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Israel-Palestine Peace Accord Signed

Israel-Palestine Peace Accord Signed


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After decades of bloody animosity, representatives of Israel and Palestine meet on the South Lawn of the White House and sign a framework for peace. The “Declaration of Principles” was the first agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians towards ending their conflict and sharing the holy land between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea that they both claim as their homeland.

Fighting between Jews and Arabs in Palestine dates back to the 1920s when both groups laid claim to the British-controlled territory. The Jews were Zionists, recent emigrants from Europe and Russia who came to the ancient homeland of the Jews to establish a Jewish national state. The native Arabs (they did not yet call themselves Palestinians) sought to stem Jewish immigration and set up a secular Palestinian state.

On May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was proclaimed, and five Arab nations attacked in support of the Palestinian Arabs. Israelis fought off the Arab armies and seized substantial territory originally allocated to the Arabs in the 1947 United Nations partition of Palestine. After two successive U.N.-brokered cease-fires, the State of Israel reached formal armistice agreements with Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria in February 1949. These agreements left Israel in permanent control of the territory it had conquered during the conflict.

The departure of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs from Israel during the war left the country with a substantial Jewish majority. Israel restricted the rights of the Arabs who remained. Most Palestinian Arabs who left Israeli territory retreated to the West Bank, then controlled by Transjordan (present-day Jordan), and others to the Gaza Strip, controlled by Egypt. Hundreds of thousands of exiled Palestinians moved permanently into refugee camps.

By the early 1960s, the Palestinian Arab diaspora had formed a cohesive national identity. In 1964, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed as a political umbrella organization for several Palestinian groups and meant to represent all the Palestinian people. The PLO called for the destruction of the State of Israel and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

In the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel seized control of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights. Israel permanently annexed East Jerusalem and set up military administrations in the occupied territories. Although Israel offered to return some of the territory seized in return for "the security requirements of Israel," the Arab League opted against formal negotiations in the Khartoum Resolution on September 1, 1967.

The Sinai was later returned to Egypt in 1979 as part of an Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement, but the rest of the occupied territories remained under Israeli control. A faction of Israelis called for permanent annexation of these regions, and in the late 1970s nationalist Jewish settlers moved into the territories as a means of accomplishing this aim.

After the 1967 war, the PLO was recognized as the symbol of the Palestinian national movement, and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat organized guerrilla attacks on Israel from the PLO’s bases in Jordan and, after 1971, from Lebanon. The PLO also coordinated terrorist attacks against Israelis at home and abroad. The Palestinian guerrilla and terrorist activity provoked heavy reprisals from Israel’s armed forces and intelligence services. By the late 1970s, Arafat had won international acceptance of the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

Violence mounted in the 1980s, with Palestinians clashing with Jewish settlers in the occupied territories. In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon to dislodge the PLO. In 1987, Palestinian residents of Gaza and the West Bank launched a series of violent demonstrations against Israeli authorities known as the intifada, or the “shaking off.” Shortly after, Jordan’s King Hussein renounced all administrative responsibility for the West Bank, thereby strengthening the PLO’s influence there. As the intifada raged on, Yasser Arafat proclaimed an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on November 15, 1988. One month later, he denounced terrorism, recognized the State of Israel’s right to exist, and authorized the beginning of “land-for-peace” negotiations with Israel.

Israel refused to open direct talks with the PLO, but in 1991 Israeli diplomats met with a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation at the Madrid peace conference. In 1992, Labor Party leader Yitzhak Rabin became Israeli prime minister, and he vowed to move quickly on the peace process. He froze new Israeli settlements in the occupied territory and authorized secret negotiations between Israel and the PLO that began in January 1993 in Oslo, Norway. These talks resulted in several key agreements and led to the historic peace accord of September 13, 1993.

On the South Lawn of the White House that day, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and PLO foreign policy official Mahmoud Abbas signed the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements. The accord called for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho and the establishment of a Palestinian government that would eventually be granted authority over much of the West Bank. President Bill Clinton presided over the ceremony, and more than 3,000 onlookers, including former presidents George Bush and Jimmy Carter, watched in amazement as Arafat and Rabin sealed the agreement with a handshake. The old bitter enemies had met for the first time at a White House reception that morning.

In his remarks, Rabin, a former top-ranking Israeli army general, told the crowd: “We the soldiers who have returned from the battle stained with blood; we who have seen our relatives and friends killed before our eyes; we who have fought against you, the Palestinians; we say to you today in a loud and clear voice: Enough of blood and tears. Enough!” And Arafat, the guerrilla leader who for decades was targeted for assassination by Israeli agents, declared that “The battle for peace is the most difficult battle of our lives. It deserves our utmost efforts because the land of peace yearns for a just and comprehensive peace.”

Despite attempts by extremists on both sides to sabotage the peace process with violence, the Israelis completed their withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho in May 1994. In July, Arafat entered Jericho amid much Palestinian jubilation and set up his government–the Palestinian Authority. In October 1994, Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts at reconciliation.

In September 1995, Rabin, Arafat, and Peres signed a peace agreement providing for the expansion of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and for democratic elections to determine the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. Just over a month later, on November 4, 1995, Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist at a peace rally in Tel Aviv. Peres became prime minister and pledged to continue the peace process. However, terrorist attacks by Palestinian extremists in early 1996 swayed Israeli public opinion, and in May Benjamin Netanyahu of the right-wing Likud Party was elected prime minister. Netanyahu insisted that Palestinian Authority Chairman Arafat meet his obligation to end terrorism by Palestinian extremists, but sporadic attacks continued and the peace process stalled.

In May 1999, Ehud Barak of the Labor Party defeated Netanyahu in national elections and pledged to take “bold steps” to forge a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. However, extended negotiations with the PLO ended in failure in July 2000, when Barak and Arafat failed to reach an agreement at a summit at Camp David, Maryland. In September 2000, the worst violence since the intifada broke out between Israelis and Palestinians after Likud leader Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount, the holiest Islamic site in Jerusalem. Seeking a strong leader to suppress the bloodshed, Israelis elected Sharon prime minister in February 2001. Though Arafat pledged to join in America’s “war on terror” after the attacks of September 11, 2001, he was not able to garner favor with U.S. President George W. Bush, who was strongly pro-Israel. In December 2001, after a series of Palestinian suicide attacks on Israel, Bush did nothing to stop Israel as it re-conquered areas of the West Bank and occupied parts of Ramallah, effectively imprisoning Arafat in the Palestinian Authority's headquarters..

After Israel dismissed an alternative peace plan put forth by the Arab League in March 2002, Palestinian attacks increased, causing Israel to again turn to military intervention in the West Bank. A cycle of terrorist attacks, IDF reprisals, and failed diplomacy continued for the next two years.

In late October of 2004, reports surfaced that Arafat was seriously ill. He was flown to Paris for treatment, and in early November fell into a coma. He was pronounced dead on November 11.

Mahmoud Abbas became the new chairman of the PLO and was elected president of the Palestinian Authority in January 2005. The next year, Hamas, seen by many observors as a terrorist organization, won control of the Palestinian legislative body, complicating any potential negotiations. Despite an Israeli withdrawal from the disputed Gaza territory, and the fact that both sides ostensibly are committed to a two-state solution, peace in the region remains elusive.


Did Israel Just Sign a Peace Agreement With the Right People?

UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the White House, September 15, 2020. SAUL LOEB - AFP

The Palestinians launched a couple of rockets from Gaza toward Israeli cities on Tuesday during the signing ceremony in Washington of the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. One rocket hit Ashdod and wounded a few civilians. But the Palestinian organization that fired the rockets was simply trying to set the record straight: They were the ones who had been at war with Israel all these years.

skip - Why did Israel let 70 evangelicals flout its COVID-19 travel ban?

To hear Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu talk at the White House, you could have imagined that the UAE and Bahrain, the two small Gulf states 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) away, had invaded Israel at its birth in 1948, cut off the Suez Canal to Israeli shipping, launched a surprise assault on Yom Kippur and a couple of intifadas. Trump called the UAE &ldquoa great warring country,&rdquo and said that until he came along, &ldquothey just fought and did nothing else.&rdquo Netanyahu, taking his cue, rhapsodized on his own military days and how &ldquothose who bear the wounds of war cherish the blessings of peace.&rdquo

The deals he was signing, Netanyahu went even further, were a &ldquopivot of history,&rdquo and would &ldquoultimately end the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all.&rdquo

Trump&rsquos bizarre reinvention of Middle Eastern history is perhaps understandable. He has visions of &ldquoblood all over the sand for decades and decades.&rdquo Netanyahu, the son of a historian, who actually fought in some of those wars, has no excuse for this false narrative.


Israel-Palestine Peace Accord Signed - HISTORY

Fighting between Israel and the Palestinian militants have intensified in the last few days, with Hamas launching hundreds of rockets from Gaza and Israel responding with airstrikes. Rioting and mob violence between Arabs and Jews ripped through the unsettled borders of Israel and Palestine. As the conflict escalates, over 100 civilians have been killed and thousands more have been injured on both sides. Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocket attacks raged through the week with no sign of abatement, further causing a new storm in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

How Did the Conflict Begin to Escalate?

Three weeks before the first rocket was fired from Gaza, a squad of Israeli police officers entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, swept aside the Palestinian attendants, and strode through its vast limestone courtyard. Then they cut the cables to four mediaeval minarets’ loudspeakers, which transmitted prayers to the faithful.

This happened on the night of April 13, the first day of Ramadan, and coincidently Memorial Day in Israel. On the day, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu was to deliver a speech at the Western Wall, a sacred Jewish site. And the police officials were concerned that the Ramadan prayers would drown it out. This was the first trigger to an all-out conflict situation in the region.

Weeks later, in another instance, the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah became the centrepiece of the conflict with Palestinians rallying around its residents to resist the Israeli settlers’ encroachment on East Jerusalem. Palestinians believe that the area is the burial ground of Sheikh Jarrah, a physician to Saladin, an Islamic military leader of the 12 th century. Following Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, the Israeli settler groups have been encroaching into the neighbourhood of Palestinians.

The effort to evict six Arab families from Sheikh Jarrah drew attention to the Israeli encroachment into the Palestinian neighbourhoods, leading to widespread protests across the region. Protesters in Sheikh Jarrah have clashed with riot police and far-right Israeli groups over the past weeks. Clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians erupted on Friday (May 07, 2021), as thousands of worshippers leaving Friday prayer hurled stones at Israeli police officials, who threw stun grenades and fired rubber-coated bullets, leaving nearly 300 people injured. This clash prompted an offensive from Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, leading to widespread killing of civilians on both sides.

What is the Historical Context of the Conflict?

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict dates back to the end of the nineteenth century, with the birth of major nationalist movements among the Jews and the Arabs. Palestine region of the Middle East was then under the control of the British Empire. The Balfour Declaration issued by the British government in 1917 announced support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” The British government hoped that the declaration would rally Jewish opinion to the side of the Allied Powers against the Central Powers during World War I (1914-18). This event was the start of the world’s most intractable conflict in Israel and Palestine.

Public declaration of claims over Palestine by Zionist leaders in the early 1900s and the 1917 Balfour Declaration created tensions in the region. It was also the beginning of significant Jewish immigration into then Palestine. Tensions erupted between both communities as the migration of Jews continued during the period of Anti-Semitism in Germany and Austria. Even as Hitler massacred millions of Jews in concentration camps, the cry for a Jewish homeland in Palestine began to take shape.

In 1947, with the culmination of World War II, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted Resolution 181, known as the Partition Plan, which sought to divide Palestine into an Arab state, a Jewish state and the City of Jerusalem. Six months later, in May 1948, neighbouring Arab states, under the banner of the Arab League(the coalition of Muslim nations of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria), rejected the U.N. plan for Palestinian partition. On May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was created, sparking the first Arab-Israeli War. The war ended in 1949 with Israel’s victory and the territory was divided into 3 parts: the State of Israel, the West Bank (of the Jordan River), and the Gaza Strip.

The conflict gave rise to the tensions in the region, particularly between Israel and the Arab League. Through the 1950s, Jordan and Egypt supported the Palestinian Fedayeen militant’s cross border attacks in Israel. The 1956 Suez Crisis led to Israel’s invasion of the Sinai Peninsula, later restored. In 1964, Yasser Arafat formed the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was recognized by the Arab League.

