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Updated June 2011

Also available in PDF format

  • Palaestina, as a term for the area later called “the Holy Land” by Christians, has a long history. It was first used by the Greeks in the fifth century BCE as a name for the area they called Palaestina Syria. In 63 BCE, the Romans changed the name to Provincia Judea; later, after the second Jewish revolt, they again changed the name to Provincia Syria Palaestina, meaning “the Province of Philistine Syria.”
  • Zionism as a term was coined in 1893 and clearly stated that the Jews needed their own state. Zionism was publicized in 1896 by Hungarian Jewish playwright and essayist Theodor Herzl in Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State), which called for a Jewish state, not necessarily in Palestine.
  • August 1897 – The First Zionist Convention in Basel, Switzerland declared its aim “to create for the Jewish people a home in Palestine,” and established the World Zionist Organization with Herzl as its first president.
  • Part of the Zionist slogan with reference to Palestine was: “a land without a people for a people without a land.” The Jewish Palestinian Conflict begins with the initial immigration of European Jews to Palestine.
  • By 1914, the total population of Palestine stood at about 700,000. About 615,000 were Arabs, and 85,000 to 100,000 were Jews.
  • During World War I Turkey sided with Germany against Britain, France and Russia; so did many Jews, mainly from hatred of Russia’s Tsarist regime.
  • Arab subjects in the Turkish Empire who were already seeking independence, joined with the Allies to fight their Turkish rulers. The British supported their independence in the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East. (Lawrence of Arabia).
  • Behind the scenes, Britain signed a secret deal with France in 1916 (the Sykes-Picot Agreement), under which the two countries agreed to divide the defunct Ottoman Empire between them, with part of Palestine to be under British rule, and part to be placed under joint Allied Governance. Syria and Lebanon were to be given to France.
  • On June 4, 1917, Jules Cambon, secretary general of the French Foreign Ministry, sent a letter to Nahum Sololow of the World Zionist Organization, pledging “to help the renaissance of the Jewish nationality on the land from which the Jewish people were exiled so many years ago.”
  •  On November 2, 1917, British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour wrote: “His Majesty’s Government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”; it is clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.
  •  In 1922, the British declared that the boundary of Palestine would be limited to the area west of the Jordan River. The area east of the river, called Transjordan (now Jordan), was made a separate British mandate and eventually given independence.
  •  In 1929 Jews owned four percent of Palestine’s land area and 14 percent of all cultivable land, much of which had been reclaimed by them from desert and swamp.
  •  On October 13, 1933, 7,000 angry Palestinian demonstrators filled the streets of Jaffa. British forces shot and killed 12 and wounded 78 with one policeman killed. Two weeks later, again in Jaffa, 24 peaceful demonstrators were killed and 204 wounded.
  • In 1936 a Palestinian revolt against the British broke out. At the height of the revolt, the Arab rebels ran most of the country. 20,000 British troops re-conquered Palestine by 1939.
  • In 1937 the Peel Commission concluded, “The situation in Palestine has reached a deadlock. We cannot…. both concede the Arab claim to self-government and secure the establishment of a Jewish National Home.” Its solution, ending the Mandate and partitioning the country, was accepted by the Jews but rejected by the Arabs.
  • Following the riots of 1936-39, the British disarmed the Arab population, but not only allowed the Jewish population to retain its arms, but proceeded to train them. From these fighters emerged the all Jewish Haganah militia.
  • In 1939 a British White Paper proposed a unified state with both Jews and Palestinian Arabs sharing in government. Britain also tried to put a cap on Jewish immigration. Jewish organizations rejected the White Paper and began a campaign of armed resistance and illegal immigration. (Exodus film).
  • In 1939-40 the Nazi Government of Germany allowed German Jews to emigrate and leave the country. The United States and all Latin American, with few exceptions, rejected Jewish immigrants.
  • During World War II the Nazis murdered six million Jews in the Holocaust. They had been trapped in Europe, because virtually no country would give them shelter. The Zionists felt that British restriction of immigration to Palestine had cost hundreds of thousands of lives. After the war the Jews were desperate to bring the remaining Jews of Europe, about 250,000 people being held in displaced persons camps, to Palestine.
