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This article treats the topic of Palestine under the following headings: (1) The Name, (2) Physical Geography,(3) Political Geography, (4) Natural History, (5) Archeology, (6) Pre-Israelite Ethnology, and (7) Holy Places.

1. The Name

The term Palestine is derived from the philistines who invaded and settled the central and southern coastal area of the Holy Land about the same time that the Israelites

were invading the central highlands from the eastern and southern deserts (c. 1200 b.c.). In early Christian terminology Palestine included the territory that extended from the foothills of the Lebanon Mountains in the north to the edge of the desert, the Negeb, in the south, and from the Mediterranean Sea eastward to the Transjordan Plateau, a usage derived from the Roman designation Syria Palaestina for this area, the southern section of the Roman province of Syria. This usage prevails today.

Biblical Names for Palestine. The writers of the pentateuch called this territory canaan and its inhabitants Canaanites (Gn 12.5; Ex 15.15). The Hebrews, after their gradual conquest of it during the 12th and 11th centuries b.c., called it the land of Israel, the name that they used to refer to their confederation of 12 tribes descended from the patriarch Israel (Jacob). They considered it to be the land promised them by God as part of His covenant blessing (Heb 11.9; Gn 12.67; Ex 12.25). After the Exile, Zechariah termed it the Holy Land, the land of Yahweh's holy people, ruled by Him as their King (Zec2.16; 2 Mc 1.7; Ex 19.58). In Hellenistic and Roman times it was known as Judea from judah, the tribe that dwelt in the hill country from jerusalem south to Beersheba. To this greatly reduced territory the Jewish exiles

returned from Babylon and there established an ethnarchy that became the Hasmonaean Kingdom.

More generally, localities that were frequently mentioned or that played an important part in the Bible have been given the name Lands of the Bible. These extended much beyond the confines of Israel at the time of its greatest expansion in the reigns of David and Solomon (10th century b.c.). The OT Bible Lands included what is known today as the Fertile Crescent going from ur, an ancient city of Sumer, near the Persian Gulf, through the fertile lands of Mesopotamia, North Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine, to the lands made fruitful by the Nile River. They also included, in late books of the OT, Persia, Asia Minor, Greece and its islands, and Rome. In the NT the geographical outlook spread with the carrying of the gospel "to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1.8) and became centered more to the west, on Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy, mainly because of the Pauline literature and the Acts. This general area is of interest to all serious Biblical students, but this article restricts itself to the much smaller territory known as Palestine.

The Area of Modern Palestine. Palestine lies between the Arabian Desert and the Great Sea, the Mediterranean, as east and west boundaries; its north and south limits are the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon massif and the southern desert, approximately from the 33rd to the 29th degree north latitude (roughly the latitude of Alabama). This north to south expanse corresponds generally to that of the Biblical description, from Dan to Beer-sheba (Jgs 20.1; 1 Sm 3.20), a distance of about 145 air miles. The greatest extent from east to west is close to 100 miles in the southern area when one includes the Transjordan region. The territory's total area therefore is only about 10,000 square miles, 4,000 of them east of the Jordan. Palestine is smaller than Belgium, hardly larger than Sicily, and approximately the same size as Vermont.

2. Physical Geography

Palestine's position on a land bridge between the ancient civilizations of the Tigris-Euphrates and Nile Valleys gave it a special importance as a highway for caravans and rival armies. It also was the only easy land passage from Egypt to the Phoenician coast and on to Asia Minor; the Transjordan route to the Red Sea and southern Arabia ran along its eastern boundary. By its physical surroundings, therefore, it was one of the main crossroads of the Near East. Israel's economic, political, and cultural life was always greatly influenced by this fact.

Topography of Palestine. Three of the four main regions of Palestine are mentioned in Nm 13.29: the highlands, the seacoast, and the Jordan Valley. Add to these the Transjordan Plateau, and one obtains four zones, running north and south, parallel to the sea, which may be considered separately in their physical and topographical characteristics. Here only three will be described, the coastal plain, the hill country, and Transjordan.

The Coastal Plain. Most of Palestine's littoral is flat and without natural shelter except for the smallest boats. The eastbound currents that run along the north coast of Africa have banked the shores with sand as far north as Mt. Carmel, leaving a straight coastline without natural harbors. In fact, the two seaports that had any importance, Joppa and caesarea, were mainly artificial. North of Palestine the irregular coast of Phoenicia provided many harbors suitable for ancient ships, the most important being Tyre and Sidon whence ships sailed southwest to Egypt and Carthage and northwest to the Aegean and Italy. The best harbor along Palestine's coast was Acco, the Greek Ptolemais (Acts 21.7), and St. Jean d'Acre of the crusaders, a port that remained throughout the biblical period in other than Israelite possession. Acco's function as a port has now passed to Haifa at the foot of Mt. Carmel, southward across the Bay of Acco.

The limestone hills of Upper Galilee reach all the way to the coast a short distance south of Tyre and form a headland separating the Phoenician plain from that of Acco or Asher, thus protecting the southern approach to Tyre. Southward, beyond the Plain of Asher (very fertile, except for the sand dunes along the shore) and the interruption of Mt. Carmel projecting its head into the sea, the narrow plain of Dor (Jos 12.23;1 Mc 15.1114) widens into the marshy, luxuriant plain of Sharon, in biblical times thickly covered with an oak forest (Is 33.9; 35.2) and now famous for its citrus groves. The plain of Sharon extends to the valley of Aijalon, which joins the Brook of Cana to enter the sea a little north of Joppa. The rich plain of Philistia, the ancient land of the Philistines, lies to the south of this main entrance into the hill country of Judea and Ephraim, occupying a section of the coast that is likewise very fertile except for the sand dunes along the shore. The area's fertility was exploited by Palestinian Arabs who cultivated extensive citrus groves there, now the possession of the Israelis. Farther south the annual rainfall diminishes rapidly and the plain gradually becomes desert in the western reaches of the Negeb. The width of the coastal plain varies from five miles at Acco, and two miles around Dor, to the maximum of 20 miles inland from Gaza.

This coastland provided the main route northward from Egypt, "the way of the Philistines' land" (Ex 13.17). It terminated its desert journey across the base of the Sinai triangle at Gaza, where it met the road leading east to Beer-sheba. The next main junction was just outside Askelon, where it crossed the road going inland to Lachish, thence to Jerusalem and jericho. It then passed before the walls of Ashdod at the confluence of three valleys coming down from the east, then on to Jabneel, crossing the road to Jerusalem through the Valley of Sorek. Farther north it met at Beth-Dagon, the main road between Joppa and Lydda that continued eastward to Aijalon, the Beth-Horons, and Ramah. A caravan having business in the western Plain of Sharon, Caesarea, Dor, Acco, and the Phoenician coast would have veered west to Joppa here and then north along the coast, but one whose destination was Damascus or the Plain of Esdraelon with its many important cities would have continued directly north until it came to the western end of the pass of megiddo, whence it would veer northeastward toward the Sea of Galilee, passing many junctions with east-west roads. The coastal plain was therefore a funnel for almost all traffic toward Egypt. The only other route was the more difficult Road to Shur from Beer-sheba southwestward through the Negeb and the Desert of Shur to Lake Timsah, a way that the Israelites would have had to follow whenever enemies occupied the Philistine Plain.

The Hill Country. East of the coastal plain the highland ridge of Judea and Ephraim does not begin immediately, but some foothills of more recent formation interpose a barrier to direct entrance to the hill country. Along this minor ridge important frontier cities were placed, such as Aijalon, Gezer, Lachish, and Debir, guarding the various valleys leading farther inland. This region was called the Shephelah, the foothills of Dt 1.7. To its east and forming another natural barrier lay a narrow

chalkstone valley or moat sometimes referred to as the Moat of Judah. One easily sees why the Israelites and the Philistines were continually vying to control this territory.

The central highlands of Palestine are the backbone of the country, formed by the ridge of Judah and Ephraim that, with only the interruption of the Plain of Esdraelon, runs from the Negeb to join, through Lower and Upper Galilee, the Lebanon ranges. The Lebanons rise 6,000 feet above the sea level, while in the Anti-Lebanon range Mt. Hermon towers at 9,232 feet. Palestine's highest peak is Mt. Jarmak in Upper Galilee at almost 4,000 feet. Compared to these heights Mt. Tabor, five miles east of nazareth in Lower Galilee, is not much more than a prominent hill rising out of the Esdraelon Plain to less than 2,000 feet.

Upper Galilee is a lofty plateau, rugged and wild, forming the foothills of the Lebanons, with Safad as its principal modern town. The waters of Merom (Jos 11.5,7) were probably those of the Wadi Meiron east of Safad. The ancient Hyksos and Canaanite city of Hazor (Jos 11.10; 1 Kgs 9.15) and its plain lie on the eastern slope of the central ridge, a short distance southwest of Lake Huleh.

Lower Galilee is a series of transverse, east-to-west ridges alternating with enclosed valleys and picturesque wooded defiles. This was the more populated and cultivated part of northern Palestine, the "District of the Gentiles" and "the seaward road," i.e., the main trunk route past the Sea of Galilee and Hazor to Damascus (Is 8.23;

see also Mt 4.15). Bethsaida, the home town of the Apostles Peter, Andrew, and Philip, at the northern end of the Sea of Galilee, capernaum, the headquarters of Jesus during the first part of His public ministry (Mt 4.13), and Tiberias, built in honor of the Roman Emperor Tiberius by herod antipas during the life of Jesus, were really in the Jordan Valley but can be considered as Galilean cities. Sepphoris was the capital of Herod's tetrarchy of Galilee (Lk 3.1) before he built Tiberias. Some other important cities of Galilee were Arbela (1 Mc 9.2), cana (Jn 2.1), Endor (1 Sm 28.78), Nain (Lk 7.1117), and Shunem (2 Kgs 4.8). Gabaath-Hammore (Jgs 7.1), an ancient volcano a few miles south of Tabor, is responsible for the fertility of the surrounding valleys and was called at one time "Little Hermon." nazareth is a pleasant spot nestling on the side of a steep hill a few miles south of Sepphoris. The Horns of Hattin, a pass along the main trunk route as it descended to the Sea of Galilee, was a strategic spot and the site of many battles, including sal adin's victory over the crusaders in 1187.

The plains of Megiddo and Jezreel form an important break in the central highlands and an easy passage from the Mediterranean to the Jordan Valley. The water parting near Jezreel marks the division between the two valleys. The Plain of Megiddo, "the great plain" (1 Mc 12.49), and the coastal Plain of Acco are drained to the west by the Kishon River, which in the rainy season becomes a torrent (Jgs 5.21). In the Hellenistic period the Plain of Megiddo was called the Plain of Esdraelon, from the Greek name for Jezreel, a town guarding its eastern boundary. From Jezreel a more narrow plain drops off quickly eastward to below sea level and merges into the plain of Beth-shan, part of the Jordan Valley. These plains formed a zone of great agricultural wealth and strategic importance, as is clear from the many fortified cities guarding their gates, from west to east, Jokneam, Megiddo, Taanach, Ibleam, Jezreel, and Beth-Shan. Megiddo, already occupied in the 4th millennium b.c., was where King Josiah was killed in battle while trying to stop the northward march of the Egyptian army under Neco (2 Kgs 23.29). Since so many battles were fought at this pass, it became in Revelation (16.1416), under the form Armageddon, the scene of the last great battle between the forces of good and evil. Beth-Shan (1 Sm 31.10) was known in the Hellenistic period as Scythopolis (2 Mc 12.2930), a city of the decapolis. Mt. Gilboa, just west of Beth-Shan and the site of Saul's death (2 Sm 1.21), forms the northeast end of the mountain ridge of Ephraim.

The highlands of Ephraim or Samaria, rising to the maximum height of 3,332 feet at Baal-Hazor just northeast of Bethel (2 Sm 13.23), have several fertile valleys and small plains, those of Dothan, shechem, and Lebona. The Judean section of the range is more uniformly hill country and less fertile, although adequate for olive groves and vineyards. No well-defined geographical feature, however, marks the boundary between the regions of Ephraim and Judah.

Ascending from the plain of Esdraelon, the highland road passed the cities of Dothan, Samaria, and Shechem, which controlled the important defile between Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal, the mounts of cursing and blessing (Dt 27.1113). Farther south the road followed the water parting most of the time, passing near Lebona, Shiloh, bethel, Mizpeh, Machmas, Gibeah, Jerusalem, bethlehem, and reaching its highest point just north of Hebron, whence it descended to Beer-sheba. At Hebron another road branched off to the southeast, passing Carmel of Judah, Maon, Arad, and joining the road from Beer-sheba that led to the Araba and the mining and smelting area of Eziongeber.

East of the divide the land falls rapidly to the Jordan Valley, forming an eroded wilderness that is much more desolate in the southern Judean section. From Shechem a road along the Wadi Fara leads gradually down to the Jordan Valley and was possibly the way used by Abraham and his family to ascend to Shechem (Gn 12.6). More arduous canyon roads link Bethel and Jerusalem with Jericho. South of Jerusalem the paths leading down to the Dead Sea along canyon walls were used only by shepherds or fugitives, for they terminated in the wilderness of Judah, useful only for winter grazing and seclusion from the inhabited lands.

The central and southern hill country of Palestine has the aspect of a pocket cut off from the surrounding regions by the narrowness of its transverse valleys and canyons. Although it was close to the main trunk route of the Middle East, it was not astride it, as was the Plain of the Philistines and the Esdraelon Valley. It looked down upon the crossroads of the world and the caravans laden with treasures from Egypt and Mesopotamia, but it was by its physical nature aloof in its heights. Passing armies could ignore it on their way to Egypt or to Syria and Iraq and would slash back at it only when it provoked or hindered them in their main purpose. This physical aloofness has always been an important factor in the hill country's history.

Transjordan. The great plateau east of the Jordan Valley, with its lofty and precipitous bluffs facing toward the west and its gradual merging with the Arabian Desert to the east, is commonly known as the Transjordan. The lowest level on the plateau is 1,500 feet, but to the south in Edom it rises to 5,000 feet. Its principal peaks in the central region range in height from 3,500 to 4,000 feet.

Four important river valleys, the Yarmuk, the Jabbok, the Arnon, and the Zered cut this tableland in a westerly direction and form boundaries of well-known regions. North and east of the Yarmuk lay Bashan and the plain of Hauran. Gilead with its fertile highland valley lay between the Yarmuk and the Arnon, and at the eastern headwaters of the Jabbok the kingdom of Ammon flourished. Sihon's Amorrite kingdom once possessed all of the region from the Arnon to the Jabbok but was conquered by the Israelites and surrendered its territory to the tribes of Gad and Reuben. Moab (see moabites) was originally situated between the Arnon and the Zered (Nm 21.13) but later extended its territory northward to include the eastern bank of the Jordan River just north of the Dead Sea, thus giving its name to this region, the Plains of Moab. South of the Zered lay Edom in the highest part of the Transjordan. Farther south the Midianites, a seminomadic people, dwelt along the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba.

The King's Highway (Nm 20.17) was the main route running north and south along this plateau from Damascus to Aqaba. In Roman times it was Trajan's Road, and under Turkish rule, the Sultan's Highway. By it the Damascus market had access to the exotic products of South Arabia. Some of the most important towns along the route were Theman, Sela, and Bozrah in Edom; Kirhareseth (the capital), Aroer, and Dibon in Moab; Madeba and Heshebon in land constantly contested between Moabites and Israelites; Rabbah, the capital of Ammon, conquered by Joab and David (Philadelphia, now Amman, the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan); Gerasa, a city of Gilead, captured by Alexander Jannaeus, one of the hasmonaeans, in 83 b.c.; Ramoth in Gilead, Arbela; and finally, in Bashan, Ashtaroth and Karnaim (Gn 14.5; Am 6.13).

The fertile region of Transjordan was much wider in the north (in Bashan and Hauran) than in the south. Gilead was also very fertile, producing oil, wine, and grain, the staples of the Near East, and was famous for its timber.

Hydrography of Palestine. In Dt 8.7 Palestine is described as a land highly favored by water courses and springs, and other texts mention numerous wells. A land's water resources depend on its climate, especially its rainfall, and on its geological nature.

Climate. In no such small area of the world are there such differences in rainfall and climate as are found in Palestine. This is due to a complex of causes: its situation between the southeastern angle of the Mediterranean and the vast Arabian Desert, its hill country immediately falling off to the world's lowest and hottest valley, and its high plateau in the Transjordan. Whatever the causes, the effects are startling.

The climate's main feature is its two seasons: the long, completely dry summer, and the comparatively short rainy season when cyclonic storms come blowing off the sea. The rainy season has a quite variable beginning and ending, the early and late rains of the Bible (Dt 11.14) both of great importance. The early rains are necessary for plowing and planting, the late rains for bringing the grain to full ear. The early rains should begin in late October, and when they are delayed until late November or even early January the crops suffer from a tardy germination. The heaviest rains arrive in January, February, and early March, not the steady, soaking rain of more northern regions, but heavy showers, continuous on the first day of the storm, followed by intermittent showers for two or three days. Once the storm has passed, the atmosphere becomes extremely clear, and one may look from Jerusalem and see to the east every crag of the mountains of Moab more than 30 miles away. This is the time for collecting as much water as possible in pools and cisterns for the long dry season ahead. The late rains, ripening the harvest, occur in late March and early April, but when they come much later and are violent hail storms, the crops and the frail blossoms on the fruit trees may suffer irreparable damage.

May and early June on the one hand and late September and October on the other are transitional periods during which the dry, scorching desert wind, the sirocco, may descend on Palestine without warning and with dire results for all living things. The heat and dryness are oppressive; verdure quickly withers; the air becomes opaque with fine sand that magnifies the sun's heat; and man and beast grow irritable. Fortunately, the sirocco usually last for no more than two or three daysin autumn, blown away by the rain-burdened westerly winds, and in June, by the summer westerlies that become a constant feature of every day when the land heat of late morning grows intense enough to draw them from the sea.

From mid-June to mid-September the weather pattern remains the same, the heat of the late morning gives way to the cooling sea breeze of the afternoon, which gradually moves inland, reaching the edge of Transjordan by about 4 p.m. Along the coast the humidity is higher; the breeze, less refreshing; and the discomfort of the day, prolonged into the night. In the hill country the nights are cool and the shade during the day is always refreshing compared to the coast's humid shade. In the Jordan Rift even the sea air rushing down its steep slopes is so heated that it becomes only an afternoon annoyance. The wind's effect on the eastern plateau is refreshing, but it arrives too late to lower the day's heat very much.

The amount of rainfall diminishes greatly from north to south, from west to east, and from higher to lower altitudes. The annual rainfall of Jerusalem is almost 24 inches, while only five miles to the east it decreases rapidly; and in Jericho, 17 miles away, it measures only about five inches. At Beer-sheba, 50 miles south of Jerusalem, the annual rainfall measures only eight to nine inches, but at the same altitude and distance to the north it measures more than 20. In the highlands of Upper Galilee it reaches more than 35 inches; on the summit of Mt. Hermon, the source of the Jordan River's water, the annual precipitation is more than 60 inches. The coastal region, because of its low altitude, receives less rain than the hills; thus Transjordan, higher than the central ridge, sometimes receives more rainfall than Jerusalem, although it is much farther from the sea. One must remember that Palestine's annual rainfall is crowded into a five-month period, a fact that is important in understanding its reliance on springs, wells, and cisterns, and the formation of its wadis or torrent canyons.

Springs and Wells. The absorbent limestone structure of Palestine's rock bed provides storage for the heavy winter rains. The sources of the subterranean water occur sporadically throughout most of the land and afford places for human habitation. The main towns usually were built near an important spring or well, and intricate subterranean passages were devised to bring the well's water within the city walls so that in times of siege a supply would always be available. Such a tunnel to the fountain of Gihon in Jerusalem was repaired and extended by Hezekiah in preparation for the onslaught of the Assyrians (2 Kgs 20.20). Similar constructions have been found at Megiddo, Lachish, Gibeon, etc. The spring at Jericho is one of the main reasons why this is the site of the oldest-known town in the world.

Where well water was insufficient, or simply to supply a greater abundance of water, cisterns were built to store the winter rains. Samaria, built by Israel's King Omri, had no natural spring and depended solely on its vast cisterns.

Rivers and Wadis. The only copious perennial watercourse in Palestine that merits comparison with even a minor American river is the Jordan. The few perennial rivers are rushing torrents during the rainy season, quickly draining the highlands and causing marshes in the lowlying plains, but, as summer advances, they become quiet rivulets whose courses may be discovered only by the vegetation along their narrow banks. Most of the watercourses, however, flow only during the rainy season, becoming dry beds or washes soon after its end.

The wadis of Palestine have scarred the domelike hill country with deep canyons, especially on the eastern and western slopes of the Jordan rift. One of the most impressive wadis is the canyon of the River Arnon, which rivals the rugged beauty of the canyons of the southwestern U.S. Though they are beautiful, these torrents have been the main source of erosion of the hill country. They also are impediments to travelers and the cause of many a tortuous road.

Bibliography: f. m. abel, Géographie de la Palestine, 2 v. (Paris 193338). l. h. grollenberg, Atlas of the Bible, tr. j. m. reid and h. h. rowley (New York 1956). m. du buit, Géographie de la Terre Sainte (Paris 1958). Oxford Bible Atlas, ed. h. g. may et al. (New York 1962). d. baly, The Geography of the Bible (New York 1957); Geographical Companion to the Bible (New York 1963).

[e. lussier]

3. Political Geography

"This is a list of the kings whom Joshua and the Israelites conquered west of the Jordan thirty-one kings in all" (Jos 12.724). A statement such as this gives a good indication of conditions in Palestine prior to the Israelite invasion. It was a land divided, a country of mixed population and independent city-states. (For the pre-Israelite ethnology of the country, see section 6 below.) However, this feature is characteristic of Palestine throughout its long history. Rarely was there ever one single united country, and when, on occasion, such a union was achieved, it was of relatively short duration.

Period of Joshua and the Judges. A picture of the division of the land among the twelve tribes of Israel is given in Joshua ch. 1321. (see joshua, book of). Despite the apparent details that are presented, it is, nevertheless, difficult to determine the precise boundaries of each of the tribal allotments. East of the Jordan, half of the tribe of Manasseh (specifically, the clan of Machir) occupied the districts of Bashan and part of Gilead (Jos 13.814); Gad, the rest of Gilead between the Jabbok and Heshbon (13.2428); and Reuben, the land between Heshbon and the Arnon (13.1523). West of the Jordan, judah received the greatest portionfrom the Valley of Hinnom (see gehenna) at Jerusalem to Kadesh-Barnea) and the Wadi of Egypt in the Negeb (15.163). Part of this territory was alloted to Simeoncities in the general vicinity of Beer-sheba (19.19). North of Judah were the smaller possessions of benjamin (18.1128) and Dan (19.4048). Central Palestine was occupied by ephraim (16.410) and the other half of Manasseh (17.113). In the district of Galilee, Naphtali (19.3239) was in the north, Zebulun (19.1016) and Issachar (19.1723) in the south, and Asher (19.2431) along the coast.

The division of the land is presented as the outcome of the Israelite conquest under the leadership of joshua, son of Nun. But the Book of judges gives a different story (Jgs 1.136). The two accounts seem to be but two aspects of a much more complicated history. Probably some of the tribes had been there since the time of Jacob and were already in possession of land. In the course of time these tribes made attempts to increase their territorial possessions. With the coming of Joshua and the tribes under his command, the conquest reached its full proportions. The complete picture, therefore, would be one of occupation and settlement in different stages over a long period of time culminating in the invasion led by Joshua. The land thus became the possession of tribes who were related by common ancestry and eventually united by the bond of a religious covenant with yahweh, the God of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God who had brought deliverance to those Israelites who had been enslaved in Egypt. But this bond was a very loose one, and there was little lasting unity. It was only when a common danger, the extension of philistine power, threatened all the tribes that unity was achieved by the establishment of the monarchy (1 Sm 4.210.27). But even this would turn out to be of relatively short duration.

Period of the Monarchy. With the establishment of the monarchy the tribes in fact gained control of the land to which they had laid claim. Israel's first king, Saul, began the offensive and began well, but in the end was far from successful (1 Sm 11.115.9; 31.16).

