1897 A European Jewish political movement, the Zionist movement, has for some years been wanting to find a national home for the Jewish people. The Zionist conference of 1897 settles on Palestine, then part of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire.
1917 The Balfour Declaration: the British Government promises Lord Rothschild a ‘national home’ for Jews in Palestine, while upholding ‘the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities’. (At this time only 5% of the population is Jewish — 95% are Palestinian Arabs.)
1918 After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Britain occupies Palestine and from 1918 to 1948 sponsors Jewish colonial immigration from Europe and the US. Britain crushes all Palestinian revolts.
1948 After some terrorist attacks by Zionists, Britain leaves and passes the issue over to the UN, which assigns 55% of Palestine to the proposed state of Israel. At this time Jews constitute only 33% of the population and own only 6% of the land.
1948–49 Israel kills 13,000 Palestinians and drives 750,000 from their towns and villages in the Nakba (‘Catastrophe’), ending up with 78% of historic Palestine (map 3). Descendents of these refugees live today in some 100 refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza. UN resolution 194 calls on Israel to allow the return of the refugees; the resolution is ignored. Over 400 Palestinian villages are destroyed.
1967 Israel occupies the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip (the ‘Occupied Territories’) during the 6-day war with Egypt, bringing all of historical Palestine under Israeli rule. UN resolution 242 calls on Israel to withdraw from the territories. It fails to do so, and initiates a system of increasingly brutal military control over the territories.
1987 The Palestinians in the Occupied Territories rise up in the first non-violent Intifada (‘uprising’), calling for self-determination and an independent Palestinian state.
1993–5 The US brokers a series of agreements between the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships. The ‘Oslo Accords’ are intended as a first step towards Palestinian self-rule, with a staged withdrawal from the Occupied Territories by Israeli troops. However, illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories double in number during the ‘peace process’. By the year 2000 there are about 350,000 Israeli settlers in the Occupied Territories.
2000 Israel’s increasingly brutal military rule and its widespread theft of Palestinian land for settlement building ignites a second Intifada. Thousands of Palestinians are killed as they resist Israel’s huge army.
2002 The Arab governments declare they are prepared to recognise Israel within the pre-1967 borders at the Beirut Conference. Israel ignores this offer, violently invades every Palestinian city except Jericho and starts building a separation apartheid wall, largely on Palestinian land.
2005 Israel pulls out its 8000 illegal settlers from the Gaza Strip (which has a population of 1.4 million Palestinians) — and settles another 30,000 in the West Bank. It then seals off the Gaza Strip, making access virtually impossible.
2006 Democratic general elections in the Occupied Territories bring Hamas to power. The US, supported by the EU, immediately imposes severe sanctions on the Palestinians.
2008/9 Israeli military action in Gaza killed more than 1 400, including some 400 children, and caused mass devastation on infrastructure for billions of dollars, leaving Gazans in even greater squalor and inhuman conditions than they were suffering before the onslaught.