Overall Chronology

Overall Chronology

V. Reverberations Of 1948 Palestine War And The Arab-Israeli Conflict
1 January 1950 to 14 July 1966

Between 1950 and 1966, the Arab-Israeli conflict was less of a struggle largely between Jews and Palestinian Arabs and more of a regional conflict among states, which in turn became in many respects part of the cold war between the West and the Soviet bloc by the mid-1950s. Israel solidified itself as a fact on the international scene and fortified the Zionist order it had established within its post-1948 boundaries. The loss of Palestine continued to reverberate throughout the Arab world; a number of established regimes were overthrown, often replaced by military men who had felt the sting of defeat in 1948. Meanwhile, the Palestinians themselves began to seek ways to reverse the outcome of that cataclysmic war.The failure of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP) to move Israel and the Arab states toward a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict during the Lausanne Conference (April-September 1949) left Israel free to consolidate its victory in 1948 and transform the spatial and demographic face of those parts of Palestine now under its control. From 1948 to 1951, Israel’s Jewish population doubled, as approximately six hundred thousand Jewish immigrants poured into the country under the 1950 Law of Return, which granted immediate citizenship to virtually any Jew in the world who moved to Israel. Half of these immigrants were Holocaust survivors from Europe, while the rest were primarily Jews from Arab countries. This influx of Jewish immigrants,  combined with the loss of approximately 80 percent of the indigenous Palestinians who had lived in what became Israel (because they had fled or been driven out as refugees during and shortly after the war) gave the new state a Jewish majority.

Israel stood on 20,330 square kilometers of what had been Palestine. To build new towns for Jewish immigrants and to prevent the Palestinian refugees from returning to their homes, Israel destroyed more than four hundred abandoned Palestinian villages in the first three years of its existence. The Israelis also confiscated millions of dunams of land abandoned by the refugees, whom they called “absentees,” according to the March 1950 Absentees’ Property Law. The state sold much of this land to the Jewish National Fund (JNF), which used it to settle incoming Jews. The government even declared about one-half of the Palestinians who stayed in Israel “absentees” and confiscated their land; it also laid claim to land that under the British had been categorized as state or public land. The result was that by 1962, approximately 93 percent of all the land in Israel had become “Israel Lands,” controlled either by the state or the JNF. To appreciate the magnitude of the gain, one must recall that on the eve of the 1948 war, slightly less than 7 percent of all the land in Palestine was controlled by Jews.

The 1948 war had a devastating effect on the Arab world as well. The Arabs had expected to thwart the Zionist project, and for many years they were still reeling from the massive defeat and loss of the bulk of Mandate Palestine to well-organized and well-funded foreign colonizers. The political results were felt immediately. Frustrated with their civilian political leadership, army officers in Syria took power through three different coups d’état in 1948. In July 1952, army officers led by Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser seized power in Egypt and eventually abolished the monarchy. After Jordan annexed the West Bank in April 1950, a Palestinian assassinated Jordan’s King Abdullah in Jerusalem in July 1951. The Arab Middle East was swept with ideological fervor: pan-Arab nationalism, pan-Syrian nationalism, and communism vied for influence among the masses.

In the absence of formal peace treaties, Israel remained technically at war with its Arab enemies after the 1949 armistice agreements. The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization worked with Israel and the front-line Arab states to keep border incidents from escalating. The Arab League declared a boycott of Israel and Israeli products and of foreign companies doing business with Israel. Despite allowing some refugees to return under family reunification programs, Israel categorically refused to repatriate the bulk of the Palestinian refugees. Some refugees managed to return, crossing the borders and cease-fire lines by stealth, but many others were killed by Israeli forces in the attempt.

The UNCCP continued its efforts to broker a final Arab-Israeli peace settlement. Following up on the failed Lausanne Conference of 1949, it convened another conference among the warring sides from January through July 1950 in Geneva, and a third from September through November 1951 in Paris. None led to a comprehensive peace deal. Thereafter, the UNCCP essentially gave up trying to broker Arab-Israeli peace, working instead on specific matters such as carrying out a massive study of Palestinian refugee property losses for the eventuality of a future compensation arrangement, a project that lasted from 1952 to 1964.

During the 1950s, the Arab-Israeli conflict became increasingly an arena of the cold war between the United States and its Western allies, on the one hand, and the Soviet Union and its allies on the other. Israel grew closer to the Western allies, as did Arab states like Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and (until the July 1958 coup d’état that overthrew the monarchy) Iraq. Others maintained friendly relations with the Soviet bloc. In addition to stoking inter-Arab tensions, the cold war also increased the lethality of Middle Eastern armies, as both blocs poured weapons into the region. Israel received a large shipment of modern weaponry from France in 1955, the same year that the Soviet Union sent arms to Egypt via Czechoslovakia. Egypt’s new weaponry and its sponsorship of armed Palestinian infiltration into Israel gave Israel increasing cause for concern. Meanwhile, Egyptian president Nasser’s growing prestige and his refusal to join the pro-West Baghdad Pact alliance system angered Britain, while his support for Algerian revolutionaries angered the French.

