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Partners For Palestine Inc. | Civil, Political, Religious and Human Rights

Map based on the work of Ptolemy

from 100 AD showing "Palestina" 

Palestine's History

Early Palestinian coins, maps of the world, references in literature, passports, newspapers, and photographs document a thriving society that has played a prominent role in the history of the Middle East. (See Gallery I) Though the region has been occupied by many ​outside groups, including the Egyptians, Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Muslims, Crusaders, Ottomans, and British, Palestinians today have a strong sense of cultural and national identity. Palestine has long been home to people of three Abrahamic faiths, and holds immense significance for Christians, Muslims and Jews around the world.


During World War I, the British High Commissioner in Egypt in 1915 promised the Sharif of Mecca his country's backing for Palestine's independence in exchange for Arab help in defeating the Ottoman Empire. More than 20,000 Arabs lost their lives fighting for this independence along with the British. However, in 1916, France and Great Britain signed a secret pact outlining their spheres of influence in the region of Palestine after the war, directly contradicting the pledge. In the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the British foreign minister endorsed the creation of a Jewish national home in this overwhelmingly Arab area. 

With Arab help, British forces captured Jerusalem from the Ottomans in 1917, and assumed oversight of the area. A post-war conference of Allied governments in 1920 confirmed British rule over Palestine, while giving France control of Syria and Lebanon. This was approved by the League of Nations in 1922. The years that followed saw a large influx of non-Palestinian Jews to the region under British control. Unlike Jews who had lived in harmony for centuries among their Arab neighbors, these newcomers set themselves apart, favoring only Jewish labor in their factories and openly advocating a separate Jewish society. This gave rise to alarm and in some cases deadly riots and attacks by non-Jewish natives who saw their homeland being transformed

 

In 1947, Palestine was divided without the consent of its inhabitants by United Nations Resolution 181, which set aside 56% of the territory as a homeland for Jews. At the time, Jews owned only 7% of the land and comprised a third of the population. Immediately following this resolution, fighting broke out in Palestine. Jewish Zionist militias terrorized the local Palestinian population, committing dozens of massacres and depopulating villages and towns. By May 14, 1948, when Israel declared itself a state, it had already taken by force much of the land the UN had defined as an Arab state, and created over 300,000 Palestinian refugees.


The next day, armies from neighboring Arab states joined the fighting to slow Israel's further expansion. By 1949, when Israel signed armistice agreements with its neighbors, it had expelled 85% of the Palestinians from the land it controlled, according to Israeli historian Ilan Pappe (Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, p.179), creating more than 700,000 refugees. Between 400 and 600 Palestinian villages and towns had been depopulated, with many destroyed. (A recent map published by Israeli NGO Zochrot shows 601 depopulated villages.)

In 1967, another war resulted in the Israeli occupation of the remaining 22% of Palestine, though the length and nature of this occupation are illegal under international law. Israel resumed a long process of land theft, colonization, and exploitation of resources that continues today, despite numerous UN resolutions to end it.

 

In 2005, Israel withdrew its colonists (settlers) from the Gaza Strip and accelerated the movement of its own citizens into the West Bank, taking the best hilltops and water supplies and constructing segregated Israeli roads that divided the remaining Palestinian communities. A three-story wall was constructed on Palestinian land to further divide the territory, cutting Palestinians off from their farms, schools, hospitals, workplaces and neighbors.

Despite these obstacles, the people of Palestine have held democratic elections repeatedly, and these have been monitored by international observers. The two main political parties in Palestine are Fatah and Hamas, each playing many roles in society beyond the political and military. After years of Fatah rule were marked by corruption and a failure to improve Palestinian lives, the Hamas party won the 2006 legislative election. Israel, with US support, imprisoned elected Hamas officials in the West Bank, in effect negating the democratic results and overruling the will of the Palestinian people. Since that time, the Israeli government has supported Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority, far beyond his four-year term. Most Palestinians view him as a collaborator in their oppression. 

 

Fatah's efforts to overturn the election results in Gaza failed, and in 2007 Israel placed the Gaza Strip under a punishing blockade with power cuts, restricted imports, denial of clean water and severely limited access to fishing and agricultural lands. There have been occasional crude rockets fired into Israel by various groups in Gaza, some seeking to discredit Hamas. From 2000 to 2020, 38 Israeli civilians were killed in these attacks. Israeli bombing campaigns and military incursions have killed and maimed thousands of Palestinians, destroying homes, churches and other buildings throughout Gaza. According to the UN, 5,297 Palestinians were killed in Gaza between January 1, 2008 and March 15, 2022.

Palestinians have resisted their dispossession and expulsion through both violent and nonviolent means. They have marched, demonstrated, conducted sit-ins on their land and chained themselves to their olive trees, but the Western media rarely covers these non-violent demonstrations. With no military to protect them, individuals and factions have sometimes resorted to attacks on Israelis to get the world's attention. These have harmed the Palestinian cause, and we condemn all acts of violence against civilians by both sides. Just as Ukrainians, Europeans and Americans have taken up arms to resist their oppressors, so the people of Palestine have a right to defend themselves and will continue to resist. To protect the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis, we seek to end the oppression that gives rise to suffering throughout the region.

Palestine coin
Palestine newspaper
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postcard of palestine
map of palestine
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