The Incredible Shrinking Palestine: a brief history

The incredible shrinking Palestine.In 1947, the United Nations granted the Jewish immigrants in Palestine 55% of the Palestinians' homeland, even though they then represented less than 1/3 of the population and had purchased less that 5% of the land. This partition left the Palestinians with only 45%.

The Jewish Agency, which was the provisional government before Israel declared statehood in 1948, immediately began to execute its strategic plan to cleanse its partition of the indigenous Arab population. This plan, developed over the previous decade, was called Plan Dalet. By the time that Israel declared its independence, on May 14, 1948, the majority of the Palestinians living within Israel had been forcibly expelled from their homes by Israeli regular and irregular military forces.

During the war of 1948, Israel not only continued this campaign of ethnic cleansing, but captured an additional 23% of historic Palestine, thereby leaving the Palestinians with only 22% of their ancestral land. By the end of 1949, Israel had expelled over 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and land and destroyed over 400 villages. The Palestinians who were allowed to remain were placed under a direct military dictatorship for the next 16 years. In violation of international law, those who were expelled have never been allowed to return.

In 1967, Israel captured the remaining 22%: the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. Israel has placed these Occupied Palestinian Territories under a brutal military occupation and has illegally transferred over half a million of its own citizens there. This colonization of occupied territory is strictly prohibited by international law, as is the acquisition of territory through war.

To this day, Israel continues its strategic pattern of ethnic cleansing while constructing more illegal Jewish settlements and Jewish-only roads. It demolishes Palestinian homes and has built walls that concentrate Palestinians into small, isolated regions. Israel maintains hundreds of military checkpoints (the Hebrew term translates as "obstacles"), which inhibit free travel. Because Israel controls all borders, air space, and natural resources, the Palestinian economy is thwarted at every turn. All this—together known as the Occupation—has produced poverty, hatred, and conflict.

In our view, a just and lasting peace, which would allow both Israelis and Palestinians to thrive, requires, first and foremost, an end to this Occupation.