Palestine has been known since ancient times as the land of Canaan, as was mentioned in the reports of one of the military leaders of the Mari kingdom, and it was clearly mentioned on the obelisk (Adriemi) of the king of Alalakh (Tell al-Atchana) in the middle of the fifth century BC.
The origin of the word Palestine is (Philistia). This appeared in the Assyrian records during the reign of the Assyrian king (Addizari III) around 800 BC, where it was mentioned on his obelisk that in the fifth year of his rule his forces subjugated Palastu, and forced its people to pay the tax.
The formulation of the name (Palstein) for Herodotus was focused on Aramaic foundations, a name that he sometimes refers to the southern part of Syria or (Palestinian Syria) near Phoenicia that extends to the borders of Egypt. This name was also used by the Roman historians such as Agathar Chides, STRABO, and Diodoru.
In the Roman era, the name Palestine became applicable to all the Holy Land, and it became an official term since the time of Hadrian. The use of this name spread widely in the Christian Church, and it was always referred to in the reports of Christian pilgrims; however, in the Islamic era Palestine was Part of the Levant.
The fertility of the land in Palestine and its distinguished location anchored the human presence since ancient times, as it had a prominent role in the process of civilizational communication between the different regions in the world due to its central location, which helped document its history since ancient times.
The Old Stone Age (Paleolithic)
Following the archaeological excavations scholars acknowledged the existence of humanity on the land of Palestine since the what is called “Homo Erectus”. These excavations confirmed that these ancestors were mobile hunters in pursuit of different animal herds. Those ancestors went through different evolution phases, where they started developing their tools and fishing methods that were made of flint.
In the third period of the Stone Age, Homo sapiens appeared, and the knife made of long chips was one of the main tools used in this period. Sapiens were then found inside caves in Palestine, including the Princess Cave, Erq Al-Ahmar, Kabara and other sites in the Negeb desert. This stage is the beginning of human gatherings, which have become advanced living patterns, although they have continued to live on hunting and gathering food.
17,000 – 8,000 BC Transition from collection to production
During this period, people changed from the collection to the production stage, as they used to search for water habitats and settle around them. They also began collecting and cultivating different seeds including wheat and barley; additionally, they started hunting animals. Archaeology of the ancient humans indicated the stages of the development of this production. Life-style became more stabilized in this stage. The last period of the Stone Age was marked by a clear change in the means of subsistence and production, as there was a change in the patterns and tools of construction, especially after the ancient man discovered pottery, and its use in many industries, tools and construction; which led to the emergence of new innovations and tools.
8,000 – 4,000 BC The emergence of agricultural societies
During this period, humans depended on hunting in addition to cultivating some grains, though people did not domesticate animals. However, there were commercial links between Palestine and the Anatolia, where a number of tools made of “Obsidian” textile material were found. These textiles were exported from Anatolia to Jericho and elsewhere. Jericho, on the other hand, used to export raw materials such as tar and salt from the Dead Sea, and in a later period people started animals’ domestication.
4,000 – 2,000 BC: With the end of the fourth millennium BC
There was a clear change in the economic, social and architectural aspects in Palestine, and perhaps the most characteristic of this period is the emergence of large numbers of burials cut into the stones in Palestine, and in later periods minerals were discovered. Merging minerals facilitated the formation of tools and utensils. Religious temples also appeared in that period, which were revealed by the archaeological excavations in many cities and villages of Palestine. Industry and trade also witnessed significant advancement, this is reflected in the urban life development, the population growth along with the rise in the standard of living and the advancement of the agricultural system.
During this period, many walled cities appeared, which was impacted by the establishment of cemeteries with vertical entrances. Fortified cities spread all over the Palestinian areas, including the coastal region, Marj Ibn Amer, and the western mountain chain. The establishment of cities with defense, public and residential facilities became an imperative of some advanced planning.
Semites are the oldest known inhabitants of Palestine; this is manifested through the archeological excavations. Since the fourth millennium BC, they have lived on the shore of the eastern Mediterranean.
From a religious perspective, the Semites are considered the descendent tribes of Sam, the eldest son of Noah, peace be upon him.
Indubitably, that the ancient indigenous inhabitants of Palestine were all Arabs. They migrated from the Arabian Peninsula due to the drought that befell it. They lived in their new homeland, “Canaan,” for more than two thousand years before Prophet Moses and his followers.
According to documented estimates, the famous Canaanite Amorite migration from Arabia took place in the middle of the third millennium BC. However, some researchers conclude that the Canaanites were settled in the country since the beginning of the third millennium, this is based on the Egyptian antiquities’ discoveries.
Other researchers go further, as they affirm that the Canaanites existence goes back to seven thousand years. This is evident by tracing the ruins in their ancient cities, the oldest of which is the city of Jericho that remains to this day, which is considered the oldest city in the world.
Regardless of any uncertainty in the estimated birth of the Canaanites civilization, there is no doubt that historically they were the first known people to inhabit the region and the first to build a civilization on the land of Palestine.
It is also mentioned in the Hebrew writings that the Canaanites were the original inhabitants of the land, as it was mentioned in the Torah that they were the Amorite people.
Among the oldest Canaanite cities remaining until today: Jericho, Ashdod (Asdod), Akko (Akka), Gaza, Al-Majdal, Yaffe (Jaffa), Ashkelon (Askalan), Beit Shan (Bisan), in addition to many cities and villages, some of which remain until today, and others which have disappeared. On the other hand, Shekim was the capital of Canaan.
The Canaanites were famous for agriculture and industry, and they excelled in mining, making ceramics, glass, weaving, and clothing. They also excelled in the art of architecture, where music and literature were key components of the Canaanite civilization. The Canaanites were distinguished in their concern in arts and music, they excerpted parts of their music from various nations who settled in the ancient Near East. This attentiveness towards music and arts is due to the fact that the Canaanite rituals of worship depended on singing, and thus their melodies and their music instruments spread throughout the Mediterranean.
It is incontestable that literature and art are the main traits of any civilization; thus, it is not strange that the Israeli writings strive hard to delude the world that they were the source of the ancient civilization, and the owners of songs, chants and melodies; and they were really able to allege many people with this illusion. However, Brested a reliable and great historian among others described the Canaanite land whilst the Hebrews entered the cities as luxurious. Brested mentioned that the cities included comfortable and luxurious homes, and people were dependent on different industrial and commercial activities, with distinguished writings and temples; a wealthy civilization that the Hebrew primitive shepherds were able to follow and imitate. Thus, the Hebrews left their tents and constructed similar buildings, they also took off the leather they wore in the desert, and used brightly colored woolen clothes. After a while it was no longer possible to differentiate between the Canaanites and the Hebrews. After the entry of the Philistines from the sea side and the Israelites from the Jordan side, the land of Canaan was distributed among the three peoples, and the Canaanites were no longer the masters of the country, however, the Canaanite language remained the predominant language.
Since the dawn of written history until the British Mandate in 1917 (five thousand years ago), Palestine had only known three languages: the first was the Canaanite, the second was the language that Jesus spoke the Aramaic, and the third was Arabic.
2000 BC – 1200 BC
At the beginning of the second millennium BC, cities became brisker and more active with new styles of architecture and cemeteries, new types of ceramics and weapons; this was accompanied by development of developed trade and political relations with most of the ancient eastern regions, especially Egypt, the Levant, northern Syria and eastern Anatolia. This period was also characterized by sophisticated manufacturing of ceramics through the special clay material used with its refined selection, mixing and managing to produce various elegant shapes of vessels.