In June 1967, following a series of manoeuvres by Abdel Gamal Nasser, the then Egyptian President, Israel preemptively attacked Eqyptian and Syrian forces, leading to the Six-Day War. After the war, Israel gained control over the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan and Golan Heights from Syria. Six years later, in 1973, Egypt and Syria launched a surprise two-front attack on Israel to regain their lost territories. The war began on the day of fasting in Judaism, known as Yom Kippur. However, the war did not result in a significant gain for the countries involved.

Finally, in 1979, following a series of peace negotiations, representatives from Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Accords, a peace treaty that ended the conflict between Egypt and Israel. But, the question of Palestinian self-determination remained in a cliffhanger. Later in 1987, thousands of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip rose against the Israeli territorial occupation in what came to be known as the first Intifada. The 1993 Oslo Accords began the peace process between Israel and Palestine when Chairman of the PLO Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shook hands after signing the peace accords. The accord enabled mutual recognition for Israel’s government and the newly established Palestinian Authority.

Dismayed by Israel’s control over the West Bank, the Palestinians launched the second Intifada that lasted until 2005. In response, the Israeli government built a barrier wall around the West Bank in 2002, despite opposition from the major powers and the U.N. Bodies. The 2013 United States efforts at reviving the peace process between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank were thwarted by Hamas, a Palestinian political party sanctioned as a terrorist organization by the United States in 1997.

In 2014, clashes in the Palestinian territories precipitated a military confrontation between the Israeli military and Hamas, killing 73 Israelis and 2,251 Palestinians. Later in 2015, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that Palestinians would no longer be bound by the territorial division created by the Oslo Accords. Israel and the Palestinian conflict have thrived at the cost of civilian casualties to date. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the total fatalities since 2008 stands at 5,733 Palestinians and 251 Israelis.

What is the Israel-Palestine Conflict All About?

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is rooted in a century-long territorial dispute over the Holy Land, a region with great religious and historical significance to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The first and foremost aspect of the conflict is the claim over territories. The notion of having two separate nations, one Israeli and the other Palestinian, referred to as the two-state solution.

The claims to Jerusalem are the second source of contention. The Holy Land, as it is known, is a sacred site for three different religions. The contested city is divided into East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem by Israel’s and the West Bank’s borders. The third issue is the illegal settlement of Israeli communities in disputed Palestinian territories. The fourth problem is Hamas, which has vowed to destroy Israel at all costs. The fifth issue in the dispute remains to be a lack of consensus on proposed solutions for the peace-building process.

What Are the Proposed Solutions for Israel-Palestine Conflict?

There are three proposed solutions: One-state solution Two-state solution and Three-state solution. The one-state solution is a proposed approach that seeks to unify all the disputed territories into one state of Israel with equal rights for all inhabitants without regard to ethnicity and religion. The solution seeks to create a unitary, federal or confederate Israeli-Palestinian state, encompassing all territories of Israel and Palestine.

Critics have, however, argued that no matter what the composition of the proposed one-state is, we will also have one minority who would feel isolated. Several others have argued that the one-state solution is not viable because of Arab unwillingness to accept a Jewish national presence in the Middle East. Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg in his 2000 interview with Edward Said, whom he calls as ‘one of the intellectual fathers of one-statism’, asks whether he thought a Jewish minority would be treated fairly in a binational state. To this, Said replied: “It worries me a great deal. The question of what is going to be the fate of the Jews is very difficult for me. I really don’t know.”

The two-state solution envisions an independent Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel. The proposal for the creation of two states was first made in the Peel Commission Plan of 1937. The two-state solution is one of the most embraced solutions by international players. It is also one solution that endures because there is no other viable solution. Critiques of the two-state solution have argued that Israel is far too powerful to allow the formation of a Palestinian state. Yusef Munayyer writes: “The simple truth is that over the decades, the Israelis developed enough power and cultivated enough support from Washington to allow them to occupy and hold the territories and to create, in effect, a one-state reality of their own devising.” Now, there is the three-state solution, which states that there are three states in the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Hamas in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and Israel.

What is the Political Context of the Current Clashes?

For almost two years now, Israel has not been able to form a majority government, leading to a series of elections and political uncertainty – most notably for the acting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The latest Israeli election held on March 23, reflected the divisive sentiment within the votes as no political bloc was able to secure enough seats in the 120-member parliament, Knesset, to secure a majority. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit his deadline to stitch a new alliance on May 4, six weeks after the country’s fourth election in less than two years.

In the present conflict, Netanyahu finds an opportunity to assure his people that only a strong leader like him can quell the guns from across the borders and protect them. Writing for The New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman notes, “Netanyahu has an interest in seeing his rivals fail to form a new coalition to unseat him. He would like Israel to go to a fifth election — giving him a chance to hang on and maybe avoid jail if he is convicted in his current corruption trial. One way, Bibi could do that is by inflaming the situation so much that his right-wing rivals have to abandon trying to topple him and declare instead that this is no time for a change in leadership.”

Palestine, divided between radical group Hamas in Gaza strip and President Abbas’s Fatah in Ramallah is in political turmoil. Abbas, ageing with time, has fewer cheerleaders in the Middle East and challenged by the frictions within his party. On May 22, the elections were to be held in Palestine, resulting in widespread popular enthusiasm. But, Abbas later announced that the elections were to be postponed as the Israeli government would not allow ballot boxes in East Jerusalem. But, the announcement was widely seen as an excuse to avoid elections, as Abbas’s Fatah Party was expected to fare poorly against Hamas. With the current conflict, Hamas seem to emerge as a popular force among Palestinians angered by Israel. According to Hamas, “There is no solution to the Palestine problem except by Jihad”.

What is the International Response to the Conflict?

Recently, U.S. President Joe Biden had spoken with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel amid escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians, and assured his “unwavering support” for Israel’s “right to defend itself.” Biden in his statement condemned the rocket attacks on Israel and refrained from criticizing Israel for its actions. It was unsurprising to see the United States take the Israeli side, but what was quite surprising was narrative Washington continues to maintain in the conflict. Later, the United States also blocked the UNSC meeting on the Israel-Palestine conflict, stating it won’t support de-escalatory efforts.

The Arab Nations have always shown their support for the Palestinian cause. However, the numbers seem to be shrinking by the day. The Abraham Accords engineered by the Trump administration have normalized relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco have shown the world that the Palestinian cause is a lost one. Of what was left, the Arab League has written a strong-worded condemnation stating that deadly Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip as “indiscriminate and irresponsible.” The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has also faced criticism for its weak response to Israel’s attacks on Palestine. The United Nations Secretary-General has issued an urgent appeal for all parties involved in the escalation of violence in Palestine and Israel to “immediately cease the fighting.” However, there seem to be no takers of the call.

What do you think is the best solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict?


The History, Wars, and Solution of Israel-Palestine Conflict

The Israel-Palestine conflict – often referred to as the ‘world’s most intractable conflict’ – is rooted in a dispute over land claimed by Jews as their biblical birthright and by the Palestinians, who seek self-determination. Despite repeated attempts to end the conflict between the two countries, there is no peace settlement in sight.

To understand the present-day ongoing bloody conflict between Israel and Palestine, it is necessary to understand the background of the place and the people associated with it. Although the present conflict has its roots in the 20th century, a brief background of the region with respect to ancient history will help one understand the religious and historical significance of the place, especially to the chief stakeholders in the conflict.

Ancient History

  • Most of what is known about the ancient history of Israel is sourced from the Hebrew Bible.
  • Israel can be traced back to the biblical figure Abraham, who is deemed the father of Judaism (through his son Isaac) and a patriarch of Islam (through his son Ishmael).
  • The descendants of Abraham were thought to be enslaved by Egyptians for hundreds of years before they settled in Canaan (approximately in modern-day Israel).
  • Around 1000 BCE, King David ruled the region. His son, Solomon, built the First Temple (Solomon’s Temple) in ancient Jerusalem around 957 BCE.
  • In about 931 BCE, the region was divided into two kingdoms, namely, Israel in the north and Judah in the south.
  • Around 722 BCE, the kingdom of Israel was invaded and destroyed by the Assyrians.
  • In the sixth century BCE, Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians, who took control of Judah. The First Temple was destroyed and the Jews were expelled to Babylon.
  • In 538 BCE, the Babylonians were conquered by the Achaemenid Empire whose emperor Cyrus allowed the Jews to go back to Judah, where they rebuilt Solomon’s Temple (Second Temple).
  • In 70 CE, the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and this marked the beginning of the Jewish exile from their holy land.
  • In the second century CE, the Romans took control of the region and the province of Judea was named Syria Palaestina.
  • For the next many centuries, the region of Israel was conquered and ruled by many groups such as the Persians, Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Fatimids, Seljuk Turks, Crusaders, Egyptians, Mamluks and others.

Modern History

  • From 1517 to 1917, the Ottoman Empire ruled over much of West Asia including the region of Israel.
  • In the 19th century, the population in the region of Israel/Palestine was almost 87% Muslim, 10% Christian and 3% Jewish. From all accounts, the communities lived in peace with each other. In the city of Jerusalem, the population of the three communities was roughly equal.
  • In the 19th century, an Austro-Hungarian Jewish journalist, Theodor Herzl, propagated the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine for the Jews. This idea came to be known as Zionism, which found many followers among the Jews in Europe, where Jews were facing discrimination and even pogroms.
  • In 1917, the British government announced the Balfour Declaration, hoping to gain Jewish support for World War I, which promised: “the establishment in Palestine a national home for the Jewish People”.
    • This was problematic because in 1916, the British had secretly made a deal with the French according to which after the war, the Arab territories would be divided and Palestine would be in control of the British.
    • Jews have been persecuted throughout history due to their religious beliefs and foreign culture.
    • In 1897, Jews started a movement called a Zionist movement, to escape persecution and establish their own state in their ancestral homeland, Israel. The World Zionist Organisation was created to advocate for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
    • As a result, a large number of Jews started flowing into Palestine and they bought land and started settling down there.
    • By 1916, Palestine came under British control after the Sykes-Picot Agreement (a secret agreement between Great Britain and France). This led to the division of the old Ottoman Turkish Empire.
    • Later through the Balfour Declaration, the British foreign secretary James Balfour agreed to the establishment of a Jewish homeland.
    • After the Nazis gained power in Germany in the 1930s, the Jews influx to Palestine took a major turn with hundreds of thousands of them resettled from Europe to Palestine. Arabs saw this as a threat to their homeland and they fought bitterly with them. As the British Government remained as a mute spectator, violence reached its peak.
    • In 1947, the British Government referred the question of the future of Palestine to the United Nations. UN voted to split the land into two countries. Jewish people accepted the agreement and declared the independence of Israel.

    Why in News

    India, the United States and several other countries have called for calm and restraint amid escalating tensions and violence between Israel and Palestinian militants.

    • Dozens of people have been killed in clashes and airstrikes since the violence broke out, including a 30-year-old Indian woman in Israel who was killed in a rocket attack by Palestinian militants from Gaza.

    Arab’s fight against the Israel (1948-49)

    • Arabs saw the creation of Israel as a part of a conspiracy to move them out of their land. Consequently, in 1948, the Arab states of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria declared war on Israel.
    • Note: It’s interesting to note here that India opposed the UN resolution and Gandhi called it as a crime against humanity. But India recognized Israel in 1950.
    • At the end of the war between Israel and Arab countries, Israel emerged victoriously. Moreover, it could increase its territory to a larger extent and it marked the beginning of the expansionist policy of Israel.
    • As a consequence of the war, a large number of Palestinians either flee or were forced to move out of Israel and settle in refugee camps near Israel’s border. It was the beginning of Palestine refugee crisis which ultimately led to the creation of a terrorist organization PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) in 1964.

    Israel’s fight against the Arab countries (1967)

    In 1967, Israel launched a preemptive strike against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan and at the end of this Six-Day War, Israel captured:

    1. Golan Heights from Syria.
    2. West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan.
    3. Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt. (Refer to the map above)
    • The 1967 war is particularly important for today’s conflict, as it left Israel in control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, two territories home to a large number of Palestinians.
    • Gaza and West bank are together known as ‘Occupied Territories’, after the 1967 war.

