In the first episode of this six-part series, Al Jazeera looks at the challenges encountered as Palestinians sought to wrest control of their own destiny from Arab regimes and create an independent Palestinian organisation.
In 1947, the UN General Assembly decided to partition Palestine into two states: one Arab, the other Jewish.
The partition plan was rejected by the Palestinians and neighbouring Arab states and in early 1948, open conflict erupted between Jews and Palestinians.
Following the withdrawal of the last British troops in May 1948, Jewish leaders proclaimed the establishment of the state of Israel.
On the very next day, five Arab countries – Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq – immediately declared war.
The Arab armies were defeated. The newly-declared state of Israel seized control of most of Palestine, with the exception of Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
By 1949, close to 750,000 Palestinians had become refugees.
Sixteen years later, in 1964, believing that armed struggle was the only way to win back their homeland, the PLO was founded.
Masters of Their Own Destiny tells the story of these years and features interviews with key players in the Palestinian struggle for statehood, including Yasser Arafat, the late PLO leader.