Arab-Israeli Conflict

Based on the article by Bernard Reich

Context: world history

Dreyfus case

1894 - 1906

In France, Jewish captain Alfred Dreyfus was wrongfully accused of treason. The case dragged on for years and has become synonymous with injustice and antisemitism.

World War One

1914 - 1918

Led to the end of Ottoman rule in Palestine. The Great Powers as well as indegenous peoples then sought enhanced positions in the Middle East.

McMahon-Hussein Correspondence

1915 - 1916

Britain encouraged an Arab revolt in an effort to weaken the Ottoman Empire. And so the British high commissioner in Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon, pledged British support for Sherif Hussein and his plans for an Arab kingdom. Britain basically promised Hussein territory that they had also divided up with France in the Sykes-Picot Agreement.

Sykes-Picot Agreement

May 1916

The British and the French agreed on this division of territories of the defeated Ottoman Empire following the war's conclusion. Britain sought a sphere of influence in what became Palestine and Iraq. France sought a sphere of influence in what became Syria and Lebanon.

Hitler becomes Chancellor


World War Two

1 September 1939 - 2 September 1945

The Holocaust

1941 - 2 September 1945

Around six million Jews were killed by the Nazi regime, as well as many Slavs, homosexuals, Romanis, and others.
Also known as the Shoah ('Catastrophe').

Egyptian Revolution


The Free Officers Movement overthrew the Egyptian king and established a republic military regime led by Gamel Abdel Nasser.

Hafez al-Assad seizes power in Syria

1970 - 1971

Nasser dies; Anwar Sadat president of Egypt

28 September 1970

Lebanese Civil War

1975 - 1990

War broke out between the Druze, Shia muslims, Sunni muslims and christians.

Iranian Revolution

January 1978 - February 1979

The USA-supported Shah is deposed. Ayatollah Khomeini assumes power and proclaims Iran an Islamic republic.

Iran-Iraq War

September 1980 - August 1988

Gulf War

August 2, 1990 - February 28, 1991

Iraq invaded and occupied Kuwait on August 2, 1990.
A coalition ground war against Iraq quickly drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.

Collapse of the Soviet Union

December 1991

September 11 attacks

11 September 2001

War in Afghanistan

October 2001 - 2014

Iraq War

March 2003 - 2011

Zionism, Israel and Palestine events

First World Zionist Congress

23 August 1897

The World Zionist Organization was established

Balfour Declaration

2 November 1917

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."
The declaration was vague and attempted to please both Jews and Arabs.
It dramatically enhanced the Zionist movement's efforts to create a Jewish state and it generated widespread international recognition of the Zionist goal.

Haganah formed


Haganah ("Defense") was a clandestine force created to protect Jews and their property.

British Mandate for Palestine

24 July 1922

Gave Britain administrative and political control of the territory for the next 25 years.
It called upon the mandatory power to "secure establishment of the Jewish National Home" and specifically recognized the World Zionist Organization as the right organization to guide this process.
It was formally confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922 and then came into effect on 29 September 1923.

World Union of Zionists-Revisionists/New Zionist Organization

1925 - 1946

The World Union of Zionists-Revisionists was founded in 1925 as an integral part of the WZO, with Jabotinsky as president. However, in 1935, Revisionists seceded from the WZO to form the New Zionist Organization.

Anti-Jewish riots

1928 - 1929

There were riots in Jerusalem (associated with the Western Wall), Hebron, and Safed.


1931 - 1948

Irgun or Etzel was a paramilitary group founded by militant members of the larger Haganah.

Irgun's activities were limited to retaliation against Arab attacks until May 1939, when they started attacking British targets as well.
When World War Two started, most of Irgun stopped attacking the British. One group, however, split into 'LEHI', which continued anti-British action despite WWII.
In 1944, the whole of Irgun renewed the attacks on British targets.
When the state of Israel was founded, Irgun merged into the official Israel Defense Forces.