    UN Charter and return of the Sinai Peninsula

    • Under the UN Charter, there can lawfully be no territorial gains from war, even by a state acting in self-defence.
    • Therefore, in response to the Six-Day War, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution for ‘Land for peace’ and it mandated that Israel should return the captured areas back to the defeated nations.
    • In the light of Israel’s reluctance to return the captured territories, another Arab-Israeli war erupted in 1973 (Yom Kippur war) in which Israel suffered some setbacks.
    • In 1979, Israel-Egypt signed a peace treaty, accordingly Israel return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt (1982). Egypt became the first Arab nation to officially recognize Israel as a state.

    Hamas and Fatah

    • In 1987, Hamas (Islamic Militant group) for the liberation of Palestine through Jihad came into existence. It refused to recognize Israel as a country. It has received support from Iran and Syria.
    • On the other hand, Fatah, a faction of PLO under Yasser Arafat received support from Western nations.

    Intifada (uprising) against Israel occupancy

    • First Intifada: The tension between Israel and Palestine escalated with Israel’s increased settlement in West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip fomented the riots begun in 1987, known as the first intifada.
    • Oslo Peace Accord: With the mediation of US and Russia in 1993, Israel and PLO signed the Oslo Peace accord which was based on the concept of two-state solution. Palestine and Israel signed the Declaration of Principles – in which both nations seek recognition as autonomous governing bodies. PLO recognized Isreal. Isreal agreed to give independence to the ‘occupied territories. However, territories remained under Israel possession.
    • Camp David Summit (2000): It aimed to help the two sides finally agree on a settlement, but the talks eventually failed. The violence led to the Second Intifada.
    • Second Intifada (2000-05): In 2000, a more violent Palestine Uprising started and a large number of civilians died on both sides. This is known as the second intifada. As a defensive measure, Israel constructed a West Bank Barrier along West Bank to separate Israel and Palestine settlements.
    • Gaza Expulsion plan: This is a unilateral disarmament plan by Israel by which Israel’s defence forces leave the Gaza strip and four settlements in the northern West Bank (2005)

    Tensions between Hamas and Fatah

    • After the Oslo accord, a Palestinian Authority (PA) was created with a limited self-rule power in the occupied territories.
    • But this led to disputes between Hamas and Fatah for political power.
    • Hamas – do not accept the Oslo peace accord or 2 state peace resolution. They want the whole state. They control Gaza. Hamas is supported by Iran.
    • Fatah – accept the Oslo peace accord and negotiates for peace. They control West Bank.
    • In 2006, Hamas won the Palestine election and it intensified the tensions between Fatah and Hamas for power. After a long-armed struggle, in 2011 Palestinian Rivals Fatah and Hamas signed a Reconciliation Pact.
    • Currently, Gaza is controlled by Hamas and Palestine West bank region by Fatah with known presence of Israeli settlements.
    • Operation Protective Edge: By Israel to punish Hamas for abducting and killing Israeli settlers.

    Israel-Palestine conflict and US

    • The US has been playing a significant role as the mediator in the Israel-Palestine. However, its credibility as a mediator had long been questioned by Palestinians. The United States has been criticized by the OIC (Organization of Islamic cooperation) and other Arab organizations, for vetoing most Security Council decisions critical of Israel.
    • Note: The USA has more Jews than Israel. Jews have significant control over US media and the economy.
    • Also, Israel receives about $3 billion in direct foreign assistance each year, which is roughly one-fifth of America’s entire foreign aid budget.
    • On the other side, United States has been vocal about its intention to veto any Palestinian bid for statehood. Due to which Palestine had to be satisfied with a ‘non-member observer status in UN.
    • However, the second term of the Obama administration saw a degrading US-Israel relationship. Iran Nuclear deal of 2015 irritated Israel and it criticized the US for the deal.
    • Obama administration allowed the United Nations to pass a resolution that declared Israel’s growing settlements in the occupied territories illegal. Until that vote, the Obama administration had blocked resolutions criticizing Israel by using its veto power in the UN Security Council.
    • With the presidency regime under Trump, who was more inclined to Israel, the illegal settlements by Israel in West Bank and Gaza saw a rise.

    What does Palestine want?

    • They want Israeli to withdraw from pre-1967 borders and establish an independent Palestine state in West Bank and Gaza.
    • Israel should stop all expansion of settlements before coming to peace talks.
    • Palestine wants Palestine refugees who lost their homes in 1948 to be able to come back.
    • Palestine wants East Jerusalem as the capital of the Independent Palestine state.

    What does Israel want?

    • Sovereignty over Jerusalem.
    • Recognition of Israel as a Jewish State. Note: Israel is the only country in the world created for a religious community.
    • The right of return of Palestine refugees only to Palestine and not to Israel.

    What is so special about Jerusalem?

    Jerusalem is a city that straddles the border between Israel and the West Bank. It’s home to some of the holiest sites in both Judaism and Islam, and so both Israel and Palestine want to make it their cap the solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.


    The Mindset

    The extremist on both sides derail every peace offering from either side wanted total destruction of the opposite. This is been the dynamic ever since. Israeli after the second intifada becomes much more skeptical that the peace in Israel Palestine conflict is not achievable. The same is the case in Palestine the violence keep happening but nothing is going Palestine way. Israel tries to manage the conflict rather than solving it. It builds walls and checkpoints to limit Palestine movements.

    This is the current state as of today in the Israeli Palestine Conflict. More and more settlers are coming to West Bank. Migration of Settlers continues, suffocating Palestine more and more. The only area of peace until now was the Holy Corridor. Not for long though.

    Holy Corridor

    Jewish believe that the holy site in Jerusalem was the birth of all humanity and it is sacred to them. In the same way, since Christians and Jews have the same bible Entity, they believe that this a holy site too. Muslims who had the land for centuries say that the third holiest site for Islam is the al-Aqsa mosque according to Waqf.

    The Holy Sites in Jerusalem’s Old City


    Israel – Palestine Conflict: History and Present

    The conflict between the Israeli country demanding vs the Palestinian demanding people has age-old roots but the 20 th century could be the time when the political conflict came into the global limelight as it not only affects the two but the whole Middle East and indirectly the peace and especially the trade in this globalized world, thus making the whole European and western world concern. The conflict cannot be only seen as between two countries or want to be a country but it is the war of ethnicities. The Jews and the Palestinian Arabs are fighting each other dividing the whole world into two fragments, on one side are the Muslim nations supporting directly or indirectly the Palestinian cause while the other fragment is with the Jews cause and supporting their demand for the Jewish nation. Then comes the city of Jerusalem which has a great religious significance for the Muslims, Christians, and Jews, and it has become the bone of contention in the conflict. For Muslims the city is the third holiest site after Mecca and Medina, for Christians, the place is related to Jesus, and Jews consider Jerusalem as their ancestral homeland and is the holiest place in Judaism. Thus, the conflict turned out to be both political and religious and very difficult to resolve.

    The History

    In the year 1897, the Jews started the Zionist movement as they suffered persecutions throughout the past for their religious beliefs, so they started their movement to Palestine which was already a land of Arabs.

    In July 1922, the League of Nations entrusted Great Britain with the Mandate for Palestine and Britain decided to establish the Jewish national home in then Palestine. But the mandate didn’t consider the Palestinian wishes making them unhappy.

    With Nazi Germany gaining power in Europe, hundreds of thousands of Jews migrated to then Palestine, worrying the Palestinians and sparking the conflict thus, the holocaust also played an important role in the migration of the Jews people towards Palestine and their demand for the Jewish nation increased.

    In 1947 Britain, avoiding the responsibility of making peace in Palestine, gave up the responsibility to the newly formed UN. The UN presented a partition plan to create independent Jewish and Arab states in Palestine i.e. The Two-Nation theory, for which the Jews agreed but the already residing Muslims in Palestine saw this as encroachment and threat to their own existence and rights. This idea of two nations disturbed the whole of the middle east. The Arab nations took the side of the Palestinian Muslims and countries like Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria declared war against newly formed Israel in the year 1948. At the end of the war, Israel controlled about 50 percent more territory than originally envisioned by the UN partition plan. Jordan controlled the West Bank and Jerusalem’s holy sites, and Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip. In 1949 Israel signed Armistice Agreements with Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Between 1948-1949 almost 7,00,000 Palestinians became refugees. The Palestine refugee crisis led to the formation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964.

    The Six-Day War 1976

    This war can be considered as the root cause of the present-day conflict between the Palestinian Arabs and the Israeli Jews. The war was fought between June 5 th – June 10 th, 1967, among Israel on one side and Egypt, Jordan, Syria on the other. Israel alone defeated the Arab nations and captured a lot of territories. Israel captured West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, Golan Heights from Syria, and the area of Sinai and Gaza Strip from Egypt.

    On June 10 th , an UN-brokered ceasefire came into force ending the Six-day War. Almost 800 Israeli and 20,000 Arabs lost their lives in just 132 hours of fighting. Around 2,50,000 Palestinians were displaced, straining the already disturbed refugee crises. As under the UN Charter, there can lawfully no territorially gains from war, even by a state acting in self-defense. Thus, all the territory captured by Israel was declared as ‘occupied territory’ by the UN, and Israel was asked to return it for which Israel initially refused, leading to another Arab-Israeli conflict ‘Yom-Kipper War’ 1973 in which the Arabs had an upper hand. Later in 1979, Israel-Egypt signed a peace treaty under which Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and Egypt became the first Arab country to recognize Israel as a state.

    In the year of 1987, a new Islamic militant group Hamas formed with the aim to liberate Palestine through Jihad. Hamas didn’t consider Israel as a state and the group is supposed to have the support of Iran and Syria.

    The First Intifada (The First Uprising)

    With the increasing settlements of the Israeli Jews in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Jerusalem, the Palestinian Arabs started riots in 1987 against the Jewish encroachment.

    Oslo Peace Accord

    In the year of 1993 with the mediation of the US and Russia, Israel and PLO signed a peace agreement under which both agreed on a Two-State solution. Under which both Israel and PLO agreed to recognize each other and decrease the violence. The accord established a Palestinian Authority, which received limited autonomy in the Gaza Strip and some parts of the West Bank but was still in Israel’s possession.

    The Second Intifada (The Second Uprising)

    With the failure of the Camp David Summit (2000), aimed for the final settlement between the two sides, violence again erupted starting the second Intifada 2000-2005. It was more violent and both sides had huge casualties. As a result, Israel constructed the West Bank Barrier to separate the Jews and Palestinian Arab settlements as a defensive measure. As a result, Israel constructed the West Bank Barrier to separate the Jews and Palestinian Arab settlements as a defensive measure.

    Later in 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew Israel’s Defence Forces from the Gaza strip and some settlements in the northern West Bank.

    The Present Day Conflict

    The world is divided into two sections, one supporting the cause of Palestine while the other half supporting Israel. The conflict has not only affected the Jews and Palestinians but has shaken the whole geopolitics as none of the global power has been able to stop the present-day conflict, the power and effectiveness of the UN, the European Union, and superpowers like the US, Russia can be questioned today as none has been able to deescalate the killings and destructions caused on both the sides. Many innocent lives are being lost and the thing to worry about is the psychological impact this war, this killing of the parents and loved ones, is having on the children on both sides. This whole scenario is just filling the pure hearts with fear and hatred towards each other. This killing today is not limited between two nations but the world somehow is dividing on the basis of religion.

    The epicenter of the modern conflict became the Sheikh Jarrah, in East Jerusalem, where the Israeli settlers are trying to evict the Palestinian already living in their ancestral houses. But this time the eviction was not that smooth as many Palestinians gathered and protested against the Israeli Supreme Court in favor of Israeli settlers. This protest sparked the clash between the Palestinians and the Israeli forces. And the major turning point came with the Israeli forces entering the al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site of Muslims situated in Temple Mount – the holiest site for Judaism, during the holy period of Ramadan when hundreds of Muslims were praying in the mosque on May 7 th Israeli forces stormed in the compound resulting in violence from both the sides. Palestinians used stones against the police and were returned with police’s tear gas, rubber bullets, hundreds of people were injured mainly the Palestinians. This presence of Israeli forces in al-Aqsa agitated the Arab community and the world condemned the act, the Hamas operating in Gaza Strip gave an ultimatum to Israel to leave the compound on May 10 th for which Israel refused and this led to the missile war between the two countries. Hundreds of people, mainly innocents, died on both sides majorly in Gaza and more than 70,000 people were displaced. At last, after 11 days of fighting, on May 21 st around 0200 hours, both sides agreed on a ceasefire.

