Here’s a sequential breakdown of the so-called Israel-Palestine conflict. As you read on, remember these step-by-step political occurrences involve real people, of flesh and blood. They have emotions and they have an ego but more importantly, just like any other human being, they have a need to belong, to eat and drink, to raise kids, to have fun, and to practice their religion.
Note: I’ve included maps to help make more sense. Check the relevant ones as you read.
1. Before WW1, the land was under the Ottoman Caliphate. Its population consisted of Muslims, Christians, and also Jews.
2. During the war, the British captures the land and name it Mandatory Palestine. They also issue Balfour Declaration, which promises to create “a home for the Jewish people”. (around 1917)
3. Near the end of WW1, Ottoman Empire collapsed. Britain and France carved up the fallen Empire’s territory along the Sykes-Picot Agreement.
4. To keep up with its Balfour promise, Britain allowed mass Jewish immigration into Mandatory Palestine. This of course angered Palestinians and soon intercommunal riots between immigrant Jews and Arabs took place.
5. This prompted the British to put a cap on how many jews could move in per year. Suffice to say, this didn’t calm anyone down. The British were thinking of partitioning the land into two different states with Jerusalem sitting as an international zone in the middle. This led to the 1937 proposal of partition.
6. Fast forward a few years. WW2 happened. The traumatic events of the holocaust made the call for Jewish Nationalism even stronger and soon Jews flocked to Mandatory Palestine from all over Europe, with the hope of building a home for themselves.
7. With the heavy cost of participating in WW2 on British shoulders, they decided to leave the issue to the UN and left. Another proposal was presented in 1947 and UN General Assembly approved it. The state of Israel was officially born.
8. This meant huge numbers of Palestinians were left homeless overnight and they were driven out. This resulted in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War which resulted in a number of ceasefire lines. This created three different territories: Israel held a large swathe of land in the middle, with Jordan in control of the West Bank and Egypt in control of the Gaza Strip. Most of the Palestinian communities now lived in either West Bank or Gaza Strip.
9. Offence and retaliation continued between Arabs and Israel, mounting to the 1967 six-day war, which again Israel won. They also ended up in control of all of Palestine, including the west bank and Gaza strip. They also wrestled control of the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt and Golan Heights from Syria.
10. Now Israel had a decision to make. They could either annex all of Palestine and give its citizens equal voting rights, or they could let the Palestinian build an Independent state in West Bank and Gaza. As the government was making a decision, Jews started to move into the West Bank and settle, often evicting Palestinians from their homes.
11. This led to massive resistance throughout Palestine, spearheaded by PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization). Its leader Yassir Arafat, signed the Oslo Accords in 1993, on behalf of Palestinians. which divided the West Bank into three different areas. In Area A, Palestine had total military and govt control.In Area B, Palestine had government control with Israel retaining military control. In Area C, Israel has full government and military control. (Area A is only 18% of West Bank)
12. This is how the map has looked for the last 28 years, but in the ground, more and more Israelis keep moving into the West Bank, often with government help. This leads to the eviction of Palestinians, followed by anger and protests. Another important thing is that most of Area C in West Bank, the one under Israeli control, is agricultural and mineral-rich lands. This has stopped the Palestinian economy from growing.
13. In 2005 there was a brief Palestinian civil war, which ended with Hamas in control of the Gaza strip and another executive government in control of Area A of West Bank. Since then Israel has placed Gaza under heavy siege.
One more thing, the international community sees the Israeli occupation of the West Bank as illegal and the settlements as a violation of the terms of the agreement.
I’ve explained the story as completely as I could. Of course, it isn’t the full story, there are perspectives to be considered and layers to explore. but I hope it’s at least a start.
I’ve no idea what the solution is to this problem, but I fear the only way Palestinians will get their rights is through victory. They lost territories in war and they may have to win it back through another one. I really hope I’m wrong, but this seems the most probable. What do you think?