Timeline of the State of Israel

Even though I've travelled in the countries neighbouring Israel I'm still embarrassingly ignorant of the roots of the conflict in the region. So I thought I'd knock out the following timeline as a reference to help put things in perspective as news unfolds from the area.

Having grown up in a quiet village in rural New Zealand, Israel has always seemed so far away and the troubles so complex and 'historical' that it's been easier to ignore the chronological events and dismiss the goings-on as ancient religious squables between uncompromising foes.

The modern series of events is one of a repeating cycle in the region and begins something like...

Periods: Biblical | Cassical | Medieval | Modern


Biblical Period


Israelites
1250BC
Israelites begin conquering and settling the land of Canaan (as it was known) on the eastern Mediterranean coast
1200BC
The Philistines ('Sea Peoples') invade the southern coastland (possibly from Crete) and establish a powerful kingdom
1000BC
Independent Hebrew kingdom established in the north under Saul, a Benjamite who was anointed king by Samuel. Saul succeeded by David. Hewbrews begin conflict with Philistines in the south.
960BC
Beginning of the reign of King Solomon (son of David) and establishment of a wealthy and powerful Hebrew state. Solomon constructs his Temple in Jerusalem.
926BC
Solomon dies, northern tribes refuse to submit to his son, division of the land into two kingdoms. Israel, with its capital at Samaria, and Judah, under the house of David, with its capital at Jerusalem.
720BC
Northern region of Israel conquered by the Assyrians following the decline of the Hebrew states after Solomons death. Israelites driven into exile, a literal scattering of the soon to be called 'lost tribes of Israel'
586BC
Southern kingdom Judah conquered by Babylonian/Chaldean king Nebuchadnezzar after a year long siege of Jerusalem. Solomon's Temple destroyed. Thousands of Jews deported to Nebuchadnezzar's capital in Babylon. Hewbrew kingdom disappears forever, beginning of the Exile.
539BC
Persians conquer the Babylonians. Jewish people return and state enjoys considerable autonomy under Persian rule.
516BC
Construction of the Second Temple completed.

Classical Period


Greek Statue
333BC
Region falls under the rule of Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great
165BC
A revolt in Judea following an attempt to impose Hellenism establishes independent Jewish state
63BC
Pompey conquers the region and Judea incorporated into Roman province of Palestine. The Herods installed as puppet kings of the Romans
70AD
Revolt against Roman rule put down by Emperor Titus, Second Temple destroyed, beginning of the Jewish Diaspora
118-138
During Emperor Hadrian's rule Jews initially allowed to return to Jerusalem, but after another revolt in 133 city destroyed and its people banished and sold into slavery.
312
Emperor Constantine converts to Christianity, Jerusalem becomes center of Christian pilgrimage. Jews still banned from residence in the city but now able to visit on specific religious occasions

Medieval Period


Dome Rock closeup
614
After a lengthy, peaceful and prosperous period, region is again conquered by Persians.
638
Area recovered by Byzantine Romans until region conquered by Umar's Arab Muslims in 640
691
Dome of the Rock erected on site of the Temple of Solomon, claimed by Muslims to have been point where Muhammad was carried to heaven.
750
Palestine passed to the Abbasid caliphate, period marked by unrest between various ruling factions
969
Fatimid dynasty conquers Egypt and then Palestine. Christians and Jews harshly suppressed
1099
Beginning of the Crusader age. Knights Templar take control of Jerusalem and establish Christian kingdom in Palestine. Jews seen as infidels and slaughtered along with the Muslim occupiers of Jerusalem
1187
Saladin's Muslim forces retake the Holy land at the battle of Hittin
1260
Mongol invaders sack the area. Palestine becomes a wasteland
1291
Mamluks invade, ravage the region further
1351
The Black Death strikes, by 1500 population declines to barely 200,000 people
1516
Mamluks defeated by Ottoman Turks. Three centuries of Ottoman rule isolate Palestine from outside influence

