History of the Conflict
The disputed territory that has been alternately referred to as Palestine and Israel is relatively small, the total area is only roughly 22 000 square kilometers. It is bordered by Jordan on the East, Lebanon on the North, Egypt and the Mediterranean Ocean on the West, and shares 76 kilometers of border with Syria in the North East. The two disputed territories thatare occupied by the Israeli Army but under the autonomous control of the Palestinian Authority are the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These two territories amount to roughly 6400 square kilometers, the West Bank makes up the majority of this area – it amounts to 6000 square kilometers in the Eastern part of the country and borders the nation of Jordan.
Jews have long considered Israel to be theirnational home. They consider it to be a Holy Land, or a Promised Land – they believe it to be their right from God to live in the region. The area is also considered the birthplace of Christianity, Bethlehem the city where Jesus Christ was supposedly born is located in the region. It is also regarded as one of the most sacred sites for Islam. The fact that all three of these major religions claimthe area as their own is one that makes conflict almost inevitable.
Archaeologists have unearthed evidence that inhabitants of the region were cultivating domesticated crops from as far back as 8000 B.C. The area was home to a series of Jewish kingdoms for over a thousand years until the Roman Empire expelled the Jews from the region in 73 A.D. after the Great Jewish Revolt. The country wasunder the control of the Roman Empire until the 7th century when the Muslim Caliphate conquered the land. This first attracted Arab settlers to the region. In fact before the birth of Zionism there were only 10 000 Jews living in what is now called Israel.
The Zionist movement was formally started at the end of 19th century it was started by Theodor Herzl and called for the creation of a Jewishhomeland in the Middle East. In 1917 the British passed the Balfour Declaration, which called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” After the Agreement, immigration by Jews to Palestine increased substantially but Arabs still made up the vast majority of the population. The Zionist movement did not attract the attention of most of the internationalcommunity until after the Second World War. The Holocaust, led by Nazi Germany, resulted in the deaths of over six million Jews and after the end of the war the world realized the desire of the Jewish people for a historic homeland of their own where they would be free from discrimination and persecution. The end of World War Two saw a dramatic increase in levels of violence carried out by both Jewishand Arab militant groups intent on the creation of a Jewish state and the removal of Jews from the area respectively.
On May 14, 1948 the State of Israel was proclaimed as a result of a United Nations Partition Plan. The Arab-Israeli war of 1948 – referred to as the ‘War of Independence’ by Israelis and ‘The Catastrophe’ by Arabs broke out immediately with Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi, Egyptian,Jordanian, Saudi, and Yemeni troops invading the fledgling Israeli state. The Israelis successfully thwarted the Arab invasion and gained territories that remained Israeli until the new borders were drawn up in 1967. The war resulted in the creation of 600 000 Jewish refugees from Arab states, the majority of whom fled to Israel, and 750 000 Arab Palestinian refugees. Many of these Arab refugees weredenied citizenship in neighboring nations and to this day many still remain in ‘temporary’ refugee camps where they have started families and created a second, and even third generation who have known nothing but life inside a refugee camp. Only around 20% of the existing Arab population remained within the new state of Israel . The population of Israel doubled within the first year of formation...
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