    The Long-term Solution

    The conflict between Israel and Palestine is very complex and no shortcut is there for peace on both sides. But most of the world proposes the “Two-state solution”, based on the UN resolution of 1947. But the Palestinian side has somewhat different demands under which the pre-six-day war 1967 boundaries would be restored and both Palestine and Israel will exist as sovereign nations. And a credible government is required on the Palestinian side too, which consists of the Gaza Strip and some parts of the West Bank. The Two-state solution is considered the most realistic solution for ending the conflict.

    The Issues for a Peace settlement

    The demography has changed a lot after the 1967 war. The Israeli settlements have been all over the West Bank which has made the border demarcation almost impossible as both sides claim their respective rights over the land and enclaves have been formed throughout the West Bank. Another major issue is the divided political leadership in Palestine as the West Bank has the Palestinian Authority while the Gaza Strip has the authority of Hamas, the Palestinian Authority accepts the two-state solution but on the other hand, Hamas doesn’t even recognize Israel as a state and want the complete land as Palestine. The Israeli government on the other hand has declared Hamas as a terrorist group and has refused any talks with terrorist groups and demand for Palestinian Authority’s control over the Gaza Strip which is almost impossible as Hamas is more powerful than the Palestinian Authority in West Bank, complicating whole peace talk. Another bone of contention in the peace talks is the holy city of Jerusalem, on which both parties claim their authority.

    The need of the hour is that the whole world come forward for peaceful negotiations and both Israeli and Palestinian sides have to compromise in their demand and leave their reluctance of the solution. Both have to look towards the greater good of humankind and value the innocent lives on both sides.

    About the Author

    Aman Bora, Post Graduate (Silver Medalist) in Political Science from Kumaun University, Nainital. His primary interest areas are National Security, International relations, Defence Research and Development, and Military Affairs.


    The ‘Peace Process’: A Short History

    With the Israeli-Palestinian conflict arguably no closer to being resolved than it was a decade ago, one has to wonder: Has the much-vaunted “peace process,” hailed by U.S. presidents from both parties, become a charade? The phrase’s long history suggests that there’s been a lot more process than peace. Now, as Arab uprisings transform the Middle East and Israelis and Palestinians go their separate ways, it may be time to pick a new buzzword: stalemate. –Uri Friedman

    1967
    After the Six-Day War, U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 calls for Israel to withdraw from occupied territories in exchange for the end of hostilities and respect for the sovereignty of all states in the area. The imprecise language neuters the resolution, but the land-for-peace formula will inform — or haunt — peace efforts thereafter.

    1973
    Egypt and Syria launch coordinated surprise attacks on Israel in Sinai and the Golan Heights on Yom Kippur. The U.S.-Soviet brinkmanship over the war and the Arab oil embargo highlight the conflict’s geopolitical dimensions, and the United States devotes more diplomatic muscle to resolving it.

    1973-1975
    In what the media dub “shuttle diplomacy,” U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger holds bilateral talks with the Yom Kippur War belligerents, helping defuse the immediate crisis. Kissinger and his advisors refer to these diplomatic efforts as a “negotiating process” and then, as the political climate in the region defrosts, a “peace process.” The process stalls as U.S. President Richard Nixon resigns and Six-Day War hero Yitzhak Rabin assumes power in Israel.

    1974
    Arab leaders recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” transforming the Palestinian question from one of refugee rights into one of nationalist aspirations. “I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter’s gun,” PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat informs the U.N. General Assembly a month later. “Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.”

    1975
    An influential Brookings Institution study breaks with Kissinger’s incremental peace process, advocating a “comprehensive” Arab-Israeli settlement that would include Israel’s withdrawing to roughly its pre-1967 borders and support of Palestinian self-determination in return for diplomatic recognition and peace with its Arab neighbors.

    1977
    U.S. President Jimmy Carter brings several authors of the Brookings report into his administration and resolves to pursue a more ambitious peace process, surprising even his closest advisors by openly calling for a Palestinian “homeland.” Israel’s Menachem Begin and Egypt’s Anwar Sadat express an appetite for peace, and Sadat becomes the first Arab leader to visit Israel.

    1978-1979
    Sadat and Begin meet with Carter, producing the Camp David Accords and, a year later, an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty in which Egypt recognizes Israel and Israel withdraws from Sinai. The treaty invites Israel’s other neighbors to “join the peace process with Israel.” No takers.

    1982
    After Sadat’s assassination and Israeli attacks on the PLO in Lebanon, U.S. President Ronald Reagan calls for a “fresh start,” urging Jordan to work with the Palestinians to achieve self-government. The goal goes unrealized.

    1985
    Dennis Ross, who would advise five U.S. presidents on the Middle East, argues that the United States should cautiously facilitate diplomacy in the region “while patiently awaiting real movement from the local parties.”

    1987
    Sheikh Ahmed Yassin founds Hamas amid the eruption of the First Intifada, a Palestinian uprising against Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza. The group’s 1988 charter calls for Israel’s destruction and the creation of an Islamist Palestinian state through violent jihad.

    1991
    Emboldened by success in the Gulf War, U.S. President George H.W. Bush co-sponsors, with the Soviet Union, a conference in Madrid between Israel and Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the Palestinians, who meet with Israeli negotiators for the first time. The dialogue achieves little, but it creates a long-missing framework for talks.

    1993-1994
    Secret Israel-PLO talks in Norway yield the first deal between the two sides, the Oslo Accords. They recognize one another and chart a five-year plan for Israel to cede control of the territories to a new Palestinian Authority and Palestinian leaders to crack down on terrorism before a final peace agreement. Rabin and Jordan’s King Hussein sign another peace treaty a year later.

    1995
    Jewish extremist Yigal Amir assassinates Rabin, who in his second term had become a strong advocate of a two-state solution. The Oslo peace process sputters.

    2000
    U.S. President Bill Clinton convenes Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David to address Oslo’s thorniest issues: borders, security, settlements, refugees, and Jerusalem. But the talks collapse and the Second Intifada explodes in violence.

    2001
    A May report by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell warns that the “greatest danger” in the Mideast is that “the culture of peace, nurtured over the previous decade, is being shattered.” After the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush makes no mention of the peace process in his 2002 State of the Union address.

    2002-2003
    As the United States builds a coalition to go to war in Iraq, Bush becomes the first U.S. president to call explicitly for an independent Palestinian state. The Saudis present an Arab League-endorsed peace plan, and the so-called Quartet — the United States, European Union, Russia, and United Nations — unveils a “road map” for peace that puts security ahead of a political agreement.

    2007
    With pessimism reaching new depths (“The peace process has no clothes,” writes Mideast analyst Nathan J. Brown), Bush hosts a conference in Annapolis between Israel and its Arab neighbors that enshrines the two-state solution. Hamas, which has seized power in Gaza and split with its rival Palestinian faction, Fatah, is not invited.

    2008
    An Israeli military offensive in Gaza wipes out dialogue between Israel’s Ehud Olmert and the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas.

    2009-2010
    U.S. President Barack Obama enters office promising to “actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace.” After securing a hard-won, 10-month settlement freeze from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama hosts face-to-face talks but fails to obtain substantive concessions.
    Survey source: Gallup

    Obama enrages Netanyahu by proposing that new negotiations start from pre-1967 borders with land swaps, while the Palestinians pursue statehood at the United Nations in lieu of talks. As 2012 begins, Mideast negotiator Ross recalls what Israeli official Dan Meridor once told him, “‘The peace process is like riding a bicycle: When you stop pedaling, you fall off.'” The Israelis and Palestinians, Ross says, “have stopped pedaling.”
    Survey source: Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research

    With the Israeli-Palestinian conflict arguably no closer to being resolved than it was a decade ago, one has to wonder: Has the much-vaunted “peace process,” hailed by U.S. presidents from both parties, become a charade? The phrase’s long history suggests that there’s been a lot more process than peace. Now, as Arab uprisings transform the Middle East and Israelis and Palestinians go their separate ways, it may be time to pick a new buzzword: stalemate. –Uri Friedman

    1967
    After the Six-Day War, U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 calls for Israel to withdraw from occupied territories in exchange for the end of hostilities and respect for the sovereignty of all states in the area. The imprecise language neuters the resolution, but the land-for-peace formula will inform — or haunt — peace efforts thereafter.

    1973
    Egypt and Syria launch coordinated surprise attacks on Israel in Sinai and the Golan Heights on Yom Kippur. The U.S.-Soviet brinkmanship over the war and the Arab oil embargo highlight the conflict’s geopolitical dimensions, and the United States devotes more diplomatic muscle to resolving it.

    1973-1975
    In what the media dub “shuttle diplomacy,” U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger holds bilateral talks with the Yom Kippur War belligerents, helping defuse the immediate crisis. Kissinger and his advisors refer to these diplomatic efforts as a “negotiating process” and then, as the political climate in the region defrosts, a “peace process.” The process stalls as U.S. President Richard Nixon resigns and Six-Day War hero Yitzhak Rabin assumes power in Israel.

    1974
    Arab leaders recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” transforming the Palestinian question from one of refugee rights into one of nationalist aspirations. “I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter’s gun,” PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat informs the U.N. General Assembly a month later. “Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.”

    1975
    An influential Brookings Institution study breaks with Kissinger’s incremental peace process, advocating a “comprehensive” Arab-Israeli settlement that would include Israel’s withdrawing to roughly its pre-1967 borders and support of Palestinian self-determination in return for diplomatic recognition and peace with its Arab neighbors.

    1977
    U.S. President Jimmy Carter brings several authors of the Brookings report into his administration and resolves to pursue a more ambitious peace process, surprising even his closest advisors by openly calling for a Palestinian “homeland.” Israel’s Menachem Begin and Egypt’s Anwar Sadat express an appetite for peace, and Sadat becomes the first Arab leader to visit Israel.

    1978-1979
    Sadat and Begin meet with Carter, producing the Camp David Accords and, a year later, an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty in which Egypt recognizes Israel and Israel withdraws from Sinai. The treaty invites Israel’s other neighbors to “join the peace process with Israel.” No takers.

    1982
    After Sadat’s assassination and Israeli attacks on the PLO in Lebanon, U.S. President Ronald Reagan calls for a “fresh start,” urging Jordan to work with the Palestinians to achieve self-government. The goal goes unrealized.

    1985
    Dennis Ross, who would advise five U.S. presidents on the Middle East, argues that the United States should cautiously facilitate diplomacy in the region “while patiently awaiting real movement from the local parties.”

    1987
    Sheikh Ahmed Yassin founds Hamas amid the eruption of the First Intifada, a Palestinian uprising against Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza. The group’s 1988 charter calls for Israel’s destruction and the creation of an Islamist Palestinian state through violent jihad.

    1991
    Emboldened by success in the Gulf War, U.S. President George H.W. Bush co-sponsors, with the Soviet Union, a conference in Madrid between Israel and Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the Palestinians, who meet with Israeli negotiators for the first time. The dialogue achieves little, but it creates a long-missing framework for talks.

    1993-1994
    Secret Israel-PLO talks in Norway yield the first deal between the two sides, the Oslo Accords. They recognize one another and chart a five-year plan for Israel to cede control of the territories to a new Palestinian Authority and Palestinian leaders to crack down on terrorism before a final peace agreement. Rabin and Jordan’s King Hussein sign another peace treaty a year later.

    1995
    Jewish extremist Yigal Amir assassinates Rabin, who in his second term had become a strong advocate of a two-state solution. The Oslo peace process sputters.

    2000
    U.S. President Bill Clinton convenes Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David to address Oslo’s thorniest issues: borders, security, settlements, refugees, and Jerusalem. But the talks collapse and the Second Intifada explodes in violence.

    2001
    A May report by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell warns that the “greatest danger” in the Mideast is that “the culture of peace, nurtured over the previous decade, is being shattered.” After the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush makes no mention of the peace process in his 2002 State of the Union address.

    2002-2003
    As the United States builds a coalition to go to war in Iraq, Bush becomes the first U.S. president to call explicitly for an independent Palestinian state. The Saudis present an Arab League-endorsed peace plan, and the so-called Quartet — the United States, European Union, Russia, and United Nations — unveils a “road map” for peace that puts security ahead of a political agreement.

