The origin of the Arab-Israeli conflict can be traced back more than a century, when Jews began to immigrate to Palestine in 1882, not as individuals but as a part of a political movement. Further, an assurance given in 1917 by Arthur Balfour promised a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. Even before the Balfour declaration, Arnold Hottinger said, there about 80.000 Jews immigrant were already in the country.
The move made by the British angered the Palestinian as well as other Arabs and resulted in an eruption of violence that was to continue to the present day. The persecution of Jews under Hitler has its role in the swelling number of Jewish immigrant to Palestine, besides their claim that the land was theirs by virtue of God’s will and historic rights.
The battles between Zionists and Arabs inevitably took place. British troops intervened in some battles in an attempt to put an end to the acts of violence, but still it seemed that the British purposely helped the Zionists to win in Palestine. With the rise of Germany military power and British’s fear of losing credibility with the Arabs, the British changed their policy. Zionist immigration was to be limited and the purchase of land was prohibited by the British. But the status quo was just as unsatisfactory from the Zionist point of view as it was from the Arabs. The Arabs had sacrificed too much money and energy to be satisfied with a ‘Jewish national home’. While the Jews also refused the limitation of immigration.
Because of the suffering of the Jewish refugees who had just been freed from camps and hiding places in Central Europe, the whole western world suggested the British authorities to abolish the quota system or at least to raise the quotas. In all this, the Zionists had much more effective representative in the west than had the Arab, for Zionism had its disposal a great many talented men and first-rate links with the press.
However it may be, British decided, under the pressure of pro-Zionist European and American public opinion, to return their mandate to the United Nations. In 1947, UN issued a resolution recommended the partition of Palestine into two states, one Arab and the other Jewish.
The Arabs, however, attempt to reverse what they viewed as an injustice. After six months of fighting between Arab and Jewish forces the Palestinian and Arab volunteer forces were defeated. Following this, Ben Gurion on 14 May 1048 announced the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel. The remaining portions, West Bank and Gaza Strip, came under the control of the Jordanians and Egyptians. More than one million Palestinian forced to leave their homes.
Israel collaborated with France and Britain defeated the Egyptian army in the Suez war, during which Israeli forces occupied Sinai and Gaza Strip. Later, they were ordered by the UN to evacuate Sinai. In 1967, Israel attacked and destroyed the air force of Egypt, Syria and Iraq. This known as the Six Days War. Within six days the Israelis occupied the remaining 20% of Palestinian lands, which were under Jordan and Egypt. They also reoccupied Sinai Peninsula and the portion of Syrian land known as Golan Heights.
The Arab defeats gave the Palestinians an opportunity to become more active, thus, the Palestinian Liberation Organization founded. After the war in Sinai and Golan Heights, Egypt under Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel, which brought to Egypt’s isolation for several years by the Arab world.
Since 1967, PLO established relation with most countries of the world and launched guerilla attacks from any Arab countries, mainly Jordan and Lebanon. PLO forced to leave Lebanon following the Israeli invasion of Southern Lebanon and the eventual takeover of Beirut.
After more than 20 years of discrimination, the jailing of tens of thousands of Palestinian men and women by the Israeli forces, the Palestinian launched their uprising or “Intifadah”. They fought with all means available including stones, knives, boycotts and strikes.