This period was characterized by the almost exhaustive Egyptian control over the Levant during the rule of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Dynasties, during which the last Hyksos kings (1567 BC) and the campaigns of Thutmose III over the Levant (about 1480 BC) were defeated. During this era the strong and supported fortifications attributed to the Hyksos disappeared
This period witnessed a state of turmoil allover Palestine, as it is apparent in the south and center with the beginning of the Eighteenth Dynasty, that is, shortly after the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt and pursuing them until Sharuhin in southern Palestine. In fact, this is all documented in detailed texts since the reign of Thutmose III, including that text Concerning the decisive battle of Megiddo, which was led from the Levantine side by the king of Megiddo and the king of Kadesh, supported by the Almitani king, and nearly one hundred twenty cities participated in this alliance, which were mentioned in one of Thutmose III’s topographical lists.
1200-550 BC The Age of Kingdoms (Iron Age)
During this period, the Palestinians considered themselves the legitimate successors to the Egyptian authority over Palestine and they took control of almost all of its parts. However, they are often referred to as the inhabitants of the Palestinian coast, as they established a number of major cities such as Gaza, Askalan, Asdod, Aqeer, Tal al-Safi and others.
The local Canaanite impact on the various Palestinians also appeared from the names of their gods, such as Dagon and Astarte. The religious life of the residents of the Palestinian coast is also of a Canaanite origin; this impact inspired the religious buildings, the most important of which was the chain of temples in Tel al-Qasile, which were built similar to the Canaanite temples with Egyptian influences.
On the other hand, there have been claims by the Israeli biblical scholars and archaeologists about the attribution of some of the discoveries and architecture to the ancient Israelites, and among these discoveries is a large-sized pottery jar that takes a semi-oval shape with an affixed collar wrapped around it between the neck and shoulder, which was known in foreign sources as collared-rimjar.
550 BC – 330 BC: The Persian Empire and the reign of Alexander the Great
The Persian Empire is considered the heir to Assyria through its first kings, “Cyrus”, “Cambyses” and “Darius”. This empire extended from the Aegean Sea in the west to the borders of India in the east and from southern Egypt to the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains in the north.
Darius divided the empire at that time into (20) states, each of which had a governor, and Palestine was part of the fifth state, which was known by its Aramaic name “Abr Nanhra” meaning “beyond the river,” which is in reference to the Euphrates River, and it included all of the Levant, including Syria, Phenicia and Cyprus.
In 334 BC, Alexander of Macedon crossed the sea from Greece coming to Asia Minor and achieved the first victory over the Persians in the Battle of Granicus, and in the same year he defeated the king of Persia in Issus (Cilicia), and then headed south towards the coasts of the Levant aiming to destroy the Phoenician naval fleet that the Persians relied on in the eastern Mediterranean, so he crossed the Taurus Mountains and built the city of Miriandos (Alexandria) and sent a division of his army to Damascus and occupied it, and then marched on the Levantine coast and seized it in (autumn 332 BC) and after his death the empire faced different wars and internal conflicts over governance, this led to the establishment of two states: the Seleucids in the Levant and the Ptolemies in Egypt.
In the year (175 BC) a war between the Maccabees and the Seleucids erupted in Palestine, a war that lasted for forty years and ended with the rise of the Hasmonean family, which Pompey defeated in the year (63 BC) when he occupied Jerusalem, and then Palestine became part of the Roman state as well as the Levant.
The Romans started intruding in the Seleucid state affairs since the beginning of the second century BC due to its fragility and weakness resulting from the foreign wars it got engaged in and their victory over “Antiochus III” in the Battle of Vagnesia (190 BC).
Historians attest that the Roman armies, led by the commander “Pompey”, entered Jerusalem after a siege and severe fighting in (63 BC). The city lost many of its inhabitants, and Palestine and western Syria were considered a Roman province, where “Scaurus” was appointed as the first governor over it, and in the year 57 BC M., “Gabinius” took over the mandate of Syria, and reorganized the administrative organization of the Jerusalem area. Then, “Crassus” was assigned as governor of Syria in 54 BC, and he was a member of what was known as the tripartite alliance to divide the rule in the great state, namely “Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus.” “Cassius” was the ruler of Syria (44-42 BC), and in the year (42 BC) Anthony and Actavius. Then a dispute arose between Pompey and Caesar, and Julius Caesar was assassinated, and Cassius, was assigned as a governor over Syria (44-42 BC), in 42 BC Anthony and Actavius defeated Julius Caesar’s murderers; subsequently, Herod was appointed the king over the region of Jerusalem and Palestine (37-4 BC). And after Herod death he had recommended that (Antebias) be in the greater part of Palestine, and that continued from 4 BC until 39 AD, where he used Tiberias as his capital, and in the year (41 AD) all of Palestine became a Roman state.
Jesus, peace be upon him, was born in Bethlehem in the year 4 BC, and this period could be divided into three phases:
- The first phase that immediately followed the days of Christ, this is called the Age of the Apostles (30-95AD)
- The second extends about a century following the first century
- The third ends when the Roman Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity under the influence of his mother, Saint Helena, in the year (312 AD).
In the second half of the third century AD, an internal revolt against Rome defeated the Empire by the prince of Palmyra Athaina and then by his wife “Zenobia”. Aurelian then terminated this attempt in 272 AD.
In the year 395 AD the Roman Empire was divided into two parts, eastern and western. Theodosius assigned his son Arcadius the eastern part; where he governed this part from (395-423). He also assigned the rule of the Western part to his other son Honorius, where he governed this part from the year 395 to 423. Following Constantine and up until the year (527 AD), nearly seventeen emperors took over, among them four who came through revolutionary changes.
Justinian (Justin II) assumed the Byzantine throne in the period (565-578 AD), (Tiberius II) (578-582 AD), Morris (582-602 AD), “Phocas” (602-610 AD) and Hercules (610-641 AD).
The relationship between the Byzantines and the Sassanids fluctuated, in many cases wars intensified and at other times things restrained, and numerous treaties and peace agreements were concluded between the two countries, which were soon canceled and wars broke out again between the two countries.
In the years (610-622AD), the Persians launched attacks on the Romans and won their campaigns. They plundered Antioch, Damascus, and Jerusalem in the year (614 AD) and Abruise seized the Holy Cross. This instability and continuous war conditions incapacitated the two states, which allowed an unchallenging victory of the Arabs, where they destroyed the Sasanian state and conquered the Levant and Egypt from the Byzantines. The decisive battle was the Battle of Yarmouk in the fifteenth year of the Hijra (636 AD).
With the onset of the Islamic armies’ conquest of the Levant, the Caliphate of Abu Bakr conquered the Levant starting with the Basra as the first city. Subsequently, the armies marched towards Palestine, where they faced a fierce battle between with the Byzantine Romans in the Battle of Ajnadayn on 30 July 634. Ajnadin was a great victory for the Muslims, and the Byzantine army was forced to flee from the battlefield to the city of Fahl on the eastern bank of Jordan near Bisan, where the Islamic army besieged them until the people of Fahl surrendered to the Muslims and paid “Jizya” (a tax paid by non-Muslim populations to Muslim leaders in exchange of receiving).
Abu Bakr (as was called Al-Siddiq) died in the month of Jumada al-Awwal (According to the Hijri Calendar) of the same year, who was then succeeded by Umar ibn al-Khattab.
The Muslims defeated the Romans relentlessly all over the Levant. Following this reputation, Hercules left his area to Constantinople. Consequently, Muslims had a crushing victory in the Yarmouk Battle although the number of Muslim fighters were less than a quarter of the number of the Romans in that incident. This was the last battle in the Levant between the parties, and only Jerusalem and Qaysariyya remained under the control of the Romans.