    2007
    With pessimism reaching new depths (“The peace process has no clothes,” writes Mideast analyst Nathan J. Brown), Bush hosts a conference in Annapolis between Israel and its Arab neighbors that enshrines the two-state solution. Hamas, which has seized power in Gaza and split with its rival Palestinian faction, Fatah, is not invited.

    2008
    An Israeli military offensive in Gaza wipes out dialogue between Israel’s Ehud Olmert and the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas.

    2009-2010
    U.S. President Barack Obama enters office promising to “actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace.” After securing a hard-won, 10-month settlement freeze from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama hosts face-to-face talks but fails to obtain substantive concessions.
    Survey source: Gallup

    Obama enrages Netanyahu by proposing that new negotiations start from pre-1967 borders with land swaps, while the Palestinians pursue statehood at the United Nations in lieu of talks. As 2012 begins, Mideast negotiator Ross recalls what Israeli official Dan Meridor once told him, “‘The peace process is like riding a bicycle: When you stop pedaling, you fall off.'” The Israelis and Palestinians, Ross says, “have stopped pedaling.”
    Survey source: Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research

    Uri Friedman is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy . Before joining FP , he reported for the Christian Science Monitor, worked on corporate strategy for Atlantic Media, helped launch the Atlantic Wire, and covered international affairs for the site. A proud native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he studied European history at the University of Pennsylvania and has lived in Barcelona, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland. Twitter: @UriLF

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    The handshake seen round the world

    Finally, in the early 1990s, the leaders of both sides decided that it was time to move towards peace in the Middle East. So they met on the White House lawn, in a ceremony presided over by Bill Clinton, and signed the Oslo Accords, which were an attempt to move towards a peaceful cohabitation in the area. The world watched as Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, shook hands and said several really beautiful quotes about how it was time to get it together and live in peace.

    Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite as swimmingly as anyone had hoped in the long run. Israeli-Palestinian peace is still at bay, with extremists on both sides still refusing to coexist. How the conflict will ultimately end is still up for grabs, but the Oslo Accords were a sort of cornerstone for those who hope that peace can someday be achieved.


    Israel-Palestinian Negotiations: History & Overview

    Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat shake hands at the signing of the Oslo Accords.

    Israel-PLO Recognition

    In September 1993, following intense behind-the-scenes contacts between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Oslo, an agreement was achieved between Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. On September 9, 1993, Arafat sent a letter to Prime Minister Rabin, in which he stated unequivocally that the PLO:

    • Recognizes the right of Israel to exist in peace and security
    • Accepts UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338
    • Commits itself to a peaceful resolution of the conflict
    • Renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence
    • Assumes responsibility over all PLO elements o ensure their compliance, prevent violations, and discipline violators
    • Affirms that those articles of the PLO Covenant which deny Israel's right to exist are now inoperative and no longer valid
    • Undertakes to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the necessary changes to the Covenant.

    In reply, Israel recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinians in the peace negotiations.

    On September 13, 1993, a joint Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles (DOP), based on the agreement worked out in Oslo, was signed by the two parties in Washington, outlining the proposed interim self-government arrangements, as envisioned and agreed by both sides. The arrangements contained in the DOP include immediate Palestinian self-rule in Gaza and Jericho, early empowerment for the Palestinians in West Bank, and an agreement on self-government and the election of a Palestinian council. Additionally, extensive economic cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians plays an important role in the DOP.

    The Interim Agreement

    Shortly after the signing of the Declaration of Principles, negotiations commenced between Israeli and PLO delegations on the implementation of the interim agreement, which was accomplished in three stages:

    1. Education & Culture (carried out on August 29, 1994)
    2. Social Welfare
    3. Tourism (both carried out on November 13-14, 1994)
    4. Health
    5. Taxation (both carried out on December 1, 1994).

    The main object of the Interim Agreement is to broaden Palestinian self-government in the West Bank by means of an elected self-governing authority -- the Palestinian Council -- for an interim period not to exceed five years from the signing of the Gaza-Jericho Agreement (i.e. no later than May 1999). This will allow the Palestinians to conduct their own internal affairs, reduce points of friction between Israelis and Palestinians, and open a new era of cooperation and co-existence based on common interest, dignity and mutual respect. At the same time it protects Israel's vital interests, and in particular its security interests, both with regard to external security as well as the personal security of its citizens in the West Bank.

    The Interim Agreement sets forth the future relations between Israel and the Palestinians. To the main body of the agreement are appended seven annexes dealing with: security arrangements, elections, civil affairs (transfer of powers), legal matters, economic relations, Israeli-Palestinian cooperation, and the release of Palestinian prisoners.

    Milestones in the Implementation of the Interim Agreement

    On January 20, 1996, following completion of the first stage of IDF redeployment (with the exception of Hebron), elections were held to the Palestinian Council and for the Head of the Palestinian Authority. Yasser Arafat was elected Ra'ees (head) of the Authority.

    On April 24, 1996, the Palestinian National Council, convening in Gaza, voted 504 to 54, with 14 abstentions, as follows:

    1. "The Palestinian National Charter is hereby amended by canceling the articles that are contrary to the letters exchanged between the P.L.O. and the Government of Israel 9-10 September 1993.
    2. Assigns its legal committee with the task of redrafting the Palestinian National Charter in order to present it to the first session of the Palestinian central council." (24/04/96)

    On December 14, 1998, the Palestinian National Council, in accordance with the Wye River Memorandum, convened in Gaza in the presence of U.S. President Clinton and voted to reaffirm this decision.

    An agreement on a Temporary International Presence in Hebron was signed on May 9, 1996.

    The Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron was signed on January 17, 1997. The Protocol was accompanied by a Note for the Record prepared by the US Special Middle East Coordinator, confirming a series of agreements between the sides on non-Hebron issues and reaffirming their commitment to implement the Interim Agreement on the basis of reciprocity.

    On October 23, 1998, The Wye River Memorandum was signed at the White House, Washington D.C., between Israel and the PLO, following a nine-day summit hosted by U.S. President Mr. Bill Clinton in Wye Plantation, Maryland.

    On September 4, 1999, the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum was signed by representatives of Israel and the PLO. Restating the commitment of the two sides to full implementation of all agreements reached since September 1993, the Memorandum sets out to resolve the outstanding issues of the present interim status, in particular those set out in the Wye River Memorandum of October 23, 1998.

    The sides also restated their commitment to the Interim Agreement's prohibition regarding initiating or taking any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip prior to the conclusion of the permanent status agreement.

    Stages of Sharm el-Sheikh implementation:

    Release of prisoners: Sep 9, 1999 Oct 15, 1999.
    Additional prisoners released for Ramadan: Dec 1999 Jan 2000.
    Further redeployments: Sep 10, 1999 (7%) Jan 5-7, 2000 (5%) Mar 21, 2000 (6.1%)
    Safe passage: southern route Oct 25, 1999 Shuhada Street Oct 31, 1999
    Displaced persons committee convenes: February 6, 2000

    Permanent Status Negotiations

    The negotiations on the permanent status arrangements commenced in Taba on May 5, 1996. These negotiations will deal with the remaining issues to be resolved, including Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements, borders, relations and cooperation with neighboring countries.

    In a joint communique issued on May 6 at the close of the first session of talks, the two sides reaffirmed the principles guiding these negotiations.

    In the Wye Memorandum of October 23, 1998 both sides agreed to immediately resume permanent status negotiations on an accelerated basis and to make a determined effort to reach agreement by May 4, 1999. A first meeting between Foreign Minister Sharon and Abu Mazen took place on November 18, 1998.

    Following the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum, the permanent status negotiations were formally resumed on September 13, 1999, at the Erez checkpoint. Foreign Minister David Levy was appointed to head the Israeli negotiating team with the Palestinians, and Abu-Mazen heads the Palestinian team.

    In his speech at the opening of the talks, Foreign Minister Levy summarized the basic principles by which Israel will be guided up in negotiating a permanent status agreement: we will not return to the 1967 lines united Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel settlement blocs in the territories will remain under Israeli sovereignty there will be no foreign army west of the Jordan River.

    At the urging of Israeli Prime Minister Barak, US President Clinton announced on July 5, 2000, his invitation to Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to come to Camp David to continue their negotiations on the Middle East peace process.

    On July 11, the Camp David 2000 Summit convened. The summit ended on July 25, without an agreement being reached. At its conclusion, a Trilateral Statement was issued defining the agreed principles to guide future negotiations.

    Under the shadow of violence and terrorism, President Clinton hosted talks with Israeli and Palestinian teams in Washington from December 19-23, 2000, at the conclusion of which Clinton presented a bridging proposal to the parties.

    Following a meeting in Cairo between Foreign Minister Ben-Ami and Chairman Arafat, marathon talks between Israeli and Palestinian delegations were held in Taba from January 21-27, 2001, ending in a joint statement.

    A policy statement issued by the Israeli government following the election of Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister in February 2001, reaffirmed the Israeli government's determination in its asipration to achieve peace with its Palestinian neighbors, but that the conduct of peace negotiations calls for tranquility.

    Numerous efforts to end the violent confrontation and renew the peace process have failed due to the ongoing and escalating Palestinian terrorism supported by the Palestinian Authority. Israel accepted the vision presented in the speech by U.S. President Bush on June 24, 2002 for ending Palestinian terrorism, to be followed by the final settlement of all issues and peace. On April 30, 2003, the "road map" for a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict was presented to Israel and the Palestinians.

    Following a U.S. statement regarding the Israeli comments on the road map, promising to address the Israeli concerns fully and seriously in the implementation, on May 23, 2003 Prime Minister Sharon issued a statement accepting the road map.

    This acceptance was approved by the Government of Israel on May 25. A Middle East summit meeting, hosted by Jordanian King Abdullah II and attended by U.S. President Bush, Prime Minister Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas was held in Aqaba on June 4, 2003.

    The "hudna" (cease-fire) announced by the Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations on June 29, 2003 came to a violent end with the August 19th suicide bombing of a bus in Jerusalem, in which 22 people were killed and over 130 wounded. As a result of the attack, the Cabinet decided on September 1, 2003, among others, to wage an all-out war against Hamas and other terrorist elements, and to freeze the diplomatic process with the Palestinian Authority.

    On June 6, 2004, Israel's cabinet approved the plan for disengagement from the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria. The Knesset endorsed the plan on October 25, 2004.

    A summit meeting was held in Sharm el-Sheikh on February 8, 2005, attended by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and King Abdullah of Jordan. It was decided that all Palestinians would stop all acts of violence against all Israelis, and Israel would cease all its military activity against all Palestinians.

    Disengagement

    On August 15, 2005, Israel began the implementation of disengagement from the Gaza Strip and four northern Samaria communities. Disengagement from the Gaza Strip was completed on August 22, and from northern Samaria on August 23, 2005. On September 12, 2005, IDF forces completed their exit from the Gaza Strip. The Head of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Dan Harel, signed a declaration stating the end of military rule in the Gaza Strip after 38 years.

    On August 21, Prime Minister Sharon told the Cabinet: &ldquoIn the Disengagement Plan there is only one stage of disengagement. The next stage in the diplomatic negotiations regards the Roadmap.&rdquo

    Israel left the Gaza Strip in August 2005 in order to create the opportunity for peace. According to Dov Weissglas, Sharon&rsquos chief of staff, &ldquoThe moment Sharon understood that the settlements are a burden and not an advantage, he had no problem evacuating them and turning his back on the settlers.&rdquo Sharon, he said, &ldquowanted to exit the stage as a battle-worn general who became a great peacemaker.&rdquo

    After the elections in the Palestinian Authority (January 2006), which resultied in the establishment of the Hamas-led government, Israel adopted a dual strategy towards the Palestinians, maintaining pressure against Hamas and the extremists while not closing the door to dialogue with the moderates among the Palestinians towards a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    The Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 and the subsequent formation of the new moderate Fatah-led Palestinian government under President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad opened the door to a resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinians, towards the achievement of the goal of two homelands for two peoples, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

    The future Palestinian state cannot be a terrorist entity. For this reason, the international community has insisted that the path to Palestinian statehood must follow acceptance of the conditions outlined by the international 'Quartet' (the UN, EU, US and Russia), including the renunciation of terrorism, acceptance of previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements and the recognition of Israel's right to exist.

