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Israeli–Palestinian conflict

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Israeli–Palestinian conflict
Part of the Arab–Israeli conflict
West Bank & Gaza Map 2007 (Settlements).png
Central Israel next to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, 2007
Date Early 20th century – present
Location Israel, Palestinian territories
Result Low-intensity conflict between Israel and Gaza
 Israel Flag of Hejaz 1917.svg All-Palestine Government (1948–1959)

Palestinian territories PLO (1964–93)
  Palestinian National Authority (2000–04)
Flag of Hamas.svg Hamas Government in Gaza

Casualties and losses
14,500 casualties (1948–2009)
Peace Process

Camp David Accords · Madrid Conference
Oslo Accords / Oslo II · Hebron Protocol
Wye River / Sharm el-Sheikh Memoranda
2000 Camp David Summit · Taba Summit
Road Map · Annapolis Conference

Primary Negotiation Concerns

Antisemitic incitements · Israeli settlements
Israeli West Bank barrier · Jewish state
Palestinian political violence
Palestinian refugees · Palestinian state
Places of worship · Status of Jerusalem

The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing struggle between Israelis and Palestinians that began in the early 20th century. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between the Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman and then British rule. It forms part of the wider Arab–Israeli conflict. The remaining key issues are: mutual recognition, borders, security, water rights, control of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, Palestinian freedom of movement and finding a resolution to the refugee question. The violence resulting from the conflict has prompted international actions, as well as other security and human rights concerns, both within and between both sides, and internationally. In addition, the violence has curbed expansion of tourism in the region, which is full of historic and religious sites that are of interest to many people around the world.

Many attempts have been made to broker a two-state solution, involving the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside an independent Jewish state or next to the State of Israel (after Israel's establishment in 1948). In 2007 a majority of both Israelis and Palestinians, according to a number of polls, preferred the two-state solution over any other solution as a means of resolving the conflict. Moreover, a considerable majority of the Jewish public sees the Palestinians' demand for an independent state as just, and thinks Israel can agree to the establishment of such a state. A majority of Palestinians and Israelis view the West Bank and Gaza Strip as an acceptable location of the hypothetical Palestinian state in a two-state solution. However, there are significant areas of disagreement over the shape of any final agreement and also regarding the level of credibility each side sees in the other in upholding basic commitments.

Within Israeli and Palestinian society, the conflict generates a wide variety of views and opinions. This highlights the deep divisions which exist not only between Israelis and Palestinians, but also within each society. A hallmark of the conflict has been the level of violence witnessed for virtually its entire duration. Fighting has been conducted by regular armies, paramilitary groups, terror cells and individuals. Casualties have not been restricted to the military, with a large number of fatalities in civilian population on both sides. There are prominent international actors involved in the conflict.

The two parties engaged in direct negotiation are the Israeli government, currently led by Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), currently headed by Mahmoud Abbas. The official negotiations are mediated by an international contingent known as the Quartet on the Middle East (the Quartet) represented by a special envoy that consists of the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations. The Arab League is another important actor, which has proposed an alternative peace plan. Egypt, a founding member of the Arab League, has historically been a key participant.

Since 2003, the Palestinian side has been fractured by conflict between the two major factions: Fatah, the traditionally dominant party, and its later electoral challenger, Hamas. Following Hamas' seizure of power in the Gaza Strip in June 2007, the territory controlled by the Palestinian National Authority (the Palestinian interim government) is split between Fatah in the West Bank, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The division of governance between the parties has effectively resulted in the collapse of bipartisan governance of the Palestinian National Authority (PA). A round of peace negotiations began at Annapolis, Maryland, United States, in November 2007. These talks were aimed at having a final resolution by the end of 2008. Direct negotiations between the Israeli government and Palestinian leadership began in September 2010 aimed at reaching an official final status settlement.


The Israeli–Palestinian conflict has its roots in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the birth of major nationalist movements among the Jews and among the Arabs, both geared towards attaining sovereignty for their people in the Middle East. The collision between those two forces in southern Levant and the emergence of the Palestinian nationalism in the 1920s, eventually escalated into the Israeli–Palestinian conflict in 1947, and expanded into the wider Arab-Israeli conflict later on.

With the outcome of the First World War, the relations between Zionism and the Arab national movement seemed to be potentially friendly, and the Faisal–Weizmann Agreement created a framework for both aspirations to coexist on former Ottoman Empire's territories. However, with the defeat and dissolution of the Arab Kingdom of Syria in July 1920, following the Franco-Syrian War, a crisis fell upon the Damascus-based Arab national movement. Return of several hard-line Palestinian Arab nationalists, under the emerging leadership of Haj Amin al-Husseini, from Damascus to Mandatory Palestine marked the beginning of Palestinian Arab nationalist struggle towards establishment of national home for Arabs of Palestine. Amin al-Husseini, the architect of the Palestinian Arab national movement, immediately marked Jewish national movement and Jewish immigration to Palestine as the sole enemy to his cause, initiating large-scale riots against the Jews as early as 1920 in Jerusalem and in 1921 in Jaffa. Among the results of the violence was the establishment of Jewish paramilitary force of Haganah. In 1929, a series of violent anti-Jewish riots was initiated by the Arab leadership. The riots resulted in massive Jewish casualties in Hebron and Safed, and the evacuation of Jews from Hebron and Gaza.