  • The UN took up the Palestine question in February 1947. It agreed to the termination of the Mandate granted by the League of Nations, and to independence for Palestine with special concern for the plight of European Jews who had survived the death camps.
  • The United Nations Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) recommended that Palestine be partitioned into an Arab state and a Jewish state. The commission called for Jerusalem to be put under international administration.
  • The UN General Assembly of 56 member nations adopted this plan on Nov. 29, 1947 as UN Resolution (GA 181), owing to the special support of both the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and in particular, the personal support of U.S. President Harry S. Truman. The final vote was 33 UN members in favor of partition, 13 against, including 12 Muslim countries, with 10 abstentions, including the UK.
  • In November 1947 Jews owned seven percent of the land and constituted 33 percent of the population. By the Partition arrangement they were given 57.6 percent of the land, and the Palestinians 42.3 percent.
  • Bethlehem and Jerusalem were to be a “corpus separatum” area governed by an international body.
  • The War of Independence, or 1948 War, “Nakba” (disaster) to the Palestinians, began with clashes between the Israeli underground groups and Arab irregulars almost as soon as the UN passed the partition resolution. (November 29, 1947)
  • On March 10, 1948, the leaders of the Haganah, the leading Zionist underground militia in Palestine devised “Plan Dalet” which called for the systematic expulsion of Palestinians from land sought for the soon-to be-founded State of Israel. A key instigator of this plan was Ben Gurion, soon to be the first Prime Minister of the State of Israel.
  • April 9, 1948, 103 Palestinians, 2/3 of whom were old men, women and children, were killed in the village of Deir Yassim by the Stern Gang and Irgun, despite a previous non-aggression agreement of the villagers with Haganah. May 12, 1948, Haganah forces expelled all Palestinians from Tel Aviv.
  • Menachem Begin was the head of the Irgun; Yitzhak Shamir was one of the three leaders of the Stern Gang.
  • Between March 10 and May 14, 1948, some 250,000 Palestinians were expelled from ancestral lands.
  • The State of Israel was proclaimed on May 14, 1948, one day before the expiry of the British Mandate for Palestine
  • The Palestinians and Arab Nations had rejected the Partition Plan and on May 15, 1948 five Arab Nations, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, sent some 30,000 ineffectual and poorly led soldiers into Palestine, with the exception of Trans-Jordan, to support the Palestinians.
  • Israel first applied for admission to the UN on May 15, 1948; the admissions committee concluded that it did not have “the requisite information” proving it was a viable state, and its application was ignored by the Security Council.
  • Israel’s second application for admission was denied on December 17, 1948 by the Security Council by a vote of five to one, with five abstentions.
  • On March 11, 1949, with a Security Council vote of nine to one to recommend Israel’s third application for UN membership, the General Assembly voted 37 to 12 with nine abstentions to admit Israel to the UN.
  • Jewish forces numbered 60,000 fighters heavily armed with the latest weapons smuggled in from Europe and paid for by funds from the U.S. American diaspora.
  • After initial setbacks, Israeli forces successfully overcame Arab and Palestinian resistance and conquered 78 percent of the country. At the end of hostilities, Jewish military forces were double the size of the Arab and Palestinian resistance.
  • UN General Assembly Resolution 194 called for cessation of hostilities and return of refugees who wished to live in peace.
  • The Armistice “Green Line” left East Jerusalem and the West Bank under the control of Jordan, and Gaza under the control of Egypt. Israel took control of 78 percent of Palestine; some 675 Arab villages and towns were destroyed or resettled by Israelis. 350 of these villages and towns were demolished before Israel became a State.
  • In 1971 Prime Minister, Golda Meir ordered that all approved maps in Israel never show the Green Line or any Palestinian Territory.
  • Moshe Sharett, the second Prime Minister of Israel once stated: “We have forgotten that we have not come to an empty land to inherit it, but we have come to conquer a country from the people inhabiting it.”
