Nizar Sakhnini: Zionism and Palestine; A Chronology

By Nizar Sakhnini

1866: Moses Hess argued that Anti-Semitism would prevent the Jews from assimilating in Christian society and, consequently, they needed to establish their own national state in Palestine.  He pointed out that, “The state the Jews would establish in the heart of the Middle East would serve Western imperial interests and at the same time help bring Western civilization to the backward East”.

1882:  Leo Pinsker called upon his people to go and settle in Palestine and founded the society of Hovevi Zion, which sponsored emigration of Jews to Palestine.

1891: German Jewish millionaire Baron Maurice de Hirsch founded the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA).  The JCA began its operations in Palestine in 1896.

1896:  Theodor Herzl published a pamphlet, Der Judenstaat, calling for the creation of a ‘Jewish State’.

1897: Herzl convened the first Zionist Congress (ZC) in Basle, Switzerland.  The delegates in the ZC adopted the Basle Program, created the Zionist Organization (ZO) and elected Herzl as its president.

1901:  The 5th ZC founded the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth Leisrael). The function of the JNF was, and still is, to buy lands in Palestine for the exclusive use of the “Jewish people”.

1901-1902: Herzl tried in Constantinople to obtain a Charter for rights, duties and privileges of a Jewish-Ottoman Colonization Association for the Settlement of Palestine and Syria.  The draft-agreement that Herzl lobbied for approval from Sultan Abdulhameed in Istanbul reflected the real intentions and full extent and scope of the colonial project that Herzl was after.

1903: The Anglo-Palestine Bank (later renamed as Bank Leumi) was established as the principal financial institution of the Jewish community in Palestine.

1903, December: Anglo-Palestine Company (APC), subsidiary of JCA, was established in Palestine to finance Zionist colonization.

1908: The ZO opened an office in Jaffa. Hatzvi, the first Hebrew daily, was published in Palestine. 

1909: The Palestine Land Development Co. (PLDC) was founded to centralize and coordinate Jewish land purchases in Palestine.

1914, Early August: As part of his lobbying back in Britain, Weizmann got acquainted with C. P. Scott, the editor of the Manchester Guardian.  On 12 November, 1914, Weizman wrote a letter to Scott stating “…should Palestine fall within the British sphere of influence, and should Britain encourage a Jewish settlement there, as a British dependency, we could have in twenty to thirty years a million Jews out there, perhaps more.  They would develop the country, bring back civilization to it and form a very effective guard for the Suez Canal”.

1917, 2 November: The British Balfour Declaration, promising support for a ‘Jewish National Home in Palestine’, was issued. 

1917, 9 December: Ottoman forces in Jerusalem surrendered to the allied forces led by General Allenby.  A British military administration was established in Palestine.

1919:  The Zionists asked the Paris Peace Conference to provide them with the territory outlined within a line running east from Sidon in Lebanon to a point South-East of Damascus.  The line then goes south along a line parallel to the Hijaz railway and ends in Aqaba in Jordan.  From there, the line goes northwest to Al Arish in Egypt.  This area includes all of Mandate Palestine, the Golan Heights, the Jordan River, and southern Lebanon up to the Litani River.

1920, May: The British Government relieved Allen by of political responsibilities and appointed Sir Herbert Samuel, a British Zionist Jew, as the first civilian High Commissioner for Palestine.

1920, 1 July: A civil administration was established in Palestine, which included, in addition to the High Commissioner, a number of British Zionist Jews who were placed in key positions.

1922: By a Joint Resolution, the U.S. Congress proclaimed that “the United States of America favours the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people…”

1922, 24 July: A draft Mandate for Palestine was submitted by Britain to the Council of the League of Nations. The Balfour Declaration was cited in the preamble of the Mandate.  Article 2 of the Mandate provided responsibility “for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home.”  In Article 4, a provision was made for a ‘Jewish Agency’ to be recognized “as a public body for the purposes of advising and cooperating with the Administration of Palestine in such economic, social and other matters as may affect the establishment of the Jewish-national home.”

1947, 18 February: The British Foreign Secretary announced that the Mandate has proved to be unworkable, that the obligations undertaken to the two communities were irreconcilable.  Accordingly, the British Government announced its intention of giving it up. 

1947, 29 November: UN General Assembly Resolution # 181 (II), outlining a partition plan for Palestine, was adopted. 

1948, 3 April: The Haganah launched Operation “Nachshon” of Plan Dalet, which marked the starting point of the 1948 war.  As a result of the war, about 10,000 Palestinian Arabs were killed, about 30,000 were wounded, over 750,000 were ethnically cleansed and be ca me refugees, and more than 400 Arab villages were bulldozed and used to build settlements for the influx of Jewish immigrants.        

