The Israeli/Palestine conflict has deep roots and is complex, to say
the least. However, here is a basic timelines for the conflict:
1947: Great Britain handed over responsibility for solving ?the
Zionist-Arab problem? to the UN. At this time, the conflict was
intense, and Jewish immigrants were about a third of the population,
owning 6% of the land. Many were fleeing the Nazis. The UN split the
territory into separate Jewish and Palestinian states; the Jews
accepted this proposal, the Palestinians did not.
1948: On May 14th, The State of Israel was declared. Palestinians
called the day "al-Nakba" (the Catastrophe). During this year, Jewish
and Arab armies attacked each other on territory supposedly held by
the other side; Jewish armies were able to seize not only land that
was supposed to be theirs, but also Palestinian territory. Irgun and
Lehi, militant groups on the Jewish side, massacred the village of
Deir Yassin on April 9. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians ran to
1964: Since 1948, Arab nations had wanted to lead an Arab response to
the creation of a Jewish state. In January of 1964, they created the
PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), which remained mostly under
their control, not Palestinian control.
1967: Six days of battle began on June 5 and ended on June 11. Israel
overtook Gaza, much of Sinai. Israel also forced Jordanians troops
from the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The land controlled by Israel
was doubled. The UN issued Security Council Resolution 242, which
noted the ? inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.?
1969: Yasser Arafat took over chairmanship of the PLO, wanting to give
Palestinians more control over the organization.
1968: Arafat's Fatah organization inflicted heavy casualties on
Israeli troops in Jordan.
1972: Throughout the 1970s, the PLO (led by Yasser Arafat) and other
militant groups attacked Israel. One of these attacks was at the
Munich Olympics, in 1972. Eleven Israeli athletes were killed.
1973: Israel had not released sections of Egypt and Syria seized in
1967; in response, Syria and Egypt attacked Israel on the Day of
Atonement (Yom Kippur). This was called the ?Ramadan War.? In the end,
Israel seized land beyond their 1967 ceasefire lines, going in beyond
the Golan Heights and to the western side of the Suez Canal. (They
later handed back some of this land.) The U.S., Soviet Union, and the
UN all stepped in to diplomatically bring about ceasefire agreements.
Soon, Saudi Arabia initiated a petroleum embargo against the U.S. for
their support of Israel, causing serious fuel shortages throughout the
1974: Arafat appeared at the UN, offering a ?peaceful solution.? He
had strong words against the Jews, but claimed: ?Today I have come
bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter's gun. Do not let the
olive branch fall from my hand." This speech initiated sympathy for
the Palestinian movement?perhaps for the first time coming from
nations other than Arab.
1977: The Herut party won the Israeli election, overtaking the
left-wing Labour Party; this was party was ?heir? to the earlier Irgun
and Lehi militant groups. The Herut?s (later called the Likuds) were
intent on expanding Israel to the entire ?greater Israel? of biblical
times. Ariel Sharon lead the movement to create more Israeli
settlements along the West Bank and Gaza. Egyptian president Anwar
Sadat made a speech to the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on November
19. He was the first Arab leader to recognize Israel.
1978: Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David accords in September;
this gave a ?framework for peace in the Middle East,? and included
?limited autonomy? for Palestinians.
1979: An Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty was signed by Sadat and Israeli
Prime Minister Menachem in late 1978, and took effect in March 1979.
The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt. Arab nations boycotted
Egypt for negotiating with Israel.
1981: Sadat was assassinated by Islamist groups in the Egyptian army
who felt their should be no peace with Israel.
1982: An attempted assassination was made against Shlomo Argov,
Israeli ambassador to London, by the Palestinian group Abu Nidal. The
Israeli army began ?Operation Peace for Galilee,? with the intent of
eliminating Palestinian guerrillas near Israel?s northern border and
persisting into Beirut to expel the PLO. On September 15, the leader
of the Christian Phalange militia, Bashir Gemayel, was killed by a
bomb. The next day, the Israeli army occupied West Beirut. The
Phalangists were Israeli allies, and from September 16 to 18, they
massacred hundreds of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee
1983: Sharon resigned as defense minister when an Israeli inquiry
concluded he?d should have prevented the massacre of 1982.
1987: An uprising against the Israeli occupation began in Gaza and
spread to the West Bank. This included acts of civil disobedience,
military strikes, boycotts on Israeli products, and stone-throwing
demonstrations against occupying troops. The troops responded, killing
1988: The Palestinian National Council met in Algeria in November and
voted to accept a ?two state solution,? based on the 1947 UN partition
resolution; they renounced terrorism, and called for Israel to
withdraw from certain territories. Israel regarded them as a terrorist
organization with whom they wouldn?t negotiate.