  • The UN Commission estimated that 800,000 Palestinians had fled to neighboring Arab countries and elsewhere. Their lands, homes and villages were seized and often destroyed by the Israeli forces. Of the 800,000 Arabs originally living in the area that became Israel, only some 100,000 remained, becoming the Arab minority (now 1,500,000) in the Jewish State.
  • In March, 1976 a meeting of 48 heads of Palestinian municipalities and local village councils called for a day of nonviolent protests and strikes to slow down Israeli land confiscation policies. This coincided with the Israeli government’s confidential Koenig Memorandum which stressed the need “of diluting existing Arab populations “ for the sake of Jewish long term interests.
  • In the June War of 1967 (the Six Day War), Israel fought against its Arab neighbors, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Algeria contributed troops and arms to the Arab forces.
  • After defeat of these forces, Israel occupied the remaining parts of Arab Palestine, i.e. East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, along with the Sinai (later returned to Egypt), and the Golan Heights. 
  • In 1967 UN Security Council Resolution 242 called on Israel to withdraw to the armistice line (Green Line), i.e. from all captured territory as a basis for peace.
  • The same Resolution required the Palestinians to accept the remaining 22 percent of their homeland (East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza) for an independent State.
  • The Palestinian Leadership formally accepted this resolution in November 1988, at the cost of 78 percent of historical Palestine; in fact accepting less than half the allotment of the 1947 Partition Plan.
  • Another 380,000 Palestinians became refugees after the Six Day War.
  • Palestinian refugees are indigenous Arab inhabitants of historic Palestine (today’s WBGS and Israel). The Palestinian refugee problem is the oldest refugee problem in the world. There are now over 5.5 million Palestinian refugees, constituting two thirds of the total Palestinian population.
  • The Yom Kippur War was fought October 6-26, 1973, by a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria against Israel as a way of recapturing part of the territories lost during the Six Day War. The Arab forces were defeated and there were no significant territorial changes.
  • Israel had already produced its first nuclear weapon in 1966. During the 1973 war Israel possessed several dozen nuclear weapons and threatened to use them until the U.S. provided a massive airlift of weapons.
  • In the 1980s Israel encouraged a fledgling Islamic movement in the occupied territories as a counter weight to Yasser Arafat’s Fatah Party dominated Palestinian Liberation Organization. This Islamic organization grew especially in Gaza through licensed Islamic schools, sports clubs, charities, and a University. This movement became the Islamic Resistance Movement or Hamas, an acronym meaning “zeal.”
  • In December 1987 the Palestinians in the occupied territories began a revolt against Israeli military occupation. It was called the Intifadah Al-Hijara, the Uprising of Stones in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Local residents, especially children, initiated the revolt. It involved mostly low-level violence such as rock throwing; there were no checkpoints and no bombings.
  • Israel Defense Minister Yitshak Rabin instructed his soldiers to break the arms and legs of Palestinians who were protesting Israel’s occupation of their land.
  • This First Intifadah lasted from 1987 until 1993 with the beginning of the Oslo Accord negotiations. During this time, 1,551 Palestinians and 422 Israelis were killed; more than 18,000, mainly Palestinians, were injured.
  • The PLO in November, 1988 voted to accept the UN partition plan of 1947, to accept a two-state solution and a return of 22 percent of historic Palestine, and to recognize the State of Israel.
  • On Nov. 15, 1988, Palestinians declared themselves a State, and independence from Israeli occupation. The U.S. and European Union did not recognize this State; 100 other countries did.
  • The Oslo Accord was brokered by Norway after months of secret negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993. By its terms, Israel and the PLO recognized each other. The PLO renounced terrorism, and Israel agreed to withdraw its military and civil authorities from the Gaza and the West Bank town of Jericho. It set 1999 as a deadline for a final agreement. Subsequent negotiations to resolve these issues failed, however.
  • Though favored by Israeli and Palestinian moderates in both camps, Hamas rejected the Oslo Accord, as did the Israeli “right wing” parties.
  • On September 28, 1995 Rabin and Arafat agreed on “Oslo Two” which established three “areas” for negotiation: Area A – Three percent of the West Bank and Gaza area were to be totally under Palestinian control for security and administration. This area included such cities as Bethlehem, Jericho, Ramallah etc.; Area B – 27 percent of the area to be administered by the Palestinian Authority, with security (police, army) under Israeli control; and Area C – the remaining 70 percent of the area to be totally under Israeli control until final negotiations.