These factors ultimately led to a tripartite agreement among Israel, France, and Britain to attack Egypt in late 1956, the second major Arab-Israeli war. The war’s immediate trigger was Egypt’s nationalization of the Suez Canal Company in July 1956. On 29 October 1956, Israeli forces invaded Gaza and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Under the pretext of trying to protect the canal from battle damage, British and French forces invaded Egypt along the canal and engaged Egyptian forces. Hostile international reaction to the tripartite invasion (including from both the United States and Soviet Union) forced the British and French to withdraw by December 1956. Israeli forces finally left Sinai and Gaza in March 1957.

After the Suez War ended, Israel and the Arab states returned to a period of relative calm. Egypt rebuilt its military with additional Soviet weapons. Israel began a highly secret program to produce nuclear weapons at the nuclear reactor it built at Dimona with French assistance. Tensions began to mount again in 1964, when Israel started pumping water out of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias). In response, the Arab states convened their first summit meeting in Cairo in January 1964 and decided to establish an agency to plan for the diversion of the Jordan tributaries and to mandate Ahmad al-Shuqairi, the Palestine Representative in the Arab League, to put in place the basis for organizing the Palestinian people so that it plays “its role in liberating its homeland and determining its future.” In May 1964, the Palestine National Council convened for the first time in East Jerusalem and proclaimed the formation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), with Ahmad al-Shuqairi as its chairman. The PLO was allowed to form an army, the Palestine Liberation Army, with units stationed in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq.

In practice, however, these forces operated as adjuncts to the respective host countries’ armies rather than as independent troops controlled by the PLO. Other Palestinians became frustrated with the inability of the Arab states to work for the liberation of Palestine. One group of activists in Kuwait formed a secret revolutionary organization called Fatah in 1959. Its leaders included Yasir Arafat (Abu Ammar), Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad), Salah Khalaf (Abu Iyad), and Khalid al-Hasan (Abu Sa‘id). Impatient with the Arab states and the PLO, Fatah activists declared that they would liberate their homeland themselves through armed struggle, and on 1 January 1965, Fatah announced that its military forces, called al-‘Asifa, had carried out its first armed raid into Israeli territory. Only a few years after that, this small group of Palestinian refugees would find themselves at the helm of a Palestinian national movement that had asserted itself on the world stage.



Selected Bibliography

Fischbach, Michael R. Records of Dispossession: Palestinian Refugee Property and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Institute for Palestine Studies Series. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

Gerges, Fawaz A. The Superpowers and the Middle East: Regional and International Politics, 1955–1967. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1994.

Khalidi, Walid, ed. All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948. Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1992.

Kyle, Keith. Suez. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991.

Morris, Benny. Israel’s Border Wars, 1949–1956: Arab Infiltration, Israeli Retaliation, and the Countdown to the Suez War. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Robinson, Shira. Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel’s Liberal Settler State. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013.

Sayigh, Yezid. Armed Struggle and the State: The Palestinian National Movement, 1949–1993. Oxford: Oxford University Press; Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 2000.

Shlaim, Avi. The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World Since 1948. New York: W.W. Norton, 2001.