, and yet they, and the Battle of Yarmouk was the last of the important battles in the Levant, and after that there was no remaining in the hands of the Romans in Palestine of the important sites except. The conquest of Jerusalem was one of the most important goals of the Islamic state at that time, so the Islamic armies sieged Jerusalem. The people of Jerusalem refused to surrender to Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah who was heading the Islamic armies at the time. They demanded that Omar bin al-Khattab be in charge of the peace treaty, so Abu Ubaidah wrote to Omar who went to Jerusalem to finalize the treaty.
After the Arab-Islamic conquest, Palestine was associated with the Islamic State, and under this rule it witnessed stabilized era; a status that was not possible with the interest of the two great powers Persia and Byzantium. Following the conquest of Palestine by Omar bin al-Khattab, he assigned Amro Ben Al-Ass the governor who was descended by Abdul Rahman bin Alqama al-Kinani and after his death was Alqama bin Majzar. This status remained until Caliph Othman bin Affan annexed Palestine again to Muawiyah bin Abi Sufyan, who was the ruler of the Levant.
Palestine began a new phase when Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan declared himself a caliph, thus establishing the rule of the Umayyad dynasty, which lasted for nearly ninety years. He began his reign by going to Jerusalem, where he declared his caliphate from there in the year (40 or 41 AH / 661 AD), then the people pledged allegiance to him after that.
When Yazid bin Muawiya took over the Calipha, internal unrest was provoked by his opponents including Hussein bin Ali the martyr of Karbala, and Abdullah bin Al-Zubayr who demanded a pledge of allegiance to himself after Hussein was killed. Hijaz and some parts of Iraq pledged alliance to Yazid bin Muawiya. Upon his death unrest started again affecting the Islamic State. After his death, people in most Islamic countries turned to Ibn al-Zubayr except for al-Sham, which pledged allegiance to Mu’awiyah bin Yazid bin Mu’awiyah (Mu’awiyah the Second), but Mu’awiyah’s second command did not prolong, and he died after a ruling that did not last more than forty days, so Ibn al-Zubayr took over Sham except for Jordan and Palestine that was governed by Hassan bin Malik bin Al-Kalbi since the days of Muawiyah Ibn Abi Sufyan.
Hassan was inclined to the Umayyad, so he went out to Jordan to be close to the events after he took over the army of Palestine “Rooh bin Zanbaa Jathama” where Nathil bin Qais announced the pledge of allegiance to Ibn al-Zubayr in Palestine and he went out in revolt against “Rooh bin Zanbaa Jathama” and expelled him to Jordan, which was the only regions controlled by the Umayyads.
And after the battle of Marj Rahat, it was agreed that the successor will be Marwan bin Al-Hakam and his successor Khaled bin Yazid bin Muawiyah, and then the caliphate returned again to Abdul-Malik bin Marwan after his father, and the Levant was stabilized after then.
It is reported that during Hisham’s reign, the bonds of the Umayyad dynasty were weakened and the internal conflict raged in the state. And the last caliph was Marwan ibn Muhammad, where the Umayyad Caliphate fell and the Abbasid state began.
The killing of Marwan bin Muhammad created a gap and fertile ground for the Abbasids to impose their authority on the Levant. They expanded their control throughout the cities of the Levant without any significant resistance. Following the subjugation of Damascus on April 18, 750 CE “Abdullah bin Ali” entered Palestine to begin a new era in the history of this Arab land, and the Abbasids used the power against the remaining followers of the Umayyads in the Levant, but the people of Levant confronted this power with successive revolutions throughout the Abbasid period, and the Levant was a predicament issue for the caliphate.
It became clear that the previous period (the Abbasid period) involved many events that were marked by instability and lack of loyalty by the Levant, and the situation remained with instability until the transfer of power to Ahmed Ibn Tulun, the founder of the Tulunid Emirate. The Tulunid Emirate was established in Egypt since the year 257 AH / 870 AD, with a vision to extend across the Levant under the pretext of preserving the Islamic countries from the Byzantine enemy, where he was able to maintain this until his death in the year 270 AH / 884 AD. The rule was transferred to his son “Khimariya”. This era extended until the Arab tribes revolted against the Tulunids, when the Ikhshidid state started.
This era was founded by Abu Bakr bin Tughj bin Jaff bin Beltkin by ruling Egypty and the Levant, until his death in Damascus in the month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the year (334 AH, 946 AD). His body was transferred to Jerusalem, where he was buried. And his successor was Abu al-Qasim Anujur.
The Fatimid era began with the establishment of the Fatimid state in Egypt, with an ambition to reach to the Levant. They fulfilled their desire by taking over the Levant through an army led by Jawhar al-Siqali during the reign of al-Muizz Li Din Allah the Fatimid. This period was characterized by internal turmoil and wars due to the fact that the Fatimid state was established on a Shiite basis in opposition to the beliefs of the Levant people. This sectarian dispute led to a dispute over power and governance. This turmoil intensified following the desire of some Arab tribes to seek independence and to establish independent emirates.
The Turks (known as the “Seljuks”) infiltrated into northern Iraq and the Levant in the year (1067 AD). These groups were not from the Levant, rather they moved from Turkistan area to the Levant where they stabilized and integrated. Thus, they assumed leadership of the region as a military force against the Franks and the Mongols for four centuries until the beginning of the twentieth century.
The Crusades period extended between the years (1095-1291AD) through the various military campaigns conducted. These wars started when Pope “Urban II” launched the crusade call “God’s Will” through the Clermont-Ferrand Conference in November 1095. Thus, the first Crusade war was launched based on a religious basis under the slogan of a religious ideology as a means to control the holy places in the East. The Pope realized that the Western Catholic Church should lead the Crusades war, enabling it to control the desired religious and political leadership position in the East as well as in the West.
The eleventh century in Europe witnessed a large-scale religious revival movement, especially among the populations encouraging the crusades. Hence, the military campaigns with the “Cross” logo were accompanied by a wide response. The Popes gained extensive power in the eleventh century especially during the rule of Gregory VII, followed by Urban II to pursue this approach by strengthening the church’s role; which was executed through the crusade’s wars. The crusades wars also came after the call from the Emperor of Byzantium seeking support against the danger he faced against the holy places.
The eleventh century in Europe was financially and morally welcoming to the idea of the Crusade wars. The difficult social conditions, the increase in population, the nature of agricultural lands, succession of natural disasters, epidemics, and the interest to control the resources in the East, were all factors supporting the embarkment on the wars.
The First campaign
The first campaign started upon the request of the emperor of Byzantium for military assistance including army of mercenaries for defending his capital. The European response was unprecedented. It was the crusade wars; a response that confused the emperor of Byzantium. This is when the Council of Clermont (central France) held the synod of ecclesiastics and laymen of the Catholic Church, called by Pope Urban II and held in November 1095 at Clermont. The Pope gave his famous speech announcing the call to arms that would result in the First Crusade, and eventually the capture of Jerusalem and the establishment of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. In this, Urban reacted to the request by Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus who had sent envoys to the Council of Piacenza requesting military assistance against the Seljuk Turks. The speech inflamed the religious feelings of the large masses that were overwhelmed by religious sentiments and called to take up arms to protect Christians in the East from persecution, and to liberate the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and Eastern Christianity in general. People were supportive of this call feeling “This is the will of God;” they were promised that this will wipe out sins, their debts will be paid for, and their families will be taken care of during absence; while those who refuse to participate will be deprived of the Church. This enthusiasm stretched from France to the rest of Europe.
