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Unformatted text preview: The Demography of Conflict in the Middle East By John R. Weeks At the end of World War I, the British took control of Palestine from the remnants of the Ottoman Empire, which was defunct and had been shrunk back geographically to its origins in Turkey. At that time, Palestine under the British mandate included the territory of modern Israel and Jordan. In 1922, it was divided into the mandates of Transjordan, east of the Jordan River, and Palestine, west of the river. Under the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the British had already agreed to help establish a Jewish national home in Palestine, although later they were sorry they had done so (Oren, 2002). In the 1930s and 1940s, European anti-Semitism encouraged the migration of Jews to Palestine and, despite the drop in support from the British, the changing demographics were leading inexorably in the direction of a Jewish state. Not unexpectedly, this trend was resisted first by Palestinian Arabs, and subsequently by virtually all Arab states. In 1946, at the end of World War II, Transjordan was granted full independence and became the modern state of Jordan, which had in fact been ruled by the great-grandfather of the current King Abdullah II since the end of World War I. Britain handed the decision about Palestine to the United Nations, and in 1947 the UN passed General Assembly Resolution 181. “This provided for the creation of two states, one Arab and the other Jewish, in Palestine, and an international regime for Jerusalem. The Zionists approved of the plan but the Arabs, having already rejected an earlier, more favorable (for them) partition offer from Britain, stood firm in their demand for sovereignty over Palestine in full” (Oren, 2002:4). The stage was thus set for the continuing struggle for control of the region. The nascent state of Israel was immediately attacked by armies from all surrounding Arab nations, but managed to prevail, and when hostilities ended in 1949, Israel had claimed more territory than originally allotted to it by the UN. Because as many as 750,000 of Palestine’s Arabs (who came to be known simply as Palestinians) had fled the area when fighting broke out, the Jewish population emerged as the demographic majority. The Palestinian population was effectively cordoned into the Gaza Strip (controlled by Egypt), with the remainder of what had been Palestine being the state of Israel....
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- Spring '11
- Sociology, Palestinian people, Palestinian territory