1991: After the Gulf War, the PLO was severely weakened financially.
Peace seemed appealing, and the U.S. tried to help bring it about.
U.S. Secretary of State James Baker arranged for a meeting in Madrid.
Syria and Jordan agreed to come. But Israeli prime minister Yitzhak
Shamir refused to talk to ?PLO terrorists.? Therefore, prominent
Palestinian figures, not part of the PLO, were chosen to attend. The
summit began on October 30.
1992: The left-wing Labour party was elected back into office.
1993: Israel lifted a ban on PLO participants. U.S. talks were
leading nowhere, so beginning on January 20, the "Oslo track" was
secretly set forth. The Palestinians consented to recognize Israel if
the Israelis would begin ending their occupation. The end result was
the Declaration of Principles, signed on the lawn of the White House.
1994: On May 4, Israel and the PLO agreed to the practical
implementation of the Declaration of Principles. Israel was to
withdraw from most of the Gaza Strip (excluding any Jewish
settlements), and from Jericho. Negotiations almost came to a halt on
February 25, when a Jewish West Bank settler fired on praying Muslims,
killing 29. The agreement called for additional withdrawals over a
five year period; much of the difficult negotiations were left for a
1995: This was the first year of Palestinian self-rule, and it was
plagued by bombings by Palestinian militants, who killed many
Israelis. In response, Israel assassinated many militants. Militant
and religious groups on both sides opposed the agreement. Peace talks
fell behind schedule. On September 24, the Oslo II agreement was
signed, which divided the West Bank into three zones: one zone (7% of
the territory) went into Palestinian control; the second zone (21% of
the territory) went under joint Israeli-Palestinian control; and the
third zone stayed in Israeli hands. Israel also released Palestinian
prisoners. A Jewish extremist assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak
Rabin on November 4. Shimon Peres became prime minister.
1996: A series of suicide bombings followed in 1996, conducted by the
Islamic group Hamas; Israel attacked Lebanon for three weeks. Peres
lost the Mary 29 election, to Binyamin Netanyahu, who campaigned
against the Oslo peace deals. Netanyahu lifted the freeze on new
Jewish settlements, and incited Muslim hatred by allowing an
archaeological tunnel to be opened under one of Islam?s most holy
1997-99: With U.S. pressure upon him, Metanyahu handed over 80% of
Beron in January, and signed the Wye River Memorandum on October 23.
This document specified further withdrawals from the West Bank. He
lost elections on May 18, to Ehud Barak, who vowed to ?end the
100-year conflict? within a year.
2000: Peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians were going
nowhere. Barak focused on making peace with Syria, but he was
unsuccessful. Israel withdrew with Lebanon in May. On September 28,
Ariel Sharon (who was the Likud leader) toured the Temple Mount
complex in Jerusalem; Palestinian demonstrations followed, and turned
into an uprising. Barak resigned on December 10.
2001: Ariel Sharon was elected prime minister. Sharon perused the
assassination of enemy militants and ordered air strikes against the
Palestinians. Palestinian militants increased their suicide bomb
attacks in Israeli cities.
2002-2003: In March, Israel re-occupied most of the West Bank.
Throughout 2002, Palestinian cities were attacked and under almost
constant curfew. In April, Israeli forces captured a refugee camp in
the northern West Bank. The Palestinians claimed it had been a
massacre, but the Israeli army said they?d been met with organized
resistance, had heavy losses, and that only 52 Palestinians had been
killed. The UN stated that there had been no massacre, while Amnesty
International claimed Israel had committed war crimes. In May, a
standoff that lasted five weeks occurred at Bethlehem?s Church of the
Nativity; Palestinian troops took shelter in the church when Israeli
troops appeared in the city. The standoff ended by the militants being
sent into exile. In June, the U.S. called for Palestinians to replace
their leader with one not "compromised by terror.?
This information has been culled from several timelines:
The best is probably from the BBC, ?A History of Conflict:?
The timeline actually goes back to the 19th century, but gives plenty
of information on events from the 1940s forward.
?Timeline of Palestinian Israeli History and the Israel-Arab Conflict?
at MidEast Web: http://www.mideastweb.org/timeline.htm
and ?Israeli-Palestinian Conflict? at Bryn Mawr School Libraries:
Israeli Palestine timeline