Historical Time Line for Israel/Palestine
By Noa Baum
This timeline was given to audience members at Noa Baum's performance of
"A Land Twice Promised" at UMass Amherst on April 5, 2005.
The following is an overview of major historical (ancient and modern) events pertinent to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It aims at giving a general historical perspective and highlighting some of the events alluded to in the storytelling performance ["A Land Twice Promised"]. Please keep in mind that this is by no means a comprehensive account of history, and that Palestinian and Israeli/Jewish narratives of the past differ substantially.
The land we now know as Palestine/Israel has, from time immemorial, been a bridge between continents and civilizations. Over the centuries it has been inhabited and conquered by many different tribes and peoples. Historically, the land was also known as Canaan. The term Canaanites encompasses a plethora of Semitic and Indo-European peoples. Abraham, whose origins were in Ur/Mesopotamia (in the area we know today as Iraq), is considered to be the father of monotheism (the belief in one God) and the Patriarch of both Jews and Muslims. Abraham had two sons: Isaac (son of Sarah), considered to be the forefather of Jews/Israelites, and Ishmael (son of Hagar), considered to be the forefather of the Muslims.
c2000-1700 BCE: Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Canaan.
c1200-1020 BCE: Israelite conquest of Canaan.
c1000-961 BCE: David as second king of Israel. David conquers the Jebusites and makes Jerusalem his capital.
c961-922 BCE: Solomon as third king of Israel; Builds the First Beit Mikdash (Temple) – national and spiritual center of the Jewish people – on Mount Moriah.
586 BCE: Jerusalem Temple destroyed. Babylonian Exile.
End of Biblical (First Temple) Period.
c515 BCE: Completion of the rebuilding of the Second Temple in Jerusalem
6 CE: Rome assumes direct rule in Judea-Procurators
c30 CE: Crucification of Jesus of Nazareth
c50 CE: Paul begins Christianity
66-70 CE: Great Revolt, ending in the destruction of the Second Temple
and Jerusalem in 70 CE;
117-138: Hadrianus, the roman Caesar, renames his province “Philistia,”
a name that later became Palestine.
691 CE:, Dome of the Rock built by Caliph Abd el-Malik on the site of the 1st and 2nd Temples in Jerusalem.
15th-19th Century: Palestine is a part of southern Greater Syria under Ottoman rule.
1882-1902: First Aliyah/wave of Jewish immigrants to Palestine.
1897: First Zionist Congress convened by Theodor Herzl in Basil, Switzerland.
1914: World War I breaks out. The Ottoman Empire joins the war on Germany’s side.
1917: 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 homeland in Palestine.
1920: 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.
1936-1938: Great Arab Revolt led by Haj Amin Al-Husseini. Over 5,000 Arabs were killed, mostly by British. Several hundred Jews were killed by Arabs. Husseini fled to Iraq and then to Nazi Germany.
1947, November 29,: UN Resolution 181 partitions Palestine into two states:
Arab and Jewish.
1948, May 15: Declaration of the State of Israel; beginning of the War which marks, for Israelis, their independence, “Yom Ha’atzma’ut” and for Palestinians – their Catastrophe, “Al-Nakba”.
1949: Armistice agreements signed with Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon; Israel admitted at the United Nations as the 59th member. Israel gained about 50% more territory than was originally allotted to it by the UN Partition Plan. The war created over 780,000 Palestinian refugees who fled or were evicted from Jewish held areas. Gaza fell under the jurisdiction of Egypt. The West Bank of the Jordan is occupied and later annexed by Jordan .
1956: Sinai Campaign.
1964: The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is founded at the first Palestinian Conference in Jerusalem
1967, June 5: During the “Six Day War,” Israel gains control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip (previously under Egyptian military rule). Palestinians are now under Israel’s military control. During the war, approximately 300,000 Palestinians are displaced from the West Bank and Gaza, many becoming refugees for the second time.
UN Res. 242 is adopted as a guideline for “just and lasting peace in the Middle East.” Res 242 calls for withdrawal of Israeli forces from areas occupied in the 1967 War; termination of all belligerency; recognition of the right of every State in the area to exist within secure and recognized borderss; navigational freedom through international waterways; and a just settlement of the refugee problem.
1973, October: Yom Kippur War. In a surprise attack on the Jewish Day of Atonement, Egypt retakes the Suez Canal. Syria retakes the Golan Heights. Following massive US and Soviet resupplying of the combatants, Israel succeeds in pushing back the Syrian and Egyptian armies.
1979: Israel-Egypt peace treaty. Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Anwar Sadat awarded Nobel Peace Prize. The Sinai peninsula is returned to Egypt. Treaty with Egypt includes framework for comprehensive peace in the Middle East and proposal for Palestinian self-government.
1982: Israeli forces invade Lebanon to fight PLO.
1987, December 9: The Intifada, or “shaking off” begins—a collective uprising by Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. This first Intifada—involving demonstrations, rock-throwing, strikes, a boycott of Israeli goods and general unrest in the Palestinian territories—continues for six years. The Israelis responded with measures such as travel restrictions, closures of schools and universities, and mass arrests.
1989, 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 the joint Palestinian-Jordanian delegation; and multilateral talks for regional negotiations on issues such as water, environment, refugees, arms control and economic development. It was the first time these countries entered into direct, face-to-face negotiations.
1993, 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 PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin symbolically concludes the pact.
1994: Arafat and Rabin sign the Cairo Agreement, in which the two sides agree on self-rule for Palestinians in Gaza and Jericho. Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Yasser Arafat awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
1995, 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 designated areas of the West Bank and Gaza.
1995: Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin assassinated at a peace rally in Tel Aviv, by a right-wing Israeli Jew. Shimon Peres becomes Prime Minister.
1996, 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. Yasser Arafat is sworn in as the first elected President of Palestine on February 12.
1999: Israeli PM Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Yasser Arafat sign the revised Wye Accord, which paves the way for talks on a permanent peace settlement. The Knesset approves the deal.
2000, September 28: The second Intifada, known as the “Al-Aqsa Intifada”, begins. Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif serves as the trigger event, though the growing disillusionment with the peace process and the harsh daily realities are the underlying reasons for this outburst of violence. The cycle of Palestinian-Israeli violence continues to escalate.
2001: UN Security Council passes Res 1397 which, for the first time, refers to a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
2003: The European Union (EU), Russia, the UN and the U.S. develop the “Road Map for Peace” with 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 side by side with Israel.
2004, November 11: Yasser Arafat dies in a French military hospital. The PLO executive committee appoints former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas as Arafat’s successor as head of the PLO. Elections are called to determine Arafat’s successor as president.
2005, January 10: Mahmoud Abbas is elected President of the Palestinian Authority.
Between September 2000 and April 2005, more than 3,100 Palestinians and Israelis have died in the continuing violence.
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