It was up to david to lead a united Israel to victory. This warrior king began by reducing the Philistines to subjection, so that they were never again troublesome to Israel (2 Sm 5.1725; 8.1). He continued the conquest by subduing the Canaanite city-states of the land and taking Jerusalem, making it the political and religious capital of the kingdom (5.610). His dominion eventually included the aramaeans in the north and the Ammonites, moabites, and edomites in the east and southeast (8.214;10.619; 12.2631). Thus the kingdom reached its greatest limits, the extent of which was never again to be seen by any subsequent king of Israel. From the frontier of Hamath in the north to the Gulf of Aqabah in the south, from the Mediterranean Sea to the desertall the land was subject to Jerusalem.

This was the inheritance of solomon, a kingdom of peace and prosperity. His task was to keep it intact. It was, indeed, the golden age. However, while the royal court grew in size and splendor, the condition of the people grew worse. To maintain his court Solomon divided the country into 12 administrative districts (1 Kgs4.719), the boundaries of which ignored the old tribal divisions. Moreover, in all of this, Judah seemed to have enjoyed a privileged position. The result was a widespread dissatisfaction that eventually, after the death of the king, brought about the dissolution of the empire and the division of the kingdom.

Two independent kingdoms emerged: Israel in the north and Judah in the south, with the border between the two of them in the tribal territory of Benjamin. During their joint existence they were sometimes hostile, sometimes friendly, and at times even allied in a common cause. But whatever the internal problems, the greatest dangers were from without.

Israel remained in existence a little more than 200 years before the power of Assyria brought about its destruction. An initial Assyrian conquest (734732 b.c.) resulted only in a reduction of territory to central Palestine; the districts of Dor, Megiddo and Gilead became provinces of Assyria (2 Kgs 15.29). However, ten years later (722 b.c.) Samaria was invested and annexed to the Assyrian kingdom as a province, and Israel ceased to exist.

Judah alone remained, by choice, a vassal of Assyria. With the rise of Babylonian power, the might of Assyria was crushed, and the end of the southern kingdom was near. The first Babylonian capture of Jerusalem (597 b.c.) was accompanied by deportations (2 Kgs 24.1016), but the kingdom was permitted to survive. A second onslaught (587 b.c.), however, ended it; and a governor was put in charge of the territory (2 Kgs 25.122).

From the Exilic to the Roman Period. Little is known about events during the exilic period. In the 6th century the Nabataeans occupied the land of Edom, forcing the Edomites to move into the Negeb, subsequently known as Idumea. From there they caused trouble for the people remaining in the land of Judah and left bitter memories of these years. In Babylon the exiles cherished the hope of returning, a hope that was fulfilled with the rise of Persian power.

The Persian conquest freed the exiles and permitted them to return to their own land (538 b.c.; Ezr 1.14). It also saw the organization of the empire into satrapies. Palestine was in the fifth satrapy, called Abar Nahara (Beyond the River, i.e., west of the Euphrates). It was composed of various provinces, each under the jurisdiction of a local governor. The province of Judah was called Yehud, and its people Yehudim (Jews). The other provinces of Palestine were: Idumea, to the south of Judah; Samaria, Galilee, Dor, and Ashdod, to the north and along the coast; Gilead, Ammon, and Moab in Transjordan.

The conquest by Alexander the Great (333 b.c.) brought Palestine under his dominion. But after his death, it changed hands five times during the struggle of the Diadochi (323301 b.c.). Eventually the kingdom of the Ptolemies in Egypt and that of the Seleucid dynasty comprising Asia Minor, Syria, and Babylonia were established. Palestine at first fell to the Ptolemies, but in fact it remained a bone of contention and the cause of conflicts for a century (301198 b.c.). In the end it fell to the Seleucids.

Seleucid policy of Hellenization caused the Maccabean uprising (166135 b.c.), resulting in independence for Palestine [see maccabees, history of the]. A kingdom came into existence, ruled by the descendants of the Maccabees, the hasmonaeans. The extent of this kingdom reached proportions almost as great as that of the time of David; it included Idumea, Judah, Samaria, Galilee, and Transjordan. But internal affairs brought its downfall, and in 63 b.c., Pompey, who had already annexed Syria as a Roman province, intervened and annexed most of Palestine in the same way, Judah, Galilee, Perea, and Idumea alone remaining semi-independent vassal states.

For a brief period Palestine was reunited under herod the great (404 b.c.). At his death it was divided among his sons. Archelaus received Judea, Samaria, and Idumea; herod antipas, Galilee and Perea; and Philip the Tetrarch, the northern districts of Transjordan. In a.d. 6 the territory of Archelaus was added to the imperial province of Syria and a procurator was put in charge; in a.d. 34 the same fate befell the territory of Philip. In a.d. 37 Herod agrippa i was given the territory of Philip. To this was added the territory of Herod Antipas in a.d. 40, and shortly thereafter, Judea, Samaria, and Idumea initiating another short period of unity until a.d. 44, when Palestine once more became a Roman province under a procurator. Northern Transjordan and parts of Galilee and Perea formed the kingdom of Herod agrippa ii. But after the turbulent uprising of a.d. 70, which saw the destruction of Jerusalem, all of Palestine passed under Roman rule, to remain so for more than half a millennium. During this time Palestine enjoyed a period of relative peace and prosperity, undisturbed by outside aggression. Internally the revolt of bar kokhba (132135) caused some disturbance, but it was quickly suppressed by the Romans with widespread destruction. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a Roman provincial city by the emperor Hadrian, who called it Aelia Capitolina. Then in 313 constantine i, the Great, having embraced Christianity, proclaimed its liberty, and his mother, helena, converted it into a Christian city and restored its name.

From the Byzantine Period to Modern Times. With the division of the Roman Empire into West (Rome) and East (Constantinople) toward the end of the 4th century, the welfare of Palestine was bound to Byzantine rule. It was a time for pilgrimages, and the years that followed were tranquil.

This period of internal development was shattered in 611 when the Persians under Chosroes swept through Palestine, wrought havoc, and established themselves there for about 15 years. Byzantine rule came to a definitive end with the coming of the followers of Muammad in 636. By 640 the Arab conquest was complete. Palestine was divided into two provinces: Al-Urdunn in the north and Filistin in the south. It was ruled successively by the umayyad, abbĀsid, and Fatimid Caliphs.

The devastation caused in the Holy Land by the seljuk Turks in 1071 was followed by the turbulent era of the crusades beginning in 1099. Under crusader rule, Palestine became the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the country was divided into various baronies. The crusaders were followed by the Mamelukes of Egypt in 1250. Then, in 1517, the conquest of Palestine by the ottomanturks brought it under Turkish rule until the 20th century.

The beginning of the 20th century saw the growth of Arab nationalism, the rise of Zionism, and World War I. When the allied troops led by General Allenby entered Palestine in 1917, Turkish rule came to an end, and Palestine was under British mandate until 1948. It was indeed the modern period, but the events were only a repetition of past history. It was a time of warfare and territorial division, hardly a new occurrence for the land of Palestine.

Bibliography: h. haag, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765) 7:136263. g. e. wright and f. v. filson, eds., The Westminster Historical Atlas to the Bible (rev. ed., Philadelphia 1956). j. bright, A History of Israel (Philadelphia 1959), good bibliog. j. w. parkes, A History of Palestine from 135 A.D. to Modern Times (New York 1949), excellent bibliog. s. runciman, A History of the Crusades, 3 v. (Cambridge, England 195154), excellent bibliog.

[f. seper]

4. Natural History

The study of the natural history of Palestine is limited here to botany and zoology of the Holy Land, therefore, to a description and classification of its flora (or plant life) and its fauna (or animal life).


After a description of the plant life of the Holy Land in the biblical period, an account is given of the flora of modern Palestine according to its phytogeographic areas.

Plant Life in the Biblical Period. It is accepted by most modern scholars that no radical change has occurred in the climate of the Holy Land since the beginnings of recorded history. This conclusion is based upon evidence from many sources. In the literary realm, the descriptions of the land found in the Bible, the mishnah, and the talmud show that the seasons and agricultural variations were identical then with those of the present day.

Forests. Contrary to the commonly accepted theory, studies have shown that the forest was not an important factor in the biblical landscape. Even before the conquest by joshua, son of Nun, the land was settled in noticeable density, and the major portion of the regions suitable for agriculture was seeded or planted and cultivated intensively. These conditions precluded the existence of forests. In the rocky mountainous regions there were, indeed, woods, but these were not protected from man or beast. In the Biblical and Talmudic descriptions of the land there is very little mention of forests. Individual trees that served cultic purposes or had been associated with important events are noted. Yet, since the Bible mentions the existence of wild animals, it can be deduced that the land of Israel was forested to some extent. These animals inhabited the deserts, the Jordan Valley, and the forests of Bashan and Mt. Hermon, and from these regions they came out to the settlements. Widespread forests existed principally in Bashan and in Lebanon, and these regions supplied lumber for palaces, temples, and other large buildings. Extensive woods called the Forest of Ephraim existed in Gilead, where the war between David and Absalom took place (2 Sm 18.8). Perhaps this was the forest referred to by Joshua when he advised the landless sons of Joseph to clear the forest and settle there (Jos 17.15). The accepted interpretation, however, is that the reference is to the forest on the mountains of Ephraim in Samaria.

The development of a forest in a region of sufficient rainfall usually follows the destruction of agriculture there. This idea is expressed several times in the Scriptures (e.g., Hos 2.14; Mi 3.12; Jer 26.18), and actually, during all the periods of settlement on the land, there was continual struggle between the sown and cultivated tracts on the one hand and the forest and wasteland on the other. During periods of war and postwar destruction the cultivated areas were deserted, and wild grasses, bushes, and trees thrived; but in peacetime these areas were reclaimed by agricultural settlement.

Grazing Lands. Following Joshua's conquest of Canaan and during the period of the early Judges, the cultivation of the terraced hills was destroyed, and in its place the wild flora flourished, as the Bible had warned (Dt7.22; see also Is 17.9), and as a result of the destruction of agriculture, the grazing lands were extended (see also Is 7.28). This process recurred repeatedly during the various periods of peace and war in biblical times. The major wealth of the Holy Lands consisted of fruits and grains. Although it was described as a "land of milk and honey," one cannot assume from this that the pasture land ("milk") exceeded in extent the land used for cultivation. From the Scriptures it is evident that, while extensive pasture lands existed on the east side of the Jordan and in Bashan, on the west side of the Jordan livestockraising existed only on a small scale, and the herds were fed mostly from the stubble of the grain fields.

Dependence on Rainfall. The agriculture of the Holy Land depended on natural rainfall; this fact is emphasized in the Bible by comparing the land of Israel (at the south of Mt. Hermon), of the Yarkon (at Aphek, which "drinks in rain from the heavens,") with Egypt, which is completely dependent on irrigation (Dt 11.1012). In this connection came the warning regarding the withholding of rain as a consequence of sin (Dt 11.17). Years of famine caused by lack of rain are often noted in the Bible. One verse describes Israel as a "land of streams of water, with springs and fountains welling up in the hills and valleys" (Dt 8.7). From this some might conclude that there have been changes in the land since those days, but there is no basis for such a conclusion. There are still many springs there (about 800 of them having been counted), but most of them have a very limited flow. Only the sources of the Dan Rās el-Ain, and of the Naaman (at Ayūn el-Bas: seven miles southeast of Acco) supply in normal years more than a cubic meter of water a second. Some 40 others supply between 100 to 1,000 liters per second (the majority of them being in the Huleh and in the Beisan Valley); all the others are minor. The author of the Letter of aristeas exaggerates in evaluating the Jordan as the most important factor in the agriculture of the Land of Israel. Flavius Josephus heaps praise on the irrigation of Jericho (Bell.Jud. 4.8.3) and the Plain of Genasar (ibid. 3.10.6), but he is correct in his conclusion that the most fertile part of the land of Israel is the "land of thirst [for rain] according to its nature" (ibid. 3.3.4). Indeed, farming that depends on rainfall has to a large extent determined the landscape of Israel.

The cultivated areas in ancient times were not different from those of today. The deserts described in the Bible include in their boundaries the areas of desert and wasteland of the present day. The Negeb was a grazing land, though in rainy years its northern parts could be seeded (Gn 26.12). Here and there in the Bible is mentioned the growth of certain wild trees in specific localities: sycamore trees in the foothills (1 Kgs 10.27); willows along the brooks (Is 44.4); tamarisks in the desert (Jer 17.6); wild jujubes in swampy jungles (Jb 40.21); etc. Of forest trees, mention is made especially of the oak, the terebinth, and the storax. The conifers grew especially in Bashan and Lebanon; cedar, juniper, pine, and cypress are mentioned in Isaiah as species that will bloom in the desert and wasteland in the time to come (Is 41.19;60.13).

The praise of Israel in Dt 8.8 refers to its seven basic farm products: it is a "land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, of olive oil and of honey." Three groups are included: of the grains are wheat and barley, of the fruits are grapes, figs, and pomegranates, and of important produce from trees are oil from olives and honey (i.e., syrup) from dates.

Plants of the Bible. The Bible mentions about 100 names of plants, most of which grew in Israel, and it is relatively easy to identify almost all of them by studying the descriptions of them as given in the Scriptures, the Mishnah, and the Talmud, as well as by philology, etymology, and a comparison with the flora of modern Palestine. There are names of flora in the Bible that identify whole groups, šāmîr w ešayit (thorn bushes of all kinds: Is 5.6; 9.17) and qôw edardar (thistles of all kinds: Gn3.18; Hos 10.8). The Bible mentions mainly plants that either have economic importance or that suitably illustrate a parable. Doubtless there were other important plants and trees that the Bible had no occasion to mention, such as the carob, which is referred to only in Lk 15.16.

Flora of Modern Israel according to Phytogeographic Areas. Israel is very rich in plant species, their number reaching to more than 2,000. The abundance of species is due to several causes: the variegated history of the flora, dating back to early geologic periods, the variation in topography, and, above all, the fact that the country provides a meeting ground for three vegetation beltsthe Mediterranean, the Irano-Turanic, and the Saharo-Sindic.

Mediterranean Vegetation. Included are areas on both sides of the Jordan, where the amount of rainfall is more than 350 millimeters (13.8 inches), which makes cultivation of the land possible either summer or winter. In this zone the flora of the mountain areas differs from that of the seashore.

The mountain area was the most important for ancient agriculture. Cultivation of the land pushed back the forests that had abounded there in prehistoric times. At present there still remain forests and groves containing such trees as the Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis ) and its oft-associated species, the common oak (Quercus calliprinos ), and the Palestine terebinth (Pistacia palaestina ), several other species of trees, as well as many bushes and shrubs. This type of forest is still widespread in Gilead, and its traces remain in Upper Galilee, the Carmel Range, Samaria, and Judah. Such forests develop well on soil developed from Cenomanian and Eocene limestone.

Another type of Mediterranean forest is that of the Thabor oak (Quercus ithaburensis ), with which is associated the Atlantic terebinth (Pistacia atlantica ). This type is found in the western part of Lower Galilee, in Golan, and in the Huleh Valley. Such a forest was formerly in Sharon, but it was destroyed to make way for agriculture and pasture land.

Most of the groves in the land consist of the common oak (Quercus calliprinos ) and the Palestine terebinth (Pistacia palaestina ). As a result of the cutting of timber and the gnawing of goats, the trees are in the form of bushes. Such woods are spread on the mountains at an altitude of 1,000 to 4,000 feet.

On the foothills at the west range of the mountains of Galilee and on Mt. Carmel are spread the carob (Ceratonia siliqua ) and the mastic (Pistacia lentiscus ). Occasionally this type of flora is found on the sandy limestone hills near Caesarea and on the sands near Netanya. All these types of flora are accompanied by many types of bushes, perennial and annual. Another type of flora is that of the so-called garigue, scrubland with bushes not above the height of a man. Here the Calycotome thorn bush and various species of rockroses (Cistus ) and salvia predominate.

On the unforested Mediterranean shore is found a distinctive group of low plants, wooded or grassy. Very prevalent is the Poterium thorn bush (Poterium spinosum ), which is important in the prevention of soil erosion on the slopes of the hills. In the places where this flora has been destroyed, the land has been swept away by the winds and the rain.

Along the Mediterranean shore are sandy soil, mixtures of sandy clay and sandy chalk. Such soils are not favorable to plant development because of their poor organic composition and meager ability to hold rain water. Here grow deep-rooted plants, those of the steppe and the desert that can thrive on a small amount of water, as well as annuals that have a short period of growth. These plants are in constant danger of being covered by shifting dunes or undercut by winds. But there are species here that have developed means of defense against the force of the wind, particularly the Retama broom plant (Retama roetam ) and the Gallic tamarisk (Tamarix gallica ). Here grow species that are not sensitive to the salty spray of the sea or to the saline sand. There are also tropical trees such as the sycamore fig (Ficus sycomorus ) and the wild jujube (Zizyphus spina-Christi ).

Irano-Turanic Vegetation. This is centered in the northern Negeb, the Judean Desert, and the highlands of Transjordan. The climate is dry and the amount of rainfall 200 to 300 millimeters (812 inches), within the limits for stable growth. In this area there are almost no natural woodlands. Its soils are semiarid or loess. One finds sparse groups of trees or bushes; the common type is wormwood (Artemisia herba-alba ).

Saharo-Sindic Vegetation. This type covers the largest territory, but it is poorest in species. It includes the southern Negeb, the Araba, and the desert regions of Edom and Moab. The amount of rainfall is less than 200 millimeters (eight inches) and is usually far below this level. The rains are concentrated in a very short winter. The soil is not fertile. It is comprised mainly of gravel and rocks; trees are found only in the bottom of the wadies, and the plant cover is very sparse, the typical type being the Zygophyllum dumosum bush. In the sandy regions plants are more plentiful, with species of Haloxylon and Retama predominating. In this area there are large salt deposits, especially in the lower Jordan Valley and in the Araba. There are dense growths of saline flora, including species of Atriplex and Salicornia. Near freshwater springs are oases where a tropical flora thrives, of which acacia and wild jujube are typical.

Hydrophilic Vegetation. Throughout the country plants are found that grow alongside bodies of water, swamps, river banks, and springs. Among the trees in this category are the poplar (Populus euphratica ), tamarisk (Tamarix jordanis ), Oriental plane (Platanus orientalis ), and willow. At the side of every body of water are reeds and cattails, and in the Huleh swamps (which have now been drained) the papyrus was formerly common.

Cultivated Plants and Associated Species. In modern times essentially the same crops are being raised as in the ancient era; but in fruits the emphasis has moved away from the sweet fruits that are rich in calories, such as figs and dates, which were highly valued in ancient times, to the juicy fruits, especially the fruit trees of the Rosaceae family, such as the apple, pear, plum, and peach. Hundreds of new species, such as the orange, have been brought in; many of them originated in the New World. Especially numerous are the kinds of ornamental flora that have been brought to the land from countries all over the world.

Hundreds of species of weeds are associated with the cultivated plants. These are more closely connected with the plants that they accompany than to any specific locale. Among them are species established in the country from antiquity, whose seeds are found in archeological excavations along with the seeds of cultivated plants, and others that have been introduced in recent times along with the new plants.


After a brief description of the Palestinian fauna in the prehistoric period, lists of the biblical fauna are given; the changes in the Holy Land from biblical to modern times are then discussed, with an account of the zoogeography of modern Palestine, and finally a few words are said on the domestic animals of ancient Israel.

Palestinian Fauna in the Prehistoric Period. The natural history of Israel reaches far back in time. The most important and dynamic period was the Pleistocene era, when changes appeared in the fauna of the area, especially as a result of invasions from other areas. This fauna was similar to that which is now found on the savannas of East Africa. Bones of the wart hog, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, striped hyena, and many different species of gazelles other than those currently found in Palestine have been discovered. Bones also of elephants and mastodons have been found in the Lower Pleistocene. Later there occurred a migration of animals from India and Central Asia, among which were wild cattle, wild horses, wild asses, gazelles, wolves, and badgers. There was only limited migration of northern animals following the Ice Age in Europe. During the Upper Pleistocene a tropical climate prevailed in Palestine. After this there occurred a period of drought, which brought about the disappearance of the tropical fauna. By the end of the Stone Age, the Holy Land was already the habitat of the fauna that is described in the Bible and has persisted to recent times. This is supporting evidence for the theory that since the Stone Age there have not been radical climatic changes in the country.

Biblical Fauna. About 120 animal names appear in the Bible (not including synonyms). They may be grouped systematically as follows. Mammals (39 names) may be subdivided according to cloven-hoofed and ruminating (13), cloven-hoofed nonruminating (3), singlehoofed (4), carnivora (8), rodents (4), and other orders (7). Birds (38 names) may be divided according to ritually clean fowl (9), birds of prey (diurnal) (5), vulturine birds (4), birds of prey (nocturnal) (11), and birds of other orders (9). Other fauna includes reptiles and similar creatures (13) and insects and other small creatures (20).

From this list it can be seen that mammals, birds, and reptiles are the most adequately represented in the Bible. Of the 75 species of mammals in modern Palestine (including domestic cattle), about half are mentioned. Of the 350 species of birds, 38 are mentioned, and of the 80 species of reptiles, 12 are mentioned in the Bible. It must be stressed that the references to these animals (as also to the flora) are incidental, and they are cited to illustrate laws of ritual cleanliness or are used symbolically or allegorically. The occurrence of so many names demonstrates the highly developed perception of the scriptural writers in their understanding of the phenomena of nature. It is thought possible to identify in a majority of cases the names of the biblical fauna with established species.

Changes in Fauna from Biblical to Modern Times. Although no great changes have transpired in the fauna of the Holy Land since biblical times, the last few generations have witnessed the disappearance from the country and the surrounding regions of some of the animals that are mentioned in the Bible. The depredations have been especially severe in the case of the ruminants and cloven-hoofed, for of the ten mentioned in the Bible, only the gazelle and the Nubian ibex are left today. The wild ox (Bos primigenius ) had already disappeared from the region at a rather early period. The others continued to inhabit the country or region up to the beginning of the 20th century. As previously noted, this does not imply a change in climate or plant cover. The main reason for the disappearance of these animals, whose flesh is eaten, is the improvement of hunting weapons. To the gun must be ascribed, as well, the destruction of the large predators, such as the lion, the bear, the leopard, and the cheetah in the confines of the country. Some think that the existence of these predatory animals in the Holy Land in the time of the Bible is proof that the land was sparsely settled at that time. But these animals inhabited the country in the Roman and Byzantine periods, when the land was, undoubtedly, densely populated. We may infer from the Scriptures that even in biblical times these beasts of prey did not inhabit the cis-Jordanian area; their habitat was the thickets of the Jordan (Jer 49.19), the forests of Bashan (Dt 33.22), and the mountains of Lebanon and Hermon (Sg 4.5). From these places they invaded settled areas, and in times of destruction and famine they would remain there for awhile.

The lion was still found in the Negeb during the Crusades. The Syrian bear ranged down to the northern borders of Palestine until the beginning of the 20th century, and scattered traces of it have recently come to light in the mountains of Lebanon. The leopard still reaches Upper Galilee from Lebanon occasionally. Until only a few decades ago the cheetah (Acinonyx jubata ) still survived in the Negeb, and some of its traces have recently been found at Yotvata in the Araba. Of the big animals that are now completely extinct in the country, the hippopotamus (hippopotamus amphibius )the behemoth of Jb 40.1524may be mentioned. The crocodilecalled the tannîn [the "dragon" of Ps 90 (91).13; Is 27.1; etc.] and the Leviathan (Jb 40.2541.26)inhabited the western streams of Palestine until the end of the 19th century. The ostrich (Struthio camelus )mentioned in Lam 4.3; Jb 39.13disappeared from the area in the 19th century, although some effort has been made in recent years to bring it back. At the end of the 19th century the last survivors of the Syrian wild ass (Equus hemionus hemihippus ) and the Arabian wild ass (Equus hemionus onager ) were exterminated in the Syrian desert.

The expansion of Jewish settlement in the country, especially modern agricultural settlement, has altered the populations of various animals. There has been an increase in those species that have been able to adapt themselves to the new conditions. The increased number of fishponds has brought an increase in waterfowl. Also the swamp cat (Catolynx chaus chrysomelo notis ) is spreading. All the means employed against the jackals have not deterred them from multiplying. The poisonous bait laid out to exterminate the jackals and rodents have caused the destruction of the vulturine birds that have eaten the poisoned carrion. Thus, for example, of the griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus ), which ranged over the country until the early 20th century and is often mentioned in the Bible as the nešer (commonly mistranslated as "eagle"), only a few pairs still survive. Laws for the protection of wildlife that were enacted in the state of Israel have prevented the annihilation of certain creatures that had been in danger of complete extinction. The gazelle has noticeably increased throughout the country, and the Nubian ibex, too, has spread into the hills of Ein Gedi and Eilat.

