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Palestine(păl`əstīn), historic region on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, at various times comprising parts of modern Israel, the West Bank and Gaza (recognized internationally by nations as independent Palestine), Jordan, and Egypt; also known as the Holy Land. The name is derived from a word meaning "land of the Philistines." This article discusses mainly the geography and the history of Palestine until the United Nations took up the Palestine problem in 1947; for the economy and later history, see IsraelIsrael
, officially State of Israel, republic (2015 est. pop. 8,065,000, including Israelis in occupied Arab territories), 7,992 sq mi (20,700 sq km), SW Asia, on the Mediterranean Sea.
..... Click the link for more information. , JordanJordan,
officially Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, kingdom (2015 est. pop. 8,117,000), 35,637 sq mi (92,300 sq km), SW Asia. It borders on Israel and the West Bank in the west, on Syria in the north, on Iraq in the northeast, and on Saudi Arabia in the east and south.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Palestinian AuthorityPalestinian Authority
(PA) or Palestinian National Authority,
interim self-government body responsible for areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip under Palestinian control.
..... Click the link for more information. , West BankWest Bank,
territory, formerly part of Palestine, after 1949 administered by Jordan, since 1967 largely occupied by Israel (2005 est. pop. 2,386,000), 2,165 sq mi (5,607 sq km), west of the Jordan River, incorporating the northwest quadrant of the Dead Sea.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Gaza StripGaza Strip
, (2007 pop. 1,416,543) rectangular coastal area, c.140 sq mi (370 sq km), SW Asia, on the Mediterranean Sea adjoining Egypt and Israel, in what was formerly SW Palestine, now officially administered by the Palestinian Authority.
..... Click the link for more information. .
In the Bible, Palestine is called Canaan before the invasion of Joshua; the usual Hebrew name is Eretz Israel [land of Israel]. Palestine is the Holy Land of Jews, having been promised to them by God according to the Bible; of Christians because it was the scene of Jesus' life; and of Muslims because they consider Islam to be the heir of Judaism and Christianity and because Jerusalem is the site, according to Muslim tradition, of Muhammad's ascent to heaven. The Holy Land derives its special character from being a place of pilgrimage. Shrines, shared in common by several religions, cluster most numerously in and about Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Hebron.
Palestine's boundaries, never constant, always included at least the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. So defined, the region is c.140 mi (225 km) long and c.30 to c.70 mi (50–115 km) wide. Outside these bounds were such biblical lands as EdomEdom
, mountainous country, called also Mt. Seir. According to the Book of Genesis, it was given to Esau, also called Edom, and his descendants. It extended along the eastern border of the Arabah valley, from the Dead Sea to Elat.
..... Click the link for more information. , GileadGilead
, in the Bible. 1 Eponym of the Gileadites, grandson of Manasseh. 2 Gadite. 3 Jephthah's father. 4 City near Mizpah, denounced by Hosea. 5 Fertile, mountainous region, NE of the Dead Sea.
..... Click the link for more information. , MoabMoab
, ancient nation located in the uplands E of the Dead Sea, now part of Jordan. The area is unprotected from the east, hence its history is a chain of raids by the Bedouin.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Hauran. The British mandate of Palestine (1920–48) included also the Negev, a c.100-mile-long (160-km) desert stretching S to the Gulf of Aqaba.
From east to west, Palestine proper comprises three geographic zones: the depression—northernmost extension of the Great Rift Valley—in which lies the Jordan River, Lake Hula, the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias), the Dead Sea, and the Arabah, a dry valley S of the Dead Sea; a ridge rising steeply to the west of this cleft; and a coastal plain c.12 mi (20 km) wide. In N Palestine the ridge is interrupted by the Plain of Esdraelon (Jezreel) and the connecting valley of Bet Shean (Beisan), the most fertile part of the region. The highland area to the north is called GalileeGalilee
, region, N Israel, roughly the portion north of the plain of Esdraelon. Galilee was the chief scene of the ministry of Jesus. The Sea of Galilee (see Galilee, Sea of), the countryside, and the towns—Cana, Capernaum, Tiberias, Nazareth—are repeatedly referred
..... Click the link for more information. , its chief centers being ZefatZefat
, town (1994 pop. 21,600), NE Israel. One of Israel's four holy cities, it has a thriving artists' colony and many museums and ancient synagogues. Ceramics, diamonds, and handicrafts are produced in the town, which has a large Orthodox Jewish population. Founded c.A.D.
..... Click the link for more information. and NazarethNazareth
, town (1993 pop. 53,500), N Israel, in Galilee. As the home of Jesus, it is a great pilgrimage and tourist center. Nazareth is also the trade center for an agricultural region. The town's manufactures include processed food, cigarettes, and pottery.
