Chronology of Palestinian History and the Conflict: 1882-2006

Chronology of the Conflict

1882 The first Zionist colony, Richon Le Zion, is established near Jaffa.

1897 Establishment of the World Zionist Organization in Basel (Switzerland).

1916 The British promise independence to the Arabs of the former Ottoman states. The Sykes-Picot Agreement divides the Middle East between France (Syria and Lebanon) and Great Britain (Jordan and Iraq).

The Balfour Declaration: the British Foreign Minister announces that his government “view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

1919 The first Palestinian National Congress, held in Jerusalem, rejects the Balfour Declaration and demands independence.

The King-Crane Commission recommends that the plan for a Zionist state in Palestine be abandoned.

The British create the semi-autonomous kingdom of Trans-Jordanand place Prince Abdullah at its head.

1922 Creation of the League of Nations, which approves the British Mandate in Palestine.

After several uprisings protesting colonisation, Great Britain publishes its first White Paper, which aimed at limiting the area reserved for Jewish settlement.

1929 Violent clashes in Hebron result in the death of 67 Jews.

1930 Publication of a second White Paper, which foresees clamping down on Jewish immigration and the purchase of land. The Paper is declared invalid six months later.

1933 Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany, and growing anti-Semitism leads many German Jews to emigrate to Palestine.

1935 Ezz ed-din al-Qassam, leader of the armed struggle, is killed by British soldiers in Jenin.

1936 Arab leadership calls for a general strike all over Palestine, the first event of the Great Revolt. The British crack down on Jaffa.

1937 The Peel Commission proposes a partition of Palestine. The Great Revolt will continue until 1939.

1938 The Woodhead Commission proposes the creation of a mini-Jewish state in Tel Aviv and outlying areas.

1939 A third White Paper ends the British commitment to the Balfour Declaration as well as promising a drastic reduction of Jewish immigration, limits on the sale of land and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in ten years’ time.

1946 Creation of the Arab Higher Committee of Palestine.

1947 The United Nations General Assembly adopts a partition plan for Palestine – Resolution 181. It provides for a Jewish state, an Arab state and a special zone for Jerusalem and Bethlehem – under international jurisdiction.

1948 End of the British Mandate. David Ben Gurion announces the birth of the State of Israel. The first Israeli-Arab war begins.

1949 Israel signs an armistice with the Arab countries. The Jewish state has gained 6,300 square kilometres in the war – that is, one third more territory than the area stipulated in the UN partition plan – and has sent between 800,000 and 900,000 Palestinians into exile.

1950 King Abdullah annexes East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Egypt takes control over Gaza.

1951 Abdullah is assassinated in Jerusalem.

Israel rejects the UN peace plan and is officially recognized by Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

1952 George Habash co-founds the Arab Nationalist Movement.

1955 Israeli raids on Gaza.

1956 Israel invades the Sinai Peninsula and part of the Gaza Strip, from which its troops will withdraw six months later.

1959 Yasser Arafat establishes the Fatah (Movement for the Liberation of Palestine).

1964 Creation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

1965 Fatah’s first military operation against Israel, marking the beginning of Palestinian armed struggle.

1967 The Six-Day War. Israel occupies the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights and launches a plan for colonisation.

The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 242, calling for Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.

Creation of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

1968 The battle of Karameh, Jordan, between Israeli troops and Palestinian combatants.

1969 Yasser Arafat assumes the leadership of the PLO.

1970 Black September: the Jordanian army kills thousands of Palestinian refugees and combatants. The PLO is forced to leave Jordan and establishes its base in Lebanon.

1973 The October War, or Yom Kippur War or Ramadan War, between the Syrian-Egyptian coalition and Israel.
The UN votes Resolution 338, which calls for the application of Resolution 242

1974 Yasser Arafat addresses the United Nations. The UN recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, sovereignty and independence.

1975 Beginning of the civil war in Lebanon.

The UN General Assembly adopts Resolution 3379, which describes Zionism as “a form of racism and racial discrimination”.

1978 Israeli troops invade southern Lebanon. Israel and Egypt sign the Camp David
Agreement after talks under the auspices of the United States.

1981 Israel annexes the Golan Heights.

1982 Palestinian uprisings in the occupied territories; the Israelis remove the elected mayors from their office; Israeli Arabs organise a general strike to protest against the repression in the West Bank.

Israel bombs Lebanon and takes control of West Beirut. The PLO is evacuated from Lebanon and sets its offices up in Tunis.

After the assassination of the newly elected Lebanese president, Bashir Gemayel, Christian Phalangist forces massacre thousands of Palestinian refugees in the camps of Sabra and Chatila, which are under Israeli control.

1985 Israeli airplanes bomb PLO headquarters in Tunis : 70 people are killed.

1987 The First Intifada breaks out in Gaza and the West Bank.

Sheihk Ahmed Yassin co-founds Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement).

