What are the events of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?
Answer 1: General Timeline
Jewish Settlement: 1920s-1940s, Jews settle in the British Mandate of Palestine. (This is not to say that there were not Jews in the Mandate prior to the 1920s, but the amount of Jews in the Mandate increases substantially.)
Fights between Arab and Jewish Militias: Late 1920s-1940s, Arabs and Jews in the British Mandate of Palestine begin to fight each other. These are usually small attacks or minor pogroms. Throughout this period, Arabs and Jews lived in segregated villages, so the attacking group would enter the village and wantonly kill the civilians there.
UN General Assembly Resolution 181 (II): On November 29, 1947 the United Nations passed a General Assembly Resolution recognizing the right for the Jews of Mandatory Palestine and the Arabs of Mandatory Palestine to declare independence as separate and unique states. Both the United States and Soviet Union supported the Resolution from a pro-Jewish perspective. Arabs across the Arab World were angry and vehemently declared that they would never allow any part of Mandatory Palestine to become a Jewish State.
Israeli War of Independence / Palestinian Catastrophe (Nakba): This war was fought in two main phases. From late 1947 to May of 1948, the British still held nominal control of the territory and the fighting was restricted to groups within Mandatory Palestine. Jewish and Arab Militias more frequently fought away from civilian centers (except Jerusalem which was the sight of heavy bloodshed) for control of the area. After the British withdrew on May 14, 1948, the Jews declared their independence. This allowed the conflict to expand and seven Arab nations contributed armies or regiments to assist the Palestinian Arabs. During this period, both sides, but more commonly Israelis, attacked civilians and caused many of them to flee. After the war, Israel refused to allow them re-admittance. Israel controlled more land after the war than they would have controlled had the Arabs peacefully accepted a Jewish State along the UN-proscribed boundaries.
Suez Crisis: 1956, Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal and blocks Israeli shipping, leading to an alliance of the United Kingdom, France, and Israel attacking Egypt and conquering the Sinai Peninsula. After the War, the United States and Soviet Union jointly forced the parties to return to the antebellum situation, but while placing UNEF troops in the Sinai and giving Israel freedom of the seas. Of little consequence to the Israeli-Egyptian Conflict, there were small conflicts along the Israeli-Jordanian border (currently the border between Israel and the West Bank) between Palestinian Fedayeen and Israel resulting in several unsuccessful Palestinian militant incursions into Israel.
Six Day War: 1967, By virtue of a preemptive war, Israel gains all lands in the former British Mandate of Palestine and begins the military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Settlement construction begins at this point. Jerusalem is unified and the Old City is renovated to allow for mutual religious practice.
Yom Kippur War/October War: 1973, Egypt and Syria launch a devastating surprise attack on Israel, making important gains in the first two weeks. When Israel finally reversed the tide, they began conquering territories beyond the Six Day War territories. The lands were returned to the antebellum state and it was then clear that Israel would not be eliminated through strength of arms. The early Arab victories also shattered the myth of Israeli invincibility and lead to Arabs seeing themselves as less humiliated.
Egyptian-Israeli Peace Accords: 1979, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Begin signed the Camp David Accords. Egypt had Sinai returned to it from 1979 to 1982 and the two countries exchanged ambassadors. Sadat was later assassinated for his work to end the conflict.
Lebanese Civil War: 1981-1982, After the Palestine Liberation Organization began attacking Israelis from Lebanon, Israel intervened in the ongoing Lebanese Civil War to remove the PLO from Beirut. Israel was successful in this if only because they eliminated Beirut as a city. Israel also assisted in the atrocities of Sabra and Shatila which were perpetrated against Palestinian Refugees by Lebanese Christians. (Note that the Lebanese Civil War began in 1975, but there was no Israeli Involvement until 1981.)
Intifadas: 1987-1991, 2000-2005, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza rose up against Israeli Military Occupation and the Settlements. They began to use suicide bombers to attack Israeli Civilians. This resulted in an intense shootout and an Israeli military and intelligence counteroffensive.
Oslo Accords: 1993, The Palestinian Authority was formed and given partial control of Gaza and parts of the West Bank by Israeli Authorities.
Jordanian-Israeli Peace Accords: 1994, Following the Oslo Accords, King Hussein of Jordan was willing to make peace with Israel and ceded his claim to the West Bank territories to the nascent Palestinian State.
Israeli Withdrawal from Gaza: 2005, All Israeli Settlements and troops were removed from Gaza on the orders of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The Palestinian Authority was ceded full control of the region.
Separation Fence / Israeli Apartheid Wall: 2006-Present, The Fence made suicide bombing almost impossible and began the rocket attacks which persisted for a while in the West Bank before abating. Israeli and Palestinian Leaders in the West Bank continue to negotiate a solution for the West Bank. Palestinian Leaders there are improving the Palestinian Economic situation in spite of the Occupation.
Gaza Rocket Fire & the two Gazan Wars: 2006-Present, Following the Hamas Military Takeover of Gaza, Israel has blockaded the area and been the recipient of numerous rocket attacks. In December of 2008, Israeli military forces invaded Gaza in an attempt to quash Hamas' operations. Numerous Palestinian Civilians died in the raid. Hamas continues to launch rockets at Israeli border towns. The Second Gazan War of 2012 was no different.