The Zoogeography of Modern Palestine. The animal ranges coincide with the vegetation zones in Palestine (see above). To the Mediterranean group belong the hare, the chuckar partridge, the swallow, the agama, and others. To the Saharo-Sindic group belong various species of desert mice, the desert lark, the sandgrouse, the gecko, the cobra, and many other species. To the Irano-Turanic group belong the creatures that inhabit the northern Negeb and the desert of Judah, for instance, the tiger weasel (Vormela ), the bustard, the isolepis agama, and others. To the Sudano-Decanic group belong the creatures that inhabit the lower Jordan Valley, especially the oasis areas of the desert and the vicinity of the Dead Sea. To the tropical groups belong the cheetah, the honey badger, the tropical cuckoo, the carpet viper, and others. To the holarctic group belong the northern creatures, for instance, the shrew, and the meadow pipit.

Palestine, at the juncture of three continents, is a meeting place of creatures of many different regions, and it has a rich variety of species. Currently known are 68 species of mammals, about 350 species of birds, about 80 species of reptiles, about 40 species of fresh-water fishes, and 8 species of amphibia. According to F. S. Bodenheimer, the number of recognized insect species is about 8,000 and, in his opinion the total reaches about 22,000. According to this scholar, the Arthropoda number about 900 known species and possibly total about 2,000. As for the invertebrates, there are about 300 recognized species, with the possible total of about 2,750.

Domestic Animals. Domestication of animals began at a very early period in Palestine. On the rocks of Kilwa in Transjordan prehistoric carvings of camels and cattle have been found. Jericho has yielded clay statues of a herd of goats, lambs, and pigs from c. 5000 b.c. Inside an Egyptian temple at Beth-shan figurines of cats have been found. (Cats are not mentioned in the Bible.) There have been found in the Holy Land paintings of dogs of at least four different breeds. The cattle are of uncertain breed. In paintings of the Roman and Byzantine period, hunchback cattle, such as the zebu, are depicted. The black, long-eared goat was a very early inhabitant, and it is pictured as early as 1500 b.c. This is also the case in regard to the broad-tailed sheep. The horse was not an important domestic animal; more important were the ass and the mule. In addition to the dove, chickens were raised as early as the period of the Israelite monarchy; a cock is depicted on a seal found at Tell en-Nasbeh, probable site of ancient Mizpeh. To the royal courts were brought decorative tropical birds, such as the peacock; and the courts received monkeys also (1 Kgs 10.22).

Bibliography: Flora. h. balfour, The Plants of the Bible (new ed. London 1885). o. celsius, Hierobotanicon, 2 v. (Amsterdam 1748). p. cultrera, Flora Biblica (Palermo 1861). g. h. dalman, Arbeit und Sitte in Palästina, 7 v. in 8 (Gütersloh 192842). i. lÖw, Die Flora der Juden, 4 v. in 5 (Vienna-Leipzig 192434).H. N. and a. l. moldenke, Plants of the Bible (Waltham, Mass.1952). In Hebrew. b. chizik, Otsar ha-Tsemahim (Herzlia 1952). m. zohary, Olam ha-Tsemahim (Tel Aviv 1954); Geobotanikah (Merhavya 1955). j. feliks, Olam ha-Tsomeah ha-Mikrai (Tel Aviv 1957); Ha-Haklaut be-Eretz Yisrael bi-tekufat ha-Mishnah veha-Talmud (Jerusalem 1963). Fauna. f. hasselquist, Iter palaestinum, ed. C. VON LINNÉ (Stockholm 1757). h. b. tristam, The Fauna and Flora of Palestine (London 1884); Natural History of the Bible (10th ed. New York 1911). l. lewysohn, Die Zoologie des Talmuds (Frankfurt 1858). f. s. bodenheimer, Tierwelt Palästinas, 2 v. (Leipzig 1920); Prodromus faunae palaestinae (Cairo 1937); Animal and Man in Bible Lands (Leiden 1960). j. feliks, The Animal World of the Bible, tr. p. irsai (Tel Aviv 1962). In Hebrew. i. aharoni, Torat ha-Hai, 3 v. (Tel Aviv 192749); Zikhronot Zoolog Ivri (Tel Aviv 194243). y. margolin, Zoologia (Tel Aviv 1959). f. s. bodenheimer, Ha-Hai be-Artsot ha-Mikra, 2 v. (Jerusalem 194956); Ha-Hai be-Eretz Yisrael (Tel Aviv 1953). j. feliks, Ha-Hai shel ha-Tanakh (Tel Aviv 1954).

[j. feliks]

5. Archeology

Palestine, as used here, embraces the lands not only to the west but also to the east of the River Jordan. After World War I both territories were under British mandate. Under the mandatory power a Department of Antiquities was organized to protect and promote the study of the antiquities of the country. According to the norms of this department an antiquity is "an object which has been constructed, shaped, inscribed, erected, excavated or otherwise produced or modified by human agency earlier than the year 1700 a.d." To preserve the movable antiquities, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., provided funds for the construction of an appropriate museum in Jerusalem; it was opened to the public in 1938. The Department of Antiquities established its headquarters here also. At that time the files of the department contained records of about 4,000 archeological sites [see R. W. Hamilton, "Schedule of Historical Monuments and Sites," Palestine Gazette Extraordinary 1375, suppl. 2 (Nov. 24, 1944)] and about 40,000 objects, all of which were made accessible to scholars. Typical objects of all periods have been arranged in chronological order in the visitors' galleries. The Palestine Archaeological Museum Gallery Book (hereafter PAMGB ) aids the visitor in studying those objects and gives him a good survey of all the periods. The Department published its own periodical Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine (hereafter QDAP ) and a number of books and pamphlets on special places and themes. Since the termination of the mandate in 1948 the museum has been administered by an international board of trustees, under whose direction it has become the center for the study of the so-called Dead Sea Scrolls. The museum continues to be a valuable aid for study, although now both Jordan and Israel have their own Departments of Antiquities with their own museums and publications.

Both before and after 1948 the departments of antiquities have been assisted in their work by numerous foreign individuals, schools, and organizations. Thus, for example, N. Glueck alone, in his surface surveys, has added more than 1,400 names of archeological sites to the registers, and numerous excavations by others have greatly augmented the number of objects in the museums.

Summaries of the results achieved have been published by such scholars as C. Watzinger, W. F. Albright, K. Kenyon, and G. E. Wright. These have followed an ascending chronological order which will be followed also in the present article.

The earliest periods are named for the most effective materials available for tools: thus Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages. Later periods are named for the political rulers of the areathe Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, and Turks. Each such period is subdivided by archeologists using chronological (early, middle, late) or stratigraphical terms (lower, middle, upper); these are then often reduced to numbers or subdivided (e.g., Late Bronze III). Great strides have been made in refining the methods used, but much still remains vague and uncertain.


Palestine is remarkable for the profusion of informative evidences that it has provided bearing on human existence in all phases of this long, essentially prehistoric period from c. 500,000 to c. 3100 b.c. After a long Early Stone Age (Paleolithic) period, rapid development in the Mesolithic and following (Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Proto-Urban) periods leads up to the historical times.

Paleolithic or Early Stone Age. This period extends from c. 500,000 b.c. to c. 10,000 b.c. The names of its subdivisions have been derived from similar cultures discovered in European countries: Chellean, Tayacian, Acheulean, Levalloiso-Mousterian, and Aurignacian. Animal remains suggest that the people of this entire period were primarily hunters and fishers. Such remains have turned up both in open-air sites and in caves.

Open-air Sites. The principal stations of this sort known until now are in the neighborhood of Jerusalem and near the lakes in the north. The oldest of these sites is near the southern end of the Sea of Tiberias at a place called Afiqim. It was discovered in 1960. Regarding it, M. Stekelis [Israel Exploration Journal (hereafter IEJ ) 10 (1960) 118] reports: "The finds prove that the site was inhabited by men in the Lower Pleistocene Age, half a million years ago. These finds include few human remains: two fragments of a human skull, four times as thick as that of modern man, and one incisor tooth, the most ancient human remains ever discovered in the Near East. Fossil bones of some forty different speciesof animals, most of them now extinct, were found.Other finds consisted of flint tools and chopping instruments belonging to what is known as the 'pebble culture."' The relation of this find to other Lower Paleolithic levels in Galilee and Lebanon is discussed by E. de Vaumas ["Chronologie des dépôts paléolithiques stratifiés," IEJ 13 (1963) 195207, with bibliography].

Caves. Near the northwestern shore of the Sea of Tiberias, near Nazareth, south of Mount Carmel, and in the Judean Desert, caves containing Early Stone Age deposits were excavated by F. Turville-Petre, R. Neuville, M. Stekelis, D. A. E. Garrod, and others. As a result of the work carried out in these caves, D. A. E. Garrod writes: "In the caves of Wady el-Mughara, for the first time, the Stone Age industries hitherto known only from isolated deposits, or as part of a very incomplete series, were found in place in a long and apparently continuous sequence extending from the Tayacian to the end of the Mesolithic" [D. A. E. Garrod and D. M. A. Bate, The Stone Age of Mount Carmel: Excavations at the Wady el-Mughara (hereafter SAMC ) v.1 (Oxford 1937) 114]. The oldest industry found in the caves, the Tayacian, is characterized by small irregular flakes (see SAMC 114). The Acheulean level comes next; its flint industry is highly developed and consists chiefly of flakes. In this period human beings seem first to have been buried in or near caves. The minimum date suggested for such burials is about 50,000 years ago. The Galilee Skull, the first of these human remains in caves to be found, was excavated in 1925 by F. Turville-Petre in Mugharet ez-Zuttiyeh, northwest of the Sea of Galilee [see F. Turville-Petre et al., Researches in Prehistoric Galilee 19251926 (London 1927) 15106]. It is now on exhibit in the Palestine Archeological Museum. According to PAMGB No. 33, "the skull belongs to a type of man closely related to the Neanderthal race," which is "distinguished by strongly protruding eye-brow ridges, and by a low, receding forehead which indicates incomplete development of the brain" [see also The Biblical Archaeologist 26 (1963) 7391].

The Lower Aurignacian industry marks an advanced flint culture; the hand axes disappear completely. It is followed by the Middle Aurignacian, the Athlitian and the Kebaran, the latest Palaeolithic industry. This industry belongs to a society of food-gatherers, leaving no buildings [see SAMC 116117; IEJ 10 (1960) 259].

Mesolithic Period. During this time people lived in caves, near caves, or in structures out in the open. The first cave in which this culture was found was the Shukba cave in Wadi Natūf, northwest of Jerusalem. The excavations were made in 1928 by Garrod, who named the industry Natufian (see SAMC 114). Later, in her work in the Wadi el-Mughara, she found two layers of this industry in the Mugharet el-Wad: the lower (B 2) she called Lower Natufian; the upper (B 1) Upper Natufian. The former was also found by F. Turville-Petre in layer B of el Kebara; it was particularly rich in worked and carved bone (SAMC 113, 117). R. Neuville found the same culture in various caves of the Judean Desert [R. Neuville et al., Le Paléolithique et le Mésolithique du Désert de Judée (hereafter PMDJ ) (Paris 1951)]. The upper Natufian was found at Khiam on a terrace out in the open [see SAMC 113; PMDJ 135, 155; Revue biblique 70 (1963) 106110].

Typical of the Mesolithic Period are blades and tools of minute size, called pygmy flints or microliths. Harpoons and fishhooks suggest that the people were fishers; sickles may indicate the beginning of agriculture; heads of animals carved on bone handles mark the beginnings of art; a carving of a human head is the oldest representation of a human being hitherto discovered in Palestine; and figures of deer or gazelles carved on or out of stone or bone illustrate high artistic skill. Pendants worn as charms or amulets suggest religious views [see PAMGB No. 150249; Eretz Israel 6 (1956) 2124, 27]. The shrine found beneath the tell near the spring of Jericho also suggests that the people were religious [see K. Kenyon, Archaeology of the Holy Land (hereafter AHL ) 4142]. This shrine preserved wood that made a carbon 14 test possible, and for the first time yielded an absolute date near the 9th millennium b.c. for this period. Other objects associated with this shrine made it possible to link it with the Lower Natufian of Mugharet el-Wad and thus fix the absolute chronology of that well-stratified site.

Mesolithic remains outside of caves have been found both at Eynan and Oren. They consist at present of stone foundations of both dwellings and tombs, close together. The dwellings are supposed to represent the first colony living outside of caves known in Palestine. The burial of the dead near their habitations continues an older custom [see IEJ 10 (1960) 1422; Antiquity and Survival 2:23, 91110; IEJ 7 (1957) 125, 8 (1958) 131, 10 (1960) 118119; The Biblical Archaeologist 26 (1963) 7677; PAMGB No. 249].

Neolithic Period. Between the Mesolithic and the Neolithic periods at jericho there were transitional settlements, which K. Kenyon called Proto-Neolithic; they produced 13 vertical feet of deposit without any substantial structure. The deposit was made up of innumerable floors bounded by slight humps, which were all that remained of slight hutlike structures. The same flint and bone industry, allied to the Lower Natufian of Mount Carmel, extended through the transitional Proto-Neolithic state to the large-scale settlement that followed. Jericho has, therefore, provided evidence of the transition from man as a hunter to man as a member of a settled community (see AHL 4243).

Prepottery-Neolithic Period. This period is represented in the next two stages in the development of Jericho. In the earlier of these stages (Prepottery Neolithic A) Jericho had a solid, free-standing, stone town wall. A great stone tower was built against the inside of the western sector of the wall. Against the wall and its tower, curvilinear houses were built. The third series, successively constructed, of these houses produced charcoal timbers that gave a carbon-14 dating of 6850 b.c. plus or minus 210. The walls and tower were older (see AHL 4347). According to D. Kirkbride [Palestine Exploration Quarterly (1960) 117119] the flint instruments of this period resembled the Natufian flints of the two preceding periods.

The Prepottery-Neolithic B stage at Jericho had a flint industry that is called Tahunian and is considered the classic Neolithic industry of Palestine. It is not certain whether it developed from the Natufian or was superimposed on it; the latter seems to have been the case at Jericho, where there are new city walls and rectangular buildings, several of which were places of worship. The floors were covered with plaster, beneath which were found human burials. The heads were separated from the bodies and covered with plaster; the lifesize clay figures found by J. Garstang and later by K. Kenyon most probably came from this stage. Carbon-14 tests gave the following dates: 6250 b.c. plus or minus 200; 5850 b.c. plus or minus 160 (see AHL 4757).

Evidence of this same period was discovered by Kirkbride in excavations carried out by her in 1956, 1958, 1959, and 1961 at Seyl Aqlat, in Beida, north of ancient Petra. Carbon-14 tests yielded dates in the 7th millennium b.c. [see Palestine Exploration Quarterly (1960) 136145].

Pottery-Neolithic A and B Periods. These two periods are distinguished from all the preceding periods by the presence of fired-clay vessels. In the A stage some of the ware is coarse, other ware is fine and decorated. The chief difference is the finish. The finer ware has a comparatively smooth surface and is covered as a rule by a cream-colored slip. This slip in turn is partially covered by a red slip, so that the reserve portions of the cream slip form a pattern, usually in some combinations of chevrons or triangles. To heighten the contrast, the red slip is finely burnished with a beautifully lustrous finish. Altogether, it is a most attractive ware and contrasts strongly with the coarse pottery (see AHL 61, 62, and Fig. 4 in that source).

The Pottery-Neolithic-A material was discovered by Garstang in a level at Jericho that is known as Jericho IX and by Kenyon in numerous pits that served as habitations all over the site; in the next level there is a slight improvement in the habitations, as in the objects used in them.

In the B stage many of the vessels are covered with a deep-red slip, sometimes burnished, sometimes matte. The most characteristic decoration, found on both jars and bowls, is bands of herringbone incisions. The bands are usually delineated by grooves, and very often they are covered by a band of cream slip, with the rest of the vessel covered by a red slip (see AHL 65).

J. Kaplan ["The Neolithic Pottery of Palestine," Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 156 (December 1959) 1522] asserts that Miss Kenyon's B stage is mixed, consisting of both Neolithic and Chalcolithic wares; the former he calls Yarmukian, the latter Jericho VIII or Ghassulian. In both phases the herringbone bands occur, but they differ from one another: "in the Yarmukian phase the pattern is part of the filling between the lines which create the zigzag band, whereas at Jericho VIII or Ghassul it is independent ornamentation surrounding the vessel in a band or bands and not in a zigzag pattern." Kaplan's conclusions are that only two main Neolithic phases have become known in the pottery of Palestine up to now: the "Yarmukian" and the older Jericho IX; the latter can be subdivided into two secondary phases based on a related site, Batashi IVa (upper) and Batashi IVb (lower). He asserts that Jericho VIII should not be combined with the Yarmukian Neolithic, nor is the Wadi Rabah material to be so combined, as seems to have occurred at Byblos in Lebanon (Byblos A). "Jericho VIII" and "Wadi Rabah" constitute distinct Chalcolithic phases.

Jericho was the first site in which the earliest pottery of Palestine was found in a stratified context. In 1959 Kaplan knew of seven such sites: besides Jericho, also Abu Usba', Shaar ha-Golan, Tell-Aviv, Teluliyot Batashi in the Vale of Sorek, Khirbet Sheikh 'Ali in the Jordan Valley south of Tiberias, and Kfar Giladi in the extreme north of Palestine. More recent explorations are rapidly increasing the number of sites in which this period is represented. The Pottery Neolithic Periods fall in the 5th millennium b.c.

Chalcolithic Period. In Palestine, this period, roughly the 4th millennium b.c., is characterized by the manufacture and use of copper objects, while stone implements continued to be used. It first became known through the work that the Pontifical Biblical Institute carried out from 1929 to 1938 at Tulaylat el-Ghassūl, a site east of the Jordan and a little north of the Dead Sea. Since that time this culture has been noted in many other places throughout Palestine. Details are given by R. North in Ghassul 1960, Excavation Report [Analecta biblica 14 (1961)]. As a result of his own work at Ghassul (195960), North confirmed the existence of four levels or strata there, but he was not able to detect any change in culture in those strata. The same is said regarding the Chalcolithic sites explored in the neighborhood of Beersheba (see S. Yeivin, 1319). The houses at Ghassul were rectangular and their interiors were often painted; in the Beer-sheba region the inhabitants lived partly underground, partly in pits sunk beneath the surface, and partly in rectangular buildings above ground. Ossuaries in the form of buildings, animals, or jars, found especially at Hedera, Azor, and Bne Beraq in the plain adjacent to the Mediterranean, suggest the form of the houses in that region.

At Ein Gedi, near the Dead Sea, a sacred enclosure of this period was found high up a mountain above the spring there. It consists of a wide open court, with a high place and three houses in the center; one, of the "broad house" type, was certainly used for ritual purposes; it is very well preserved, with a fireplace and benches inside [see Christian News from Israel (hereafter CNI ) 14 (1963) 2:16; Revue biblique 70 (1963) 575576, Pl. 23a]. In a cave in the Judean Desert a hoard of bronze and ivory cult objects of this period was discovered [see IEJ 11 (1961) 7879, 12 (1962) 156].

According to J. A. Callaway [The Biblical Archaeologist 26 (1963) 7882], the first intimations of sheol (the abode of the dead) go back to this period, when the dead began to be buried away from the habitations of the living. The chronological relations of the different phases of this culture are not yet clear. This holds true especially with reference to the gray burnished ware first found in Esdraelon sites. Carbon-14 tests yield dates toward the end of the 4th millennium for this culture (see AHL 82).

Proto-Urban Period. This is a new term invented by K. Kenyon (explained in AHL 84100). It deals with three groups of pottery in use at about the same time and interlocking. These point to three different groups of people who are known principally from their tombs, not from their towns; they do not seem to have had any fortified towns, but seem to have been mere villagers living in poor dwellings. Some of the sites on which they lived were subsequently abandoned and remained so for a long time; such are Tell en-Nasbeh, a little north of Jerusalem, and Samaria; others were later to develop into towns, such as megiddo, Jericho, Beth-shan, and Tell Farah (northeast of Nablus). The tombs are peculiar; they are the earliest to be cut into rock and to contain multiple burials. Their date has been fixed in the latter part of the 4th millennium. A central point has been fixed by a carbon-14 test made on material from Jericho; it is around 3200 b.c. and is confirmed by sealings on jars. Originally, some of these finds were assigned to the latter part of the Chalcolithic Period (the gray burnished ware, generally known as Esdraelon ware) and others (red painted ware) to the Early Bronze Age.


In Palestine, as in other areas of ancient occupation, the term Bronze Age was intended originally as a designation of the period between the earliest use of nonprecious metals and the spread of iron tools. Today, the name is largely conventional, and includes three wellknown periods (Early, Middle, and Late Bronze) extending from c. 3100 to c. 1200 b.c.

Early Bronze Age. This age (EB) is characterized by the development of villages into towns or cities that were protected by walls, of which good examples have been found at various places. At Jericho the walls were built of unbaked bricks made in molds. On the western side of the city 17 phases of building and rebuilding of the walls were traced. The walls were protected by round and rectangular towers and by an external ditch. The defenses of Tell el-Farah (northeast of Nablus) date from the fourth phase of its existence at the beginning of EB II; at the north they are of stone protected by a glacis of beaten earth; on the west they are of brick; this brick section collapsed at the end of the fifth period of occupation, before the beginning of EB III. The massive wall found at Megiddo was considered a city wall by the excavators, but Kenyon considers it a terrace wall because of the houses built against its exterior. The fortifications of Khirbet Kerak were built of brick either in EB I or in EBII. Those of Ai were constructed of stone, and consist of either three or two lines at various points; their date, however, remains uncertain. The so-called citadel was still in use in EB III. The town wall of Ras el-Ain may go back to EB I.

Buildings inside the fortifications show a marked change in the course of this period. The earliest houses are the best; some have rounded ends; others are completely round. Timber was common. Associated with the houses are brick-built silos. From Tell el-Farah there is evidence that a new type of pottery kiln was introduced during the period; it continued in use down to the Roman Period. A conical stone altar with steps originated in EB III at Megiddo. V. M. Seton-Williams [Iraq 11 (1949) 7983] distinguishes two types of temples in the EB Age, each with its distinctive ground plan. One is a single-chambered type, as at Jericho VII; the other is a more complex structure that contains at least three rooms, as at Hai. The sanctuary at Tell el-Farah has two rooms [see Revue biblique 68 (1961) Pl. 33, No. 671]. A remarkable building at Khirbet Kerak may have been either a shrine or a granary. The tombs were large rock-cut chambers with multiple burials. The pottery is characterized by a burnished slip, usually red, but occasionally black; it forms the basis for distinguishing three phases known as EB I, II, and III, beginning c. 3100 and ending c. 2300 b.c. The period is conventionally known as the EB Age, but in fact there is no certain evidence that bronze was used, and even copper was not very common (see AHL 101134).

The Middle Bronze Age. This period (MB) begins with a subperiod characterized as intermediate (EB/MB) by K. Kenyon [AHL 135161; K. Kenyon, Excavation at Jericho I: The Tombs Excavated in 195254 (Jerusalem 1960) 180262, hereafter EJ I ]. Others insist on calling it MB I, which term is retained in this article.

Middle Bronze Age I. In this period (22501850/1800 b.c.) the inhabited places were without walls and the houses were few in number. The three temples of stratum 15 at Megiddo probably belong to it. Tombs are numerous and characterized by individual burials. Much of the pottery is peculiar; R. Amiran endeavored to arrange it in three groups which she called A, B, and C [see IEJ 10 (1960) 204225]. Albright, however, prefers a different sequence; he thinks that Amiran's A should come after C [Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 168 (1962) 3642]. Both Albright and Glueck think that this is the period during which Abraham came to Palestine [see Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 163 (1961) 3840; Glueck, Rivers in the Desert, 60105].

