This series of maps shows graphically what Palestinians have lost over the decades since Zionism came to Palestine. The map on the left, of Palestine in 1946, just before the UN partitioned Palestine into a Jewish and a Palestinian Arab state, shows virtually the entire territory in green, as the area where Palestinians lived and owned land. At this time, Jews made up about thirty percent of the population and owned seven percent of the land, shown in white. Moving right, the next map shows the territorial division called for in the Partition Resolution approved by the UN in November 1947, which allotted the Jewish state 55 percent of the land. A small area around Jerusalem was to be internationalized, not under either Jewish or Arab control. By 1949, at the end of the war that erupted following Partition, Israel controlled 78 percent of Palestine (shown in the third map), including the western section of the Jerusalem enclave. Jordan and Egypt took control of the remaining 22 percent—the West Bank and Gaza respectively—and approximately 750,000 Palestinians, fully two-thirds of the total Palestinian Arab population, fled the fighting or were forcibly expelled by Israeli forces. These refugees and generations of their descendants have lived in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza ever since. Israel has refused to permit the return of any refugees, and the US and the rest of the international community have failed to exert any serious pressure on Israel to allow a refugee return; the Arab states that might have supported Palestinians politically have not.
Map 4 depicts the territorial situation today. Not only did Israel capture the West Bank and Gaza (shown in green in Map 3) in 1967, but Palestinians have lost still more land and still more of their territorial identity in the fifty years of that occupation—fifty years in which Israel has consolidated its control over these territories by confiscating Palestinian land, building a wall inside the West Bank to push Palestinians farther east, building settlements reserved for Jews and roads on which only Israeli licensed cars may drive, and severely restricting Palestinian freedom of movement. The approximately five million Palestinians currently living in the West Bank and Gaza (about three million and two million respectively) enjoy no political rights: they cannot vote; they have no access to civilian courts; their movement in and out and within the occupied territories is restricted; their Palestinian Authority leadership has no political power and functions largely as a quisling government, acting at Israel’s behest, with control only over some administrative functions and whatever security matters Israel allows it to perform.
Nonetheless, Palestinians have remained steadfast. Sumud, steadfastness, is the watchword for Palestinians determined not again to flee or be forced out. Non-violent resistance as it has evolved in the Palestinian community over the last fifty-plus years has kept the Palestinians together as a people, in spirit if not geographically. Resistance has sustained and nurtured the Palestinians in hope even at the most pessimistic of times, and indeed has ensured their very survival.