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Chronology of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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from: MIFTAH

June 17, 2003

15th-19th Century

Palestine is a part of southern Greater Syria under Ottoman rule.


The first wave of Zionist mass immigration to Palestine begins. Baron Edmond de Rothschild of Paris provides financial support for Jewish colonization in Palestine.


Theodor Herzl, an Austrian Zionist leader, publishes “Der Judenstaat,” advocating the creation of a Jewish state. As to its location, Herzl wrote, “We shall take what is given us, and what is selected by public opinion."


The first Zionist Congress meets in Basel, Switzerland and establishes the World Zionist Organization (WZO).


August 1: World War I breaks out. The Ottoman Empire joins the war on Germany’s side.


Correspondence between Sherif Hussein of Mecca and Sir Henry McMahon, British High Commissioner in Egypt, concludes with the Arab understanding that postwar independence and the unity of Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, including Palestine, are ensured.

The British and French governments sign the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement, which divides Arab provinces under the Ottoman Empire into British and French governed areas.


The Balfour Declaration, a letter sent by British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron de Rothschild, pledges British support for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.


The San Remo Conference gives France control of the former Turkish territories of Syria and Lebanon and awards administration of Palestine, Transjordan and Mesopotamia (Iraq) to Great Britain.


The British government issues a white paper on Palestine to reaffirm the Balfour Declaration, but it limits Jewish immigration and excludes Transjordan from the scope of the declaration. The U.S. Congress endorses the Balfour Declaration.

The League of Nations approves the British Mandate of Palestine without the consent of Palestinians. The WZO succeeds in having the terms “historical connection” and “reconstitution” of the “national home” included in the final text of the mandate.

The first British census of Palestine reports a population of 757,182 (11% Jewish).


A second British census of Palestine reports a total population of 1,035,154 (16.9% Jewish).


The Peel Commission Report is published, recommending the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.


The “MacDonald” white paper proposes a limitation on Jewish immigration and land purchases, disclaims any intention of creating a Zionist state and limits power-sharing and independent Palestinian rule. There is strong opposition from both Jews and Palestinians.

September 3: World War II breaks out.


WZO President Dr. Chaim Weizmann urges the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine after the war.

The Zionist Biltmore Conference is held in New York. Delegates formulate a new policy, called the “Biltmore Program,” to create a “Jewish Commonwealth” in Palestine and to organize a Jewish army.


The Covenant of the League of Arab States, formed for the purpose of securing Arab unity and emphasizing the Arab character of Palestine, is signed in Cairo by Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Transjordan and Yemen.

The United Nations (UN) is established.

  1. S. President Truman asks British Prime Minister (PM) Clement Attlee to grant immigration certificates to allow 100,000 Jews into Palestine, but Attlee rejects the request.

The British government issues Defense (Emergency) Regulations, authorizing military rule in Palestine.


Great Britain submits the Palestinian problem to the UN, which appoints a Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP). The committee submits its report, recommending an agreement to terminate the mandate, but it provides no solution to the Palestine Question. A majority favors partitioning the land into two states with special international status for Jerusalem, but the minority proposes a federal state comprising of an Arab state and a Jewish state, with Jerusalem as the capital of the federation. The U.S. and Soviet Union endorse the partition plan, but the Arab League rejects it.

UN Partition Res. 181 is approved. It provides for the establishment of a Jewish and Arab state and recommends that Jaffa be a part of the proposed Palestinian state and that Jerusalem and Bethlehem be a corpus separatum under a special international regime administered by the Trusteeship Council on behalf of the UN.


April: On the 9th, Irgun and Stern Gangs, led by Menahem Begin and Yitzhag Shamir, massacre 245 Palestinians in the village of Deir Yassin, a western suburb of Jerusalem. Two days later, the Haganah destroy the village of Kalonia, and after driving out the Palestinians, they occupy all Palestinian quarters of west Jerusalem on April 30.

David Ben-Gurion, leader of the struggle to establish a Jewish State, orders the Jerusalem Haganah to conquer Arab districts around the city and resettle them with Jews.

The State of Israel is proclaimed on May 14, ending British Mandate.

The All-Palestine Government is formed at the Palestinian National Conference in Gaza.