    The Annapolis Conference

    An international conference convened in Annapolis on November 27, 2007, to relaunch the negotiating process. Negotiating teams from both sides began direct talks in Jerusalem on December 12. The International Donors' Conference for the Palestinian State which convened in Paris on December 17 expressed political and financial support to the government of President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and their vision of a future Palestinian state, underpinning the political process launched in Annapolis.

    In June 2009, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented his vision of peace with the Palestinians based on the principles of recognition and demilitarization: "In my vision of peace, in this small land of ours, two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect. Each will have its own flag, its own national anthem, its own government. A fundamental prerequisite for ending the conflict is a public, binding and unequivocal Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. The territory under Palestinian control must be demilitarized with ironclad security provisions for Israel. Without these two conditions, there is a real danger that an armed Palestinian state would emerge that would become another terrorist base against the Jewish state, such as the one in Gaza." He called on the Arab countries "to cooperate with the Palestinians and with us to advance an economic peace. An economic peace is not a substitute for a political peace, but an important element to achieving it."

    Various measures have been implemented by the Israeli government in order to strengthen and develop the Palestinian economy. These steps have been both bilateral and multilateral, involving the PA, Israel and the international community (both governmental and non-governmental). The results have been impressive and encouraging, with World Bank and PA statistics showing an 8% growth in the West Bank economy in 2009.

    On March 8, 2010, Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell made the following statement:

    I'm pleased that the Israeli and Palestinian leadership have accepted indirect talks. We've begun to discuss the structure and scope of these talks and I will return to the region next week to continue our discussions. As we've said many times, we hope that these will lead to direct negotiations as soon as possible. We also again encourage the parties, and all concerned, to refrain from any statements or actions which may inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of these talks.

    After his meeting with US President Obama (July 6, 2010), Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "There's a much greater meeting of the minds between President Obama and me on how to move forward at this time, how to make the transition from proximity talks into direct talks, and how to ensure that those direct talks are as substantive as possible and as soon as possible. I think that this delay does not get us any benefit. I think delaying the process, talking about talking, making conditions about getting into talks is a big mistake. I think it's cost us about a year, and I don't think it should cost us any more time."

    Abortive Attempt to Restart Talks

    On August 20, 2010, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton invited Israel and the Palestinians to hold direct negotiations: "I&rsquove invited Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas to meet on September 2 in Washington, D.C. to re-launch direct negotiations to resolve all final status issues, which we believe can be completed within one year.

    Addressing a Joint Meeting of the U.S. Congress in May 2011, PM Netanyahu reiterated his commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state, adding: "I recognize that in a genuine peace, we will be required to give up parts of the Jewish homeland. We seek a peace in which they will be neither Israel's subjects nor its citizens. They should enjoy a national life of dignity as a free, viable and independent people in their own state. They should enjoy a prosperous economy, where their creativity and initiative can flourish."

    While Israel remained dedicated to direct negotiations as the only method of resolving the conflict, the Palestinian leadership embarked on the path of unilateral action, preferring to attempt to force their will on Israel through international pressure, with the submission of a request for admission to the United Nations in September 2011.

    On July 28, 2013, the Israeli Cabinet approved the opening of diplomatic negotiations between the State of Israel and the Palestinians, with U.S. support, with the objective of achieving a final status agreement over the course of the following nine months.

    In November 2014 French officials produced a draft resolution outlining a &ldquovision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace.&rdquo The resolution included five parameters for Israeli-Palestinian peace including the re-establishment of pre-1967 borders. The United States did not have any direct role in crafting the plan, but sources confirmed that Washington had been unofficially advising Paris about things to include in the resolution. Israel considered the text of this resolution to be too pro-Palestinian, with multiple calls to stop settlements but no mention of Hamas rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli civilians.

    In his final address to the United Nations Security Council in March 2015, UN Middle East Envoy Chief Robert Serry emplored the UNSC to lead the way in creating a lasting framework for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Serry argued that the UNSC presenting a framework for negotiations &ldquomay be the only way to preserve the goal of the two-state solution.&rdquo Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, indicated that he would be in favor of this plan and agreed with Serry's comments.

    The plans to introduce a UN resolution were delayed awaiting the outcome of the Israeli election. Nevertheless, French officials indicated in March 2015 that they would be willing to take initiative and attempt to jump-start peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians in the near future. The French Ambassador to the United Nations stated in early March that officials in Paris were committed to garnering UN support for a framework for future negotiations and ending settlements, stating &ldquowe won't give up on this.&rdquo On March 27, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters that French officials were going to start talks within the month on a &ldquoparameters resolution&rdquo for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Netanyahu's Election &ldquoConversion&rdquo

    The prospects for a two-state solution appeared to dim when, in a last-ditch attempt to swing more right-wing voters, Netanyahu stated the day before the 2015 election that there was no chance of the establishment of a Palestinian state while he remained Prime Minister. Netanyahu had previously hinted that he would be in favor of a two state solution, with an independent Palestinian state existing alongside Israel. In an interview with the Israeli news organization NRG, Netanyahu made his opinion clear, that &ldquowhoever moves to establish a Palestinian state or intends to withdraw from territory is simply yielding territory for radical Islamic terrorist attacks against Israel.&rdquo When asked if that meant that no Palestinian state would be established while he was Prime Minister, he responded &ldquoindeed.&rdquo

    Isaac Herzog, Netanyahu's main competitor during 2015's election, was in favor of reviving peace talks with Palestinians and working towards a two state solution. Tzipi Livni, Herzog's running-mate, was also interested in restarting peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

    Netanyahu won the election and his aides played damage control during the following days, speaking on various news programs trying to convince the world that Netanyahu had not in fact asserted his support for a one state solution. Speaking on English television programs, Netanayhu attempted to backpedal on his statements, claiming what he meant is that the conditions currently don't exist for a two state solution, and in his opinion much needs to change before a two state solution is even considered. President Barack Obama responded to these remarks by Netanyahu, saying that the prospect for Israeli-Palestinian peace seems "very dim" and that the United States is going to be re-evaluating their relationship with Israel in the coming years.

    In response to Netanyahu's decisive victory in the March 2015 elections, the Palestinians vowed to increase diplomatic efforts at statehood recognition through different U.N. avenues.

    Diplomats informed the media on April 29, 2015, that the United States had been discretely pressuring France and other countries to not present this "parameters resolution" in an attempt to reignite Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, until after a final nuclear accord is reached between Iran and the P5+1. Wary of pursuing multiple initiatives at once that are both unfavorable to Israel and Israel's supporters in Congress, the representatives from the United States pushed for a significant delay in presenting the measure to the Security Council.

    Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian's chief negotiator, stated on May 18, 2015, that there was not a single chance of renewing meaningful peace negotiations with the newly elected Netanyahu government in power.

    Although unconfirmed by Israel or Hamas, international diplomats reported on May 18, 2015, that Israeli and Hamas officials had been holding meetings in Europe and Jerusalem, focusing on a possible floating port in the Gaza Strip. In addition to a port, discussions reportedly included a proposition to expand the borders of Gaza into the Sinai. In August 2015 Israel officially denied these talks were taking place, contrary to reports apearing in Arab news outlets.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told European Union Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini in May 2015 that he believes &ldquonegotiations should be resumed in order to define those areas in which we can build,&rdquo echoing sentiment from the U.S. and E.U. that Israel should attempt to re-engage the Palestinians.

    Dore Gold, the Director-General of Israel's Foreign Ministry, embarked on a secretive trip to Egypt on June 28, 2015, to engage in discussions with Egyptian officials regarding restarting peace talks with the Palestinians. Egyptian news agencies reported that Gold met with Egyptian officials to discuss &ldquohow to push the peace process forward.&rdquo

    During an address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 30, 2015, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asserted that the PA was no longer bound by the Oslo Accords as well as all subsequent agreements between the PA and Israel.

    Palestinian leaders stoked the flames of violence during September and October 2015, spreading false information about Israel's actions surrounding the Temple Mount. Mahmoud Abbas stated that Israelis were &ldquodesecrating&rdquo Muslim holy sites the al-Aqsa Mosque and Church of the Holy Sepulchre with their &ldquofilthy feet,&rdquo and encouraged Palestinians to carry out acts of violence against Jewish Israelis. From September 13 - October 21, 2015, 9 Israelis were killed in terror attacks and over 50 were wounded. The wave of violence experienced during late 2015 was due mostly to a Palestinian perception that the Israelis were going to somehow change the rules of who could access the Temple Mount, undermining Muslim supremacy at the holy site. The Israeli government issued official statements clarifying that there was no intention of changing the status-quo at the Temple Mount, but Palestinian leaders continued to incite violence against Israeli Jews through speeches and posts on social media. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh declared Friday, October 9, to be a &ldquoday of rage. a day that will represent that start of a new Intifada in all the land of Palestine.&rdquo (Independent, October 9, 2015) U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon travelled to Israel on October 20 to meet with officials, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Prime Minister Netanyahu later that week to discuss a potential solution to the recent violence. The Israeli and U.S. officials discussed how to reaffirm Israel's commitment to maintaining equitable treatment of all at the Temple Mount and al-Aqsa mosque. Afterwards, Kerry told reporters, &ldquoI would characterize the conversation as one that gave me a cautious measure of optimism. there may be a way to defuse the situation and begin to find a way forward.&rdquo

    UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon had a less optimistic assessment of the situation after meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. According to British Ambassador to the United Nations Matthew Rycroft, members of the UN were &ldquostruck by the pessimistic tone&rdquo that Ban took during a video briefing with members following his visit to Israel. While summarizing the meetings during a video-call with his UN counterparts, Ban stated that he believed there was a wide gap between the two sides.

    Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu once again argued on October 28, 2015, that he was ready to meet with Palestinian leaders to discuss a lasting peace at any time, but it is the Palestinian leaders who have continually refused such meetings.

    The 2016 French Initiative

    French officials announced on January 29, 2016, that they would be spearheading an initiative to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and pledged to recognize the independent state of Palestine if their efforts were to fail. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius revealed preparation plans for an international conference &ldquoto preserve and make happen the two-state solution,&rdquo including American, European, and Arab partners. The French initiative to convene an international peace summit to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was presented to Israeli diplomats on February 15, 2016. It included a three-step process: consulting with the parties involved, convening a meeting in Paris of the international negotiation support group including several countries wanting to jump-start the peace process, and finally the summit itself that will hopefully re-start negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. In contrast to the comments of Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, who stated during a February visit to Japan that the Palestinians &ldquowill never go back and sit again in direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.&rdquo Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that he welcomed the French proposal, but Netanyahu called the initiative &ldquobizarre,&rdquo and maintained that bilateral negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians was the only was to achieve lasting peace.

    The official peace effort was launched on March 10, 2016, without the stipulation that Palestine would be automatically recognized by France should the effort fail. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault stated that &ldquothere is never anything automatic. France will present its initiative to its partners. It will be the first step, there is no pre-requisite.&rdquo France announced that the first, preliminary meeting would be held on May 30, 2016, in Paris. Although the summit will feature representatives from 20 countries discussing Israeli-Palestinian peace, representatives from Israel and the Palestinian territories were not invited to attend. Assuming the success of this initial summit, Israeli and Palestinian officials were told they would be invited to a second international summit hosted by France later in 2016. The Israeli government formally rejected the French initiative on April 28, 2016. A statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office explained the Israelis position, that &ldquothe best way to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is direct, bilateral negotiations.&rdquo Despite vocal Israeli opposition, French officials made plans to move forward with the &ldquoFrench Initiative.&rdquo

    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stated during an interview with Palestinian Channel 2 News during early April that he was willing to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and attempt to negotiate a peace agreement. Netanyahu responded to this on April 4, 2016, telling Abbas that he was willing to meet at any time, and he had &ldquocleared [his] schedule,&rdquo in order to meet with the Palestinian leader. Palestinian officials rejected Netanyahu's offer two days later. Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat told a popular Palestinian radio show that the Palestinian government rejects the idea of meeting for peace talks with Israelis without prior conditions being laid out.

