Last updated on: 1/14/2016 | Author:

What Are the Arab Ties to the Land Where Israel and the Palestinian Territories Currently Exist?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)


This site was archived on Aug. 3, 2021. The two-state solution is no longer the most popular solution among the jurisdictions involved. A reconsideration of the topic is possible in the future.

Palestine Facts, an online resource for topics on Israel, Palestine, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in the “What Is the Arab History in Palestine?” section of its website (accessed Jan. 11, 2016), wrote:

“Historians generally agree that the ancient Semitic peoples (Assyrians, Aramaeans, Canaanites (including the Phoenicians and Hebrews) and, later, the Arabs themselves) migrated into the area of the Fertile Crescent [from the Persian Gulf, through modern-day southern Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and northern Egypt]. Arab invasions came after successive crises of overpopulation in the Arabian Peninsula beginning in the third millennium BC and ending with the Muslim conquests of the 7th century AD…

In approx. 1200 BC, the Petra area (in modern Jordan, about 80 kilometers south of the Dead Sea) was populated by Edomites, descended from Esau according to the Bible, and was known as Edom (‘red’)…

Subsequently, the Nabataeans, one of many Arab tribes, migrated into Edom, forcing the Edomites to move into southern Palestine. By 312 BC the Nabataeans occupied Petra and made it the capital of their kingdom. The Edomites were later forcibly converted into Judaism by John Hyrcanus (died 105 BC), and then became an active part of the Jewish people. Petra prospered as the principal city of the Nabataean empire from 400 BC to AD 106 when it was absorbed by the Romans. The Nabataeans flourished in the spice trade and engineered an impressive hydraulic engineering system of pipes, tunnels, and channels that carried drinking water into the city and reduced the chance of flash floods.

After the Roman conquest of Judea, the Nabataeans and others, ‘Palastina’ became a province of the pagan Roman Empire and then of the Christian Byzantine Empire, and very briefly of the Zoroastrian Persian Empire. In 638 AD, an Arab-Muslim Caliph took Palastina away from the Byzantine Empire and made it part of an Arab-Muslim Empire. The Arabs, who had no name of their own for this region, adopted the Greco-Roman name Palastina, that they pronounced ‘Falastin’.

In 1099, Christian Crusaders from Europe conquered Palestine and took Jerusalem. After 1099, it was never again under Arab rule. The Christian Crusader kingdom lasted less than 100 years. Thereafter, Palestine was joined to Syria as a subject province first of the Egyptian Mameluks, and then of the Ottoman Turks, whose capital was in Istanbul.”

Jan. 11, 2016

Solehah Haji Yaacob, PhD, Abdul Razak A. A. Al-Sa’adi, PhD, and Shamsul Jamili Yeob, PhD, Assistant and Associate Professors at the International Islamic University Malaysia, in a 2010 article for the International Conference in Sociology in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) titled “Reclaiming Palestinian History: An Analytical Study of Ancient Arabic Language,” available from the Academia website, wrote:

“The Canaanites dominated Palestine around 2500 B.C.E, and the earliest inscription of the name of Palestine – P.L.S.T.N – is found in ancient Egyptian cuneiform script… According to historians and archaeologists, Palestinians were made up of Canaanites and other Arab tribes populating the area before and after the rise of Islam… While Israelite rule rose and soon crumbled after four centuries and foreign powers had taken over political and economic control over Palestine, its original inhabitants – the Canaanites and other Arab tribes – remained firmly settled. During 539-332 B.C.E. the Persian king Cyrus offered his Jewish subjects to return to Palestine but only a small number of them actually returned… Under Greek rule 332-63 B.C.E. the Jewish populace was granted autonomy but failed to protect Palestine from the attacks of neighboring foreign powers such as the Ptolemics, Seleucids and Romans. When Rome granted autonomy to Palestine, Jews were prohibited from entering Jerusalem and the numbers of those remaining settled in Palestine declined substantially. The Canaanites and other Arab tribes remained the majority until their land was opened to Islam in 636 C.E. until 1917 C.E. which nearly covers a period of 13 centuries.”


