Palestinians are the endogenous people of the Southern Land of Canaan and the Western Part of the Fertile Crescent, the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan. Key milestones in human civilization occurred in this Land of Canaan: animal and plant domestication, development of the alphabet, and development of laws and religions.
Key historical periods:
5000-1500 BC: Canaanites develop agricultural communities and city-states from cave dwellers hunters and gatherers. Phoenician Canaanites develop commerce and shipping around the Mediterranean.
1500 BC-500 BC: Palestine is an amalgam of small kingdoms and tribal ruling groups representing multi-religious communities of Canaanites (Jebusites, Amurites, Nebateans, Hebrews, Phoenicians, Philistines). Predominant languages are Aramaic (most dominant, Arabic and Hebrew scripts evolving from Aramaic in Palestine) and Phoenician.
500 BC-765 AD: Palestine remains an amalgam of small tribes and religions but now ruled by empires (Assyrian, Persian, Egyptian, Byzantine, Roman). Christianity develops under the Roman Empire in Palestine and becomes the predominant religion among the natives by 300 AD (some Jews and others remain).
765 AD-1919 AD: Natives largely convert to Islam but large segments of the population (some 15-20%) remain Christians and native Jews represent 2-3%. All speak and adopt the dominant Arabic language (itself evolved from Aramaic).
1516: Palestine becomes a province of the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
1845: British Empire and some sympathetic Jews embark on a program for Ashkenazi (European) Jewish colonization in Palestine, with the aim of establishing a Jewish state/homeland (political ideology called Zionism). First Zionist settlement established 1880. First Zionist Congress in Switzerland held 1897.
1916: British and French secretly agree to divide the Arab world while publicly claiming support for independence and self-determination.
1917: French and British Empires issue proclamations in support of Zionism (Jules/Balfour Declarations).
1919: After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WWI, Britain occupies Palestine and lobbies for a “Mandate” from the League of Nations to rule Palestine and implement Zionist program (contrary to the League’s charter which supported self-determination). 1920s and early 1930s: Palestine under rule of Zionist British commissioner Herbert Samuel arms underground Zionist forces buttressed by British troops. Non-violent Palestinian resistance IS suppressed by lethal force. “Inter-religious” violence is also initiated, claiming the lives of innocents of all religions.
1936-1939: Palestinian uprising against British rule and Zionist Colonization is crushed violently. Most leaders of the liberation movement are killed or deposed.
1947: In 1919 population is 94% Muslim and Christian, 6% Jewish. By 1947 it is 68% Muslim and Christian and 32% Jewish. Native Jews are opposed to Zionism. UN Partition Resolution 181 pushed for by the US is adopted recommending partition. Natives of all religions reject UNGA 181 because it violates UN Charter’s fundamental premise of self-determination of peoples and because of the inherent unfairness of giving sovereignty and rule to Zionists over 55% of the land when Jews represent only 32% of the population and own less than 7% of the land (most were new immigrants).
1947-1949: UNGA 181 is a recommendation that was never implemented. Zionist forces, well equipped by the British begin a process of removing non-Jews in November 1947. Half the Palestinian refugees were ethnically cleansed before May 1948 when Britain withdrew its forces and Israel declared its independence. Between Winter 1947 and Summer 1949, over 530 Palestinian towns and villages are completely destroyed and their residents fled and/or expelled (70% of the native Palestinian Christian and Muslims become refugees). To Palestinians, this is Al-Nakba - ” the catastrophe” of loss of their homes and lands. Aida Refugee Camp near Bethlehem is one of dozens of refugee camps in the Middle East where these villagers end up.
1948: December 11, UN passes Resolution 194 reaffirming international law—including Universal Declaration of Human Rights—that Palestinian refugees must be allowed to return to their homes and lands and be compensated for losses.
1949: May 11, Israel admitted to UNits second application—after agreeing to relevant UN resolutions (including 181 and 194).
1967: “Six Day War”: Israeli forces (IDF) attack and occupy parts of Palestine they did not occupy before (West Bank including East Jerusalem and Bethlehem and Gaza, 22% of Palestine). They also occupy the Syrian Golan Heights and Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. The international community unanimously regards these occupations AS illegal and demands an Israeli withdrawal (e.g. UN Security Council resolution 242). Contrary to International Law (Geneva Conventions), Israel instead embarks on a new phase of colonial settlement activity including near Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem.
1987-1993: Large scale non-violent uprising—intifada—suppressed brutally by the Israeli occupation army.
1991-2000: Oslo Process initiated, facilitates further violation of Geneva Conventions and institutionalization of Israeli control over Palestinians (“bantustanization” of Palestinian population centers via closures, checkpoints, Jewish-only bypass roads, de-development of Palestinian economy)
2000-2005: “Al-Aqsa” intifada begins; Israeli army respond brutally. Thus far, nearly 4000 Palestinians (800 Children) and nearly 1000 Israelis (nearly 100 Children) have been killed. Every human rights organization reporting on this has condemned Israeli army and settlers for wide scale targeting of Palestinian civilians and other human rights abuses (also condemned suicide bombings by some Palestinian groups).
2004: The International Court of Justice rules that Israeli settlements/colonies in the occupied areas (including Jerusalem) are illegal and that the Wall Israel is building on Palestinian land is also illegal. This decision is supported by over 160 countries.
Today: 9 million Palestinians worldwide, nearly 2/3rd of whom are refugees and displaced persons. Meanwhile the US government sends $3-5 billion of our taxes every year to Israel. The US also vetoed 35 UN Security Council resolutions that attempted to bring peace based on International Law and Human Rights. The “Road Map” advocated by the US is 2218 words but lacks these four words: International Law, Human Rights.
For More Information: Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle by Mazin B. Qumsiyeh (Pluto: 2004). www.PalestineRemembered.com ; www.StopTheWall.org ; www.ElectronicIntifada.net ; www.Al-awda.org