1917—Great Britain gains control of all of historic Palestine at the end of World War 1 and issues the Balfour Declaration committing the British government to supporting a “Jewish national home” in Palestine. At the time, Jews make up less than 10 percent of Palenstine’s population and own about 2 percent of its own land.
1948—A U.N. partition gives 57 percent of Palestine to the new state of Israel, which is immediately recognized by the United States. Fighting breaks out. When the smoke clears, Israel controls 78 percent of Palestine and 800,000 Palestinians have fled into exile. The myth of “a land without a people, for a people without a land” is turned into reality. In 1947, Jews made up a third of Palenstine’s total population and owned less than 7 percent of the land.
1964—The Palestine Liberation Organization is founded. The PLO Charter calls for Israel to be abolished and replaced by a single binational state where both Jews and Arabs could live.
1967—Israel seizes control of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem (the other 22 percent of Palestine) at the end of the Six-Day War and begins the military occupation and colonization of the Territories that continues to this day. U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338 are passed, calling for a permanent Middle East peace deal based on Israel returning to its pre-1967 borders for recognition of its right to exist.
1988—The PLO acknowledges Israel’s right to exist and signals support for a two-state solution.
1993-2000—The PLO and Israel sign the Oslo Accords in which the PLO again recognizes Israel’s right to exist while the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state is put off until “final status” negotiations are completed. The Palestinian Authority (PA) is established to carry out police functions that the Israelis are no longer willing to do.
2000-2003—Exasperated by the rapid buildup of Israeli settlements and Jewish-only roads since the signing of Oslo, Palestinian militants launch the second Intifada in September 2000. Eight-hundred and thirty-three Israelis and 2,239 Palestinians are killed over the next 39 months. Retired general Ariel Sharon becomes Israel’s prime minister and launches the construction of a 25-foot-high wall that will eventually extend 400 miles and cut deep into the West Bank, in some cases surrounding whole Palestinian villages.
2003—Mahmoud Abbas is installed as the Palestinian Prime Minister at the insistence of the United States and Israel. The Bush administration then launches a much-touted “Roadmap” to a Palestinian state by 2005 that requires Palestinians to make all the major concessions while Israel is allowed to continue the occupation and a policy of “targeted” assassinations.
2004—In a shift of longstanding U.S. policy, President Bush openly supports Sharon’s position that a final peace should not be based on pre-1967 borders. Bush’s stance delights not only the Israelis but millions of Christian Zionists ithat are an integral part of his electoral base.
2005—Israel hands over the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians but continues to exert complete control over its borders, airspace and economy.
2006—Riding a wave of resentment against corruption in the Palestinian Authority, the Islamic militant group Hamas wins Palestinian parliamentary elections. The United States and Israel reject any negotiations with Hamas and launch a punishing international embargo that cuts off most international funding for the Authority. Israel also kidnaps dozens of elected legislators and government officals, imprisoning them to this day.
2007—The United States and Israel throw their full support behind Abbas, who remains in control of the West Bank after his forces were routed from the Gaza Strip in June. Five months later the Annapolis conference is convened with the goal of reaching a final peace agreement by the end of 2008. The democratically elected Hamas government is not invited to the talks.