1917: Britain signed the Balfour Declaration that committed Britain to establish a national home for the Jewish people.
World War I ended, the Ottoman Empire collapsed, and the Middle East was to be divided up.
- League of Nations awarded Britain mandates over Transjordan, Palestine, and Iraq.
- League of Nations awarded France mandates over Syria and Lebanon.
- Britain awarded the entire land of Palestine to Israel with no territorial restrictions.
- Israel was granted both sides of the Jordan River, totaling 43,075 square miles. A few months later, Britain, under pressure, altered the Balfour Declaration and took back 32,460 square miles, or 78 percent of the original land grant.
- That land was then given to establish Transjordan, leaving Israel approximately 9,500 square miles.
- The UN proposed a further reduction of land for Israel to 5,560 square miles, or 13 percent of the original land grant. Seventy-five percent of Israel’s allotted land was desert.
- Israel was pushed to land on the West Bank of the Jordan River.
- Israel’s land mass became 5,560 square miles; Arab land mass equaled 6,700,000 square miles.
- The Arab world rejected the United Nations Partition Plan that would have created an Arab state and a Jewish state side by side.
- The British Mandate terminated in mid-May.
- Prior to Israel’s statehood announcement, approximately 700,000 of 900,000 Arab refugees were warned of a pending war. The Arabs were advised to flee the area, for they might be mistaken for Israelis.
- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Said declared, “We will smash the country with our guns and obliterate every place the Jews seek shelter in. The Arabs should conduct their wives and children to safe areas until the fighting has died down.
- Israel was born on May 14, 1948, and was attacked on the same day by Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. After the war, Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip and its more than 200,000 inhabitants but refused to allow the Palestinians into Egypt.
Although demographic figures indicated that ample room for settlement existed in Syria, Damascus refused to consider accepting any refugees, except those who might refuse repatriation. Syria also declined to resettle 85,000 refugees in 1952–54, though it had been offered international funds to pay for the project. Iraq was also expected to accept a large number of refugees, but proved unwilling. Lebanon insisted it had no room for the Palestinians. In 1950, the UN tried to resettle 150,000 refugees from Gaza in Libya, but was rebuffed by Egypt.”
Jordan was the only nation that allowed limited citizenship of refugees. Approximately 40 percent of the 900,000 became citizens, but were put in refugee camps that developed from tented cities to rows of concrete blockhouses.
The camps turned into urban ghettos. In 2004, concerned about increasing numbers of Palestinians in the country, Jordan began revoking citizenship from Palestinians who did not have the Israeli permits necessary to reside in the West Bank.
- Jerusalem was divided. Jordan occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
1949: Armistice agreement was signed.
1967: The Six-Day War with Egypt, Jordan, and Syria was fought.
Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula. When Israel recaptured the West Bank from Jordan, King Abdullah refused to repatriate any more refugees and instead put them in internment camps.
It was in those camps, with the help of Yasser Arafat, that the name Palestinian became associated with Arabs from Jordan. Prior to 1948, Palestinian was a disparaging name for Jews living in Palestine (which was renamed Israel in 1948). Yet, since 1967, the UN has called these lands “occupied,” even though the recaptured lands were part of the original British Mandate, and no nation has ever returned land taken during a defensive action.
A two-state solution, therefore, has been in place since 1922: