the Arabs. But the very presence of a Jewish homeland would, Arabs insisted, infringe on those rights.


1936 - A six months General Strike in Palestine

The Palestinians held a six months General Strike to protest against the confiscation of land and Jewish immigration.

1937 - The Peel Commission

1937 - The Peel Commission

Since the Balfour Declaration of 1917 (which endorsed the idea of a Jewish state within Palestine), the British government had been struggling to reconcile the conflicting aspirations of Jews and Arabs in Palestine, which Britain administered under a League of Nations mandate . Those who still believed in the possibility of peaceful coexistence between the two groups got a grim comeuppance in July 1937 when the Peel Commission, headed by Lord Robert Peel, issued its report. Basically, the commission concluded, the mandate in Palestine was unworkable There was no hope of any cooperative national entity there that included both Arabs and Jews, . The impetus for the commission's formation had been the most recent spark of Palestinian violence.Riots and Arab protests against the Jews in Palestine had been escalating throughout the 1920s and '30s. In the mid-1930s, in response to the thousands of Jews who'd arrived from Europe, Palestinian Arabs formed the Arab High Committee to defend themselves against what they perceived as a Jewish takeover A general strike exploded into a revolt. Desperate for a solution, the British appointed Lord Peel to study the situation. The Arab leadership boycotted the study.

After dismissing the possibility of Arab-Jewish amity, the commission went on to recommend the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a neutral sacred-site state to be administered by Britain. Within two years, Britain found itself in a no-win situation, and on the eve of World War II issued the infamous "White Paper" severely curtailing Jewish immigration into Palestine.


1939 - The British government restricting Jewish immigration

The British government restricting Jewish immigration

The British government published a new White Paper restricting Jewish immigration and offering independence for Palestine within ten years. This was rejected by the Zionists, who then organized terrorist groups and launched a bloody campaign against the British and the Palestinians. The aim was to drive them both out of Palestine and to pave the way for the establishment of the Zionist state.


1945 - Britain's Palestine Dilemma

With World War II over and the Nazi death camps open for the world to see, Zionists redoubled their demands that Britain open its Palestine mandate to unlimited Jewish immigration.

Jewish terrorist groups the Irgun Zvei Lumi and the Stern Gang escalated their campaign to force Britain's hand.

Arabs in the region opposed a Jewish influx, but in Palestine itself they lacked unified leadership. So in March 1945, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Transjordan, Yemen, and Egypt organized the League of Arab States to pressure Britain from the other side. Britain's new labour government (unlike its predecessor) strongly sympathized with Zionism's goal, yet it hoped to remain friendly with the Arabs. Adding to the British quandary was President Truman. whose Zionist leanings were clear. In April 1946, yielding to U. S. pressure, Britain sent yet another commission to study the issue. The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry recommended that 100,000 European Jewish refugees be admitted immediately, that restrictions on Jewish land purchases in Palestine be lifted, and that a binational Jewish-Arab state be established under United Nations trusteeship. Faced with the political and economic costs of policing Palestine, the British gladly turned the matter over to the UN. In 1947 the UN sent its own commission to seek answers to the Palestine problem. The result, the following year, was the founding of Israel and war between the Jewish and Arab .

1947 - Great britain withdraw & the UN partition plan

Before Great britain withdrawUN partition plan

Exhausted by seven years of war and eager to withdraw from overseas colonial commitments, Great Britain in 1947 decided to leave Palestine and called on the United Nations (UN) to make recommendations. In response, the UN convened its first special session in 1947, and on November 29, 1947, it adopted a plan calling for partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem as an international zone under UN jurisdiction; the Jewish and Arab states would be joined in an economic union.


The partition resolution was endorsed by a vote of 33 to 13, supported by the United States and the Soviet Union. The British abstained.


1948 - First Arab-Israeli War

In Palestine, Arab protests against partition erupted in violence, with attacks on Jewish settlements in retaliation to the attacks of Jews terrorist groups to Arab Towns and villages and massacres in hundred against unarmed Palestinian in there homes , that soon led to a full-scale war. The British generally refused to intervene, intent on leaving the country no later than August 15, 1948, the date in the partition plan for termination of the mandate.