In the early 1930s, the Arab national struggle in Palestine had drawn many Arab nationalist militants from across the Middle East, most notably Sheikh Izaddin al-Qassam from Syria, who established the Black Hand militant group and had prepared the grounds for the 1936 Arab revolt. Following, the death of al-Qassam at the hands of the British in late 1935, the tensions erupted in 1936 into the Arab general strike and general boycott. The strike soon deteriorated into violence and the bloody revolt against the British and the Jews. In the first wave of organized violence, lasting until early 1937, much of the Arab gangs were defeated by the British and a forced expulsion of much of the Arab leadership was performed. The revolt led to the establishment of the Peel Commission towards partitioning of Palestine, though was subsequently rejected both by Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs. The renewed violence, which had sporadically lasted until the beginning of WWII, ended with around 5,000 casualties, mostly from the Arab side. With the eruption of World War II, the situation in Mandatory Palestine calmed down. It allowed a shift towards more a moderate stance among Palestinian Arabs, under the leadership of the Nashashibi clan and even the establishment of the Jewish-Arab Palestine Regiment under British command, fighting Germans in North Africa. The more radical exiled faction of al-Husseini however tended to cooperation with Nazi Germany, and participated in the establishment of pro-Nazi propaganda machine throughout the Arab world. Defeat of Arab nationalists in Iraq and subsequent relocation of al-Husseini to Nazi-occupied Europe tied his hands regarding field operations in Palestine, though he regularly demanded the Italians and the Germans to bomb Tel Aviv. By the end of World War II, a crisis over the fate of the Holocaust survivors from Europe led to renewed tensions between the Yishuv and the Palestinian Arab leadership. Immigration quotas were established by the British, while on the other hand illegal immigration and Zionist insurgency against the British was increasing.

Land in the lighter shade represents territory within the borders of Israel at the conclusion of the 1948 war. This land is internationally recognized as belonging to Israel.

On 29 November 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted Resolution 181(II) recommending the adoption and implementation of a plan to partition Palestine into an Arab state, a Jewish state and the City of Jerusalem. On the next day, Palestine was already swept by violence, with Arab and Jewish militias executing attacks. The Arab League supported the Arab struggle by forming the volunteer based Arab Liberation Army, supporting the Palestinian Arab Army of the Holy War, under the leadership of Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni and Hasan Salama. On the Jewish side, the civil war was managed by the major underground militias - the Haganah, Irgun and Lehi, strengthened by numerous Jewish veterans of World War II and foreign volunteers. By spring 1948, it was already clear that the Arab forces were nearing a total collapse, while Yishuv forces gained more and more territory, creating a large scale refugee problem of Palestinian Arabs. Popular support to the Palestinian Arabs throughout the Arab world led to sporadic violence against Jewish communities of Middle East and North Africa, creating an opposite refugee wave. Following the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948, the Arab League decided to intervene on behalf of Palestinian Arabs, marching their forces into former British Palestine, beginning the main phase of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The overall fighting, leading to around 15,000 casualties, resulted in cease fire and armistice agreements of 1949, with Israel holding much of the former Mandate territory, Jordan occupying and later annexing the West Bank and Egypt taking over the Gaza Strip, where the All-Palestine Government was declared by the Arab League on 22 September 1948.

Through the 1950s, Jordan and Egypt supported the Palestinian Fedayeen militants' cross-border attacks into Israel, while Israel carried out reprisal operations in the host countries. The 1956 Suez Crisis resulted in short-term Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and exile of the All-Palestine Government, which was later restored with Israeli withdrawal. The All-Palestine Government was completely abandoned by Egypt in 1959, officially merging it into the United Arab Republic, a major blow to the Palestinian national movement. In 1964, however, a new organization—the Palestine Liberation Organization—was established by Yasser Arafat. It immediately won the support of most Arab League governments and won a seat in the Arab League. The 1967 Six Day War was a major blow to Palestinian nationalism, as Israel took over the West Bank from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, practically removing any ability of the PLO to establish any control on the ground. The PLO hence established its headquarters in Jordan, home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, and supported the Jordanian army during the War of Attrition, most notably the Battle of Karameh. The Palestinian base in Jordan, however, collapsed with the Jordanian-Palestinian civil war in 1970. The PLO defeat by the Jordanians caused most of the Palestinian militants to relocate to South Lebanon, where they soon took over large areas, creating the so-called "Fatahland". Palestinian insurgency in South Lebanon peaked in the early 1970s, as Lebanon was used as a base to launch attacks on northern Israel and airplane hijacking campaigns worldwide, which drew Israeli retaliation. During the Lebanese Civil War, Palestinian militants continued to launch attacks against Israel while battling opponents within Lebanon. In 1978, the Coastal Road massacre led to the Israeli full-scale invasion known as Operation Litani. Israeli forces, however, quickly withdrew from Lebanon, and the attacks against Israel resumed. In 1982, following an assassination attempt on one of its diplomats by Palestinians, the Israeli government decided to take sides in the Lebanese Civil War, and the 1982 Lebanon War was begun. The initial results for the Israelis were successful. Most Palestinian militants were defeated within several weeks, Beirut was captured, and the PLO headquarters were evacuated to Tunisia in June by Yasser Arafat's decision. However, Israeli intervention in the civil war also led to unforeseen results, including small-scale conflict between Israel and Syria. By 1985, Israel withdrew to a 10 km occupied strip of South Lebanon, while the low-intensity conflict with Shia militants escalated. Those Iranian-supported Shia groups gradually consolidated into Hizbullah and Amal, operated against Israel, and allied with the remnants of Palestinian organizations to launch attacks on Galilee through the late 1980s. By the 1990s, Palestinian organizations in Lebanon were largely inactive.

The first Palestinian uprising began in 1987, as a response to regional stagnation. By the early 1990s, international efforts to settle the conflict had begun, in light of the success of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1982. Eventually, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process led to the Oslo Accords of 1993, allowing the PLO to relocate from Tunisia and take ground in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, establishing the Palestinian National Authority. The peace process also had significant opposition among radical Islamic elements of Palestinian society, such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, who immediately initiated a campaign of attacks targeting Israelis. Following hundreds of casualties and a wave of radical anti-government propaganda, Israeli Prime-Minister Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli fanatic who objected to the policy of the government. This struck a serious blow to the peace process, from which the newly elected government of Israel in 1996 backed off. Following several years of unsuccessful negotiations, the conflict re-erupted as the Second Intifada on September 2000. The violence, escalating into an open conflict between the Palestinian Authority security forces and the IDF, lasted until 2004/2005 and led to nearly 6,000 fatalities. Following the uprising, Israeli Prime-Minister Sharon decided upon the Gaza disengagement plan, implemented in 2005, removing Israeli settlers, though not releasing the territory from Israeli occupation. One year later the Hamas party took power in Palestinian elections, while Israel responded it would not continue any peace negotiations as long as Hamas is taking part in the Palestinian government. Clashes between Israel and Hamas in 2006 led Israel to impose a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, and cooperation with Egypt allowed a ground blockade of the Egyptian border. After internal Palestinian political struggle between Fatah and Hamas erupted into the Battle of Gaza (2007), Hamas took full control of the area. The tensions between Israel and Hamas, who won increasing financial and political support of Iran, escalated until late 2008, when Israel launched operation Cast Lead (the Gaza War). By February 2009, a cease-fire was signed with international mediation between the parties, though small and sporadic eruptions of violence continued.

