NOTE: THIS IS THE SEVENTH IN A SERIES OF POSTS PROVIDING A COMPREHENSIVE PALESTINE-ISRAEL TIMELINE. THE COMPLETED TIMELINE WILL BE AVAILABLE AS A PDF AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE SERIES.
PALESTINE-ISRAEL TIMELINE: 1977 – 1990
Late 1970s: The Sephardic community grows to over half the population of Israel.
Late 1970s: Links are forged between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)and the inhabitants of the occupied territories. Yasir Arafat is accepted as the spokesman for the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as for the refugees and exiles in the Arab countries.
1977-1983: The (Menachem) Begin years mark the beginning of what is called “the second Israel,” a new era with a highly charged tone of religious militancy.
March 26, 1979: The Egyptian-Israeli Treaty is signed — Sinai, but not the Gaza Strip, is returned to Egypt. However, the framework for peace is never implemented. Begin has managed to exchange the Sinai for control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Egypt becomes isolated from the Arab world.
1980: Austria grants the PLO full diplomatic recognition.
1980: The Begin government declares that unregistered and uncultivated land will be classified as state land to be dealt with as Israeli authorities see fit. This pronouncement gives the Israeli government the pretext to acquire 500,000 acres on the West Bank, slightly more than 40% of its land area.
Early 1980s: 30% of the Gaza Strip is transferred to Israeli state ownership.
June 6, 1982: Israel invades Lebanon in response to a series of PLO mortar and rocket attacks against settlements in the Galilee sector of northern Israel. The purpose of the invasion is twofold: the destruction of PLO bases in southern Lebanon and the destruction of PLO infrastructure in West Beirut.
August 18, 1982: By agreement, a multinational force headed by France and the US will supervise the evacuation of PLO fighters from West Beirut and guarantee the safety of Palestinian civilians left behind.
September 1, 1982: Evacuation is completed and US forces withdraw.
September 1982: Israel violates the evacuation agreement by sending its army into West Beirut. Instead of protecting civilians, the Israeli military allows units of the (Lebanese) Phalange militia to enter Palestinian refugee camps. Over 1,000 men, women, and children left unprotected by the PLO evacuation are massacred.
1982: The PLO move their headquarters to Tunis. Arafat and his associates retain control, but the organization is less cohesive than before and is vulnerable to increased pressure from Arab states.
1983-1985: The Israelis undertake a protracted evacuation of Lebanon. They continue to occupy a security zone in the south making up roughly 10% of Lebanese territory. They remain subject to attacks by local armed groups claiming the right to liberate their country from occupation.
1985: Palestinian guerrillas reestablish themselves in southern Lebanon.
1986-1992: Likud’s leader, Yitzhak Shamir, serves as Israel’s prime minister. Shamir believes that all lands of biblical Israel should be incorporated into the Jewish state. He intensifies the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and commits the government to a policy of incorporating the territories into Israel. He also promotes measures designed to isolate and subjugate the Palestinian inhabitants.
December 9, 1987: The Palestinian uprising or intifada (shaking off) begins in Gaza as a purely local response to unbearable conditions. (It isn’t inspired by the external PLO leadership in Tunis.) Within a few days the West Bank is also engulfed in the uprising as thousands of demonstrators carrying stones, slingshots, and gasoline bombs confront the Israeli armed forces.
January 1988: An underground leadership, the Unified National Leadership (UNL), emerges to coordinate the uprising. It issues sequentially numbered leaflets containing instructions for protest activities ranging from general strikes to street demonstrations. The objectives of the intifada are contained in a 14-point program drawn up by a group of prominent Palestinians and endorsed by the UNL.
1988: As the uprising gains momentum, new organizations form in rivalry with the UNL. The most significant of these is the Islamic Resistance Movement, known as HAMAS, an offshoot of the Gaza branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. In contrast to the PLO and its secular nationalism, Hamas frames its program and its call to action in Islamic terms. The Hamas Charter of 1988 refers to Hamas as a Palestinian resistance movement that takes Islam as a way of life. It doesn’t support the two-state solution gradually endorsed by the PLO.
Fall 1988: In an attempt to enlist US help in negotiations with Israel, the PLO endorses Resolution 242 and accepts the existence of the state of Israel in its pre 1967 boundaries. The PLO proclaims an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital. These pronouncements represent the so-called 2-state compromise.
1988: The PLO gains public recognition from the United States.
Late 1990: Although activities associated with the intifada continue sporadically until 1992, its intensity begins to diminish. The uprising has cost the lives of an estimated 1,025 Palestinians, including 250 alleged collaborators, and 56 Israelis. More than 37,000 Arabs have been wounded and 35,000-40,000 have been arrested.