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The Mideast explained
  MIDEAST BACKGROUNDER: How do you explain the ongoing troubles of the Middle East? CNN Student News offers this guide below and a corresponding lesson plan for parents and educators.

Recent stories from the Mideast from CNN.com(updated daily)
Water another source of Mideast tension -- April 23, 2002
Mideast 101: The Six-Day War -- April 15, 2002
U.S. officials consider Middle East conference -- April 15, 2002
Mideast 101: Two peoples, one land -- April 10, 2002
Mideast protests set on U.S. college campuses -- April 9, 2002
Iraq cuts oil in protest -- April 8, 2002

What's going on?   Resources:
From biblical times until the 20th century the Middle East has been embroiled in conflict and war. The area, especially the city of Jerusalem, holds great religious significance for both the Jews and the Muslim Palestinians. In November 1947, following the end of World War II, the United Nations ordered the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The abrupt birth of Israel led to mass displacement of the Arab population in the area. Many Arabs were forced into refugee camps in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Jordan. To this day, both Arabs and Jews claim the area known as Israel which includes the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, which borders Jordan, and Jerusalem as their rightful homeland.
  • Map of Israel
  • How Palestine became Israel
  • Interactive map of occupied lands
  • Gallery: Mideast lands
  • Related Web sites

  • Why is Jerusalem so important?   Resources:
    Jerusalem is a holy city to Jews, Muslims and Christians, and the status of this city is one of the biggest issues in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Ground zero in the dispute is a hill in Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary. That precious piece of real estate is believed to contain the ruins of Judaism's holiest temple, on top of which stands the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam's third-holiest site. The U.N. partition plan of 1947 called for Jerusalem to be an international city shared between the Jews and the Palestinians. In two separate military actions Israel annexed Jerusalem. Today, East Jerusalem is primarily populated by Arabs and West Jerusalem by Jewish residents. More on the city of Jerusalem

    What is meant by a 'Palestinian State'?   Resources:
    The displacement of Palestinians cuts to the core of Palestinian national identity. Many Palestinians say their right to return goes beyond the U.N. resolution, stemming from a right of a people to live in their homeland. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat took the diplomatic control in 1988 and convinced the Palestine National Council to issue a declaration of independence for a state of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Arafat's proclamation did not specify borders for this "Palestinian State," and the area includes the city of Jerusalem.
  • More on Palestinian borders
  • Information on Palestinian refugees
  • Map of refugee areas

  • Who is involved?   Resources:
    Some of the key players in the Middle East conflict include Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In 1994 Arafat shared the Nobel Peace Prize with then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for agreeing to the Oslo peace accords -- a framework for peace in the region. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton played an important role in the Mideast peace efforts in 2000 by bringing Yasser Arafat and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to the peace table in the final months of his administration. Internationally, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Syrian President Bashar Assad and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak play key roles in stability in the region.
  • Who are the key players?
  • The Israeli government
  • Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
  • Palestinian government
  • Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat

  • What's the latest on the peace process?   Resources:
    The failure of U.S. President Clinton's peace initiative in 2000, the violence in the occupied territories that began in September of that year, along with the escalation of that violence -- including terrorist attacks inside Israel -- in the last few months have all combined to damage hopes of a peace agreement.
  • Historical documents

  • Life in the midst of conflict   Resources:
    Take a journey into the neighborhoods and lives of Israelis and Palestinians. Click on the links to the right to learn more about the people of this region.
  • Mideast teens plant Seeds of Peace
  • Impact of Mideast conflict on Israelis, Palestinians
  • Faces of youth in an ancient conflict
  • Faces of Israel
  • Palestinian faces


  • Weekly Activities:
    Updated September 21, 2002


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