Key Date In Israel’s History

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the press in his Jerusalem office on April 2, 2018. Menahem KAHANA / AFP

Israel’s definition of itself as a “nation state for Jewish people” harks back to its creation 70 years ago as a homeland for Jews.

After the parliament adopted the controversial nation-state law Thursday, here is some background on Israel’s long search for identity.

The quest for a homeland

In 1917 the British government published the Balfour Declaration that called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

In the name of foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour, it was a victory for the aspirations of the Zionist movement established in the late 1890s.

In 1922, after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, Palestine fell under a British mandate.

A painful birth

In 1947, after the end of World War II which saw the extermination of more than six million Jews, the United Nations adopted a plan to split Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab.

The holy city of Jerusalem was to be under international control.

The plan was rejected by Arab leaders.

In 1948 long-time Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the creation of the state of Israel on May 14.

War broke out the following day, with Arab forces confronting the new Jewish state. More than 760,000 Palestinians were pushed to exodus or to flee from their homes.

About 160,000 remained in Israel, their descendants making up the 17.5 per cent of Arab Israelis in the country today.

Wars and treaties

Israel embarked on various wars as it sought to assert itself.

In 1956 Israeli forces invaded Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to reach the just-nationalised strategic Suez Canal, but withdrew.

In 1967 Israel captured in the Six-Day War the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Arab East Jerusalem, Syria’s Golan Heights and Egypt’s Sinai.

It started to build Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.

Egypt and Syria attacked Israel in 1973 but were repelled. In 1978 the Israeli and Egyptian leaders agreed on peace terms after talks brokered by the United States at Camp David, paving the way for the first peace agreement between Israel and an Arab state.

In 1982 Israel invaded civil war-wracked Lebanon to attack Palestinian militants there.

A second peace accord, with Jordan, followed in 1994.


The first Palestinian intifada, or popular uprising against Israel, erupted in 1987 in territories that it had occupied.

It ended in 1993 as Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) agreed on limited Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The second Palestinian intifada broke out in 2000 after the failure of peace talks and a visit of Israel’s Ariel Sharon to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

The Israeli army reoccupied much of the West Bank and built a wall to stop Palestinian attackers from entering its territory. The intifada ended in 2005.

Netanyahu and Trump’s support

In 2015 Benjamin Netanyahu, premier since 2009, formed the most right-wing government in Israel’s history.

In 2017 the government built the first Jewish settlement in 25 years in the West Bank, in defiance of international concern.

In late 2017 US President, Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, angering Palestinians who view east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

On May 14, 2018 — 70 years after the creation of Israel — the United States transferred its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem amid bloody clashes with Palestinians.


Ignatius Igwe :
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