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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom

Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace

Fact Sheets

A Chronology of the Conflict

Download this fact sheet in Microsoft Word.

1882  The first wave of modern Jewish immigration to Palestine, spurred largely by Zionism, begins. The immigrants were predominantly from Europe, and they joined a small but longstanding Jewish community already in place.

1896 Theodore Herzl, an Austrian journalist publishes a book Der Judenstaat, "The State of the Jews" calling for a Jewish state to solve the growing problem of anti-Semitism.

1897 The first Zionist conference convenes in Basel, Switzerland. Political Zionism begins.

1906-1914  After a failed revolution in Russia and a wave of pogroms and intensified anti-Semitism, a new wave of immigration to Palestine begins motivated by the principles of socialist Zionism.

1917 Britain issues the Balfour Declaration calling for "support of the establishment in Palestine of a national homeland for the Jewish people."

1920  Britain assumes mandatory power over Palestine, Iraq, and Transjordan (modern day Jordan), formerly held by the Ottoman Empire which has ruled the region since 1516.

1936-39 In reaction to growing Jewish immigration the Arab Higher Committee announces a boycott and general strike of the British government. This move eventually explodes into violent confrontation between Jews, Arabs and the British lasting three years.

1947 The United Nations (UN) Special Committee on Palestine recommends that the territory be divided into two separate Arab and Jewish states, with Jerusalem and vicinity maintained as an International zone under permanent UN trusteeship. The British cabinet approves this Recommendation (effectively setting an end-date for the Mandate), as do Zionist leaders, the United States (US), and the UN (November 29).

1948 The state of Israel is proclaimed, in accord with the UN plan for partition, as British withdrawal begins (May 14).

Five Arab countries-Transjordan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon-invade Israel simultaneous to United States (US) recognition of the new state. War ensues, during which 6,000 Israelis and an undisclosed number of Arabs were killed and 700,000 Palestinians displaced (May 15).

1949 Israel signs formal ceasefires with Egypt, Transjordan, and Syria, leaving Israel in control of about 80% of the former Palestinian Mandate; Egypt in control of the Gaza Strip; Jordan in control of the West Bank; and Jerusalem divided between Israel and Jordan, West and East respectively. These armistice lines form the basis for what becomes known as the "Green Line."

1950 In 1950, the Knesset passes the "Law of Return," which entitles any Jew to full Israeli citizenship.

1950-1967 A military government is imposed on most Arabs living within Israeli borders.

1956 Israel attacks Egypt, ostensibly to provide diplomatic cover for a British and French invasion. The invasion had been intended to reopen the Suez Canal to international commerce after Egypt's President Nasser had nationalized it.

1964  The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) is founded, with the stated aim of "destroying Israel."

1967 Israel launches a preemptive attack against Egypt, initiating the start of the "Six Day War," which also engages Jordan and Syria. In six days, Israel seizes control over the Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, Syria's Golan Heights, and the entirety of the West bank including East Jerusalem which had been held by Jordan. The war roughly triples the amount of land Israel holds.

Israel refuses to withdraw to 1949 lines due to the absence of direct negotiation with its Arab neighbors, before which they must recognize Israel's "statehood, sovereignty, and international rights." The Arab countries continue to refuse Israel formal recognition.

Jerusalem is "unified" under Israeli control and declared to be Israel's "eternal, undivided capital." Israel announces that it will move settlers into the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem (November).

UN Resolution 242 is passed, calling for the "withdrawal from territories occupied in the recent conflict… [and] the termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence of every state in the area and their right to live in peace within secure recognized boundaries free from threat or acts of force." This resolution, with its formula of "land for peace," becomes the basis for all subsequent peace negotiations between Israel, the Palestinians, and surrounding Arab states (November).

1970 In response to the PLO's direct challenges to King Hussein of Jordan's authority and power (attempted assassination and attacks on Israel from Jordan), the King declares war on the PLO, and the ensuing battle causes 3,000 deaths, ultimately forcing the PLO to move its headquarters and operations to Lebanon.

1973 Egypt and Syria launch a surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur, initiating the "Yom Kippur War." Despite being caught off-guard, Israel, with the help of a massive airlift of weapons from the US, gains more land than it loses.

The UN Security Council passes Resolution 338, which calls for an immediate cease-fire and the immediate commencement of negotiations toward the implementation of UN Resolution 242 (October).