This idea was not suspected by the Byzantium who were concerned with facing the threat of the Seljuks. They perceived them barbarians and sources of the threat similar to the Seljuks. When the ignominious first crusade approached Constantinople led by the monk “Peter” the emperor led them across the strait to the shore to face the Seljuks where they were defeated. After the defeat of the campaign in the summer of 1096, the forces of the First Crusade began gathering in western Europe and its army was the largest in this multi-command campaign, these armies had to gather in Constantinople before entering the lands of the Seljuk Sultanate.
The role of the Byzantine Emperor’s army was limited in the war against the Seljuks. However, they were able to besiege them and occupy the Emirates one after the other, and they continued to advance in the south towards Palestine, where they captured Maarat al-Numan and carried out a massive massacre; they then headed to the coast and fortified their positions in Tire, Acre and Jerusalem. Then they headed forward towards Jerusalem in May 1099 for their pilgrimage in the holy sites. The Crusader army marched towards Acre, Haifa, Arsuf, and Qisarya, and from there they turned to Ramla the capital of Palestine. Then they approached Jerusalem where they faced high resistance; thus, they besieged the city from June 7 until July 15. They were able to defeat it only after a massive massacre.
After the establishment of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, its leaders went on with occupying the different coastal cities.
The Fatimids woke up to the fact that the Crusaders occupied the Arab countries when it was too late, so they tried to confront the Crusaders and were defeated in a ground battle near Ashkelon in August 1099 AD, after which the Crusaders moved to occupy the coastal cities, while the Fatimid Ashkelon remained a threat to the Crusader kingdom until the year 1153. Upon its defeat the entire coast came under the control of the Crusaders, and for more than fifty years, skirmishes recommenced between the Fatimids and the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.
The second campaign (1146-1149)
The internal dispute within the Crusaders along with the conflicts with Byzantium incapacitated the crusaders and provided the opportunity for the Seljuks to regain the lands they lost. This was also a sturdy opportunity for Emperor Alexios to wrest Antakya from the “Bohemian” who had been captured by the Turkish leader, Amir Malik Ghazi, and the ransom of the Bohemian had been negotiated. After that, he refused to hand Antioch over to the emperor. The Seljuks then defeated him at Harran in 1104, where they lost most of the lands they occupied in Syria.
On the other hand, the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was expanding in all directions, which gave birth to a state of resurgence in Mosul. In Mosul, a movement began in (1113 AD) to unify the Islamic principalities in Iraq and Syria for a joint move against the Franks. This movement reached its climax during the days of Imad al-Din Zanki, who emerged during the period 1127 -1146 and was able to impose his authority on the governors of the provinces in Iraq and Syria, except for Damascus. Through this power, Imad al-Din Zanki launched a new phase of clash with the Franks, which extended to the reign of his son Nur al-Din Zanki, and after him Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi to the Mamluks who vanquished the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.
Salah al-Din Yusef bin Ayyub was born in Tikrit, Iraq, in the year (1138 AD). Then he moved to Baalbek, Lebanon with his father where he was appointed as a military commander during the reign of Imad al-Din Zangi. Then he moved with his uncle, “Asad al-Din Shirkuh” to Egypt (1164 AD), where he had taken over the ministry in Cairo after the death of his uncle.
In the year (1171 AD) he abolished the Shiite Fatimid caliphate and declared the pledge of allegiance to the Sunni Abbasid caliph Al-Mustiha’. Therefore, a dispute arose between him and Nur al-Din Zangi that ended with the death of the latter. After that, Saladin sought to unify Egypt and Syria under his leadership to fulfill his dream of eliminating the Crusaders, and in the year 1187 AD there was a historical event represented by the Battle of Hattin, which caused a turning point in the relations between the East and the West, and placed the Crusader in a self-defense position in the East.
After the battle of Hattin, Saladin took over Tiberias, then moved forward to Acre, then to Galilee, followed by Nablus, Jaffa, Gaza, Ashkelon, Beirut, and Sidon, also he took over Nazareth, Caesarea, Safad, Saffuriyya, Shuqayf, Mount al-Tur and others. Then he approached Jerusalem, where he besieged Jerusalem and expelled the Crusaders from it according to an agreement, and he prayed Friday (October 27, 1187 CE) at Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Crusaders gathered in three coastal cities, Antioch, Tripoli, and Tire.
The third Crusade was led by the powerful kings of Europe at that time. This campaign came after the fall of Jerusalem, and Europe was able to muster its strength despite the differences between its kings. This campaign was able to reach Palestine and besiege Acre, and Saladin quickly sieged the Crusaders. With the arrival of the French and the English, a great battle was fought and the siege lasted from August 1189 AD to June 1191 AD, which affected Acre.
On September 2 (1192 AD), the two parties, after long negotiations, reached an agreement according to which a Crusader kingdom was established in Acre. Christians have the right to visit the holy sites in Jerusalem and Nazareth.
After the reconciliation, Saladin returned to Damascus after twenty years of continuous jihad, and he passed away on March 3 (1193 AD). Thus, the Crusades continued to rage, but outside Palestine until the period of the Turkish Mamelukes came.
The Mamluk regime was known for its military scheme since the era of the Abbasids, and ruling dynasties emerged out of this army. After the demise of the Ayyubid king, this system gained reputation and distinguished position, after dismantling the kingdom of the Banu Ayyub and they established a kingdom in Egypt and the Levant, which lasted for more than two and a half centuries.
The Mamelukes were able to save Egypt at the last moment, after the seventh Crusade succeeded in occupying Damietta and advanced towards Cairo while al-Saleh Ayyub was in the jaws of death. And, in moments of distress Ayoub died, where the Mamelukes met and determined to fight the Crusaders and they defeated them. This is when “Al-Zahir Baybars” the real founder of the Mamluk state appeared on the scene. Thus, the Mamluks came to power in Egypt, and the Ayyubids were satisfied with the Levant. This status quo did not last for long; since the Mongols, led by “Hulagu”, had gone to the east, entered Baghdad, eliminated the Abbasids, destroyed the country, and destroyed its civilization in the year (1260 AD). The Mongols then marched towards Damascus, which met the same fate. They also sent warnings to “Sultan Qutuz,” who assumed power in Cairo in (1259-1260 AD). In light of these threats, “Qutuz” worked to unite Muslims, and “Baybars” joined him. They advanced to meet the Mongols, and they clashed with their vanguards in Gaza and defeated them and carried on the march until their forces gathered in Ain Jalut (Marj bin Amer) where the two armies met in a fierce battle on September 6 (1260 AD) in which the Mamluks were victorious This victory changed the history profile in West Asia. Subsequently, Baybars was determined to end the Crusader presence, and assumed power with the title of Al-Zahir in (1260-1277 AD). Whilst arranging his internal conditions and fully devoting himself to fighting the Crusaders, he died fighting the remaining Crusaders in the East in the year (1277 AD).
This era started when the Ottomans defeated and conquered the Mamluks through the Ottoman struggle for the domination of the Middle-East. This rue lasted for four centuries. The Ottoman Empire, based in Istanbul, extended over the Balkans and Anatolia through two centuries of wars and expansion.
In light of this central and prominent power in the region, the struggle for influence began to increase between three powers: the Ottoman Empire, the Safavid state emerging in Tabriz, and the Mamluks. The Safavids led by “Shah Ismail” in (Galderan) near (Tabriz). The Ottomans won this war by virtue of the firearms effectiveness, which they exceled in using.
Two years later, the Ottomans defeated the Mamelukes in a decisive battle in (Marj Dabiq) near Aleppo on (23 August 1516 AD), and that was the end of the Mamluk rule with the Ottoman occupation of Egypt.