First Arab-Israeli WarWhen it became clear that the British intended to leave by May 15, leaders of the Yishuv decided (as they claim) to implement that part of the partition plan calling for establishment of a Jewish state. In Tel Aviv on May 14 the Provisional State Council, formerly the National Council, �representing the Jewish people in Palestine and the World Zionist Movement,� proclaimed the �establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called Medinat Israel (the State of Israel) � open to the immigration of Jews from all the countries of their dispersion.�

On May 15 the armies of Egypt, Transjordan (now Jordan), Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq joined Palestinian and other Arab guerrillas who had been fighting Jewish forces since November 1947. The war now became an international conflict, the first Arab-Israeli War. The Arabs failed to prevent establishment of a Jewish state, and the war ended with four UN-arranged armistice agreements between Israel and Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. The frontiers defined in the armistice agreements remained until they were altered by Israel's conquests during the Six days War in 1967.


1948 - Israel founded

Bild: Weizmann, ChaimChaim Weizmann

 The population balance in the new state of Israel was drastically altered during the 1948 war. The armistice agreements extended the territory under Israel's control beyond the UN partition boundaries from approximately 15,500 to 20,700 sq km (about 6,000 to 8,000 sq mi). The small Gaza Strip on the Egypt-Israel border was left under Egyptian control , and the West Bank was controled by Jordan. Of the more than 800,000 Arabs who lived in Israeli-held territory before 1948, only about 170,000 remained. The rest became refugees in the surrounding Arab countries, ending the Arab majority in the Jewish state.

Israel's Provisional State Council organized elections for the first Knesset (parliament) in 1949. Chaim Weizmann, the most prominent Zionist leader of the prewar period, became the country's first president.


1954 - Nasser Takes Charges

1954 - Nasser Takes Charges

For almost two years, Colonel Gamal Abdal Nasser had quietly directed Egypt's revolution-from-above, while General Muhammad Naguib served as president and prime minister. In February 1954, the colonel stepped to the fore. Citing Naguib's ties to the banned Muslim Brotherhood and his intention to restore the old system of government, Nasser forced him to resign. In April, Nasser took over the premiership.


1956 - The Suez campaign

 Bild: Gamal Abdel Nasser

Gamal Abdel Nasser

Attempts to convert the Israeli-Arab armistice agreements into peace treaties were unsuccessful. The Arabs insisted that the refugees be permitted to return to their homes, that Jerusalem be internationalized, and that Israel make territorial concessions before they entered peace talks. Israel charged that these demands would undermine its security and refused them. Frequent incursions by refugee guerrilla bands and attacks by Arab military units were made, which Israel answered with forceful retaliation. Egypt refused to permit Israeli ships to use the Suez Canal and blockaded the Straits of Tiran (Israel's access to the Red Sea), which was seen as an act of war. Border incidents along the frontiers with Egypt escalated until they erupted in the second Arab-Israeli War in October and November of 1956.

Great Britain and France ostensibly joined the attack because of their dispute with Egypt's president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who had just nationalized the Suez Canal. Nasser took over the canal after Great Britain and France withdrew offers to finance the construction of the Asw�n High Dam. Israel scored a quick victory, seizing the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula within a few days. The Suez campaignAs Israeli forces reached the banks of the Suez Canal, the British and French started their attack. The fighting was halted by the UN after a few days, and a UN Emergency Force (UNEF) was sent to supervise the cease-fire in the Canal zone. In a rare instance of cooperation, the United States and the Soviet Union supported the UN resolution forcing the three invading countries to leave Egypt and Gaza. By the end of the year their forces withdrew from Egypt, but Israel refused to leave Gaza until early 1957, and only after the United States had promised to help resolve the conflict and keep the Straits of Tiran open.