Israel reaches a ceasefire agreement with Syria and Egypt, signed on October 29th and November 11th, respectively, following substantial "shuttle diplomacy" by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

The Arab oil embargo begins against the US in retaliation for aid to Israel during the Yom Kippur War (October). It lasts for five months.

1974 Approximately 1500 Israeli settlers now live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

1978 Israel, Syria, and Egypt agree to disengagement plans brokered by Kissinger.

1982 After lengthy negotiations mediated by President Jimmy Carter, Israel and Egypt sign the Camp David Agreements, entailing the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and full recognition and relations between the two. Another clause included a vague plan vis à vis the inhabitants of the occupied territories to resolve the location of boundaries and security arrangements and to foster "the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people." The cabinets of both countries approve the agreements, but Egypt is expelled from the Arab League.

1982  Israel invades Lebanon in retaliation for repeated attacks on Israel launched by the PLO from Lebanon. Israel's stated intent is to establish a 25-mile security zone between the two countries, but the IDF advances much further into Lebanon and occupies the capital, Beirut. While Israel withdraws from Beirut in October 1983, the IDF continues to occupy Southern Lebanon until June of 1985, at which point a security zone on the border between the two countries is established.

The PLO is evacuated from Lebanon to Tunis under cover of United States marines (August).

1987 The intifada, a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the territories, begins in Gaza and spreads quickly to the West Bank. The sustained and widespread uprising lasts five years and marks the first time that those Palestinians living in the occupied territories become significantly involved in the movement against Israeli occupation.

1988  PLO leader Yasser Arafat condemns all forms of terrorism and recognizes the state of Israel within pre-1967-borders. Israel continues to refuse negotiations with the PLO, but the United States opens a dialogue with the PLO.

Jordan renounces all claims to the West Bank, paving the way for a Palestinian State.

1991 The Madrid Peace Conferences commence under the auspices of the US and the USSR, marking the first time that Israel and its Arab neighbors (with the exception of Egypt) engage in face-to-face negotiations. The Palestinians are represented in a joint delegation from Jordan.

94,100 Israeli settlers now live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

1993 Secret negotiations between Israel and the PLO culminate in the signing of the Declaration of Principles by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat. Israel recognizes the PLO and gives it limited autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In return, the PLO gives up its claims to Israel's territory as defined by its borders before the 1967 war and agrees to end the intifada and establish security in the West Bank. The agreement between the two sides to make gradual steps towards a final settlement of the conflict becomes known as the "Oslo Peace Process."

116,400 Israeli settlers now live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

1994 Israel and the PLO sign the Cairo agreement, in which the two sides agree on limited self-rule for the Palestinians in the West Bank city of Jericho and 60% of Gaza (May).
Arafat leaves Tunis to take up residence in Gaza and assumes his new position as head of the Palestinian Authority, the representative body formed under the Oslo  Agreements.(PA) (July).

Jordan and Israel sign a comprehensive peace treaty (October).

1995 Israel and the PA sign the "Oslo II" Agreement, which creates a schedule for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from six West Bank cities and 400 villages by early 1996, after which Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections would be held (September). The elections are held on January 20, 1996, and Yasser Arafat is elected President of the PA.

PM Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated by an orthodox Jewish student opposed to Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank (November).

1997 Israel and the PA sign the Hebron Agreement, according to which Israel will hand over 80% of the West Bank city of Hebron to Palestinian rule, but maintain the remainder because several hundred Jewish settlers live there amongst 20,000 Palestinians. The city is to be monitored by a temporary international presence.

1998 Israel and the PA sign the Wye River Memorandum, outlining further Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, after US pressure to end 18 months of stagnation on the Israeli-Palestinian peace track.

1999 The Israeli Knesset votes to move elections forward to May 17 after the government coalition collapses in disarray over implementation of the Wye deal. Israel suspends the Wye timetable.

The Israelis and Palestinians sign a revised deal aimed at reviving the Middle East peace process, based on the stalled Wye River Accord.

Final status talks commence between the Israelis and Palestinians, but are stalled by a Palestinian withdrawal in protest over the building of new settlements in the West Bank. Israel responds the following day by announcing a freeze on the addition of 1,800 more houses to Jewish settlements around Jerusalem.

2000 A summit between Israelis and Palestinians breaks up over a disagreement on a promised Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank under the revised Wye Accord. Israel hands over West Bank territory to the Palestinians amounting to 6.1% of the West Bank --the last part of a transfer originally agreed upon at Wye River (February).

