For the idea of Zionism to become a territorial reality, Jews required a population and a territory. Creating facts on the ground provided the future state with its demographic and physical nucleus. With 34 pages of original maps alongside contextual, historic descriptions, the story of Zionism’s steady growth is vividly shown and explained.
The area of Eretz Yisrael was part of the Ottoman Empire and composed of three large administrative areas without any political
identity as a state or part of a state. At times, portions of the area that was later designated as the Palestine Mandate
were ruled from Mecca, Damascus, or Baghdad, or in the case of Jerusalem, directly from Istanbul.
The region prior to the outbreak of WWI. After the War, Modern Middle Eastern states had their borders arbitrarily drawn by European powers.
The Russian, French, English secret agreement that carved up the Middle East into future areas of interest
The European agreement that identified the states of the Middle East, 1920.
When Britain controlled Palestine, she lopped off 80% of it and assigned it to the Hashemite family leader, Emir Abdullah. It became today’s Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Jewish land acquisition in 1930 mostly in the valley and coastal regions
The UN suggested partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states with an economic union between them and an internationalization of Jerusalem
In the aftermath of the 1948 War of Independence, Israel signed armistice agreements with Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. These armistice lines lasted until the immediate aftermath of the June 1967 War.
As a result of the June 1967 War, Israel increased its size seven fold to include Eastern Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, the West Bank of the Jordan River, and the Gaza Strip.
Drafted by Minister of Labor Yigal Alon after the June 1967 War, the plan envisages Israeli retention of a series of settlements and military installations along the Jordan Valley, as buffers to a potential Arab land attack from the east. The plan was never implemented.
For Sadat, who had gone to war against Israel three months earlier, securing a military disengagement agreement was important.
In addition, diplomatically engaging the US to secure the agreement meant entrenching Washington as a friend of Egypt.
The US embraced the opportunity to quell tensions between Israel and Egypt, while squiring Cairo away from decades of Moscow’s
embrace. Israel had its POWs returned and slowly tested Sadat’s broader intentions toward Jerusalem.
In the last days of the June 1967 War Israel secured a portion of the Syrian Golan Heights, estimated at 1300 sq km or 500
sq mi; Israel forces sit some 40 miles, 60km from Damascus. Before the June War, Israeli villages and populations in the
valley were fired upon by Syrian forces from the Heights. In addition to being an important catchment for Jordan River
waters which helps supply Israel’s water needs, the heights contain not fully explored hydrocarbon sources. In the northern
Heights is Mt. Hermon which has strategic value for observing military movements into southern Lebanon and to Damascus.
To test Egypt’s intentions, Israel took eight years, from January 1974 to April 1982, to withdraw from virtually all of Sinai.
The Old City of Jerusalem divided into four religious quarters, Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Moslem areas. The overall population of the old city is less than 40,000.
After Israel secured the Golan Heights in the June 1967 War, the Israeli government offered to negotiate its return, some
1300 km, for a peace treaty with Israel. Israel withdrew from a small portion of the Heights after the 1973 War. It continued
to build Israeli settlements in strategic locations and in 1981 applied Israeli law to the area. Some 20,000 Israelis live
there in 32 settlements, along with 20,000 Druze.
As an unintended consequence of the June 1967 War, Israel found itself controlling the entire West Bank of the Jordan River,
amounting to 2,300 square miles with 680,000 Palestinian living in 396 villages, towns and in portions of Jerusalem.
From 1976 forward, the US and the international community in general have labelled the settlements as either “illegal”
or as an “obstacle to peace.” The growth of the settlements or their expansion has occurred in a spatial manner that
places Israeli settler populations in between Arab villages and towns in order to limit or prevent Arab territorial contiguity
in the West Bank.
From 1977-1979, the settler population in the territories grew from 3,200 to 17,500, plus 80,000 in East Jerusalem. Of
the 225,000 Israel settlers in the “territories,” in 2005, all 8,500 settlers living in Gaza (5% of the total) were evacuated
with the area turned over to the Palestinian Authority. Later in 2006, Hamas conducted a coup and ousted the Palestinian
Authority from Gaza.