Palestine (region)

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Topographic map of Palestine with internationally recognized state borders

Palestine ( ancient Greek Παλαιστίνη Palaistínē , Arabic فلسطين, DMG Falasṭīn [falas'tˁiːn] or Filasṭīn [filas'tˁiːn] , Hebrew ארץ ישראל Eretz Jisra'el " Land of Israel "), more rarely Cisjordan , is located on the southeastern coast of the Mediterranean and usually refers to parts of the areas of the present-day states of Israel and Jordan , including the Gaza Strip and West Bank . In various historical contexts, the region also has other names such as Land of Canaan or Promised or Holy Land ; in ancient Egyptian texts it is referred to as Retenu or Retinu, but also as Canaan. For Judaism , the Samaritans , Christianity and Islam , the area has a special historical and religious significance. The names given are not to be regarded as synonyms; the Torah describes the land promised to the patriarchs of the Israelites as the land of Canaan, and the kingdom of Israel and the city-states of the Philistines (Pleschet, from which the name Palestine is derived) were established in the 1st millennium BC. Only some of the small states of the region - besides the Phoenician city-states , Judah , Ammon , Moab and Edom . In the Arab tradition, Palestine is part ofالشام / aš-Šām , which covers the entire Levant and whose center is Damascus .

Origin and use of the country name


The name "Palestine" is ultimately in Hebrew פְלֶשֶׁת Peleschet back, with which the area of ​​the city-states of Gaza , Ashdod , Ashkelon , Ekron and Gath , founded by the so-called Sea Peoples , was designated. The inhabitants of this area become Hebrew in the biblical texts פְלִשְתִּים pelischtim German, , Philistines ' called. Correspondingly, in Assyrian written sources of the 8th century BC, the name BC the area of ​​today's Gaza Strip to Ashkelon "Palastu". Only in Greek texts, when the Philistines were no longer an ethnic entity that could be distinguished from the inhabitants of the hinterland, was this landscape name more than the southern coastal strip. The Greek historian Herodotus (fifth century BC) used the term "Syria palaistinē" for the entire coastal strip between Phenicia and the area of ​​today's Gaza (Greek Kadytis). The southern border of Phoinikiens (the Levant i.e. mainly Lebanon ), he probably drew on the Carmel Mountains . The Latin “Palestine” goes back to the Greek form of the name “Palaistinē”, which has been attested since Herodotus.

In the 3rd century BC On the other hand , the Jewish-Greek translation of the Bible, the Septuagint (LXX) , created in Alexandria , does not include the term 'Palestine'. The LXX uses terms corresponding to the Hebrew original to denote the whole country and its parts, such as ancient Greek ἡ γῆ Χανάαν hē gē chanáan , German 'Land Canaan' or ancient Greek Ἰουδαία Ioudaía , German ' Judäa ' . When specifically speaking of Philistines, they were called in ancient Greek Φυλιστιίμ Phylistiím , the Hebrew word "Pelishtim" (Philistines) was simply transcribed (e.g. Gen 10.14  LXX ; Ex 15.14  LXX also for "Peleschet") ). In other books (e.g. in the books of the kings ) the LXX regularly calls the Philistines 'people of different origins' ( ancient Greek ἀλλόφυλοι allóphyloi , e.g. 1 Sam 5,1  LXX ;). Finally, in his Antiquitates Iudaicae (approx. 100 AD), Josephus calls the Philistines (and only these) ' Palestinians ' ( ancient Greek Παλαιστῖνοι Palaistînoi , e.g. Ant 6,1).

Roman Empire

Emperor Augustus transferred the former Philistine land to King Herod the Great ; who in turn gave it to his sister Salome , who turned it into a Jewish coastal province. After the suppression of the third Jewish uprising ( Bar Kochba uprising 132-135), the Roman Emperor Hadrian renamed the Roman province, previously called Judea , to Syria Palestine , destroyed its capital Jerusalem and rebuilt it as Aelia Capitolina . His wish was that Jerusalem and Judea would be forgotten forever. In late antiquity , some areas east of the Jordan were geographically included in the province of Palestine, which was divided into three parts in the fourth century. Militarily, however, Palestine remained a unit.

Early Islamic period

When, in the course of Islamic expansion, the region was incorporated into Muslim rule in 636, the new rulers divided the country into junde , which were military districts. The area, which formed the most important part of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) province of Palestine Prima, was given the Arabic name "Jund Urdunn", "Military Province Jordan" (after the river) and "Jund Dimashq" (Damascus). With that, the name Palestine disappeared in the eastern world until after the end of the First World War.

Crusader States

The Christian crusaders established the crusader states and formally called the region the Holy Land , but they also passed on the name Palestine, which has been used in the western world until modern times. The Kingdom of Jerusalem existed from 1099 to 1291. The German term “promised land” is a translation of the Latin terra promissionis , “land of promise”.

Mamluk period

The Mamluks finally defeated the Crusaders, first as the elite corps of the Ayyubids, then as rulers over the entire region, after they took power themselves under Baibars. During this time, Palestine served them primarily as a transit area between their two most important cities, Cairo and Damascus.

Ottoman Empire

From 1516 to 1918, Palestine is part of the Ottoman Empire . When the First World War broke out , the region was divided into three districts of the Ottoman Empire: Vilayet Syria, Vilayet Beirut and (the greater part), an unnamed region around Jerusalem that was not legally assigned to any administrative district.

The 19th and 20th centuries

Borders of Cisjordan (medium purple) and Transjordan (light purple), around 1922

In the 19th century, historians in the West increasingly resorted to the term Palestine , but it only experienced a rebirth with Zionism at the end of the century. Zionists like Theodor Herzl understood their movement as secular and wanted to avoid religious connotations, although they did see the religious motivation:

"Palestine is our unforgettable historical home."

- Theodor Herzl

Already at the first Zionist World Congress (August 29th to 31st, 1897) in Basel the goal was set:

"Zionism strives to create a publicly secured home in Palestine for those Jews who cannot or do not want to assimilate elsewhere."

The term was subsequently used in the 20th century for the British League of Nations mandate for Palestine , which in turn was divided into the smaller Cisjordania (Neo-Latin for "land this side of the Jordan River") from the Jordan westward to the Mediterranean Sea and the larger Transjordan ("land beyond the Jordan “) In the east. The latter was the official state name of Jordan until 1950 . Especially in the French and English-speaking areas, Cisjordan refers to the entire area west of the Jordan, and the use of the term Cisjordan only for the West Bank , i.e. for the areas largely dominated by Israel today, is rather rare in these languages. In the German-speaking world, Cisjordan is rarely used as a name for West Bank.

Today the term Palestine usually includes the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River - i.e. the state of Israel and the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967 (West Bank including East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip ).

Origin of the term Palestinian

The adjective Palestinian usually refers to ancient Palestine, for example the term "Palestinian Jews". The word Palestinian, on the other hand, did not come into use until the mid-1960s to denote the present-day Arab population of East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip and the West Bank . The occupation of the Gaza Strip by Egypt and the West Bank by Jordan after 1948 was followed by the occupation of both regions by Israel in 1967 as a result of the Six Day War . As a result of this and the associated emergence of the PLO , the Arab inhabitants of both areas increasingly began to use Palestine and Palestinians as an expression of their hope to use a separate Palestinian nation (e.g. "Palestinian uprising"). The majority of Christian and Muslim Arabs who are citizens of Israel and who live within its pre-1967 borders also call themselves “Palestinians” today.