A peace summit at Camp David in the United States ends without agreement after two weeks of intensive negotiations. The negotiators are unable to come up with a formula to reconcile their competing claims to Jerusalem. Palestinians and Israelis accuse each other of intransigence, but promise to continue working towards a permanent peace agreement (July).

Ariel Sharon, the leader of the right-wing Israeli opposition, visits the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary). Against the background of a failing peace process, the visit sparks a violent and sustained uprising known as the second intifada (September).

The US presides over a summit at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh which produces a plan to bring to an end weeks of Palestinian-Israeli violence. The plan unravels soon after it is agreed upon (October).

2001 Six days of intense peace talks between Israel and the PA in Taba, Egypt end without an agreement that Israeli Prime Minister Barak had hoped to present to voters for his re-election February 6th (January).

Ariel Sharon is elected Prime Minister of Israel (February).

Israeli troops seize territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority, including Gaza. This marks the first time that Israel reoccupies land ceded in the course of the Oslo peace process (April).

The Mitchell Commission, assembled by former President Bill Clinton to investigate the causes of violence and make recommendations, calls for an immediate ceasefire, an end to settlement expansion, and a more determined action against violence by the PA. The goal of the commission is to facilitate confidence-building measures and ultimately renew negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians (May).

The Israeli security cabinet votes to give the IDF a broader license to target Palestinian terrorists. Formerly, the IDF was only permitted to assassinate terrorists actually en route to committing an attack. The new guidelines allow the IDF to act against known terrorists even if they are not on the verge of committing an attack (July).

President Bush announces that he is prepared to back the creation of a Palestinian state (October).

208,300 Israeli settlers now live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

2002 Israeli warplanes fire missiles at and level the headquarters of the Palestinian police in the city of Ramallah and shell Arafat's compound. Israel occupies major Palestinian cities for various periods of time, including Jenin, Jericho, Ramallah, Nablus, and Tulkarm, with the stated purpose of destroying terrorist infrastructure (August).

2003 The European Union (EU), Russia, the UN, and the US introduce the "Road Map for Peace," which is a three-phase plan to: (1) end the violence and terrorism; (2) reach a final and comprehensive resolution of the conflict by 2005; and (3) create an independent and democratic Palestinian state.

The Aqaba Summit convenes in Jordan between Israel and the Palestinians, mediated by the United States. Israel agrees to support the formation of a Palestinian state and to remove "unauthorized outposts" in the Occupied Territories.

Ami Ayalon, the former chief of the General Security Services (Shin Bet), and Sari Nusseibeh, the President of Al-Quds University, negotiate a broad statement of principles on which a two-state resolution could be based. It becomes the basis for the People's Voice Initiative petition campaign.

The Geneva Accord, a model peace plan negotiated by moderate Israeli and Palestinian political and security leaders, is introduced. In December, the details of the plan are published in wide-circulation Palestinian newspapers and mailed to every Israeli address as the basis of a grassroots campaign.

2004 The One Voice ballot initiative is launched with the intent that through a referendum Palestinians and Israelis can demonstrate to one another the prevalence of moderation on both sides (February).

Prime Minister Sharon and President Bush discuss Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. The Bush administration publicly supports the withdrawal (April).

Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat dies.

2005 Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is democratically elected President of the Palestinian Authority (January).
At a summit in Sharm el-Sheikh hosted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah, Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas announce an agreement to end more than four years of hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel removes all settlements and settlers from Gaza.

2006 In an election Hamas wins control of the Palestinian legislature. Fatah and Hamas vie for control of the Palestinian government

Hezbollah kidnaps two Israeli soldiers and fires rockets into Northern Israel. Israel counters with great force. Cease-fire is put in place with international troops called in to enforce it.

2007 After a bloody armed confrontation Hamas and its militants take control of the Gaza Strip from Fatah. An economic blockade is immediately put in place by Israel, the EU and the United States. The Quartet puts out conditions to Hamas for the lifting of the blockade: renunciation of violence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to former peace treaties.

President Bush hosts the Annapolis Conference, where a joint statement is issued with Israeli sand Palestinians promising to undertake bilateral peace negotiations.

2008 Israel attacks a smuggling tunnel in the Gaza Strip. Hamas, in reaction to this provocation and the nearing end of the six-month ceasefire, sends rockets into Israel. Israel responds by launching a massive aerial bombardment and invading the Gaza Strip.

285,800 settlers now live in the West Bank

2009  President Obama appoints George Mitchell as special envoy for the Middle East.

Prepared by Jessica L.D. Rosenblum, Assistant Director of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom. Updates by David Matz

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