In 2011, a Palestinian Authority attempt to gain UN membership as a fully sovereign state failed. In Hamas-controlled Gaza, sporadic rocket attacks on Israel and Israeli air raids still take place.

Peace process

Oslo Accords (1993)

A peace movement poster: Israeli and Palestinian flags and the words peace in Arabic and Hebrew.

In 1993, Israeli officials led by Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leaders from the Palestine Liberation Organization led by Yasser Arafat strove to find a peaceful solution through what became known as the Oslo peace process. A crucial milestone in this process was Arafat's letter of recognition of Israel's right to exist. In 1993, the Oslo Accords were finalized as a framework for future Israeli–Palestinian relations. The crux of the Oslo agreement was that Israel would gradually cede control of the Palestinian territories over to the Palestinians in exchange for peace. The Oslo process was delicate and progressed in fits and starts, the process took a turning point at the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and finally unraveled when Arafat and Ehud Barak failed to reach agreement at Camp David in July 2000. Robert Malley, special assistant to US President Bill Clinton for Arab–Israeli Affairs, has confirmed that while Barak made no formal written offer to Arafat, the US did present concepts for peace which were considered by the Israeli side yet left unanswered by Arafat "the Palestinians’ principal failing is that from the beginning of the Camp David summit onward they were unable either to say yes to the American ideas or to present a cogent and specific counterproposal of their own". Consequently, there are different accounts of the proposals considered.

Yitzhak Rabin, Bill Clinton, and Yasser Arafat during the Oslo Accords on 13 September 1993.

Camp David Summit (2000)

In July 2000, US President Bill Clinton convened a peace summit between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Barak reportedly put forward the following as 'bases for negotiation', via the U.S. to the Palestinian leader; 92% of the West Bank and the entire Gaza Strip, as well as a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, and that 69 Jewish settlements (which comprise 85% of the West Bank's Jewish settlers) would be ceded to Israel. He also proposed "temporary Israeli control" indefinitely over another 10% of the West Bank territory—an area including many more Jewish settlements. According to Palestinian sources, the remaining area would be under Palestinian control, yet certain areas would be broken up by Israeli bypass roads and checkpoints. Depending on how the security roads would be configured, these Israeli roads might impede free travel by Palestinians throughout their proposed nation and reduce the ability to absorb Palestinian refugees.

Arafat rejected this offer. According to the Palestinian negotiators the offer did not remove many of the elements of the Israeli occupation regarding land, security, settlements, and Jerusalem. President Clinton reportedly requested that Arafat make a counter-offer, but he proposed none. Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami who kept a diary of the negotiations said in an interview in 2001, when asked whether the Palestinians made a counterproposal: "No. And that is the heart of the matter. Never, in the negotiations between us and the Palestinians, was there a Palestinian counterproposal." In a separate interview in 2006 Ben Ami stated that were he a Palestinian he would have rejected the Camp David offer.

No tenable solution was crafted which would satisfy both Israeli and Palestinian demands, even under intense US pressure. Clinton blamed Arafat for the failure of the Camp David Summit. In the months following the summit, Clinton appointed former US Senator George J. Mitchell to lead a fact-finding committee that later published the Mitchell Report aimed at restoring the peace process.

Developments following Camp David

Following the failed summit Palestinian and Israeli negotiators continued to meet in small groups through August and September 2000 to try to bridge the gaps between their respective positions. The United States prepared its own plan to resolve the outstanding issues. Clinton's presentation of the US proposals was delayed by the advent of the Second Intifada at the end of September.

Clinton's plan, eventually presented on 23 December 2000, proposed the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state in the Gaza strip and 94–96 percent of the West Bank plus the equivalent of 1–3 percent of the West Bank in land swaps from pre-1967 Israel. On Jerusalem the plan stated that, "the general principle is that Arab areas are Palestinian and that Jewish areas are Israeli." The holy sites were to be split on the basis that Palestinians would have sovereignty over the Temple Mount/Noble sanctuary, while the Israelis would have sovereignty over the Western Wall. On refugees the plan suggested a number of proposals including financial compensation, the right of return to the Palestinian state, and Israeli acknowledgement of suffering caused to the Palestinians in 1948. Security proposals referred to a "non-militarized" Palestinian state, and an international force for border security. Both sides accepted Clinton's plan and it became the basis for the negotiations at the Taba Peace summit the following January.

Taba Summit (2001)

The Israeli negotiation team presented a new map at the Taba Summit in Taba, Egypt in January 2001. The proposition removed the "temporarily Israeli controlled" areas, and the Palestinian side accepted this as a basis for further negotiation. With Israeli elections looming the talks ended without an agreement but the two sides issued a joint statement attesting to the progress they had made: "The sides declare that they have never been closer to reaching an agreement and it is thus our shared belief that the remaining gaps could be bridged with the resumption of negotiations following the Israeli elections." The following month the Likud party candidate Ariel Sharon defeated Ehud Barak in the Israeli elections and was elected as Israeli prime minister on 7 February 2001. Sharon’s new government chose not to resume the high-level talks.

Road Map for Peace

One peace proposal, presented by the Quartet of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States on 17 September 2002, was the Road Map for Peace. This plan did not attempt to resolve difficult questions such as the fate of Jerusalem or Israeli settlements, but left that to be negotiated in later phases of the process. The proposal never made it beyond the first phase, which called for a halt to Israeli settlement construction and a halt to Israeli and Palestinian violence, none of which was achieved.

Arab Peace Initiative

The Arab Peace Initiative (Arabic: مبادرة السلام العربيةMubādirat as-Salām al-ʿArabīyyah) was first proposed by Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in the Beirut Summit. The peace initiative is a proposed solution to the Arab–Israeli conflict as a whole, and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict in particular.