  • Checkpoints were established by Israel to limit travel between Area A and the other two areas.
  • It was agreed that by May 1999, 90 percent of West Bank and Gaza should be given back to the Palestinians, and the Palestinian State be established in the future.
  • It was also agreed that 10 percent of West Bank would remain with Israel as settlements, and that these settlements, the status of Jerusalem, final national borders, and resettlement for some 3.5 million Palestinian refugees would be the “final substantial issues” to be negotiated in the future.
  • On February 25, 1994 U.S. American-Israeli Baruch Goldstein killed 29 and wounded 125 Palestinians in the Hebron Ibrahimi mosque.
  • An Israeli law student assassinated Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s premier, on November 9, 1995 after the accord was reached.
  • The Second Intifadah began on September 28, 2000 when Ariel Sharon and other Likud Party Knesset Members entered the Dome of the Rock, Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary). They were accompanied by 2,000 heavily armed army and police and proceeded to the area under the upper platform.
  • On September 29, Israeli Army and police fired on Palestinians within the Dome precincts who were throwing stones down into the Israeli prayer area of the Western Wall. 11 Palestinians were killed and 700 wounded.
  • Israel, despite international law, continues building and expanding settlements and their access roads. It has already annexed East Jerusalem and about 15 percent of the West Bank.
  • Saudi Peace Proposal: This proposal was presented by the then Crown Prince Abdullah (later King) of Saudi Arabia. It proposed to end the Arab war against Israel in return for Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories, withdrawal in the Golan and appropriate arrangements regarding Jerusalem and the refugees.
  • This proposal, modified to be more specific about refugee issues, was adopted by a meeting of the Arab League, and eventually became incorporated in the quartet roadmap plan.
  • On March, 12, 2002 the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1397, calling on all sides to stop the violence once again, mentioning the peace plan of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, and for the first time since 1947 calling for creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
  • In April 2002 the U.S. government initiated a series of consultations with a group of diplomats that became known as the "Quartet." The quartet called for a roadmap, which would lead to Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories, i.e. East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, and the establishment of a Palestinian State.
  • In June 2002 President Bush made a long awaited speech on the Middle East policy calling for a Palestinian state, but insisting on democratic reform of the Palestine National Authority.
  • Some Israeli opposition political leaders and Palestinian leaders first presented the Geneva Accord on December 1, 2003. The agreement proposed historic concessions by both sides. Israel would give up sovereignty in East Jerusalem; the Palestinians would explicitly renounce the right of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel.
  • This accord was supported the then US Secretary of State Colin Powell, and by Palestinian National Authority (PNA) Chairman Yasser Arafat. The Israeli government denounced the agreement. Palestinian extremists, Hamas and their allies also denounced the agreement.
  • During 2003, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon adopted and adapted the barrier concept, which would envelope the Palestinians in two enclaves. This separation barrier, or Wall as it is called by the Palestinians, would separate many Palestinians from their fields and places of work. Construction of the 456 mile Wall continues.
  • By means of the settlements, their access roads, and the completed Wall almost 48 percent of the West Bank will have been annexed into Israel, leaving the Palestinians with about 11.5 percent of the original Palestinian Mandate.
  •   There are three ancestral roots of the present Israeli population: Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Misrachim.
  • Ashkenazi is derived from the Hebrew word for Germany; and make up 80 percent of world Jews. Their ancestors are the Jews of France, Germany, Eastern Europe and their descendants.
  • Sephardic is derived from the Hebrew word for Spain. Their ancestors came from Spain, Portugal, North Africa, the Middle East and their descendants.
  • Sephardic Jews are often subdivided into Sephardim from Spain and Portugal and Misrachim (Eastern) from North Africa and the Middle East. They did not experience the Holocaust; historically Jews were more tolerated in Muslim countries than in Christian ones.
  • The majority of U.S. Jews are Ashkenazi, descended for emigrant Jews from Germany and Eastern Europe in the 1800s and early 1900s.
