FactsOfIsrael.com History


This section will cover the history of the State of Israel and of the British Mandate of Palestine. I will concentrate on the events that caused a change in borders, illustrating the above changes with maps whenever possible.

Since there's so much to cover, I might skip certain events or be extremely short on the description of others - I will then link to other sites that might go into more details.

I have to start somewhere, so I'll start just after the first world war, where a major territorial change occurs: the French and the English now occupy the Middle East which previously was part of the Ottoman Empire.

1918 - The British Palestine Mandate

So it's 1918, the end of the Ist World War, which France and England have just won: among other things the French get the northern part of the Middle East, where today we have Lebanon and Syria, while the English now have the Palestine Mandate (show below in blue and yellow).

Please note that the above is not a Palestinian State, it is a region controlled by the English, called the Palestine Mandate - both Arab and Jewish residents live in this area.

1922 - Jordan becomes independent

In 1922, Transjordan (later the State of Jordan) is created in 75% of the Palestine British Mandate. What remains of the Palestine British Mandate is outlined below in blue:

1947 - A United Nations resolution on two States

Now, in 1947, things start to get interesting. The U.N. votes on the creation of two States: one for the Jewish inhabitants of the Palestine Mandate, and a second one for the Arab inhabitants. The Jewish residents accept, but the Arabs and Palestinians refuse the two State solution and the 1948 war is under way.

1948 - Israel's war of Independance

After Israel declared its independence in May of 1948, the Arabs living in the Palestine Mandate (today's Palestinians) and the Arab States refuse the two state compromise and declare war on the new Jewish State. Armies from Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt attack the new Jewish State as shown below:

Israel wins its war of Independence and the Palestinians miss their first chance on getting a State of their own. The borders of 1948 are shown below with Israel outlined in green, while the West Bank (under Jordan control) and Gaza (under Egyptian control) are shown in brown:

Palestinian Refugees

During Israel's war of independance and after Israel won the war and became a reality, some arab residents left Israel and moved to the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt:

After over 50 years, none of the above Arab States have yet given citizenship to some of these Palestinians, causing the refugee problem - they live in camps with few or no rights (see stats for more information on the numbers).

A Muslim woman votes
in the Israeli Elections

It is ironic to note that Palestinians that stayed in Israel have rights: they received full Israeli citizenship. As of 2/2002 there were 980,000 Arab Israeli Citizens (mostly Muslim, some are Christian) who have the right to vote and have parties of their own represented in the Knesset, Israel's parliament. It is also ironic to note that neither Jordan nor Egypt gave the Palestinians the option of an independant state, but Israel did in October 2000 (more on that later).

1956 - Suez Canal War

The 1948 armistice held up until the war of 1956: raids and reprisals between the Arabs and Israel, and Egypt's seizure of the Suez Canal, led to Israel's invasion of the Sinai Peninsula. While French and British troops took control of the canal, the Israelis took Gaza and Sharm el Sheikh at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula that controls access to the Gulf of Aqaba and the Indian Ocean. Israel withdrew in 1957 after its access to the gulf was guaranteed by the United Nations. Since no major territory changes occured I won't show any maps.

1967 - The Six Day War

The next major war occured in 1967, also known as the six day war. I have family and friends who lived through the period leading up to the war, and they thought that this was going to be the end of Israel and its Jewish citizens - the fear was immense.

The Khartoum Arab Summit in 1967 resulted in three nos: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel.

In May 1967, Egypt closed the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping and began mobilizing its forces to attack Israel. Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq also mobilized and sent troops. In response, Israel launched a strike. Starting June 5, the Israeli air force destroyed Egypt's planes on the ground. Enabled by air superiority throughout the region, Israeli tank columns and infantry captured the Sinai Peninsula in three days. Elsewhere, the Israelis overran the Golan Heights, the West Bank, including the Old City of Jerusalem, and Gaza as shown below:

Note that from 1948 to 1967 both the West Bank and Gaza were not under Israeli administration. The West Bank was administered by Jordan, yet no Palestinian State was created. Similarly, the Gaza strip was under Egyptian control, yet no Palestinian State came into being.

