Prior to 1917, the territory that is called Palestine or Israel was ruled by the Ottoman Turkish Empire, and included several sanjaks or districts. The name Palestine, that was used by Roman and Arab rulers, was revived by the British, who received amandate from the League of Nations to administer Palestine as a national home for the Jewish people.
Israel was created in 1948, after UN Resolution 181 partitioned the territory of the British Mandate for Palestine into two states for Jews and Palestinian Arabs. At the time, there were approximately 1.2 million Arabs and 650,000 Jews in all of Palestine. The Arabs objected to the creation of the Jewish state and fought a war against it. The Arab side lost the war, and the Palestinian state never really came into being. The territory allotted to the Palestinian state by the UN partition resolution was taken over by Israel and Jordan. About 780, 000 Palestinians became refugees, many of them living in theGaza strip as well as in the West Bank.
In 1967,Israel fought its Arab neighbors in the 6 day war after Egyptian President Gamal Nasser closed the straights of Tiran to Israeli ships and threatened a war to destroy Israel. Israel conquered all of the Sinai peninsula and Gaza strip that had been held by Egypt. After Jordan began firing on Israeli towns and took over the post of the UN Commissioner in Jerusalem, Israel attacked the Jordanian held West Bank. The Palestinians in those areas came under Israeli rule. Israel began to build Jewish settlements in these territories. In 1987, Palestinians began a rebellion against the Israeli occupation, the Intifada, but this had apparently failed by 1991.
Beginning in 1993, the Oslo agreements promised gradual withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians were hopeful that this process would end in a state for them. However, following breakdown of the final status negotiations in the summer of 2000, riots erupted in September 2000. The tripwire for the violence, which had been brewing for some time, was a visit by Israeli right wing political leader Ariel Sharon paid a controversial visit to the temple mount area, which includes the Al-Aqsa mosque, holy to Muslims, that stands on the site of the ancient Jewish temple. Palestinians refused to accept the agreement offered by US President Clinton in December 2000, and violence has continued since then. Israel has reoccupied nearly all the territory it had ceded to the Palestinians in the West Bank during the Oslo peace process, andcontinues to build settlements on Palestinian land. Election of relatively moderate Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian Authority President and the Israeli disengagement plan (withdrawal from Gaza and four West Bank settlements) offer new hope of peace.
The Palestinian areas account for about 2,800 square miles of the total territory of Israel. They have a population estimated at about 3 million, per capita GDP of under $2,000, literacy rate of about 86% and infant mortality of 33 per thousand. More History and Current events
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