A few of the important events that have led to the existing state of affairs in the Middle East.
ca. 1900 BCE Abram journeys from Ur to Canaan.
ca. 1200 BCE Moses leads the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt.
ca. 1000 BCE King David unites the twelve tribes of Israel, then his son Solomon builds the Temple.
925 BCE Jerusalem is sacked by the Egyptians
880-869 BCE Omri rules Israel from Samaria and for a short time Judah. Builds his capital in Samaria, the first archaeological remains from Israel.
840 BCE Mesha stele records the Moabite king destroying Omri’s son, throwing off the yoke of Israel and restoring Moab.
ca.800 BCE After the Omride dynasty, Israel splits into two kingdoms Israel, and Judah with its capital in Jerusalem.
720 BCE. Israel taken over by the Assyrians
583 BCE Judah is destroyed by the Babylonians, Third deportation - captivity/exile in Babylon.
ca. 538 BCE Persia conquers Babylon and permits exiled Jews who want to, to return to Jerusalem (“Decree of Cyrus”). Much of the Hebrew Bible written during or after the return from Babylon.
332 BCE Greeks conquer the region.
167 BCE Jews establish a semi autonomous Judea under the Seleucids63 BCE Romans establish control over Judea.
ca. 4 BCE: Jesus is born. He is crucified thirty-three years later after a ministry of three years. Christian churches are established throughout the eastern Roman Empire.
70 CE: A Jewish revolt against Rome is put down and the Temple is destroyed.
135: Romans suppress a Jewish revolt. The Romans name the province Syria Palaestina.
ca. 325: The Roman Emperor Constantine, a Christian, strengthens his own religion throughout the region.
ca. 570: The Prophet Muhammad is born in Mecca, establishes the Islamic faith, unites the Arabian Peninsula, and dies in 632. Arabic rule and faith spread rapidly throughout Syria Palaestina, Persia, and Egypt.
711 Muslims take control in Spain. Umayyad Caliphate, Peaks around 1000. Golden age of Jewish life.
1099: The first Crusaders capture Jerusalem and establish Christian rule over Palestine. Beginning of Jews being expelled from many countries in Europe.
1187: Saladin, Sultan of Egypt, conquers Jerusalem and, except for a fifteen-year interval, Muslims control Palestine until the end of World War I. Invites the Jews to return.
1290: Jews expelled from Britain
1492: Spanish Inquisition, remaining Jews and Muslims expelled from Spain by Christians.
1516: The Ottoman Turks take Syria, Palestine, and then Egypt.
1656: Start of resettlement of Jews in Britain
Early 19 Century. Literal reading of the bible develops. Led by John Nelson Darby
1840 Shaftesbury takes an advert in the Times RESTORATION OF THE JEWS… A memorandum has been addressed to the Protestant monarchs of Europe on the subject of the restoration of the Jewish people to the land of Palestine.
1861: The French establish Lebanon as an autonomous district within Syria, under Christian leadership.
1865 Shaftesbury first President of the Palestine Exploration fund to: “prepare it [Palestine] for the return of its ancient possessors, for I believe that the time cannot be far off before that great event will come to pass”
1881 Assassination of Tsar Alexander ll followed by persecution of Russian Jews, 10,000 Jews expelled from Moscow and 100,000 from Russia.
1882: British forces occupy Egypt and remain there until 1955.
1894: Hechler, Chaplain to the English embassy in Vienna, publishes ‘The Restoration of the Jews to Palestine’ as a fulfilment of biblical prophecy.
1894: Dreyfus convicted for treason (falsely) and imprisoned on Devils Island. Freed in 1899 but not exonerated until 1906
1896: Publication of The Jewish State by Theodor Herzl. Hechler Introduces Herzl to the Kaiser other German leaders and the British political establishment.
1897 First International Zionist Congress in Basel. Two Rabbis sent to Palestine report ‘The bride is beautiful but she is married to another man‘
1905/6: Pogroms and expulsion of 200,000 Jews from Russia
1906: Balfour writes to his niece after meeting Weizmann. ‘ he could see no political problems in obtaining Palestine, only economic ones.’
1915: Sir Henry McMahon offers Sharif Hussein the whole of the Arab Lands excluding areas West of Damascus, if he helps the British against the Ottomans.