    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi encouraged Palestinian and Israeli leaders to come to a lasting peace agreement on May 16, 2016, stating that peace between the two groups would in turn &ldquoachieve warmer peace&rdquo between the Egyptians and Israelis. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu released statement in which he &ldquoWelcome[d] Egyptian President El-Sisi's remarks and his willingness to make every effort to advance a future of peace and security between us and the Palestinians.&rdquo

    Although Netanyahu rejected the &ldquoFrench Initiative&rdquo just two weeks prior, during meetings on May 22, 2016 with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls he offered instead to hold direct negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas. These talks would take place in France, and would still be dubbed the &ldquoFrench Initiative,&rdquo according to Netanyahu. A spokesperson for PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah retorted &ldquoDirect negotiations with Mr. Netanyahu in the past have proven to be fruitless why repeat the same mistakes,&rdquo before Hamdallah's meeting with Valls later that afternoon.

    The United States announced that they would not be proposing any specific peace plan at the French Initiative conference during the week prior.

    The conference in France concluded without any resolutions. The participants released a Joint Communique, which can be read here. During the following week, representatives of all 28 European Union member countries signed a resolution expressing support for the French peace initiative.

    The Middle East Quartet (the UN, the E.U., the U.S., and Russia) released a report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in early July 2016, following their meeting in Munich on February 12. The report concludes that the only solution to the conflict is a negotiated agreement between the two parties, and that three things are &ldquoseverely undermining hopes for peace&rdquo: violence and incitement to violence by the Palestinian leadership, Israeli settlement construction and expansion, and the arms buildup by Hamas combined with the humanitarian situation and lack of effective governance in Gaza. The document urges both the Israelis and Palestinians to &ldquo[comply] with their basic commitments under existing agreements in order to promote [a] two-state reality and lay the groundwork for successful negotiations.&rdquo To read the full report by the Middle East Quartet, please click here.

    The French government announced a second Middle East peace conference to be held in Paris during January 2017,which the Israelis once again soundly rejected. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu verbally assailed the organizers, referring to the conference as a &ldquorigged conference, rigged by the Palestinians with French auspices to adopt additional anti-Israel stances.&rdquo French officials welcomed representatives from 70 countries to this conference on January 14, 2016, to "reaffirm their support for a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." To read the Joint Declaration adopted by the participating countries at the end of the conference, please click here.

    Kerry&rsquos Final Push

    During Obama&rsquos final year in office, Secretary of State John Kerry continued a U.S. diplomatic effort to bring Israel and the Palestinians together for peace talks. Though he worked tirelessly, Kerry could not overcome Mahmoud Abbas&rsquo resistance to engaging in any direct talks with Netanyahu and the Palestinians&rsquo determination to build an international consensus against Israel. As he had throughout Obama&rsquos term, Netanyahu offered to meet with Abbas, but the Israeli still became the object of Kerry&rsquos ire because of what the secretary saw as the prime minister&rsquos uncompromising attitude and unwillingness to curb settlement expansion.

    Thanks to Israel&rsquos improved ties with the Gulf States, Netanyahu advocated pursuing peace with those countries first, hoping they would bring along the Palestinians. Kerry had eschewed this approach until proposing a regional peace initiative (which the Palestinians were not informed about and other regional actors had not agreed to at that point) during a secret meeting February 21, 2016, in Aqaba, which was also attended by Jordanian King Abudllah and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Netanyahu intimated he had been the one who initiated the proposal not Kerry, which made his subsequent opposition to the idea surprising.

    Recent Developments in the Negotiations Process

    President Donald Trump met with Prime Minister Netanyahu for the first time as President on February 15, 2017. During a joint press conference with the Prime Minister the President dropped the historic U.S. commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, stating I'm looking at two states and one state, and. I can live with either one.

    On December 6, 2017, Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced the U.S. would begin the process of moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Subsequently, the administration said it would move the embassy to the current location of the Jerusalem consulate on May 14, 2018, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel&rsquos declaration of independence.

    Palestinian Authority officials rejected a U.S. offer to participate in a Gaza stakeholders summit on March 13, 2018. The summit convened with the goal of addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and was attended by representatives from 19 nations including Israel and all of the Arab Gulf states.

    Sources: &ldquoIsraeli official visits Cairo to discuss Palestinian peace talks,&rdquo Reuters, (June 28, 2015)
    Maayan Lubell, &ldquoNetanyahu offers to resume peace talks with settlement focus, official says,&rdquo Reuters, (May 26, 2015)
    Khaled Abu Toameh, &ldquoAbbas: Hamas and Israel holding secret talks,&rdquo The Jerusalem Post, (May 19, 2015)
    Colum Lynch, &ldquoWhite House to UN: First Iran, then Mideast peace,&rdquo Foreign Policy, (April 28, 2015)
    Colum Lynch, &ldquoExclusive: Paris saying 'non' to U.S. control of peace process,&rdquo Foreign Policy, (March 26, 2015)
    The Assoiated Press, &ldquoOutgoing Mideast envoy urges Security Council to present framework for Israeli-Palestinian talks,&rdquo Haaretz, (March 26, 2015)
    Karen DeYoung, &ldquoObama remarks dim prospects for Palestinian state,&rdquo The Washington Post, (March 24, 2015)
    Judy Rudoren, &ldquoNetanyahu apologizes, White House is unmoved,&rdquo The New York Times, (March 24, 2015)
    Israeli Foreign Ministry
    Rick Gladstone, Judy Rudoren, &ldquoMahmoud Abbas, PA President, says he is no longer bound by Oslo Accords,&rdquo New York Times, (September 30, 2015)
    Jay Solomon, Rory Jones, &ldquoKerry expresses cautious optimisim after meeting with Netanyahu,&rdquo Wall Street Journal, (October 22, 2015)
    Alexandra Olson, &ldquoUN chief pessimistic about Israeli-Palestinian peace,&rdquo Yahoo News, (October 22, 2015)
    Khaled Abu Toameh, Herb Keinon, &ldquoIsrael welcomes French proposal for Netanyahu-Abbas meeting,&rdquo Jerusalem Post, (October 28, 2015)
    Oren Dorell, &ldquoFrance threatens to recognize Palestinian state if no progress with Israel,&rdquo USA Today, (January 31, 2016)
    Barak Ravid, &ldquoFrance Presents Middle East Peace Initiative to Israel,&rdquo Haaretz, (February 15, 2016)
    &ldquoFrance aims to relaunch Israel-Palestinian peace process 'by summer,'&rdquo Yahoo News, (March 10, 2016)
    Raoul Wootliff, Raphael Ahren. &ldquoNetanyahu responds to Abbas invite: &lsquoI&rsquoll be here, any day,&rsquo&rdquo Times of Israel (April 4, 2016)
    Herb Keinon, &ldquoFrance to convene Mideast summit in May, without Israel or Palestinians,&rdquo Jerusalem Post (April 21, 2016)
    Herb Keinon, &ldquoJerusalem rejects French peace initiative,&rdquo Jerusalem Post, (April 28, 2016)
    &ldquoSolving Palestinian-Israeli conflict will make Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty &lsquowarmer&rsquo: Al-Sisi,&rdquo Daily News Egypt, (May 18, 2016)
    Tovah Lazaroff. &ldquoPalestinians reject Netanyahu&rsquos call for direct Paris talks,&rdquo Jerusalem Post (May 24, 2016)
    &ldquoMiddle East Peace initiative - Joint communique,&rdquo France Diplomatie (June 3, 2016)
    &ldquoEU foreign ministers approve resolution backing French peace initiative,&rdquo JTA (June 20, 2016)
    Jeffrey Heller, Jeff Mason. &ldquoPeres funeral, attended by Obama, briefly brings Israeli, Palestinian leaders together,&rdquo Reuters (September 30, 2016)
    Mike Smith, &ldquoNetanyahu dismisses 'rigged' Paris peace conference,&rdquo Yahoo, (January 12, 2017)
    Barak Ravid, Trump Declines to Endorse Two-state Solution, Calls on Netanyahu to Hold Back on Settlements, Haaretz, (February 15, 2017)
    Palestinians reject US invitation to Gaza 'stakeholder' summit, Al Jazeera, (March 10, 2018)
    Ronen Bergman, &ldquoHow Arafat Eluded Israel&rsquos Assassination Machine,&rdquo New York Times Magazine, (January 23, 2018)
    Mitchell Bard, &ldquoUS-Israel Relations and Obama&rsquos Mixed Legacy Followed by the Uncertainty of Trump,&rdquo in Arnold Dashefsky and Ira Sheskin, Eds., American Jewish Yearbook 2017, (CT: Springer, 2018).

    Photo Wikimedia, By http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected] (http://www.flickr.com/photos/idfonline/8137846834/) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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    Israel and the Palestinians: a history of conflict in 8 key episodes

    As violence between Israelis and Palestinians escalates, the prospect of lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians seems as remote now as ever. Writing in 2018, 70 years after the founding of the modern state of Israel, Matthew Hughes charted eight key moments in the history of the hostilities

    This competition is now closed

    Published: May 18, 2021 at 11:14 am

    Early Jewish settlement

    19th century

    Palestine did not formally exist as a country before the First World War, when the British fixed Palestine’s borders after their conquest of what would become Iraq, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. For hundreds of years before the British took control, Palestine had been divided into provinces of the Ottoman empire, and had very few Jewish inhabitants.

    Indeed, at the start of the 19th century the Jewish population of the territory soon to be defined as Palestine was small – only about 3%. The majority of the region’s inhabitants were Arabs, mostly Sunni Muslim, who had occupied the region since the seventh-century Arab conquest there was also a sizeable Christian minority. Together, these formed the population that would be considered – despite the lack of a formally recognised country – as Palestinians.

    The Jewish people of Palestine in 1800 were not farmers or settlers but instead lived in towns and worked as merchants or religious teachers. As the 19th century progressed, European Jews – influenced by the rise of nationalism in Europe – began to look to Palestine as the place for a possible Jewish homeland. A wave of Jewish people came to the country in an Aliyah (‘ascent’) starting in the 1880s, making their homes on land bought from Palestinians.

    This brought a new type of Jew to Palestine, there to settle the land these adopted tough new names such as Oz (‘strength’). More settlers followed as Jewish people fled anti-Semitic pogroms in Europe, a situation exacerbated by the rise of rightwing sentiment that presaged Nazi rule of Germany from 1933.

    Settlement was core to Zionism – a Jewish nationalist movement – because it demanded land for a Jewish state. Zionists based their national claim to Palestine on ancient Jewish settlement of the area before the Romans expelled Jews from the region in the second century AD following two major Jewish revolts against their rule. Zionism and Jewish settlement were seen as a return to an ancient Jewish Palestine. “A land without a people for a people without a land” ran a pithy Zionist slogan – yet this was not accurate: the land was already occupied by predominantly Muslim communities.

    The seeds of conflict

    In 1896, an Austro-Hungarian Jewish intellectual, Theodor Herzl, published Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State), a pamphlet outlining the intellectual basis for the idea of a Jewish country.

    There was initially much discussion among Zionists about whether such a place was to be in Palestine or elsewhere. Early schemes proposed such disparate locations as Canada, parts of South America, and Britishrun East Africa around what is now Uganda and Kenya. European Zionist Jews were looking for a place to make real the Jewish state, and the debate fell between two major camps. The first was willing to accept a Jewish state anywhere, while the other was determined to forge a state in historic Palestine.

    In 1905, at the Seventh Zionist Congress in Basel, the dispute was settled in favour of a Jewish state in Palestine rather than some part of the world with no religious or historical connection for Jewish people. Many Palestinians resisted this move to settle in the territory, and expressed their own national identity through channels such as Falastin, a newspaper founded in Jaffa in 1911 and named for their homeland. Other responses were more direct, with Palestinians aggressively targeting landowners who sold land to Jewish settlers.

    Jewish immigration and settlement set the two communities on the road to war. It would be a struggle in which the Zionists, armed with modern European nationalist ideas, organisation and technologies, had the edge.

    Riots and revolt

    In 1917, during the First World War, British-led troops conquered southern Palestine and took Jerusalem. In the same year, the British foreign secretary, AJ Balfour, issued the so-called Balfour Declaration. Sent as a letter to the Jewish (and Zionist) Lord Rothschild on 2 November, and published a week later in The Times, it was a deliberately ambiguous statement of British intent towards Palestine. It did not promise the Jewish people a state in the country instead, it vaguely expressed the sentiment that “His Majesty’s Government view with favour” the establishment of a Jewish “national home” in Palestine, while also recognising that the region had an existing, non-Jewish, population.