Arab Revolt

April 1936 - 1939

Arabs in Palestine petitioned the British authorities to limit Jewish immigration and land purchases. Their demands were rejected and the Arab Higher Committee called for a general strike, which soon escalated into violence.

The Peel report

July 1937

Lord Robert Peel was commissioned by the British government to assess the situation in Mandatory Palestine and concluded that the Mandate was unsustainable. The report suggested dividing Palestine into three zones: a Jewish zone, an Arab zone, and a zone that would remain under British control.
Both sides protested against this proposal.

White Paper of 1939

May 1939

This policy paper of the British government limited Jewish immigration to 75,000 people within the next five years. It also disavowed the establishment of a Jewish state and considered the terms of the Balfour Declaration to be fulfilled.
This was seen as a betrayal by the Yishuv.

Biltmore Conference of Zionist leaders

May 1942

Zionist leadership and activities shifted to the United States as a result of the Holocaust. The Biltmore conference marked this shift.

UN Partition Plan is adopted - Resolution 181 (II)

29 November 1947

This partition plan would divide Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish, with Jerusalem an international enclave. It was adopted under heavy Arab protest.
A minority of the UN wanted Palestine to become a single federal state, with Jerusalem the capital and with Jews and Arabs enjoying autonomy in their respective areas.

Deir Yassin Massacre

April 10, 1948

The Irgun and LEHI attacked the village of Deir Yassin and killed around 100 Arab civilians.

1948 Arab-Israeli War

15 May 1948 - 10 March 1949

Also known as the 'War of Independence' in Israel or al-Nakba, 'the Catastrophe' in Arab states.
Fighting wich had occurred throughout 1947 and '48 turned into full-scale war after Israel's Declaration of Independence. The attacking Arab states were Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon.
This war is known in Israel as the War of Independence and in the Arab world as al-Nakba, The Catastrophe.
After the war, Israel controlled about one-third more territory than it had been allocated by the partition plan. The remaining territories were controlled by Jordan and Egypt. Jordan incorporated the West Bank into its kingdom, while Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip.

Israeli-Arab tensions rise


The early 1950s were characterized by a heightening of tension.
Egypt and other Arab states continued to threaten Israel's existence. Israel responded to Arab terrorist attacks with violent raids.

Suez Crisis

29 October 1956 - 7 November 1956

Following Egypt's nationalization of the Suez Canal, the three powers of Britain, France and Israel launched an attack on Egypt. The goal was to reclaim the Suez Canal and to oust Nasser.

The United States eventually pressured the three powers to withdraw and a UN peacekeeping force was set up.

Eichmann Trial

11 April 1961 - 31 May 1962

The Holocaust had not been of major importance for the Israeli psyche, but that changed with the trial of Adolf Eichmann.
For the first time, victims eyewitness accounts of the Shoah were heard by a large audience.

Israeli-Egyptian tensions rise

May 1967

After the Suez Crisis, the situation was relatively tranquil.
In the mid-1960s, however, tensions between Israel and Arab countries grew.
In May 1967, Egypt mobilized its army and closed the Strait of Tiran to Israeli shipping.

Six-Day War

5 June 1967 - 10 June 1967

Israel launched a preemptive strike against the Egyptian air force on the morning of June 5, immediately achieving air superiority. Ground fighting in the Sinai ended in the defeat of Egypt's army.
Israel went on to defeat Jordan and Syria, taking the city of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

The war was a watershed in the history of Israel.

1967 Arab League Summit

August 29, 1967

Following the Six-Day War, Arab states agreed to reject peace with Israel, as articulated in the Khartoum Resolution.

War of Attrition

Approx. March 1969 - August 1970

(Some historians say that the War of Attrition began in 1967).

Israel still occupied the Sinai peninsula. Egypt launched attacks "to wear down the enemy". Israel launched air raids into Egypt.
Nasser asked the Soviets for help. They provided equipment, training, and combatants.
A cease-fire was eventually reached with the involvement of the United States.

