Originally established as an agricultural town in the 1500s by Christian Arabs from present day Jordan, Ramallah
was officially declared a city in 1908. Ramallah has experienced occupation and rule by different states in its contemporary history, starting with British take over in 1917 followed by Jordanian rule between 1948 and 1967 and finally annexation by Israel during the 1967 war.
Borrowing from its Arabic translation "height of God", Ramallah experienced a new height of political activism with Yasser Arafat
’s establishment of the Palestinian Authority’s headquarters in the city. Over the decades, Ramallah has transformed into the unofficial seat of political power as well the most economically affluent city in occupied Palestinian territories. Until the political split between Fatah and Hamas
, following control of Gaza by the latter in 2006, Ramallah served as the sole unofficial capital of the occupied territories.
THE FIRST & SECOND INTIFADA
Ramallah was the first city in the occupied West Bank
to participate in the first Intifada of 1987. The city experienced a combination of protests, strikes, armed action and retaliation against Israeli forces representing the occupation. Political representatives and activists from Ramallah participated in the Madrid Conference
of 1991 to draft the details of a peace negotiation. These events eventually culminated into the Oslo Accords
leading to an interim self government arrangement for the Palestinian Authority that would continue to be based in Ramallah.
The city re-experienced curfews, shutting down of schools and public institutions and confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinians during the second intifada in 2000. Ramallah’s reoccupation by Israeli forces in 2002 led to economic deterioration and infrastructure damage from which the city continues to recuperate.