  • A little more than half of Israel’s Jews are Misrachim, descended from Jews who have been in the land since ancient times or who were forced out of Arab countries after Israel was founded. Most of the rest are Ashkenazic, descended from Jews who came to the Holy Land (then controlled by the Ottoman Turks) instead of the United States in the late 1800s, or from Holocaust survivors.
  • The actual built-up areas of the settlements are relatively small, but to maintain them, a network of roads and bypass roads, buffer zones and outposts are used to maintain control over much larger areas.
  • In 2008 approximately 4,000 settlement dwellings were under construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
  • On July 9, 2003 the International Court of Justice ruled that the barrier (Wall) violates human rights and that Israel must dismantle it. Israel announced that it would not abide by the court decision.
  • During the Second Intifada, up to October 31, 2007, 4,304 Palestinians and 1,027 Israelis were killed. (B’Tselem) 36,585 Palestinians and 6,700 Israelis, mostly civilians were injured.
  • On January 9, 2005, Mahmoud Abbas was elected president of the Palestine National Authority, receiving about 61 percent of the vote.
  • On July 9, 2005 the movement for boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) was started when 170 Palestinian civil society organizations called for this response to Israeli occupation. This BDS applied most directly to Israeli goods sold on the West Bank and Israeli companies making products on the West Bank.
  • Abbas warned Ariel Sharon that an Israeli unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, without a previous political and security agreement would greatly strengthen Hamas by making it appear that Hamas armed struggle forced Israel to retreat.
  • The Israeli government and IDF removed all settlements and settlers from Gaza between August 15 and August 24, 2005. Despite demonstrations by Zionist groups the removal was completed without major violence. The last Israeli soldiers left Gaza on September 11, 2005.
  • Gaza is the world’s largest outdoor prison. According to the terms of the Disengagement, Israel retains exclusive control over Gaza’s airspace and continues to guard and monitor the external land perimeter of the Gaza Strip, with the exception of the southernmost border. It seals off Gaza from the ocean by having granted security control of its coastline to the Israeli navy.
  • The Disengagement plan similarly gave Israel control of Gaza’s water supply, electricity, and communications infrastructure. According to Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, by standards of international law, even though Israeli forces are no longer present in the Gaza Strip, Israel still remains an occupying power.
  • In the Palestinian elections of January 26, 2006, the radical Hamas movement won an upset victory over the Fatah. Hamas won about 74 of the 133 seats in the Palestine Legislative Assembly. Many Hamas candidates claimed that Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza vindicated their armed resistance, and helped them get elected.
  • The quartet stopped providing aid to the Palestinians until Hamas agreed to disarm and recognize Israel. The Hamas leadership continues to claim all of Palestine without recognition of Israel. The majority of Palestinians however are willing to recognize the State of Israel if the proposals of the Saudi or Geneva Accords are accepted by Israel.
  • In April 2008, Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal offered implicit recognition of Israel if it withdrew from the West Bank including Jerusalem. He said that Hamas has offered a 10 year truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders. Hamas also said it would abide by any peace deal with Israel, as long as the agreement is approved by a referendum of the Palestinian people. Israel has refused and insisted that Hamas recognize Israel as a Jewish State and renounce violence before there can be a truce.
  • All of Israel’s major political parties (Likkud, Labor and Kadima) seem committed by their actions and facts on the ground, to the ideology of a Greater Israel which would incorporate both the West Bank and Gaza.
  • “Operation Just Reward” began in response to Hezbollah (Party of God) militants crossing from Lebanon into Israel on July 12, 2005. They attacked an Israeli army patrol, killing three and capturing two soldiers. Hezbollah also began a series of rocket and mortar attacks on northern Israel. Israel retaliated with selective bombing and artillery shelling of Lebanon killing an estimated 900 persons, many of whom were civilians. Hezbollah responded by launched thousands of rockets on Haifa, Tiberias, Safed and other towns deep in northern Israel, including Nazareth killing about 40 Israeli and Palestinian civilians.
  • About 120 Israeli soldiers were also killed in the fighting. Over one million Israelis sough refuge from the rockets in the south.
