Chronology of a conflict

Submitted by AWL on 24 February, 2004 - 2:43

1881: Wave of pogroms in the Tsarist Empire, followed by a series of laws discriminating against Jews.
1894-5: Start of Dreyfus affair: a Jewish officer in the French army is falsely convicted of treason.

1897: First congress of the Zionist movement.

1903-6: New wave of pogroms in the Tsarist Empire. Start of systematic efforts to build up Zionist settlements in Palestine (then ruled by the Ottoman Empire) on the basis of "Jewish labour only".

1905: Aliens Act bans Jews fleeing Tsarist pogroms from settling in Britain.

1908: "Young Turk" revolution in Ottoman Empire, which triggers a rise of Arab national consciousness.

1914: Ottoman Empire joins World War 1 on the side of Germany.

1916: Britain and France make a secret agreement to carve up the Arab lands of the Ottoman Empire between them in the event of victory in the war. Simultaneously Britain promises the Arabs that it will support their claims for independence; and, in 1917, promises the Zionists that it will support a "Jewish national home" in Palestine. After World War 1 Britain and France carry through their carve-up deal. The League of Nations (a forerunner of the UN) endorses the British "Mandate" for Palestine in 1922.

1920-1: Anti-Jewish riots by Palestinian Arabs, reaching a peak in May 1921, when 47 Jews and 48 Arabs are killed. Arab slogans include "Down with Zionism", "Death to the Jews", and "The Government is with us". The Jewish colonists establish a militia, the Haganah. The British administration responds by limiting Jewish immigration and setting up a Supreme Muslim Council with the arch-reactionary Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, at its head.

1929: Renewed anti-Jewish riots. 133 Jews and 116 Arabs killed. The British government at first responds (1930) by proposing virtually to ban further Jewish immigration or land purchases, but backs down.

1933: Hitler comes to power in Germany. Flood of Jewish migrants to Palestine.

1936-9: Mass Arab revolt in Palestine, with large strikes and guerrilla warfare. Between 3000 and 6000 Arabs killed as the British repress the revolt.

1937: A British Royal Commission proposes to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. Arab leaders reject this and Britain drops the proposal.

1938: USA convenes an international conference, supposedly to help Jewish refugees from Nazism: only the Dominican Republic says it will have an open door for the refugees.

1939-40: Britain limits Jewish immigration to Palestine to 75,000 over five years, and bans almost all land sales to Jews.

1944: Radical Zionist groups start armed struggle against British administration in Palestine; the mainstream Haganah joins in from late 1945.

1947: Britain refers the Palestine question to the United Nations.

29 November: The UN General Assembly adopts a plan to partition Palestine, then under British rule. The Arabs reject it. The British withdraw. Fighting develops between Jewish and Arab communities in Palestine.

1948: 14 May: Proclamation of the State
of Israel. Arab armies enter Palestine (15th). The war ends with Israeli victory; Jordan annexing the West Bank; and Egypt taking control of Gaza.

1956: October-November: Israel, France and Britain attack Egypt, in response to Nasser's nationalisation of the Suez
Canal on 26 July, but soon withdraw under US pressure.

1964: January: First Arab League summit held in Cairo. May: Creation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

1967: June: Six-day war between Israel and Arab states. Israel occupies Sinai, the Golan, the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. It then offers "land for peace", but the Arab states refuse.

1969: Yasser Arafat becomes chairman of the PLO's executive committee. PLO adopts programme of "secular democratic state".

1970: September: Jordanian army attacks PLO guerrillas ("Black September"). A year later the PLO is expelled from Jordan and its leadership moves to Lebanon.

1972: September: At the Munich Olympic Games, a Palestinian group called "Black September" kills eleven Israeli athletes and coaches.

1973: October: Egyptian and Syrian armies launch attack to recover the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, but fail.

1974: June: PLO makes its first move to "two states" by accepting the idea of a "national authority" over "any liberated part of Palestine".

1975: April: Start of Muslim-Christian civil war in Lebanon.

1977: May: The right wins the Israeli elections for the first time. Menahem Begin becomes prime minister.
November: President Anwar Sadat of Egypt goes to Jerusalem, first visit by an Arab leader since 1948.

1978: September: Egypt and Israel sign a peace deal.

1982: April: Israel completes withdrawal from Sinai.
June: Start of Israeli invasion of Lebanon, followed by siege of Beirut.
September: Israeli troops enter West Beirut. Lebanese Christian forces massacre Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatila camps, in an area under Israeli control.

1987: December: The Palestinian uprising in the occupied territories ("the intifada") begins in Gaza and then in the West Bank.

1988: PLO moves to "two states" policy.

1990: Big influx of Jews from USSR to Israel.
August: Iraq invades Kuwait.

1991: Gulf war: US-led coalition drives Iraq out of Kuwait, with heavy Iraqi casualties.

1993: September: Mutual recognition by Israel and the PLO. The PLO and Israel sign a peace document. Israel will concede Palestinian control of increasing areas of the West Bank and Gaza. This process continues slowly and falteringly over the next eight years, but simultaneously Israel builds more settlements in the occupied territories.

1994: October: Peace treaty between Israel and Jordan.

1995: September: "Oslo II" agreement signed in Washington.
November-December: Israel completes its withdrawal from West Bank towns, except Hebron.

2000: September: Breakdown of Israeli-PLO talks, and provocative visit by right-wing Israeli leader Ariel Sharon to the Al-Aqsa precinct in Jerusalem, spark Palestinian demonstrations. Beginning of the "new intifada".

2001: January. Talks between the Palestinians and the Israeli government of Ehud Barak, which have continued on and off since September and apparently yielded new concessions by Israel, break down.

February. Ariel Sharon wins Israeli elections. Israeli Labour Party joins a coalition government under his leadership. Israel imposes complete blockade on the Occupied Territories.

March. Suicide bombings of Israeli civilians by Palestinian Islamists. In 2002, the suicide bombings will become the main activity of the "intifada".

April. Israel moves to reassert its control over territory previously ceded to the Palestinian Authority, eventually effectively reoccupying the whole of West Bank except Jericho.

September. Al-Qaeda attacks in USA. US responds by launching "war against terrorism", targeting Islamist groups which it has previously tolerated or even aided.

October. USA makes its first official statement backing an independent Palestinian state. Over the coming months, however, the USA will condone or endorse what Sharon does.

December. Sharon officially breaks all Israeli links with Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority.

2002: March. The Arab League adopts a peace plan - "two states" with the 1967 borders, Arab recognition of Israell. (They also make a blurred and ambiguous call for the "right of return").

May: 100,000 Israelis demonstrate in Tel Aviv in favour of Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. This is the biggest show of strength by Israel's peace movement, generally marginalised in this period. Also, some hundreds of Israeli soldiers refuse to serve in the occupied territories.

June: President George W Bush says that the USA requires the ousting of Yasser Arafat as a precondition for peace in the Middle East.