Palestine is a region in the Middle East. It is also called the Holy Land due to its significance to Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Baháʼí.
In 1899, Yusuf Diya al-Khalidi, the mayor of Jerusalem, wrote a letter to express concerns about the Zionist movement's aim to establish a Jewish national home in Palestine. He emphasized the resistance of the indigenous people to displacement and warned of future dangers, concluding with a plea, "in the name of God, let Palestine be left alone."
The author is al-Khalidi's great-great-nephew.
For four centuries, Palestine was ruled by the Ottoman Empire with a predominantly Arab Muslim population (94%) and small Jewish and Christian minorities.
After World War I in 1917, Britain colonized Palestine and issued the Balfour Declaration backing a Jewish national home in Palestine. It also protected civil and religious of non-Jewish communities' rights but omitted political rights and self-determination.
Regarding the King-Crane Commission in 1919, an inquiry requested by US President Woodrow Wilson to assess the opinions of the Syrian and Palestinian people concerning the post-World War I resolution of their lands: "... the commissioners presciently warned that ‘if the American government decided to support the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, they are committing the American people to the use of force in that area, since only by force can a Jewish state in Palestine be established or maintained.' The commission thereby accurately predicted the course of the subsequent century."
Palestinians unsuccessfully petitioned for independence from Britain from 1919 to 1928.
The 1922 Mandate for Palestine laid the groundwork for Jewish self-governance, which advanced Zionism, but made no reference to the Arab Palestinian majority. As a result, the Jewish population grew to 20% by the late 1920s.
In 1937, Britain proposed the Peel Commission to create a Jewish state on 17% of the land, provoking a Palestinian revolt that was violently suppressed.
10% of adult Palestinian males were either killed, wounded, or imprisoned.
After WWII, the 1947 UN Resolution 181 partitioned Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, with 56% going to the Jewish state.
The US and USSR backed the Resolution as they were sympathetic to the Jewish people after the Holocaust.
The Resolution breached the Palestinians' right to national self-determination as guaranteed in the UN Charter.
In 1948, Zionist forces continued to expand control by launching assaults, called the Nakba (AKA "the disaster"/"catastrophe"), on Arab villages, destroying over 500 villages and displacing over 700,000 Palestinians. Despite some resistance from neighboring Arab nations, divided interests prevented effective pushback.
The Israeli government seized and repurposed land left behind by displaced Palestinians to exclusively serve the Jewish community.
On May 15, 1948, Britain gave up her mandate and the state of Israel was declared, controlling 80% of former Palestinian territory.
The Six-Day War in 1967 between Israel and its neighbors was brief but significantly shaped the Israel-Palestine conflict. Sparked by lingering tensions after Israel's 1948 expansion and Egypt's blockade of Israeli vessels in the Straits of Tiran, Israel launched strikes against Egyptian, Jordanian, and Syrian forces, and proceeded to capture the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Sinai Peninsula.
Israel had the support of the United States, and the war signified closer Israel-U.S. relationships.
The US saw Israel as a strategic ally against the USSR.
On November 22, 1967, Resolution 242 (S/RES/242) was adopted unanimously by the United Nations Security Council in the aftermath of the Six-Day War. It effectively affirmed Israel's 1948 borders and control of its 1967 conquests, and neglected the Palestinians.
The wake of the Six-Day War renewed Palestinian resistance, with militant political organizations like the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) gaining traction and fighting back.
The Lebanon War in June 1982 began with Israeli attacks, with US support, on Beirut, aiming to crush the PLO and Palestinian nationalism. In August, the PLO agreed to withdraw from Lebanon. The war left a destroyed city and thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians dead.
The author and his family resided in Beirut for many years and lived through the attacks.
In September 1982, following the assassination of Bachir Gemayel, the recently elected President of Lebanon and an ally of Israel, Lebanese Phalangist militants, supported by Israel, massacred between 460 to 3,500 civilians, primarily Palestinians and Lebanese Shias residing in refugee camps.
The First Palestinian intifada (uprising) in the occupied territories signaled new resistance after decades of Palestinian hardship under Israel's occupation. Sparked by an Israeli army vehicle killing Palestinians, the intifada emphasized nonviolence and civil disobedience, but still often met with violent Israeli responses.
The intifada pushed Israel into negotiations with the PLO representing the Palestinians. However, the PLO were inexperienced diplomats and the talks were brokered by the Israel-friendly US. The results were the Oslo I Accord (1993) and the Oslo II Accord (1995).
The Oslo Accords allowed the PLO to reenter the territories under a limited self-governing body, the Palestinian National Authority, while recognizing Israel as a state and granting it control over critical issues such as security and residency, leading to long-term negative consequences for Palestine.
With severely limited freedom under Israeli occupation, Palestinian lives worsened and faith for the PLO waned as the more militant group Hamas gained support.
"... the martial regime under which the Palestinians lived granted the Israeli military near-unlimited authority to control the minutiae of their lives."
Tensions led to the more violent second intifada, triggered by the visit of Ariel Sharon, then the Israeli opposition leader, to a Islamic holy site in Jerusalem in September 2000.
Israel's crackdown of the multi-year intifada killed thousands of Palestinians. Palestinians responded with suicide bombings.
Hamas, which advocates armed resistance, won the 2006 Palestinian legislative election.
Israel besieged Gaza in response, making it an open-air prison, and Hamas began periodically firing rockets over the border.
In 2014, Hamas launched rockets into Israel, killing 5 Israelis. In response, Israel bombarded Gaza for 51 days, destroying neighborhoods and killing thousands.
The US provision of lethal weapons to Israel elevated the loss of lives and the destruction of infrastructure.
The recent U.S. policy shift under the Trump administration, acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel's capital and relocating the embassy to the city, along with Israel's 2018 law conferring self-determination solely to Jews, echoes a historical pattern of marginalizing Palestinians.
Progress requires latitude, solidarity, and an understanding that Israelis and Palenstinians both have deep ties to their homelands.