  • In June 2007, serious fighting erupted in Gaza between Hamas and Fatah. Hamas took military control of Gaza under the leadership of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Abbas remains as the President of the Palestinian National Authority, and in control of the West Bank.
  • A one-day summit was held on June 20, 2007 at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. Olmert from Israel, Abbas for the Palestinians, Mubarak from Egypt, and Abdullah from Jordan proposed starting comprehensive peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians based on the 2002 Arab League Proposal.
  • This plan would give Israel full recognition throughout the Arab world in exchange for a full withdrawal from all territory taken in the 1967 war. It called for a “just” solution for Palestinian refugees.
  • In 2007 Jews constituted 54 percent of the population of Israel and the West Bank, excluding Gaza with 1.4 million people. (Haaretz, November 2007)
  • Israel has yet to set its State borders; nor has a constitution or bill of rights.
  • From 2000 to April 2008, 1,033 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian forces (326 military, 707 non-combatant civilians); 4,419 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces (1,497 resistant militants, including 227 “targeted killings,” 840 possible militants, and 2,082 non-combatant civilians.)
  • James Abourezk (former U.S. senator, D-SD) has stated that 80 percent of U.S. Jews believe that the goal of Muslim countries is to destroy the State of Israel; and that, despite this, 46 percent of U.S. Jews support the creation of a Palestinian state.
  • According to the Christian Science Monitor, grants to Israel have cost the U.S. American taxpayers over $1.2 trillion since 1975. This sum includes the cost of servicing the annual outlays as new debt.
  • Demographic trends indicate that Israel may cease to be a Jewish state in a few years unless it withdraws from Palestinian territory seized in 1967.
  • A growing minority of Palestinians and Israelis see the talk of a two state solution as part of a “peace process” game which is in fact an excuse for Israel to delay decisions and increase territorial control of the West Bank.
  • Support is increasing for pursuing the goal of a democratic, non-racist, and non-sectarian state in all of Israel Palestine with equal rights for all who live there.
  •  The government's national information directorate sought to focus foreign media attention on the 8,500 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel over the past eight years and the 20 civilians they have killed, rather than the punishing blockade of Gaza and the 1,700 Palestinians killed in Israeli military attacks since Jewish settlers were pulled out of Gaza three years ago.
  • During the six month cease-fire before the Israeli offensive on December 27, 2008, 30 Gaza Palestinians were killed by Israeli military, and 50 Palestinians were killed on the West Bank even though no rockets were fired from there.
  •  A recent statistical analysis by three academics (one at MIT, one at Harvard and one from Tel Aviv University) found that an overwhelming majority of lulls in violence since 2000 (when the second intifada began) ended when Israelis killed Palestinians, sparking renewed tit-for-tat violence.
  •  According to Nancy Kanwisher, Johannes Haushofer and Anat Biletzki, "79 percent of all conflict pauses were interrupted when Israel killed a Palestinian, while only eight percent were interrupted by Palestinian attacks." The pattern was "more pronounced for longer conflict pauses. ...Of the 25 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than a week, Israel unilaterally interrupted 24, or 96 percent.”
  • “Cast Lead,” the Israeli incursion into Gaza began on December 22, 2008, continued for 22 days and ended on January 18, 2009.
  • The Palestinian Ministry of Health published the following statistics after the Israeli Gaza offensive: 1,314 Palestinian dead; 5,320 injured, including 1,855 children, 795 women. 1,000 plus buildings, including all government buildings, and 41 mosques were bombed or shelled.
  • 13 Israelis died, including nine soldiers and four civilians; 84 Israeli civilians were wounded.
  • The UN and other international agencies documented the damage and destruction caused by Israel to the Gaza infrastructure: 21,000 homes, 16 hospitals, 280 schools, 300,000 trees and 700 factories, poultry farms, water and sewage facilities.
  • The Gaza borders were sealed in June 2006 after the capture of Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. In November 2009 Israel was holding 7,383 Palestinians prisoner, including 32 women, 340 children and 25 elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Over 800,000 Palestinians have been arrested or detained since 1967; 60 to 70 percent of all males.