Middle Bronze Age II. In this period (c. 1850/18001550/1500 b.c.) the cities were defended by walls. All those that have been excavated reveal a number of phases and can be illustrated by the walls of Jericho. In the earlier stages the single-wall type was used; this was replaced in the later phases by massive ramparts that consisted of three or four sections: an enormous fill, revetted below by a stone wall and crowned on top by the actual defensive wall. It is doubtful whether there was a ditch. All or some of these elements (the ditch, the revetment, the bank, and the wall) have been found at Tell ed-Duweir (Lachish), Tell Jeriseh, Tell el-Ajjūl, Tell Farah (Beth-pelet), Tell Beit Mirsim, Megiddo, Hazor, and shechem. At several places the gateways also were preserved; they consisted of a passage with three pairs of buttresses between which the actual gates were probably placed; this was the case at Megiddo X, Shechem, Tell Beit Mirsim, and Tell Farah (in the south).

The eastern side of the mound of Jericho reveals several streets and the houses flanking them. On the lower floor there were shops and storage places; on the upper floor habitations. In one group of chambers J. Garstang [The Story of Jericho (London 1940) 9798] found vases of such fine quality that they seemed to represent temple offerings and furniture. One vase was decorated with a molded snake, "a terrestrial emblem of the Mother-goddess, symbolizing Life within the earth." Modeled serpents on cult objects of this period are very numerous (see PAMGB No. 773 and passim ). Temples and cult objects of this period are known from Nahariya [see QDAP 14 (1950) 141; IEJ 6 (1956) 1425]; from Shechem [see Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 169 (Feb. 1963) 532; The Biblical Archaeologist 16 (1963) 129130], both a temenos (18001650) and a fortress-temple (16501550); probably from Megiddo VIII; and from Tell el-Farah in the north [see Revue biblique 64 (1957) 559567].

The tombs of Jericho in this period are noteworthy because they preserved till modern excavation not only the usual objects of clay and metal, but also objects of wood. The clay vessels found at Jericho provided Kenyon with a basis for distinguishing five phases of MB II. Regarding the MB II Period, see AHL 170194; EJ I 263518.

Late Bronze Age. Archeology reveals that in the Late Bronze (LB) period (16th13th centuries b.c.) numerous cities were destroyed; good examples are Jericho, which fell twice, and Tell Beit Mirsim, both of which were restored only after long intervals. From those that survived or were rebuilt there is evidence that the art of fortification changed but little; both vertical and battered city walls remained in use. The city gates at Megiddo and Beth-shemesh were a continuation or a development of the type in use in the MB Period. The better houses consisted of rooms built around a courtyard. The palace near the gate at Mageddo contained a large number of ivories; an inscription dated one ivory object to the time of Ramses III (11751144 b.c.).

The discoveries of temples and objects used in them have been reported from Megiddo, Shechem, Tell Abu Hawam near Haifa, Beth-shan, Hazor, and Tell ed-Duweir. A stele of the god Mekal was found in the 14th-century temple at Beth-shan; it contained also a panel representing a struggle between a lion and a dog. In one of several temples at Hazor was found a stele with two hands raised in prayer, along with many other stelae without representations. For the burial of prominent persons shaft tombs continued to be used. For the first time in history plastered cisterns began to be used; this made it possible to build homes and towns at places where there was no natural water supply.

Written sources from Palestine are now quite numerous. From Beth-shan come royal and private stelae dating from the 14th and 13th centuries; their inscriptions are in Egyptian hieroglyphs and reveal something about the political and religious conditions in Palestine at that time. A fragment of another stele of Thutmose III or Amenophis II was discovered at Tell el-Oreimeh near the northwestern part of the Sea of Tiberias. Inscribed statues of Ramses III (11751144 b.c.) were found at Beth-shan and Megiddo. At Tell el-Amarna in Egypt were found more than 350 cuneiform tablets, mostly official letters sent from Palestine between 1364 and 1347 b.c. Other cuneiform tablets turned up in Palestine itself at Taanach (12 tablets), Tell el-Hesi, Shechem, Lachish, and Bethshemesh. The art of the period is illustrated by stelae, statues, figurines, ivories, etc. Peculiar to this period are bichrome ware, base ring ware, and stirrup vessels. The first group is characteristic of the beginning of the period, the second of the whole period, and the third of the end of the period. The first is a local product; the other two come from Cyprus and Mycenae, respectively. They indicate the country's extensive trade contacts with the Mediterranean. See AHL 195220; Albright, Archaeology of Palestine (hereafter AP ) 96109.


The Israelite settlement in Palestine coincides roughly with the beginning of the Iron Age (c. 1200 b.c.); later periods are identified by archeologists with the name of the occupying power of the moment, beginning with the Persians.

Iron Age. Towns and fortresses of the Iron Age (12th to 6th centuries b.c.) were protected by casemate walls, though solid walls with projections and recesses also are found, for example, at Megiddo. Their gates continued older traditions with slight modifications. The use of Proto-Aeolic capitals is now known from Jerusalem, Ramet Rachel, Samaria, Megiddo, and Hazor. Tunnels supplied water to Jerusalem, Gibeon, Megiddo, and Saidiyeh. Temples are reported from Beth-shan, Megiddo, Hazor, Arad, Ashdod, etc. Palaces, storerooms, and vast stables are reported from Megiddo and elsewhere. For the burial of the dead divan-shaped tombs were used; coffins made of clay have been recovered at Tell el-Farah in the Negeb, at Beth-shan, and at Sahab; they have anthropoidal lids (see Galling BR 448449). At Tell el-Kheleifeh, ancient Eziongeber, a copper refinery has been excavated (see N. Glueck, The Other Side of the Jordan, 89113).

Inscriptions are numerous. D. Diringer in Le iscrizioni antico-ebraiche palestinesi (Florence 1934) and S. Moscati in L'epigraphia ebraica antica (Rome 1951) have collected most of the Hebrew inscriptions known up to 1951. To these we may now add a Canaanite tablet of the 12th century b.c. from Taanach [The Biblical Archaeologist 26 (1963) 125]; new material from the 7th century b.c. [Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 165 (February 1962) 3446]; numerous inscriptions from Arad since 1961; stamped jar handles from Jib; the lachis (lachish) Letters, etc. Ivories, especially from Samaria [see J. W. and G. M. Crowfoot, Samaria-Sebaste, II: Early Ivories from Samaria (London 1938)] illustrate the art of the period. Religious practices are illustrated by numerous Astarte figurines and stands for burning incense or making offerings; they are often decorated with human figures or with animals such as doves and snakes (see AHL 221297; AP 112142).

Persian Period. In this period (6th to 4th centuries b.c.) administrative buildings existed principally at Lachish, Tell Jemmeh, and Ramet Rachel. Tombs of the shaft type are reported from Tell el-Farah in the Negeb, from Gezer, and from 'Athlit. Coins put in their appearance for the first time in the Persian period. Astarte figurines, numerous in earlier periods, still continued to be in use, though their style was already influenced by Greek art (see PAMGB No. 710). From Lachish alone over 150 crude incense altars are reported [see O. Tufnell et al., Lachish III: The Iron Age (London, New York, and Toronto 1953) 226; PAMGB, No. 720, 721]. Glass began to be used for seals (see PAMGB No. 766). Amulets had representations of Egyptian gods. Inscriptions occur on many small objects. Most interesting, however, are the papyri found in 1962 and 1963; they come from Samaria, and deal with legal and administrative matters; they are written in Aramaic and date from the time between Artaxerxes III (358338) and 335 b.c. [see The Biblical Archaeologist 26 (1963) 110121; Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 171 (1963) 2].

Greek Period. This period (4th to 1st centuries b.c.) is also commonly referred to as the Hellenistic period. Greek culture had been introduced into Palestine long before Alexander the Great had conquered it (332 b.c.) and subjected it to his rule and that of his successors, the Ptolemies of Egypt (down to 198 b.c.) and the Seleucids of Syria. For a description of the round towers and the fort of the Greek period at Samaria, see J. W. Crowfoot et al., Samaria-Sebaste, I: The Buildings of Samaria (London 1942) 2431 (hereafter SS I ); the fortifications and buildings of Tell Sandahannah are treated by F. J. Bliss and R. A. S. Macalister, Excavations in Palestine 18981900 (London 1902) 5257. In Tell Sandahannah are the earliest tombs of the kôkîm (oven-shaped) type found in Palestine; the walls are painted and have numerous inscriptions [see J. P. Peters and H. Thiersch, Painted Tombs in the Necropolis of Marissa (London 1905)]. Rhodian jar handles with stamped inscriptions characterize this period. Moreover, coins are now a very important means for dating the monuments. The discovery of the Samaria papyri has convinced F. M. Cross that his dates of "the old Exodus manuscript from Cave 4, Qumran (c. 250 b.c.) and the archaic Samuel manuscript (c. 225 b.c.) now appear to be minimal, and it is clear in turn that the so-called Hasmonean hands of Qumran cannot be reduced in date" [The Biblical Archaeologist 26 (1963) 120]. New light has been shed on this period by work at Araq el-Emir [see Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 171 (October 1963) 855; see also C. Watzinger, Denkmäler Palästina II (hereafter DP II ) 1030; AP 146154].

Roman Period. Jerash in Transjordan and Samaria west of the Jordan (see SS I, 3137) were typical Roman cities of this period (1st century b.c. to 4th Christian century). Walls, gates, columned streets, forums, stadia, theaters, nymphaea, baths, and temples were some of their chief features; the palaces were noteworthy for their architecture, paintings, mosaics, and baths. As places of worship the pagans had their temples, dedicated to many deities, and also Semitic-style high places; the Jews had not only their famous temple in Jerusalem but also numerous synagogues, especially in Galilee. For burial purposes there were mausoleums built of stone containing sarcophagi; rock-cut chambers with graves in the form of kôkîm or arcosolia also contained sarcophagi or ossuaries, often with decorations and inscriptions carved on them; in a few cases the chambers were painted [see Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan (hereafter ADAJ ) 45 (1960) 116]. Most of the Qumran manuscripts and those which have been and are being found more to the south belong to this period (see dead sea scrolls). For more details regarding this period one can consult AP 154176; DP II 31116. The excavations at Herodium, Liber Annuus Studii Biblici Franciscani (hereafter LA ) 13 (1963) 219277; Masada, IEJ 7 (1957) 165; Caesarea, CNI 14:34 (1963) 2024; Jerash, ADAJ 45 (1960) 123127; Petra, ADAJ 56 (1960) 119122; 67 (1962) 1354, and other sites, are constantly shedding new light on this period.

Byzantine Period. This period (4th to 7th century a.d.) was characterized by the public use of the cross on churches, monasteries, private homes, and burial places. All these monuments were generally quite plain on their exteriors, but inside they were beautified by the extensive use of marble, mosaics, and paintings. The decorative elements now took on a Christian character; their inspiration was generally derived from the Scriptures and the liturgy. The same holds true regarding the numerous inscriptions, which, however, contain much historical information as well. The dead continued to be buried in rock-cut tombs like those of earlier periods, especially the arcosolia type; a new practice was that of interment in shaft tombs inside churches and monasteries or in nearby cemeteries [see DP II, 117164; B. Bagatti, L'Archeologia Cristiana in Palestina (Florence 1962)]. synagogues of this period closely resembled churches in their form and decorations, though their distinctive character was generally indicated by candelabra and inscriptions. See LA 4 (1954) 219246.

First Arab Period. At the beginning of this period (7th11th centuries), i.e., up to about the middle of the 8th century, synagogues, churches and mosques, as well as new palaces, flourished; after that almost all began to be neglected and to fall into ruins. The palaces at Khirbet el-Minyeh, at the northwestern part of the Sea of Tiberias (see IEJ 10 (1960) 226243), and at Khirbat al Mafjar, north of Jericho [see QDAP 514; D. C. Baramki, Guide to the Umayyad Palace at Khirbat Mafjar (Jerusalem 1947); R. W. Hamilton and O. Grabar, Khirbat al Mafjar: An Arabian Mansion in the Jordan Valley (Oxford 1959)] have been excavated. The latter consisted not only of a royal palace, but also of baths, mosques, colonnaded courtyards, pools, gardens, groves, etc. For some of the floors, beautiful mosaics were used; for the walls and ceilings, geometrical motifs, human beings, and animals were executed in stucco.

Period of the Crusades and After. Palestine is still dotted with the castles, churches, and monasteries built by the Crusaders (11th and 12th centuries); some are well preserved. The location of these monuments is indicated on a map published by the Palestine Government in 1937 (Palestine of the Crusaders: A Map of the Country ); an accompanying text was prepared by C. N. Johns, who himself carried on work at the castle at 'Athlit (see QDAP 14). On pages 2021 of the brochure he indicates other sources dealing with these monuments. In the period after the Crusades (late 12th to 16th centuries) Saladin and his successors generally adapted older buildings to their purposes and repaired them. See R. W. Hamilton, The Structural History of the Aqsa Mosque (Jerusalem 1949); H. Luke and E. Keith-Roach, The Handbook of Palestine and Transjordan (London 1934) 8589.

Bibliography: w. f. albright, The Archaeology of Palestine (Baltimore 1960). k. m. kenyon, Archaeology in the Holy Land (New York 1960). g. e. wright, Biblical Archaeology (rev. ed. Philadelphia 1963). s. yeivin, A Decade of Archaeology in Israel 19481958 (Istanbul 1960). c. watzinger, Denkmäler Palästinas, 2 v. (Leipzig 193335). h. c. j. luke and e. keith-roach, eds., The Handbook of Palestine and Transjordan (3rd ed. London 1934). n. glueck, Rivers in the Desert (New York 1959); The River Jordan (Philadelphia 1946); The Other Side of the Jordan (New Haven 1940). The Holy Land: New Light on the Prehistory and Early History of Israel (Antiquity and Survival 2.23; The Hague 1957).

[s. j. saller]

6. Pre-Israelite Ethnology

References to the pre-Israelite population of Palestine are far from lacking in the Bible. They are to be found in the lists of peoples dispossessed by the invading tribes of Israel and in incidental statements about the earlier inhabitants of the land or of particular localities. About some of these people very little is known. They have left little more than their names on the pages of the Bible. Such, for example, are the so-called giants of the land: the Emim who are said to have dwelt in Moab (Dt2.1011); the Anakim, found in the vicinity of Hebron (Nm 13.22, 3233; Dt 2.10,21); and the Rephaim, inhabitants of Bashan and the environs of Jerusalem (Gn 14.5; Dt 3.13; 2 Sm 21.16, 18). Other enigmatic names are those of the Avvim who lived in villages near Gaza (Dt2.22); the Zuzim (Gn 14.5) in Gilead; and the Zamzummim, found in Ammon (Dt 2.20). Girgashites are named without any locality (Gn 10.16; 15.21; Dt 7.1). The Amalekites were a primitive people of the Negeb (Ex 17.816; Nm 13.29).

Other groups, however, have left their mark on the pages of history. They are known not only from biblical references, but can be found in extra-biblical literature as wellin such texts as those coming from Mari, Amarna, etc. First and foremost are the two Semitic groups, the Canaanites and the Amorrites. In addition, the non-Semitic elements are represented by the Hurrians, Hittites, Hivites, Jebusites, and Perizzites.

Canaanites and Amorrites. Canaanites (Channanites) occupied the whole area west of the Jordan (see canaan and canaanites). The land of Canaan, later known in part as Phoenicia (see phoenicians), is the oldest designation for the land of Palestine. Historically the Canaanites were apparently in Palestine as early as the 4th millennium b.c. Biblically this term has both a geographical and an ethnic meaning. Geographically it can refer to any and all the inhabitants of the territory west of the Jordan, whatever their ethnic origin may be. More precisely, however, it is used to refer to that ethnic group of peoples who were dispossessed by the Israelites (Ex3.8, 17; 13.5; 33.2) and who are said to have inhabited the coastal regions and the plains (Nm 13.29).

amorrites appear in northern Syria, the land of Amurru, toward the beginning of the 2nd millennium b.c. Thence they spread out through the fertile crescent, founding such dynasties as those of Mari and Babylon. Biblically they are found on both sides of the Jordan and are said to have preferred the mountainous regions (Nm 13.29). They dwelt particularly in Judah (Jos 10.5) and in the areas of Bashan (Nm 21.3334) and Heshbon (Nm 21.26). As a geographic term Amorrite is used to refer to the pre-Israelite population of Palestine in general, regardless of ethnic affiliation (Am 2.910).

Hurrians and Hittites. Of the non-Semitic population, Hurrians, Hittites, and Hevites deserve special considerations. The Hurrians were a non-Indo-European Armenoid people who settled especially in northern Mesopotamia, particularly in the land subsequently known as Mitanni, and in eastern Mesopotamia, e.g., at Nuzi. They were among the Hyksos who invaded Egypt. According to the Bible, where they are called Horites, the Hurrians were among the ancient inhabitants of central Palestine [Gn 34.2 (Septuagint)] and Seir (Edom: Gn 14.6; Dt 2.12,22). Ethnically, it would seem that the Jebusites, the early inhabitants of Jerusalem, belonged to Hurrian stock (Ez 16.45). Despite the prominence of Hurrians in extrabiblical literature they receive only scant attention in the Bible.

On the other hand Hivites are found at Shechem (Gn 34.2), Gibeon (Jos 9.7), Mt. Lebanon (Jgs 3.3), Mt. Hermon (Jos 11.3), and in the vicinity of Sidon (2 Sm 24.7), but they receive no mention whatever in any of the extrabiblical literature. It has been suggested that Hivite is a local name for Hurrian. Another attractive theory is that the Hurrians of Seir (Edom) were really Hivites and that the Hivites mentioned in the biblical narratives were in fact Hurrians.

More enigmatic still are the references to the Hittites of the Bible, where they are called Hethites. Historically, three groups called hittites are known: the Proto-Hittites or Hattians, the Hittites of the 2nd millennium b.c. or Nesians who used mostly cuneiform for their writings, and the Hittites of the 1st millennium b.c. whose inscriptions are in hieroglyphics. Who the Hittites of Palestine might have been remains a historical problem. They are said to have dwelt in the vicinity of Hebron (Gn 23.24; 25.10) and Beer-sheba and in the hill country of southern Palestine (Gn 26.34). It is possible, though not probable, that Hurrian should be substituted for Hittite in the biblical narratives. All three of these termsHurrian, Hevite, Hittitediffer only in the middle letter in the Hebrew consonantal text: ry, h : wy, and ty. Confusion, therefore, could easily have resulted in the transmission of the text.

Receiving frequent mention, usually in conjunction with other dispossessed peoples, are the Perizzites. They are found at Bethel, at Shechem, and in the hill country of Judah (Gn 15.20; Ex 3.8, 17; Dt 7.1; Jos 17.15; etc.). However, not much can be said about them. Judging from the above name alone, the Perizzites could have been of Hurrian origin. Names ending in "-izzi" are known from extra-biblical Hurrian references. Whatever the case may be, they were a distinct ethnic group in the pre-Israelite population of Palestine.

Bibliography: j. bright, A History of Israel (Philadelphia 1959) 106107. j. c. l. gibson, "Observations on Some Important Ethnic Terms in the Pentateuch," Journal of Near Eastern Studies 20 (1961) 217238.

[f. seper]

7. Holy Places

For Christians the term "holy places of Palestine" designates the sites in the Holy Land that have been made sacred by the presence of Jesus or His blessed Mother or the Apostles. From the viewpoint of relative importance, the holy places are either primary or secondary. In the former class are the cave where Jesus was born, the tomb in which He was buried, etc.; in the latter class are the Pool of Shiloh, the place where St. Stephen was stoned, etc. The holy places may be connected either with private houses, as the home of Mary at Nazareth, the Cenacle, etc., or with sites in the open, such as the Mount of the Beatitudes, the place at the Jordan where Jesus was baptized, the Garden of Gethsemani, etc. On the basis of scholarly certitude the holy places may be regarded either as authentic or as based on pious legend. To the former class belong the site of the Annunciation, the cave of Christ's Nativity, the tomb of Lazarus at Bethany, etc.; to the latter belong the stations of the cross, the site where Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the temple, etc.

Nature. Shrines or sanctuaries were erected at the holy places at different times. The reasons for building them were various: to honor the place as a king is honored by giving him a crown, to preserve them from profanation, and especially to have a proper edifice for the celebration of the sacred liturgy. Bad weather or, in certain periods of history, the interference of unbelievers would have prevented Christians from celebrating the Eucharist there in peace, and since the Eucharist was considered the best means of being united with Christ at these venerated sites, sacred edifices were erected there.

In regard to the architectural form, at the holy places the churches are or have been of five naves (the basilica at Bethlehem and the former basilica at Calvary), of three naves (at Gethsemani, Tabor, Bethany, etc.), and of one nave (the ancient chapel of the Multiplication of the Loaves and of the beatitudes at et-Tabga), or churches with the ground plan of a Greek cross (formerly at Jacob's Well), or of a circle (the rotunda of the Ascension), or octagonal (over the house of Peter at Capernaum). The present owners are either Muslims (the church of the Ascension), or Israeli (the Cenacle), or Latin-rite Catholics (Tabor, Nazareth, Capernaum, Ain Karem, etc.), or Greek Orthodox (Jacob's Well, Jebel Quaranāl, i.e., the site of our Lord's 40-day fast), or the three communities jointly of Latin Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and Armenians (the Holy Sepulcher and the Basilica of Bethlehem, in both places the status quo going back to 1852, when a Turkish decree ordained that these three Christian communities should henceforth retain what rights they had there as of that year).

History. The sanctuaries at the holy places date almost exclusively from the 4th century, when Christians of Gentile origin first came in numbers to the Holy Land. At first the Judeo-Christians of Palestine regarded the holy places as memorials, and they left most of them in their pristine state. Such were the tombs of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin, of St. Joseph, and of lazarus. But a few of the holy places they adapted, in simple fashion, for Christian worship, such as the house of the Holy Family at Nazareth and the upper room on "Christian Zion." The first important period for the building of Christian sanctuaries at the holy places in Palestine was that of the 4th and 5th centuries, when construction proceeded chiefly under the patronage of the Byzantine emperors. The second such period was in the 12th century, when the crusaders had control of the Holy Land, and the third was from the middle of the 19th century to the present. Between these periods of construction there were periods of destruction: in 614, when Palestine was devastated by the Persians; from 638 to 1099, during which time the Muslims on several occasions destroyed certain Christian sanctuaries, and from 1187 to the present, when the Muslims, though not actively destructive, have often interfered with Christian worship at the holy places.

Authenticity. To evaluate the authenticity of any of the holy places of Palestine, two main conditions must be fulfilled if the site is to be considered authentic: its localization must not contradict the data of the Bible, and the tradition connected with it must go back to Apostolic times. If either of these requirements is missing, the place must be regarded as having merely devotional value. Thus, the localization of Emmaus at modern Amwas has, in its favor, a tradition going back at least to Byzantine times; but the site does not seem to agree with the Gospel data, since its distance from Jerusalem is much greater than the 60 stadia given in the best manuscripts of Lk 24.13. The location of Emmaus at modern el-Qubeibeh agrees with the Gospel data of 60 stadia, but the tradition connected with this site does not seem to be older than crusader times.

Since almost all the sanctuaries in the Holy Land date from the 4th and later centuries, and consequently the earliest descriptions left by pilgrims date from these centuries, one may wonder how it is possible to show that there is any tradition in regard to them going back to the time of the Apostles. However, for a certain group of the holy places it is possible to suppose that throughout the early centuries of Christianity there were Judeo-Christians in these places who would have been as interested in these sacred sites as modern Christians are. Until not long ago such continuous presence of Judeo-Christians in the Holy Land was not suspected. But recent discoveries at nazareth and at Dominus Flevit, as well as a more careful study of the Talmudic sources, of certain statements of the Fathers, and of the sparse data collected by Eusebius, have shown that during the first few Christian centuries a certain number of Judeo-Christians continued to live in Palestine, especially in its mountain regions.

Judeo-Christian Traditions. To mention a few cases in particular, it is known, for instance, that "the brethren [relatives] of the Lord" lived at Nazareth at least until 250 as leaders of the local Christian community, and precisely at the present traditional site of the Annunciation, archeological excavations have brought to light a religious edifice resembling a synagogue that was built not later than the 3rd century, together with certain caves that were venerated at even an earlier date. Many graffiti here with the words "holy place" or with such an invocation as X[AIP]E MAPIA ("Hail, Mary!") show, not only the continuous veneration of the place, but also the Judeo-Christian character of its possessors and visitors, which had already been surmised from the literary sources.