{{The initiative was initially published on 28 March 2002, at the Beirut Summit, and agreed upon again in 2007 in the Riyadh Summit.}}

Unlike the Road Map for Peace, it spelled out "final-solution" borders based explicitly on the UN borders established before the 1967 Six-Day War. It offered full normalization of relations with Israel, in exchange for the withdrawal of its forces from all the occupied territories, including the Golan Heights, to recognize "an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital" in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as a "just solution" for the Palestinian refugees.

A number of Israeli officials have responded to the initiative with both support and criticism. The Israeli government has expressed reservations on 'red line,' issues such as the Palestinian refugee problem, homeland security concerns, and the nature of Jerusalem. However, the Arab League continues to raise it as a possible solution, and meetings between the Arab League and Israel have been held.

Present status

The peace process has been predicated on a "two-state solution" thus far, but questions have been raised towards both sides' resolve to end the dispute. An article by S. Daniel Abraham, an American entrepreneur and founder of the Centre for Middle East Peace in Washington, US, published on the website of the Atlantic magazine in March 2013, cited the following statistics: "Right now, the total number of Jews and Arabs living ... in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza is just under 12 million people. At the moment, a shade under 50 percent of the population is Jewish."

Israel's settlement policy

Israel has had its settlement growth and policies in the Palestinian territories harshly criticized by the European Union citing it as increasingly undermining the viability of the two-state solution and running in contrary to the Israeli-stated commitment to resume negotiations. In December 2011, all the regional groupings on the UN Security Council named continued settlement construction and settler violence as disruptive to the resumption of talks, a call viewed by Russia as a "historic step". In April 2012 international outrage followed Israeli steps to further entrench the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which included the publishing of tenders for further settler homes and the plan to legalize settler outposts. Britain said that the move was a breach of Israeli commitments under the road map to freeze all settlement expansion in the land captured since 1967. The British Foreign Minister stated that the "Systematic, illegal Israeli settlement activity poses the most significant and live threat to the viability of the two state solution". In May 2012 the 27 foreign ministers of the European Union issued a statement which condemned continued Israeli settler violence and incitement. In a similar move, the Quartet "expressed its concern over ongoing settler violence and incitement in the West Bank," calling on Israel "to take effective measures, including bringing the perpetrators of such acts to justice." The Palestinian Ma'an News agency reported the PA Cabinet's statement on the issue stated that the West Bank and East Jerusalem were seeing "an escalation in incitement and settler violence against our people with a clear protection from the occupation military. The last of which was the thousands of settler march in East Jerusalem which included slogans inciting to kill, hate and supports violence".

Palestinian incitement

Israeli officials and other political figures have harshly criticized what they regard as Palestinians inciting violence against Jews and Israel.

In 2011, Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu stated that the incitement promulgated by the Palestinian Authority was destroying Israel’s confidence, and he condemned what he regarded as the glorification of the murderers of the Fogel family in Itamar on PA television. The perpetrator of the murders had been described as a "hero" and a "legend" by members of his family, during a weekly program. This occurred shortly after the official Palestinian Authority Mufti in Jerusalem publicly read out an Islamic hadith that says killing Jews will speed up the redemption, which was criticised by the UK's Minister for the Middle East and North Africa as potentially stirring up "hatred and prejudice".

Following the Itamar massacre and a bombing in Jerusalem, 27 US senators sent a letter requesting the US Secretary of State to identify the administration's steps to end Palestinian incitement to violence against Jews and Israel that was occurring within the "Palestinian media, mosques and schools, and even by individuals or institutions affiliated with the Palestinian Authority." Media watchdog, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), reported in June 2012 that the Palestinian media continually demonizes Israel and Jews and derogates Jewish history. They stated that the Palestinian children are being taught hatred and violence against Jews and Israelis and that only 7 percent of Palestinian teenagers accept Israel's right to exist. They stated that a political peace structure is contingent upon a proceeding educational peace process, which is lacking. Children in a Gaza kindergarten were dressed up in uniforms of the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organisation. They received a toy rifles and chanted anti-Israeli slogans. A teacher stated that this was so the children will "grow up to love the resistance and serve the cause of Palestine and Holy Jihad, as well as to make them leaders and fighters to defend the holy soil of Palestine." The head of the National Security Studies Centre, Dan Shiftan, said that this showed a "deep message of the total rejection of Israel, legitimization of terror, and deep-seated victimization."

The United Nations body UNESCO stopped funding a children's magazine sponsored by the Palestinian Authority that commended Hitler's killing of Jews. It deplored this publication as contrary to its principles of building tolerance and respect for human rights and human dignity.

In 2013, during President Obama's first official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Palestinian protesters vandalized billboards with the image of President Obama. The protestors spray painted the billboard with swastikas, painted over Obama's face and burned the banners. Incidentally, at the same time a convoy of American cars passed by, one of the protestors threw a shoe at the convoy and fled.

UN and the Palestinian state

The PLO's campaign for full member status for the state of Palestine at the UN and have recognition on the 1967 borders received widespread support though it was criticised by some countries for purpotedly avoiding bilateral negotiation. Netanyahu expressed criticism of the Palestinians as he felt that they were allegedly trying to bypass direct talks, whereas Abbas argued that the continued construction of Israeli-Jewish settlements was "undermining the realistic potential" for the two-state solution.

Public support

Polling data has produced mixed results regarding the level of support among Palestinians for the two-state solution. A poll was carried out in 2011 by the Hebrew University; it indicated that support for a two-state solution was growing among both Israelis and Palestinians. The poll found that 58% of Israelis and 50% of Palestinians supported a two-state solution based on the Clinton Parameters, compared with 47% of Israelis and 39% of Palestinians in 2003, the first year the poll was carried out. The poll also found that an increasing percentage of both populations supported an end to violence—63% of Palestinians and 70% of Israelis expressing their support for an end to violence, an increase of 2% for Israelis and 5% for Palestinians from the previous year.