1949, 24 February- 3 April: Armistice agreements between Israel with each of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan were concluded.

1950, 5 July: Israeli Knesset passed the ‘Law of Return’ according to which every Jew “has the right to immigrate to the country”.

1950:   The Israeli Knesset passed the Absentees Property Law.  It stated that any Palestinian Arab who was not present directly before, during or after the war was – regardless of the reason – defined as absentee and his land as surrendered.  Thus it was confiscated.

About 20 percent of the Palestinians Arabs in Israel were internally displaced in the 1948 war – in other words, while remaining in Israel, have been prevented from returning to their homes and villages.  These displaced persons were considered ‘absentees’ and be ca me refugees in their own country.

Another law, the “Land Requisition Law” was passed in 1953 to legalize expropriation of Arab lands.

1956, 21 October: Following Nationalization of the Suez Canal by Egyptian President Nasser, Ben-Gurion participated in a secret conference with the British and French at Sévres, France and agreed to a combined military operation. 

On 29 October, Israeli forces over-ran Gaza on their way across Sinai to the Suez Canal.  During the occupation in 1956, the Israelis displayed incredible brutality toward the population of the Gaza Strip.  Many hundreds of civilians were murdered in an apparent effort to force the refugees to flee.

The canal was not taken, but the greater part of Sinai Peninsula as well as the islands of Tiran and Snapir was captured by Israel.

Under pressure, especially from the U.S., Israel had to accept an unconditional withdrawal from all territories occupied during the war.

In February 1957, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution mandating deployment of a UN Emergency Force (UNEF) in Sinai.  On 22 March 1957, the Suez Canal was reopened for shipping.

In March 1969, Egypt began a war of attrition to tire Israel and force it to withdraw from the Suez Canal .  The sporadic military actions by Egypt along the Suez Canal escalated into full-scale localized fighting until a cease-fire was achieved in 1970.  

1967, June 5: Israel attacked and destroyed Egyptian air force bases and advance positions in Sinai, occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip, all of Sinai, and the Golan Heights.

1967, June 28: Israel annexed East Jerusalem with the surrounding region.

1967, Nov. 22: Security Council resolution # 242 was issued emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and called for withdrawal of Israel from territories occupied in June.

1969, 4 April: In a speech at the Technion in Haifa, Dayan told the new Israeli generation that: “We ca me here to this country, which was settled by Arabs, and we are building a Jewish State…Jewish villages arose in the place of Arab villages.  You do not even know the names [of these villages], and I do not blame you, be ca use those geography books no longer exist.  Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either… There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population”. 

1973, 6 October: Egypt and Syria launched an offensive against Israel in order to regain the Sinai desert and the Golan Heights, which were lost in the 1967 war.  Many indicators led to a widespread theory that the 1973 war was designed and concocted between Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat, and U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, to produce a specific result.  “The strategy was to prevent Israel from humiliating Egypt again,” Kissinger later said.  “From the beginning,” he explained, “I was determined to use the war to start a peace process.”  The calculated U.S. policy sought to prevent Israel from achieving a total victory and keep the Soviet Union from intervening on the Arab side.

1974, April: Golda Meir resigned as a result of the political turmoil following the 1973 War and Yitzhak Rabin replaced her as Prime Minister.  Rabin later announced that the government has worked to increase the population of settlements in the Golan Heights and the Jordan Valley.

1974, Nov. 22: Gush Emunim, advocating Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza strip, be ca me active. They pressured every Israeli Prime Minister to finance many new settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) so as to secure Jewish control of the newly occupied areas.

1975, Sept. 1: Kissinger supervised the signing of an agreement between Israel and Egypt according to which both sides agreed that “the conflict between them…shall not be resolved by military force but by peaceful means.”  In addition to the strict observance of the cease-fire, Israel agreed to withdraw from the oil fields it had occupied in the Sinai and to pull back from two strategic passes.  In return, Israeli non-military cargoes were to be permitted through the Suez Canal. 

1976, 30 March: Palestinian Arabs under occupation since 1948 and holding Israeli citizenship held a general strike and demonstrated peacefully against a wave of land confiscation.  Six young Palestinians were shot dead by the Israeli army and the Israeli government refused to set up a commission to investigate the killings.  Subsequently March 30 was commemorated annually as the Land Day. 

1977, 17 May: The Likud won the elections for the 9th Knesset in Israel for the first time since 1948.  Likud leader, Menachem Begin, be ca me Prime Minister.  In a press conference held on the following day, Begin announced that he would invite President Sadat of Egypt, Assad of Syria and King Hussein to come and start with us direct negotiations to sign peace treaties between their states and Israel.  When asked about the OPT, he snapped at a journalist: “What occupied territories?  If you mean Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, they are liberated territories.  They are part, an integral part, of the Land of Israel”. 