..... Click the link for more information. , near which rises Mt. Tabor. To the south of the Plain of Esdraelon the broad ridge stretches unbroken to the Negev. First there are the hills of SamariaSamaria
, city, ancient Palestine, on a hill NW of modern-day Nablus (Shechem). The site is now occupied by a village, Sabastiyah (West Bank). Samaria (named for Shemer, who owned the land) was built by King Omri as the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel in the early 9th
..... Click the link for more information. , with northward prongs (to the east Gilboa and to the west Mt. Carmel) fronting on the Bay of Acre. The center of Samaria is NablusNablus
, Heb. Shechem, city (2003 est. pop. 127,000), the West Bank. It is the market center for a region where wheat and olives are grown and sheep and goats are grazed. Manufactures include soap made from olive oil and colorful shepherds' coats.
..... Click the link for more information. , which lies between Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim. The mountains of JudaeaJudaea
[Lat. from Judah], region, Greco-Roman name for S Palestine. It varied in size in different periods. In the time of Jesus it was both part of the province of Syria and a kingdom ruled by the Herods.
..... Click the link for more information. are W of the Dead Sea. In Judaea are JerusalemJerusalem
, Heb. Yerushalayim, Arab. Al Quds, city (1994 pop. 578,800), capital of Israel. East Jerusalem is also claimed by Palestinians as a future capital, and most nations have not formally recognized the city as the capital of Israel in the belief that its
..... Click the link for more information. , BethlehemBethlehem
[Heb.,=house of bread or house of Lahm, a goddess], Arab. Bayt Lahm, town (2003 est. pop. 28,000), in the West Bank. It is traditionally considered the birthplace of Jesus and is one of the world's great shrines.
..... Click the link for more information. , and HebronHebron,
Arab. Al-Khalil, city (2003 est. pop. 155,000), the West Bank. Hebron is situated at an altitude of 3,000 ft (910 m) in a region where grapes, cereal grains, and vegetables are grown.
..... Click the link for more information. . Well to the south, in the Negev, lies BeershebaBeersheba
[Heb.,=seven wells or well of the oath], city (1994 pop. 147,900), S Israel, principal city of the Negev Desert. It is the trade center for surrounding settlements and for Bedouins, who hold a weekly market in Beersheba. Construction is the city's main industry.
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The towns of the coastal plain are AkkoAkko
, Fr. Saint-Jean d'Acre, Arab. Acca, city (1994 pop. 45,300), NW Israel, a port on the Bay of Haifa (an arm of the Mediterranean Sea). Its manufactures include iron and steel, chemicals, and textiles. The city was captured (A.D.
..... Click the link for more information. (Acre), HaifaHaifa
, city (1994 pop. 246,700), NW Israel, a port on the Mediterranean Sea, at the foot of Mt. Carmel. Haifa is the chief city of N Israel and the country's principal oil refining center.
..... Click the link for more information. , NetanyaNetanya
, city (1994 pop. 144,900), W central Israel, on the Mediterranean Sea; also spelled Nathania. It is a beach resort and the trade center for agricultural settlements in the region. Diamond cutting and polishing and citrus packing are the chief industries.
..... Click the link for more information. , and the twin cities of Tel AvivTel Aviv
, city (1994 pop. 355,200), W central Israel, on the Mediterranean Sea. Oficially named Tel Aviv–Jaffa, it is Israel's commercial, financial, communications, and cultural center and the core of its largest metropolitan area.
..... Click the link for more information. and JaffaJaffa
, Heb. Yafo, part of Tel Aviv, W central Israel, on the Mediterranean Sea. Originally a Phoenician city, Jaffa has been historically important largely because of its port (which was closed in 1965, when the port of Ashdod was completed).
..... Click the link for more information. . Near Tel Aviv are Petah TiqwaPetah Tiqwa
, town (1994 pop. 152,000), W central Israel. Its industries produce textiles, plastics, processed foods, tires and other rubber products, and soap. There are extensive citrus groves on the outskirts, and building stone is quarried nearby.
..... Click the link for more information. , LodLod
, city (1994 pop. 51,200), central Israel. It is also known as Lydda. Its manufactures include paper products, chemicals, oil products, electronic equipment, processed food, and cigarettes.
..... Click the link for more information. , RamlaRamla
[Arab.,=sand], town (1994 pop. 57,300), central Israel, in a farming area. Ramla may be the biblical Ramathaim-zophim, but more probably it was founded (c.716) by the Arabs.
..... Click the link for more information. , and RehovotRehovot
, town (1994 pop. 84,900), central Israel. It is the trade center for a large citrus-growing area, and its industries include fruit packing and the production of citrus concentrates.