A poll commissioned by The Israel Project conducted in July 2011 by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and fielded by the Palestinian Centre for Public Opinion in the West Bank and Gaza indicated a range of opinions on the peace process that varied according to the wording of the questions. When asked if they "accept a two-state solution" 44% of respondents said yes and 52% said no. When asked if they accepted the following concept: "President Obama said there should be two states: Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people and Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people" 34% accepted and 61% rejected. However, when asked if they favoured or opposed a two-state solution in which "the border between Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps of land to take account of realities on the ground so both sides can achieve a secure and just peace", 57% said yes and only 40% said no. When half the respondents were given a choice between two sentences (a. Israel has a permanent right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people; b. Over time Palestinians must work to get back all the land for a Palestinian state) 84% chose b. and 8% selected a. The other half were asked to choose between a. I can accept permanently a two-state solution with one a homeland for the Palestinian people living side-by-side with Israel, a homeland for the Jewish people, or b. The real goal should to start with a two state solution but then move to it all being one Palestinian state. 30% of those asked selected the first option while 66% chose the second. When asked to choose between a. The best goal is for a two-state solution that keeps two states living side by side, and b. The real goal should be to start with two states but then move to it all being one Palestinian state, 25% chose a. whilst 52% opted for b.

According to the same poll, 65% of respondents preferred talks and 20% preferred violence. More than 70% of those polled said they believed a hadith, or saying, ascribed to Mohammed that is included as a clause of the Hamas Charter and states, “The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews". The poll further reported that "72% of Palestinians endorsed the denial of Jewish history in Jerusalem, 62% supported kidnapping IDF soldiers and holding them hostage and 53% were in favour or teaching songs about hating Jews in Palestinian schools." At the same time, only 29% supported the killing of a settler family in Itamar and 22% supported rocket attacks on Israeli cities and civilians. 64% support seeking UN recognition of a Palestinian state outside of the framework of negotiations with Israel and 85% believe that a settlement freeze should be a pre-requisite for continuing negotiations. 81% rejected the suggestion that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was serious about wanting peace and a two-state solution whilst only 12% accepted the notion. The methodology and neutrality of this poll has been called into question by Paul Pillar, writing in the National Interest.

Current issues in dispute

The following outlined positions are the official positions of the two parties; however, it is important to note that neither side holds a single position. Both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides include both moderate and extremist bodies as well as dovish and hawkish bodies.

One of the primary obstacles to resolving the Israeli–Palestinian conflict is a deepset and growing distrust between its participants. Unilateral strategies and the rhetoric of hard-line political factions, coupled with violence and incitements by civilians against one another, have fostered mutual embitterment and hostility and a loss of faith in the peace process. Support among Palestinians for Hamas is considerable, and as its members consistently call for the destruction of Israel and violence remains a threat, security becomes a prime concern for many Israelis. The expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank has led the majority of Palestinians to believe that Israel is not committed to reaching an agreement, but rather to a pursuit of establishing permanent control over this territory in order to provide that security.


Greater Jerusalem, May 2006. CIA remote sensing map showing what CIA regards as settlements, plus refugee camps, fences, and walls

The border of Jerusalem is a particularly delicate issue, with each side asserting claims over this city. The three largest Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—include Jerusalem as an important setting for their religious and historical narratives. Israel asserts that the city should not be divided and should remain unified within Israel's political control. Palestinians claim at least the parts of the city which were not part of Israel prior to June 1967. As of 2005, there were more than 719,000 people living in Jerusalem; 465,000 were Jews (mostly living in West Jerusalem) and 232,000 were Muslims (mostly living in East Jerusalem).

The Israeli government, including the Knesset and Supreme Court, is centered in the "new city" of West Jerusalem and has been since Israel's founding in 1948. After Israel captured the Jordanian-controlled East Jerusalem in the Six-Day War, it assumed complete administrative control of East Jerusalem. In 1980, Israel issued a new law stating, "Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel."

At the Camp David and Taba Summits in 2000–01, the United States proposed a plan in which the Arab parts of Jerusalem would be given to the proposed Palestinian state while the Jewish parts of Jerusalem were retained by Israel. All archaeological work under the Temple Mount would be jointly controlled by the Israeli and Palestinian governments. Both sides accepted the proposal in principle, but the summits ultimately failed.

Israel has grave concerns regarding the welfare of Jewish holy places under possible Palestinian control. When Jerusalem was under Jordanian control, no Jews were allowed to visit the Western Wall or other Jewish holy places, and the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives was desecrated. In 2000, a Palestinian mob took over Joseph's Tomb, a shrine considered sacred by both Jews and Muslims, looted and burned the building and turned it into a mosque. There are unauthorized Palestinian excavations for construction on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which could threaten the stability of the Western Wall. Israel, on the other hand, has seldom blocked access to holy places sacred to other religions. Israeli security agencies routinely monitor and arrest Jewish extremists that plan attacks, resulting in almost no serious incidents for the last 20 years. Moreover, Israel has given almost complete autonomy to the Muslim trust ( Waqf) over the Temple Mount.

Israel expresses concern over the security of its residents if neighborhoods of Jerusalem are placed under Palestinian control. Jerusalem has been a prime target for attacks by militant groups against civilian targets since 1967. Many Jewish neighborhoods have been fired upon from Arab areas. The proximity of the Arab areas, if these regions were to fall in the boundaries of a Palestinian state, would be so close as to threaten the safety of Jewish residents. Nadav Shragai states this idea in his study for the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, "An Israeli security body that was tasked in March 2000 with examining the possibility of transferring three Arab villages just outside of Jerusalem – Abu Dis, Al Azaria, and a-Ram – to Palestinian security control, assessed at the time that: 'Terrorists will be able to exploit the short distances, sometimes involving no more than crossing a street, to cause damage to people or property. A terrorist will be able to stand on the other side of the road, shoot at an Israeli or throw a bomb, and it may be impossible to do anything about it. The road will constitute the border.' If that is the case for neighborhoods outside of Jerusalem's municipal boundaries, how much more so for Arab neighborhoods within those boundaries.

Palestinians have voiced concerns regarding the welfare of Christian and Muslim holy places under Israeli control.

Some Palestinian advocates have made statements alleging that the Western Wall tunnel was re-opened with the intent of causing the mosque's collapse. Israel considers these statements to be totally baseless and unfounded, and to be deliberately intended to incite aggression and public disorder, and stated this in a 1996 speech at the UN. Furthermore, the mosque has not collapsed.