1977, 19 November: Anwar Sadat made a surprise visit to Jerusalem marking the beginning of a new era with respect to the Zionist-Arab conflict.  New efforts, for making peace between the Arabs and Israel, began under the auspices of the U.S.   These efforts were based on U.S. and Israel’s concepts of peace and be ca me to be known as the “peace process in the Middle East”.

1977, December: In a speech before the Knesset, Begin outlined his plan for autonomy in the OPT. He declared that any agreement Israel may sign will not include the term ‘self-determination’ or a ‘Palestinian state’.  According to Begin, the ‘Arabs of Eretz Yisrael’ will gain self-rule.

1978, March: Israel launched Operation Litani and occupied southern Lebanon from the international border up to the Litani River. The US supported the UN in calling for its immediate withdrawal, and the deployment of an interim force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), along its southern border.  UNIFIL was unable to deploy as required be ca use of the establishment of an Israeli surrogate, the South Lebanese Army (SLA), in part of this area, and was obliged to operate as best it could in vacant areas between the PLO and Israeli-directed SLA forces.

As IDF casualties continued to mount, the Israeli government, under the leadership of Ehud Barak, who was elected in 1999, decided on a full withdrawal from Lebanon, which was completed on 24 May 2000.

1978, Sept. 5 – 17: The Camp David summit between Carter, Sadat, and Begin produced the ‘Camp David Accords’. 

1979, March 26: A Peace Treaty was signed between Egypt and Israel at the White House. 

1980: The Israeli government formally called for the re-establishment of a Jewish quarter in Hebron.  Within a few years, Jewish settlers with active official backing occupied several more locations. 

1980, 26 May: Ha\\\’aretz carried a warning by the former chief of military intelligence, General Ahron Yariv, that there was a widely held opinion in the IDF that any future war should be exploited to expel up to eight hundred thousand Palestinians from the territories.  General Yariv noted that the plans for the ‘forced transfer’ already existed and the means of implementation had been prepared.  Ariel Sharon warned Palestinians that they “should not forget the lessons of 1948”. 

1980, 30 July: A Basic Law was passed in the Israeli Knesset unilaterally declaring Jerusalem, ‘complete and united’, as the ‘eternal and undivided capital’ of Israel .

1982, February: Oded Yinon, a journalist and analyst of Middle Eastern affairs and former senior Foreign Ministry official, wrote an article, which appeared in the WZO’s periodical Kivunim.  In this article, Yinon outlined ‘A Strategy for Israel in the 1980’s’, which called for the dissolution and fragmentation of the Arab states. 

1982, June: Israel invaded Lebanon.  The Israeli forces surrounded West Beirut.  After a ten-week siege, the U.S. brokered the withdrawal of the PLO from Beirut.

1982, Sept. 14: Bashir Gemayel, who was expected to sworn as the new Lebanese President, was assassinated in Lebanon following his refusal to sign a Peace Treaty with Israel.  In the following day, Israeli forces entered Beirut where the Christian militiamen committed major massacre in the Palestinian ca mp of Sabra/Shatila, under IDF sponsorship.

Later on, Israel began withdrawing from Lebanon, leaving a residual force in the border area to support the SLA.

1998, 31 October: A Memorandum of Agreement was signed by American President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu according to which the U.S. would enhance Israel’s defensive and deterrent capabilities, and upgrading the framework of the U.S.-Israeli strategic and military relationships, as well as the technological cooperation between them.

1993, 9 September: Arafat addressed a letter to Rabin recognizing the right of Israel to exist in peace and security and renouncing acts of violence.  In response, Rabin signed a letter to Arafat recognizing the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people.  These letters followed the Oslo agreement, which was negotiated between a group of the Palestinians and Israel.

1996, 8 July: Richard Perle, a former head of the Defense Policy Board in the Pentagon, delivered a document to the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Perle, and a team of American neo-cons, had been tasked by Netanyahu to draft a new Israeli strategy that would abrogate the Oslo Accords and overturn the entire concept of ‘comprehensive land for peace’ in favor of a policy of military conquest and occupation.   

2001, December: The first of a series of annual conferences was held in the Institute of Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center – Herzliya in a systemic effort to discuss and confront the ‘demographic threat’ that ca me back to haunt the Zionist leadership as a ‘strategic threat’ to the ‘Jewish State’.

2002, 29 March: Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield against the West Bank.  Israeli tanks and bulldozers attacked Yasser Arafat’s Ramallah compound, and the Palestinian leader was confined to the basement.   This was the first stage of what the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, says would be a “long and complicated war that knows no borders”.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
Our Vision For Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders & Intellectuals Speak Out