Landscape sphere


Palestine is crossed in a north-south direction by the Jordan Rift , a part of the Great African Rift Valley, where the African and Arabian plates drift apart. In the history of the earth, the land of the Palestine region was flooded by the sea several times ( transgression ) and released again ( regression ). The soil was influenced alternately by the sea and the land. This and the separation of the sea above today's Jordan Rift through tectonic elevation of the region left widespread salt deposits. Several lakes were created in the area of ​​the Jordan Trench, most recently only Lake Lisan , the remains of which are the Sea of ​​Galilee and the Dead Sea . Viewed from the south, the Judean and Samaritan Mountains, the Jezreel plain and the Galilean Mountains emerged between the Jordan Rift and the Mediterranean Plain. In addition to rock formation and formation through various types of sedimentation and tectonic stress, layers were also formed volcanically.


Rainwater on the western side of these mountains flows in a westerly direction towards the Mediterranean. The Jordan and its tributaries north of the Sea of ​​Galilee originate from the northern mountains Hermon, Galilee and Golan . There its water is still low in salt. It flows through the Sea of ​​Galilee. Its most important tributary, the Jarmuk , however, absorbs larger portions of the water from the Golan and flows into the Jordan several kilometers south of the Sea of ​​Galilee. Large amounts of water are taken from the Sea of ​​Galilee to enable the fields in the coastal plain to be irrigated via the National Water Carrier . A lot of water is taken from the Jarmuk about 10 km above the estuary to supply the East Bank via the East Ghor Canal .

As a result of the tectonic stress on the region, the rock layers are not continuous and sealed against each other, but are permeable in places in the vertical direction due to numerous faults, in particular the fault zone of the rift itself. This enables saline water to escape from the permeable rock layers. There are probably several generations of these brines. The exact processes of the formation and the transport of the brines now and in the history of the earth are not fully clarified. The geological conditions and the paths and compositions of the waters are very different and complex in different places and at different times of the year and are also influenced by human activities. High pressure presses the brines upwards through leaks in the otherwise impermeable layers, unless they are stopped by sufficient counter pressure from the lighter, lower-salt groundwater above. At the fault zone of the rift valley, however, cold groundwater from precipitation in deeper aquifers meets hot brines, rises mixed with the salt water through convection and emerges at the top.

The paths of water are of different lengths, the salty water sometimes emerges years later and far away. Salty water often flows below the water surface into one of the two lakes or the Jordan. There are several saline springs on the shores of the Sea of ​​Galilee and below its surface. With the construction of the "Salt Water Carrier", which collected the water from the well-known salty springs at the Sea of ​​Galilee and discharged it directly into the lower Jordan, the salt content of the lake was reduced, but the salt content in the Jordan below the lake outlet was increased dramatically. In the meantime, this introduction into the lower Jordan has been greatly reduced again. The increased salinity in the Sea of ​​Galilee compared to its known tributaries is now mainly caused by unknown saltwater influxes below the water surface. Further influx of salty water in the form of groundwater, via watercourses and tributaries also into the lower Jordan and the high level of evaporation let the salt content of the Jordan continue to increase in its course to the south. At the Allenby Bridge near Jericho, about thirteen kilometers from the confluence with the Dead Sea, salinity levels for the summer of 2 to 4 g / l were given in 1995. In 2004 up to 11.1 g / l were mentioned in places in spring and summer. The Jordan flows into the Dead Sea, which has no drain, but gives off water through evaporation and has accumulated the salt since its formation. The salt content in the Dead Sea is therefore around 250 g / l.

Topography and climate

The Jordan with its typical plant community

Depending on the differences in topography and climate, a distinction is made between different large areas:

  • The coastal plain : Directly on the Mediterranean Sea there is a sandy zone with shifting dunes and swamp areas. Further to the east is a very fertile stretch of land with very dark soil. The climate is Mediterranean, the winds coming from the sea bring sufficient moisture. The watercourses that run through the area carry water all year round in the north, but only in the rainy season in the south.
  • The mountains : West of the Jordan, the amount of precipitation decreases sharply from north to south, because the high mountains in Judea hold back the clouds coming from the sea. Galilee is therefore the most fertile part of the mountainous country. Terrace farming was already practiced in the middle mountain region in biblical times. In biblical times, the northern part of the mountainous region was still covered by forests, which have since declined significantly due to agricultural management. In the south, the mountainous region turns into the Negev desert.
  • The Jordan Rift : The northern part is also the most fertile here. North of the Sea of ​​Galilee there was an extensive swamp landscape and large forest areas in biblical times. In the lower Jordan Valley, the rainfall is no longer sufficient for this type of landscape. As the salinity of the Jordan increases southwards, salt-tolerant trees such as the Euphrates poplar and the tamarisk also grow in the southern Jordan Valley . These are also common on tributaries. Only salt-tolerant plants grow on the Dead Sea itself. The higher plant species get their supplies from the groundwater and rainwater, because even the most salt-tolerant higher plants cannot survive at significantly lower salt contents than in the Dead Sea.
  • The plateau : East of the Jordan, the climate is semi-arid to arid, the rivers flowing into the Jordan mostly dry up in summer. The plateau is characterized by sandstone, which coats the underlying volcanic rock and, through erosion, has led to the formation of sandy deserts. In the oases on the Dead Sea and the lower Jordan, however, one can occasionally find tropical flora.


Palestine topographic map
Palestine, map from 1902


In the region since the 3rd millennium BC City-states detectable. In the fertile crescent the traffic routes from three continents met. As a result, Palestine developed into a focal point for religious and cultural influences from Egypt, Syria , Mesopotamia and Asia Minor .

Egyptian supremacy

Due to the expansions in the 2nd millennium BC Chr. Of the Amorites , Hurrians (especially the Mitanni -Reichs) and Hittites in the region of Syria, the Egyptians saw a threat to their hegemony, pushing back these powers.

From the 12th century BC BC Egypt lost more and more power over Palestine. New immigrants came to the region. According to reports by the Pentateuch, the Israelites are said to have been among them, but according to recent research - including Israeli archaeologists such as Israel Finkelstein - they formed an autochthonous population of the Galilean mountainous country, culturally indistinguishable from the Canaanites of the plain. In addition, other Semitic nomadic tribes from Mesopotamia, Sinai and the surrounding desert zones (see also Hebrews / Habiru in Egyptian and Hurrian sources) are said to have immigrated. In the early 12th century BC there were also With the sea ​​peoples the Philistines , who mainly inhabited the southern coastal zone around Gaza and Ascalon . To the north of it, according to the Harris papyrus and the later travel report of Wenamun, the Tjeker settled , who also belonged to the sea peoples.

Most archaeologists today assume that due to the constancy of material culture, there was no significant immigration of Israelite groups during this time. However, this does not rule out previous immigration. This is especially true of the Aramaic tribes (which also included the Israelites) from the north and, even earlier, from the east, the Amorites. The Hurrians are considered to be the earliest linguistically identifiable population class.

Pre-state Israel

The thesis of the amphictyony by Martin Noth

One of the most important theses on pre-state Israel is that of Martin Noth's " Amphictyony " . In his book "The System of the Twelve Tribes of Israel", he starts from the fact that is often mentioned in the Bible that pre-state Israel was a unit composed of twelve tribes . Ultimately, this is attributed to the fact that the patriarch Jacob (or Israel) had twelve sons, ten of whom are considered to be the ancestors of the twelve tribes of Israel - the ancestors of the last two tribes are children of Jacob due to the landlessness of the tribe of Levi ( Gen. 46 , 1–26; 49.1–27 and Num 26.5–51). Noth compared this phenomenon, attested to in the Bible, to the appearance of amphictyony in the Greek world. Noth sees analogies in the number twelve or six. In addition, the position of a central shrine is of great importance to him. He sees this sanctuary in the ark . He also points to the list in Ri 10.1–5, which intends a certain cycle. After all, he sees the report from the “Diet of Shechem” as the decisive event in the history of the ancient Israeli amphictyony. This also includes the expansion from six to twelve tribes with the adoption of the YHWH belief.