  • The UN adapted the Goldstone Report which charged Israel and Hamas with “war crimes” during Israel’s assault on Gaza which ended in January 2009 by a vote of 114-18, with 44 abstentions. The U.S. voted no; France and Britain both abstained.
  • In May 2009, Pope Benedict XVI spent three days in Jordan, three days in Israel, and one day with the Palestinians in Bethlehem. On May 13, at the Aida Refugee Camp he said, “Your legitimate aspirations for permanent homes, for an independent Palestinian state, remain unfulfilled. Instead you find yourselves trapped, in a spiral of violence…Towering over us, as we gather here this afternoon, is a stark reminder of the stalemate that relations between Israelis and Palestinians seem to have reached – the wall.”
  • On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled 14 to one that the wall was illegal in its entirety, that it should be pulled down immediately, and that compensation should be paid to those already affected. The judges also decided 13 to 2 that signatories to the Geneva Convention were obliged to enforce “compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law.”
  • Two weeks later, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution 150 to 6, supporting the IJC’s call to dismantle the wall. Work on the wall continues with more than two thirds of its 450 miles completed.
  • President Obama, through Special Envoy George Mitchell, has called for a “settlement freeze” since the beginning of his administration.
  • Prime Minister Netanyahu in September 2009 approved more construction of West Bank settlements.
  • On November 25, 2009, the political security cabinet of Israel decided to temporarily freeze all public and private construction in all the settlements for ten months, i.e. until Sept. 25, 2010.
  • May 31, 2010 Israeli commandos board six ships bringing humanitarian supplies to Gaza 70 miles offshore killing eight Turkish and one U.S. citizen, and wounding 50 passengers. 600 passengers were taken into temporary custody in Israel.
  • As of May 2010 there were about 500,000 Israelis living in the 121 West Bank settlements (310,000) and the Israeli neighborhoods established in East Jerusalem. (190,000).
  • On September 1, 2010, President Obama held a working dinner with King Abdullah II of Jordan, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Abbas, Quartet envoy Tony Blair and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House.
  • Secretary Clinton held a second meeting with Netanyahu and Abbas on September 14, 2010 in Egypt to continue discussion of “core issues,” including an extension of the settlement freeze and land boundaries of Israel.
  • The 10-month moratorium on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank expired on Monday, September 27, 2010 without any extension as requested by U.S. President Obama and other world leaders.
  • "We will wait until after a meeting between Palestinians, and an Arab League meeting on October 4 ... So Netanyahu has a week to decide," said Abbas.
  • The Arab League met on October 8 and agreed to a 30-day extension to seek the construction moratorium that would allow for the resumption of negotiations, a move that prevented the complete collapse of the current round of talks.
  • As the resumption of direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators grows more uncertain, Arab foreign ministers raised once again the idea of an internationally-backed declaration of Palestinian statehood.
  • Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit said, “If Israel does not respect the settlements freeze, the Arab League will study some other option aside from the peace process such as going to the United Nations and ask for the recognition of the Palestinian state.”
  • President Obama offered 20 F-35 Stealth bombers, a pledge to veto all anti-Israel resolutions at the UN, and a permanent guarantee of Israel’s security … if Israel would suspend settlement construction for 90 days. The Israeli cabinet refused even to consider the offer.
  • The Obama administration cast its first veto in the United Nations on Friday, February 18, 2011, killing a Security Council resolution that would have condemned Israeli settlement.
  • The Obama administration also issued an extraordinary “explanation of vote,” read by UN Ambassador Susan Rice.  Though the U.S. had to veto, she explained, “We reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity.”
  • On March 28, 2011 Palestinian National Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said he hopes an independent Palestinian state will be proclaimed and recognized in September.
  • The proclaimed State of Palestine is currently recognized by over 110 countries, including Russia. The permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people over the natural resources of the Palestinian territories has been recognized by 139 countries.
  • Turkish President Abdullah Gul, in an April 24, 2011 op-ed for the New York Times, wrote: “Israel cannot afford to be perceived as an apartheid island surrounded by an Arab sea of anger and hostility.” He encouraged Israeli leaders to give serious consideration to the Arab League’s 2002 peace proposal calling for Israel’s return to the 1967 borders.