The presence of Mînîm (Judeo-Christians) at Capernaum during the early Christian centuries is well known from the Talmud. The tradition locating the cenacle on Christian Zion is witnessed to by a retrospective passage in Epiphanius and especially by the so-called "Tomb of David" there, which is to be related with the Christian synagogues at Nazareth. The tomb of the blessed Virgin at jerusalem, which is mentioned in Judeo-Christian sources, was held to be connected with "very ancient" tradition when the sanctuary there was erected by Gentile Christians. At the cave of Gethsemani there was preserved, even after the Constantinian peace, the remembrance of a sacred supper that had been held there formerly by the Judeo-Christians. The cave of the Eleona (λαιών, olive grove) on the mount of olives, regarded as the site where Jesus taught His disciples the lord'sprayer, is mentioned in the apocryphal sources and is spoken of as a venerated site by Eusebius five years before Constantine began his program of building sanctuaries in the Holy Land. The same is true of the tomb of Lazarus and the cave of the Nativity at bethlehem. The latter site was known also to Origen and even St. Justin. When the site of the Holy sepulcher was recovered in 326, the Gentile Christians took pains to verify its authenticity by establishing its agreement with the Gospel data, such as the earthquake fissure in the rock of calvary and the single burial niche in the tomb chamber there, so that the tradition that had been maintained by the Judeo-Christians for this site was relegated to a subordinate position.

The Evangelists did not think it opportune to refer to everything that concerned the holy places. But other points of information were transmitted by the apocryphal Gospels; thus, the Gospel of the Hebrews places the fasting of Jesus on Mount Tabor, and the Proto-Evangelium of James has the beginning of the Annunciation take place at the fountain in Nazareth. This does not mean that such extra-evangelical traditions are always historical. Rather, they give evidence of a difference, going back to a very early period, between Galilean traditions and Judean ones, e.g., regarding the place of the 40-day fast of Jesus after His Baptism (see temptations of jesus).

Despite the many vicissitudes that Palestine has suffered in the course of its long history, most of the place names throughout the country have been preserved from remote antiquity to the present with remarkable fidelity. Therefore, there is no reason to doubt the local traditions that preserved the biblical names, not only of such villages as Nazareth and Nain, but also also of such localities as Gethsemani and Shiloh.

From the examples just cited, as well as from others that could be given, it can be seen that, in order to establish the authenticity of the holy places, it is necessary to study each case by itself against its historical background. To reject all of them as spurious or to accept all of them as authentic without further ado is an easy way out, but it does not lead to the truth.

Exegetical Value. The scientific study of the holy places can contribute much to general biblical studies, whether this confirms the authenticity of the places or whether it establishes their value more precisely. Thus, for instance, the excavation and study of the Pool of bethesda both confirm and explain the statement in Jn 5.2 that this pool had "five porticoes"; the location of the Garden of Gethsemani shows how far from Jerusalem Jesus was when arrested (Mt 26.36, 47); Jacob's Well at Shechem shows what the Samaritan woman meant when she told Jesus that "the well is deep" (Jn 4.6.11); the sanctuary of the Nativity at Bethlehem shows that the manger in which the infant Jesus was bedded was in a cave that was used for a stable, as many caves still are so used in Palestine (Lk 2.7); the rustic character of Nazareth at the time of Christ, as shown by the archeological excavations there, throws light on Nathanael's question, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (Jn 1.46).

Bibliography: c. kopp, The Holy Places of the Gospels, tr. r. walls (New York 1963). e. hoade, Guide to the Holy Land (Jerusalem 1942 and later eds.); Marian Shrines in Mary's Land (Ottawa 1958). b. bagatti, L'archeologia cristiana in Palestina (Florence 1962). d. baldi, Enchiridion locorum sanctorum (2nd ed. Jerusalem 1955). g. perella, I Luoghi Santi (Piacenza 1936). a. olivan, Maria nella sua terra (Milan 1958). Authenticity of the Holy Places. b. bagatti, "Sguardo storico (ai giudeo-cristiani)," Il simbolismo dei giudeo-cristiani, ed. e. testa (Jerusalem 1962) 1933; "Sainte Sion," Saint Jacques le Mineur (Jerusalem 1962) 1322; "Le origini della 'tomba della Vergine' in Getsemani," Revista Biblica Italiana 11 (1963) 3852; "Autenticità del S. Sepolcro," La Terra Santa 38 (1962) 299302; "Origine dei Luoghi santi di Palestina," Liber Annuus 14 (196364) 3264. e. testa, "Le Grotte dei misteri giudeo-cristiane," ibid. 65144. b. bagatti, L'Église de la circoncision (Jerusalem 1965) 93113.

[b. bagatti]


views updated May 17 2018


area located on the eastern shore of the mediterranean south of lebanon and northeast of egypt.

The area known as Palestine has taken on different geographic and political connotations over time. The following discussion distinguishes between (a) pre-twentieth-century history of the area; (b) Palestine as a territory under British administration from late 1917 to early 1948; and (c) Palestine as the territory administered by the Palestine National Authority since 1994, also known as the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Pre-Twentieth-Century History

Palestine has since ancient times been a crossroads between Asia, Europe, and Africa. Its climate is arid. The southern half, the Negev, is desert, but in the north there are several fertile areas. The principal water source is the Jordan River, which flows south through Lake Tiberias into the Dead Sea.

Palestine is of central importance to three monotheistic faiths: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. For 1,300 of the past 1,400 years, the land was under Muslim rule. Most European and North American Christians and Jews consider Palestine on both sides of the Jordan to be the Holy Land of the Old Testament of the Bible. Although the British initially designated the area of the Palestine Mandate to extend eastward to Mesopotamia (Iraq), by the early twentieth century most people took the Jordan River to be the eastern border of Palestine.

The earliest inhabitants of Palestine were the Canaanites. The land was conquered by numerous invaders, including (in the fourteenth century b.c.e.) the Hebrews and the Philistines, who gave the country its name. The Israelites, a confederation of Hebrew tribes, established a unified kingdom in the area under David and Solomon (c. 1000922 b.c.e.), which subsequently split into the kingdoms of Israel in the north and Judaea in the south. From 587 b.c.e., Palestine became a province of the Persian Empire, and was later ruled by Jewish kings as part of the Roman empire. The Romans crushed the Jewish revolts of 6673 and 132135 c.e., killing and exiling many Jews, and renaming the area Syria Palaestina.

In 638 c.e. Arabian Muslim armies captured Jerusalem and replaced the Byzantine rulers of the area, which thereafter became known as Filastin. Arab geographers in the tenth century referred to Filastin as one of the provinces of Syria, but by the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the term was no longer used.

From the fifteenth century until the end of World War I, the region was part of the Ottoman Empire. Changing provincial and administrative boundaries within the empire blurred Palestine's separate existence. In an attempt to centralize government administration, the Ottoman Empire was divided into new administrative regions under the Vilayet Law of 1864. Under this arrangement the central and largest part of Palestine, as well as Transjordan, became part of the vilayet (province) of Damascus. The northern part of the country, including Acre, Haifa, Tiberias, Safed, Nablus, Jenin, and Tulkarm, was part of the vilayet of Beirut. Jerusalem, Gaza, Hebron, and Beersheba became the sanjak (district) of Jerusalem, which, because of the city's special religious status and because of European interest, was established as an independent unit governed directly from Constantinople (now Istanbul).

By the mid-nineteenth century the population of Palestine was about 500,000, the vast majority of whom were Muslims. The southern half of the country, later called the Negev, was mostly desert, sparsely inhabited by bedoun tribes. Overall, only about a third of Palestine was suitable for cultivation.

By the end of the nineteenth century, a commercial bourgeoisie comprised of Muslims, Christians, Jews, and German Templars played an important role in the incorporation of Palestine's economy into the world economic system. There was a major increase in cultivation of export commodities that included wheat, barley, sesame, olive oil, and oranges. Small-scale industries produced textiles, soap, oil, and religious items.

Palestine as a modern political entity came into existence as a result of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War I. Although the Arabs of the region considered themselves to be a distinctive group, there was no serious conflict between them and the Ottoman Turkish establishment until the early twentieth century. Nineteenth-century Palestinian elites approved of and benefited from the Ottoman reform effort (Tanzimat, from 1839 to 1876), and many of them held influential posts in the ruling establishment in Constantinople. Several served in the parliament; Nablus was reputed to be especially favored by Sultan Abdülhamit II. It was against this backdrop that an Arab "decentralist" movement would emerge before World War I, and within this wider pan-Arab political sentiment the first seeds of a distinct Palestinian nationalism were sown.

Although Jews had been living in Palestine (which they call Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel) for millennia, the first politically motivated Jewish immigration came in 1882. At the time, the Jewish population was about 24,000, mostly comprised of Orthodox Jews unaffiliated with the Zionist movement. They were settled mainly in Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed, and Tiberias. There was little friction between these Jews, the "Old Yishuv," and the indigenous Arab population. However, as the number of Zionist settlements increased, quarrels arose between them and neighboring villages over grazing, crops, and land issues. Between 1886 and World War I, there were several armed clashes that resulted from Jewish settlers purchasing land from absentee Arab owners and subsequently dispossessing the peasant cultivators.

Growing opposition to Zionism and emergence of a new pan-Turkish ideology following the Young Turk Revolution in 1908 led to a heightened sense of distinctive Palestinian patriotism. Although most of the Palestinian elite remained loyal to the Ottoman sultan during World War I, a few prominent intellectuals identified with the nascent pan-Arab nationalist movement. During the war, opposition to Ottoman authority increased because of economic disasters (caused by a locust plague, drought, and famine) with which the Ottoman authorities failed to cope, and because of the repressive measures imposed by the Turkish governor, Cemal Paça.

Palestine under British Rule

Before World War I the area that became Palestine was sometimes known as "southern Syria." With the retreat of the Ottoman Army, Palestine was occupied by British forces under General Sir Edmund Allenby in 1917 and 1918, and was placed under a military government administration known as Occupied Enemy Territory Administration South (OETA-S) until 1 July 1920, when the military regime was replaced by a British civil administration. During three decades of British rule, Palestinians further developed their national consciousness and were able to exercise some degree of national-communal political activity.

In London, the British foreign secretary, Arthur J. Balfour, wrote a letter on 2 November 1917 defining His Majesty's Government's new policy favoring the creation of a Jewish national home in Palestine. In April 1918 a Zionist Commission arrived in Jaffa with a mission (despite a local publication ban on the Balfour Declaration) to prepare the Yishuv to enjoy special status and privileges under an expected pro-Zionist British regime that would encourage Jewish immigration, settlement, land purchase, andeventuallystatehood. Rumors about the impending implementation of the Balfour policy alarmed many sectors of the Palestinian population, whose local leadership created, during the first year of the British occupation, a country-wide organization to express its opposition to Zionism. The Muslim-Christian Association (MCA) first appeared in Jaffa early in November 1918, and in Jerusalem later the same month; subsequently it set up branches in various Palestinian towns. The purpose behind creating the MCA was to organize a Palestinian national struggle against the threat of Zionism.

The top leadership of the MCA was drawn largely from the older generation of urban notables who had social standing in Ottoman times. Initially, the
MCA, under former Jerusalem mayor Musa Kazim al-Husayni, did not have much political power, and its significance derived from the fact that it embodied the concept of political cooperation between Muslims and Christians in Palestine. Gradually, however, it became a group of leaders and activists who were able to mobilize important segments of Palestinian society around a program of independence and opposition to Zionism. Their main instruments of political action were petitions submitted to the Palestine government and the organizing of demonstrations and other campaigns on instructions from the Jerusalem secretariat, which was headed by Jamal al-Husayni. Yet the notables who led the MCAs were interested in maintaining friendly relations with the new British masters of the country.

As part of its efforts to promote Palestinian national demands, the MCA was instrumental in convening a country-wide congress in Jerusalem from 27 January to 9 February 1919. Called the first Palestine Arab Congress, it was followed by six more, the last of which was held in 1928. The MCA also initiated the formation of the Arab Executive (AE) Committee that tried to coordinate the national struggle in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Government of Palestine under the Mandate

Following the British takeover, Palestine acquired fixed boundaries, its own government, and a political identity separate from the surrounding countries carved from the Ottoman Empire by Great Britain and France. Its separate identity was given international recognition when Great Britain assumed the Mandate for Palestine under the League of Nations in July 1922. In 1923 the British unilaterally divided the area of the original mandate into Transjordan (east of the Jordan River) and western Palestine, with the Jewish national home provisions of the mandate applying only to the latter territory. The area east of the river became the autonomous emirate (principality) of Transjordan (later the Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan) under the Amir Abdullah, son of the sharif of Mecca.

According to the terms of the Mandate for Palestine, Great Britain was ultimately responsible to the League of Nations for governing the country, which was ruled, in effect, like a colony, under a high commissioner (HC) appointed by the British government. The HC was responsible to the Colonial Office in London rather than to the local population and had authority to make all government appointments, laws, rules, and regulations. He was backed by British military forces and police. Most high commissioners were former British colonial officials or army generals. The government of Palestine created its own courts, postal service, police force, customs, railroad and transportation network, and currency backed by the British pound sterling. Until 1948 the inhabitants of the country, both Arabs and Jews, were legally called Palestinians and considered British subjects.

The British attempted to introduce a limited measure of self-government through establishment of advisory and legislative councils during the 1920s and 1930s. The first, set up in October 1920, was a nominated advisory council (AC) pending the establishment of a legislative body. The AC was composed of ten Palestinian officials: four Muslims, three Christians, and three Jewish members of the Yishuv.

In August 1922 the HC, Sir Herbert Louis Samuel, proposed as a first step toward self-government a constitution that called for the replacement of the AC with a legislative council (LC). The proposed LC was to be composed of twenty-three members: eleven appointed British members, including the high commissioner, and twelve elected Palestinian members, incuding eight Muslims, two Christians, and two Jews. However, in order to safeguard the Balfour policy of support for the Jewish national home, the HC would retain a veto power and the council's legislative authority would not extend to such central issues as Jewish immigration and land purchase.

The Jews reluctantly accepted, but the Palestinians rejected the proposed constitution and boycotted the elections for the LC in February 1923. Palestinian leaders argued that participation in the council would be tantamount to acceptance of the British Mandate and Balfour policy, which they feared would lead to their subjugation under a Jewish majority in an eventual state. The poor election turnout caused the HC to shelve the LC proposal and revert to the idea of an advisory council. But Samuel failed to convince Palestinian leaders to sit on a revised AC; nor was his subsequent proposal to establish an "Arab Agency" (to be parallel to the "Jewish Agency" recognized under the mandate) any more successful at winning the cooperation of local politicians. Samuel thereupon abandoned the idea of encouraging popular participation in the governing of Palestine. Although the idea of establishing a LC would be revived in 1928 and again in the early 1930s, the British were unable to win both Arab and Jewish support for their proposals. As a result, Palestine was governed, from 1923 until the end of the Mandate in 1948, by a HC in consultation with an AC composed only of British officials.

Britain's Dual Obligation and Intercommunal Rivalry. The League of Nations Mandate for Palestine incorporated provisions of the Balfour Declaration calling for "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." It also recognized the "historical connexion of the Jewish people with Palestine," promised support of Zionist objectives, and gave preference to Jewish land acquisition and settlement. Although the mandate (like the Balfour Declaration) made no specific reference to the Arab population as possessing national rights (referring to them as the "existing non-Jewish communities"), it prohibited "discrimination of any kind . . . between the inhabitants of Palestine."

As a result of this dual obligation to both foster the establishment of the Jewish national home and ensure "that the rights and position of other sectors of the population are not prejudiced," British policy was ambivalent, and at first seemed destined to arouse unrealizable expectations on the part of both communities. Initial support for Zionist objectives was indicated in the appointment of Herbert Samuel, an Anglo-Jewish leader sympathetic to Zionism, as the first HC to Palestine (19201925). However, opposition by the country's Arab majority to the establishment of a Jewish homeland and to larger imperial interests became a major obstacle to full British cooperation with Zionist leaders who were eager, for their part, to proceed full speed toward their objectives of a Jewish majority and an eventual Jewish state in Palestine.

The dissatisfaction of Palestine's Arab population with Britain's pro-Zionist policy was expressed peacefully in the forms of public demonstrations, protest letters and petitions, and the dispatch of several delegations to London and Geneva. Palestinian leaders, seeking self-determination and the establishment of an Arab state in Palestine, feared Jewish domination (through increasing immigration and land purchases) and the establishment of a Jewish state. Nationalist frustrations led to periodic rioting (April 1920, May 1921, November 1922, August 1929, November 1933) and to a full-scale rebellion known as the Arab Revolt (19361939). Local British security forces restored law and order, and the Colonial Office in London issued several policy statements (White Papers) in attempts to redefine or clarify its Palestine policy. But all attempts to bridge the gap between the Arab and Jewish communities were unsuccessful; each community proceeded to develop itself with little, if any, contact with the other. By 1939 Great Britain had retreated from its position on implementing the Balfour provisions of the mandate.

Each community developed its own educational, health, welfare, cultural, political, and labor organizations. Arab schools supported by the Mandatory government's Education Department were conducted in Arabic with their own curriculum. The Yishuv had its own schools, where the language was Hebrew, and its own Hebrew University, founded in 1925. The two communities lived largely separately; contact was only at the peripheries, in government offices, or in a few business enterprises. The Yishuv was mainly urban, concentrated in the coastal region and in the city of Jerusalem, whereas the Arab sector was largely rural, in central Palestine.

By the end of the mandate in 1948, the Palestinian population had doubled, mostly through natural increase, from just over 650,000 (1922 census) to 1.3 million. During the same period the population of the Yishuv increased even more dramatically, largely through immigration, from about 84,000 to approximately 650,000. The increase in the Jewish population from about a tenth to a third of the total population of Palestine was accompanied by extensive expansion of the Yishuv's socioeconomic and politicomilitary infrastructure. The number of rural collectives (kibbutzim), cooperatives (moshavim), and private farms increased several times; the all-Jewish city of Tel Aviv grew from an adjunct of Jaffa to the second largest municipality in the country. Jewish-owned industry dominated the economy. Despite the growth of its rural sector, the Yishuv was 85 percent urban by the end of the mandate, and Jewish-owned land comprised less than 7 percent of the total, although more than a quarter of the cultivated area was Jewish.

The Yishuv developed its own political parties and self-governing institutions that took responsibility for functions not under jurisdiction of the mandatory government, such as courts, education, and social welfare. The British recognized the World Zionist Organization as the official agency to implement establishment of the Jewish national home. Within Palestine the Yishuv elected its elected assembly (Assefat ha-Nivharim), whose national council (Vaʿad Leʾumi) ran the day-to-day affairs of the Jewish community. More than a dozen political parties were divided into four principal categories: labor, general Zionist, Orthodox religious, and Sephardic or Oriental. The strongest political bloc was labor by virtue of its control of the Histadrut, the large labor federation that controlled much of the Yishuv's economy, and of the largest paramilitary group, the Haganah.

Palestinian Political Organization during the Mandate. The Palestinian community was much less centralized and more loosely organized than the Yishuv. The older politicians, representing the traditional elite and notable families who had been closely associated with the Ottoman establishment, had formed the MCA in 1918 and continued to lead the Palestine Arab Congresses by holding positions on the Arab Executive.

With the defeat of Faisal's Arab kingdom by the French in July 1920, Palestinian leaders who had previously been engaged in the struggle for independent "Greater Syria" focused on local problems, primarily the struggle against the British mandate and the Jewish national home. Later that year, the third Palestinian Arab Congress convened in Haifa, elected an AE committee, and sent a delegation to plead the Palestinian cause both at the Colonial Office in London and at the League of Nations headquarters in Geneva. Neither the congresses nor the AE were successful in attaining their objective, and both gradually lost credibility. When its chairman, Musa Kazim al-Husayni, died in 1934, the Arab Executive ceased to exist.

Throughout the mandate period serious rivalry for political office and government favor existed between members of the Nashashibi and Husayni families. The most influential Palestinian leader was al-Hajj Muhammad Amin al-Husayni, appointed by the British as mufti of Jerusalem in 1921 and elected president of the Supreme Muslim Council in 1922. By virtue of these positions he commanded extensive financial resources and influence throughout the Palestinian community. Prior to 1936 the mufti pursued a policy of cooperation that aided the High Commissioner in keeping the peace. However, following the outbreak of the Arab Revolt in 1936, al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni became more militantly anti-British. His activities ultimately led the British to seek his arrest, but in mid-1937 he escaped, first to Lebanon, then to Iraq.

Supporters of the mufti, called Councilites (almajlisiyyun), were opposed by "the Opposition" (almuʿaridun) led by the Nashashibi family. Both groups were supported by extensive clan (hamula) networks and client relationships. The Husaynis, the larger network, were considered more militant than the Nashashibis, who were willing to compromise with the British. Even though both factions rejected the Jewish national home, these internal rivalries constituted a weakness vis-à-vis the more cohesive Jewish community.

Following demise of the Arab Executive in 1934, younger and more militant elements became active in local Palestinian politics, leading to the creation of the Palestinian branch of the pan-Arab Independence (Istiqlal) Party headed by Awni Abd al-Hadi, who was joined by Akram Zuʿaytir and Muhammad Izzat Darwaza. The old MCA and AE forces also regrouped into rival Arab political parties, chiefly the Palestine Arab Party, organized by the Husaynis, and the National Defense Party, headed by the Nashashibis. The Palestine Arab Party was founded in March 1935 by Jamal al-Husayni, a relative of alHajj Amin al-Husayni. Many political activists who had previously supported the AE (19201934) joined its ranks. Its leaders maintained close contact with the Roman Catholic community through its officers, Alfred Rock and Emile al-Ghuri, and with the activist scouts' movement and workers' societies in Jerusalem and Haifa. The party endorsed the following set of "national demands," which were later endorsed by an umbrella organization representing all major parties: (a) repudiation of the Balfour Declaration; (b) full stoppage of Jewish immigration and land purchases; and (c) the immediate establishment of Palestine as an independent state under Arab control.

The National Defense Party was formed on 2 December 1934 by the supporters of Raghib alNashashibi, the former mayor of Jerusalem. The leaders encompassed most Arab mayors; important politicians from large landowning families; influential middle-class Christians; and the Jaffa branch of the Palestine Arab Workers Society. The party denounced the sale of land to Zionist landholding companies and sought limitations on Jewish immigration. Nonetheless, it was tacitly more cooperative with the British authorities and Zionist leaders, and (unlike the Husaynis) maintained good relations with Amir Abdullah of Transjordan.

General Strike and Revolt, 19361939. By April 1936, growing Palestinian concern at the rapid influx of Jewish immigration and the accompanying frustration at British unwillingness to fulfill their national demands led to a general strike against the British authorities and the Yishuv. The strike soon became an uprising, drawing support from the whole Palestinian community and from Arab nationalist circles in the neighboring lands. The Arab Higher Committee (AHC), chaired by the mufti and representing a broad coalition of Arab political organizations, was formed to lead the uprising. Elements of the Palestine Arab Party formed an underground paramilitary force that remained active until suppressed by the British in early 1939.

During a lull in the fighting (19361937), the British sent a Royal Commission of Inquiry under William Robert Wellesley, the first Earl Peel, to ascertain the causes of the rebellion and to propose solutions. In July 1937 the Peel Commission recommended a form of radical surgery: the partition of Palestine into a small Jewish coastal state, and a larger Arab state to be joined with Transjordan. The Palestine Arab Party denounced the plan, and the revolt resumed, this time with greater support from nationalist groups in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. The National Defense Party, for its part, accepted the Peel Commission concept of territorial partition and was not averse to the idea of linking the Arab portion of Mandatory Palestine to Abdullah's Trans-jordan. The party was criticized by other Palestinian politicians for deviating from the antipartition consensus.

The short-lived unity behind the AHC was broken when the uprising entered its second phase in 1937. The Nashashibi member of the AHC resigned, leaving leadership in the hands of the mufti and his allies. In 1937 the British outlawed the AHC and arrested and deported several of its members. The mufti and several of his associates fled to Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, from which they attempted to keep the rebellion alive. During 1937 and 1938 a number of assassinations took place as the struggle between followers of the Nashashibis and Husaynis turned violent, contributing to a leadership vacuum in the Palestinian community. By 1939 the rebellion petered out as a result of the conflict within the Palestinian community and the massive use of force by the British. In the end, the Palestinians had suffered staggering losses: more than 3,000 dead, 15,000 to 20,000 wounded, and more than 5,000 leaders and fighters in detention.

