WORLD> Background
Basic facts about Palestinian-Israeli issue
Updated: 2008-12-29 11:35

Palestine is located on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, west of Jordan and to the south of Lebanon.

In the late 19th century, Jews began to immigrate into Palestine in large numbers.

During World War I, Palestine, which was then under British mandate, was divided into two parts separated by the River Jordan.

The eastern part was called Trans-Jordan, which is present-day Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and the western part retained the name of Palestine (now Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip).

In November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 181 calling for the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, and the internationalization of Jerusalem. The resolution met strong opposition from the Arab world.

On May 14, 1948, the Jewish state of Israel was founded. However, the creation of a Palestinian state failed to come true.

After the establishment of the Jewish state, Arab nations fought five wars with it. Israel occupied vast Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem. Millions of Palestinian Arabs were driven out of their homeland and became refugees.

After that, Israel carried out an immigration policy of resettling Jews on the occupied territories, and started to build Jewish settlements there in a bid to change the structure of the population to pave the way for the establishment of a "Greater Israel."

In the struggle for the restoration of Palestinians' national rights and realization of their dream of returning to their homeland, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded in May 1964, with the goal of eliminating Zionism on Palestinian territories. Since then, the Palestinians have waged armed struggles against Israel.

After years of bloody conflicts, both the Palestinians and Israelis have come to realize that neither side could ever succeed in getting rid of the other by means of war. So under international mediation, the two sides have begun their long quest for a political settlement.

In October 1991, the Mideast Peace Conference was held in Madrid, Spain, and Arabs began tough peace talks with Israel. In September 1993, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin exchanged an historic handshake at the U.S. White House, sealing the Oslo Accords which envisage limited Palestinian self-rule in the Israel-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Self-rule went into effect first in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank city of Jericho in May 1994.

After Israel pulled its troops out of seven major cities in the West Bank in 1995, Palestinian self-rule was extended to more than90 percent of the West Bank.

In August 2005, Israel began to implement its unilateral pullout from Gaza, putting a lasting end to its occupation of the area.

The talks on Palestine's final status have been stalled since they broke off at the Camp David peace summit in July 2000 due to incessant conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis and their deep differences on such thorny issues as the status of Jerusalem, the Jewish settlements, the return of Palestinian refugees, and the demarcation of the boundary between the Palestinian state and Israel.