1988 Abu Jihad, military leader of the PLO, is murdered in Tunis by an Israeli commando unit.

In Algiers, the Palestine National Council (PNC) adopts the Proclamation of the Independent State of Palestine at its 19th meeting.

1989 Yasser Arafat, on an official visit to Paris, announces that the Palestinian Charter, which called for the destruction of the State of Israel, is “ … no longer practical and therefore invalid”.

Two hundred thousand Jews from the Soviet Union settle in Israel.

1991 Abu Iyad, the PLO’s second in command, is assassinated in Tunis.

A multilateral Middle East Peace Conference opens in Madrid under the joint chairmanship of the United States and the Soviet Union.

1992 Israel arrests 415 Palestinians suspected of being members or supporters of Hamas and confines them in southern Lebanon.

1993 After secret negotiations in Oslo (Norway), the PLO and Israel sign letters of mutual recognition culminating in the signature of a Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements by Yasser Arafat and Itzhak Rabin in Washington.

1994 Baruch Goldstein, a settler from Kiryat Arba, opens fire inside the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, killing 29 Palestinians.

A protocol on Israeli-Palestinian economic cooperation is signed in Paris.

An agreement on the modalities of the application of the Declaration of Principles is reached in Egypt, with the beginning of the interim period of five years effective immediately.

Yasser Arafat returns to Gaza.

1995 Signature of the Oslo II Accords on the extension of autonomy.

Jewish extremist Yigal Amir assassinates Itzhak Rabin.

Israel withdraws from all major Palestinian cities except Hebron.

1996 Yasser Arafat is elected president of the Palestinian Authority.

In response to the assassination of Hamas’s bombmaker (The Engineer Yahya Ayyash) by the Israeli Secret Service, the Islamist movement organises a series of bombings in Israel.

Seventy-six Palestinians die in riots sparked by the opening of a tunnel under the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif or al-Aqsa) by the Jewish municipality of Jerusalem.

1997 The Israelis pull partially out of Hebron and announce the construction of the Jewish colony of Har Homa on the hill of Abu Ghneim, north of Bethlehem.

The Jewish state breaks off contacts with the Palestinians.

1998 Binjamin Netanyahu’s government approves the creation of “Greater Jerusalem”.

Signature of the Wye River (US) Plantation Memorandum, which anticipates an Israeli redeployment from an additional 13% of the West Bank. The agreement was suspended shortly afterwards.

1999 End of the interim period established by the Oslo Accords in 1993. The PLO accepts putting off the proclamation of an independent Palestinian state.

The Israeli-Palestinian Sharm al-Sheikh (Egypt) Agreement calls for the implementation of the Wye River Memorandum.

2000 The meeting at Camp David II between Bill Clinton, Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak ends in failure.

The second Intifada starts in the aftermath of the riots provoked by Arial Sharon’s ill-advised visit to the Temple Mount.

A verbal agreement on re-opening negotiations is reached in the Sharm al-Sheikh summit.

Bill Clinton outlines the “parameters” he sees necessary to discuss in order to end the conflict.

2001 Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Taba (Egypt) are suspended due to elections in Israel.

Ariel Sharon becomes Prime Minister.

The Israeli army assassinates Abu Ali Mustafa, head of the PFLP; two months later, the PFLP assassinates Rehavam Zeevi, the Israeli Minister of Tourism, who advocated the forced transfer of Palestinians.

Israel makes several forays into the West Bank and surrounds Yasser Arafat’s headquarters in Ramallah.

2002 The Israeli army attacks refugee camps in Nablus, Jenin and Bethlehem in the West Bank.

The UN Security Council votes Resolution 1397 “Affirming a vision of a region where two States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within secure and recognized borders.”

The Arab summit in Beirut proves the Saudi peace plan.

After a suicide bombing in Israel, the Jewish state invades the principal cities of the West Bank, reoccupying them, in a major military operation baptized “Operation Defensive Shield”.

Israeli troops attack the Jenin refugee camp – where they will later be accused of war crimes by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International – and lay siege to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

The Israelis arrest Marwan Barghouthi, head of Fatah in the West Bank.

Beginning of the construction of the “security fence” or “Apartheid Wall”.

2003 Mahmoud Abbas is named Prime Minister. He will resign six months later to be replaced by Ahmed Qurei.

Ariel Sharon announces his intention to dismantle all Jewish colonies in the Gaza Strip.

Sheikh Yassin is killed by an Israeli missile fired from a helicopter as he leaves his mosque in Gaza. His successor as head of Hamas, Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi will be assassinated one month later.

The Israeli government approves their unilateral plan for disengagement from Gaza, which the parliament votes to support shortly afterwards.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) declares the Wall to be illegal and calls for it to be dismantled.

Death of Yasser Arafat in the Clamart military hospital in France. He will be put to rest in Ramallah.

2005 Mahmoud Abbas is elected President of the Palestinian Authority.

2006 Hamas wins the elections.


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