The recent news of the Israel-Palestine conflict is anything but recent. The history behind this issue stretches far before the Ottoman Empire.
There had been Jewish communities living principally in the holy cities of Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberias and Hebron. Before the European Jews decided they needed their own country and immigrated to Palestine, the Jewish population there stood at around 25,000, who had been living there for generations, according to CJPME Factsheets.
The first two waves of immigration took place under the Ottoman Empire. Between 1882 and 1903, 20,000 to 30,000 Russians fleeing Czarist Russia's pogroms came to Palestine and between 1903 and 1914, 35,000-40,000 more Russians, most of them socialists, established themselves in Palestine.
After WWI, Palestine came under the British mandate and the new ruler was in favour of establishing a Jewish national homeland in Palestine. In a letter written in 1917, Lord Balfour expressed this agreement, with the proviso that "… nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine ...". The Balfour Declaration gave a legal basis for Jewish immigration, thus encouraging it.
The third and fourth immigration waves brought 35,000 Jews from the Soviet Union, Poland and the Baltic countries between 1919 and 1923, and 82,000 Jews from the Balkans and the Near Orient between 1924 and 1931, respectively. By the end of 1931, 174,600 Jews were living in Palestine which consisted of 17 percent of the population. During this period, 15 percent of the transoceanic Jewish migration was to Palestine.
The increase in anti-Semitism in Europe led many Jews again to leave their countries. From 1932 on, with the Nazi victory in Germany and the intensification of persecution in Austria and Czechoslovakia, Jewish immigration to Palestine increased dramatically. Between 1932 and 1939, Palestine took in 247,000 newcomers, 46 percent of Jewish emigration from Europe. And between 1939 and 1948, 118,228 Jews reached Palestine.
The influx of Jews was seen by many Arabs as a European colonial movement, and violence erupted. The British were unable to maintain control of the situation, and the United Nations agreed in 1947 to divide the land into two countries.
Almost all of the nearly 650,000 Jews relocated to the blue territory on the map to the right, while the Arab population (roughly twice the size of the Jewish community) relocated to the orange.
The deal was approved by the Jews but Palestinians opposed it seeing it as a continuation of a long-running Jewish effort to drive them out of the country. Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria later declared war on Israel.
In a brutal war, Israeli troops crushed Palestinian fighters and Arab armies, and left 700,000 Palestinians with nothing. The UN partition promised the Jewish state 56 percent of British Palestine however, by the end of the war, Israel had 77 percent — all but the West Bank and the eastern quarter of Jerusalem, which Jordan administered, and the Gaza Strip (controlled by Egypt).
As a result, the State of Israel was born on 14 May, 1948.