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Adapted from The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Lesson in Perspective . Created by: MaryLynne Fillmon and A Historical Perspective on the Arab-Israeli Conflict and Peace Process The Institute for Curriculum Services: National Resource Center for Accurate Jewish Content in Schools.

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adapted from the israeli palestinian conflict a lesson in perspective

Adapted fromThe Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:A Lesson in Perspective

Created by: MaryLynne Fillmon


A Historical Perspective on the

Arab-Israeli Conflict and Peace Process

The Institute for Curriculum Services: National Resource Center for Accurate

Jewish Content in Schools

historical background israeli palestinian conflict
Historical Background Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
  • Zionist: Supporter of a homeland for the Jews in the area of Palestine. Movement began late 1800’s.
  • Many Jews began to immigrate to Palestine in the late 1800’s.
  • Pre-WWI: Area of Palestine under Ottoman Empire
  • After WWI: Area of Palestine under control of British (British Mandate) until it became independent
  • Balfour Declaration: 1917: Britain supports idea of a Jewish homeland w/ rights of non-Jews protected

Historical Background

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


UN Plan for Palestine (1947)

  • Partition (separate) the area into 2 countries
  • Israel (Jewish State) and Palestine (Arab State)
  • 55% of land goes to the Jews
  • 45% of land goes to the Arabs
  • Total Population: 1.8 million
    • 1.2 million Arabs living in area
    • 600,00 Jews living in area
  • Jerusalem:“international city” controlled by UN
  • Accepted by Jews
  • Rejected by Arabs
  • No Arab on committee

1948 War

  • May 14,1948: Israel is officially formed
  • May 15, 1948: Israel attacked by six Arab nations
  • Approx. 750,000 Palestinians fled or were forced to leave
  • Over approx. 800,000 Jews in Arab countries also fled or were forced to leave for Israel
  • Israel After War: Jordan controls West Bank and Egypt controls Gaza Strip
  • Israel takes much of Palestine and West Jerusalem—East Jerusalem, including many religious sites taken by Jordan, who denied Israelis access

1956 Suez Canal Crisis

  • Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal in 1956 and closed the Straits of Tiran to Israel, which blocked Israeli access to the Red Sea.
  • Israel attacks Egypt with later reinforcements from France and the United Kingdom
  • Ceasefire agreement and withdrawal of Israeli troops
  • United Nations Peacekeepers sent to maintain peace in the area

1967 War

  • Israel believes neighbors are preparing for war
    • Egypt requests withdrawal of UN in May 1967 and denies Israel access to the Red Sea by closing Straits of Tiran
    • Jordan and Egypt sign mutual defense agreement
    • Continued terrorist attacks from Syria’s Golan Heights region
  • Israeli surprise attack against Egypt on June 5, 1967
    • Also attacks Syria, Jordan
    • Within six days Israel defeats Egypt, Syria, Jordan
      • Takes control of West Bank and East Jerusalem (from Jordan)
      • Control of Sinai and the Gaza Strip (from Egypt)
      • Control of Golan Heights (from Syria)

The Yom Kippur War, 1973

  • On Yom Kippur in 1973, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel, but Israel pushed back the attack
  • For many Israelis, the war reinforced the need for buffer zones gained in 1967
  • After the war, Israel retained the territories captured in 1967 (West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights) but gave back land gained in the 1973 war
  • Eventually, in 1979, Egypt became the first Arab country to recognize Israel and entered into a peace treaty

The Camp David Accords

  • 1977: Egypt (led by Anwar Sadat) engages Israel in peace efforts
  • 1978: Camp David Accords
    • U.S. President Carter invites Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Begin to Camp David
    • Egypt recognizes Israel as a country
    • Israel gives Sinai peninsula back to Egypt
    • First agreement between Israel and an Arab nation

The Intifada

  • Palestinian uprising or Intifada against Israeli occupation, living conditions, and to demand independence that begins in 1987.
    • Includes Palestinian demonstrations, strikes, boycotts, rock throwing and gasoline bombs.
  • Israeli military response
  • Over approx. 400 Israelis killed
  • Over approx. 1500 Palestinians killed, some a result of Palestinian in-fighting