Overall Chronology
E.g., 2020/08/11
E.g., 2020/08/11
Event Date Subject
Dissolution of the Jordanian Parliament 1 January 1950
Cross-Border Attacks from Gaza 1950
Qadri Tuqan publishes Ba'd al-Nakba (After the Nakba) in Beirut January 1950
Jordan Issues National Guard Law 17 January 1950
Israel's Measures to Make Jerusalem Its Capital 23 January 1950 - 13 July 1953
Absentee Property Law, 5710-1950 14 March 1950
Special International Regime for Jerusalem 4 April 1950
Jordanian Parliamentary Elections; Formal Unification of the Two Banks 11 April 1950 - 24 April 1950
Britain Recognizes Israel on a de jure Basis 27 April 1950
Elections at al-Urwa al-Wuthqa Society May 1950
Expulsion from Hebron Area 3 May 1950
Tripartite Declaration 25 May 1950
Israeli Law of Return 5 July 1950
Development Authority (Transfer of Property) Law, 5710-1950 9 August 1950
UNGA 393 (V): Economic Reintegration of Refugees in the Middle East 2 December 1950
UNGA 394 (V): UNCCP to Establish Office on Compensation to Refugees 14 December 1950
Led by George Habash, Arab Nationalist Activists on the Way to Structure Their Movement 1 January 1951 - 30 November 1952
Palestinian Memorandum to UNCCP, Beirut 27 January 1951
Palestinian Memorandum to UNCCP, Ramallah July 1951
Assassination of King Abdullah 20 July 1951 - 11 August 1952
23rd Zionist Congress Is Held in Jerusalem 14 August 1951 - 30 August 1951
Security Council Resolution S/RES/95 1 September 1951
Publication of the Constitution of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan 8 January 1952
UNGA 512 (VI): UNCCP to Continue its Efforts 26 January 1952
UNGA 513 (VI): UNRWA to Carry Refugee Relief and Reintegration for 3 years 26 January 1952
The Knesset Enacts the Nationality Law 1 April 1952
Palestinians in Israel Protest the Nationality law 14 July 1952
The Egyptian Revolution of 1952 23 July 1952
The Knesset Adopts the Entry into Israel Law 26 August 1952
The Zionist Organization/Jewish Agency Status Law 24 November 1952
Israeli Operation in Jordan 28 January 1953
Land Acquisition (Validation of Acts and Compensation) Law 10 March 1953
King Hussein’s Formal Accession to the Throne 2 May 1953
Israel's Foreign Ministry Moves to Jerusalem 10 July 1953 - 12 July 1953
The Knesset Adopts the Law of State Education 12 August 1953
Israeli Operation in Gaza 28 August 1953
Israel's Construction of the "National Water Carrier" 2 September 1953
Israeli Operation Against Qibya 14 October 1953
Anti-Israeli Demonstrations in Jordan 21 October 1953
Security Council Resolution S/RES/101 24 November 1953
General Islamic Conference on Jerusalem, Jerusalem 3 December 1953 - 9 December 1953
Arab League and Jordan River Waters 15 February 1954
Jordanian Nationality Law 16 February 1954
Israeli Operation Against Jordan 28 March 1954
The US and Jordan River Waters 25 June 1954 - 6 July 1954
The Lavon Affair July 1954
Covenant between Zionist Organization and Israel 26 July 1954
The Knesset Issues the Prevention of Infiltration Law 16 August 1954
Egypt Detains Israeli Freighter 28 September 1954
Baghdad Pact 24 February 1955
After Mounting Egyptian-Israel Tension Around Gaza, a Turning Point for Egypt and Opportunities for Israel 28 February 1955 - 3 April 1955
Palestinians in Gaza Rise Up Against Resettlement Projects 1 March 1955 - 6 March 1955
Security Council Resolution S/RES/106 29 March 1955
Gaza's Basic Law 11 May 1955
Egypt Restricts Passage Through Strait of Tiran 11 September 1955
Egyptian-Czech Arms Deal 27 September 1955
David Ben-Gurion Replaces Moshe Sharett as Prime Minister 3 November 1955
Israeli Attack on Syria (Operation Olive Leaves) 10 December 1955 - 11 December 1955
Security Council Resolution S/RES/111 19 January 1956
Clashes Across Gaza Borders 2 April 1956 - 14 April 1956
24th Zionist Congress Is Held in Jerusalem 24 April 1956 - 7 May 1956
Egypt Blocks Greek Freighter 25 May 1956
Israel and France Plan War 22 June 1956 - 29 July 1956
US Withdraws Aswan Funding 19 July 1956
Israeli-Jordanian Clashes 25 July 1956 - 21 August 1956
Nationalization of the Suez Canal 26 July 1956
London Conference on Suez 16 August 1956 - 23 August 1956
Egyptian-Israeli Armed Incidents 17 August 1956 - 11 September 1956
Ben-Gurion Addresses the Issue of Suez 26 August 1956
Escalation Across Jordanian-Israeli Lines 10 September 1956 - 26 September 1956
Situation on Jordanian-Israeli Lines Continues to Deteriorate; Israeli Raid on Qalqilya 4 October 1956 - 11 October 1956
Britain, France, and Israel Sign the Protocol of Sèvres 22 October 1956 - 24 October 1956