The UN General Assembly Res. 194 supports the right of Palestinian refugees to return. During the Jewish invasion of Palestine, 737,166 Palestinians were forcibly evicted from their homes and land. Under this resolution the refugees and their descendants have a right to compensation and repatriation to their original homes and land, because they have suffered “loss of or damage to property, which, under principles of international law or in equity should be made good by the government or authorities responsible”


The Fourth Geneva Convention on Rules of War is adopted. This international treaty regulates the treatment of civilians during wartime, including hostages, diplomats, spies, bystanders and civilians in territory under military occupation. The convention outlaws torture, collective punishment and the resettlement by an occupying power of its own civilians on territory under its military control.


The West Bank is unified under the Kingdom of Jordan.

The Knesset (the parliament of Israel) passes the “Law of Return,” entitling any Jew to full Israeli citizenship.


The Law of Nationality affirms the Law of Return and legislates that resident non-Jews can acquire citizenship only on the basis of residence and if they can prove they are Palestinian. Because proving residence was almost impossible, Palestinian Arabs remaining under Israeli occupation literally became foreigners in their own country. Most Arab residents had no proof of citizenship because many surrendered their identity cards to the Israeli army during or after the war.


June 2: The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is founded at the first Palestinian Conference in Jerusalem. King Hussein of Jordan, Secretary-General of the Arab League Abdel-Khaliq Hassouna and high level Arab representatives from Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq, the United Arab Republic (Egypt), Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco and the Republic of Yemen were among the participants present. The participants in the conference represented Palestinian communities from all over the Middle East. The leading bodies of the PLO are the Palestine National Council (PNC), the Central Council and the Executive Committee. Political pluralism and democratic internal dialogue and decision-making are defining features of the organization. The PLO is an umbrella organization comprised of numerous organizations of the resistance movement, political parties and popular organizations, including Fateh, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine).


The June 5th War breaks out, and Israel begins its military occupation of the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip of Palestine, Sinai of Egypt and the Golan Heights of Syria. During the course of the war, approximately 300,000 Palestinians are displaced from the West Bank and Gaza, many becoming refugees for a second time.

UN Res. 242 is adopted as a guideline for “just and lasting peace in the Middle East.” Stipulations include the inadmissibility of territorial acquisition by war; withdrawal of Israeli forces from areas occupied in the 1967 War; termination of all states of belligerency; acknowledgement of every State in the area within secure and recognized boundaries; navigational freedom through international waterways in the area; a just settlement of the refugee problem; and a guarantee of political independence to every State in the area.


WAFA, a Palestinian News Agency, reports that on the initiative of Knesset member Shalom Cohen, roughly 100 Palestinian notables and Israeli settlers met in Tel Aviv to discuss the establishment of a Palestinian state within the June 5, 1967 frontiers, under

UN supervision. But in a BBC interview, Israeli PM Golda Meir said that Israel has nothing to discuss with the Palestinians.


The U.S. and U.S.S.R. co-sponsor the Geneva Conference for Middle East peace with leaders from Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Israel in attendance.


In Res. 3210 the UN General Assembly recognizes the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people.


UN Res. 3379 defines Zionism as a form of racism and racial discrimination.


The U.S. State Department releases its Human Rights Report, charging Israelis with the following crimes against the Palestinians: a) illegal expulsions from their homes and properties; b) detention without charge; c) destruction of properties; d) no judicial remedy for detainees.

A joint statement made by the U.S. and U.S.S.R. specifies the necessary steps needed to ensure peace in the Middle East and recognizes the legitimate rights of the Palestinians.


  1. S. President Carter makes a statement, recognizing the Palestinian right to a homeland.
  2. S. Pres. Carter, Israeli PM Menachem Begin and Egyptian Pres. Anwar al-Sadat sign the Camp David Accords which propose a settlement to the Middle East conflict. It bypasses the Palestinian people and their sole representative, the PLO.


UN Security Council Res. 449 resolves that Israel’s settlements in the territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, are illegal and represent a serious obstacle to achieving peace in the region.


June 30: The Knesset adopts the Basic Law on Jerusalem in which it “officially” annexes the pre-1967 eastern (Palestinian) part of Jerusalem and illegally declares Jerusalem the eternal, undivided capital of Israel.


Jordan’s King Hussein visits Washington and reports that the PLO has agreed to accept all UN resolutions acknowledging Israel’s right to exist.


An article in “The Sunday Times” of London publishes a report quoting former Israeli nuclear arms technician Mordechai Vanunu as saying that Israel has been building and stockpiling atomic weapons at the Dimona nuclear facility for 20 years.


Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres calls for the dismantling of existing settlements and the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip.

December 9: The Intifada, or “shaking off,” begins. After decades of occupation and human rights violations against them, the Palestinians rebelled and began a collective uprising against Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Demonstrations, rock-throwing, strikes, a boycott of Israeli goods and general unrest would last for six years. The Israelis respond with harsher measures: travel restrictions are imposed, limitations are placed on the money that could be brought into the Occupied Territories, schools and universities close, mass arrests take place and Israeli soldiers shoot anyone who is a suspect.


Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin announces a new policy for dealing with the Intifada: “force, might, beatings.”

  1. S. officials propose a new peace plan to include U.S.-mediated negotiations between Israel and Jordan to achieve limited Palestinian self-rule in the occupied territories by September and direct negotiations in December to reach a final agreement.

A U.S. veto defeats a UN resolution that demands Israel to abide by the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel rejects applying the Fourth Geneva Convention to Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, stating that those territories were captured in 1967 as a result of a defensive war against countries which had illegally occupied them since 1948.

PLO Executive Chairman Yasser Arafat signs the first presidential resolution, allowing the PLO to take full responsibility for the occupied territories.

On the 10th anniversary of the Camp David Accords, U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz calls on Israel to end its military rule over the occupied territories and to give the Palestinian people “rapid control over political and economic decisions that affect their lives.”

November 15: At the 19th Palestinian National Council, two landmark documents are adopted: “The Political Communiqué of the Palestine National Council,” which affirms the PLO’s determination to reach a political settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict based on the principles of international law; and the Palestinian “Declaration of Independence.” The new State of Palestine is recognized by over 20 countries.


A meeting between Palestinians and Israelis occur at the Notre Dame Hotel between east and west Jerusalem. The Israelis present included Deputy Finance Minister Yossi Beilin, FM Peres's adviser Nimrod Novik, former head of the Civil Administration in the West Bank Ephraim Sneh, MK Avraham Burg, Dr.Yair Hirschfeld from Haifa University, Boaz Carmi and Arye Ofri. The Palestinians present were Faisal Husseini, Sari Nusseibeh, Ziad Abu Zayyad, Hanan Ashrawi, Ghassan Khatib, Sam'an Khouri, Mamduh Aker and Khalil Mahshi.

Yasser Arafat is elected as the first President of the State of Palestine by the Central Council of the PLO in Tunis.

The Knesset approves the Likud and the Alignment plan for “regional elections” in the occupied territories. This would allow for a self-governing authority to serve as a negotiating partner for interim and permanent settlement.


The U.S. Senate adopts a resolution that recognizes undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Knesset, as well, adopts a resolution that says united Jerusalem is under Israeli sovereignty, and there will be no negotiations on its unity and status.


The Israeli government imposes a new restriction on Palestinians: it is forbidden for workers to drive their own cars into Israel. The government also pledges to accelerate deportations of activists and affirms its policy of home demolitions.

October 30: The Middle East Peace Conference in Madrid, Spain takes place with delegations from Israel, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and the joint-Palestinian-Jordanian delegation. Participants agreed to establish two tracks for negotiations: bilateral talks for direct negotiations between Israel and Syria, Israel and Lebanon and Israel and joint Palestinian-Jordanian delegation; and multilateral talks for region-wide negotiations on issues such as water, environment, refugees, arms control and economic development. It was the first time Israel entered into direct, face-to-face negotiations with these countries.


The Knesset approves a $46.5 billion budget for the year, including funds to build 5,500 new homes in the occupied territories, build roads and provide other services to settlers.

Israeli PM Yitzhak Shamir states that Israel is “not obligated to every word” of the 1979 Camp David Accords.

Israel imposes a military closure on the occupied territories, erects checkpoints and denies Palestinians entrance into Israel, including access to Jerusalem. It also prevents free movement between the southern and northern part of the West Bank.

In response to a U.S. statement on Palestinian refugees’ rights, Israeli PM Shamir states, “There is only a Jewish ‘right of return’ to the land of ‘Israel.’”

The U.S. Congress approves a foreign aid package for Israel, including a $10 billion loan guarantees.