Answer 2: Short "Story"
The Jews lived in Israel for a very long time, but then they were kicked out and scattered all over the world. The Palestinians moved into Israel, and lived there for about 2000 years. Then, the Holocaust in World War II happened. People felt sorry for the Jews, so they helped bring them back to Israel. The Jews were given over half of Israel, and the Palestinians were given the other part. In May, 1948, the Jews declared their independence. Then the Palestinians rose up against the Israelis, and people from other countries helped them. The Israelis won, even though the odds were against them. Some Palestinians still live in Israel today. They do not have much money, water, or food. They have to walk long distances to get to and from work. The Israelis, however, have cars to take them places. They have much more money and food, and they can pay to have water piped to them.
Answer 3: General Thematic Discussion
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict has had numerous stages, but they are generally broken up into four major periods (whose names are my choice): British Mandate Period (1920s-1948), 1948-9 War and Armistice (1948-1967), Expansive Israeli Period (1967-1987), Palestinian Intifada and the Palestinian States (1987-Present).
1) British Mandate Period:
This period was characterized by a British Mandatory Government controlling the area called the British Mandate of Palestine. Some of the major events during this period were the increased Jewish immigration to the Mandate of Palestine and their modernization of the territory. This brought in Arab immigration from neighboring territories who wished to live in the more sanitary and developed conditions in Palestine. This combined immigration led to massive population increases. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Jewish population was becoming more significant and Arab leaders and militias urged the British to prevent further Jewish immigration. This resulted in the British rescinding Jewish immigration rights to the territory and culminated with the 1939 White Papers permitting only nominal Jewish immigration. During World War II, Palestine remained off-limits to Jews wishing to flee the Holocaust. This, combined with the White Papers, led many Jewish leaders to openly resist the British Occupation. In 1947, the British relented and brought the Palestinian and Jewish question to the United Nations. The slaughter of the Holocaust and American and Soviet pressure galvanized the world to provide for a Jewish State and an Arab State. The Palestinian Jewish population (who could anachronistically be called Israelis) approved of the Partition whereas the Palestinian Arab population refused further territorial concessions. The previously formed Jewish militias began to confront Arab militias in the Jewish-Arab Engagement as early as mid-1947. When Israel Declared Independence in 1948, the War became an international conflict involving Arab Armies from seven additional nations.
2) 1948-9 War and Armistices
This period was characterized by the forced emigrations of large numbers of endemic Arabs from Palestine and endemic Jews from elsewhere in the Middle East to Arab countries and Israel respectively in the wake of mass Arab Anti-Semitism. There was also a semi-viable State of Israel and remaining Palestinian territories were occupied by other Arab Nations. As a result of the 1948-9 Arab-Israeli War, Israel now occupied 78% of the Mandate of Palestine. During this period, Israel was considered weak by both allies and enemies and was treated to belligerent treatment from its neighbors (even during the "peace"). Syrian missiles rained down on the Galilee lowlands periodically, Egyptians cut off Israeli shipping through the Suez Canal (leading to the Suez Crisis of 1956), skirmishes in the water occurred, and the Old City was forcibly cleansed of its Jewish inhabitants by Jordanian forces. Palestinian rights were also suppressed by the Arab States as Jordan militarized the West Bank and Egypt openly annexed Gaza after watching its Palestinian Puppet State fail. The Egyptians openly taunted Israel and amassed troops at the Israeli border in 1967 in order to eradicate the country.
3) Expansive Israeli Period
This period is characterized by an Israeli State that acquired (through war) numerous additional territories from Arab States. During this period, most Arab States (Egypt excepted) refused to negotiate with Israel and therefore did not successfully reacquire these lands. The Six Day War completely changed the dynamic of Arab-Israeli relations. Israel was now negotiating from a place of strength and ceding territories for peace. Arab States refused to negotiate at first, but after the stalemate from the Arab-Israeli War of 1973, some Arab countries were willing to negotiate. Egypt and Israel signed a Peace Accord in 1979, giving the Sinai back to Egypt in return for mutual recognition and peace. Israel also effectively stopped Syrian peacetime attacks and reunited Jerusalem (against international law). Several of the Palestinian refugee camps were opened and a minority of Palestinians began to commute to work in Israel. In the 1981 and 1982, Israel was pulled into Lebanese Civil War and fought alongside the Christian Falangists against Sunni and Shiite Arabs. Israel withdrew to the Litani River after the Syrian intervention stabilized the conflict and back to Israeli borders in 2000.
4) Palestinian Intifada and the Palestinian States
This period is characterized by the creation of the Palestinian Authority and beginnings of a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza Territories. This period is defined the "Roadmap to Peace". The Palestinian Uprising began to show Palestinian dissatisfaction with the continuing Israeli military occupation of the territory and lasted from 1987-1993. At that point the Oslo Accords were signed, granting recognition to a new body called the Palestinian Authority which would be responsible for governing Palestinian affairs. Israel ceded discrete pieces of land to the PA, but refused to give up large chunks of land until 2005 when it ceded all of Gaza to the PA. In the wake of this new accord, Jordan finalized a Peace Treaty with Israel in 1994. Earlier, in 1991, as a sidenote, Iraq launched skud missiles at Israel in an attempt to shatter the American-Arab Alliance to liberate Kuwait, but following American instructions, Israel stood down and did not enter the fighting. In 2000, the Second Palestinian Intifada began in response to Palestinian anger over perceived Israeli intransigence in devolving more power. This intifada lasted until 2005 and was considered a loss by Palestinians. In 2007, the Palestinian Elections sparked a civil war between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, leading to the former controlling Gaza exclusively and the latter controlling the West Bank exclusively. Hamas continued to exhibit bellicose behavior, bothering both Israelis and Egyptian Military leaders (who termed the territory Hamastan). Responding to constant civilian bombardment, Israel invaded Gaza in December of 2008 in what resulted in nearly 1400 Palestinian Civilian casualties.