Criticism of the thesis

In the course of the history of research there has been repeated criticism of this thesis. The following questions arise:

  1. Can a historical appearance of a certain area of ​​life and culture be used as an analogy at all?
  2. Isn't there a name missing for the ancient Israeli tribal association?
  3. Can the mobile charging station be understood as a central sanctuary?
  4. Was the tribal association the benchmark for the judges, or was it more the cities and their catchment areas?

The thesis of the segmentary society

The thesis of the segmentary society is an alternative. It was mainly shaped by the ethnosociologist Christian Sigrist in his book Regulated Anarchy , who expanded the theories of the sociologist Émile Durkheim into segmentary societies and revised them. He compares the society of pre-state Israel to the social structure of African tribes observed during British colonial times. The lack of a central point is crucial for this society. They are organized according to tribal associations, which stand side by side on an equal footing and together form society. Here the historical awareness has a decisive and constitutive effect. Above all, the importance of kinship ties the societies of Africa and those of pre-state Israel conspicuously. However, the thesis is in danger of neglecting the written sources.


A synthesis of several theories, as suggested by Christa Schäfer-Lichtenberger, seems more plausible. It seems important here, however, that the unity consciousness of Israel to be postulated for the pre-state period is to be assumed to have an important religious component, centrally connected with an obligation to a generally binding law.

Whether there was a sense of unity, as the Pentateuch in particular describes it, actually existed in such an early period, must be strongly doubted. The song of Deborah in the Book of Judges , which is certainly to be regarded as one of the oldest parts of the Bible and is written in very ancient Hebrew, testifies to some other tribal names and not the 12 tribes. In addition, peoples that have not merged into the later 12 tribes, such as the Kenites , Edomites and Midianites , are represented as very closely related in terms of kinship and beliefs. The unified ideology of the Pentateuch in particular is therefore considered by historians to be a creation of the 7th century BC. Viewed. Especially after the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians, the Kingdom of Judah, initially spared from conquest, endeavored to present itself as the legitimate successor of all Israelite tribes. Correspondingly, a fixed order of all the tribes that existed several centuries ago was constructed within the framework of a united kingdom under the leadership of the ancestors of the kingdom of Judah (David and Solomon) and the joint removal from Egypt by Moses. As far as unavoidable, other traditions of the Kingdom of Israel, which was more powerful in the past, have been adapted, expanded and abridged and reinterpreted for the purpose of its own legitimation.

This is clearly expressed in the position of the central shrine in Jerusalem, which was only actually consolidated under King Josiah . Before that, even according to the testimony of the Bible, sacrifices were decentralized in the Kingdom of Judah, especially on the heights. It is extremely unlikely that even earlier residents of the kingdom of Israel , which was much more powerful under the Omrids, recognized a central religious authority in Jerusalem. Rather, in addition to the tribal sanctuaries, various central sanctuaries are likely to have attracted believers beyond the tribal boundaries, with Yahweh and other gods such as Baal and Ashera being worshiped and sacrifices made to them.

The account of the twelve tribes is therefore regarded as an etiological myth, as it was typical in ancient Greece. It served to explain both actual kinship and the constructed and postulated togetherness of the population as a common origin of the nation. The number twelve is assigned a magical meaning.

The "Twelve Kings of the Sea Lands"

In the inscriptions of Asarhaddon and Assurbanipal the term "twelve kings of the sea lands" is mentioned again and again. In this collective name z. B. the countries Edom, Moab and Judah mentioned. The “twelve kings of the sea countries” repeatedly formed alliances to fight, among other things, against the supremacy of Assyria .

The Israelite Empire

The main written source for the history of Palestine is the Hebrew Bible , the essential parts of which were probably written during the Babylonian exile in Babylonia in the 6th century BC. BC originated. The first significant collection and editing of the scriptures took place as early as the 8th century after the Assyrians conquered the Kingdom of Israel. Your information is controversial in historical biblical criticism . Apart from the internal contradictions (e.g. different histories of conquest in the Book of Joshua and in the Book of Judges ), many of today's extensive archaeological findings do not agree with the accounts of the Bible. This does not mean that the stories of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Solomon were entirely fictitious. Rather, they represent interpretations of the circumstances found at the time the stories were compiled and written, which, according to the view of the time, could be most plausibly arranged and explained (and thus also made meaningful). In particular, the tribal tablets do not literally represent the actual descent, but are an expression of how closely the Israelites felt themselves to be related to other peoples and why such strong animosities can be found between individual peoples.

Archaic local customs that were no longer fully understood, imposing ruins of lost cities (e.g. Jericho, Ai, Hazor), natural phenomena ( Sodom and Gomorrah ) and other individual stories that were not originally connected were interwoven into a meaningful work. Corresponding myths are also known from other regions of the world (e.g. among the Greeks and in early Roman history), where the historicity of figures such as Heracles and Romulus is no longer accepted today. Nevertheless, these myths are central to the culture and self-image of these peoples.

Extra-biblical evidence is also increasingly available (such as the Moabite Mescha stele discovered in 1868 or the Merenptah stele discovered in 1896 ), which, in addition to their archaeological and scientific significance, illuminate the biblical accounts.

The proto-Israelite tribes therefore migrated to the area, in some cases probably as early as around 1800–1700 BC. (Cf. story of Abraham , enslavement in Egypt and the liberation from it by Moses ). According to the book of the same name in the Bible, Joshua conquered around 1200 BC. Parts of the area called Canaan at that time, which at that time belonged to the area of ​​influence of Egypt - in Sinai and in the south one was on Egyptian territory. An escape from Egypt into an Egyptian dominated area doesn’t make sense, but the “Egyptian yoke” could reflect a late, already unclear memory of a previous rule of the Egyptians in Canaan. It is also conceivable that small groups of Israelites were previously active on the Nile ( Joseph legend ), especially during the Hyksos period .

Much of the modern research now assumes that there was a high probability that there was no re-immigration of the Israelites in Canaan. The biblical account of the exodus and the conquest of the land is, according to some scholars, a literary fiction. Many of the cities, the capture of which the stories in the Torah describe, had long been in ruins at the time in question (e.g. Jericho) or did not even exist. The archaeological evidence rather shows that the Israelites were indigenous Bedouin tribes who took advantage of the weak period of the Cananite cities in the plains and Egypt, which were strong in the Bronze Age, and took over the existing settlements one after the other if they had not already been abandoned.

According to these - late - reports, the Israelites organized themselves as a loose twelve-tribal league around a tribal shrine. In times of danger the tribes were obliged to help one another under the guidance of a judge ( Book of Judges ). These judges were sporadically appointed charismatic leaders. It was believed that in times of danger God gave a person special skills to help the people. Unlike tribal chiefs, their power was not based on their origins, nor was it hereditary, but based on their personal powers of persuasion.

The fight against the Philistines, however, proved particularly difficult. They had founded a federation consisting of five city-states on the southern Mediterranean coast and invaded the interior from there. They were better organized militarily and were already using iron weapons, so that the Israelites around 1050 BC. Suffered a heavy defeat. According to the Bible, the threat from the Philistines caused the Israelite tribes to unite under a charismatic leader as king.