Oslo Accords, 1993

  • In the 1990’s several advances towards peace were made with several meetings taking place in places such as Egypt, Spain, the United States, and Norway.
    • 1993 Oslo Accords: Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat and Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin met to begin to work out a peace deal that included each side recognizing the right of the other to exist.
    • Arafat and Rabin received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts
  • In 1994, Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement
  • Rabin assassinated by Jewish extremist in November of 1995

The Camp David Summit

  • In 2000, President Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat met at Camp David to negotiate a final peace agreement
  • Prime Minister Barak agreed to pull out from the majority of the West Bank but President Arafat refused
  • The two sides were not able to bridge their differences to reach an agreement
  • Though the negotiations were conducted secretly, some say that President Arafat refused to compromise and made no proposals

Second Intifada

  • By 2000, peace process has faded.
  • In 2000, Israeli political figure Ariel Sharon visits Temple Mount (Western Wall area and Al Aqsa Mosque area) in Jerusalem
  • Palestinian violence erupts beginning the Second Intifada
  • Buses, discos, hotels, fast food restaurants, etc in Israel blown up by Palestinian suicide bombers
  • Israel responds militarily
  • From 2000-June 2008
    • Over 4500 Palestinians killed
    • Over 1000 Israelis killed
    • In 2002, Israel begins building a security barrier in the West Bank, to protect Israelis from terrorists

Peace Proposals

  • In 2002, the prince of Saudi Arabia proposed the Arab Pease Initiative, endorsed by all members of the Arab league
  • - it calls for Israel to return to its pre-1967 territories, recognition of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, and a solution for Palestinian refugees
  • Road Map for Peace is proposed in 2003 by the U.S., Russia, EU, and UN
  • - three phases to attain an independent Palestinian state and secure Israel
  • - has never progressed due to the 2006 Hamas election

The Gaza Strip

  • In 2005, Israel removed its settlements from the Gaza Strip and gave much control of the area to the Palestinian government (with exceptions such as the border, airspace, coastline)
  • Gaza later comes under the control of Hamas, a group considered by Israel and other countries to be a terrorist organization.
  • As of June 2008, Hamas and Israel have entered into a cease fire agreement.

Current State of Affairs

  • With the election of a majority of Hamas to the Palestinian Authority (PA) legislature in 2006, and their platform calling for the destruction of Israel, violence and tension erupted once again. Hamas is internationally recognized as a terrorist organization; thus many countries have imposed sanctions and suspended aid to the PA.
  • The rise of the radical organization Hezbollah has further increased violence and instigated the 2006 Lebanon War.
  • After Hamas attacked PLO Fatah members, the PA president dissolved Hamas. Now, Hamas controls Gaza and the PA controls the West Bank. Suicide bombingsthrough the use of human shields (including women and children) continues to kill Israelis.
  • President Obama continues to try to facilitate negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Current Issue :

Is Resolution Possible?

  • Palestinian and Israeli leaders backed by US and other countries are working towards the existence of Israel and of Palestine. But the following issues remain:
    • Jerusalem
    • Settlements
    • Security (including barriers, terrorism, checkpoints)
    • Refugees and Right of Return
    • Two States or One/Borders

Economic Comparative Analysis

1 The CIA Fact Book lists the West Bank and Gaza Strip settlements separately as part of the Palestine Authority due to PA and Hamas control. The Fact Book does not report independent GDP, Per Capita, and Annual Budget figures for the Gaza Strip.

2 The West Bank experienced a revival in its economy in 2009 due to a lifting of some restrictions by the Israeli government and an increase in aid donations.

3 The HDI – human development index – is a summary composite index that measures a country's average achievements in three basic aspects of human development: health, knowledge, and a decent standard of living. Health is measured by life expectancy at birth; knowledge is measured by a combination of the adult literacy rate and the combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrolment ratio; and standard of living by GDP per capita (PPP US$).


United Nations 2009 Human Development Index (HDI):

2009 CIA World Fact Book:


2010 World Bank GDP

Israel & Palestine Territories

World Bank Indicators:


Works Cited

MaryLynneFillmon, The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Lesson in Perspective: 2008.

United Nations 2009 Human Development Index (HDI):

2009 CIA World Fact Book:

World Bank Indicators:

A Historical Perspective on the Arab-Israeli Conflict and Peace Process: A Curriculum for Modern World History Teachers. Institute for Curriculum Services,