..... Click the link for more information. . To the south is GazaGaza,
, or Ghuzzeh
, town (2003 est. pop. 380,000), principal city and administrative center of the Gaza Strip, SW Asia, on the Philistia plain between the Mediterranean Sea and W Israel.
..... Click the link for more information. . The various sections of the plain are named the Valley of Zebulun, or Plain of Acre, S of Akko; Sharon, S of Mt. Carmel; and the Shephelah, or Philistia, in the extreme south.
Agriculture in the Jordan valley centers around Lake Hula and the Sea of Galilee. The chief town is TiberiasTiberias
, town (1994 pop. 36,400), NE Israel, on the Sea of Galilee, 682 ft (208 m) below sea level. It is one of the four holy cities of Judaism and a trade center for agricultural settlements. A resort town, Tiberias has hotels, a hot springs spa, and a lake port.
..... Click the link for more information. . Farther south the valley is too narrow to be of much use, except for providing water power, and there is only one city, JerichoJericho
[Heb.,=fragrant, or city of the moon god], Arab. Ariha, town (2003 est. pop. 19,000), West Bank, in the Jordan valley N of the Dead Sea; nearby is the site of the ancient city of Jericho.
..... Click the link for more information. , E of Jerusalem. The surface—c.1,300 ft (400 m) below sea level—of the Dead Sea, into which the Jordan empties, is the lowest spot on the earth's surface.
The earliest known inhabitants of Palestine were of the same group as the Neanderthal inhabitants of Europe. By the 4th millennium B.C. Palestine was inhabited by herders and farmers. It was in the 3d millennium that most of the towns known in historical times came into existence. They became centers of trade for Egyptian and Babylonian goods. During the 2d millennium, Palestine was ruled by the Hyksos and by the Egyptians. Toward the end of this period Moses led the Hebrew people (see JewsJews
[from Judah], traditionally, descendants of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, whose tribe, with that of his half-brother Benjamin, made up the kingdom of Judah; historically, members of the worldwide community of adherents to Judaism.
..... Click the link for more information. ) out of Egypt, across the Sinai, and into Palestine.
Around 1200 B.C., the Philistines invaded the southern coastland and established a powerful kingdom (see PhilistiaPhilistia
, region of SW ancient Palestine, comprising a coastal strip along the Mediterranean and a portion of S Canaan. The chief cities of Philistia were Gaza, Ashqelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath; strategically located on the great commercial route from Egypt to Syria, they
..... Click the link for more information. ). The Hebrews were subject to the Philistines until c.1000 B.C., when an independent Hebrew kingdom was established under SaulSaul,
first king of the ancient Hebrews. He was a Benjamite and anointed king by Samuel. Saul's territory was probably limited to the hill country of Judah and the region to the north, and his proximity to the Philistines brought him into constant conflict with them.
..... Click the link for more information. , who was succeeded by DavidDavid,
d. c.970 B.C., king of ancient Israel (c.1010–970 B.C.), successor of Saul. The Book of First Samuel introduces him as the youngest of eight sons who is anointed king by Samuel to replace Saul, who had been deemed a failure.
..... Click the link for more information. and then by SolomonSolomon,
d. c.930 B.C., king of the ancient Hebrews (c.970–c.930 B.C.), son and successor of David. His mother was Bath-sheba. His accession has been dated to c.970 B.C. According to the Bible.
..... Click the link for more information. . After the expansionist reign of Solomon (c.950 B.C.), the kingdom broke up into two states, Israel, with its capital at Samaria, and Judah, under the house of David, with its capital at Jerusalem. The two kingdoms were later conquered by expanding Mesopotamian states, Israel by AssyriaAssyria
, ancient empire of W Asia. It developed around the city of Ashur, or Assur, on the upper Tigris River and south of the later capital, Nineveh. Assyria's Rise
The nucleus of a Semitic state was forming by the beginning of the 3d millennium B.C.
..... Click the link for more information. (c.720 B.C.) and Judah by BabyloniaBabylonia
, ancient empire of Mesopotamia. The name is sometimes given to the whole civilization of S Mesopotamia, including the states established by the city rulers of Lagash, Akkad (or Agade), Uruk, and Ur in the 3d millennium B.C.
..... Click the link for more information. (586 B.C.).
In 539 B.C. the Persians conquered the Babylonians. The Jewish Temple, destroyed by the Babylonians, was rebuilt (516 B.C.). Under Persian rule Palestine enjoyed considerable autonomy. Alexander the Great of Macedon, conquered Palestine in 333 B.C. His successors, the Ptolemies and Seleucids, contested for Palestine. The attempt of the Seleucid Antiochus IVAntiochus IV
(Antiochus Epiphanes) , d. 163 B.C., king of Syria (175 B.C.–163 B.C.), son of Antiochus III and successor of his brother Seleucus IV. His nephew (later Demetrius I) was held as a hostage in Rome, although still claiming the throne.
