About Palestine

Palestinian loss of land

Land and maps are the key to understanding the Palestinian story, so too is colonial involvement in the Middle East and political Zionism.  With the defeat of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, the Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916) divided the Middle East between Britain and France despite a British promise of Arab independence in return for the Arab revolt against Ottoman rule.

Palestinian Loss of Land 1946 - 2015

The Basle Declaration (1897)

Item No.1 of the Basle Declaration agreed at the first Zionist Congress declared the primary objective of Zionism to be the "colonisation of Palestine by Jewish agricultural and industrial workers".  Then In 1917 Arthur James Balfour (British Foreign Secretary) wrote to Lord Rothhild (Zionist Federation in Great Britain) stating that the British Government viewed "with favour the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people".  This agreement was arrived at without any consultation with the 600,000 Palestinian Arabs who resided in historic Palestine. 

The British Mandate (1922-1948)

Palestinian Loss of Land 1946 - 2000

During World War I, Britain sought and obtained Arab assistance in overthrowing Ottoman rule in the Arab lands stretching from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, including Syria and Mesopotamia (now Iraq). In exchange for this assistance, Britain promised the Arab leadership that it would recognise an Arab state in the Middle East. However, Britain made a conflicting agreement with France – the Sykes-Picot Agreement – for joint control of the Middle East. So, instead of the promised Arab state, Britain and France broke up the Middle East into a series of states under their control. Britain was granted a mandate to administer Palestine by the newly formed League of Nations. The mandate incorporated the Balfour Declaration’s commitment to a homeland for the Jews in Palestine.

The United Nations Partition of Palestine (1947)

The United Nations (UN) partitioned Palestine in 1947 granting 56% of the area to a Jewish state, even though they only comprised 1/3 of the population and owned less than 6% of the land (Map Stage 2).
In 1948, the year the state of Israel was established, around 750,000 Palestinians were forcefully driven from their homes, over 500 villages depopulated/demolished and 78% of Palestinian lands occupied by Israelis.  This tragedy is now described by Palestinians as the Nakba (‘catastrophe’). 

The Israeli Occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem (1967)

In 1967 Israel occupied Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem which meant that the remaining 22% of Palestine was seized by the Israeli state and further suffering inflicted (see Map 3). 

Further information

A more detailed synopsis of the loss of Palestinian land may be downloaded here (PDF file 1.13 Mb)

A Sadaka leaflet which contains the maps and the explanation above is available for download here. This is a PDF leaflet (1.2 MB) which is freely available and may be folded into five sections (concertina style) for printing and dissemination.


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Ballyshannon PO
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Email: info@sadaka.ie

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