Palestinian refugees

Palestinian refugees are people who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict and the 1967 Six-Day War. The number of Palestinians who fled or were expelled from Israel following its creation was estimated at 711,000 in 1949. Descendants of these original Palestinian Refugees are also eligible for registration and services provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and as of 2010 number 4.7 million people. Between 350,000 and 400,000 Palestinians were displaced during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. A third of the refugees live in recognized refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The remainder live in and around the cities and towns of these host countries.

Most of these people were born outside of Israel, but are descendants of original Palestinian refugees. Palestinian negotiators, most notably Yasser Arafat, have so far publicly insisted that refugees have a right to return to the places where they lived before 1948 and 1967, including those within the 1949 Armistice lines, citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN General Assembly Resolution 194 as evidence. However, according to reports of private peace negotiations with Israel they have countenanced the return of only 10,000 refugees and their families to Israel as part of a peace settlement. Mahmoud Abbas, the current Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization was reported to have said in private discussion that it is "illogical to ask Israel to take 5 million, or indeed 1 million. That would mean the end of Israel." In a further interview Abbas stated that he no longer had an automatic right to return to Safed in the northern Galilee where he was born in 1935. He later clarified that the remark was his personal opinion and not official policy.

The Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 declared that it proposed the compromise of a "just resolution" of the refugee problem.

Palestinian and international authors have justified the right of return of the Palestinian refugees on several grounds:

  • A few authors included in the broader New Historians assert that the Palestinian refugees were chased out or expelled by the actions of the Haganah, Lehi and Irgun. The New Historians cite indications of Arab leaders' desire for the Palestinian Arab population to stay put.

Shlaim (2000) states that from April 1948 the military forces of what was to become Israel had embarked on a new offensive strategy which involved destroying Arab villages and the forced removal of civilians.

  • The Israeli Law of Return that grants citizenship to any Jew from anywhere in the world is viewed by some as discrimination against non-Jews, especially Palestinians that cannot apply for such citizenship or return to the territory which they were expelled from or fled during the course of the 1948 war.
Home in Balata refugee camp demolished during the second Intifada, 2002
  • According to the UN Resolution 194, adopted in 1948, "the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible." UN Resolution 3236 "reaffirms also the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted, and calls for their return". Resolution 242 from the UN affirms the necessity for "achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem"; however, Resolution 242 does not specify that the "just settlement" must or should be in the form of a literal Palestinian right of return.

The most common arguments for opposition are:

  • The Israeli government asserts that the Arab refugee problem is largely caused by the refusal of all Arab governments except Jordan to grant citizenship to Palestinian Arabs who reside within those countries' borders. This has produced much of the poverty and economic problems of the refugees, according to MFA documents.
  • The Palestinian refugee issue is handled by a separate authority from that handling other refugees, that is, by UNRWA and not the UNHCR. Most of the people recognizing themselves as Palestinian refugees would have otherwise been assimilated into their country of current residency, and would not maintain their refugee state if not for the separate entities.
  • Concerning the origin of the Palestinian refugees, the official version of the Israeli government is that during the 1948 War the Arab Higher Committee and the Arab states encouraged Palestinians to flee in order to make it easier to rout the Jewish state or that they did so to escape the fights by fear. The Palestinian narrative is that refugees were expelled and dispossessed by Jewish militias and by the Israeli army, following a plan established even before the war. Historians still debate the causes of the 1948 Palestinian exodus.
  • Since none of the 900,000 Jewish refugees who fled anti-Semitic violence in the Arab world was ever compensated or repatriated by their former countries of residence—to no objection on the part of Arab leaders—a precedent has been set whereby it is the responsibility of the nation which accepts the refugees to assimilate them.
  • Although Israel accepts the right of the Palestinian Diaspora to return into a new Palestinian state, Israel insists that their return into the current state of Israel would be a great danger for the stability of the Jewish state; an influx of Palestinian refugees would lead to the destruction of the state of Israel.
  • Historian Benny Morris states that most of Palestine's 700,000 "refugees" fled because of the "flail of war" and expected to return home shortly after a successful Arab invasion. He documents how all around Palestine, Arab leaders advised the evacuation of entire communities as happened in Haifa, 1948. Morris considers the displacement the result of a national conflict initiated by the Arabs themselves.
  • According to Karsh the Palestinians were themselves the aggressors in the 1948-49 war who attempted to "cleanse" a neighboring ethnic community. Had the United Nations resolution of 29 November 1947 recommending partition in Palestine not been subverted by force by the Arab world, there would have been no refugee problem in the first place. He reports of large numbers of Palestinian refugees leaving even before the outbreak of the 1948 war because of disillusionment and economic privation. The British High Commissioner for Palestine spoke of the "collapsing Arab morale in Palestine" that he partially attributed to the "increasing tendency of those who should be leading them to leave the country" and the considerable evacuations of the Arab effendi class. Huge numbers of Palestinians were also expelled by their leadership to prevent them from becoming Israeli citizens and in Haifa and Tiberias, tens of thousands of Arabs were forcibly evacuated on the instructions of the Arab Higher Committee.

Israeli security concerns

Sbarro pizza restaurant bombing in Jerusalem, in which 15 Israeli civilians were killed and 130 wounded.
Remains of an Egged bus hit by suicide bomber in the aftermath of the 2011 southern Israel cross-border attacks. Eight people were killed, about 40 were injured.

Throughout the conflict, Palestinian violence has been a concern for Israelis. Israel, along with the United States and the European Union, refer to the violence against Israeli civilians and military forces by Palestinian militants as terrorism. The motivations behind Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians are multiplex, and not all violent Palestinian groups agree with each other on specifics, however a common motive is to eliminate the Jewish state and replace it with a Palestinian Arab state. The most prominent Islamist groups, such as Hamas, view the Israeli–Palestinian conflict as a religious jihad.

Suicide bombing is used as a tactic among Palestinian organizations like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and certain suicide attacks have received support among palestinians as high as 84%. In Israel, Palestinian suicide bombers have targeted civilian buses, restaurants, shopping malls, hotels and marketplaces. From 1993–2003, 303 Palestinian suicide bombers attacked Israel.

