On May 14, 1948, Zionist leader David Ben- Gurion proclaimed the birth of the state of Israel. Immediately after World War One, victorious countries redrew borders in Europe and beyond. In the power shift, control of Palestine passed from the Ottoman Empire to Britain. In 1917, British Foreign Minister Lord Balfour established the foundation for a Jewish state. Balfour authored a statement in favor of setting up the nation of Israel within Palestinian borders. Arab states unequivocally opposed the idea. Britain first sought mediation with Arab countries, in part to secure access to the Suez Canal. At the same time, the Zionist gained momentum. Its goal was to establish a Jewish state in Palestine. As Zionist political and military standing grew, Jewish were encouraged to emigrate to the sought-after region. Nazi persecution also increased Jewish emigration to Palestine, which reached its height at the end of World War Two. In 1945, about 1.2 million Arabs and 550,000 Jews lived in Palestine. Relations between Arabs and Jews became increasingly tense. Unable to maintain order, Britain asked the United Nations for help.
In 1947, the UN proposed a resolution to established two states in Palestine, one Arab and the other Jewish. Arab countries opposed the proposal. The UN resolution passed with 33 votes in favor, 13 against and 10 abstentions. Zionist leader Ben-Gurion announced he was ready to set up a provisional government. By then, tensions between Jews and Palestinians had exploded into guerrilla attacks. In December 1947, Britain withdrew its claim on Palestine. In May 1948, Israel was born. The day after Israel declared independence, it was invaded by Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Transjordan. The attack marked the beginning of the first Arab-Israeli war. During hostilities, Israel occupied a part of Palestine that the UN had assigned to Arabs. Arabs defended their homes but about 700,000 Palestinians were forced to leave. The rift caused by founding the nation of Israel in the Middle East has yet to heal. Neither the wars that followed nor international diplomacy have brought peace to disputed territories.