Yom Kippur War

6 October 1973 - 25 October 1973

Egypt and Syria attacked Israel to regain the Sinai peninsula and the Golan Heights respectively.
The attack began on the Jewish sacred day of Yom Kippur and during Ramadan.
The Israeli army was taken by surprise and needed several days to assemble its forces. The Israeli forces eventually pushed back into Egypt and Syria, even approaching the countries' capital cities.
The impact on Israel was significant. Many were killed and the war fueled great insecurity among the population.

Syria-Egypt-Israel accords

Approx. 1974 - Approx. 1975

The Egypt-Israel Disengagement of Forces Agreement, the Sinai II Accords, and the Israel-Syria Disengagement of Forces Agreement were signed. These agreements strenghtened the cease-fire.
Israel had to withdraw from territory in the Suez Canal Zone and in the Golan Heights.

Anwar Sadat visits Israel

November 20, 1977

The movement towards a peace treaty had truly begun with Sadat's willingness to come to Israel.

Coastal Road massacre

11 March 1978

A PLO terrorist unit killed thirty-seven Israeli civilians in an attack on a bus.

1978 South Lebanon conflict

19 March 1978 - 13 June 1978

Code-named Operation Litani by Israel.
Israel invaded the south of Lebanon with the expressed goal of eliminating PLO bases in response to the Coastal Road massacre.

Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty

26 March 1979

US President Jimmy Carter witnessed the signing of the treaty, which achieved lasting peace between Israel and its greatest military Arab adversary.
Egypt was suspended from the Arab League because of the treaty.

1982 Lebanon War

6 June 1982 - 17 May 1983

Despite the 1978 conflict, the border between Israel and Lebanon was not quiet.
Israel invaded Lebanon following the attempt to assassinate an Israeli ambassador. The goal was to destroy the PLO's infrastructure in Lebanon, which was achieved in the first few weeks of the invasion.
A significant number of Syrian tanks and aircraft was destroyed as well, as Syria had taken control of much of Lebanon.
In the second phase of the war, Israel laid siege to Beirut. A cease-fire was then achieved and the PLO leadership was forced to leave Beirut.
Extended negotiations led to an agreement between Lebanon and Israel on May 17, 1983, which said both states should retreat to the existing international boundaries.

Sabra and Shatila massacre

16 September 1982 - 19 September 1982

Bashir Gemayel, leader of the Phalange party (a right-wing Maronite christian party), was elected as president of Lebanon, but he was assassinated on 14 September.
Two days later, around 200 Phalangist militias went into Palestinian refugee camps, supposedly to clear out PLO fighters. They murdered at least 800 people, while Israeli troops were a few hundred meters away.

First Intifada

December 1987 - 13 September 1993

(Some historians say the First Intifada ended in 1991).

Protests began in the Gaza Strip and soon spread to the West Bank and later to Israel, especially Jerusalem. As violence escalated, Israel sought to halt the intifada. This process was overshadowed by the Gulf War.
A conference was held in Madrid in 1991 which involved Israel, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan-Palestinian delegations. Bilateral talks continued throughout 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994.
The First Intifada ended with the Oslo Accords in 1993.

Sporadic Israel-Syria peace talks

Approx. November 1991 - Approx. March 2000

Oslo I Accord

13 September 1993

The Oslo I Accord or Declaration of Principles was signed on 13 September 1993 between Israel and the PLO. The PLO recognized Israel's right to exist in peace and security, and Israel recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people. This accord ushered in a new era in the politics of the Middle East; it appeared to move Israel closer to acceptance by its Arab neighbours.

Israel-Jordan peace talks

25 July 1994 - 26 October 1994

Israel and Jordan signed the Washington Declaration on 25 July 1994, formally ending their state of belligerence.
A few months later, the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty was signed. It allowed for economic cooperation between the two countries, and Jordan was given the right to protect Muslim shrines in the city of Jerusalem.
The peace talks were remarkable for their speed, the ingenuity of the solutions, and the warmth between the Israeli and Jordanian figures.

Yitzhak Rabin assassinated

November 4, 1995

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli student who believed that Rabin was endangering Jewish lives by participating in peace talks.