In their search for a political formula that would reestablish tranquility in Palestine in light of a looming European war, the British convened a roundtable conference of Arab and Zionist representatives at London's St. James's Palace in early 1939. Bickering over who should represent the Palestinians contributed to the ineffectiveness of the small Palestinian delegation (headed by Jamal al-Husayni and George Antonius) that sat through many meetings alongside those of Iraq, Egypt, Transjordan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. When the conference broke down without reaching consensus, Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald issued a White Paper in May that retracted the Peel Commission's partition recommendation and proposed instead that, over a period of ten years, self-governing institutions would be developed for an eventual independent Palestinian state that would not be dominated by either Arabs or Jews. At the same time, the White Paper restricted Jewish immigration to 75,000 over five years, with any subsequent immigration dependent on Arab approval. Furthermore, the purchase of land by Jews would be limited in some parts of Palestine and forbidden in others. The White Paper thus limited the expansion of the Jewish community and its territorial holdings, but fell short of the Palestinians' demands for total stoppage of immigration and the immediate granting of independence.

During and after World War II. Overshadowed by the necessities of prosecuting the British war effort after 1939, local political activity in Palestine was quiescent, despite the absence of consensus in support of the new White Paper policy. Within the Yishuv, official Zionist policy was to fight the restrictions of the MacDonald White Paper as if there were no war against Germany, while helping in the fight against the Axis powers as if there were no White Paper. Britain was left to pursue its war effort without official Zionist, Arab, or Palestinian endorsement of the provisions in the White Paper.

Faced with these new directions in British policy, attempts were made to revive the AHC, but these were marred by the continuing rift between the Husaynis and Nashashibis and by the absence of many exiled leaders whom the British had prevented from returning to the country. By 1941 the National Defense Party had become inactive, although Raghib al-Nashashibi continued to issue statements in its name. Some leaders of the Palestine Arab Party were able to return to Palestine and reopen the party's offices in April 1944 and to use its connections with the Arab Bank and the local press to regain substantial influence. A Husayni-dominated AHC was organized in 1945, but it was countered by an opposition Arab Higher Front. When Jamal al-Husayni returned in February 1946 he gained control over the AHC as well as the Palestine Arab Party. Later that year the Arab League intervened, and another AHC was set up.

In the struggle following World War II the AHC rejected various British and Anglo-American compromise proposals and, ultimately, the 1947 United Nations (UN) partition proposal. Paramilitary organizations formed to oppose partition were split between the Husayni al-Futuwwa and the opposition al-Najjada. The 29 November 1947 announcement of the UN General Assembly vote recommending partition led to Palestinian attacks on Jewish quarters in Jerusalem, triggering an intermittent "civil war" that lasted from December 1947 to May 1948. The 14 May proclamation of Israel's independence, immediately upon the official termination of the mandate and the withdrawal of British forces and administration, was followed by the invasion of Palestinian territory by the armies of Transjordan, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. The first ArabIsrael war, which also involved Lebanese forces and volunteers from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, ended in early 1949 with the defeat of the Arab forces and the signing of armistice agreements between Israel and Egypt, Transjordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

The fighting of 1948 to 1949 displaced more than 700,000 Palestinians (approximately half the Arab population of Palestine) who had fled or been expelled by Jewish (later Israeli) forces. This fragmentation of Palestinian society and the creation of a huge refugee population became known as alNakba the catastrophe. For many years, controversy has swirled around the question of responsibility for this massive defeat and for the creation and persistence of the Palestinian refugee problem. Blame has been attributed variously to a deliberate Israeli policy of expulsion; disunity, distrust, and disorganization among Palestinian leaders and their supporters in the neighboring Arab countries; and tactical or strategic errors made by the Palestinian leadershipnotably their rejection of the UN partition proposal. Recent archival research has unearthed new evidence for the first explanation, and has drawn attention to a fourth contributing factor: the asymmetry or imbalance of forcesthroughout the Mandate period, but especially after 1937between the Yishuv and the Palestinian community. The former was growing, determined, better armed, and highly disciplined, and had enjoyed British protection during its formative years. The Palestinians, on the other hand, were demoralized, disunited, and without effective leaders, many of whom had been killed or exiled during and after the revolt.

Disappearance and Reemergence of Palestine

With the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel in May 1948 and the occupation of the Gaza Strip by Egypt and of the West Bank by Jordan, Palestine ceased to exist as a separate political entity. Yet, during the 1950s, Arab, British, and UN documents continued to refer to the situation "in Palestine" when dealing with Israel, the neighboring Arab states, and areas inhabited by displaced Palestinians. Even without a political territory or government, Palestinians maintained their distinctive national and historic consciousness, and were reluctant to cease identifying with their lost home-land.

Putting their hopes in UN resolutions, the declarations of their own exiled leaders, and the promised support of neighboring Arab regimes, most Palestinians continued to dream of their eventual return to their homes and the establishment of an Arab Palestinian state. As refugees, the Palestinians became the focus of international relief efforts; successive generations of Palestinians were born in exile and in refugee camps of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Yet, political solutions based on the Palestinians' right to return or compensation (UN General Assembly Resolution 194 of December 1948) eluded generation after generation of Middle Eastern leaders.

Some Palestinians in exile became active in seeking political and military solutions that would result in their return and the eventual creation of an independent Palestinian state. Despairing of the efforts on their behalf of members of the League of Arab States, Palestinians developed their own leadership, known as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Initially created by Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1964, the PLO's first chairman was Ahmad Shuqayri. After 1968 the PLO became an autonomous umbrella organization under the leadership of Yasir Arafat, bringing together many Palestinian groupings. For the next decade, the PLO adopted "armed struggle" as its primary mode of operation, thereafter developing a diplomatic campaign to restore Palestinians to their homeland by replacing the Jewish Israeli state. The boundaries of the future Palestinian state were declared to be those of the former British mandate.

The PLO's quest for international recognition of Palestinian rights was crowned with its first major success in 1974, when the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 3236 in support of the "inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in Palestine" to "self-determination without external interference," to "national independence and sovereignty," and "to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted." The following year, the UN created the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Although they provided only moral support, such declarations and activities added much-needed international legitimacy to the Palestinians' quest for recognition of their right to a homeland during a period when both Israel and the United States were defining the PLO as a terrorist organization unworthy of inclusion in diplomatic discussions.

A decade later, in a further effort to open a dialogue with the United States, and hoping to capitalize diplomatically on the intifada against Israeli occupation that had been sparked in December 1987 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, representatives at the twentieth meeting of the Palestine National Council in Algiers in November 1988 issued a symbolic declaration of Palestinian independence. At the same time, they formally endorsed the land-for-peace and mutual recognition approaches contained in UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967a resolution whose text makes no mention of the Palestinians or their rights. Afterward, PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat issued several prepared statements denouncing the use of terrorism by all parties, and implying that the future Palestinian state would exist alongside, rather than in place of, the Jewish state of Israel. Arafat's last step resulted in the opening of a PLO dialogue with the United States.

During the 1991 Madrid Conference and subsequent talks at the U.S. State Department, Palestinian leaders were invited to participate (as part of a joint delegation with Jordanians) for the first time in direct negotiations with Israel. Following the historic mutual recognition between the Israeli government and PLO and the signing of the Oslo Accord in September 1993, a process was begun to provide for phased Israeli withdrawals, beginning in Jericho, from occupied Palestinian territories on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

In early 1994 a Palestinian National Authority (or Palestine Authority) was created to administer these areas as further interim negotiations continued for additional Israeli pull-backs and other measures toward a final settlement. The Palestine Authority (PA) thus became an embryo government of a still-to-be-created sovereign Palestinian state. Many disappointments and frustrations prevented the scheduled later stages of negotiation from taking place or bearing fruit. This resulted in an untenable situation marked by violence and repression, most dramatically exploding into the second (alAqsa) intifada in September 2000. In the course of suppressing this Palestinian intifada, the Israel Defense Forces reoccupied, for varying lengths of time, many parts of the territories that had come under the rule of the weakened PA.

see also antonius, george; aqsa intifada, al-; arabisrael war (1948); arafat, yasir; balfour declaration (1917); darwaza, muhammad izzat; gaza strip; husayni, jamal al-; husayni, muhammad amin al-; husayni, musa kazim al-; intifada (19871991); israeli settlements; istiqlal party: palestine; london (roundtable) conference (1939); macdonald, malcolm; madrid conference (1991); mandate system; najjada, al-; nakba, al- (19481949); nashashibi family; oslo accord (1993); palestine arab revolt (19361939); palestine economic corporation; palestine exploration fund; palestine land development company; palestine liberation organization (plo); palestine national charter (1968); palestine national council; palestine national covenant (1964); palestine research center; palestinian arab congresses; palestinian authority; palestinian citizens of israel; palestinians; peel commission report (1937); samuel, herbert louis; shuqayri, ahmad; transjordan frontier force; united nations conciliation commission for palestine (unccp); united nations relief and works agency for palestine refugees in the near east (unrwa); united nations special committee on palestine, 1947 (unscop); vaʿad leʾumi; west bank; white papers on palestine; yishuv; zionism; zionist commission for palestine.


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Hurewitz, Jacob C. The Struggle for Palestine. Reprint, New York: Schocken Books, 1976.

Ingrams, Doreen. Palestine Papers, 19171922: Seeds of Conflict. New York: George Braziller, 1973.

Khalaf, Issa. Politics in Palestine: Arab Factionalism and Social Dis-integration, 19391948. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991.

Khalidi, Rashid. Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.

Khalidi, Walid, ed. From Haven to Conquest. Reprint, Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1987.

Kimmerling, Baruch, and Migdal, Joel. The Palestinian People: A History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Lesch, Ann M. Arab Politics in Palestine, 19171939: The Frustration of a Nationalist Movement. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1979.

Mattar, Philip. The Mufti of Jerusalem: Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni and the Palestinian National Movement, revised edition. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988/1992.

Morris, Benny. The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 19471949. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

Muslih, Muhammad Y. The Origins of Palestinian Nationalism. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988.

Porath, Yehoshua. The Emergence of the Palestinian-Arab National Movement, 19181929. London: Frank Cass, 1974.

Porath, Yehoshua. The Palestinian Arab National Movement: From Riots to Rebellion, 19291939. London: Frank Cass, 1977.

Shafir, Gershon. Land, Labor, and the Origins of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 18821914. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1989. Updated ed., Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

A Survey of Palestine for the Information of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry. 2 vols. Reprint, Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1991.

don peretz
updated by neil caplan,
muhammad muslih, and
ann m. lesch


views updated May 11 2018


Palestine is the entity that has governed the Palestinian Arabs of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since 1994 and is widely seen as a state-in-the-making for the Palestinian people. Previously, however, Palestine was a state in the area now occupied primarily by Israel.

geography and people

The West Bank lies to the west of Jordan. Occupying 5,862 square kilometers (2,263 square miles; slightly more than Delaware), the West Bank is surrounded to the north, west, and south by Israel. Mountains reaching elevations of 915 meters (3,000 feet) run north-south. The western slopes receive moderate winter rains, whereas the eastern slopes—which lead to the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea some 400 meters (1,300 feet) below sea level (the lowest spot on the globe)—are arid.

The population of the West Bank is 2.3 million. Most are Palestinian Arabs and Muslims; a minority (10%) are Palestinian Christians. Almost 700,000 West Bank Palestinians are refugees from the areas of former Palestine, which became Israel in 1948. About one-third of this group lives in nineteen refugee camps administered by the United Nations (UN). Since 1967, a Jewish settler population has grown steadily and in 2004 totaled approximately 400,000.

The Gaza Strip comprises 360 square kilometers (139 square miles) along the Mediterranean coast between Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Israel. Mostly sandy plains and low, rolling hills, with 1.3 million inhabitants, the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated regions of the world. The population is over-whelmingly Palestinian Arab and Muslim (98.7%), with a Christian Palestinian minority of about 1 percent. Approximately three-fourths of the Gaza population are refugees from Palestine. Until 2005 there was a post-1967 Jewish settler population of about 7,000 persons.

The economies of both the West Bank and Gaza Strip are primarily agricultural, with minimal industry. Remittances from migrant laborers—the vast majority working in nearby Israel—provide a vital source of income. In the last decade, employment within the emergent Palestinian bureaucracy has also grown.


Prior to 1948, both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were part of British "mandate" Palestine. Palestine was carved out of the former Turkish Ottoman Empire (1299–1922) after World War I (1914–1918) and placed by the League of Nations under a mandate system. The system was designed to assist new nations, still unequipped to self-govern, build toward democracy and independence under the "tutelage" of a European power.

The Palestine mandate incorporated the Balfour Declaration, a 1917 statement by the British government of support for the Zionist movement's goal to create of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The British were thus bound to incompatible goals: first, fostering the growth of democratic institutions in Palestine in preparation for independence and, second, assisting the Zionist movement in creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The goals were incompatible because the majority of the population was Muslim and Christian Palestinian Arab. They viewed Zionism as a foreign colonial movement aiming to force Palestinians from their land. Had government policy reflected their aspirations, establishing a Jewish state (as the Zionist movement sought) would have been impossible. Hence, England administered Palestine through an appointed High Commissioner, foregoing local representation.

Following World War II (1939–1945), Britain submitted the Palestine dilemma to the fledgling UN. In November, 1947, the UN General Assembly recommended partitioning Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. The recommendation was welcomed by the Zionist movement but rejected by the Palestinian Arabs, who saw it as giving away their homeland. Intercommunal violence ensued, during which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled to the surrounding Arab countries. The cause of their flight is disputed, but Israeli and Palestinian historians now concur that many were expelled through Jewish military actions. British troops and administrators withdrew from Palestine, and on May 15, 1948, Israel declared independence. Five Arab states immediately declared war against it.

In fighting that lasted into 1949, more Palestinians were forced from their homes, and Israeli forces expanded outside the proposed borders of the Jewish state, seizing about 78 percent of Palestine. Jordanian forces controlled the West Bank, and Egyptian forces occupied the Gaza Strip (together comprising the remaining 22% of Palestine). About 750,000 Palestinian refugees settled in camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. Jordan formally annexed the West Bank, and gradually enacted a program of legal unification with the East Bank. The courts and administrative departments were absorbed into their Jordanian counterparts.

The Gaza Strip, meanwhile, was administered through an Egyptian military governor. Although political control was maintained by Egypt, the Gaza Strip was never annexed. Instead, it was held "in trust" for the Palestinian people, and its laws, court system, and bureaucracy were kept relatively unchanged.

the 1967 arab-israeli war

The West Bank and Gaza Strip were among the territories conquered by Israel during the June 1967 Arab–Israeli war. Israel did not annex the West Bank or Gaza Strip but refused to acknowledge them as occupied territories under international law and suggested that it would lay claim to parts of the territories—a position condemned by the international community. Israeli military governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip issued orders regulating Palestinians in virtually all phases of life and facilitated settlement of Palestinian lands by Israeli settlers. East Jerusalem was annexed and made subject to Israeli domestic law and administration. The UN has rejected both the annexation of Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as illegal.

Meanwhile, diaspora Palestinians (those living outside the borders of mandate Palestine) gained control of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), an institution founded in 1964 by the Arab League. By 1969, Yasser Arafat (1929–2004), leader of the guerrilla organization Fatah, became chair of the executive committee of the PLO, a position he held until his death in 2004. The PLO was an umbrella organization that included the main Palestinian guerrilla organizations as well as trade, women, student, and professional unions. Its main policy-making and representative body was the Palestine National Council, with appointed members from around the world.

The Palestinian guerrilla groups mounted armed attacks on Israeli military and civilian targets. They were denounced by Israel, the United States, and some other states as terrorist organizations. The PLO also engaged in diplomacy and achieved wide international recognition as the voice of the Palestinians in their quest for national self-determination.

Palestinian resistance to Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was immediate, but initially was easily subdued. The Israeli military employed administrative detentions, banishments, home demolitions, collective punishments, curfews, restrictions on expression, and other forms of repression. These measures were enforced through military courts that provided minimal procedural safeguards. Palestinian complaints of torture during interrogation were initially dismissed, until an Israeli government commission confirmed widespread abuses in 1987.

from the first intifada to the oslo accords

In late 1987, Palestinian agitation against Israeli occupation increased, with the outbreak of the first intifada ("shaking off," in Arabic)—a period of strikes, demonstrations, tax withholding, and low-level (but occasionally lethal) violence. Local activists affiliated with the PLO initiated this revolt within the Occupied Territories. The first intifada also witnessed the emergence of Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement), which sometimes cooperated with and sometimes competed with the nationalist, secular, and leftist Palestinian organizations. Hamas sought an Islamic state in Palestine and advocated violent struggle to end Israeli military occupation.

Middle East peace negotiations began in Madrid in 1991. The talks, sponsored by the United States and the Soviet Union, excluded the PLO, although Palestinians joined the Jordanian delegation. Negotiations shifted to Washington, DC, but soon stalled. Secret talks between the PLO and Israel, meanwhile, were being conducted in Oslo, Norway. These discussions yielded an agreement between Israel and the PLO in September 1993. This agreement, and subsequent others related to it, are commonly called the Oslo Accords.

The Oslo Accords provided for the end of violence between the parties and Palestinian recognition of Israel's right to exist. In return, Israel recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinians. The Accords outlined a five-year interim period during which a Palestinian Authority would administer the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Negotiations toward a comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict were to commence by the third year of the transitional period and conclude by May 1999.

the palestinian authority

PLO leader Arafat returned to the Gaza Strip in 1994 to great regional optimism. Israeli troops withdrew first from Gaza and from the West Bank town of Jericho, where the Palestinian Authority took over civic responsibilities. Through subsequent agreements, the West Bank was divided into areas A, B, and C. In A areas, the Palestinian Authority controlled basic civic functions and also provided for security. In B areas, the Palestinian Authority exercised civic functions, but Israel was responsible for security. In C areas, Israel maintained full administrative and security jurisdiction. A areas eventually grew to encompass about 18 percent of the West Bank, including its most of population centers; B areas were about 24 percent; and the remaining 58 percent remained in C areas.

The agreements stipulated Palestinian elections for a ra'ees ("president") and members of a representative body. Voting occurred on January 20, 1996, leading to the elections of Arafat as president and eighty-eight members to the Palestine Legislative Council (PLC).

The Palestinian Authority was not a sovereign state under the Oslo Accords, lacking full functional and territorial control of the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Yet the Palestinians sought to expand the powers of the Palestinian Authority (which, tellingly, they began to call the Palestinian National Authority, or PNA) toward statehood. The PLC, for example, acted as a full-blown legislature, not the oversight body as the Oslo Accords may have intended, and engaged in drafting a Basic Law, or interim constitution, for the PNA. The result combined elements of a strong presidential system with principles of democracy and human rights that were among the most progressive in the Arab world.

Ironically, the PNA under President Arafat exhibited authoritarian tendencies and a cavalier approach to law and procedure. These tendencies were abetted by the ambiguity concerning Arafat's institutional roles, as both president of the PNA and chairman of the executive committee of the PLO. Presidential decrees were issued, often citing both roles as authority. PNA authoritarianism also reflected the need for the PLO leadership, returning from exile, to co-opt local leaders.

Public funds awarded the PNA by international donors for infrastructure were diverted to purchase political loyalty, leading to charges of corruption. In addition, the PNA faced international pressure to suppress Islamist opposition to the Oslo Accords that turned, particularly in 1995 and 1996, to a wave of suicide bombings against Israelis. Opposition figures were held in defiance of release orders issued by Palestinian courts, and some detainees faced torture

similar to that meted out in Israeli prisons. Journalists and human rights activists critical of the PNA leadership were occasionally threatened, and some were jailed after sham trials in state security courts that fell far short of international standards of due process. The legal system devolved toward chaos and inefficacy, jeopardizing individual rights.

Neither Israel nor the PLO strictly adhered to the Oslo Accords. For example, the Palestinians employed 40,000 security personnel, clearly exceeding specified limits, and Israel charged the PNA with inciting violence, organizing riots, and failing to curb terrorism. Israel delayed troop deployments and continued establishing settlements in the West Bank. Israel also closed Jerusalem to West Bank Palestinians and imposed stringent controls on movement in Palestinian areas, deepening Palestinian poverty.

final status negotiations and the al-aqsa intifada

Comprehensive peace talks finally commenced in July 2000. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (b. 1942), PLO Chairman Arafat, and U.S. President Bill Clinton (b. 1946) met at Camp David. Negotiations collapsed, reportedly over Jerusalem, which both Israelis and Palestinians sought as their capital. Israel was publicly credited with having made a generous offer to the Palestinians, and the latter, with rejecting it and opting for violence. Yet the terms fell short of Palestinian aspirations for full sovereignty over a geographically contiguous Palestinian state. Still, the Palestinians did not reject further negotiations. Instead, talks resumed in Taba, Egypt, in January 2001, and ended with a joint announcement that a resolution was close but that outstanding issues demanded further negotiations.

the zionist movement

The Zionist movement takes its name from Zion, one of the Biblical names of Jerusalem. It originated in nineteenth-century Europe as one of many nationalist movements. Zionism, however, should not be equated with Judaism as a religion. Some religious Jews dislike its secular political aspects, and some early Zionists were atheists. The first World Zionist Congress met in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897. Its leader was an Austrian journalist named Theodor Herzl (1860–1904), who advocated the establishment of a Jewish state as protection from the anti-Semitic policies of European governments.

Before World War I (1914–1918), some Zionists were willing to consider settling in countries outside Palestine. Herzl himself suggested Argentina, and the British government offered land for a Jewish state in Uganda in 1903. After 1917, however, Palestine became the focus of Zionist hopes for a Jewish homeland, largely because of the Balfour Declaration, in which Britain promised to help establish a Jewish state in Palestine.

The Zionist movement gained support after World War II (1939–1945) in response to the Holocaust. Since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, however, Zionists have generally focused on issues such as education, cultural activities, and encouraging immigration to Israel.

By then, events had overtaken the negotiations. In September 2000, Ariel Sharon (b. 1928), a right-wing candidate for prime minister in Israel's upcoming elections, visited an area of Jerusalem enclosing holy Muslim shrines, including the al-Aqsa Mosque—accompanied by 1,000 security officers. Seen as an assertion of Israeli sovereignty over these sensitive areas, Sharon's visit sparked rock throwing and demonstrations by Palestinians. Israeli forces responded by killing fifteen in two days. Violence escalated rapidly, triggering the al-Aqsa Intifada. Palestinian security officers and Fatah activists known as the Tanzeem used light arms against Israeli troops. Israel employed tanks, fighter jets, and armed helicopters and assassinated Palestinian leaders, often killing innocent bystanders. Palestinians answered with suicide bombings of Israeli public places, killing scores.

Sharon was elected prime minister of Israel in February 2001, promising an uncompromising military response to Palestinian violence. In April 2002, Israeli troops invaded the West Bank and trapped President Arafat in his compound in Ramallah (the West Bank administrative center of the PNA). Many PNA offices were damaged or destroyed, as were homes and businesses of private citizens. A curfew was imposed on many Palestinian areas; civilians could not reach health and other vital services.

International efforts to halt violence and resume negotiations foundered. In 2003, Prime Minister Sharon announced a plan of unilateral disengagement from the Palestinians and began construction of a separation barrier, justified as necessary to Israel's defense. The route of the barrier cut through parts of the West Bank, in some places surrounding Palestinian towns entirely. The barrier was declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in July 2004. Sharon later proposed evacuation of all Israeli civilian settlements in the Gaza Strip and of several in the West Bank.

In the four years following the al-Aqsa Intifada, nearly one thousand Israelis were killed, and over six thousand wounded, and Palestinian dead number over three thousand and wounded over twenty-six thousand. Damage to crops, buildings, roads, electricity, water, and other infrastructure in Palestinian areas was massive. The economies of both the West Bank and Gaza Strip were devastated by Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement, enforced through some 750 checkpoints and other barriers. In June 2004, unemployment in the two regions stood at an average of 35 percent, about 40 percent of the population was dependent on food aid, and serious threats to child nutrition had developed.

an uncertain future

The PNA continues to function in the West Bank and Gaza Strip at a diminished level. A series of reforms were undertaken in 2002 and 2003, including establishment of the post of prime minister. This was designed to satisfy Israeli and U.S. demands that President Arafat, who was seen as untrustworthy, be sidelined. President Arafat also signed the PLC's Basic Law, which had languished unenforced since its passage in 1997, and another law enhancing the independence of the Palestinian judiciary.