Also note that the amount of territory gained by Israel is relatively big, specially the Sinai Peninsula.

1973 - The Yom Kipur War

The next war occured in 1973 when the Arab States attacked Israel by surprise on the holiest day of the year for Jews: Yom Kipur. This is a day where even many non-religious jews choose to fast as their orthodox counterparts do. Israel won this war as well, but many Israelis lost their lives - again since no major territory changes occured I won't show a map.

1978 - Peace with Egypt!

The next major change in the region occured not after a war, but after peace! In 1978, Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty that formally ended the state of war that had existed between them for 30 years.

The Sinai was bigger than Israel itself and contained oil reserves but in return for Egypt's recognition of Israel's right to exist, Israel returned it to Egypt.

1982 - The Lebanon War

After numerous terrorist attacks from Arafat's PLO against Israeli civilians living in the North, Israel entered Lebanon and created a security zone, as shown below:

During the Lebanon war, the massacre of Sabra and Shatila occured: a Lebanese Phalangist militia murdered hundreds of Palestinians (estimates vary between 460 to 800 victims). click here for more details.

Israel pulled out of the security zone on May 24, 2000 - unfortunately, this pullout was not achieved after a peace treaty with Lebanon and Syria, but was an unilateral move on Israel's part. For more information on the Lebanon War, check this page.

In 1991, during the Gulf War, Sadam Hussein and Iraq
fired Scud missiles on Israeli civilian centers.
Israel never retaliated.

1993 - The Oslo Peace Process

In the beggining of the 90's the Oslo peace process between Palestinians and Israel got underway and in the next few years after a series of negotiations, the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza finally got some taste of independance (given to them by Israel). Although a State has not been declared, for the first time in history an authonomy exists for Palestinians as shown below:

1994 - Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty!

Another major breakthrough happened in 1994 when King Hussein, representing Jordan, and Ytzhak Rabin, representing Israel, signed a peace treaty. This brought the number of Arab countries that recognized Israel and now have diplomatic relations with the Jewish country to two (Egypt and Jordan). Let's hope more will follow! Click here to see the announcement on Israel's gov. site or click here to get the details from the Jordanian's perspective.

October 2000 - Palestinians reject an independent Palestinian State

In October of 2000 with the help of President Clinton, Palestinian Chairman Arafat and Israel's prime minister Ehud Barak tried to reach a final agreement in Camp David. In exchange for peace, Israel offered Arafat an independent Palestinian State, 95% of the West Bank and Gaza and half of Jerusalem as shown below:

The Palestinian response was negative. The talks broke down because of Jerusalem and the Palestinian right of return with no agreement reached.

October 2000 until today - Palestinian Terror

When Arafat refused Barak's offer, the Palestinians missed their second chance for an independent Palestinian State, and decided instead to continue their armed struggle through terrorist attacks against civilians. These attacks include random shootings against women, children and passers-by in any street in Israel or suicide bombers who attach kilograms of explosives to their bodies and blow themselves up in malls or busy streets.

For an up to date list of victims of current Palestinian terrorism, click here, and for the latest violence click here.

March 2002 - The Saudi Initiative

At an Arab League summit in Beirut on March 2002, Crown Prince Abdullah from Saudi Arabia announced a new plan for the region. The details are not yet complete, but the idea put forward by Crown Prince Abdullah is the following: if Israel returns all occupied Arab land since 1967 (this includes the Golan Heights from Syria and the West Bank and Gaza), all Arab states will recognize Israel and normalized relations will take place.

It is still too early to tell what will happen, but Saudi Arabia's proposals bring hope to many Israelis who currently see no end to the hate, terror and violence expressed by the Palestinians.

For more details on the Saudi initative, click here.


This site contains some copyrighted materials the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.