Israel - Country history and economic development



70 A.D. After a Jewish uprising against Roman occupation, the Diaspora begins, and Jews emigrate to Europe, the Balkans, the Middle East, and North Africa.

1882-1903. First Aliya (large-scale immigration) occurs, mainly from Russia.

1897. First Zionist Congress is convened by Theodor Herzl in Basel, Switzerland; Zionist Organization is founded.

1904-14. Second Aliya occurs, mainly from Russia and Poland.

1909. First kibbutz, Degania, and first modern all-Jewish city, Tel Aviv, are founded.

1917. The Ottoman rule, which has lasted for 400 years, is ended by British conquest; British Foreign Minister Balfour pledges support for establishment of a "Jewish national home in Palestine." (This statement is called the Balfour declaration).

1919-23. Third Aliya occurs, mainly from Russia.

1924-32. Fourth Aliya occurs, mainly from Poland.

1933-39. Fifth Aliya occurs, mainly from Germany.

1936-39. Arab revolt against Jewish immigration.

1947. After World War II and the Holocaust, the UN proposes the establishment of an Arab and a Jewish state in Palestine. The British pledge to end their mandate in 1948.

1948. On 14 May, David Ben Gurion, chairman of the Jewish Agency in the mandate of Palestine, declares the State of Israel. The following day, the armies of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt attack the newborn Jewish State. The War of Independence (Israel) or the "Nakba" (catastrophe) begins and continues in 3 phases until 1949. Israel not only defends itself but increases its territory far beyond the original division plan. To Israelis, this is the miracle of David defeating Goliath; for the Arabs, it means escape and expulsion and the beginning of the refugee Odyssey of the Palestinians, the "Nakba." Peace talks in Cyprus fail.

1956. England, France, and Israel collaborate in a plot to remove Egyptian president Nasser, the hero of the Arab world and one of the leaders of the Non-Alignment movement, and attack Egypt. Under U.S. and Soviet pressure, Israeli troops withdraw, and Nasser claims victory

1967. On 6 June, following misinformation from Soviet observers, tensions suddenly build up and lead to an Israeli "pre-emptive" strike against its Arab neighbors. Within 6 days, Israel defeats all its enemies, among them the entire Egyptian air force before it can even take off, and occupies large amounts of land: in the South, Israel "frees" the Negev and occupies the Sinai peninsula; in the North, the Jewish state captures the strategic Golan Heights; and to the East, Israel occupies the Jordanian West Bank, including Jerusalem. The historic town is immediately declared the "eternal and undivided capital" of the Jewish state. At the same time, Israel becomes an occupation force controlling a large population of Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

1973. A surprise attack by Egypt and Syria gives the Arab states a face-saving "victory" that, in fact, is another defeat in the Yom-Kippur or October War.

1977. The Likud wins the general elections in 1977, introducing a new era in Israeli politics. Egyptian president Anwar Sadat visits Jerusalem and speaks to the Knesset, paving the way for ensuing peace negotiations at Camp David. A peace agreement between Egypt and Israel is signed in 1979.

1982. Israel invades Lebanon and manages to drive the PLO leadership from Beirut to Tunis. Ariel Sharon, the minister of defense and former war hero, single-handedly and somewhat illegally masterminds the invasion as far as Beirut. He has to resign after the invasion and later faces a court charge over a massacre of Palestinian refugees in the camps of Sabra and Shatilla by Israeli-allied Christian militias. In the midst of a deepening economic crisis, a national unity government and reform measures are implemented. Economic deprivation and general dissatisfaction with the Israeli military occupation trigger a Palestinian uprising, the Intifada.

1990. The downfall of the Soviet Union brings almost 1 million new immigrants to Israel. During the Gulf War and the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation, Iraq fires missiles on Tel Aviv and Haifa.

1992-93. The elections are won by war hero and ex-prime minister, Yitzak Rabin, in 1992. A secret channel leads to direct negotiations between PLO and Israel, resulting in mutual recognition and a Declaration of Principles for the assumption of peace talks, known as the Oslo Accord, presented to the public in Washington, D.C., on 23 September 1993.

1994-95. Israel concludes a peace treaty with Jordan and the Gaza-Jericho (Oslo II) agreement with the Palestinians. After a series of suicide bomb attacks within Israel, Rabin is assassinated on 4 November 1995. Shimon Peres becomes prime minister but loses the elections to Benyamin Netanyahu ("Bibi") who becomes prime minister in May 1996 and opens his reign with the tunnel under Al-Aqsa, leading to violent riots.

2000. Having won the elections against Bibi Netanyahu in June 1999 on a pro-peace platform, Israel's highest-decorated soldier, Ehud Barak, realizes his promise to pull Israeli troops out of South Lebanon within a year. Peace talks with the Palestinians at Camp David fail and the so-called Al-Aqsa Intifada breaks out in September, after a highly controversial visit of the new Likud leader, Ariel Sharon, to the holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem.

2001. Ariel Sharon becomes prime minister.

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