Map from 1759: "Terra Sancta sive Palæstina"

The first king of the mythologized United Kingdom mentioned by name in the Bible was Saul . At times he was able to assert himself against the Philistines, but in the end he was defeated by them. His successor David defeated the Philistines around 1000 BC. And conquered Saul's throne. The strengthening of Israel and the weakness of the neighboring empires enabled David, according to the Bible, to create a large empire whose capital he moved to Jerusalem. When the Israelites conquered Jerusalem, it was an old (already mentioned in the Amarna letters at the time of Pharaoh Akhenaten ), but insignificant village with a few hundred Jebusite inhabitants and about two hectares on a knoll south of today's Temple Mount at the interface between Judah and Israel. According to the Bible, Jerusalem became the ritual center of the Jews and the repository of the ark at the time of David. How much the size and power of this kingdom was idealized in later tradition is the subject of scientific discussion: the kingdom of David was - if the Bible is to be believed - about four times the size of the modern state of Israel. According to the archaeological findings, however, it was more likely to have been a small tribal area around the center of Jerusalem. The much more important cities and city-states in the north and on the coast probably never came under the rule of Jerusalem. Extra-biblical written sources in the region do not mention the supposedly powerful empire of David.

Under the reign of David's son, King Solomon , the country enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity, with the first temple in Jerusalem said to have been built on the site of an earlier Jebusite shrine. After Solomon's death in 922 BC The northern tribes refused to recognize the son of Solomon as the new king. This is how the empire should have fallen apart. The kingdom of Israel in the north with the main sanctuary of Shechem , which held a much more credible position as the central sanctuary of the Israelites than Jerusalem, since the largest part of the Israelite population lived here, subsequently took off due to the political weakness of the great empires of Egypt and Assyria under the Omrid dynasty a strong upswing. Judah in the south, on the other hand, apparently remained so insignificant in global politics that Assyria later did not even mention it in the victory stela, which lists the areas conquered or tributary, and left largely unmolested for the time being.

The great empires in Egypt and Mesopotamia regained strength in the Omrid period and reached out to the city and small states between them, which had enjoyed a certain degree of independence in the past centuries. Assyria in particular began to attack the prosperous cities of northern Canaan in the late 8th century and defeated the northern kingdom of Israel after 200 years of prosperity in 722/721 BC. Large parts of the population were settled on the Euphrates and instead of their population groups from other parts of the Assyrian Empire in Israel - a common practice in the Assyrian Empire to pacify conquered areas. From now on the population was called Samaritans after the capital Samaria .

Through immigration from the conquered Israel, Jerusalem in the Kingdom of Judah recorded stronger growth for the first time in the following period. When the power of the Assyrians waned, the opportunity had come to unite land and people from Jerusalem under the ideological guidance of the Yahweh priesthood and King Josiah. A common, identity-forming Israelite past was constructed, which should be the ideological basis of a stable state. During this time, the source scriptures of the Bible underwent the first comprehensive editing, primarily serving this purpose. The old stories and books were brought together and compiled into a national story. But efforts to secure Judah's independence failed due to the rise of the city-state of Babylon to become an expanding Mesopotamian great power.

Judah was born in 586 BC. Defeated by the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar II , the capital Jerusalem destroyed and the population (especially the upper class) resettled to Babylon. These processes are described in the Bible as Babylonian exile . In exile, the Judeans were able to preserve their national and religious identity, and in the biblical account they are called to respect the mighty city of Babylon and its laws and to contribute to its prosperity.

When Cyrus the Great of Persia Babylonia in 539 BC After conquering BC, he allowed the exiles to return to Judah and granted them a certain autonomy within the Persian state association. The Torah (in its former form, which cannot be reconstructed from today's perspective) was recognized as an internal Jewish code. The Jews as descendants of the Kingdom of Judah rebuilt the city walls of the City of David ; a central sanctuary was also built. But the returnees distanced themselves from the population who remained in the country during their exile; some scholars see the beginning of the Samaritan schism here; H. the dissolution of the Samaritans as an independent religious group from Judaism. Since then, these have also seen themselves as legitimate descendants of the Israelites and refer to the Samaritan Pentateuch , while all other canonical writings of the Jewish Bible with their partly Jerusalem-centered polemics against the northern Reich of Israel in pre-exilic times (such as books 1 and 2 of the Chronicles ) and partly also against the Samaritans themselves (especially the books Ezra and Nehemiah ) not recognized as divinely inspired and thus not part of the Samaritan holy scriptures.

Hellenistic rule

In 332 BC Chr. Took Alexander the Great , the region in possession, without encountering any significant resistance. He had the conquest brought to an end by generals, who also laid the foundation for Hellenistic rule. After the death of Alexander (323 BC), the land became the scene of clashes during the Diadoch Wars and changed hands several times. In 301 it fell to Ptolemy I of Egypt and remained until 200 BC. BC under Ptolemaic rule, but not unchallenged. The Seleucids , another Macedonian dynasty, also made claims.

One effect of Hellenistic rule was the change in the ethnic composition of the population. Until the conquest of the country, Judeans , Phoenicians, Samaritans, Edomites and Nabataeans lived in their ancestral areas in the region . The interior of the country was predominantly inhabited by the Judeans and Samaritans, the northern coastal plain by the Phoenicians, the south by the Nabataeans, who had pushed the Edomites somewhat to the north. In addition, there were (especially Macedonian) Greeks who settled here.

The Hellenistic culture particularly influenced life in the cities, which were structurally similar to the Greek polis . The Phoenicians adapted most strongly. The places in the interior, on the other hand, largely retained their Semitic character. Although the Ptolemaic occupying power levied high taxes, there was no rampant exploitation or enslavement of the natives.

During this time, the region benefited from the economic boom that the Ptolemaic Empire was just experiencing. Trade relations expanded and new methods introduced into agriculture.

In the 2nd century BC However, under the leadership of the Maccabees , the Jews revolted against the Seleucids . They built between 141 and 63 BC An independent Jewish state until the land was conquered for Rome by Pompey and became a Roman province ruled by Jewish kings.

Roman rule

The Jewish uprising was suppressed in AD 66 to 73 under the orders of the future Emperor Titus . The Jerusalem Temple was destroyed in AD 70 and the Jewish Diaspora began for the majority of the Jews . Tens of thousands of Jews were crucified along the streets of Jerusalem and the forests around the city were cut down. Even after the failed Bar Kochba uprising from 132 to 135 AD, many Jews were killed or sold as slaves by the victorious Romans . Judea was renamed Syria Palestine by the Romans to erase the memory of Palestine as the Jewish kingdom and home of the Jews on behalf of the region.

Dioecesis Orientis around 400

Palestine gained new importance when the Roman Emperor Constantine I declared Christianity to be religio licita (= religion with equal rights) in 313 . His mother Helena visited Jerusalem and Palestine; the Holy Land of Christians was promoted as the Christianization of the Roman Empire advanced. Since Palestine belonged to the Eastern Roman Empire from 395 onwards , it was not affected by the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century. The late antiquity was for Palestine altogether a sort of "golden age", marked by prosperity, security and a cultural flowering. However, there was a major uprising in Samaria in 529, which Emperor Justinian I had bloodily suppressed. Most of the population was already Christianized by this time . The Byzantine rule was the occupation of the Persian Sassanid interrupted (614-629) and finally ended when Muslim Arabs invaded Palestine and conquered Jerusalem 638.


In 638 Jerusalem was conquered by the army of the second caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab . In 691 the Muslims built the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount . Since that time there has been a Jewish and a Christian presence in Palestine as well as a Muslim.