  1. S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher meets with Palestinian officials and presents a 6-point plan to resume peace talks: (1)U.S. calls for the expulsion of illegal and pressing UN Res. 799; (2) UN Res. 242 and 338 are bases for talks, and Jerusalem can be discussed; (3) Israel must be bound to its commitment against expulsions; (4) There is a speedy return of current deportees; (5) There is a return of many post 1967 deportees; and (6) Israel must commit to stop human rights violations in the occupied territories. Palestinians welcome the plan, but the U.S. withdraws the plan to end the deportee issue after Israel refuses to accept points one and two.

In a letter to Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin, Arafat recognizes “the right of the state of Israel to exist in peace and security,” and he renounces “the use of terrorism and other acts of violence.” Rabin also formally signs a letter that recognizes the PLO as “the representative of the Palestinian people.”

September 13: Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and PLO official Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) sign the “Declaration of Principles,” also known as the Oslo Accords, at a White House ceremony. It contains a set of mutually agreed-upon, general principles regarding a five year interim period of Palestinian self-rule. A handshake between Arafat and Peres symbolically concludes the pact.


Chairman Arafat and Israeli PM Rabin sign the Cairo Agreement, in which the two sides agree on self-rule for Palestinians in Gaza and Jericho.


September 28: Israel and the PLO sign the “Oslo II” Agreement, the second stage of a three-step process toward Palestinian independence as agreed upon in the Declaration of Principles. In the pact, Israeli forces were scheduled to be removed from six Arab cities and 400 villages in the West Bank by early 1996, after which elections would be held for an 82-member Palestinian council, which would possess legislative and executive power in the West Bank and Gaza.


January 20: The first Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections take place. The president is elected by simple majority, and the 88 members of the Parliament, known as the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), are elected by district. Each district has a certain number of seats, which generally go to the top vote-getters (In a few districts, seats are guaranteed to Christians and women).

Yasser Arafat is sworn in as the first elected President of Palestine on February 12.


January 21: Israel and Palestine sign the Hebron Agreement, which gives temporary international presence in the city of Hebron (TIPH) to 180 people from Denmark, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey to monitor and report on misconduct from either side of the conflict without military or police functions.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders continue to refuse the resumption of peace talks for most of the year, but they finally meet in New York at the end of September.

A new crisis erupts in the deadlocked Middle East peace process, when a report stating that Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu plans to hand back less than 40% of the occupied West Bank to Palestinians is published.


UN General Assembly approves the “Participation of Palestine in the Work of the UN,” a resolution that upgrades the representation of Palestine at the UN. Its non-voting category as a “co-sponsor” recognizes the Palestinian National Authority’s (PNA) control of territory—a precursor to statehood.

October 23: Arafat and Netanyahu sign a deal negotiated at the Wye River Summit, in which the Palestinians agreed to increase efforts against violence, confiscate weapons according to a security plan and remove anti-Israel phrases from their national covenant. Israel, in turn, promises to withdraw from a further 13% of the West Bank, release several hundred of the 3,000 Palestinian political prisoners, allow the Palestinian airport in Gaza to open and provide safe passage for Palestinians to move between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Both agree to establish a joint Israeli-Palestinian committee to discuss a third troop withdrawal.

The UN adopts Resolution 53/80, with 134 votes in favor and 2 (Israel and the U.S.) against, that calls on Israel to renounce nuclear weapons and join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Against the Wye Agreement that the Knesset ratifies, Israeli settlers seize tens of acres of Palestinian land to establish new makeshift settlements.

Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon says a final peace settlement would not mean the return of Palestinian refugees.


The U.S. House of Representatives approves a resolution that warns Arafat not to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state or the U.S. will relinquish its financial support for the PNA.

The PLO Central Council decides to postpone a Palestinian declaration of statehood until after a second round of Israeli elections on June 1.

Israeli PM Ehud Barak and PNA President Yasser Arafat sign the revised Wye Accord, which paves the way for talks on a permanent peace settlement. The Knesset approves the deal.

In the seven years between 1992 and 1999, the area occupied by Jewish settlements in the West Bank doubled from 77 km² (which represented 1.3% of the West Bank) to 150 km² (which represents 2.6% of the West Bank).


President Arafat and the PNA declare that this year will be the year that an independent Palestinian state will be declared. They set a deadline for September 2000, but in order to give peace another chance, they postpone it until November 15.

A Jewish media source, Ha’aretz, reports that although Israel will sign the convention establishing an international court for war crimes, it will not accede to its jurisdiction, mainly because it defines the establishment of civilian settlements in occupied territories as a crime.

