Speaking of Palestine, it used to refer to both the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, as well as areas that today belong to Lebanon, Syria or Jordan. The Ottomans, the Turkish Empire, ruled the area for 400 years, from 1517 to 1917, but it was far from the first kingdom in place.
The Ottomans were far from the first kingdom in place. Palestine has always been at the crossroads between great powers. Several thousand-year-old written sources about the area can be found in ancient Egyptians, Jews, Greeks and Romans. A common feature is that, as far as we know, the region has had a mixed or rapidly changing population, ethnically and religiously.
Most of the people in the area had notions of many deities. The Jews were monotheists, believing in a single God. Judaism’s teachings about God and stories about prophets eventually came to characterize Christianity and Islam as well. Christianity was initially perceived as a sect within Judaism, before it came to form its own direction.
According to the Bible, ancient Jewish tribes united under King Saul and his successor David entered Jerusalem around 1000 BC. King David’s son Solomon built the first Jewish temple in Jerusalem. The Jewish kingdom was divided after Solomon’s death and the area fell into the hands of Assyrians, Babylonians and Alexander the Great before the BC was taken by the Romans and became a Roman province, Iudaea.
In Jesus’ time, the Roman Empire fought Jewish uprisings. The second Jewish temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. After a Jewish uprising of 132-135 AD, almost all Jews from Iudaea were expelled.
The spread of Islam
Islam originated in Mecca and Medina on the Arabian Peninsula during the first half of the 600s and gained rapid spread. Muslim forces conquered Jerusalem as early as 638 according to Christian times, from the Christian Byzantine Empire which was then the great power of the region. The conquest laid the foundation for a gradual Islamization of the Palestinian population, but at the same time as the Muslim proportion grew and benefited, both Jews and Christians had a continuous presence throughout the centuries.
The crusade period during the Middle Ages was an eventful and troubled time. A long line of war trains was then carried out from Europe, with the blessing of the Catholic Church. One of the aims was to liberate Jerusalem from Muslim supremacy, but other places in the Middle East became subject to fighting and changing hands. Many of the crusades can be described as looting, and it could happen that crusaders and local authorities co-operated across religious boundaries. The Crusaders set up the Little Kingdom and left castles behind in the landscape; the most famous is located in Syria. French Crusaders entered Jerusalem in 1099. The most revered ruler of the era is Saladin, who was Kurdish. He led a Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in 1187 and has since its heroic status among Muslims.
Mamluk Sultans ruled Palestine with Egypt as their seat, from the Crusades to the conquest of the Ottomans in 1517. Conditions then varied greatly during the Turkish Empire. It was at times tolerant to all religions, at times the rules were tightened, such as limiting the number of Jews who were allowed to live in Palestine, a state located in Asia continent defined by aristmarketing.
Immigration of Jews
Among the Jews in Europe, who have been subject to recurring persecution for centuries, a movement called Zionism in the late 1800s, named after Mount Zion, the highest in Jerusalem. Zionists emigrated to Palestine, where they bought land and founded colonies. The land purchases were facilitated by the fact that large landowners often lived in the cities themselves and allowed others to use the land.
The 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement was a secret agreement between Britain and France on how the Ottoman Empire would be divided after the First World War. Russia, which, like Italy, would receive shares, joined the agreement. Greater Syria and Iraq were divided into French and British spheres of influence, while Palestine would be placed under international administration. In 1917, the British conquered Palestine from the Turks and the plans changed. Palestine became a British mandate area from 1920 with the approval of the League of Nations, a precursor to the UN. Today’s Jordan was separated and given the name Transjordan.
The Zionists negotiated with the British about the establishment of a Jewish homeland. The idea was supported by a British Foreign Minister in the Balfour Declaration in 1917. At the same time, Arabs throughout the Middle East had been encouraged by the British to revolt against the Turks against vague promises of independence.
In the Arab world, the disappointment was great that the Western powers took control of Palestine. Among the Arabs in Palestine, worries grew as Jewish immigration increased. Both circumstances gave birth to Palestinian nationalism: a focus on the local area and what was happening to it. The Palestinians formed political organizations and armed themselves. As a result, they began to increasingly identify themselves as Palestinians.
The Jewish population grew, not least in the 1930s, when Jews fled from Nazism in Europe. More and more of the land ended up in Jewish ownership. Israeli historians have also emphasized that this meant that the Arab population was displaced, especially those who fed on agricultural labor.
Already during the 1920s, a series of serious confrontations between the Arab population and immigrant Jews had taken place. In Hebron, Palestinians committed a massacre, in 1929, when it was rumored that Jews intended to take control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Both sides committed acts against each other, which today are described as acts of terrorism.
A popular Palestinian uprising in 1936–1939 was directed at both British power and Jewish immigration. Amin al-Husseini, a nationalist and religious leader in Jerusalem, had a complicated role in the Palestinian resistance. From being considered an ally of the British, he went to work with Nazi Germany and spread anti-Jewish propaganda.
Gradually two economies were built up in Palestine, one Jewish and one Arab. The Jewish community building had active support in the British administration. When the Second World War ended in 1945, the Jewish community in Palestine was already a form of state formation with control over the economy, health care, education and its own military organization, Haganah.
Several proposals to divide the country were prepared. One of them was adopted after World War II, when the United Nations (UN) was formed and Britain handed over responsibility for Palestine to the World Organization.
In Resolution 181, the United Nations General Assembly in 1947 decided that the area should be divided into a Jewish part and an Arab. Jerusalem, where shrines in all three major religions were close, would be managed internationally.
Folke Bernadotte, Swedish UN mediator, was involved in trying to find a solution. Bernadotte was assassinated in 1948 by Sternligan, a Zionist paramilitary force.
The Arab neighboring countries were most critical of a division. When Israel proclaimed independence in 1948, they attacked militarily.