    The declaration helped Britain’s war effort in various ways, boosting support in the United States (which had a significant Jewish population) and providing for British control of Palestine. The Jewish settlers depended on Britain for their survival and, until the Second World War, worked with the British authorities to maintain security in Palestine. Jewish settlement was met with local resistance: in 1920, for instance, rioting broke out as Palestinians opposed British-facilitated Jewish immigration. More violence was to erupt throughout the next two decades.

    Jewish-European settlers in this period recorded the mood of colonialism. “We must not forget that we are dealing here with a semi-savage people, which has extremely primitive concepts,” one wrote at the time. “And this is his nature: if he senses in you power, he will submit and will hide his hatred for you. And if he senses weakness, he will dominate you.” Amid such colonial views, the British veered between support for Jewish settlers and for the Palestinians. Their goals were diverging and becoming seemingly irreconcilable.

    Full-scale conflict

    As violence erupted between the two communities, Jews and Palestinians divided, and people had to take sides. Early Jewish inhabitants in Palestine, and Mizrahi (‘oriental’ or ‘eastern’) Jews who came to Palestine from Arab countries and who spoke Arabic, were now confronted by politically mobilised European Jews arriving to settle the land and build a Jewish state. Many of these long-time Jewish occupants of Palestine and the Middle East cut their ties to their Arab neighbours.

    An outbreak of extreme violence in 1929 dashed any faint hopes of Jews and Palestinians combining, and revisionist rightwing Zionist organisations grew. Palestinians and Jews prepared for a full-scale conflict. Militant Muslim preachers such as Shaykh ‘Izz al-Din al-Qassam mobilised Palestinians, priming them for jihad. The Jewish population prepared much more thoroughly, building a proto-state alongside nascent political and economic structures, having already established a defence organisation, Haganah.

    The Jewish community pushed into new land with numerous settlements, and set up a Jewish presence across Palestine. By this point, the Palestinians were in conflict with both the Jews and the British authorities in Palestine, reaching a crescendo in a mass revolt in 1936. The British army crushed the revolt by 1939, but resistance and preparation for further attacks by both communities remained the pattern for the rest of the 1930s and throughout the Second World War.

    By the time of the Second World War, the British had shifted their policy from support for Zionism to blocking Jewish immigration to Palestine. They did this, again, to bolster support for their war effort, this time from Arab allies. In the face of Jewish people escaping the unfolding Holocaust in Europe, this caused growing resentment and conflict with Zionists who were trying to save European Jews by helping them get to Palestine.

    After the war ended in 1945, the Jewish population of Palestine had become sufficiently powerful and mobilised to fight Britain, and good Jewish preparation won the day. Jewish terror attacks against British targets helped to force Britain to reconsider its geopolitical priorities. In one of the most infamous attacks, in 1946 the wing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem that housed a British headquarters was blown up, killing almost 100 people. In 1947, Britain decided to leave Palestine. Meanwhile, survivors of the Holocaust who emigrated to Palestine further boosted the territory’s Jewish population.

    In the November of the same year, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution that proposed the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. Under the plan, Jerusalem would be an internationalised city. The suggestion was accepted, albeit reluctantly, by Jewish representatives in the region, because it offered some international acceptance of their aims of establishing a state. Palestinian and Arab groups rejected it, however, arguing that it ignored the rights of most of the population of Palestine to decide their own destiny.

    The birth of modern Israel

    The First Arab-Israeli War of 1948–49 followed on from the violence between Jews and Palestinians as neighbouring Arab states – for their own political motives as well as to help their Palestinian Arab brethren – intervened in the hostilities. In May 1948, as British troops left Palestine, Zionist leader (soon to become the first Israeli prime minister) David Ben-Gurion declared the formation of the state of Israel, at which point Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan, Lebanon and Syria attacked Israel in support of the Palestinians.

    Israel was born from war, both the legacy of the Holocaust and more immediate conflict when the Arab armies attacked in May 1948. Fighting against the new Israeli army continued until early 1949. Local Palestinian militia units supported the war effort, but were poorly organised and had little military power. In general, though the Arab forces looked impressive on paper, the military quality of their fighting power and the political unity of their command across different national forces were poor and, as a result, they lost.

    Israel’s success allowed it to expand its territory to include all of British-run Palestine, with the exception of the hilly West Bank next to Jordan, east Jerusalem (including the Old City), and the territory known as the Gaza Strip, running along the Mediterranean Sea just northeast of the Sinai Peninsula. The result of this expansion was that Israel controlled more than 75% of what had formerly been British-run Palestine – or, in other words, the Palestinians now held less than 25% of Palestine.

    What happened next has informed a great deal of how we now understand the Arab-Israeli conflict. For the Palestinians this was the nakba (catastrophe) that turned hundreds of thousands of them into refugees for Israel, it was triumph in a war of independence in the face of a full-scale assault against its Jewish people.

    Both communities saw the events in very different ways. From an Israeli perspective, the Arabs were hell-bent on destroying Israel in 1948, and the war they provoked ended up making thousands of Palestinian people refugees. From a Palestinian viewpoint, the Israelis were acting on a plan to expel them and thus ethnically cleanse the country.

    Israel did expel Palestinians, but others simply left as their society collapsed under the pressure of war even so, more than 100,000 Palestinians remained inside Israel after 1949. Massacre was followed by counter-massacre: Jewish forces killed around 100 Palestinian villagers at Deir Yassin, just west of Jerusalem, in April 1948 shortly afterwards, Arab fighters killed some 80 Jewish medical staff near Jerusalem.

    These massacres reveal how both sides emphasise different historical events, and in different ways. Indeed, histories of this period quickly reveal how divisive this time remains, with accounts often skewed significantly toward one side or another.

    The conclusion of the First Arab-Israeli War left two significant political problems, both of which remain largely unresolved today. First, more than 700,000 Palestinians now lived in refugee camps in the Egyptian-run Gaza Strip, throughout neighbouring Arab nations, and in the Jordanian-controlled West Bank. Stateless, without passports and dispossessed, theirs was a squalid existence, and no one addressed their lack of political rights.

    Meanwhile, Israel built a functioning Jewish state, drawing in more Mizrahi Jews who had lived for centuries in Arab countries but who were no longer welcome there. But though the Zionists had realised their ambition of a Jewish state, no Arab states recognised it, meaning that Israel was flanked by hostile neighbours. The consequences of the failure to settle the political needs of both communities were to feed directly into the wars that were to come.

    Further Arab-Israeli wars

    Depending on your viewpoint, the causes of the Arab-Israeli wars that followed Israel’s formation lie either with an aggressive expansionist Israeli state that preferred war to diplomacy, or with an intransigent Arab front that refused to talk to Israel, wanting instead to eliminate the Jewish state. The Palestinian people were caught in the middle.

    Israel escalated border tensions in the early 1950s. This led in 1956 to what became known as the Suez Crisis – an invasion by Israeli, British and French forces of Egypt under its dynamic new pan-Arab leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser. Israelis considered that Nasser started the war by launching attacks into Israel and blockading the port of Eilat, but the war’s origins are contested. Israel won the conflict militarily but there was no political resolution, and another war followed little more than a decade later.

    The conflagration of June 1967 had major consequences. Across six days of fighting, Israeli forces destroyed the armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, and occupied vast new tracts of land in the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank and Golan Heights. Israeli paratroopers also took east Jerusalem, which included the Old City, home to holy sites such as the Jewish Western Wall and the area known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

    This was a stunning military success for Israel, but the 1967 war also led to political change. A messianic, less secular, settler-based Zionism grew in the recently conquered West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan. These settlers formed Gush Emunim (‘Bloc of the Faithful’) in 1974 as an orthodox activist organisation to reflect the new mood in Zionism, while Israel’s Jews divided into the more secular versus the more religious.

    Meanwhile, humiliated, the Arabs refused to accept their defeat. The result was yet another conflict: the Yom Kippur War in 1973, named for the Jewish holy day of atonement, on which Egyptian and Syrian forces attacked. Though this war proved more successful for the Arabs in its initial phases, the Israelis successfully counter-attacked. The conflict led Israel and Egypt to sign a peace treaty in 1979. Despite a historic visit to Israel by the Egyptian leader, Anwar Sadat, the issues underpinning the conflict had still not been fundamentally resolved. The Palestinians remained without a state, and their war went on.

    Indeed, after the peace with Egypt, Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 to attack Palestinian fighters based there. They remained in southern Lebanon, finally pulling out in 2000 when faced with a new foe in the shape of Lebanese Muslim Shia militia forces such as Hezbollah.

    Stalemate and resolution

    The lack of any wider political progress had provoked simmering anger among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza territory occupied by Israel in 1967. In 1987, this finally erupted into a full-scale uprising in Gaza – the intifada – which soon spread to the West Bank. Mass riots saw people, including children, throwing stones at Israeli troops and tanks. Soldiers responded with physical violence, some aimed at the children, and with lethal force. The resulting images, beamed around the world, were terrible PR for the Israelis.

    Israel’s military power was not so effective against unarmed demonstrators as it was against conventional armies. The asymmetric battle between hi-tech weapons and stone-throwers revealed that the side that seemingly holds more power does not always get what it wants. This helped to push the two sides to talk, and Yasser Arafat for the Palestinians and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin eventually forged a deal – of sorts.

    In 1993, the two sides signed a deal that was marked, historically, by Arafat shaking hands with Rabin on the lawn of the White House in Washington DC in front of the US president. It was a significant moment for Rabin who, for many years, had seen Arafat as an implacable terrorist foe.

    The window of peace opened briefly, and then closed. One view of why talks failed is that the Israelis were unwilling to trade land for peace another is that the Palestinians, preferring war to peace, were unwilling to accept any realistic deal offered to them. Whichever perspective is correct, the inchoate negotiations shuddered to a halt in 1995 when a religious Israeli extremist, angry at Rabin’s peace moves, shot him dead in Tel Aviv.

    Chaos followed. Extremists on both sides, opposed to any peace deal that would involve some degree of compromise, took charge. Palestinian suicide bombers blew up Israelis on buses and in marketplaces. In 1996, a rightwing government led by Benjamin Netanyahu came to power in Israel, aiming to block the political changes made by Rabin.

    Critics argue that Netanyahu, who is in power again today, has worked assiduously to smash any political dialogue that would lead to Israel giving up land for a lasting political settlement, preferring instead stagnant talks and the offer of patchy autonomous areas of control to the Palestinians. Netanyahu’s supporters see his policies as the natural result of Palestinian unwillingness to forge a compromise deal and accept Israel’s right to exist.

    The continuing conundrum

    1996–present

    The lack of political dialogue has led to further conflict. Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians after 1996, and the launch of a second intifada in 2000, led to Israel retaliating with the construction of a huge ‘separation’ wall to stop suicide bombers and blockade the West Bank, while simultaneously building new settlements on land taken in 1967.

    A withdrawal of Israeli settlements from Gaza in 2005 came shortly before a split within the Palestinians between the Islamist Hamas movement based in Gaza and, on the West Bank, Palestine Liberation Organization-led secular political groups centred around the nationalist party Fatah. The internal divisions within the Palestinian camp that caused this split made it hard to present a unified front in any negotiations with Israel. This made a peace deal problematic because there were now two Palestinian camps – one of which, Hamas, had Israel’s destruction explicitly written into its charter.

    Many Israelis were convinced that the Palestinians were not serious about peace. Israeli invasions of Lebanon provoked another conflict with Lebanon’s Hezbollah (backed by Iran), which attacked Israel in 2006. In 2014, Israel launched large-scale attacks into Gaza in response to rocket fire from Hamas militants more recently, Israeli soldiers have shot protesters from Gaza who have moved against Israel’s border fence.

    The conflict rumbles on. Despite ongoing efforts to find a resolution, it still takes a determined optimist to see much future for a two-state solution in which the Israeli and Palestinian states coexist alongside each other. Similarly, a binational solution resulting in a single Israeli-Palestinian state as a home for all communities also seems unlikely.

    Matthew Hughes is professor of military history at Brunel University London. His latest book is Britain’s Pacification of Palestine (CUP, 2019)


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