Islamization was favored by treating non-Muslims as dhimma . It took more than 100 years for the majority of the population to convert to Islam.

The region now benefited from the trade of the empire and of its religious significance during the first caliph dynasty of the Umayyads of Damascus under which the Arab conquests reached their peak. After the Abbasids chose Baghdad as their political center in 762 , the importance of Palestine declined. The area has been the scene of repeated fighting and was ruled by the Seljuks , Fatimids (see Caliphate ) and European crusaders. However, Palestine also benefited from the achievements of the Muslim world as it saw its golden age of science, art, philosophy and literature.

With the beginning of the crusades at the end of the 11th century, four Christian crusader states ( Outremer ) were established in Palestine , including in 1099 the Kingdom of Jerusalem under Baldwin of Flanders , who rededicated the Dome of the Rock as a Christian shrine and in the Al-Aqsa Mosque resided. The Sunni Sultan Saladin defeated an army of the Crusaders in the Battle of Hattin in 1187 , occupied Palestine and conquered Jerusalem. Churches and temples were largely converted into mosques, to which Christians and Jews, however, had access.

The Crusaders withdrew to northern Palestine around Acre , which was lost as the last Christian base in Palestine after the siege of Acre (1291) . In the period that followed, Mamluk dynasties ruled Palestine.

Ottoman rule

Family in Ramallah around 1900

The Mamluks finally destroyed the states founded by the Crusaders in Syria and Palestine. The Ottoman Turks defeated the Mamluks in 1516, Egypt, Syria and Palestine were incorporated into the Ottoman Empire for 400 years . In 1517 the caliphate also fell to the Ottomans; they also provided the religious head. The country was divided into different districts. The Christian and Jewish communities were given a great deal of autonomy. Palestine flourished again during the 16th century until the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century. During this time of Ottoman rule, Palestine was sparsely populated and stagnated economically. Joseph Nasi , an adviser to the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent , campaigned for the area around Tiberias to be repopulated with European Jews from 1561; but the project turned out to be difficult for economic reasons and failed completely in the course of the Turkish wars . At the beginning of the 19th century, between 275,000 and 300,000 people lived in the country. 90% of them were Muslim Arabs, 7,000 to 10,000 Jews, and 20,000 to 30,000 Christian Arabs. Between 1831 and 1840 Muhammad Ali Pasha (Turkish Mehmed Ali), viceroy and founder of modern Egypt , extended his rule over Syria.

In 1881, at the beginning of Jewish immigration, 457,000 people lived in Palestine. 400,000 were Muslims, 13,000–20,000 Jews and 42,000 - mostly Greek Orthodox - Christians. There were also several thousand Jews who lived permanently in Palestine but were not Ottoman citizens. The Jews living in the country (the old Yishuv ), both Sephardim and Ashkenazim , were mostly Orthodox and quite poor; they were supported by co-religionists from abroad. Settlement centers were the four cities of Jerusalem, Hebron , Safed and Tiberias. Around a third of the population lived in cities at this time. Jerusalem counted 30,000 souls (half of whom were Jews), Gaza 19,000, Jaffa 10,000 and Haifa 6,000.

In the 1880s, the French Baron Edmond Rothschild began campaigning for the emerging Zionism . In 1882 he bought land in Palestine and helped found Zichron Ja'akow and Rishon leTzion . In 1889 he handed over 25,000 hectares of Palestinian agricultural land including the settlements on it to the Jewish Colonization Association . He also allowed Russian Jews , as a result of local anti-Semitism and the murder of . Tsar Alexander II following pogroms relocate to Palestine. He put on wine-growing areas there, but failed in the attempt to build a perfume industry there.

In 1897, Theodor Herzl convened the first Zionist congress in Basel , thereby laying an important foundation stone for the establishment of a Jewish state. Since the second Aliyah , the idea of ​​Zionism gained increasing political importance. In the religious and historical consciousness of the Jews (and, to a lesser extent, in the consciousness of the Occident ), Israel has always remained the “Holy Land”, which is connected with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. The needs of the Arab population hardly played a role in this tradition. Leading Zionists, however, were aware of the problem and, in addition to international legitimation, also strived for an agreement with the Arabs. The region was already in the geopolitical and strategic interests of the great powers at this time, when colonial mindsets still prevailed. In the 19th century, European countries became involved in the search for raw materials and new sales markets in the Middle East.

According to data from the Jewish Colonization Association for 1903, 5200 Jews in Palestine lived in model agricultural settlements in 1898 (see also Altneuland , 1904, No. 11, p. 339).

Altneuland (1904, issue 11, p. 339), Jewish population of agricultural settlements in 1898

At the beginning of the 20th century, many rural residents no longer owned their own land, but hired it as tenants. Almost all of the large landowners (Effendis) were patricians of the city, some lived outside the country, many in Beirut, Damascus and Paris. The second Aliyah took place between 1904 and 1914. Tel Aviv, the first modern Jewish city, was founded in 1909 .

Early 20th century

Because of the entry of the Ottoman Empire into the First World War on the part of the Central Powers at the beginning of November 1914 , Great Britain abandoned the policy of supporting the existence of the Ottoman Empire against Russia's attempts to expand . The Hussein-McMahon correspondence , an exchange of letters in 1915/1916 between Hussein ibn Ali (Hejaz) and the British High Commissioner in Egypt Henry McMahon , had the political future of the Arab countries of the Middle East as well as the ambition of Great Britain to launch an Arab revolt against Ottoman rule to stir up the content. McMahon's statements were seen by the Arabs as a promise of Arab independence.

In 1916, in the secret British-French Sykes-Picot Agreement, an agreement was reached on the division of the Ottoman Empire into spheres of interest, which was published in 1918 by the victorious Bolsheviks .

In the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, the British government's benevolence for a Jewish home in Palestine was declared, which was regarded as the quasi-legal basis of the Zionist plan after a Jewish state was founded. The rights of existing non-Jewish communities should be preserved. At that time, Palestine was still part of the Ottoman Empire.

The victory of the British in World War I ended Ottoman rule in 1917. From Egypt, General Allenby conquered southern Palestine. After the Mudros armistice of October 30, 1918, Great Britain and France occupied the areas they had negotiated in the Sykes-Picot Agreement: France, Lebanon and Syria; Great Britain Palestine and Iraq . The American President Thomas Woodrow Wilson took the view that territorial gains through the world war should be prevented as far as possible. However, it was believed that the countries previously controlled by the inferior powers could not be allowed to govern themselves. The then South African Prime Minister Jan Christiaan Smuts suggested establishing a mandate in these areas . Like Syria, Palestine belonged to Category A, which means that the peoples were classified as relatively developed, but had to be led by advanced nations. Independence was a medium-term goal. Since the Arabs were not included in this division process, they felt betrayed.

British mandate

British Mandate for Palestine, 1920–1923 (including Transjordan)

On April 25, 1920, Great Britain was given the Palestine mandate at the San Remo Conference . One of the terms of the mandate was that the British should enable the implementation of the Balfour Declaration, in which they had promised on November 2, 1917 the "establishment of a national home for the Jewish people" , but the limits of which were not determined. To this end, the mandate power was asked to enable Jewish immigration, to settle the Jewish immigrants as a group and to use the former Ottoman state land for this. Express care should be taken that "nothing should be done that could prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political position enjoyed by Jews in any other country" . In contrast to these assurances to the Jewish population, however, it did not contain any protective provisions for the rights of the local Arabs.