In the same year, “Selim I” entered the Levant without any slightest resistance. This lack of resistance was due to the hatred the Levant people held towards the Mamluks at that time on the one hand, and to their fear from the Ottomans on the other hand.
After the death of “Salim”, his son, “Suleiman” (1520-1566 AD) assumed power. Suleiman was called Suleiman the Magnificent or Suleiman kanuni (Lawgiver) as he instituted major judicial changes and issued a huge number of laws in an attempt to organize the affairs of the Islamic State. During his reign, the Ottoman Empire reached its widest expansion and prosperity, and it spread over three continents, as it inherited the Abbasid Caliphate and the Byzantine Empire, and Istanbul became the center of the Islamic world and the resurgence of Islamic civilization. However, after the discovery of America, the Cape of Good Hope (Cape of Aghulas), and the beginning of the European Renaissance, the center of power began to shift to the West.
Zahir al-Umar al-Zaydani
Zahir al-Umar was born in the last decade of the seventeenth century, Zahir was the youngest of four sons born to Sheikh Umar al-Zaydani. After his father’s death, he assumed part of his father’s commitment in the villages of Araba and Damun in Palestine. He was the autonomous Arab ruler of northern Palestine in the mid-18th century, while the area was still nominally part of the Ottoman Empire. For much of his reign, starting in the 1730s, his domain mainly consisted of Galilee, with successive headquarters in Tiberias, Arraba, Nazareth, Deir Hanna and finally Acre, in 1746. He fortified Acre, and the city became a center of the cotton trade between Palestine and Europe. In the mid-1760s, he reestablished the port town of Haifa nearby.
Zahir successfully withstood assaults and sieges by the Ottoman governors of the Sidon and Damascus provinces, who attempted to limit or eliminate his influence. He strengthened his army and fortified the areas of his rule, taking advantage of the Turks’ preoccupation with their wars with Russia. After a significant period of his rule, which was shrouded in skirmishes and fighting, his strength weakened, and the Ottoman fleet surrounded him, which inflicted a heavy blow and killed Zahir al-Omar.
Ahmed Pasha Al-Jazzar
Agha Ahmed, of Bosnian Mamluk origins, was called Ahmed Pasha Al-Jazzar (the butcher). He came to the scene during the events in Acre, where he rules over the state of Sidon and the province of Damascus intermittently between (1775 AD) and until his death in (1804 AD). His rule was distinguished by the control over the local forces in Palestine and Mount Lebanon, his defiance of the Ottomans, and the inclusion of the Damascus state within his sphere of influence.
Napoleon Bonaparte’s campaign (1798-1801AD)
Napoleon’s campaign against Egypt and the Levant is the emergence of the European colonial struggle to occupy the Arab world in the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. “Napoleon Bonaparte” went with his campaign to the Levant after his victory over the Mamluks and his entry into Cairo (July 21, 1798).
Napoleon Bonaparte’s campaign was limited to Palestine, and did not extend beyond the coastal strip except the Nazareth-Tiberias region, where the Ottoman army was defeated, and the campaign began with the occupation of the Qutbah area on the border with the Levant on (12/23/1798 AD) in Sinai and then the Citadel of Arish, and after three months the campaign retreated to Egypt after its failure to occupy Acre (May 20, 1799 AD).
On (February 28) the French army, with Clipper as its vanguard, marched towards Ashdod and then to the village of Yabnah, Ramleh, and Jaffa. They also took over Haifa after heavy fighting, and then went forward to Acre, which has strong walls and strong forts. The siege of Acre of 1799 was an unsuccessful French siege of Acre and was the turning point of Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt and Syria. The people of Acre attacked the French with the participation of the British and some Ottoman forces, and Napoleon tried to storm the walls of Acre seven times, all of which were unsuccessful. Furthermore, plague infection disseminated across the French army due to the large number of deaths on both sides.
On May 10 Napoleon wrote to the administration government in Paris that the occupation of Acre is not worthy of the befalling losses. So, he decided to withdraw to Egypt and proceed with the attacks. However, Napoleon received a correspondence from Paris asking him to return to France; accordingly, he withdrew after a siege that lasted for sixty-four days on 20 May 1799.
Muhammad Ali Campaign
After the withdrawal of Napoleon, the butcher returned and imposed his authority over the country, with increased power and oppression. He imposed massive taxes to compensate for losses in the wars, but he soon died in 1804. His successor was the Mamluk Suleiman Pasha, who was called Al-Just, and his rule coincided with the rule of “Muhammad Ali” In Egypt and Mahmud II in Istanbul. The rule of Suleiman Pasha was marked by stability and reconstruction and reorganization of the country. He was succeeded by Ibrahim Pasha (1819-1831 AD), who came back with the butcher policy, which have voiced anger among the leaders who rebelled several times.
On (October 29, 1831 AD), “Muhammad Ali” sent his army to Palestine under the leadership of his son, “Ibrahim Pasha,” who occupied Gaza, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Haifa and the Galilee without any resistance. After a siege that lasted nearly six months, he was able to take over Acre on 28 May 1832. Then he headed to Damascus and took it over on June 14, 1832. In the battle near Homs he defeated the Ottoman army and seized Aleppo, Hama, and Antakya. Following to the Baylan, battle of on July 30 1832, he entered Asia Minor and defeated the Ottomans again in Konya city of on December 21 1832 and captured the Grand Vizier (the Prime Minister). Following those victories, a treaty was brokered by the major European powers. And on May 1833 the treaty Kutahya was signed. According to the treaty Sultan Mahmoud II recognized Muhammad Ali’s hereditary rule in Egypt and the Levant, but the period of Egyptian rule was short and for only nine years. After the Egyptian withdrawal, the Levant returned to Ottoman rule by dint of the intervention of European countries, led by Britain. This led to an increase in the influence of European countries in the country, including the territories of the Ottoman authority, which contributed to the weakening of the authority.
The reason for the European countries’ attempt to intervene in the affairs of the Sultanate and the Levant, in particular, was due to the economic and strategic interests in the East. This interference was justified by the need to support religious lacking civil rights. Thus, the number of European consuls in the Sultanate increased and their influence expanded. Interference in the government affairs included administration, economics, courts, and parish affairs. A significant name during this phase was the British Consul “Woods” who acted as the de facto ruler of the country under the guise of implementing regulations.
These countries worked to incite social, religious and national groups against the central government and stir up unrest in various regions, with the aim of weakening the authority and dividing the areas of influence.
On the other hand, the consuls of these countries adopted the issues of Christian minorities, they also strived to embark their protection of the Jewish groups in Jerusalem and elsewhere, and supported the residency of the first Jews who immigrated to the country.
The missionaries increased rapidly and were concentrated in the city of Jerusalem, and by the end of the nineteenth century, the proportion of missionaries to the percentage of the population in Jerusalem was greater than their proportion in any other city in the globe.
And when the demise of the Ottoman Empire became apparent, each party sought to secure a foothold to control a part of this empire’s territory when it was divided.
During that period of the nineteenth century, the national consciousness emerged in the Levant, including Palestine in its modern sense, and its pillars in Europe crystallized with the development of the stages of capitalism. Following the crystallization of national consciousness as well as the intellectual and cultural awakening in the Arab world that struggles for unity, independence and control over its economic resources, a general feeling emerged to confront all foreign forces and foreign powers against the one Arab people.
Therefore, there was a national vigil calling for confronting and resisting the Zionist settlement in Palestine since its inception. However, this resistance was not methodically institutionalized, unlike the Zionist movement that soon after the Basel conference in Switzerland in (1897AD) formulate its institutions in a clear manner to achieve its goals.