..... Click the link for more information. (Antiochus Epiphanes) to impose Hellenism brought a Jewish revolt under the MaccabeesMaccabees
, Jewish family of the 2d and 1st cent. B.C. that brought about a restoration of Jewish political and religious life. They are also called Hasmoneans or Asmoneans after their ancestor, Hashmon.
..... Click the link for more information. , who set up a new Jewish state in 142 B.C. The state lasted until 63 B.C., when Pompey conquered Palestine for Rome.
Christianity and Islam
Palestine at the time of Jesus was ruled by puppet kings of the Romans, the Herods (see HerodHerod,
dynasty reigning in Palestine at the time of Jesus. As a dynasty the Herods depended largely on the power of Rome. They are usually blamed for the state of virtual anarchy in Palestine at the beginning of the Christian era.
Antipater (fl. c.65 B.C.
..... Click the link for more information. ). When the Jews revolted in A.D. 66, the Romans destroyed the Temple (A.D. 70). Another revolt between A.D. 132 and 135 was also suppressed (see Bar Kokba, SimonBar Kokba, Simon,
or Simon Bar Cochba
[Heb.,=son of the star], d. A.D. 135, Hebrew hero and leader of a major revolt against Rome under Hadrian (132–135). He may have claimed to be a Messiah; the Talmud relates that Akiba ben Joseph credited him with this title.
..... Click the link for more information. ), Jericho and Bethlehem were destroyed, and the Jews were barred from Jerusalem. When Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity (312), Palestine became a center of Christian pilgrimage, and many Jews left the region. Palestine over the next few centuries generally enjoyed peace and prosperity until it was conquered in 614 by the Persians. It was recovered briefly by the Byzantine Romans, but fell to the Muslim Arabs under caliph Umar by the year 640.
At this time (during the Umayyad rule), the importance of Palestine as a holy place for Muslims was emphasized, and in 691 the Dome of the Rock was erected on the site of the Temple of Solomon, which is claimed by Muslims to have been the halting station of Muhammad on his journey to heaven. Close to the Dome, the Aqsa mosque was built. In 750, Palestine passed to the Abbasid caliphate, and this period was marked by unrest between factions that favored the Umayyads and those who preferred the new rulers.
In the 9th cent., Palestine was conquered by the Fatimid dynasty, which had risen to power in North Africa. The Fatimids had many enemies—the Seljuks, Karmatians, Byzantines, and Bedouins—and Palestine became a battlefield. Under the Fatimid caliph al Hakim (996–1021), the Christians and Jews were harshly suppressed, and many churches were destroyed. In 1099, Palestine was captured by the Crusaders (see CrusadesCrusades
, series of wars undertaken by European Christians between the 11th and 14th cent. to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims. First Crusade
In the 7th cent., Jerusalem was taken by the caliph Umar.
..... Click the link for more information. ), who established the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Crusaders were defeated by SaladinSaladin
, Arabic Salah ad-Din, 1137?–1193, Muslim warrior and Ayyubid sultan of Egypt, the great opponent of the Crusaders, b. Mesopotamia, of Kurdish descent.
..... Click the link for more information. at the battle of Hittin (1187), and the Latin Kingdom was ended; they were finally driven out of Palestine by the Mamluks in 1291. Under Mamluk rule Palestine declined.
In 1516 the Mamluks were defeated by the Ottoman Turks. The first three centuries of Ottoman rule isolated Palestine from outside influence. In 1831, Muhammad Ali, the Egyptian viceroy nominally subject to the Ottoman sultan, occupied Palestine. Under him and his son the region was opened to European influence. Ottoman control was reasserted in 1840, but Western influence continued. Among the many European settlements established, the most significant in the long run were those of Jews, Russian Jews being the first to come (1882).
Conflict between Arabs and Zionists
In the late 19th cent. the Zionist movement was founded (see ZionismZionism,
modern political movement for reconstituting a Jewish national state in Palestine. Early Years
The rise of the Zionist movement in the late 19th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. ) with the goal of establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine, and dozens of Zionist colonies were founded there. At the start of the Zionist colonization of Palestine in the late 19th cent., the rural people were Arab peasants (fellahin). Most of the population were Muslims, but in the urban areas there were sizable groups of Arab Christians (at Nazareth, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem) and of Jews (at Zefat, Tiberias, Jerusalem, Jericho, and Hebron).