  • On May 14, 2011, the leaders of Fatah and Hamas, the main Palestinian factions, have signed a deal in Egypt's capital Cairo aimed at ending their four-year rift.
  • During the annual commemoration of the Nakba on May 15, 2011, some 1,000 Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces on the borders of Syria; 14 protesters were killed and dozens wounded. In Gaza, a teenager was killed and 100 other demonstrators were wounded. At the Qalandiya Jerusalem/West Bank checkpoint at least 40 protesters were injured.
  • President Obama gave a speech to the U.S. State Department on May 19, 2011, and another speech on May 22, 2011, to the 10,000 participants of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) supporting a two state solution based on the 1967 borders.
  • Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to a joint session of Congress on May 24, 2011 with his own counter proposals and received considerable congressional support.
  • PLO Chairman and Palestinian Authority Minister Abbas’ response to President Netanyahu’s proposals was that Israel had offered "nothing to build on." He said that if there was no progress by September, he would go ahead with the Palestinians' own unilateral plan, which is to get their independence recognized by the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2011.
  • On June 5, 2011, Israeli troops opened fire on pro-Palestinian demonstrators who allegedly tried to cross the fence separating Syria from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Syrian state media reported at least 20 people were killed including a woman and child. The incident was part of a wave of Palestinian demonstrations marking the 44th anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
  • In mid-June, 2011, the 1.6 million people of Gaza will have been five years under Israeli siege, with over 45.2 percent of working age people unemployed.


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Carter, Jimmy. Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.
Fleshler, Dan. Transforming America’s Israel Lobby. Potomac Books 2009
Halper, Jeff, An Israeli in Palestine, Pluto Press, 2008
Jeschke, Marlin. Rethinking the Holy Land. Herald Press. Scottdale, PA
Lerner. Michael. Healing Israel/Palestine. Tikkun Books. 2003
____________. The Geneva Accord. North American Books. 2004
Maartz, Zeev. Defending the Holy Land. University of Michigan. 2006
Makdisi, Saree. Palestine Inside Out. Norton, 2008
Mearsheimer, J. Walt, S. The Israel Lobby. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007
Pappe, Ilan. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Oxford, 2006
Rabkin, Yakov. A Threat from Within. Fernwood Publishing, 2006
Reinhart, Tanya. The Road to Nowhere. Verso. 2006
Sennott, Charles. The Body and the Blood. Public Affairs. 2003
Shlaim, Avi. The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. Penguin Books. 2000
Toland, Sandy. The Lemon Tree. Bloomsbury, NY. 2006
Wagner, Don. Dying in the Land of Promise. Melisende. 2001


Tikkun (Tikkun)
Americans for Peace Now
Churches for Middle East Peace
Haaretz, Israeli newspaper
B'tselem, Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in Occupied Territories
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
Pax Christi International
Foundation for Middle East Peace

Useful statistics:

    • Occupation:
  • 1940                      Palestine shared
  • 1947                      43.5  percent to Palestinians
  • 1949                      22 percent to Palestinians
  • 1967                      0 percent to Palestinians
  • 1993                      12 percent to Palestinians
  • 2005                      Gaza Disengagement - Continued Occupation
  • 2010                      9 percent to Palestinians
    • Geography:
  • Israel area:            8,522 sq. miles
  • West Bank             2,305 sq. miles (Delaware)
  • Gaza                      141 sq. miles (twice the size of D.C.)
  • North/South           260 miles
  • East/West             70 miles
    • Population:
  • Israel 2009: 7,200,000
    (including 1,400,00 Arab Israelis and 500,000 Jewish Israelis in the West Bank and East Jerusalem)
  • Palestine 2009: 3,760,000
    (Gaza – 1,400,000; West Bank, E. Jerusalem - 2,360,000)
  • Total population Israel, WBGS: 10,900,000
    Jews                                              5,800,000
    Israel Arabs                                   1,400,000
    Palestinians                                  3,760,000

To comment or add to this list, please contact Fr. John Sullivan, MM,


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