Edward Said, PhD, late Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, in his 1992 book titled The Question of Palestine, wrote:

“Palestine became a predominantly Arab and Islamic country by the end of the seventh century. Almost immediately thereafter its boundaries and its characteristics – including its name in Arabic, Filastin – became known to the entire Islamic world, as much for its fertility and beauty as for its religious significance…

In 1516, Palestine became a province of the Ottoman Empire, but this made it no less fertile, no less Arab or Islamic. A century later the English poet George Sandys spoke of it as ‘a land that flowed with milk and honey…’

Despite the steady arrival in Palestine of Jewish colonists after 1882, it is important to realize that not until the few weeks immediately preceding the establishment of Israel in the spring of 1948 was there ever anything other than a huge Arab majority. For example, the Jewish population in 1931 was 174,606 against a total of 1,033,314; in 1936, Jewish numbers had gone up to 384,078 and the total to 1,366,692; in 1946 there were 608,225 Jews in a total population of 1,912,112. In all these statistics ‘natives’ were easily distinguishable from the arriving colonists. But who were these natives?

All of them spoke Arabic, and were mainly Sunni Muslims, although a minority among them were Christians, Druzes, and Shiite Muslims – all of whom spoke Arabic too. Approximately 65 percent of the Palestinian Arabs were agricultural people who lived in about 500 villages where ground crops as well as fruits and vegetables were grown. The principal Palestinian cities – Nablus, Jerusalem, Nazareth, Acre, Jaffa, Jericho, Ramlah, Hebron, and Haifa – were built in the main by Palestinian Arabs, who continued to live there even after the encroaching Zionist colonies expanded very close to them. There were also a respectable Palestinian intellectual and professional class, the beginnings of small industry, and a highly developed national consciousness.”


Fred J. Khouri, PhD, Professor of Political Science at Villanova University at the time of the quote, in a 1985 book titled The Arab-Israeli Dilemma, wrote:

“Over a period of many centuries, Arabs and Jews have developed deep historical roots in Palestine and strong emotional attachments to it…

Palestine as the birthplace of Christianity become politically significant with the conversion to Christianity of the Emperor Constantine who moved his capital from Rome to Constantinople. When the Empire divided in A.D. 395, Palestine became part of the Eastern, or Byzantine, Empire. In the fifth and sixth centuries, small and scattered Jewish settlements lived among the Christian majority. Palestine was briefly lost to the Persians but reconquered by Byzantium in 628. Around 634 it was lost again, and for good, to the Arabs during the Arab caliphate of Omar, successor of the prophet Muhammad.

In the early part of the seventh century Muhammad’s teachings of Islam had united the tribes of the Arabs, another Semitic people inhabiting the Arabian peninsula. Following his death in A.D. 632, Muhammad’s followers conquered a vast empire and spread their religion, their culture and their language, Arabic, from Spain to Indonesia over some four centuries. While Europe slumbered during the Dark Ages, Arab power and civilization flourished, providing the basis for the revived pride and national aspirations of the Arabs in the twentieth century.

The Christian inhabitants of Palestine, mostly descendants of the original Canaanites, became Arabized – as did the small Jewish communities. Most of these Christians also became Muslim, though a small but important minority kept up what are among the oldest sects in Christianity. In A.D. 691, with the building of the Mosque of Omar, called the Dome of the Rock, near the spot in Jerusalem where Muhammad was believed to have ascended briefly to heaven, Jerusalem become the third city sacred to the Muslims – after Mecca and Medina. Arab rule in the Palestine area ended in 1071. Although from that date parts or all of Palestine fell under the control of the Seljuk Turks (1071-1099), the Crusaders (twelfth and thirteenth centuries), the Tartars and Mongols (1244-1260), the Mamlukes of Egypt (1260-1517), and the Ottoman Turks (1517-World War I), the majority of the inhabitants remained Arab and Muslim.”