The Ottoman authority did not object Jews residence in its land during their rule; however, they were against Jews immigration from other countries to Palestine specifically. Since the beginning of the “Sublime Porte” instructed its consuls to inform the Jews wishing to immigrate to Palestine that they are not welcomed to settle in Palestine as foreigners, and that they must acquire Ottoman citizenship and abide by the laws in force in the states in which they wish to reside. However, despite the official position of the Ottoman government, there was a significant increase in Jewish settlement activity in Palestine through the support of foreign consuls. Within their attempts to reside in Palestine, the Jews bought the lands and established the settlements promptly. History states that in the course of the Zionist settlement movement and the attempt to seize lands by all illegal methods and means, the Arab resistance movement began to strengthen, especially by the owners of the land who from which they were expelled. This resistance increased as it spread to most villages and cities, and the people’s opposition to Jewish settlement was communicated to the Turkish parliament through Palestinian leaders. The Ottoman government position was highly criticized by the opposition for not putting an end to those practices. Despite all the efforts made, the Zionist political forces activities increased and the Zionist settlement was strengthened during the “second migration.” during the period (1904-1914 AD). The corruption of the Ottoman state apparatus at that time and the complicity of some Ottomans with the Zionist movement, and the activities of the foreign countries’ consuls in its favor all facilitated the increase in establishing Zionist settlements.
The Zionist movement emerged at the end of the nineteenth century AD, and spread amongst the Jews in Europe. The term “Zionism” is derived from the Hebrew word “Zion”, which is the name of a mountain located southwest of Jerusalem. “Mount Zion” is the mountain that Jews used as their pilgrimage, where they believed that King David was buried.
Jewish groups scattered around the world during this period, where they formed gatherings with no political, economic, social or heritage ties except the religious one, and this is due to the dissolution of these gatherings in the societies in which they lived. In fact, the Zionist claim of “Jewish nationalism” is nothing more than a fabricated heresy because these gatherings lacked the elements of nationalism such as the united people and the territorial area resided by people with common language, customs and traditions.
The Zionist ideology matured in Europe since the sixteenth century, where it grew in the political ambience that prevailed in Europe in the nineteenth century (imperialism), specifically after 1870 AD. The Zionist idea was based on the establishment of a national home for the Jews in Palestine after the deal was concluded between the Zionist movement and British colonialism on the basis of the infamous “Balfour Declaration” on November 2, 1917 AD, which read:
Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you. on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet
His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Arthur James Balfour
This declaration explains the British government support of the Zionist ambitions in the land of Palestine against the will of its legitimate owners, and this declaration is a fateful promise from those who do not own to those who do not deserve.
When the British armies succeeded in entering the country, they were warmly received as a liberator, not an occupier, and after the arrival of the Zionist committee the Arabs felt the alarm, and the British government had agreed to send them to Palestine on the basis that they “perform whatever it takes to establish a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, under the authority of British General Allenby, and at the same time allaying Arab suspicions about the true intentions of Zionism.”
The occupied military administration also worked to gradually prepare Palestine to become a national home for the Zionists by all possible means and methods.
What happened in Palestine after the arrival of the Zionist committee is considered unbelievable by working to establish a national home for the Jews in a country whose population exceeds 92% of Palestinian Arabs.
1923-1948: The British Mandate of Palestine:
At the beginning of this period, Britain dealt with the Palestinian Mandate as an instrument to administer the country in accordance with the Covenant of the League of Nations, while Britain did not need to start implementing the provisions of this instrument because it had practically exercised its powers over Palestine years before, according to its Zionist colonial policy based mainly on coercion and force weapons until 1948.
During this period, institutions in the country did not progress, and thus the Palestinian Arabs had to file their complaints to the Permanent Mandates Committee in Geneva affiliated with the League of Nations, but the Committee did not have the right to inspect and follow up in the mandated countries. Resistance, demonstrations, rebellion and civil disobedience led to violent clashes with the British army and the Jewish settlers.
In 1924, the High Commissioner, Herbert Samuel, drafted a new Palestinian monetary project, and the Palestinian Monetary Decree was issued in February 1927, amid accusations by the people that the decree does not allow the government to issue what it wanted without supervision, because that would harm the Arab economy. The High Commissioner also worked on issuing the Palestinian Nationality Law with the aim of granting the Jews residing in the country Palestinian citizenship.
During two successive sessions of the League of Nations meeting (1924-1925), the British government announced explicitly that it did not agree to the establishment of a legislative council in Palestine based on proportional representation, in which the overwhelming majority are Palestinian Arabs, especially that this would prevent the government’s fulfillment of its duties to establish the national home for the Jews.
After the end of the High Commissioner “Herbert Samuel” term, Lord “Herbert Charles Plumer” was appointed High Commissioner for Palestine (August 25, 1925), and he remained in his position for three years.
In March 1925, Balfour visited Jerusalem to participate in the inauguration of the Hebrew University, which was built on Arab land on the Mount of Olives. The British authorities had forcibly extracted it from its owners in 1918 and granted it to the Zionists. The country declared a general strike in protest against Balfour’s visit. There were large demonstrations against him, which prompted the British authorities to take him to Beirut, where he boarded the ship to return to his country.
During the first ten years of the British Mandate, around 76,400 Jewish immigrants entered Palestine, the majority of whom came from Eastern European countries. With the increasing influx of immigration to Palestine, the Arabs realized the necessity of resisting Zionism and the biased authorities who supported it. On September 1928, the Jews attempted to seize the western wall of the Al-Aqsa Mosque owned by Muslims, this resulted in mobilizing Arab support for the Palestinian cause from the Arab countries; which sparked the beginning of what was known as the Al-Buraq Revolution. This Revolt witnessed bloody events, as a result of which the Arabs raided the Jewish communities in Hebron, Nablus, Bisan and Safad. At that time, the British forces supported the Jews using the utmost repression against the Arab demonstrators, and sought help from forces from Egypt and used aircraft, infantry forces, and armored vehicles, in addition to direct fire, and inflicted destruction in the villages of Lifta and Deir Yassin among others. More than a thousand people were brought to trial, most of whom are Arabs, and a death sentence was issued for 26 people, including 25 Arabs and one Jew.
In the year 1930, the number of Jewish immigrants reached 104.750, and during the following six years it reached 284.645, with an increase of 164%. These numbers do not include the numbers that entered the country illegally.
On December 7, 1931 (27 Rajab 1350 AH), during the Isra and Mi’raj night, an Islamic conference was held and attended by representatives of twenty-two Islamic countries, and a group of prominent figures from the Arab world. The conference emphasized its condemnation of Zionism and the British policy of Jewish immigration in Palestine. Among the decisions of the conference were the establishment of an Islamic university in Jerusalem, the boycott of all Zionist industries in Islamic countries, and the establishment of an agricultural company in Palestine to save Muslim lands.
On July 13, 1931, an official notification was issued appointing General Arthur Grenfell (Wachope) as the High Commissioner for Palestine with a mission of promoting Judaism in Palestine while distracting the Arabs with fake projects and promises.
On August 4, 1932, a statement was issued establishing the Istiqlal Party, which pledged to struggle against colonialism, fight Jewish immigration, and work to achieve Arab unity. The party reiterated its rejection of the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate, and they revealed the basis of the alliance between Zionism and British colonialism. They also stressed that a third of the country’s budget is allocated to defense and security affairs due to the government’s attempt to build a foreign national homeland against the will of the Palestinians. At the beginning of 1932, a conference of Palestinian youth was held in Jaffa to consider the recruitment of young people to serve the national movement.