After Arafat's death in November, 2004, West Bank and Gazan Palestinians elected Mahmoud Abbas as president of the PNA. Abbas, a founding member of Fatah, and long time functionary of the PLO, was a principal architect of the Oslo Accords. Shortly after taking office, in February, 2005 Abbas announced a formal end to the armed Intifada, and called for a resumption of peace negotiations with Israel. Almost simultaneously, however, followers of Islamist movements won more than sixty percent of the seats in municipal councils in the Gaza Strip. While Palestinian Islamists have generally called for violent struggle toward the establishment of an Islamic state in all of former Palestine, some have pledged to end violence upon Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2005. It remains to be seen whether their entry to electoral politics represented a moderating trend, or the establishment of a foothold in formal political authority that may ultimately support an Islamist challenge to the PNA. Thus, for many Palestinians, the question remained: Would the PNA achieve their goal of independent statehood, or would it instead be a partner in their continuing subjugation?

See also: Gaza Strip; Israel; West Bank.


Brown, Nathan. Palestinian Politics after the Oslo Accords: Resuming Arab Palestine. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

B'Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. <>.

Israeli Foreign Ministry. <>.

Khalidi, Rashid. Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.

Kimmerling, Baruch, and Joel S. Migdal. The Palestinian People: A History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Palestinian National Authority. <>.

Robinson, Glenn. Building a Palestinian State: The Incomplete Revolution. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1997.

George Bisharat


views updated May 29 2018



In 1516 Palestine, a geographic area that includes both present-day Israel and Jordan, was absorbed into the vast Ottoman Empire that at its pinnacle stretched across Europe and Asia. From this time until the end of the First World War, Palestine did not exist as a unified geopolitical entity. It was divided between the Ottoman province of Beirut in the north and the district of Jerusalem in the south. The Muslim inhabitants of Palestine, the vast majority of the population, were subjects of the Ottoman sultan-caliph, the religious and temporal head of the Islamic world, and local governors were appointed by the Ottoman court in Constantinople. There had been a dwindling Jewish presence in Palestine since biblical times, when this area comprised a Jewish state. By 1914, primarily a result of immigration from eastern Europe, Palestine's Jewish community (commonly known as the Yishuv), numbered seventy to eighty-five thousand, about 12 percent of the total population.


Since its formal establishment in the 1890s, the Zionist Organization, the Jewish national movement seeking the return of the Jews to their ancient homeland in Palestine, had attempted to gain Ottoman support for this ambitious goal. Following the Ottoman decision to enter the First World War on the side of Germany in November 1914, the Zionists looked to Great Britain, the leading anti-Ottoman power in the Middle East, for political support.

In November 1917 the British government issued the Balfour Declaration. Named after Lord Balfour (Arthur James Balfour; 1848–1930), Britain's foreign minister, it was issued in the form of a letter to Lord Rothschild (Lionel Walter Rothschild; 1868–1937), the leading figure in British Jewry. The Balfour Declaration called for the "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people" and pledged that Great Britain would "use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine."

The following month the British army under the command of General Sir Edmund Allenby captured the holy city of Jerusalem. This constituted a grave setback to Ottoman prestige, heralded the ultimate defeat and dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, and marked the beginning of almost three decades of British rule in Palestine.


British rule in Palestine was formalized when the League of Nations approved a British mandate for this former Ottoman possession in July 1922. The key clauses of the Balfour Declaration were incorporated into the mandate. This allowed the Yishuv to develop extensive educational and welfare services and to acquire large parcels of land from Arab landowners, absentee landlords, and peasants. Landmark institutions, such as the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, were opened and the Histadrut, the General Federation of Hebrew Workers in Palestine, was established. This body played a central role in rapidly developing the construction, industrial, and agricultural sectors in a period of rising Jewish immigration. A 1922 census estimated the total population of Palestine at 752,048, of which Muslims numbered 589,177 (78 percent of the population) and Jews numbered 83,790 (11 percent of the population). By 1947 the Jews comprised 31 percent of a total population of over 1.7 million.

This rise in the Jewish population was largely a result of an influx of Jews escaping Nazi persecution in Europe. However, Palestine's Arabs viewed Jewish immigration into Palestine as a political rather than a humanitarian issue. In 1921, 1930, and 1936 Palestinian Arab delegations visited London to express opposition to Zionism and continued immigration. There were also riots in 1920 and 1921 and a violent attack on Hebron's Jewish residents in 1929.

Haj Amin (Amin al-Husayni; 1893–1974), a member of a leading Palestinian Arab family, dominated Palestinian Arab politics during this period. Appointed grand mufti (expounder of Muslim law) by the British in 1921, he also headed the Arab higher committee, the de facto Arab leadership in Palestine. He played a key role in the Arab revolt against British rule that began in 1936. He also led Arab opposition to the July 1937 recommendation of the royal commission on Palestine (the Peel Commission) that called for the abrogation of the mandate and the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states with a permanent mandate for Jerusalem.

In November 1938 the Woodhead Commission, set up to examine the feasibility of partition, rejected the Peel proposals as unworkable. In May 1939 the British government introduced the Palestine White Paper. This document severely restricted Jewish immigration into Palestine to a maximum of seventy-five thousand between April 1939 and 1944, after which time "no further Jewish immigration will be permitted unless the Arabs of Palestine are prepared to acquiesce in it."

Following the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the Palestinian Arab community showed little interest in opposing the Nazi menace and the mufti's position as Arab Palestine's most popular political leader was not diminished by his cooperation with Nazi Germany during the war. The Yishuv contributed greatly to the struggle against Nazism, but the war years saw a severe breakdown in relations between the Zionists and the British government over the White Paper policy, which was viewed as a subversion of the Jewish national revival in Palestine and the abandonment of European Jewry to their Nazi persecutor.

As such, in May 1942 the mainstream Zionist leadership for the first time officially endorsed the call for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, as opposed to a Jewish national home. At the same time extremist Jewish groups like the Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Stern Gang increased their attacks against British targets in Palestine, the most notorious of which was the 1946 bombing of the British military headquarters at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem that killed ninety-one people.

In 1947, in the face of Jewish insurgency and Arab hostility, Britain turned the Palestine problem over to the United Nations. On 29 November 1947 the United Nations approved (by 33 votes to 13 with 10 abstentions) a plan calling for the partition of Palestine into two independent states—one Jewish, the other Arab—linked in an economic union, with Jerusalem placed under an international regime.


On 15 May 1948, less than twenty-four hours after the end of the British mandate and the proclamation of the establishment of the State of Israel, the combined armies of Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Transjordan (which in 1949 adopted the name Jordan), and Syria invaded the nascent Jewish state.

Israel was victorious in the ensuing war, and by the summer of 1949 it was in possession of far more territory than had been originally envisaged under the United Nations' partition plan. However, Jordan captured east Jerusalem and the west bank of the Jordan River. Jerusalem was divided into a Jordanian sector and an Israeli sector with a small no-man's-land and a demilitarized zone separating both sides. This meant that King Abdullah (Abd Allah ibn al-Husayn; 1882–1951), the founder of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan now ruled both banks of the Jordan River, as during the 1920s the British had placed the area of Palestine to the east of the river under Hashemite control.

By the time hostilities ceased in 1949, large numbers of Palestinian Arabs from the main urban centers of Jerusalem, Jaffa, and Haifa and from villages along the coastal plane of Palestine had fled their homes. The actual number of Palestinians who became refugees at this time is unknown. Israel estimates the figure at 538,000, the UN estimate is 720,000, and Palestinian sources believe it to be 850,000. An emotive academic debate rages between scholars who argue that Israel expelled the refugees and those who claim that the Palestinian Arabs left of their own volition, intent on returning once Israel had been defeated.

In April 1950 King Abdullah annexed east Jerusalem and the West Bank into his kingdom. Unlike Palestinian refugees in other Arab countries, those under Jordanian jurisdiction gained automatic Jordanian citizenship and were integrated into the nation's economic, social, and political life.

However, Jordanian investment in the West Bank's infrastructure, industry, and social services was minimal, resulting in 200,000 West Bank residents moving to the East Bank and about 300,000 others emigrating abroad between 1949 and 1967. Many of those Palestinians who remained lived in refugee camps and were reluctant to integrate into Jordanian society. King Hussein, who succeeded his father King Talal I (r. 1951–1952) in 1953, faced growing economic and political pressure from this large and disaffected constituency. This situation deteriorated when the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), established in 1964, challenged Jordanian sovereignty over the West Bank and attempted to overthrow the Hashemite monarchy.


In the early morning of 5 June 1967, and in response to relentless threats from its Arab neighbors, Israel launched a surprise military attack on Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. By the time the UN Security Council–sponsored ceasefire had come into effect on 10 June, Israel had captured east Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan. Jerusalem was reunited under Israeli sovereignty and the West Bank was placed under administration.

In the wake of the war the PLO quickly evolved into the diplomatic and military representative of a Palestinian people who felt betrayed by the Arab world. In 1968 the PLO formulated its national covenant that declared the existence of the state of Israel to be null and void. In 1969 Yasser Arafat became head of the PLO, and his championing of the twin policy of international terror and diplomacy gained widespread support in the international community at a time of growing sympathy for anticolonial causes. In November 1974 Arafat had the distinction of becoming the first non–head of state to address the General Assembly of the United Nations.

The overwhelming majority of ordinary Palestinians in the West Bank opposed the occupation, but they did not participate in the armed struggle. Rather, they used their access to the larger and more developed Israeli economy to improve their standard of living, something their own primarily agricultural economy could not offer.

The number of Palestinians working in Israel rose from zero in 1967 to sixty-six thousand in 1975. During the 1970s the West Bank was the fourth fastest-growing economy in the world. This period also saw a significant fall in infant mortality and illiteracy rates, as well as a dramatic increase in life expectancy and attendance at schools and universities. All this influenced the social, economic, and political development of the West Bank, as the traditional pro-Jordanian elite was eclipsed by a younger generation of educated Palestinian nationalists in both urban and rural areas.

Between 1977 and 1991, the number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank grew from 20,000 to over 100,000. This became the major Palestinian grievance against Israel, and in December 1987 the intifada, a mass uprising against the Israeli occupation, began. The intifada highlighted the existence of a local Palestinian leadership capable of challenging the dominance of the PLO, which had been based in far-away Tunis since being driven out of Lebanon by Israel in 1982. The PLO's influence was further weakened by the growing appeal of Islamist groups like Hamas—the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brothers, which came to prominence during the intifada—and by the collapse of its longtime patron the Soviet Union following the end of the Cold War.

At the Madrid Peace Conference of October 1991, and in subsequent bilateral political discussions with Israel, the Palestinians were represented by a joint Palestinian-Jordanian delegation, as Israel refused to negotiate with the PLO. However, secret talks between Israeli and PLO officials in Oslo, Norway, over the same period resulted in a peace agreement. On 13 September 1993, in a historic ceremony in the garden of the White House, Israeli and PLO leaders signed a Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements (also known as DOP, or Oslo 1), which set out a framework for Palestinian self-rule in occupied territories prior to a final settlement.

Subsequent agreements in 1994, 1995, 1997, and 1998 extended Palestinian autonomy and provided for a gradual Israeli military redeployment and cooperation on security issues. The international community provided significant support for the economic, political, and social development of the West Bank following the signing of the Oslo Accords. The World Bank has estimated that annual donor assistance averaged one billion U.S. dollars per annum in these years.

Nevertheless, this massive investment did not result in ordinary Palestinians experiencing a noticeable rise in their living standards. This was because of widespread corruption and gross inefficiency within the Palestinian Authority, the governing body of the self-rule areas; as well as Israel's repeated closure of its borders to Palestinian goods and workers in response to a wave of Palestinian terrorism between 1994 and 1996.

By 1999, according to World Bank figures, the West Bank had recovered from the economic decline of previous years. However, the failure of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to reach a permanent settlement resulted in the breakdown of the Oslo process and the outbreak of the al-Aqsa intifada in September 2000. Israelis and Palestinians then experienced a period of violence and despair unprecedented even by the appalling standards of this tragic conflict. The death in November 2004 of the longtime Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, a man whom many held responsible for the failure of Oslo, and the decision of the Israeli government to withdraw unilaterally and remove all settlements from the Gaza Strip presented a new opportunity for peace. But by the mid-2000s, creating the circumstances that would result in the establishment of a viable, sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank still posed a significant challenge to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

See alsoBritish Empire; Israel; Zionism.


Primary Sources

Cmd. 5479, Report of the Palestine Royal Commission. London, July 1937.

Cmd. 6019, Palestine: A Statement of Policy. London, May 1939.

Secondary Sources

Friedman, Isaiah. The Question of Palestine: British-Jewish-Arab Relations, 1914–1918. New Brunswick, N.J., and London, 1992. A scholarly and intricate analysis of Britain's Palestine policy and its negotiations with Arabs and Jews during the First World War.

Karsh, Efraim. The Arab-Israeli Conflict: The Palestine War 1948. Oxford, U.K., 2002. A succinct and reader-friendly account of the 1948 war that examines the factors that led to the fighting and analyzes the war's impact on Israeli-Arab relations, Palestinian society, and the international community.

Morris, Benny. The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited. Cambridge, U.K., 2004. A leading scholar argues that Israel was responsible for expelling Palestine's Arab population during the 1948 war.

Rabinovich, Itamar. Waging Peace: Israel and the Arabs, 1948–2003. Princeton, N.J., 2004. A comprehensive and informed history of Israeli-Arab relations by a leading scholar who was also Israel's ambassador to the United States during the 1990s.

Ross, Dennis. The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. New York, 2004. A hugely detailed narrative account of the Oslo peace process by the senior U.S. negotiator.

Sayigh, Yezid. Armed Struggle and the Search for State: The Palestinian National Movement, 1949–1993. Oxford, U.K., 1997. A definitive study of Palestinian society and the PLO's struggle against Israel from the time of the 1948 war until the Oslo peace process.

Shamir, Shimon, and Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, eds. The Camp David Summit—What Went Wrong?: Americans, Israelis, and Palestinians Analyze the Failure of the Boldest Attempt Ever to Resolve the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. Brighton, U.K., and Portland, Ore., 2005. A collection of easily accessible essays on why the Oslo peace process failed, written by academic experts and key Israeli, Palestinian, and American participants in the negotiations.

Sherman, A. J. Mandate Days: British Lives in Palestine, 1918–1948. London, 1997. An entertaining account of the British mandate based primarily on the diary entries and correspondence of British residents of Palestine during that period.

Shlaim, Avi. The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. London, 2000. A critical examination of Zionism and Israel's responsibility for the Arab-Israeli conflict over the course of the twentieth century.

Watson, Geoffrey R. The Oslo Accords: International Law and the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreements. Oxford, U.K., 2000. A scholarly study from a legal perspective of the obligations imposed on both Israel and the Palestinians under the various Oslo peace agreements.

Vital, David. Zionism: The Crucial Phase. Oxford, U.K., 1987. The definitive scholarly account of both the Zionist movement and the Yishuv's evolution from the beginning of the First World War until the outbreak of the Second World War.

Rory Miller


views updated Jun 08 2018


Arabic Filastin, from the Greek; Hebrew Peleshet; "historical" Palestine today is the Palestine of the British Mandate after the separation of Transjordan, the area east of the Jordan River. It encompassed the state of Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. Politically, Palestine today consists of the projected Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip whose true status is reflected in the name by which it is more usually known, the Occupied Territories.

Palestine derives its name from the Philistines who arrived in what was then Canaan in the fourteenth century b.c.e. and eventually occupied the Mediterranean coastal plain from Jaffa to the Sinai.

In 135 c.e. the Romans changed the name of their province Syria Judaea, the southern part of the province of Syria, to Syria Palaestina. The name was also used by seventh-century Arab armies, who conquered what they called Filastin from the Byzantine Empire. Palestine was ruled by the Ottomans from 1517 until World War I as part of the region known as Syria, or Greater Syria, covering the area between Turkey and Egypt, from the Mediterranean to the Syrian Desert. It was contained in several provinces and administrative districts, none named Palestine or coterminous with the territory known by that name; it had never been a discrete political entity or claimed precisely defined borders.

British forces occupied Palestine in 1917–1918. In 1920, the postwar San Remo Conference ratified the agreement between the French and British to divide the Ottomans' Arab territories between them. The French received a Mandate for Syria, including Lebanon; Britain was given Palestine/Transjordan and Iraq. The borders of these territories were all created by the British and French, with these borders and Mandates approved by the League of Nations in 1922. Britain set up a civil government in Palestine in 1920 and separated Transjordan in 1921–1922, closing Transjordan to Jewish immigration.

Zionists had been establishing colonies in Palestine since 1878, and during World War I the World Zionist Organization (WZO), established in 1897, was particularly successful in lobbying the British government for support of its project to establish a Jewish state. In the 1917 Balfour Declaration the British made a commitment to the WZO to create a "national home for the Jewish people," and the British Mandate for Palestine was written to permit the Zionists to take over the whole territory. The Mandate referred to the indigenous population of Palestinian Arabs as "non-Jewish communities," but in 1918 the population of native Palestinian Jews and European Zionist immigrants numbered roughly 66,000 people, or only about 10 percent of the populace.

Opposition to European Jewish immigration and suspicion of Zionist intentions had grown before the war, but with the advent of the Mandate and the massive postwar immigration and economic changes it brought, Jewish occupation grew to become the major theme of Palestinian politics. Zionists were buying land which, once purchased, was under restriction for use and resale only to Jews. Organizations such as the Muslim-Christian Association, founded in 1918, and the Arab Executive, founded in 1920, tried—largely through attempts at personal persuasion by the leadership—to convince the British to curtail both land purchases and immigration, and to encourage policies leading to Palestinian independence. Palestinian leaders consistently rejected British proposals for political representation in a legislative assembly, since all the proposals fell short of true self-government and required Palestinians to accept the legitimacy of the Mandate with its built-in promotion of the Zionist project. For their part, the Zionist leaders either rejected or reluctantly agreed to these same solutions because they wanted to put off resolution until they had achieved a majority.

Displeasure with the situation led to rioting in 1920, with 47 Jews and 48 Palestinians killed in Jaffa, and again in 1929, with the Western Wall Disturbances claiming 133 Jewish and 116 Palestinian lives in Jerusalem, Hebron, and elsewhere. Commissions of inquiry, including a League of Nations commission, the British Shaw Commission, and the Hope-Simpson Commission, studied aspects of the Zionist-Palestinian problem in 1929–1930. Because of these studies, the British government issued the Passfield White Paper recommending changes to the Mandate favorable to the Palestinians. By 1929 the Jewish population in Palestine was over 156,000—about 16 percent of the population—and under pressure from the Zionists and their allies, the proposed changes were rejected by the government in the MacDonald Letter of 1931.

From the beginning the Zionists, with much help from abroad, had successfully engendered strong, flexible, well-organized civic and political institutions. Palestinian organizations, in contrast, operated according to the customs of late Ottoman politics: the notables—prominent, influential members of the social and economic elite, often from wealthy landowning or merchant families—attempted to discuss matters in private with the authorities and reach a private agreement. The Western Wall episode and its aftermath proved to be a catalyst for more modern political organizing, as well as for more radical and sometimes violent opposition. Several political parties were founded in the years after 1929. The Istqlal (Independence) Party, formed in 1932 by Awni Abd al-Hadi and others, was the first, calling for a boycott of Jewish businesses; and in 1933 a general strike called by the Arab Executive led to violence in which 24 people died. In 1935, Shaykh Izz al-Din al-Qassam, who had fought the French in Syria and had a following among the poor and recently landless Palestinians in Haifa, took an armed group of eight hundred dispossessed peasants to the mountains near Jenin to begin a revolt. He became a martyr when he was killed by British forces.

A series of violent incidents followed, and in early 1936 a shipment of arms to a Zionist group was discovered. In April 1936 Palestinians in Nablus formed a "national committee" and called for a general strike, demanding the suspension of Jewish immigration and the establishment of a democratic national government; similar Palestinian committees were soon formed all over the country. At this point, the Jewish population was about 370,000—28 percent. Prominent leaders of the political elite formed the Arab Higher Committee, headed by Hajj Amin al-Husayni, head of the Supreme Muslim Council, to coordinate and control the strike. At first it was nonviolent, but when the British announced that they were raising the Jewish immigration quota, the strike escalated into a general insurrection known as the Arab Revolt of 1936–1939, in which over 5,000 people were killed, over 14,000 wounded, 5,600 put in detention and thousands forced into exile. Some Zionists formed guerrilla groups, such as the Irgun and the Stern Gang, to attack and terrorize Palestinians. The strike was called off after six months, and the British sent the Peel Commission to investigate the causes of the uprising. In July 1937 the commission recommended the partition of Palestine.

Under the Peel plan, the Zionists would be awarded one-third of the country, including the most fertile and prosperous part, Galilee, where there were few Jews. The Zionist areas would become a self-governing state, while Palestinian areas would be annexed to Transjordan, with Palestinians subject to "compulsory" resettlement if necessary. The Palestinians found this unacceptable, and there was universal anger over this proposal. The violence, which had died down when the general strike ended, resumed.

In September the British district commissioner for Galilee was assassinated, leading the British to impose severe repressive measures against the Palestinians, including collective punishments such as house demolitions and mass detentions in camps. Most of the Arab Higher Committee either was arrested and deported or fled into exile. In 1938 the Woodhead Commission, created to study the partition issue, reported that the Peel Commission's plan was impractical, and the British government announced that it would reexamine the entire question. In March and April 1939 a conference was held in London attended by Zionist, Palestinian, and Arab leaders; it was not a success, but in May the government issued the MacDonald White Paper, which rejected partition and the idea of a Jewish state (although not the "national home" idea), proposed a limit to Jewish immigration and land purchase, and favored the creation of a single independent Palestinian state after a ten-year transition period. The Zionists rejected this plan since it was still their intention to create a Jewish state out of Palestine; the Palestinians rejected it because there were no guarantees regarding statehood; and Hajj Amin, Great Mufti of Jerusalem and the most prominent Palestinian leader, then in exile, did not trust the British to keep their word. A substantial segment of the Palestinian public, however, believed that the White Paper should have been accepted, because the terms represented a serious change of heart by the British. By 1939 the Jewish population in Palestine was 445,456, almost 30 percent of the populace.

During World War II the British banned political activity. The Palestinians were politically disorganized in any case, and Hajj Amin had fled from Lebanon to Iraq to Germany—apparently hoping to find support from the enemies of the British, he collaborated with the Germans in attempting to raise a Muslim army in the Balkans. When the Arab League was being formed in 1946, it appointed Musa al-Alami as Palestinian representative and took control of Palestinian nationalist affairs, including refounding the Arab Higher Committee. Although Hajj Amin was named to head it, the British would not permit him to return to Palestine. By 1946 the Jewish population of Palestine in was roughly 608,000, or 33 percent.

At the Biltmore Conference in New York in 1942, the WZO had for the first time publicly committed itself to establishing a Jewish state in all of Palestine, although it later was willing to consider partition. The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry of 1945–1946 recommended establishing a single unpartitioned state, an end to restrictions on land purchases by Jews, and the admission of 100,000 Jewish refugees from Europe. The British felt that they had lost control of the situation after the war and announced their intention to give up the Mandate, turning the problem over to the United Nations. In 1947 the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) recommended partition based on "a realistic appraisal of the actual Arab-Jewish relations in Palestine." The population at that time was approximately 1,131,000 Palestinians and 508,000 Jews, with Jews owning seven percent of the land; the UNSCOP plan called for a Zionist state on 55 percent of the territory—with a substantial Palestinian minority population—a Palestinian state on 40 percent—with a few thousand Jews—and five percent—the city of Jerusalem and suburbs—as an international zone under UN trusteeship. The Zionists accepted the plan; the Palestinians and other Arabs opposed it, but were without power, organization, unity of purpose, or an effective strategy to prevent its adoption. The proposal was passed by the UN Security Council as Resolution 181 in November 1947. The UN vote caused public outrage in Palestine and was followed by another outbreak of communal violence and guerrilla warfare.

In December Palestinian leaders made an effort to revive the "national committees" that had run the 1936 general strike, but it was too late; the Zionists had a modern, well-equipped army, paramilitary organizations, and an entire well-organized, well-run and well-funded state structure that had been building for several decades. After several months of fighting, Israel declared its statehood on 14 May 1948. The next day the Arab states declared war, but the Palestinian guerrillas, allied with the armies of Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, were no match for the Israelis. Moreover, the Arabs were not truly united; Abdullah I, although ostensibly part of the Arab coalition, had previously come to a secret agreement with the Zionists to refrain from fighting with them in territory allotted to them by the UN with the understanding that he would annex to Jordan the territory allotted to the Palestinians. The 1948–1949 War ended with Israel occupying 78 percent of the territory of Mandatory Palestine, all but the West Bank and Gaza Strip; nearly 750,000 Palestinians expelled from Israeli territory became homeless refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria; the obliteration of more than 350 Palestinian villages; Jordan's annexation (formalized in 1950) of the West Bank; the destruction of the Palestinian political community; and the permanent presence in Palestine of a European settler state regarded by most Arabs as a tool of Western imperial power. The 1948–1949 War, known to Palestinians as al-Nakba, the Catastrophe, was the end of Palestine; since then Palestinians have resisted and struggled to reconstitute their community and to recreate a true Palestinian state.