At the same time Arab nationalism was developing in the Middle East in opposition to Turkish rule. In World War I the British, with Arab aid, gained control of Palestine. In the Balfour Declaration (1917) the British promised Zionist leaders to aid the establishment of a Jewish "national home" in Palestine, with due regard for the rights of non-Jewish Palestinians. However, the British had also promised Arab leaders to support the creation of independent Arab states. The Arabs believed Palestine was to be among these, an intention that the British later denied.
In 1919 there were about 568,000 Muslims, 74,000 Christians, and 58,000 Jews in Palestine. The first Arab anti-Zionist riots occurred in Palestine in 1920. The League of Nations approved the British mandate in 1922, although the actual administration of the area had begun in 1920. As part of the mandate Britain was given the responsibility for aiding the Jewish homeland and fostering Jewish immigration there. The British stressed that their policy to aid the homeland did not include making all Palestine the homeland, but rather that such a home should exist within Palestine and that there were economic limits on how many immigrants should be admitted (1922 White Paper).
In the 1920s, Jewish immigration was slight, but the Jewish communities made great economic progress. In 1929 there was serious Jewish-Arab violence occasioned by a clash at the Western, or Wailing, Wall in Jerusalem. A British report found that Arabs feared the economic and political consequences of continued Jewish immigration with its attendant land purchases. Zionists were angered when a new White Paper (1930) urged limiting immigration, but they were placated by Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald (1931).
The rise of Nazism in Europe during the 1930s led to a great increase in immigration. Whereas there were about 5,000 immigrants authorized in 1932, about 62,000 were authorized in 1935. Arabs conducted strikes and boycotts; a general strike in 1936, organized by Haj Amin al Husayni, mufti of Jerusalem, lasted six months. Some Arabs acquired weapons and formed a guerrilla force. The Peel commission (1937), finding British promises to Zionists and Arabs irreconcilable, declared the mandate unworkable and recommended the partition of Palestine into Jewish, Arab, and British (largely the holy places) mandatory states. The Zionists reluctantly approved partition, but the Arabs rejected it, objecting particularly to the proposal that the Arab population be forcibly transferred out of the proposed Jewish state.
The British dropped the partition idea and announced a new policy (1939 White Paper). Fifteen thousand Jews a year would be allowed to immigrate for the next five years, after which Jewish immigration would be subject to Arab acquiescence; Jewish land purchases were to be restricted; and within 10 years an independent, binational Palestine would be established. The Zionists were shocked by what they considered a betrayal of the Balfour Declaration. The Arabs also rejected the plan, demanding instead the immediate creation of an Arab Palestine, the prohibition of further immigration, and a review of the status of all Jewish immigrants since 1918.
The outbreak of World War II prevented the implementation of the plan, except for the restriction on land transfers. The Zionists and most Arabs supported Britain in the war (although Haj Amin al Husayni was in Germany and negotiated Palestine's future with Hitler), but tension inside Palestine increased. The Haganah, a secret armed group organized by the Jewish Agency, and the Irgun and the Stern Gang, terrorist groups, were active. British officials were killed by the terrorists. The horrible plight of European Jewry led influential forces in the United States to lobby for support of an independent Jewish state, and President Truman requested that Britain permit the admission of 100,000 Jews. Illegal immigration, often involving survivors of Hitler's death camps, took place on a large scale. The independent Arab states organized the Arab League to exert internationally what pressure they could against the Zionists.
An Anglo-American commission recommended (1946) that Britain continue administering Palestine, rescind the land-transfer restrictions, and admit 100,000 Jews, and that the underground Jewish armed groups be disbanded. A plan for autonomy for Jews and Arabs within Palestine was discussed at a London conference (1947) of British, Arabs, and Zionists, but no agreement could be reached. The British, declaring their mandate unworkable and despairing of finding a solution, turned the Palestine problem over to the United Nations (Feb., 1947). At that time there were about 1,091,000 Muslims, 614,000 Jews, and 146,000 Christians in Palestine.
The United Nations Special Committee on Palestine devised a plan to divide Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a small internationally administered zone including Jerusalem, and the General Assembly adopted the recommendations on Nov. 29, 1947. The Jews accepted the plan; the Arabs rejected it. As the British began to withdraw early in 1948, Arabs and Jews prepared for war (see Arab-Israeli WarsArab-Israeli Wars,
conflicts in 1948–49, 1956, 1967, 1973–74, and 1982 between Israel and the Arab states. Tensions between Israel and the Arabs have been complicated and heightened by the political, strategic, and economic interests in the area of the great powers.
..... Click the link for more information. ).