1916 The secret Sykes-Picot agreement divides the Middle East between France and Britain
1917: Great Britain, during World War I, issues the Balfour Declaration, promising a Jewish national home in Palestine, 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.
1918: Declaration to the Seven, Britain defines policy that Arab governments liberated by the action of Arab armies would be based on the principle of ‘consent of the governed’
November 1918 Anglo-French declaration … goal being to set up national governments in the countries liberated from the Turks which would derive their authority from the free excercise of the initiative and choice of the indigenous population.
1920-21: Arab anti Jewish riots in Palestine
1922: After the Ottoman Empire is defeated in World War I, the League of Nations confirms the British mandates over Iraq and Palestine, and a French mandate over Syria and Lebanon. Transjordan is separated from the Palestine Mandate and becomes an autonomous kingdom.
1926: Rutenberg concession. British High Commissioner granted the Jewish owned Palestine Electricity Corporation, founded by Pinhas Rutenberg, a 70 year concession to utilize the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers’ water for generating electricity. The concession denied Arab farmers the right to use the Yarmouk and Jordan Rivers’ without permission. Permission was never granted.
1929: Arab riots in Jerusalem, Hebron and Safed.
1936: Palestinian Arabs demand a halt to Jewish immigration and a ban on land sales to Jews. British troops attempt to assert control, but violence continues. Britain hangs or imprisons most of the Arab leadership. The Peel Commission recommends partition of Palestine between Arabs and Jews.
1939: Britain announces severe restrictions on Jewish immigration and land purchases in Palestine. Violence erupts from Jewish militants.
1942-47: France funds the Jewish terrorist organisations, Stern Gang and Irgun against the British.
1944: Murder of Lord Moyne by the Stern Gang.
1947: Britain lets the United Nations decide what to do about Palestine, which is partitioned into Jewish, Arab, and international areas (Jerusalem and Bethlehem). Fifty-five percent of the territory is allocated to the Jewish state. Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan are now independent states.
Mass expulsion of Palestinians by Jews commences.
1948: The British mandate over Palestine terminates.
April Massacre of Deir Yassin
May Israel declares independence and Truman recognises Israel.
Count Bernadotte appointed as UN mediator
June Count Bernadotte assassinated by Jewish terrorists.
Mass expulsion of Palestinians continues
Arab armies attack, and Israel prevails. U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 establishes a conciliation commission and asserts that refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace should be allowed to do so, that compensation should be paid to others, and that free access to the holy places should be assured.
1949: Armistice agreements with the Arabs allow Israel to gain more land (77 percent of Palestine). Egypt occupies the Gaza Strip. Transjordan, renamed Jordan, controls what is left of the west bank of the Jordan River, including Old Jerusalem, and in 1950 annexes this territory.
1956: Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal, and Israel joins Britain and France in occupying the canal area. Under international pressure all foreign forces withdraw from Egyptian territories by the next year. U.N. forces are assigned to patrol strategic areas of the Sinai.
1964: The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is established, committed to wage a battle to liberate the homeland of the Palestinian people.
1967: Egypt blockades the Straits of Tiran, and Arab forces make menacing moves. Israel launches preemptive attacks on Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and then Jordan, and within six days occupies the Golan Heights, Gaza, the Sinai, and the West Bank, including Jerusalem.
Six months later, U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 is passed, confirming the inadmissibility of the acquisition of land by force and calling for Israel’s withdrawal from occupied territories, the right of all states in the region to live in peace within secure and recognized borders, and a just solution to the refugee problem.
1973: Egypt and Syria attack Israeli forces in the Sinai and Golan Heights. This conflict becomes known as the Yom Kippur war. After sixteen days of war, U.N. Resolution 338 is passed, confirming Resolution 242 and calling for international peace talks. Various disengagement agreements follow.
1974: The Arab summit at Rabat in Morocco unanimously proclaims the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Israel agrees to withdraw from Syrian territory, except for control of the Golan Heights.
1975: Civil war erupts in Lebanon. With approval from the international community the following year, Syria sends troops to establish order.
1977: Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat visits Jerusalem and outlines Arab demands to the Israeli Knesset. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin makes a return visit to Ismailia, with no progress toward peace.