The Israeli government initiated the construction of a security barrier following scores of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks in July 2003. Israel's coalition government approved the security barrier in the northern part of the green-line between Israel and the West Bank. Since the erection of the fence, terrorist acts have declined by more than 90%.

Since 2001, the threat of Qassam rockets fired from the Palestinian Territories into Israel is also of great concern for Israeli defense officials. In 2006—the year following Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip—the Israeli government recorded 1,726 such launches, more than four times the total rockets fired in 2005. As of January 2009, over 8,600 rockets had been launched, causing widespread psychological trauma and disruption of daily life. Over 500 rockets and mortars hit Israel in January–September 2010 and over 1,947 rockets hit Israel in January–November 2012.

An Israeli child wounded by a Hamas Grad rocket fired on the city of Beer Sheva is taken to a hospital

According to a study conducted by University of Haifa, one in five Israelis have lost a relative or friend in a Palestinian terrorist attack.

There is significant debate within Israel about how to deal with the country's security concerns. Options have included military action (including targeted killings and house demolitions of terrorist operatives), diplomacy, unilateral gestures toward peace, and increased security measures such as checkpoints, roadblocks and security barriers. The legality and the wisdom of all of the above tactics have been called into question by various commentators.

Since mid-June 2007, Israel's primary means of dealing with security concerns in the West Bank has been to cooperate with and permit United States-sponsored training, equipping, and funding of the Palestinian Authority's security forces, which with Israeli help have largely succeeded in quelling West Bank supporters of Hamas.

Palestinian violence outside of Israel

Some Palestinians have committed violent acts over the globe on the pretext of a struggle against Israel. Many foreigners, including Americans and Europeans, have been killed and injured by Palestinian militants. At least 53 Americans have been killed and 83 injured by Palestinian violence since the signing of the Oslo Accords.

During the late 1960s, the PLO became increasingly infamous for its use of international terror. In 1969 alone, the PLO was responsible for hijacking 82 planes. El Al Airlines became a regular hijacking target. The hijacking of Air France Flight 139 by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine culminated during a hostage-rescue mission, where Israeli special forces successfully rescued the majority of the hostages.

However, one of the most well-known and notorious terrorist acts was the capture and eventual murder of 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympic Games.

Palestinian violence against other Palestinians

Suspected Palestinian collaborator killed during the First Intifada

Fighting among rival Palestinian and Arab movements has played a crucial role in shaping Israel's security policy towards Palestinian militants, as well as in the Palestinian leadership's own policies. As early as the 1930s revolts in Palestine, Arab forces fought each other while also skirmishing with Zionist and British forces, and internal conflicts continue to the present day. During the Lebanese Civil War, Palestinian baathists broke from the Palestine Liberation Organization and allied with the Shia Amal Movement, fighting a bloody civil war that killed thousands of Palestinians.

In the First Intifada, more than a thousand Palestinians were killed in a campaign initiated by the Palestine Liberation Organization to crack down on suspected Israeli security service informers and collaborators. The Palestinian Authority was strongly criticized for its treatment of alleged collaborators, rights groups complaining that those labeled collaborators were denied fair trials. According to a report released by the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, less than 45 percent of those killed were actually guilty of informing for Israel.

The policies towards suspected collaborators contravene agreements signed by the Palestinian leadership. Article XVI(2) of the Oslo II Agreement states:

"Palestinians who have maintained contact with the Israeli authorities will not be subjected to acts of harassment, violence, retribution, or prosecution."

The provision was designed to prevent Palestinian leaders from imposing retribution on fellow Palestinians who had worked on behalf of Israel during the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In the Gaza Strip, Hamas officials have killed and tortured thousands of Fatah members and other Palestinians who oppose their rule. During the Battle of Gaza, more than 150 Palestinians died over a four-day period. The violence among Palestinians was described as a civil war by some commentators. By 2007, more than 600 Palestinian people had died during the struggle between Hamas and Fatah.

International status

In the past, Israel has demanded control over border crossings between the Palestinian territories and Jordan and Egypt, and the right to set the import and export controls, asserting that Israel and the Palestinian territories are a single economic space.

In the interim agreements reached as part of the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority has received control over cities (Area A) while the surrounding countryside has been placed under Israeli security and Palestinian civil administration (Area B) or complete Israeli control (Area C). Israel has built additional highways to allow Israelis to traverse the area without entering Palestinian cities. The initial areas under Palestinian Authority control are diverse and non-contiguous. The areas have changed over time because of subsequent negotiations, including Oslo II, Wye River and Sharm el-Sheik. According to Palestinians, the separated areas make it impossible to create a viable nation and fails to address Palestinian security needs; Israel has expressed no agreement to withdrawal from some Areas B, resulting in no reduction in the division of the Palestinian areas, and the institution of a safe pass system, without Israeli checkpoints, between these parts. Because of increased Palestinian violence to occupation this plan is in abeyance.

Israeli military occupation of the West Bank

Occupied Palestinian Territory is the term used by the United Nations to refer to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip—territories which were captured by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, having formerly been controlled by Egypt and Jordan. The Israeli government uses the term Disputed Territories, to argue that some territories cannot be called occupied as no nation had clear rights to them and there was no operative diplomatic arrangement when Israel acquired them in June 1967. The area is still referred to as Judea and Samaria by some Israeli groups, based on the historical regional names from ancient times.

In 1980, Israel annexed East Jerusalem. Israel has never annexed the West Bank or Gaza Strip, and the United Nations has demanded the "[t]ermination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force" and that Israeli forces withdraw "from territories occupied in the recent conflict" – the meaning and intent of the latter phrase is disputed. See Interpretations.

It has been the position of Israel that the most Arab-populated parts of West Bank (without major Jewish settlements), and the entire Gaza Strip must eventually be part of an independent Palestinian State. However, the precise borders of this state are in question. At Camp David, for example, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat an opportunity to establish an independent Palestinian State composed of 92% of the West Bank, Arab neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, and the entire Gaza Strip and dismantling of most settlements. Yasser Arafat rejected the proposal without providing a counter-offer. A subsequent settlement proposed by President Clinton offered Palestinian sovereignty over 94 to 96 percent of the West Bank but was similarly rejected.

