International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
- In 1977, the General Assembly called for the annual observance of 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (resolution 32/40 B).
- On that day, in 1947, the Assembly adopted the resolution 181 (II) which advocated for the partition of Palestine into two States: one Arab and one Jewish.
The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine
It was a proposal by the United Nations, which recommended a partition of Mandatory Palestine at the end of the British Mandate. On 29 November 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted the Plan as Resolution 181 (II).
The resolution recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States and a Special International Regime for the city of Jerusalem.
The Partition Plan, a four-part document attached to the resolution, provided for the termination of the Mandate, the progressive withdrawal of British armed forces and the delineation of boundaries between the two States and Jerusalem.
Part I of the Plan stipulated that the Mandate would be terminated as soon as possible and the United Kingdom would withdraw no later than 1 August 1948.
The new states would come into existence two months after the withdrawal, but no later than 1 October 1948.
The Plan sought to address the conflicting objectives and claims of two competing movements, Palestinian nationalism and Jewish nationalism, or Zionism.
The Plan also called for Economic Union between the proposed states, and for the protection of religious and minority rights.
The Plan, devised in cooperation with Jewish organizations, was accepted by the Jewish Agency for Palestine, despite dissatisfaction over territorial limits set on the proposed Jewish State.
Arab leaders and governments rejected it and indicated an unwillingness to accept any form of territorial division, arguing that it violated the principles of national self-determination in the UN Charter which granted people the right to decide their own destiny.
Immediately after adoption of the Resolution by the General Assembly, a civil war broke out and the plan was not implemented.
Formation of the state of Israel
- In May 1948, Israel was declared an independent state with David Ben Gurion as the Prime Minister.
- Following this declaration, in 1948, the Arab-Israeli War broke out with five Arab states, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt invading Israel.
- A ceasefire was announced in 1949 and as part of the agreement, the West Bank was given to Jordan and the Gaza Strip became part of Egypt. Israel, having won the war, though, now controlled more area than they would have under the UN plan. East Jerusalem was under the control of Jordan. Over 700000 Palestinians fled the region and became refugees in neighbouring Arab countries. The Palestinians call this war the Nakba, or catastrophe, as they became stateless.
- Tensions escalated again in 1956 when Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt nationalised the Suez Canal. This led to the Suez Crisis. Israel attacked the Sinai Peninsula and retook the canal with British and French support.
- In 1967, the 6-Day War started in which Israel won control of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula. Israel captured East Jerusalem also.
- The Yom Kippur War broke out in 1973 when Syria and Egypt launched airstrikes against Israel. The fighting stopped after two weeks by a UN resolution.
- In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon and ejected the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO).
- The PLO was formed in 1964 to fight for the “liberation of Palestine” through armed struggle.
- Meanwhile, Israel was creating Jewish settlements in areas that were considered Palestinian territory including in East Jerusalem.
First Palestinian Intifada
- In 1987, there was an uprising of Palestinians against the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.
- Hundreds of people were killed and this is called the First Palestinian Intifada (Arabic word meaning ‘shaking off’).
- The Intifada came to an end with the Oslo Peace Accords signed in 1993 and a second accord signed in 1995 between the then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, the leader of the PLO.
- After this, the Palestinian Authority formed and took control over some territories in Israel.
Second Palestinian Intifada
- The Israeli army withdrew from parts of the West Bank in 1997. However, the Accords could not bring permanent peace to the region and the Second Palestinian Intifada was launched in 2000.
- The trigger of the violence was a visit to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem by Israeli politician Ariel Sharon.
- There was widespread rioting and violence which lasted for years.
- A ceasefire was finally announced and Israel planned to withdraw all troops and Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip by 2005 end.
Second Lebanon War
- This conflict started in July 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, Golan Heights and Northern Israel.
- It ended after a couple of months through a UN-brokered ceasefire.
- Hezbollah is a Lebanese Shia Islamist political party and militant goup.
- Hamas, a Sunni Islamist militant group won the elections in Palestine in 2006.
- In 2007, Hamas defeated Fatah (political group that controlled the PLO) in 2007 in fighting that started in 2006.
- Hamas (which many consider a terrorist group) has been fighting with Israel with particularly significant battles in 2008, 2012 and 2014.
- Hamas rules over Gaza.
- Gaza’s borders are tightly controlled by Israel and Egypt.
- The West Bank is still occupied by Israel.
- Most Palestinian refugees and their descendants live in Gaza, the West Bank, East Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
- Tensions run high between Israel and Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
- According to Israel, allowing Palestinians to return to their homes would overwhelmingly threaten its existence as a Jewish state. (Israel is the only Jewish state in the world).
- The whole of Jerusalem is claimed by Israel as its capital.
- Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
- Though Israel does not recognise Palestine as a state, over 135 UN member countries do.
- In 1988, India became one of the first countries to recognize the Palestinian State.