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1897 A European Jewish political movement, the Zionist movement, has for some years been seeking to secure a national home for the Jewish people. After considering homelands in Africa and S America, the Zionist conference of 1897 settles on Palestine, then part of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire.
1917 The Balfour Declaration: the British Government promises Lord Rothschild a 'national home' for Jews in Palestine, while upholding 'the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities'. (At this time only 5% of the population is Jewish - 95% are Palestinian Muslims and Christians.)
1918 After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Britain occupies Palestine and from 1918 to 1948 sponsors Jewish colonial immigration from Europe and the US. Britain crushes all Palestinian revolts.
1948 After numerous terrorist attacks by Zionist militias, Britain leaves, after handing the matter over to the UN, which assigns about 52% of Palestine to the proposed state of Israel. At this time Jews constitute only one third of the population and own only 6% of the land.
1948-49 Israel drives some 750,000 Palestinians from their towns and villages in the Nakba ('Catastrophe'), with a high death toll amongst the Palestinians, and increases the occupied areas to about 78% of historic Palestine. Descendants of these refugees live today in some 100 refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza. UN resolution 194 calls on Israel to allow the return of the refugees. Over 400 Palestinian villages are subsequently razed to the ground.
1967 Israel occupies the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip (the 'Occupied Palestinian Territories', or OPT) during the 6-day war with Egypt, bringing all of historical Palestine under Israeli control. UN resolution 242 calls on Israel to withdraw from the territories. It fails to do so.
1987 Israeli settlement of the OPT grows steadily, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Palestinians rise up in the first non-violent Intifada ('uprising'), calling for a independent Palestinian state.
1993-5 The US brokers a series of agreements between the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships. The 'Oslo Accords' are intended as a first step towards Palestinian self-rule, with a staged withdrawal from the OPT by Israel. However, illegal Israeli settlements double in number during the 'peace process'. By the year 2000 there are about 350,000 Israeli settlers in the OPT.
2000 Ongoing seizure of Palestinian land ignite a second Intifada. Thousands are killed as Palestinian towns and refugee camps are invaded, shelled and bombed.
2002 The Arab governments declare they are prepared to recognise Israel within the pre-1967 borders at the Beirut Conference. Israel ignores this offer, invades every Palestinian city except Jericho and starts building a separation wall, largely on Palestinian land.
2005 Israel pulls out its 8000 settlers from the Gaza Strip (home to 1.4 million Palestinians) - and settles another 30,000 in the West Bank. It then seals off the Gaza Strip.
2006 After elections judged free and democratic by the UN, the Hamas party comes to power. Israel abducts and imprisons 35 Palestinian MPs and many supporters and subjects Gaza to major military attacks, destroying the only power plant. Israel imposes a complete blockade of the Gaza Strip (still in force and unlikely to be removed despite the November 2012 cease-fire).
2008-9 Israel breaks a six-month ceasefire with Hamas and for three weeks bombs and shells Gaza, reducing 25% of the buildings to rubble, including homes, schools, mosques and the university. About 1,400 Palestinians are killed, including over 300 children. 13 Israelis are killed. The UN-sponsored Goldstone Report condemns Israeli actions as war crimes.
2010-12 An international flotilla taking aid to Gaza in 2010 is attacked in international waters by Israeli forces and 9 people are shot dead. The Palestinian request for full membership of the UN is condemned by Israel and the US in 2011, as is the political reconciliation announced between Fateh and Hamas. In November 2012 the shooting of Palestinians (including children) in Gaza is followed by shelling of Israel and Israeli retaliation. A truce (not reported by the BBC) is broken by the Israeli assasination of a senior Hamas official and several days of intense fighting, in which about 150 Palestinians and 5 Israelis die.
Peace is the fruit of justice,
and can grow on no other tree.
Methodist Minister and peace campaigner
1903 - 1988
revised 24 November 2012