Monday, July 31, 2006

A Brief History

Biblical times

1250 BC: Israelites began to conquer and settle the land of Canaan on the eastern Mediterranean coast.

-- Fast forward --


The State of Israel, the first Jewish state for nearly 2,000 years, was proclaimed at 1600 on 14 May 1948 in Tel Aviv. [...]

The year had begun with Jewish and Arab armies each staging attacks on territory held by the other side. Jewish forces, backed by the Irgun and Lehi militant groups made more progress, seizing areas alloted to the Jewish state but also conquering substantial territories allocated for the Palestinian one.


Mounting tensions between Israel and its Arab neighbours culminated in six days of hostilities starting on 5 June 1967 and ending on 11 June - six days which changed the face of the Middle East conflict.

Israel seized Gaza and the Sinai from Egypt in the south and the Golan Heights from Syria in the north. It also pushed Jordanian forces out of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Egypt's powerful air force was put out of action on the first day of fighting when Israeli jets bombed it on the ground in a pre-emptive strike.

The territorial gains doubled the area of land controlled by Israel. The victory heralded a new age of confidence and optimism for Israel and its supporters.

The UN Security Council issued resolution 242, stressing "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security". The resolution called for the "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict". It also called for an end to "all claims or states of belligerency and respect for... the sovereignty... of every state in the area and their right to live in peace... free from threats or acts of force".


Heart of the conflict

At the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a dispute over land and borders. The geography of the conflict revolves around the three territorial units of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, defined by armistice lines drawn after a war in the region in 1948. Since then, military action, settlement and population growth have also shaped the situation on the ground.

1920 to 1948

British control: Mandate Palestine
Palestine - comprising what are now Israel, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jordan - was among several former Ottoman Arab territories placed under the administration of Great Britain by the League of Nations. The mandate lasted from 1920 to 1948. In 1923 Britain granted limited autonomy to Transjordan, now known as Jordan.

1947 to 1948 Israel founded

UN partition plan:
The United Nations General Assembly decided in 1947 on the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem to be an international city. The plan, which was rejected by the native Arabs, was never implemented.

War broke out in 1948 when Britain withdrew, the Jews declared the state of Israel and troops from neighbouring Arab nations moved in. After eight months of fighting an armistice line was agreed, establishing the West Bank and Gaza Strip as distinct geographical units.

1967 Six-Day War

Before the war:
From 1948 to 1967, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, was ruled by Jordan. During this period, the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian military administration. Israeli troops captured Egypt's Sinai peninsula during the 1956 British, French and Israeli military campaign in response to the nationalisation of the Suez Canal. The Israelis subsequently withdrew and were replaced with a UN force. In 1967, Egypt ordered the UN troops out and blocked Israeli shipping routes - adding to already high levels of tension between Israel and its neighbours

After the war
In a pre-emptive attack on Egypt that drew Syria and Jordan into a regional war in 1967, Israel made massive territorial gains capturing the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula up to the Suez Canal. The principle of land-for-peace that has formed the basis of Arab-Israeli negotiations is based on Israel giving up land won in the 1967 war in return for peace deals recognising Israeli borders and its right to security. The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt as part of the 1979 peace deal with Israel.

Jerusalem before and after 1967

Before 1967
The armistice line drawn at the end of the 1948 war divided Jerusalem into two. Between 1949 and 1967, Israel controlled the western part of Jerusalem, while Jordan took the eastern part, including the old walled city containing important Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious sites.

After 1967
Israel captured the whole of Jerusalem in 1967 and extended the city's municipal boundaries, putting both East and West Jerusalem under its sovereignty and civil law. In 1980 Israel passed a law making its annexation of East Jerusalem explicit. The city's status remains disputed, with Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem considered illegal under international law. Israel is determined that Jerusalem be its undivided capital, while Palestinians are seeking to establish their capital in East Jerusalem.

West Bank: Palestinian

Palestinian-controlled areas
Since the 1993 Declaration of Principles resulting from the Oslo peace process, there have been several handovers of land to differing degrees of Palestinian control. Currently 59% of the West Bank is officially under Israeli civil and security control. Another 23% of it is under Palestinian civil control, but Israeli security control. The remainder of the territory is governed by the Palestinian National Authority - although such areas have been subject to Israeli incursions during the recent intifada.

West Bank: Israeli

Israeli settlements
Since 1967, Israel has pursued a policy of building settlements on the West Bank. These cover about 2% of the area of the West Bank and are linked by Israeli-controlled roads. There are also large tracts of Israeli-controlled land designated as military areas or nature reserves.

Israeli checkpoints
Military checkpoints on West Bank roads allow Israel to monitor and control travel in much of the West Bank. During the recent Palestinian intifada, Israeli troops have also encircled and staged incursions into population centres and severely restricted the movement of Palestinian civilians. In 2002, Israel began building a security barrier near the north-western edge of the West Bank.

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And in case you missed it:

1996 Policy Paper

A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm: Is an ambitious 1996 Middle East Policy Paper. A Clean Break recommended toppling the government of Iraq, "rolling back" Syria and Iran, and "electrifying" support for Israel in the US Congress in exchange for new missile defense contract opportunities. Three of the eight authors have since become prominent policymakers in the U.S. government.

September 2000

A SECRET blueprint for US global domination reveals that President Bush and his cabinet were planning a premeditated attack on Iraq to secure 'regime change' even before he took power in January 2001. [...]

Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century, was written in September 2000 by the neo-conservative think-tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

The plan shows Bush's cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power. It says: 'The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.'


Author of this post supports only one side:
the one for Peace.

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