Throughout the years of the Arab-Israeli conflict, one of the dominant themes has been whether or not to allow a separate homeland for the Palestinians. This issue of Palestinian identity and nationalism has affected the peace movement in Israel as well as throughout the Middle East.
To better understand the Palestinian fervor to return to and remain in Palestine, some discussion of the history of the area is necessary. By 1918, Palestine's population numbered approximately 500,000 Muslim Arabs, 100,000 Christian Arabs, and 60,000 Jews. The large majority of the Jewish population had arrived since 1880. Many of the original Jewish immigrants from Europe started establishing agricultural settlements in the area. They brought with them an ideology called Zionism. Zionism combined a program to revive ancient Hebrew culture with an assertion of the self-identity of Jews. Their program called for a Jewish "national home" in Palestine. The British invaded Palestine following World War I. The plan, approved by the League of Nations in 1922, was to encourage independent, self-governing entities in the area. Jordan became independent in 1928.
Independence was delayed in Palestine because of the conflicting Arab and Jewish claims. Based upon a political accord between Arab leaders and the British, Arab leaders were led to believe that the British would support the creation of an independent Arab state which would include Palestine. However, the British government promised support for the Zionists in 19l7.
The Palestine situation worsened in the 1930s when large numbers of Jews, fleeing Nazi persecution, poured into Palestine. As this influx continued, the Jewish population increased to almost a third of total Palestine inhabitants.
A frustrated Britain gave up on the conflict and turned it over to the United Nations (UN). The UN voted in November 1947 to split Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, despite viol...