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Israeli policemen run in front of the Dome of the Rock during clashes with stone-throwing Palestinians after Friday prayers on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City on February 7, 2014.
Israeli policemen run in front of the Dome of the Rock during clashes with stone-throwing Palestinians after Friday prayers on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City on February 7, 2014.
(AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)

Patrick Martin

It was the First World War that launched the Israel-Palestine conflict

When it comes to drawing the borders of Palestine and whether to recognize a “Jewish state,” the troublesome issues began some 97 years ago in the later stages of the Great War.

With regular reports that the British army was steadily advancing from Gaza toward Jerusalem, the holy city’s Ottoman governor, Izzat Bey, summoned the local Arab mayor late on December 8, 1917. He handed the surprised official a quickly scrawled note of capitulation that said the governor surrendered “one Palestine, complete,” and told him to deliver it to the commander of the advancing British forces. The governor then took a horse-drawn carriage from the city’s American Colony, a benevolent Christian society, and beat a hasty retreat in the direction of Istanbul, thus ending 400 years of Ottoman rule over the holy sites.