At the end of the year 1934, as recognized by the Bell Committee, the number of Jewish immigrants reached 42,359, compared to 30,327 in 1933 and 9553 in 1932. At the end of the year 1935, the number of Jewish immigrants reached 61854 Jews who came to Palestine from all over Europe, as official statistics indicated that by the year 1935 the number of Jews in Palestine had become twice the number of 1929 AD, leading to a Jewish representation of quarter total population.
The revolution of Sheikh Izz al-Din al-Qassam
The British Mandate realized the critical situation in Palestine after the country witnessed the revolution of Sheikh Izz al-Din al-Qassam, who had dedicated himself and a group of revolutionaries to defend the land of Palestine. Immediately, Britain instructed its High Commissioner, “Wachope”, one month after the martyrdom of Al-Qassam, to present the draft legislative council to the Arabs and Jews in response to the demands made by the Palestinian Parties Committee in November, which stated:
- The government’s proposal in December 1935 of a new draft constitution was a practical step towards democratic rule (a proposed a Legislative Council with a large informal majority)
- Concerning the sale of land: the government enacted a law prohibiting the sale of land unless the Arab owner maintained a piece of land sufficient to the needs of his family.
- The rate of Jewish emigration was carefully measured according to the country’s capacity, and a new statistical bureau was established to estimate this rate.
The Great Revolution (1936 AD) and the Partition Plan
The revolution started in February (1936 AD) resulting from an incident that inflamed the Palestinian Arabs, where they were not able to cope any more with the situation. This started when a Jewish building contractor refused to hire any Arab worker in the construction of three schools in Jaffa, accordingly the Arab workers gathered on the site of the school and prevented the Jewish workers from getting to the site. On April 15, a Jew was killed and another seriously wounded, and the Jews responded by slaughtering Arab villagers inside their homes. The violence escalated and tensions intensified throughout Palestine, resulting in many deaths and injuries. The response of the British army against the Arab demonstrations increased the number of Arabs killed and wounded. Accordingly, a general strike was declared throughout Palestine, the popular resistance movement increased, as it took the form of groups and was stationed in the mountains, and many Arab volunteers joined them in eastern Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, and the resistance turned into a revolution with armed popular support. The revolution took various methods such as destroying bridges, blowing up railways, destroying oil pipelines, attacking military barracks and striking British army positions. The British also used planes, armored vehicles and artillery often to confront and suppress that revolution, which increased the revolution of the people.
Some Arab initiatives were presented to mediate between the Arab Higher Committee and the British government. A joint appeal was issued by King Ibn Saud, King Ghazi and Prince Abdullah on October 10 to the Chairman of the Arab Committee and to the Arabs of Palestine, saying: “With regard to the situation prevailing in Palestine, and after reaching an agreement agreeing with our brothers the kings of the Arabs and Prince Abdullah, we call on you to stop the bloodshed, knowing the good intentions of our friend the British government and its declared desire to achieve justice, and trust that we will remain for your assistance.”
Accordingly, the Arab Higher Committee announced the strike and called on the general public to pray for the souls of the martyrs, who numbered more than a thousand Arabs.
On July 7, 1937, the Royal Committee, which was headed by Lord Bell, published a report that presented the viewpoint of both Arab and Jewish leaders. The committee recommended that the problem of Palestine can only be solved on the basis of a proposal for the partition plan for Palestine. The most important provisions of the partition plan are:
- The establishment of a Jewish state dividing the northern and western part of Palestine, extending on the coast from the borders of Lebanon to southern Jaffa, and including Acre, Haifa, Safad, Tiberias, Nazareth and Tel Aviv, and linked by a treaty of friendship and alliance with Britain.
- The holy places fall under the British Mandate, including (Jerusalem and Bethlehem). They are connected by the Jaffa Pass, including Lydda, Ramla, and Nazareth as well. The Mandate State is charged with protecting these places.
- The Palestinian territories (the southern and eastern part of Palestine), including the city of Jaffa, to Transjordan, and is bound by a treaty of friendship and alliance with Britain.
- The Jewish state pays financial aid to the Arab state and Britain pays two million pounds sterling for the Arab state.
- The so-called population exchange takes place between the Arab and Jewish states, and the 325,000 Arabs are transferred from the Jewish state to the Arab state gradually, and land is prepared for them in the Beersheba area after the implementation of irrigation projects.
- A customs treaty shall be concluded between the two countries to unify taxes between them on the largest possible quantity of imported goods.
In regards of Jewish settlement, the total amount acquired by Zionist institutions and individuals in 1936 amounted to about one million and two hundred thousand dunums of land, and the number of settlements doubled, with an estimated number of 203 settlements, and the population doubled from 30000 1927 to 98000 in the year 1936.
The Palestinian Arab response to the partition decision was to continue the revolution, which prompted the postponement of the partition decision, and the revolution remained until the outbreak of World War II.
On November 23, 1938, Malcolm MacDonald, the British Colonial Secretary, delivered an important statement in the House of Commons in which he explained the current situation in Palestine. The statement indicated his understanding of the Arab position and the soundness of their point of view, saying: Its settlement is at the expense of Palestine, but rather it must be resolved in a field much larger than that field.” He continued:
“The Arab people lived in that country for many centuries, and their opinion was not considered when the Balfour Declaration was issued, nor when the mandate was drawn up. During the twenty years that followed the war, the Arabs were watching this peaceful invasion carried out by a strange people, and they raised their faith by protesting from time to time, until they became afraid that their fate in their country would be subject to the domination of this new people who are active in economic, political and commercial terms.
Following this speech detained were released on December 27, 1938, to allow Palestine and the Arabs to participate in the upcoming London conference. In light of this, representations from Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Transjordan headed to the conference.
On February 7, 1939 the Round Table Conference took place and terminated with a failure. On May 17, 1939, the British government issued what was known as the White Book, which stated the following:
Article 10 stated that the objective of His Majesty’s Government is to form within ten years an independent Palestinian government bound by a treaty with the United Kingdom.
His Majesty’s Government should permit the further expansion of the Jewish National Home by immigration if the Arabs are willing to accept that immigration, but not without it.
Article 16 stated that the country shall be divided into zones, and the “owing to the natural growth of the Arab population and the steady sale in recent years of Arab land to Jews, there is now in certain areas no room for further transfers of Arab land, whilst in some other areas such transfers of land must be restricted if Arab cultivators are to maintain their existing standard of life and a considerable landless Arab population is not soon to be created. In these circumstances, the High Commissioner will be given general powers to prohibit and regulate transfers of land.”
After the end of World War II, global Zionism saw Britain as a powerless state and that the power lies with the United States which retained its strength with interests in the Middle East. Thus, global Zionism increased its political activity in the American spheres knowing that it can put pressure on the British government to accept the demands of Zionism, using diplomatic means in three tracks: putting pressure by the Jewish Agency in Britain, triggering the American pressure on the British government, and escalating terrorist operations and orchestrating painful strikes to manage the assignment.
Therefore, the institution of Zionism and the Jewish Agency continued to work actively in implementing what they aspired and stimulating American leaders, especially American President “Harry Truman”, who, as soon as he settled in the White House, sent a message to the British Prime Minister “Churchill”. On July 24, 1945, he also asked the new British Prime Minister “Attlee” in a letter he addressed to him on August 31, 1945 AD to admit 100,000 immigrant Jews to Palestine.
In response to the letters and the growing American interest in the Jews, Britain suggested to the United States of America on October 19, 1945 that it share the responsibility for drawing up Palestine policy by forming an Anglo-American commission of inquiry to study the problem of Palestine.
In September 1947, a committee was formed at the United Nations at the request of the British government, which was called the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP).