1958 - Arabs Unite  

1958 - Arabs Unite

The 1958 merger of Syria and Egypt into the United Arab Republic was the first of a series of dramatic realignments throughout the Middle East, inspired by the vision of Gamal Abdal Nasser. Syria had been moving in the Egyptian dictator's ideological direction since the fall of a rightist military regime in 1954: the new junta, dominated by the socialist Ba'ath party, had followed Egypt in recognizing Mao's China and acquiring Soviet arms, Squeezed between Washington (which backed anti Soviet Arab governments against their nonaligned neighbors) and a growing domestic Communist movement, Syria's leaders decided to put their pan-Arabist notions to the test. National borders, after all, were a Western invention . Syria would lose nothing and gain untold strength by melding with dynamic Egypt. More changes followed quickly. Yemen, though ruled by a conservative monarch, sought security by affiliating itself with the U.A.R. in a confederation called the United Arab States, The Western-oriented kingdoms of Iraq and Jordan formed a rival union. In Saudi Arabia, King Saud was forced to cede authority to his relatively pro-Egyptian brother Faisal after being implicated in a plot on Nasser's life. In Lebanon, civil war erupted between Syrian-backed Arab nationalists and supporters of pro-Western president Camille Chamoun. In Iraq, when Premier Nuri al-Said decided to aid Chamoun, pro-Egyptian officers revolted killing Said along with King Faisal II and most of the royal family. The Iraqi-Jordanian federation was no more.

Fearing the spread of Nasserism to Lebanon, the United States sent 10,000 troops and sponsored talks between the warring factions. A compromise led to elections, and General Fuad Chehab less enthusiastically pro-Western and friendlier to Nasser than Chamoun became president.

Except for Jordan, all the Arab nations had now fallen more or less into Cairo's camp. But they soon fell out again. Iraq's strongman, Abdul Karim Kassem, developed a bitter personal rivalry with his Egyptian counterpart . The Syrians came to resent Nasser's authoritarianism, while the Saudis and Yemenites resisted his socialism. And by 1961, when Syria seceded from the U.A.R. , Arab unity lay in ruins.


1964 - PLO established

The Palestine Liberation Organization was established. On 1 January 1965 The Palestine 'Revolution' began

1967 - The Six days War

The Six days War After the Suez-Sinai war Arab nationalism increased dramatically, as did demands for revenge led by Egypt's president Nasser. The formation of a united Arab military command that massed troops along the borders, together with Egypt's closing of the Straits of Tiran and Nasser's insistence in 1967 that the UNEF leave Egypt, led Israel to attack Egypt, Jordan, and Syria simultaneously on June 5 of that year.

The war ended six days later with an Israeli victory. Israel's French-equipped air force wiped out the air power of its antagonists and was the chief instrument in the destruction of the Arab armies.

The Six days War left Israel in possession of Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula, which it took from Egypt; Arab East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which it took from Jordan; and the Golan Heights, taken from Syria. Land under Israel's jurisdiction after the 1967 war was about four times the size of the area within its 1949 armistice frontiers. The occupied territories included an Arab population of about 1.5 million.

The occupied territories became a major political issue in Israel after 1967. The right and leaders of the country's orthodox religious parties opposed withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza, which they considered part of Israel. In the Labor Alignment, opinion was divided; some Laborites favored outright annexation of the occupied territories, others favored withdrawal, and some advocated retaining only those areas vital to Israel's military security. Several smaller parties, including the Communists, also opposed annexation. The majority of Israelis, however, supported the annexation of East Jerusalem and its unification with the Jewish sectors of the city, and the Labor-led government formally united both parts of Jerusalem a few days after the 1967 war ended. In 1980 the Knesset passed another law, declaring Jerusalem �complete and united,� Israel's eternal capital.

The 1967 war was followed by an upsurge of Palestinian Arab nationalism. Several guerrilla organizations within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) carried out guerrillas attacks on Israeli military targets , with the stated objective of �redeeming Palestine.� Guerrillas attacks on Israelis targets at home and abroad unified public opinion against recognition of and negotiation with the PLO, but the group nevertheless succeeded in gaining widespread international support, including UN recognition as the �sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians.�

1972 - Munich Olympics

1972 - Munich Olympics

The stunning performances of the young Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut and the gold medals of American swimmer Mark Spitz and British athlete Mary Peters could not dispel the horror in Munich when the 20th Olympic Games became the setting for an guerrilla attacked which left 11 Israeli athletes dead. The attacked began just before dawn on September 5th when eight hooded guerrillas scaled the fence around the Olympic Village. Bursting into the dormitory where the 11 Israeli athletes were sleeping, they shot two dead and took the other nine hostage, threatening to kill them unless 200 Arab guerrillas were released. The German authorities agreed to take the guerrillas to Furstentbldbruck military airfield where a Lufthansa airliner was waiting on the tarmac to fly them out of the country. There they were ambushed by German marksmen, but in the ensuing gun battle all nine hostages were killed in the cross-fire.