1978: The Camp David Accords are approved by Israel and Egypt, confirming Israel’s compliance with U.N. Resolution 242, withdrawal of political and military forces from the West Bank and Gaza, and full autonomy for Palestinians. The Accords outline a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt and other Arab neighbors. The Accords are rejected by the Arabs at the Baghdad summit, and Egypt is isolated.
1979: A peace treaty is signed between Israel and Egypt, guaranteeing withdrawal of Israel from the Sinai, normal diplomatic relations, and Israel’s access to the Suez Canal.
1981: Israel escalates establishment of settlements on Palestinian territory. Egyptian President Anwar al¬ Sadat is assassinated.
1982: In response to terrorist attacks across Lebanon’s border, Israeli troops move into Lebanon, seeking to destroy PLO forces there. The militant Lebanese organization known as Hezbollah is established. Subsequent actions by the Israelis in Lebanon draw international criticism.
1985: Israel partially removes its forces from Lebanon.
1987: A Palestinian intifada (uprising) erupts, and Israel responds to the violence with harsh reprisals. The militant Palestinian organization known as Hamas is established.
1988: Jordan cedes its rights in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to the PLO. PLO head Yasir Arafat acknowledges Israel’s right to exist and renounces violence. The U.S. and the PLO initiate dialogue.
1991: The Persian Gulf War ejects Iraqi forces that have invaded Kuwait. Many Palestinian exiles move to Jordan. A Middle East peace conference, focusing on Arab-Israeli relations, is convened in Madrid.
1993: Israel and the PLO conclude a peace agreement in Oslo with mutual recognition and a five-year plan to resolve all remaining differences. Militant Palestinians and right-wing Israelis begin attempts to undermine the agreement.
1994: The Palestinian National Authority is established.
Israel and Jordan sign a comprehensive peace agreement.
1994. Massacre of Palestinians praying at the Hebron mosque.
1995: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated by an Israeli right-wing religious fanatic. This setback to the peace process is exacerbated by violent attacks from Palestinian groups opposed to the Oslo Agreement.
1996: Palestinians elect Yasir Arafat as president and elect the members of a legislative council. Israelis return the Likud Party to power, which stalls the Oslo process.
1998: The Wye River Memorandum is issued after talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, under U.S. auspices. An airport is opened in Gaza, with flights to Arab nations.
2000: Israeli forces are withdrawn from Lebanon except for a disputed area, Shebaa Farms.
Clinton leads second Camp David summit. Second Intifada sparked by Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount /el Haram el -Sharif.
2001: Ariel Sharon is elected prime minister of Israel, committed to rejection of the Oslo peace agreement and an emphasis on national security. The Gaza airport runway is bulldozed.
2002: An Arab League summit meeting endorses a Saudi peace plan based on U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338. Suicide bombings provoke strong Israeli response. Sharon blames Arafat for the violence and confines him in his Ramallah office. Israel begins building a separation barrier within the West Bank.
2003: The Quartet Group (the United States, United Nations, European Union, and Russia) agree on a “road map for peace.” Palestinians pledge full support, but Israel rejects key points. Violence continues, and the security barrier in the ‘West Bank draws international criticism for undermining the peace process. An unofficial peace agreement negotiated by Israelis and Palestinians is released with extensive international support as the Geneva Initiative.
2004: Yasir Arafat dies.
2005 : Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is elected president of the Palestinian National Authority.
Israel unilaterally evacuates its settlements from the Gaza Strip and four from the West Bank.
January 2006: Ariel Sharon suffers a massive stroke.
Palestinians elect a new government, with Hamas winning a small plurality of votes but a majority of parliamentary seats. Israel and the United States isolate Palestine, cutting off funds.
March-August 2006: Ehud Olmert becomes Israel’s prime minister, promising that the dividing wall will, in effect, be the new Israeli-West Bank border. Hamas and Hezbollah militants capture Israeli soldiers, and Israeli forces attack Gaza and Lebanon. Hezbollah missiles strike northern Israel. The United Nations approves Resolution 1701, establishing a fragile cease-fire.
2006 Israel – Lebanon war
2008 Cast Lead. Israel attacks Gaza and kills over 1200 Palestinians.
2011 Palestine elected as member of Unesco by UN
This timeline is based on the timeline in Jimmy Carter’s ‘Palestine peace not apartheid’ with many additions and links to further information such as Wikipedia.