See M. Avi-Yonah, A History of the Holy Land (tr. 1969); Esco Foundation for Palestine, Palestine: A Study of Jewish, Arab, and British Policies (2 vol., 1947, repr. 1970); J. C. Hurewitz, Struggle for Palestine (1950, repr. 1968); J. W. Parkes, The Emergence of the Jewish Problem, 1878–1939 (1946, repr. 1970) and Whose Lands? A History of the Peoples of Palestine (1971); A. Schalit, ed., The Hellenistic Age: Political History of Jewish Palestine from 332 B.C.E. to 67 B.C.E. (1972); M. Russell, Palestine (1985); J. Murphy-O'Connor, The Holy Land: An Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700 (1986); I. Abu-Lughod, ed., The Transformations of Palestine (2d ed. 1987); T. Segev, One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate (2000); B. Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947–1949 (1987) and The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited (2004); S. K. Farsoun, Culture and Customs of the Palestinians (2004); G. Krämer, A History of Palestine: From the Ottoman Conquest to the Founding of the State of Israel (2002, tr. 2008); R. Davis and M. Kirk, ed., Palestine and the Palestinians in the 21st Century (2013); I. Black, Enemies and Neighbors: Arabs and Jews in Palestine and Israel, 1917–2017 (2017).
Palestine(păl`əstēn), city (1990 pop. 18,042), seat of Anderson co., E Tex.; inc. 1871. It is a market, processing, and rail center for a rich oil area and for the truck crops, livestock, and other produce of the rolling red hills. It has meatpacking plants, and school supplies, crushed stone, aircraft hardware, and concrete are produced. The city has many Victorian homes.
a historical region in southwest Asia.
Historical sketch. Archaeological data indicate that Palestine was settled in the Paleolithic. The Mesolithic Natufian culture flourished here between the tenth and eighth millennia B.C. The area was settled by Canaanite tribes in the third millennium B.C. In the 18th century B.C., Palestine was conquered by the Hyksos, who in turn were defeated by the Egyptians in the 16th century B.C. While under Egyptian rule, the area was also influenced by the culture of Babylon.
The conquest of Palestine by ancient Hebrew tribes began in the 13th century B.C. In the 12th century the coast was conquered by the Philistines (Old Hebrew, “Pelishtim”), who gave their name to the entire region. In the 11th century B.C., ancient Hebrew tribes founded the Kingdom of Israel and Judah on the remaining territory; the kingdom was ruled first by Saul and later by David and Solomon. Around 928 B.C., the kingdom was divided into the Kingdom of Israel in the north, which lasted until 722 B.C., and the Kingdom of Judah in the south, which survived until 586 B.C. In 722 the Kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrian king Sargon II, who destroyed its capital, Samaria, and exiled most of the population to remote provinces in Assyria. In 587–586 B.C. the Kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II and became the province of Judea. Jerusalem was burned, and many inhabitants were taken captive.
After the conquest of Babylon by the Persians in 539 B.C., Palestine became part of the Achaemenid state. In 332 B.C., it was incorporated into Alexander the Great’s empire. In the third and second centuries, the area was ruled first by the Egyptian Ptolemies (from 301 B.C.) and later by the Syrian Seleucids (from 200 B.C.). In 167 B.C., Judas Maccabeus led a popular uprising in Judea against the political and religious oppression and heavy taxation of the Seleucids. The revolt resulted in the founding of the independent Hasmonean state in 142 B.C., named after the Hasmonean dynasty.
A Roman protectorate was established in 63 B.C., and in A.D. 6 the area became a Roman province ruled by a procurator. Several large, fierce popular revolts broke out against Roman rule: the Jewish War of 66–73, Bar Kochba’s Rebellion of 132–135, and uprisings in the mid-second and third centuries.
In 395, Palestine became part of Byzantium. In 640 it was conquered by the Arabs, and under the Umayyads it was one of the more privileged provinces. During the disintegration of the Abbasid Caliphate, the area fell under the control of the Egyptian Tulunid, Ikhshidid, and Fatimid dynasties. During the First Crusade (1096–99), Palestine was conquered by the Crusaders, who founded the Kingdom of Jerusalem on the territory. In 1187, the Crusaders were expelled by the Egyptian sultan Salah-al-Din, and most of Palestine was annexed to Ayyubid, and later Mameluke, Egypt. Palestine remained under Mameluke control until the Turks conquered it in 1516. From 1750 until 1775 much of the area, under the rule of Sheikh Zahir Al-Umar, was virtually independent of the Ottoman Empire.