SEE ALSO Abd al-Hadi, Awni;Abdullah I ibn Hussein;Alami, Musa al-;Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry;Arab Executive;Arab Higher Committee;League of Arab States;Balfour Declaration;British Mandate;Gaza Strip;Husayni, Hajj Amin al-;Irgun;Jordan River;Lohamei Herut Yisrael;Occupied Territories;Palestinian Statehood;Qassam, Izz al-Din al-;Resolution 181;West Bank;Western Wall Disturbances;World Zionist Organization.


views updated May 23 2018


Type of Government

Palestine is the historical name for a disputed territory that roughly comprises the current state of Israel, which acquired much of the territory when it became a state in 1948. The term “Palestinian” refers to the Muslim and Christian Arabs who inhabited the region before 1948. There are two main governments associated with the Palestinian people, many of whom dispersed to other countries when Israel became a state. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is the body recognized internationally as the representative of all Palestinians, in and out of Israel. The Palestinian National Authority is a parliamentary democracy authorized by Israel to govern Palestinian communities living in Israel in parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.


Egypt ruled the Canaanites in the region that is now Palestine from the sixteenth century BC to the twelfth century BC. The end of Egyptian rule coincided with the permanent settlement of Israelites, Hebrews, Philistines, and others, who warred with each other. The kingdom of Israel triumphed for a time until it fell to the Assyrians in the eighth century BC, at which point Israel ceased to exist. For the next seven centuries the region was controlled by Assyrians, Babylonians, the Persian Empire, Macedonia, the Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty, and then the Seleucid kingdom. In history’s first diaspora of Jews from their homeland, the Babylonians forced the Jews to leave the region, called Judaea, in 586 BC.

When the Roman Republic conquered the Seleucid kingdom, Pompey the Great (106 BC–48 BC) organized the government for the region that is now Palestine in 67 BC. The Roman Republic and then the Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire ruled until about 636 AD. The life of Jesus Christ (c. 6 BC–c. 30 AD) gave the region great importance to Christians. In 136 AD, history’s second Jewish diaspora occurred when the Roman Empire exiled Jews from Jerusalem.

Palestine fell to Muslim invaders between 636 and 640 AD. Except for an interim when Christian crusaders invaded during the twelfth century, the region was ruled by a series of Muslim dynasties and empires, ending with the Ottoman Empire from 1516 to 1918.

During World War I, British and Allied forces captured Palestine from the Ottomans. At a peace conference in 1920, the Allies awarded Palestine to Great Britain, which governed until 1948. The first half of the twentieth century brought a Jewish movement for reestablishment of an independent Israeli state in their ancient homeland, now Palestine. Jews worked hard to immigrate to Palestine while Palestinian Muslims sought to maintain their dominance through population and land ownership. The Nazi persecution of Jews in Europe quickened their immigration. This led to an Arab revolt in Palestine from 1936 to 1939.

Nazi genocide of Jews during World War II generated international support for creating a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. On August 31, 1947, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine recommended that Palestine be partitioned into an Arab state and a Jewish state. Palestinian Jews generally supported the proposal, but Palestinian Arabs generally opposed it, and fighting erupted in Palestine. Unwilling to enforce a disputed plan, Great Britain simply set May 15, 1948, as the date for the end of its control of the region. Israel became an independent state on May 14, 1948. The following day, armies from Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and Transjordan (now Jordan) attacked Israel, which won the war with a peace agreement by the summer of 1949. Transjordan retained the region of Palestine called the West Bank, and Egypt retained the Gaza Strip (though Israel would capture both regions in 1967).

Before Israel became a state, approximately 1.4 million Arabs lived in Palestine. About 150,000 remained in Israel after it became a state. The remainder lived in or fled to the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and other Middle Eastern countries. Hundreds of thousands lived in refugee camps created by the United Nations. In time, dispersed Palestinians formed groups to fight for the destruction of Israel and the return of Palestine to the Arabs.

In 1945 seven states had formed the League of Arab States to coordinate their political and economic activity. At a meeting in Cairo, Egypt, in 1964 the Arab League decided to unite the various Palestinian groups into the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO’s original charter declared its mission to destroy Israel and to support the rights of Palestinians to return to their homelands.

After decades of fighting, Israel and the PLO met secretly in Oslo, Norway, in January 1993. The Oslo Accords paved the way for them to sign a Declaration of Principles in Washington, D.C., in September 1993. By these agreements, Israel promised to transfer governmental responsibility in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian National Authority over a period of five years. During that time Israel and the PLO were to negotiate the ultimate political status of those regions. As of 2007, however, they remained under Israeli control.

Government Structure

The are two main governments associated with the Palestinians. The first is the Palestine Liberation Organization. It is the internationally recognized representative of all Palestinians, in and out of Israel. The PLO’s members are various Palestinian communities and organizations that formed after the creation of Israel in 1948. While the groups have different ideological foundations, their common goal and that of the PLO is the creation of an independent state of Palestine.

The PLO has a fifteen-member Executive Committee that manages the PLO’s activities. The Executive Committee is headed by a chairman, who is the leader of the PLO. The Executive Committee and its chairman are elected by the Palestine National Council, the PLO’s quasi-legislative body.

The Palestine National Council is composed of civilian representatives from the various Palestinian groups that are part of the PLO. The first Council had 422 representatives, but the number has increased over time. The Council normally meets once every two years, leaving daily operation of the PLO to the Executive Committee.

The second government associated with the Palestinians is the Palestinian National Authority, or Palestinian Authority. It is a parliamentary democracy that represents Palestinians living in the Israeli-controlled regions of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Authority was created in 1994 with Israel’s approval. The Basic Law that contains its structure of government was approved by Palestinian President Yasir Arafat (1929–2004) in 2002.

The Basic Law creates a parliamentary democracy with executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The executive branch is led by a president, who is elected by Palestinians in Israel who are at least eighteen years old. The president appoints a prime minister, who in turn forms a cabinet for the executive branch. The president commands the armed forces and proposes and vetoes laws. He cannot be impeached.

The legislative branch of the Palestinian Authority is the Palestinian Legislative Council. It comprises 132 members elected from sixteen constituent Palestinian areas of Israel. Most council members are Muslim, but a small percentage of seats have been reserved for Christian and Samaritan Palestinians. Council members serve five-year terms.

The Basic Law creates a judiciary administered by a High Judicial Council. The judiciary has a Supreme Court and a system of lower courts. The Supreme Court has three components. The High Constitutional Court reviews legislation to ensure it is constitutional. The Court of Cassation decides civil and criminal matters. The High Court of Justice hears cases under administrative law.

Political Parties and Factions

After the creation of Israel in 1948, dozens of Palestinian organizations formed to work for the recovery of Palestine. The PLO gathered many under its leadership in 1964. The most influential has been the Palestinian National Liberation Movement, a center-left organization known as Fatah, which is a reverse acronym of its Arabic name. Fatah is a nationalist organization that embraces ideals of social democracy. The next two most powerful organizations have been the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, both communist organizations.

The groups that have been most influential in the PLO have also been most prominent in the Palestinian Authority. Fatah, of which Arafat was a member, dominated the Palestinian Legislative Council until 2006. That year the Islamic Resistance Movement, called Hamas for its Arabic acronym, won a majority of seats on the Council.

Major Events

Israel and various Arab states have fought repeatedly since Israel became a state in 1948. During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel captured the Gaza Strip from Egypt and the West Bank from Jordan. This placed large populations of Palestinians under Israeli control.

In autumn 1974 the UN General Assembly officially recognized the PLO as the representative body for Palestinians and gave it observer status in the United Nations. On November 13, PLO chairman Arafat spoke before the General Assembly to make the case for the rights of the Palestinians. Some countries, including the United States and Israel, continued to refuse to negotiate with the PLO while it supported the destruction of Israel. In March 1977, however, U.S. President Jimmy Carter (1924–) acknowledged the need for Palestinians to have a homeland and to participate in peace talks in the Middle East.

In 1987 a Palestinian uprising known as the intifada erupted in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and continued for five years. In December 1988 Arafat announced that the PLO recognized Israel as a state and rejected terrorism. This enabled the U.S. government to negotiate with the PLO. Israel and the PLO officially recognized each other in letters between Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin (1922–1995) in 1993.

That year Israel and the PLO held secret meetings in Oslo, Norway, that led to creation of the Palestinian Authority in 1994. Israel agreed to transfer government of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority between 1994 and 1999, during which time the parties would negotiate the final status of those areas. Israel reserved the right to have military patrols in both regions during the transitional period. The transitional period did not go as planned. Terrorist groups on both sides took steps to derail the peace process, including the assassination of Rabin by an Israeli in 1995. Transfer of control to the Palestinian Authority and withdrawal of Israeli military forces went slower than agreed, and 1999 passed without final resolution.

Twenty-First Century

In July 2000 the United States hosted negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, which failed. Soon another intifada erupted in the occupied territories, and in 2002 Israel resumed control there.

In 2005 Israel withdrew from parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006, the group Hamas won a majority of seats. Fatah, which had controlled the Council previously, formed a coalition government with Hamas. Israel and other countries, however, rejected Hamas as a terrorist organization, and in 2007 fighting erupted between Hamas and Fatah forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, leaving the region’s future uncertain.

Bickerton, Ian J. and Carla L. Klausner. A History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 5th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007.

Sabbagh, Karl. Palestine: A Personal History. New York: Grove Press, 2007.

United Nations Development Programme-Programme on Governance in the Arab Region. “Democratic Governance, Arab Countries Profiles, Palestine.” (accessed August 22, 2007).


views updated May 11 2018


Excerpts from Palestine

Written and illustrated by Joe Sacco
Published originally as individual comics between 1993 and 1996

Republished as a collection by Fantagraphics Books in 2001

"Look, on your side there are some extremists, and on our side there are some extremists."

During the winter of 1991–92, Maltese-American comic artist Joe Sacco (1960–) traveled to the Middle East, where he spent several months in Israel and in the Occupied Territories of Gaza and the West Bank. (The Occupied Territories are portions of land bordering on Israel that are claimed by Palestinians but occupied and ruled by the Israeli army ever since the Six-Day War of 1967.) Sacco arrived near the end of the First Intifada, an Arabic word for "uprising." The First Intifada was a Palestinian effort to use street protests, strikes, and small-scale violence to draw international attention to the unjust ways they had been treated by their Israeli occupiers.

In January 1993 Sacco published his first comic book about his experience in the Middle East. He went on to publish a total of nine issues between 1993 and 1996, eventually combining them to create the graphic novel called Palestine. Through black-and-white illustrations, a strong plot, and plenty of dialogue from the dozens of characters who are included in the book, Sacco explored his arrival in the Occupied Territories, a visit to Israel, and the encounters he had with Palestinians, Arabs from other countries, Israelis, and Americans and Europeans traveling in the region. Along the way, Sacco offered a history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, bringing readers into the complicated world of Middle Eastern politics. In each new issue, Sacco focused more closely on the nature of the Palestinian experience, using a wide range of characters to tell different aspects of the story.

Palestine was unlike any other work published on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an ongoing battle between the Jewish country of Israel and the Arab Palestinians over the control of land and government of the territory once known as Palestine. Other works on the conflict have been the product of journalists, scholars, or people who wanted to persuade others of their position on the conflict. Sacco provided an entirely different approach. He let his characters speak, and they reported all sides of the story (though Sacco did have great sympathy for the Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories). According to the well-known Palestinian scholar Edward Said's writing in Palestine, readers see these stories "through the eyes and persona of a modest-looking ubiquitous [all knowing] crew-cut young American man who appears to have wandered into an unfamiliar, inhospitable world of military occupation, arbitrary [random] arrest ... torture ['moderate physical pressure'] and sheer brute force generously, if cruelly applied."

Sacco's work was immediately praised for its imaginative approach to understanding the complex conflict. An Utne Reader reviewer wrote that "Sacco uses the comic book format to its fullest extent, creating bold perspectives that any photojournalist would envy," and Entertainment Weekly wrote that "It figures that one of the first books to make sense of this mess would be a comic book." Sacco won the 1996 American Book Award for his work. In 2001, all nine volumes of the series were collected in the graphic novel Palestine.

In the excerpts below, Sacco offers his unique artistic perspective on the clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. In the first excerpt, Sacco visits a village that he calls in Palestine a "veritable gold mine of Palestinian misery" to hear one family's story of how Israeli soldiers cut down their family's beloved olive trees. In the second excerpt, Sacco allows a Palestinian man to tell the story of his interrogation by Israeli soldiers.

Joe Sacco

Comic book artist Joe Sacco was born in 1960 on the island nation of Malta and lived in Australia as a child before settling permanently in the United States. He studied journalism at the University of Oregon. After graduating from college he worked in several journalistic jobs, but spent more of his time working on comic books. In addition to Palestine, Sacco has published another piece of comic book war journalism, Safe Area Gorazde: The War In Eastern Bosnia, 1992–1995 (2000), and a collection of his works called Notes from a Defeatist (2003).

In a January magazine interview with Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, Sacco referred to himself as "Just a cartoonist, I mean, doing journalism in comics form." Critics have praised Sacco's ability to use an artist's attentiontophysicaldetailtohighlight specific elements of the stories he tells, yet they have also noted that his works provide a good understanding of the nature of the issues he covers. Sacco has said that his biggest hero was the British journalist and novelist George Orwell (1903–1950), who had a unique ability to insert himself into the nonfiction stories that he told without compromising his ability to describe events. Asked what his goals were in writing Palestine, Sacco told Tuhus-Dubrow that he hoped people would "just pay a little more attention to the news, or just understand a little more from reading the book what's going on, or get involved in activism, or get involved in reading, you know, really get involved in the subject itself."

Things to remember while reading excerpts from Joe Sacco's Palestine:

  • Joe Sacco has said that Palestine was written primarily for an American audience.
  • Palestinians are Arabs, usually Muslims, who claim historic roots to the region known as Palestine, which now makes up most of the nation of Israel.
  • Israel took control of the Occupied Territories following the Six-Day War of 1967, when it occupied lands previously held by Egypt and Jordan. The war forced many thousands of Palestinians to live in refugee camps in countries such as Jordan and Syria, or temporary shelters for people forced to relocate because of war. By the 2000s, many of these refugee camps had become permanent homes for Palestinians.
  • The narrator makes reference to Greek Orthodox Christmas. The Orthodox religion is a Christian religion that split from the Catholic church over issues of religious law. While the religions share many aspects, including holidays, each religion follows its own religious calendar which tells which days specific religious holidays are celebrated on. Hence, Greek Orthodox Christmas and Catholic Christmas might occur on different days depending on the year.
  • Olive trees are a symbol of Palestinian land ownership.
  • Hebrew is a language commonly spoken by Jews in Israel, though many also speak English. Arabic is a language commonly spoken by Palestinians.
  • A Molotov cocktail is a crude bomb made by filling a bottle with a flammable liquid and using a rag as a fuse or wick.
  • The Homestead Act was a nineteenth-century American law that gave pioneers the right to claim Western lands that appeared unoccupied, though they were often home to Native American tribes.

Excerpts from Palestine

What happened next ...

Near the conclusion of Palestine, Sacco depicts three Israeli soldiers questioning a thirteen-year-old Palestinian boy who is forced to stand in the rain. Sacco wonders what will happen to the Palestinians and Israelis, caught in a seemingly unending conflict, as a result of the violence and hatred that characterize their relationship. He wonders "what can happen to someone who thinks he has all the power ... [and] what becomes of someone when he believes himself to have none?"

In July 2001, when he wrote the preface to the collected edition of Palestine, Sacco was still unsure about the prospects for peace: "As I write these words, a second Intifada is taking place because, in short, Israeli occupation, and all the consequences of the domination of one people by another, has not ceased." Since 2001, some progress has been made between the Palestinians and Israelis. Palestinians elected a new president, Mahmoud Abbas (1935–), early in 2005, and serious peace talks were renewed between the two sides. Perhaps even more importantly, Israel began to withdraw settlers from some parts of the Occupied Territories. Yet the questions raised by Palestine remain: how will the Palestinians and Israelis whose entire culture has been shaped by years and years of conflict learn to set aside their anger and hostility and live in peace?

Did you know ...

  • The Second, or al-Aqsa, Intifada began in 2000 and may have ended in 2005 with the election of Mahmoud Abbas to the presidency of the Palestinian Authority, the governing body for Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories.
  • There were approximately 3.9 million Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories in 2005, as well as about 370,000 Jews and 50,000 Christians.

Consider the following ...

  • In the introduction to Palestine, Edward Said wrote, "Joe Sacco can ... transmit a great deal of information, the human context and historical events that have reduced Palestinians to their present sense of stagnating [unchanging] powerlessness." Point to several instances in Sacco's work where he uses visual images to convey information about people and events.
  • One of the things that makes art different from regular journalism is that it uses such artistic devices as metaphors, similes, and imagery to help the reader or viewer understand the story. Locate examples of these devices in Sacco's work and explain how they help to heighten the effect of the story.
  • Compare Sacco's work on Palestine with more standard historical or journalistic sources. What are the strengths and weaknesses of both types of work? Is one better at conveying the "truth" about a situation? Explain in detail.
  • Identify some of the important questions raised by Sacco's work. What are other sources that can be used to further explore these issues?

For More Information


Sacco, Joe, with introduction by Edward Said. Palestine. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics Books, 2001 (previously published in nine comic books, 1993–96).


Blincoe, Nicholas. "Cartoon Wars." New Statesman (January 6, 2003): p. 26.

Burr, Ty. "Palestine: A Nation Occupied." Entertainment Weekly (October 7, 1994): p. 71.

Utne Reader (March–April 1995): p. 111.

Web Sites

"Joe Sacco." Fantagraphics Books. (accessed on June 24, 2005).

Tuhus-Dubrow, Rebecca. "Joe Sacco." January. (accessed on June 24, 2005).


views updated Jun 27 2018


PALESTINE , one of the names of the territory of the southern Levant known as the Land of *Israel and much later as the Holy Land. The name "Palestine" was originally an adjective derived from Heb. פְּלֶׂשֶת, Peleshet (Isa 14:29, 31; see also Prst or Plst in ancient Egyptian and Pilišti, Palaštu in Assyrian sources). The name is first used geographically in the mid-fifth century b.c.e. by Herodotus in the form of Συρία ή Παλαιστίνη, i.e., "the Philistine Syria"; subsequently, the name was shortened and the adjective "Palaistinei" became a proper noun. Philo identifies "Palaistinei" with biblical *Canaan. In talmudic literature Palestine is used as the name of a Roman province, adjoining the provinces of Finukyah (Phoenicia) and Aruvyah (Arabia; Gen. R. 90: 6). From the fourth century, however, the three provinces into which the Land of Israel was divided were referred to as the "first," "second," and "third Palestine," respectively.

Muslims used the term "Filasṭīn" for the "first Palestine" only, differentiating between it and "Urdunn" (Jordan); but these designations soon fell into disuse, as the Muslims generally referred to provinces by the names of their capital cities. The Crusaders renewed the use of the "three Palestines," the borders of which, however, differed from those of the Roman provinces. After the fall of the Crusader kingdom, Palestine was no longer an official designation, but it was still used in non-Jewish languages as the name of the "Holy Land" on both sides of the Jordan. It was not an administrative unit under the Ottoman Empire, when it was part of the province of Syria. In the disciplines of historical geography and biblical history of the 19th century (e.g., E. Robinson), Palestine was the name commonly used in the western world for the region, with "western" Palestine used in reference to the entire country west of the Jordan River, and "eastern" Palestine to Transjordan (see the maps of the Palestine Exploration Fund published in the early 1880s).

This was the situation until 1922, when the British, who had received the Mandate over Palestine on both sides of the Jordan from the League of Nations, practically restricted the application of the name to the part west of the Jordan, while east of the Jordan and south of the Yarmuk they established the emirate of Transjordan, which in 1946 became a kingdom. In 1948 the State of Israel was established in a large part of western Palestine, its territory demarcated in the *Armistice agreements of 1949 with the neighboring Arab countries. Transjordan annexed the Arab-inhabited part of western Palestine occupied by the Jordanian army and changed its own name to the Hashemite Kingdom of *Jordan, and Egypt retained and administered the *Gaza Strip. Thus, Palestine as a political entity ceased to exist. During the *Six-Day War (1967) the Israel army occupied the whole of the country west of the Jordan (hence the term "West Bank"; referred to also as "Judea and Samaria" or the "occupied" or "administered" territories), which also included the Gaza Strip, as well as the *Sinai Peninsula and the *Golan Heights. However, the latter were never geographically part of the earlier designation of Palestine. The name Palestine is now loosely used in the west to refer to the territories of Area A that are under the autonomous rule of the *Palestinian Authority, even though by 2006 a State of Palestine had not yet been proclaimed. See also *Israel, Land of: Names.

add. bibliography:

M. Noth, "Zur Geschichte des Namens Palästina," in: Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palaestine-Vereins, 62 (1939), 125–44; D. Cole, J. Greenfield, and K.M. Kenyon, "What is 'Palestine'?" in: Biblical Archaeology Review, 4 (Nov./Dec. 1978), 43–45; for a different view see: D.M. Jacobson, "Palestine and Israel," in: basor (1999), 65–74.

[Abraham J. Brawer /

Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]


views updated May 29 2018

Palestine Territory in the Middle East, on the e shore of the Mediterranean Sea; considered a Holy Land by Jews, Christians and Muslims.Palestine has been settled continuously since 4000 bc. The Jews moved into Palestine from Egypt c.2000 bc but were subjects of the Philistines until 1020 bc, when Saul, David, and Solomon established Hebrew kingdoms. The region was then under Assyrian and, later, Persian control before coming under Roman rule in 63 bc. In succeeding centuries, Palestine became a focus of Christian pilgrimage. Muslim Arabs conquered the region in 640. In 1099, Palestine fell to the Crusaders, but in 1291 they in turn were routed by the Mamluks. The area was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1516 to 1918, when British forces defeated the Turks at Megiddo. The Balfour Declaration encouraged Jewish immigration. After World War I, the British held a League of Nations mandate over the land w of the River Jordan (now once again called Palestine). Tension between Jews and the Arab majority led to an uprising in 1936. World War II and Nazi persecution brought many Jews to Palestine, and in 1947 Britain, unable to satisfy both Jewish and Arab aspirations, consigned the problem to the United Nations. The UN proposed a plan for separate Jewish and Arab states. This was rejected by the Arabs, and in 1948 (after the first of several Arab-Israeli Wars) most of ancient Palestine became part of the new state of Israel; the Gaza Strip was controlled by Egypt and the West Bank of the River Jordan by Jordan. These two areas were subsequently occupied by Israel in 1967. From the 1960s, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) led Palestinian opposition to Israeli rule, which included acts of terrorism and the Intifada in the occupied territories. In 1993, Israel reached an agreement with the PLO, and in 1994 the Palestine National Authority took over nominal administration of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Failure to find a peaceful settlement saw the resurgence of the Intifada in November 2000. The death of Yasir Arafat led to the election in January 2005 of Mahmoud Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen) as Palestinian leader.


views updated May 23 2018

Palestine, awarded by the League of Nations to Britain as a mandate in 1922, proved an uncomfortable responsibility. Balfour's declaration in 1917 tried to square the circle by insisting that Britain would support a national home for the Jewish people while doing nothing to prejudice the position of the non-Jewish peoples of Palestine. Persistent Jewish immigration provoked fierce Arab resistance. The advent of the Nazis to power in Germany in the 1930s gave a strong boost to greater Jewish immigration which, in turn, led to Arab armed resistance. After the war, British control was shaken by her economic difficulties, by Zionist terror groups, and by international sympathy towards Jewish settlement. The United Nations' scheme for a partition of Palestine had little chance of acceptance and civil war had broken out before the British left in May 1948. A Jewish state of Israel was declared at once and immediately recognized by the USA.

J. A. Cannon

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