Modern Period


Israeli Flag
1831
European influence builds under presence of Egyptian viceroy subject to the Ottoman sultan
1882
European settlements established, most significant are those of Russian Jews
1897
at the summons of the spiritual father of the Jewish State, Theodore Herzl, the First Zionist Congress convened in Switzerland and proclaimed the right of the Jewish people to national rebirth in its own country
1914
'The Great war' begins
1917
Statesman and Zionist, Chaim Weizmann, persuades British govt to support creation of Jewish homeland in Palestine. Arthur James Balfour (British foregin office) writes letter of sympathy to Lord Rothschild which became known as the Balfour Declaration
1922
League of Nations ratifies the declaration and appoints Britain to rule in Palestine.
Post WW1
and leading up to WW2 Jewish immigration increases rapidly as do violent encounters between them and Arabs
1936
Extensive guerilla fighting between Jews and Arabs
1939
Britain issues white paper that restricts Jewish immigration into Palestine
1939-1945
All sorts of mischief in Europe :-(
1946
Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry recommends that Palestine not be dominated by either Arabs or Jews. Arab, and Jewish reactions not favorable.
1947
UN partition plan to end British mandate and divide Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem under UN administration
1948
British leave, State of Israel proclaimed. US President Truman formally recognizes the provisional Jewish government as de facto authority of the new Jewish state which angers many top ranking State Department officials Arab neighbours invade
1949
Armistice agreements between Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, results in 50% increase in Israeli territory.
1956
French, British, and Israeli forces engage Egypt over Suez canal
1957
UN establishes Emergency Force in the Gaza Strip and Sinai Israeli forces withdraw
1967
Israel thrashes Arab forces in '6-day-war' in response to Nasser's ordered withdrawal of UN peacekeepers from the Sinai peninsula. Israel retains control of the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. Security Council adopt Resolution 242, based on Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967. Israel ignores it.
1969-1970
War of attrition between Israel and Egypt over the Sinai and Suez region, proves to be costly to both sides and they eventually agree to a disengagement negotiated by the USA and USSR.
1970
Palestinian fighters expelled from Jordan (to Lebanon mostly)
1973
Syria and Egypt launch attack against Israel, make reasonable progress, then get pushed back further than where they started from before before US and USSR negotiate end to fighting. Resolution 338 issued, reaffirming Resolution 242 Israeli economic growth stalls, inflation reaches triple-digit levels.
1978
Israeli-Egyptian peace summit convened at Camp David by President Carter
1979
Peace treaty between Israel and Egypt
1982
Israel withdaws from the Sinai but invades Lebanon to fight Yasser Arafat's PLO
1983
United States & Israel establish Joint Political Military Group
1985
Israeli withdawl from Lebanon save for residual force
1991
Madrid conference, inflow of foreign investment in Israel
1993
Israel (Rabin) and PLO (Arafat) begin secret negotiations in Oslo, Norway and sign Declaration of Principles where PLO recognise state-of-Israel and Israel officially recognise PLO as representatives of the Palestinian people.
1994
Israel and PLO subsequently sign Gaza-Jericho Agreement Israel and Jordan sign peace treaty
1995
Rabin and Arafat sign Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement. Rabin assasinated !! (possibly because of '93 agreement) Peres becomes Prime Minister
1996
Netanyahu wins early election called by Peres United States and Israel establish Joint Counterterrorism Group
1999
Netanyahu disolves parliament, Barak wins subseqnet election. Arafat signs WYE-II treaty (begun in 1993) with Barak which comes into effect on "11th of September" which in 1999 was also the Jewish new year (aka "Yom Hadfin" - the day of Judgement, as well as "Yom Hazikaron" - the day of memorial)
2000
Barak meets election promise to withdraw all troops from Lebanon, general security situation worsens, Barak resigns
2001
Sharon (Likud party) takes election with 20% margin
2002
The UN passes a U.S.-sponsored resolution calling for the creation of a Palestinian state. Syria dont sign it. Tensions escalate as Israel occupy Bethlehem, Jenin, Hebron, Ramallah and other West Bank towns attempting to flush out wanted terrorist groups. IDF forces withdraw early May, Sharon's Likud party vote to reject the creation of a Palestinian state. 1,000 people attended the first Sunday services in the Church of the Nativity since the end of a five-week standoff

Further Reading: