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Fact Sheets:
No Peace Without Compromise

(Updated September 2009)


Fact Sheets: Table of Contents | Abbas is Obstacle to Peace | Threat from Iran


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The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is complex and yet its solution can be boiled down to one word – compromise.
Throughout the history of negotiations, first Zionists and later Israelis have accepted this reality and repeatedly made and offered compromises, but the conflict has persisted because the Palestinians have never been willing to do the same. In fact, if you look at their negotiating position today, it is as recalcitrant as it was nearly a century ago.

sraeli Position

Since the early 20th century, it has been clear that the only way to satisfy the competing demands of Jews and Arabs in Israel/Palestine was to divide the land. For more than 70 years, since Britain’s Lord Peel first proposed partitioning Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state, the Jews have accepted a two-state solution to the conflict.

Palestinian Position

To this day, the Palestinians do not accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state in what they consider Palestine.

Israeli Position

When the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, the Zionists accepted a compromise that left them with a national home in less than 20 percent of the area originally promised to them by the British.

Palestinian Position

The Palestinians rejected the offer of an Arab state and joined with Israel’s neighbors in a war to exterminate the Jews. They lost. One consequence of their decision was that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians became refugees.

Israeli Position

After 1948, Israel offered to allow as many as 100,000 Palestinians to return in exchange for a peace agreement with the Arab states.

Palestinian Position

The Palestinians and Arab leaders rejected any offer that implied the recognition of Israel. Palestinian refugees were confined by their Arab brothers to refugee camps and prevented from becoming citizens (except in Jordan, which recently decided to strip them of their citizenship). Jordan and Egypt occupied territory now claimed by the Palestinians, but the Palestinians never demanded an end to the occupation or independence. Palestinians formed terror groups that have engaged in a violent campaign against Israelis and Jews around the world to the present day.

Israeli Position

After a series of provocations and an act of war (Egypt’s blockade of Israeli shipping in the Gulf of Aqaba), Israel attacked Egypt, Syria and Jordan (after King Hussein ignored warnings to stay out of the fighting and shelled Jerusalem) and captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It immediately offered to return most of the territory in exchange for peace.

Palestinian Position

The Arabs responded to Israel’s peace overture with three noes: “no peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel.”

Israeli Position

In 1979, Israel signed a peace treaty with Egypt, dismantled settlements and other Israeli installations in the Sinai and returned the territory to the Egyptians. The Palestinians were offered autonomy, a formula for limited self-determination in the short-run that inevitably would have led to statehood.

Palestinian Position

The Palestinians rejected the autonomy proposal and refused to participate in negotiations.

Israeli Position

In 1993 and 1995, Israel and the PLO signed the Oslo accords with the aim of creating a Palestinian state within five years. Israel agreed to gradually withdraw from most of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in exchange for peace. Israel withdrew from approximately 80 percent of Gaza and 40 percent of the West Bank and turned over most civil authority to the Palestinian Authority.

Palestinian Position

Terrorism continued unabated and escalated by the mid-90s.

Israeli Position

Israel agreed in 1998 to withdraw from another 13 percent of the West Bank in return for a Palestinian promise to outlaw and combat terrorist organizations, prohibit illegal weapons, stop weapon smuggling, and prevent incitement of violence and terrorism.

Palestinian Position

The Palestinians once again failed to fulfill their promise to end terror and sabotaged the plan for additional Israeli redeployments.

Israeli Position

In 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to withdraw from 97 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip. In addition, he agreed to dismantle 63 isolated settlements. In exchange for the 3 percent annexation of the West Bank, Israel would increase the size of the Gaza territory by roughly a third. Barak also made previously unthinkable concessions on Jerusalem, agreeing that Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem would become the capital of the new state. The Palestinians would maintain control over their holy places and have “religious sovereignty” over the Temple Mount. The proposal also guaranteed Palestinian refugees the right of return to the Palestinian state and reparations from a $30 billion international fund that would be collected to compensate them.

Palestinian Position

Yasser Arafat rejected the proposal without even making a counter offer. Arafat, according to chief U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross, was not willing to end the conflict with Israel. The Palestinians subsequently instigated a five-year war of terror that claimed more than 1,000 Israeli lives.

Israeli Position

In 2005, Israel decided to evacuate every soldier and citizen from the Gaza Strip. This painful disengagement uprooted 9,000 Israelis from their homes. At the request of the Palestinians, Israel razed all the settlements to make room for what the Palestinians said would be high-rise apartments for refugees living in camps. American Jews bought greenhouses from the Israelis and gave them to the Palestinians so they would have a ready-made multimillion dollar export economy and businesses that could employ hundreds of Palestinian workers. By ending the “occupation” and removing the settlements, Israel was testing the oft-expressed view that these were the obstacles to peace. The expectation in Israel was that the Palestinians would take the opportunity to build the infrastructure of a state and, since they no longer had any justification for “resistance,” they would have the chance to show they could coexist beside Israel and set the stage for future compromises on the West Bank.

Palestinian Position

The Palestinians objected to the disengagement and refused to cooperate with the Israeli plan to withdraw. Since the evacuation, the Palestinians have not laid a single brick in the former settlements to build housing for refugees. The greenhouses were vandalized and the chance for taking over Israeli exports was lost. The few greenhouses that remained intact were converted to Hamas terrorist training camps. Instead of building the infrastructure for a state, the Palestinians had a civil war that led to the takeover of Gaza by Hamas. Instead of getting peace in exchange for territory, Israel was bombarded over the next three years with 10,000 rockets and mortars.

Israeli Position

Despite what virtually all Israelis viewed as the failure of the disengagement experiment, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert restarted negotiations with the Palestinians and offered to withdraw from approximately 94 percent of the West Bank, with 4.5 percent of the remainder to be received in a swap for land now in Israel. Another 1.5 percent of the territory would be used for passages to a Mediterranean port and Gaza. Olmert reportedly proposed a form of international (Arab states plus Israel and Palestine) control of the Holy Basin (the Old City) and a joint committee to administer East Jerusalem until permanent arrangements were settled.

Palestinian Position

Abbas rejected the deal. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said later, “First [the Israelis] said we would [only have the right to] run our own schools and hospitals. Then they consented to give us 66% [of the occupied territories]. At Camp David they offered 90% [actually 97%] and [recently] they offered 100%. So why should we hurry, after all the injustice we have suffered?” Echoing the three noes of 1967, Palestinians declared at the Fatah conference in Bethlehem in August 2009: no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and no end to the armed struggle against Israel.

Israeli Position

Israel has offered compromises on all the final status issues:

BordersUN Security Council Resolution 242 called for Israel to withdraw from territory – not all territory – it captured in 1967 in exchange for secure and defensible borders and peace. Israel has already withdrawn from 94 percent of the territory it captured in 1967. It has given up 100 percent of the Gaza Strip and nearly half the West Bank. As noted above, as recently as 2008, Israel offered to withdraw from 94 percent of the remaining territory in the West Bank.

Palestinian Position

The Palestinians insist that Israel withdraw to the 1967 border.

Israeli Position

RefugeesIsrael has allowed roughly 200,000 Palestinians into Israel since Oslo and has agreed to take in an additional number on a humanitarian basis. Israel also supports the return of refugees to an eventual Palestinian state and the payment of compensation to the refugees from an international fund. Israel also expects that the Jews forced to flee from Arab countries be compensated.

Palestinian Position

The Palestinians demand the right of all refugees to live in Palestine, including what is now the State of Israel. They do not acknowledge the claims of Jewish refugees.

Israeli Position

SettlementsIsrael has already dismantled all the settlements it built in the Sinai and in Gaza. It has also dismantled four settlements in Samaria. Israel has in the past offered to dismantle most settlements in the West Bank and has, at various times, frozen settlement construction in the course of peace negotiations in the hope of reaching a final agreement. Prime Minister Netanyahu has also offered a temporary settlement freeze.

Palestinian Position

The Palestinians demand that all settlements be dismantled from the West Bank and Jerusalem. While they maintain that Arabs have the right to live in Israel, they deny the right of Jews to live in Judea and Samaria.

Israeli Position

JerusalemIsrael maintains that Jerusalem is its eternal capital and has resisted Palestinian demands that the city be divided. Still, Barak offered to allow the Palestinians to establish their capital in Eastern Jerusalem and offered a compromise over control of the Temple Mount. Olmert also offered to compromise on Jerusalem.

Palestinian Position

The Palestinians have rejected all Israeli compromises on Jerusalem and insist that although there has never been an Arab capital in Jerusalem, they should be allowed to establish one there.

Conclusion

Israel has a long history of compromising and continues to offer concessions in the interest of peace. The Palestinian’s have an equally long history of refusing to compromise. As President Obama seeks to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians it is clear where the emphasis must be placed if he hopes to succeed in ending the conflict.


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