The committee consisted of eleven members after the five permanent members of the Security Council were excluded on the pretext that their participation might lead to a biased report. The eleven members were Australia, Sweden, Canada, India, Czechoslovakia, Iran, the Netherlands, Guatemala, Peru, Uruguay and Yugoslavia. The Swedish judge Emil Sandostrom was appointed to head the committee. It was planned that the committee will submit its report in September, with a proposal to resolve the problem.
The Arabs protested against sending another committee to Palestine. The decision was voted against since the formation of the committee in itself represented a bias against the Arabs, because some of its members are known to be inclined to Zionism or are under American pressure.
The Committee completed its report on 31 August 1947 and presented it to the General Assembly of the United Nations. The report contained eleven recommendations.
The partition resolution calls for:
- Partition Palestine into two Arab and Jewish states, and part of it is under international trusteeship administered by the United Nations, awarding 56 percent of it to Jews.
- The two states become independent after a transitional period lasting two years, starting from the first of September 1947, the approval of the constitution of each state and signing an economic treaty while establishing an economic union and unifying customs and currency.
- The partition resolution also stipulated the regulation of Jewish immigration.
After presenting those recommendations, the Arab Higher Committee announced its rejection of these projects, and on the day following the publication of the report, Golda Meyerson Meir, representative of the Jewish Agency, expressed her tacit acceptance of the majority of the project.
Arabs in general and the Arabs of Palestine in particular, expressed their strong dissatisfaction with this project. Accordingly, demonstrations took place in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and most of the Arab countries. As a result, the Political Committee of the League of Arab States hastened to hold a meeting in Sofar in Lebanon, on September 6, to study the committee’s report and to agree on a unified Arab political position. And, the following decisions were agreed upon:
- The Political Committee considers the implementation of these proposals a real threat to peace and security in Palestine and the Arab countries. Therefore, it has resolved to resist, by all effective means, the implementation of these proposals.
- The Political Committee believes that all Arab peoples should reveal the reality of the dangers surrounding the cause of Palestine, and calls on every Arab to offer whatever support and sacrifices possible.
- The Political Committee decided to send memos to the governments of the United States and Britain, informing them that every decision taken regarding the question of Palestine without providing for the establishment of an independent Arab state provokes serious disturbances in the Middle East.
- The committee recommended that the League provides the maximum possible aid to the people of Palestine in terms of money, weapons and men.
Following the partition decision, the Arabs of Palestine resisted the Zionist settlement with Arab support; this resistance expanded to include the entire territory with fierce battles and the use of all weapons causes high numbers of casualties.
Because of these serious disturbances, the UN Security Council convened on March 19 to discuss the critical situation in Palestine. It became clear that the partition project could not be implemented by peaceful means. Thus, the Jews decided to stand against any attempt by the Security Council that might alter the partition resolution. Therefore, the Jews began their armed attack through Operation “Nakhshon”, which resulted in the seizure of the Arab village of Qastal, Jerusalem District.
On April 9, Abd al-Qadir al-Husseini along with the other rebellions expelled the Jews from al-Qastal through a fierce battle; where he was killed. Hours after the expulsion, while taking advantage of the funerals, the Jews returned, where they occupied the village after they destroyed it completely. At the same time, and as part of the attack plan, the Zionists initiated the massacre of Deir Yassin, located near Jerusalem, where they stormed the village with heavy weapons and conducted an aggressive mutilation war, leaving 250 Palestinians, mostly women and children, victims of this massacre. The Jewish writer “John Kimmy” described this horrific massacre. as “the worst stain in the history of the Jews”.
The British supported the Jews achieve their goals, as they trained them during the Mandate period and provided them with weapons. They handed the region they withdrew from to the Jews. This period of 1948, which was called the Nakba, ended with the Jews’ occupation of most of the lands of Palestine and the displacement of its citizens, with the exception of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The White House summoned the representative of the Jewish Agency in Washington, “Eliyahu Einstein”, to inform him that the United States had decided to recognize a de facto recognition of Israel’s independence, provided that Washington received a request for such recognition. At exactly six o’clock, according to Washington time, the news of the end of the Mandate over Palestine was announced, and at 6.01 the establishment of the State of Israel was announced. At 6:11, the United States of America recognized the State of Israel.
Following the 1948 Nakba and the declaration of the establishment of Israel on 15 May 1948, most of the Palestinian areas were under the Israeli control, with the exception of some areas where Palestinians were able to retain their identity in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. These wars caused the expulsion of about one million Palestinians to live as refugees in the neighboring Arab countries. These wars also had social impacts on the Palestinian society, which led to its dismemberment.
On September 30, 1948 the All-Palestine Government was established through an initiative by the Arab Higher Committee headed by Ahmed Hilmi Pasha, which had little influence.
On October 1, 1948, the “First Amman Conference” was held in Jordan, in which resolutions were issued granting King Abdullah the right to represent the Palestinian people and speak on their behalf. This was followed by the “Jericho Conference” that was held on December 1, 1948, which paved the way for him to annex the West Bank to Jordan.
During that period, the political life remained stagnant and disrupted until the first Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip in 1956. This led to the resurgence of the resistance, which had been preceded by guerrilla operations led by Egyptian officers. Perhaps the most important Palestinian activities that affected that period were the emergence of some institutions, organizations, and political movements that called for the recovery of Palestinian lands and resistance to the Zionist occupation from 1956 until the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization. These institutions included:
- The General Union of Palestinian Students (1959)
- Land movement (1948)
- The Arab National Union (1958)
Arab movements and parties had their connections with the Palestinian territories, where they supported. These include the Arab Socialist Baath Party and the Arab Nationalist Movement.
After all these conditions political disturbance and in light of Arab weakness and its failure to defeat the Zionist threat from Palestine and the Arab lands, there were calls to the Palestinians to assume their responsibilities in the face of this imminent danger. The Palestinians needed an institution that represents them and manages their affairs in the face of this threat to eradicate them.
The Arab Summit Conference held in Cairo with an invitation by President Jamal Abdel Nasser between January 13-16, 1964 issued a decision to establish a Palestinian body. Ahmed Al-Shukairi amongst other prominent national figures started this initiative by by calling for meetings in countries that include Palestinian communities to choose their representatives to participate in the first Palestinian National Council. This meeting was held in Jerusalem on the 28th of May 1964, where the Palestine Liberation Organization was established.
On May 28, 1964 the first Palestinian National Congress was held in Jerusalem under the auspices of King Hussein. The meeting was held at the level of foreign ministers with the participation of all the Arab countries except for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The conference approved the “Palestinian National Charter” and the Basic Law of the Palestine Liberation Organization. At the conclusion of the conference, Ahmed Al-Shuنairi announced on June 2, 1964, the birth of the Palestine Liberation Organization (representing the Palestinian people and a leader in their struggle for the liberation of their homeland).
The Palestine Liberation Organization established affiliated institutions such as the Palestine Liberation Army, the radio station, the Research Center, offices in different countries, the Palestinian Popular Unions, and the Palestinian National Council.
Thus, the Palestine Liberation Organization was established with a national sense based on the idea of liberation and national resistance under an integrated process that includes all means of struggle and advancement on both the military and civil means, and the organization started its work towards achieving its goals through all possible means and support.
The Palestine Liberation Organization since 1967
Important developments took place in the Palestinian arena during the period between the third and fourth sessions of the Palestinian National Council. During this period, Al-Shukairi was eliminated from the presidency of the organization at the end of the year 1967, while Yahya Hammouda took over the presidency of the organization. Then the organization intensified its communication with other resistance groups in order to form a unity under its umbrella.
Source: Wafa Agency