Camp David II fails

July 2000

The unsuccessful summit was followed by a breakdown in the peace process.

Second Intifada

28 September 2000 - Approx. February 2005

Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount under heavy guard. Since the Mount is not only Judaism's holiest area but also Islam's third holiest location, this infuriated Palestinians and other Arabs. Protests erupted and escalated into violence.
The Israeli cabinet approved Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw Israeli settlers and soldiers from the Gaza Strip on February 20, 2005.
(There is no agreement on the exact end date of the Second Intifada)

Hamas elected

January 2006

Second Lebanon War

12 July 2006 - 14 August 2006

On Israel's northern border, Hizballah had built up a substantial missile capacity since 2000.
On 12 July, Hizballah fighters killed eight Israeli soldiers. Israel then began a massive air campaign on Hizballah strongholds in southern Lebanon, and on Beirut's airport and major land routes, to prevent the supply of arms from Syria and Iran. Near the end of the war, Israel launched a ground operation.
The UN Security Council achieved a cease-fire on 14 August and strengthened the pre-existing UN security force in southern Lebanon.

Hamas seizes control in Gaza

June 2007

In early 2007, Saudi Arabia and other Arabs made efforts to reconcile Fatas and Hamas, but they were unsuccessful.

Gaza War

December 2008 - 18 January 2009

Israel invaded the Gaza Strip in order to destroy Hamas's rocket installations.

Immigration and demographics

25,000 Jews in Palestine

Approx. 1880

First Aliyah

1882 - 1903

20,000-30,000 individuals, mainly from Russia and Eastern Europe, arrived in Palestine.
That's around 1,000 people per year.

Second Aliyah

1904 - 1914

35,000-40,000 people, mostly from Russia, migrate to Palestine.
That's around 4,000 people per year.

85,000 Jews and 600,000 Arabs in Palestine


Third Aliyah

1919 - 1923

35,000 immigrants came, mainly from Russia, and laid the foundations of a comprehensive social and economic infrastructure, developed agriculture, established collective agricultural settlements.
That's around 8,500 people per year.

Fourth Aliyah

1924 - 1932

The Fourth Aliyah was made up of some 88,000 mainly middle-class immigrants from Poland and was instrumental in developing and enriching urban life.
That's around 11,000 people per year.

Fifth Aliyah

1932 - 1938

This Aliyah followed Hitler's rise to power and consisted of 215,000 immigrants, mainly from Germany. Many of them were professionals and academics, which had a considerable impact on the Jewish community in Palestine. This was the first large-scale influx from Western and Central Europe.
That's around 36,000 people per year.

World War II immigration

1939 - 1945

Immigration continued both legally and illegally throughout the war, totalling around 82,000 people.
That's around 13,600 people per year.

Post-war immigration

1945 - May 1948

Despite severe British restrictions on Jewish immigration, some 57,000 Jews arrived in Palestine.
That's around 19,000 per year.

650,000 Jews and 1,300,000 Arabs in Palestine



Eliezer Ben-Yehuda

1858 - 1922

Central figure in the effort to revive Hebrew as a spoken language for the Jewish state.

Theodor Herzl

1860 - 1904

The founder of modern Zionism.

Chaim Weizmann

1874 - 1952

Weizmann was a Russian Jewish immigrant to Great Britain and a leader of the World Zionist Organization.
His scientific work contributed to the British war effort and he used his influence to help secure the issuance of the Balfour Declaration.

Vladimir Ze'ev Jabotinsky

1880 - 1940

Central figure in Revisionist Zionism, which espoused a less socialist economic policy than Ben-Gurion's, a more activist defense policy against Arab riots, and the creation of a Jewish state that would cover the entire mandated territory of Palestine, on both sides of the Jordan River.

David Ben-Gurion

1886 - 1973

Central figure in the founding of Israel.
He was already an important politician in the Yishuv ("community"), which is a name for the Jewish population in Palestine prior to the founding of Israel.

Yasser Arafat

24 August 1929 - 11 November 2004

Leader of the PLO for many years and the face of the Palestinian cause.