Arab nationalism

The failure to keep the promise of Arab independence turned the previously anti-Ottoman Arab nationalism against the mandate powers. In connection with the Balfour Declaration, the number of Jewish immigrants increased. These were seen by the Arabs as helpers to the new colonizers.

The goal of the Arab majority was an Arab state in the entire area with restricted (or prevented) Jewish immigration. In this state, Jews should enjoy limited rights (see Dhimma ). The purchase of land by Jews should be prevented. This position is essentially still held today by the Palestinian, Islamist Hamas , which the PLO gave up in 1993.

Riots in 1920 and 1921

In April 1920 and May 1921 there were the first Arab pogroms against Jewish immigrants in Palestine and unrest, which was brutally suppressed by British troops. On May 1, 1919, Lieutenant General Sir Louis Bols announced in Nablus that the military administration would be handed over to a civil administration. This did not sound like the independence promised to the Arabs. Rumors of an international conference at which the division of the Allied territories was to be discussed also fueled the fear of being deceived by the Arabs. On February 27 and March 8, 1920 there were anti-British and anti-Jewish demonstrations. Some police officers warned of an Arab uprising. During the Nebi Musa festival in April 1920, Jewish immigrants demonstrated in Jerusalem for permission to defend the Jewish settlements themselves due to the tense situation. Under the leadership of Hajj Muhammad Amīn al-Husainī , later known as the "Grand Mufti of Jerusalem" , crowds of pilgrims gathered for the Nebi Musa festival. Anti-Jewish riots broke out in the course of which four Arabs and five Jews were killed and 22 seriously injured. Al-Husseini was sentenced to ten years in prison for this. A year later, however, he was released by the British High Commissioner, Lord Herbert Louis Samuel , and, with the approval of the newly established British civil government, appointed "Grand Mufti" of Palestine. Al-Husainī was not officially appointed, the British governor merely indicated to him that the British would do nothing against him sitting at his recently deceased half-brother's desk; he was the only one who had ever received the title of Grand Mufti.

Partition of Palestine 1922–1923

In June 1922, before the mandate came into force, the British government divided the mandate territory in Palestine west of the Jordan, where the Jewish homeland was to be built, and the emirate of Transjordan east of the Jordan. The official adoption of the mandate by the League of Nations took place on July 24, 1922. The exact design of the borders was left to the mandate power of Great Britain. In April 1923, Great Britain officially recognized the Emir Abdallah ibn al-Hussain as the legitimate ruler of the Emirate of Transjordan. In 1923, in an agreement between Great Britain and France, the Golan Heights were separated from the British mandate of Palestine and attached to the French mandate of Syria and Lebanon , in which there was no promotion of Zionist interests. In contrast to the mandates for Iraq and Syria, which enabled the formation of independent governments, the League of Nations mandate provided for direct British rule for Palestine. Until the complete independence of Jordan in 1946, there were uniform mandate laws, currency and passports for Palestinian citizenship in the areas of Palestine and Transjordan. The mandate document provided for the promotion of Jewish immigration and closed settlement in the country, including the recognition of Hebrew as the official language alongside English and Arabic.

The Zionist camp, which had originally planned parts of the East Bank for its homeland, was split over the separation of Transjordan from the Mandate area. The World Zionist Congress was prepared to limit itself to the area west of the Jordan, if in return Emir Abdallah recognized the establishment of the Jewish state in this area. Another group, represented by Vladimir Jabotinsky , rejected this restriction and continued to call for increased settlement in the areas east of the Jordan.

The goals of the Jewish minority were to encourage immigration, the largest possible Jewish state and - at this early point in time - to maintain the British mandate. This positive attitude towards British mandate power changed in the 1930s and 1940s. The fourth wave of immigration occurred between 1924 and 1932, and the fifth between 1933 and 1939, resulting in a strong increase in the Jewish population in Palestine.

Settlement policy

In 1929 the Zionist Jewish Agency was founded with the purpose of building the Jewish National Home on the basis of the Mandate Constitution. As stated in the mandate text, London wanted to encourage Jewish immigration without diminishing the rights of Arab residents. First and foremost, this goal should be achieved through the establishment of well-ordered settlements. Jewish settlements and cities like Tel Aviv emerged alongside the historical settlements of the Arabs. It was also important that the director of the British program for agricultural development worked independently of the mandate administration and was only subordinate to the British High Commissioner. Due to the continuing mistrust between the Jewish immigrants and the Arab population and the lack of understanding, the settlement question remained problematic. The defensive character of the Jewish settlement movement, which turned kibbutzim and moshavim into fortified villages, found its origin in this.

Arab uprising

In the years that followed, there were repeated unrest, which put the British mandate power under great pressure in places and forced concessions to the Arabs. When the first uprisings broke out in 1921, Jewish immigration was minimally restricted for the first time. When an armed Arab uprising against the British mandate and the Zionist conquest of the land was directed in the years 1936–1939 , it was bloodily suppressed. The British government restricted Jewish immigration and Zionist land acquisition. Chaim Weizmann , President of the Zionist Congress, criticized the problem of restricted immigration before the Peel Commission as follows: “In this part of the world (Europe) there are 6,000,000 people [...] for whom the world is divided into places where it is cannot live, and places they cannot enter. "

Peel and Woodhead Commissions

In 1937 the British Peel Commission presented a partition plan for the first time, which, according to the percentage distribution of the population, provided for Galilee and a coastal strip as Jewish and the larger remainder, including the desert regions, as Arab. This proposal was rejected by the Arabs. The Jewish side was split. The majority, including Golda Meir , rejected the proposal, but a strong minority around David Ben-Gurion saw this tiny state as the basis for later expansion. Quote: "[...] after we have built up a great power, we will eliminate the division of the land and expand over all of Erez Israel" (letter to his son); “The yes to the division does not oblige us to renounce Transjordan” (Ben-Gurion, Memoirs Volume 4, p. 151). The division of the country was rejected again by the Woodhead Commission , which published the MacDonald White Paper in 1939 . With this turn the United Kingdom tried to win the Arabs as allies against the " Axis Powers ". The white paper was rejected by the Jews living in the country because it demanded the dissolution of combat units such as the Hagana .

Biltmore program

At the Extraordinary Zionist Congress in Biltmore on May 8, 1942 in New York (so named after the Biltmore Hotel), the World Zionist Organization terminated the alliance with Great Britain, openly declared its intention to found a Jewish state in Palestine and appealed to it a pledge from American President Woodrow Wilson . She expressed the hope for the liberation of the Jews in the concentration camps and ghettos, called for the establishment of Jewish armed forces under their own flag and denied the moral and legal justification of the British White Paper of 1939, which deprived the Jews fleeing the National Socialists of a place of refuge. The Biltmore program contained the Zionist movement's sole claim to Palestine.

Second World War

In the Second World War , 27,500 Jewish soldiers from Palestine fought in the British Army . These later formed an important part of the Israel Defense Forces . Men like Moshe Dajan or Jitzchak Rabin fought for example. B. against Syria administered by the Vichy regime . However, there were hardly any combat missions in Germany. Ben-Gurion represented the concept of Palestine centrism, which assumed that it was incapable of acting in Europe. At the same time, the Jews therefore tried to increase illegal immigration and thus give European Jews a place of refuge, because between 1939 and 1944 only 15,000 were able to immigrate legally.

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Mohammed Amin al-Husseini , who maintained close contacts with the German Reich and was involved in a pro-German coup attempt in Iraq after his flight from Palestine (1937) in 1941, hoped for a German victory during the war. From 1941 he lived in Germany as Hitler's personal guest and, as an SS man, was involved in building up Moslem troops of the Waffen SS in Bosnia.