In the 19th century the anti-Turkish liberation movement in Palestine intensified, and uprisings broke out in Jerusalem, Nab-lus, and Bethlehem in 1825 and in Nablus and elsewhere in 1830. From 1832 until 1841, Palestine was ruled by the Egyptian pasha Muhammad Ali, who centralized the government, and curbed feudal lawlessness and Bedouin raids, all of which promoted economic development. However, oppressive taxation and the introduction of military conscription provoked anti-Egyptian revolts in 1834 and 1840–41.
In the mid-19th century, particularly after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, the strategic and economic importance of Palestine increased, and the European powers competed for influence in the region. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the imperialist powers made use of Zionism, the reactionary chauvinistic ideology of the Jewish bourgeoisie, in their struggle for control over Palestine. One of Zionism’s chief aims was the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, where Jews from various countries could resettle.
During World War I, British troops occupied Palestine. On Nov. 2, 1917, the British government issued the Balfour Declaration, promising to promote the creation of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. At the San Remo Conference in April 1920, Great Britain received a mandate to govern Palestine, which was ratified by the League of Nations in July 1922. In September 1922, Great Britain created the mandate of Transjordan, out of part of Palestine. The Balfour Declaration did not extend to Transjordan.
After seizing key positions in the economy and political life of Palestine, Great Britain encouraged Jewish colonization and Zionist activity, as well as the influx of Jewish capital, linked with imperialist monopolies. To further its aims, Great Britain promoted Jewish immigration, and 452,000 Jewish immigrants arrived in Palestine between 1919 and May 1948. Under British protection, Zionist organizations received various concessions in Palestine and bought up the best land, forcibly driving away the Arab peasants (fellahin). All authority was concentrated in the hands of the British high commissioner, who headed the Palestinian government, consisting of British bureaucrats. Also operating in Palestine was the Jewish Agency, ostensibly an advisory body under the British high commissioner. In practice the agency exercised broad powers in matters of colonization and immigration and regulated the economic and political activity of the Jewish community. As the Zionist organizations grew stronger, they sought to free themselves from British supervision.
British colonial policy, resting on cooperation with the Zionists, caused growing discontent among the Arabs. Armed rebellions against the British colonialists and the Zionist colonization of Palestine broke out in 1920, 1929, 1933, and from 1936 to 1939. The Socialist Workers’ Party of Palestine was founded in 1919; two years later it was renamed the Palestine Communist Party. The party called for a joint struggle of the Jewish and Arab laboring masses against British imperialism and for the liberation of Palestine from British colonial domination, to be followed by the creation of an Arab-Jewish independent state.
Seeking to weaken the national liberation struggle of the Palestinian Arabs and to retain control over Zionist policies, Great Britain announced in the late 1930’s that it would limit and then end Jewish immigration and would restrict the acquisition of land by Zionist organizations. Dissatisfied with British policy, the Zionists shifted their strategy toward an alliance with the USA by exploiting Anglo-American controversies and the American oil monopolies’ efforts to entrench themselves in the Near East.
After World War II, the struggle of the peoples of Palestine to abolish the British mandate intensified. In 1947 the British government was obliged to refer the question of Palestine to the UN. On Nov. 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for the abolition of the British mandate, the withdrawal of British troops from Palestine, and the creation of two independent states on its territory—one Arab and the other Jewish—economically tied to each other. Jerusalem was designated an independent administrative unit with a special international government under UN direction. In view of the realities of the situation, the Soviet Union voted for the resolution.
On May 14, 1948, part of Palestine was proclaimed the state of Israel. The Arab people of Palestine, however, were unable to exercise their right to create an Arab state because the Zionists, Western imperialist circles, and reactionary forces in the Arab countries provoked the Arab-Israeli War of 1948–49. Boundary lines were established under the 1949 truce between Israel and the neighboring Arab states. As a result of the war, Israel seized more than half of the area that the UN General Assembly had designated for the creation of an Arab state (6,700 sq km), as well as the western part of Jerusalem. Eastern Palestine—the West Bank of the Jordan River—and eastern Jerusalem were annexed by Jordan in 1950, and the Gaza Strip came under the control of Egypt. Israeli armed forces drove more than 900,000 Arabs from the conquered territory. The problem of the Palestinian refugees arose as one aspect of the Palestinian problem, which can only be resolved by guaranteeing the lawful national rights of all the Arab people of Palestine.
In June 1967, Israel committed another aggression against the neighboring Arab countries, occupying not only the entire territory of the former Palestine mandate but also the Sinai Peninsula, belonging to Egypt, and Syria’s Golan Heights. The problem of the Palestinian refugees, numbering more than 1.5 million persons in 1974 according to UN sources, became more acute. Palestinian Arabs in the Palestinian resistance movement, directed by the Palestine Liberation Organization, are struggling to eliminate the consequences of the Israeli aggression of 1967 and to achieve a just solution to the Palestinian problem through a political resolution of the Near East crisis that would ensure the lawful rights of the Arab people of Palestine.