The U.S.-sponsored Camp David Summit convenes. It suggests the division of Palestinian territory into four separate cantons entirely surrounded and controlled by Israel. Israel sought to annex almost 9% of the Occupied Palestinian Territories in exchange for only 1% of Israel’s own territory. The proposal denied Palestinians control over their own borders, airspace and water resources while legitimizing and expanding illegal Israeli colonies in Palestinian territory. Israel also proposed that Palestinians be required to give up any claim to the occupied portion of Jerusalem, forcing the recognition of Israel’s annexation of Arab-inhabited east Jerusalem. However, further talks suggested that Israel allow Palestinians sovereignty over isolated Palestinian neighborhoods but still remain surrounded by illegal Israeli colonies. The Camp David Summit ends without reaching an agreement, mainly because of the Jerusalem issue.

September 28: The second Intifada, known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada, begins after Sharon’s incursion into the Al-Aqsa mosque. Sharon states that Israel controls the area and will never give it to the Palestinians because it is built over a Jewish holy site. Within the days that followed, Israeli riot police stormed the Al-Aqsa compound and opened fire on worshippers, killing seven Palestinians and wounding 220. As the news spread, riots in all parts of the West Bank erupted.


If elected PM candidate Ariel Sharon vows not to dismantle any settlement in the West Bank or Gaza Strip.

The U.S. vetoes UN Res. 270 which calls for the “total and immediate” stop of all acts of violence, a complete cessation of Israeli settlement activities and an end of the closures of the occupied territories.

After reaching a compromise at a summit meeting, called by U.S. President Bill Clinton, in Sharm El Sheikh, a commission was formed to investigate the causes of the violence and to make recommendations. It publishes its report, the Mitchell Report (named after Chairman George J. Mitchell, former member and Majority Leader for the U.S. Senate), which calls for an immediate cease fire, a freeze on Jewish settlements and a more determined action against violence by the PNA.


January 15: The Likud bureau unanimously decides to reject PM Sharon’s statements that support the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state.

The UN Security Council passes U.S.-drafted Res. 1397. For the first time, the resolution refers to a Palestinian state to exist side by side with Israel. The council also passes Resolutions 1402 and 1403, which call for Israel to withdraw from Palestinian cities “without delay.” Urging Israel to implement Res. 1402, U.S. Pres. George W. Bush says the root cause of the conflict is Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and calls on Israel to stop all settlement activity in line with the Mitchell recommendations and international law and to halt incursions into Palestinian areas.

Israelis seize the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which is inhabited by 150 Palestinians, including civilians that seek refuge in the church. The conflict occurs for 38 days.

Throughout the year, Israelis continue full scale invasions of Palestinian cities and reoccupy the territories. Among their incursions, they invade Ramallah, level the Jenin refugee camps, destroy the Old City of Nablus, impose long curfews, and attack human rights organizations and journalists. They also invade Arafat’s compound, eventually destroying four of the five buildings and leaving Arafat and a few of his aides confined to the second floor of the remaining building.


The European Union (EU), Russia, the UN and the U.S. develop a plan, known as the “roadmap,” for peace. It is designed to occur in three phases: to end “violence and terrorism,” to reach a “final and comprehensive” settlement to the conflict by 2005 and to create an independent and democratic Palestinian state to live side by side with Israel. Palestinians accept it immediately.

One of the provisions of the “roadmap” is for Palestine to employ a Prime Minister, so Arafat appoints Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) the position to become the first Palestinian Prime Minister.

Israel accepts the “roadmap,” subject to 14 conditions, days before the Aqaba Summit in Jordan.

The Aqaba Summit convenes in Jordan between U.S. President Bush, Israeli PM Ariel Sharon and Palestinian PM Abu Mazen, in which Sharon says he will back the formation of a Palestinian state and will begin to remove “unauthorized outposts” in the occupied territories. However, according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, all settlements imposed by an occupying power are illegal. Furthermore, many of the outposts that are actually removed are in fact uninhabited or “dummy outposts” - empty outposts erected by the settler movement to use as a tool for negotiations or public relations. Israel has historically used the removal of “unauthorized” settlements to legitimize other settlements in a “trade-off” with settler groups.

from: MIFTAH

Created by keza
Last modified 2005-01-04 06:51 AM

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