In the last years of the war, Ben-Gurion tried to improve contacts with the USA, which he saw rising as a new power in the Middle East, while Chaim Weizmann continued to focus on the United Kingdom.

After the Second World War

After the end of the Second World War, the question of the future status of Palestine and Jewish immigration arose again. Earl G. Harrison was commissioned by Harry S. Truman to convince Great Britain to improve the situation of the Jews. However, the British refused and wanted to transfer the mandate to the US. As a result, the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry was established, which proposed that at least 100,000 Jews should be allowed into the country, the mandate continued for ten more years, and negotiations between Arabs and Jews started. The committee met in several places and heard many witnesses, including Albert Einstein . Again the British made the disarming of the Jewish militias, among them the Hagana, a requirement, which was again rejected. The consequence of this policy was an armed uprising of the three largest groups Hagana, Irgun and Lechi against military targets of the British. Between September 1945 and July 1946 runways, barracks and railway lines were attacked. The management of the operations department was under Golda Meir. The Hagana tried every possible means to increase illegal immigration, attacked British radar systems that monitored shipping traffic and freed refugees from internment camps. The British temporarily interned several 10,000 Holocaust refugees in Cyprus. Leon Uris processed this in his novel Exodus , whose main character Ari Ben Canaan is based at least in part on Yitzchak Rabin .

In 1945 and 1946, terrorist attacks by Jewish underground movements on British facilities in Palestine increased. Police stations and military camps were preferred targets for these attacks. But the Templars' villages in Palestine were also repeatedly targets for attacks. The British administration could no longer tolerate this situation. The Palestine Police therefore planned an operation together with the British military to weaken the Jewish groups. That is why the British Army began massive strikes against the Jewish underground movements. At that time there were 100,000 British soldiers in Palestine. There were curfews in the larger cities; the Jewish Agency building was searched and files confiscated. 4,000 Jews, among them Moshe Sharet and Jitzchak Rabin, were arrested. Golda Meir was spared as a woman. Ben-Gurion was just in France. In response, the three major underground organizations planned a terrorist attack on the south wing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, which was the headquarters of the United Kingdom, also to destroy the seized files. At the last moment the Hagana withdrew and the Irgun, led by the later Prime Minister Menachem Begin, carried out the attack alone. 91 people were killed in the attack.

From May 1946, Ben-Gurion pursued a new strategy to put pressure on the USA. After pogroms in Poland, for example, he encouraged the immigration of Eastern European Jews to Germany, Austria and Italy so that they could come under the influence of the Americans and thus force them to act. This became known as the Bricha movement. The Hagana began to teach Hebrew to Eastern European Jews in Germany. Jewish settlements were established in strategically important places in the country. For example, ten settlements were founded on Yom Kippur in 1946 in the northern Negev. At the same time, preparations for war began. From a military point of view, people no longer began to think in terms of small units, such as resistance to the mandate. Important organizers of the Hagana at this time were Moshe Sneh , Yisrael Galili and Yaakov Dori ; Jigael Jadin was the chief of the Hagana's operations department .

It is still controversial among historians who or what ultimately caused the withdrawal of the British. There were undeniably important British interests in the region. The interests of the British in this area were based in particular on the central position to India. Indeed, when India was divided and independent in 1947, the UK attempted to return the mandate to the United States and then to the League of Nations. The region's oil reserves were an important point - a pipeline ran from Iraq to the important port of Haifa . The country's location on the Mediterranean Sea and relative proximity to the Suez Canal was also of strategic importance. The British General Staff therefore saw the region as indispensable in the event of a Third World War. However, the British were aware of the fact that neither Jews nor Arabs wanted them in the country. The military engagement was also very costly, and there were also not inconsiderable losses of human life. Public opinion in the kingdom was increasingly hostile to the mandate, especially because of reports of Jewish resistance. Then there was pressure from the USA. The kingdom's dependence on US reconstruction aid in the billions, especially after the harsh winter, will certainly have played a role.


The UNSCOP (United Nations Special Committee on Palestine) under the Swedish lawyer Emil Sandström followed the events of the Exodus incident and voted overwhelmingly for a division of the country. Only Yugoslavia, India and Iran spoke out in favor of a federal state. In April 1947, the UN finally proposed the establishment of a Jewish and an Arab state in a partition plan . This was preceded by intense diplomatic efforts by the Jewish Palestinians, led by Abba Eban . While Western Europe and the Soviet bloc agreed to partition, the Third World and the South American bloc had to be convinced. The South American states, influenced by the Vatican, ultimately only wanted to agree to a plan that placed Jerusalem under international administration. This was accepted with a heavy heart by the Jews. Truman's approval was not certain because of intense pressure from the US State and Defense Departments, although he knew the American people were behind him. However, after lobbying by Weizmann, Truman at least advocated slinging the Negev desert into the Jewish state. The British Commonwealth abstained.

UN partition plan

The then General Secretary Trygve Lie viewed the question of Palestine as an important test case for the future of the organization. On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed a two-thirds majority (31 for, 13 against, 10 abstentions, 1 absent) to divide Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. Jerusalem should come under international administration and the two states should be united in an economic union. With the aim of actually establishing an independent Jewish state and creating a home for the survivors of the Shoah , the Jewish population accepted the plan. The Arabs, however, rejected the plan. Fighting between Zionist Jews and Arabs broke out again, which had been interrupted since 1939. Important goals for the Jews were to keep the roads, especially those between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv , open, and to protect each individual community so that they did not have to be abandoned. The Hagana still had to operate illegally, however, and the Americans and British imposed an arms embargo. The British were also otherwise unwilling to cooperate, refusing to hand over certificates and other legal papers and not allowing UN representatives into the country.

The Hagana's strategy at that time was only defensive, and, for fear of losing international support shortly before the founding of the state, retaliatory strikes should, according to the will of the leaders around Ben-Gurion, only be carried out with limits.

On April 9, 1948, there was a massacre in the Arab village of Deir Yassin . The place was destroyed by right-wing Zionist troops of the Irgun Menachem Begins , not the Hagana, which was part of the political center. Between 107 and 120 Palestinians, including children, women and old people, were killed or murdered. The action served its purpose to cause panic among the Arab population. Between 250,000 and 300,000 Palestinians have fled or been displaced from that massacre to the start of the Palestinian War.

Weapons could only be obtained from Czechoslovakia . Sales began in pre-communist times and as a result, German weapons produced by Czechoslovakia were also delivered, including Messerschmitt aircraft . The financial means for this were provided mainly by American Jews after donation campaigns by the Jewish Agency (especially Golda Meir excelled here).

Shortly before the end of the mandate, Jewish diplomacy suffered a bitter defeat when the US State Department convened a special session of the UN to withdraw or postpone the partition decision. Before that, there was already massive pressure on the president. George F. Kennan, for example, described the partition as a catastrophe, and the Republican presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey also rejected it.

The first Israeli-Arab war and the partition of Palestine

The Israeli War of Independence was triggered by the attack by the Arab states on the newly founded State of Israel, in the course of which the Israeli army gained the upper hand over the poorly prepared and uncoordinated Arab troops. By the end of the war, up to 750,000 Arabs had lost their homeland - that was a third of the entire population at the time. The Israeli historian Benny Morris demonstrated in 1987 that the displacement was partly direct and almost always indirect. The abandoned cities and nearly 400 villages were immediately settled by Jewish immigrants. Villages that were not needed were destroyed to prevent the Arabs from returning. The armistice line coincided almost exactly with the limits proposed by the Jewish Agency to the UN in 1946.

On May 14, 1948 the state of today's Israel was founded because the 15th was a Shabbath and the trip to the meeting place would have violated the peace. Many Palestinians also see this as the (unfulfilled) Independence Day of Palestine. The immediate attack by several Arab states on Israel led to the Palestinian War , in which Israel was able to expand its territory beyond the boundaries of the UN partition plan. Jordan occupied the West Bank and Egypt the Gaza Strip in consultation with the Israeli government ( Golda Meïr ). With the formal annexation of the West Bank by the Kingdom of Jordan in 1950, the partition of Palestine was sealed.

The struggle for the state of Palestine

As early as 1952, the Islamic legal scholar Taqī ad-Dīn an-Nabhānī founded the Islamic Liberation Party in Jordan-controlled East Jerusalem . Until it was banned in 1957, it fought from Jordan by political means for the liberation of the areas of Palestine under Israeli rule. In 1964 the PLO was founded with the aim of realizing the Palestinians' dream of their own state and destroying the Jewish state of Israel. In the 1967 Six Day War , Israel conquered and occupied the West Bank, which belongs to Jordan, and the part of Palestine, which belongs to Egypt. According to the Israeli interpretation, the West Bank was "Jordanian occupied territory". Until 1967, however, the West Bank belonged to the internationally recognized border of Jordan (called West Jordan), as is shown by numerous newspaper clippings from German newspapers from 1967 (e.g. "Berliner Allgemeine Zeitung" of July 21, 1967; "Darmstädter Echo") of July 29, 1967; "Münchener Abendzeitung" of July 31, 1967 and much more). The UN Resolution 242 of 1967 also leaves no doubt that the international community then demanded Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied and continues to do so today. From now on it was the aim of the PLO to get back the territories lost to the Arabs in 1967 and to found an independent state "Palestine" in them. In several declarations from 1988 onwards, the PLO abandoned its original goal of destroying the state of Israel and establishing a state of "Palestine" on the entire territory of historical Palestine. The PLO Charter , however, still regards Palestine as an inseparable entity within the limits of the British mandate. In the opinion of the Palestinians, the establishment of a viable state in the West Bank and Gaza stands in the way of the settlement policy that Israel is pursuing, regardless of the many protests from the UN and other organizations.

In 1974 the PLO was recognized by the UN as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people . The 1994 Oslo Accords granted the Palestinians autonomous status. The internationally developed Roadmap for Peace envisages the establishment of Palestine in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as the most important goal .

Palestine from the perspective of the Koran

In the Koran is, among other things:

« وأورثنا القوم الذين كانوا يستضعفون مشارق الأرض ومغاربها التي باركنا فيها وتمت كلمت ربك الحسنى على بني إسرائيل بما صبروا ودمرنا ما كان يصنع فرعون وقومه وما كانوا يعرشون »

“And We gave to the people (Moses) who were considered weak, the eastern parts of the land (Palestine) for inheritance, and the western parts that We had blessed. And the gracious word of your Lord was fulfilled in the children of Israel, because they were steadfast; and We destroyed everything that Pharaoh and his people had created and the tall buildings they had built. "

such as:

« وَقُلْنَا مِن بَعْدِهِ لِبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ اسْكُنُواْ الأَرْضَ فَإِذَا جَاء وَعْدُ الآخِرَةِ جِئْنَا بِكُمْ لَفِيفًا »

“And after him we said to the children of Israel: Dwell in the land (Palestine); and when the time of the second promise comes, We shall bring you there as a company, gathered (from the different peoples.) "

See also


Web links

Wikisource: Palestine (Region)  - Sources and Full Texts

Individual evidence

  1. Heike Sternberg-el Hotabi : The struggle of the sea peoples against Pharaoh Ramses III. (= Archeology, inscriptions and monuments of ancient Egypt. Volume 2). Publishing house Marie Leidorf, Rahden (Westfalen) 2012, p. 51.
  2. Herodotus, Historien 3,5; also in 7,89 “Palaistinē” as a place name.
  3. See the explanations of this section also: Othmar Keel, Max Küchler, Christoph Uehlinger: Places and landscapes of the Bible. Volume 1: Geographical-historical regional studies. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1984, ISBN 3-525-50166-8 , p. 277 ff.
  4. a b Earl Peel: Report on Palestine. Reimbursed by the Royal Palestine Commission . In Schocken Verlag, Berlin 1937, p. 22nd f .
  5. Abraham Braver, Shimon Gibson: Palestine . In: Encyclopaedia Judaica . 2nd Edition. tape 15 . Thomson Gale, 2007, pp. 581 f .
  6. M. Noth: On the history of the name Palestine . In: Journal of the German Palestine Association . tape 62 , 1939, pp. 125-44 .
  7. ^ Theodor Herzl: The Jewish State. Attempt at a modern solution to the Jewish question . Breitenstein's Verlags-Buchhandlung, Leipzig and Vienna 1896, p. 29 .
  8. IDI researcher Karin Tamar Shafferman: Arab Identity in a Jewish and Democratic State. May 4, 2008, accessed July 26, 2014 .
  9. Christian Siebert: Seasonal chemical variations of the Sea of ​​Galilee, its tributaries and their causes. Free University of Berlin, January 5, 2006, accessed December 3, 2012 .
  10. ^ Masahiro Murakami: Managing Water for Peace in the Middle East: Alternative Strategies. United Nations University, 1995, accessed December 3, 2012 .
  11. Heike Sternberg-el Hotabi: The struggle of the sea peoples against Pharaoh Ramses III. (= Archeology, inscriptions and monuments of ancient Egypt. Volume 2). Marie Leidorf Publishing House, Rahden (Westfalen) 2012, p. 49.
  12. Martin Noth: The system of the twelve tribes of Israel. Stuttgart 1930, reprint Darmstadt 1978, ISBN 3-534-03396-5 .
  13. ^ Christian Sigrist: Regulated anarchy. Investigations into the absence and development of political domination in segmental societies in Africa Freiburg i. Br. 1967. 4., ext. Edition. Lit, Münster 2005, ISBN 3-8258-3513-8 .
  14. ^ Israel Finkelstein , Neil A. Silberman : No Trumpets Before Jericho. The Archaeological Truth About the Bible. dtv Munich 2004.
  15. Albert Hourani: The History of the Arab Peoples. From the beginnings of Islam to the Middle East conflict of our day, Frankfurt 2006, ISBN 3-596-15085-X , p. 115 ff.
  16. ^ Gudrun Krämer: History of Palestine . 5th edition. CH Beck, 2006, ISBN 3-406-47601-5 , pp. 172 ff .
  17. a b Heinz Halm: How the Middle East became a crisis region: Hans Bräker's balance sheet of western Middle East policy - explosive trouble spot. In: Die Zeit Archive. September 18, 1992, accessed December 2, 2012 .
  18. Peer Sumk: Colonial times: The Syrian dream. In: The time. August 16, 2012, accessed December 2, 2012 .
  19. See Ali Shneiwer: Palestine and the Palestinians: The long way to the state. Lit, Münster, 2001, p. 53.
  20. See Meir Hatina: Islam and Salvation in Palestine. The Islamic Jihad Movement. The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African studies, Tel Aviv, 2001, p. 20.
  21. Charter of the PLO (PDF; 51 kB) Charter of the PLO from the representation in Bonn
  22. Taken from: Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (Imam and head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat; ed.): THE HOLY QUR-ÂN. Eighth, revised edition. Verlag Der Islam, Frankfurt 2012, ISBN 978-3-921458-00-6 . (Arabic and German)