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It all started with a Declaration

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The current roots of the crisis in the Middle East can be traced back to 1917, when the British Government issued a statement supporting the idea of creating a homeland for the Jews in the Middle East.

At the time Jews were a minority of the population. The population of the whole region of Palestine, which includes what is now modern-day Israel, was approximately 94,000 Jewish, 70,000 Christian and 525,000 Muslim.

The British subsequently controlled Palestine for nearly three decades, with their Mandate ending on 15th May 1948. During this time there were numerous riots between the Jewish and Arab communities living in the region. These included the 1936 - 1939 Arab revolt and the 1944 - 1947 Jewish insurgency, which finally led to a full blown civil war after the end of the Mandate and official proclamation of the State of Israel.

As a result of the war, the State of Israel controlled the area that the UN had proposed for the Jewish state, as well as almost 60% of the area proposed for the Arab state, including the Jaffa, Lydda and Ramle area, Upper Galilee, some parts of the Negev and a wide strip along the Tel Aviv–Jerusalem road. Israel also took control of West Jerusalem, which was meant to be part of an international zone for Jerusalem. Around 750,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes, out of a population of 1,200,000 Arabs that had been living in the former British Mandate.

From May 1948 to the end of 1951, about 700,000 Jews settled in the land, doubling the Jewish population there. About 156,000 Arabs remained in the land, becoming Israeli citizens. The displaced Palestinian Arabs, known as Palestinian refugees, were settled in Palestinian refugee camps throughout the Arab world. There remain more than 1,000,000 refugees still living in about 50 camps today.

Fast forwarding to now, the borders of the Palestinian territories remain broadly the same, although the Arab areas of the West Bank have continually shrunk due to hard-line Israeli governments over recent decades grabbing ever more land for their state. The despicable terrorist group Hamas has now broken out of Gaza and carried out dreadful atrocities in Israel, which have been rightly condemned the world over.

It remains, however, as important as ever to understand how we got to this point. What may have seemed like a good idea back in 1917 ended up being extremely poorly implemented. Little consideration was taken of the views of the Arab population at the time, and subsequent events have only proven to cement the view that meddling in the region has proven to be nothing less than a massive folly.