REFERENCESMednikov, N. A. Palestina ot zavoevaniia ee arabami do krestovykh pokhodov [vols. 1–4]. St. Petersburg, 1897–1903.
Bazili, K. M. Siriia i Palestina pod turetskim pravitel’stvom. Moscow, 1962.
Noveishaia istoriia arabskikh stran. Moscow, 1968. Pages 113–33.
Abel, F. M. Histoire de la Palestine depuis la conquête d’Alexandre jusqu’à l’invasion arabe. Paris, 1952.
Albright, W. F. The Archaeology of Palestine, 2nd ed. [London, 1960.]
Parkes, J. W. A History of Palestine. London, 1949.
Joseph, B. British Rule in Palestine. Washington .
Great Britain and Palestine, 1915–1945. London-New York .
Hadawi Sami. Bitter Harvest: Palestine Between 1914–1967. New York, 1967.
M. A. KOROSTOVTSEV (to the fourth century), I. M. SMILIANSKAIA (fourth century to 1914), and E. A. LEBEDEV (since 1914)
Architecture and fine and applied art. Palestinian art originated in the Mesolithic (Natufian culture). Art objects discovered in the ancient settlement of Jericho date from the pre-ceramic Neolithic period (seventh and sixth millennia B.C.). Pottery from the fifth millennium B.C. is adorned with engraved or painted geometrical designs.
The Chalcolithic age (fourth millennium B.C.) is represented by the ruins of fortified settlements at Beisan (Beth-Shean) and Megiddo, where the remains of apsidal dwellings have been discovered, as well as by subterranean dwellings near Beersheba. Painted and glazed red and gray pottery, ivory figurines, and jewelry have been found. Especially noteworthy are the wall paintings at Tulaylat al-Ghusul.
In the third and second millennia B.C., when Palestine was settled by the Canaanites, urban settlements developed, of which the most important were Jerusalem, Jericho, Beisan, Megiddo, and Lachish (Tell el-Duweir). These towns had fortifications of stone or adobe, stone temples similar in layout to Syrian and Phoenician temples, and water tunnels. Among art works discovered in the towns were reliefs, sculpture in the round similar to that of Syria, figurines, and ceramic vessels in the shape of birds and other animals. The most important structure at the time of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah (second half of the tenth to sixth century B.C.) was the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem (tenth century B.C.), known from descriptions in the Bible. Glyptics, seals with depictions of birds and beasts, were well developed.
Tombs with frescoes in the burial chambers, such as those at Mareshah, first appeared in the Hellenistic period and continued to be built until the fourth century A.D. The remains of temples (for example, the temple of Dionysus in Beisan), theaters (Beisan and Caesarea), aqueducts, and dwellings, often adorned with mosaics and sculpture, have survived from the Roman period. Marble sarcophagi with funeral busts and reliefs have also survived. Synagogues combining features of local, Roman, and Syrian architecture were built in the second to fourth centuries A.D. The best example of this style is the synagogue at Capernaum (Kefar-Nahum). Basilicas, monasteries, churches, and fortifications have survived from Byzantine times.
After conquering Palestine in the seventh century, the Arabs introduced mosques and madrasahs. Outstanding examples of Arab architecture and art are the mosques of Kubbet es-Sakhra and al-Aksa in Jerusalem and the palace of Khirbat al-Mafjar. The principal architectural works from the time of the Crusaders (11th to 13th centuries) are castles (Caesarea) and fortresses.
Outstanding architectural achievements from the period of Turkish rule, which lasted from the 16th to the early 20th century, are the synagogue in Safad (mid-16th century) and the mosque in Jaffa (1810). With the influx of Jewish immigrants into Palestine beginning in the late 19th century, the artistic traditions of various countries began to influence the indigenous culture. Initially, private and public buildings were built in the eclectic style, but later contemporary Western European architectural forms were adopted by such architects as E. Mendelsohn and R. Kaufman. A “Jewish style,” employing themes from Jewish history and literature, evolved in professional art. Gradually, the arrival of artists who had received their training in many different countries resulted in the coexistence of a variety of styles in the arts, ranging from academic realism to abstract art.
REFERENCESFlittner, N. D Kul’tura i iskusstvo Dvurech’ia isosednikh stran. Leningrad-Moscow, 1958.
Titov, V. S. “Arkhitektura Palestiny i Finikii.” Vseobshchaia istoriia arkhitektury, 2nd ed., vol. 1. Moscow, 1970.
Reifenberg, A. Ancient Hebrew Seals. London, 1950.
Anati, E. Palestine Before the Hebrews. New York, 1963.