Israel Invades Egypt 29 October 1956
Kafr Qasim Massacre 29 October 1956
Britain and France Join the War 31 October 1956
Israel Occupies Gaza 1 November 1956 - 7 March 1957
GA Resolutions 997 (ES-I) and 998 (ES-I): UNGA Emergency Session 2 November 1956 - 5 November 1956
British and French Troops Invade Canal Zone 5 November 1956
Soviet Union Threatens Intervention 5 November 1956
GA Resolution 1002 (ES-I) 7 November 1956
Israel Addresses the Future of Sinai 7 November 1956 - 8 November 1956
Israel Addresses the Future of Gaza 10 November 1956 - 3 February 1957
The United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) Deploys in Sinai 12 November 1956 - 12 March 1957
UNRWA Director Issues Special Report on Situation in Gaza Strip 15 December 1956
Palestinians in Israel Stage a General Strike to Protest the Kafr Qasim Massacre 6 January 1957
GA Resolutions 1123, 1124, 1125 (XI) 19 January 1957 - 3 February 1957
Israel Refuses Full Withdrawal 3 February 1957
Pressures and Assurances to Israel on Gulf of Aqaba and Gaza 20 February 1957 - 1 March 1957
Israel Withdraws from Gaza and Sinai 7 March 1957 - 12 March 1957
Fatah Is Founded September 1957
Egypt and Syria Unite and Form the United Arab Republic 1 February 1958 - 28 September 1961
The Knesset adopts the Basic Law: The Knesset 12 February 1958
Basic Law for the Gaza Strip 25 February 1958 - 15 March 1958
Civil War in Lebanon May 1958 - October 1958
Anti-Monarchic Coup in Iraq 14 July 1958
The Arab League and Palestinian Entity 4 March 1959
Arab States Protest Jewish Immigration 11 May 1959
Fatah's Organizational Structure Set in a Kuwait Meeting 10 October 1959
Iraq and a "Palestinian Republic" 15 December 1959
Status of Jordanian Jerusalem Municipality Enhanced Symbolically 16 December 1959
Mahmoud Darwish Publishes First Book of Poetry, 'Asafeer bila Ajniha (Wingless Birds) 1960
Israel's Strike Against Syria 31 January 1960 - 15 February 1960
Iraqi Government Announces Formation of a “Palestinian Liberation Regiment” 26 March 1960
Fatah and the Palestinian Entity June 1960
Basic Law: Israel Lands 19 July 1960
Israel Land Administration Law, 5720-1960 25 July 1960
25th Zionist Congress Meets in Jerusalem 27 December 1960 - 11 January 1961
GA Resolution 1604 (XV) 21 April 1961
The Arab League and Implementation of Palestinian Entity 29 May 1961 - 26 June 1961
Opening of a Palestine Arab Delegation Office in New York 17 July 1961
Appointment of Special Representative of the UN Conciliation Commission on Palestine 24 August 1961
Palestinians in Israel Demonstrate 21 September 1961
Ghassan Kanafani Publishes First Novel, Rijal fi-l-shams (Men in the Sun), in Beirut 1962
The Constitutional Statute for the Gaza Strip 5 March 1962
Israeli Raid Against Syria 16 March 1962 - 17 March 1962
Security Council Resolution S/RES/171 9 April 1962
Proposals Announced by Joseph Johnson, Special Representative of the UN Conciliation Commission on Palestine 31 August 1962
Israeli and Arab Responses to Joseph Johnson's Proposals 5 October 1962 - 17 October 1962
Akhbar Filastin Newspaper Is Published in Gaza March 1963
Death of Ahmad Hilmi Abd al-Baqi; Ahmad al-Shuqairi as Palestine Delegate to the Arab League 29 June 1963 - 19 September 1963
The Union of Arab Palestinian Women and Palestinian Entity 6 July 1963
Syrian-Israeli Clashes 19 August 1963 - 20 August 1963
Draft Security Council Resolution S/5407 3 September 1963
Fatah Opens Its First Office in Algeria 23 September 1963
Palestinian Delegation at the UN 18 October 1963 - 5 November 1963
1st Arab Summit Is Held in Cairo 13 January 1964 - 17 January 1964
Yasir Arafat and Khalil al-Wazir Confer with Premier Chou-En-Lai in China 17 March 1964
Israel Starts Diverting the Jordan River May 1964 - August 1964
1st Palestine National Council Is Held in Jerusalem 28 May 1964 - 2 June 1964
2nd Arab Summit Meets in Alexandria 5 September 1964 - 11 September 1964
26th Zionist Congress Is Held in Jerusalem 30 December 1964 - 10 January 1965
Fatah Issues Its First Military Communiqué 1 January 1965
President Bourguiba and 1947 Partition Plan 27 February 1965 - 11 March 1965
The PLO Executive Committee Adopts its Bylaws 11 March 1965
Israel Carries out an Operation in Jordan in Response to Fatah Raids 27 May 1965
2nd Palestine National Council Is Held in Cairo 31 May 1965 - 4 June 1965
The General Union of Palestinian Women Is Formed in Jerusalem 15 July 1965
Military Training for Palestinians 11 October 1965
3rd Palestine National Council Is Held in Gaza 20 May 1966 - 24 May 1966