1973 - The October War


The October War In 1973 Egypt joined Syria in a war on Israel to regain the territories lost in 1967. The two Arab states struck unexpectedly on October 6, which fell on Yom Kippur , Israel's holiest fast day . After crossing the suez channel the Arab forces gain a lot of advanced positions in Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights and manage to defeat the Israeli forces for more then three weeks . Israeli forces with a massive U.S. economic and military assistance managed to stop the arab forces after a three-week struggle and defeat with the cost of many casualties,and the Arabs strong showing won them support from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and most of the world's developing countries . Saudi Arabia and Kuwait financed the Arab forces, making it possible for Egypt and Syria to receive the most sophisticated Soviet weapons , and the Arab oil producing states cut off petroleum exports to the United States and other Western nations in retaliation for their aid to Israel.

Israel, forced to compete with the nearly unlimited Arab resources, was faced with a serious financial setback. Only massive U.S. economic and military assistance enabled it to redress the balance, but even American aid was unable to prevent a downward spiral of the economy.

In an effort to encourage a peace settlement, U.S. President Richard M. Nixon charged his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, with the task of negotiating agreements between Israel and Egypt and Syria. Kissinger managed to work out military disengagements between Israel and Egypt in the Sinai and between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights during 1974.

1974 - PLO representative of the Palestinian people

The Arab Summit in Rabat recognized the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. At the United Nations General Assembly, the UN reaffirmed its commitment to an independent sovereign state in Palestine and gave the PLO observer status at the United Nations. Yasser Arafat, chairman of the PLO, addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations.

1979 - Camp David peace treaty

 Bild: Camp David peace treaty

Camp David peace treaty


Begin, however, was the first Israeli leader to achieve a peace settlement with an Arab state. It resulted from the surprise initiative of President Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt, who in November 1977 flew to Jerusalem, where he addressed the Knesset and called on Begin to begin peace talks. After protracted negotiations sponsored by U.S. President Jimmy Carter at Camp David, Maryland, the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty was signed in Washington, D.C., on March 26, 1979. Although the treaty ended the prospects for war between Israel and Egypt, many issues remained between the two countries, including the problem of arranging for Arab autonomy in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.


1979 - Russian Jews

1979 - Russian JewsThe Jews of the Russian empire had been oppressed for centuries, and though the pogroms ended under Soviet rule, discrimination did not. Fearing international embarrassment and a "brain drain" of skilled workers, MOSCOW had long restricted emigration. But in the 1970s, detente brought a loosening of curbs. The exodus peaked in 1979 , when more then 51,000 exit visas were issued.

The sharp increase, coinciding with the conclusion of the second U.S.-Soviet Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II) , was widely seen as an attempt to influence treaty ratification. A second Soviet foreign policy goal to achieve most favored nation status with the United States was equally important: In 1979, U.S. officials were considering repeal of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, a 1974 law that tied trade grants to free emigration.

Even as emigration soared, the Kremlin cracked down on Jewish activism reviling refuseniks (the term for those refused permission to leave) as "agents of world Zionism" and sentencing many to long terms in labor camps or psychiatric institutions. The 1977 arrest of Anatoly Shcharansky, a young mathematician who'd talked openly with Western reporters about his failure to gain an exit permit, generated international outrage. Charged with spying for the CIA, Shcharansky was convicted in a closed trial, and served nine years in prison before being released to Israel as part of a spy exchange. His case was extraordinary only in the attention it drew.

Watchdog groups estimated that by 1979, some 180,000 Soviet Jews had filed for visas, yet emigration plummeted the following year, when SALT II failed to be ratified and the Carter administration - reacting to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan - imposed a grain embargo. By 1984, the number of emigres had slumped to 896.







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