Some Palestinians claim they are entitled to all of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. Israel says it is justified in not ceding all this land, because of security concerns, and also because the lack of any valid diplomatic agreement at the time means that ownership and boundaries of this land is open for discussion. Palestinians claim any reduction of this claim is a severe deprivation of their rights. In negotiations, they claim that any moves to reduce the boundaries of this land is a hostile move against their key interests. Israel considers this land to be in dispute, and feels the purpose of negotiations is to define what the final borders will be.

Other Palestinian groups, such as Hamas, have in the past insisted that Palestinians must control not only the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, but also all of Israel proper. For this reason, Hamas has viewed the peace process "as religiously forbidden and politically inconceivable".

Israeli settlements in the West Bank

A neighbourhood in Ariel, home to the Ariel University Centre of Samaria, the largest Israeli public college

According to DEMA, "In the years following the Six-Day War, and especially in the 1990s during the peace process, Israel re-established communities destroyed in 1929 and 1948 as well as established numerous new settlements in the West Bank." These settlements are, as of 2009, home to about 301,000 people. DEMA added, "Most of the settlements are in the western parts of the West Bank, while others are deep into Palestinian territory, overlooking Palestinian cities. These settlements have been the site of much inter-communal conflict." The issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and, until 2005, the Gaza Strip, have been described by the UK and the WEU as an obstacle to the peace process. The United Nations and the European Union have also called the settlements "illegal under international law."

However, Israel disputes this; several scholars and commentators disagree with the assessment that settlements are illegal, citing in 2005 recent historical trends to back up their argument. Those who justify the legality of the settlements use arguments based upon Articles 2 and 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as UN Security Council Resolution 242. On a practical level, some objections voiced by Palestinians are that settlements divert resources needed by Palestinian towns, such as arable land, water, and other resources; and, that settlements reduce Palestinians' ability to travel freely via local roads, owing to security considerations.

In 2005, Israel's unilateral disengagement plan, a proposal put forward by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was enacted. All residents of Jewish settlements in the Gaza strip were evacuated, and all residential buildings were demolished.

Various mediators and various proposed agreements have shown some degree of openness to Israel retaining some fraction of the settlements which currently exist in the West Bank; this openness is based on a variety of considerations, such as, the desire to find real compromise between Israeli and Palestinian territorial claims.

Israel's position that it needs to retain some West Bank land and settlements as a buffer in case of future aggression, and Israel's position that some settlements are legitimate, as they took shape when there was no operative diplomatic arrangement, and thus they did not violate any agreement.

Former US President George W. Bush has stated that he does not expect Israel to return entirely to the 1949 armistice lines because of "new realities on the ground." One of the main compromise plans put forth by the Clinton Administration would have allowed Israel to keep some settlements in the West Bank, especially those which were in large blocs near the pre-1967 borders of Israel. In return, Palestinians would have received some concessions of land in other parts of the country. The current US administration views a complete freeze of construction in settlements on the West Bank as a critical step toward peace. In May and June 2009, President Barack Obama said, "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," and the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, stated that the President "wants to see a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not ‘natural growth’ exceptions.” However, Obama has since declared that the United States will no longer press Israel to stop West Bank settlement construction as a precondition for continued peace-process negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

Actions toward stabilizing the conflict

In response to a weakening trend in Palestinian violence and growing economic and security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli military has removed over 120 check points in 2010 and plans on disengaging from major Palestinian population areas. According to the IDF, terrorist activity in the West Bank decreased by 97% compared to violence in 2002.

PA-Israel efforts in the West Bank have "significantly increased investor confidence", and the Palestinian economy grew 6.8% in 2009.

Bank of Palestine

Since the Second Intifada, Jewish Israelis have been banned from entering Palestinian cities. However, Israeli Arabs are allowed to enter West Bank cities on weekends.

The Palestinian Authority has petitioned the Israeli military to allow Jewish tourists to visit West Bank cities as "part of an effort" to improve the Palestinian economy. Israeli general Avi Mizrahi spoke with Palestinian security officers while touring malls and soccer fields in the West Bank. Mizrahi gave permission to allow Israeli tour guides into Bethlehem, a move intended to "contribute to the Palestinian and Israeli economies."

Mutual recognition

Beginning in 1993 with the Oslo peace process, Israel recognizes "the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people." In return, it was agreed that Palestinians would promote peaceful co-existence, renounce violence and promote recognition of Israel among their own people. Despite Yasser Arafat's official renunciation of terrorism and recognition of Israel, some Palestinian groups continue to practice and advocate violence against civilians and do not recognize Israel as a legitimate political entity. Palestinians state that their ability to spread acceptance of Israel was greatly hampered by Israeli restrictions on Palestinian political freedoms, economic freedoms, civil liberties, and quality of life.

It is widely felt among Israelis that Palestinians did not in fact promote acceptance of Israel's right to exist. One of Israel's major reservations in regards to granting Palestinian sovereignty is its concern that there is not genuine public support by Palestinians for co-existence and elimination of terrorism and incitement. Some Palestinian groups, notably Fatah, the political party founded by PLO leaders, initially claimed they were willing to foster co-existence depending on the Palestinians being steadily given more political rights and autonomy. However, in 2010, even Fatah leaders such as Mahmoud Abbas refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, while the leader of al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, which is the official Fatah's military wing, publicly disclosed Fatah's "ultimate goal" to be the destruction of the Jewish state, and that Abbas would lie about recognition of Israel following "Zionist and American pressure" for "political calculations" as one of the means to achieve the aforementioned goal. In 2006, Hamas won a majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council, where it remains the majority party. Hamas has openly stated in the past that it completely opposed Israel's right to exist, and its charter states this. Following the release of Gilad Shalit in 2011, Abbas praised his capturing by Hamas and reassured the Arab public he would "never recognize a Jewish state".

Israel cites past concessions—such as Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, which did not lead to a reduction of attacks and rocket fire against Israel—as an example of the Palestinian people not accepting Israel as a state. Palestinian groups and Israeli Human Rights organizations (namely B'Tselem) have pointed out that while the military occupation in Gaza was ended, the Israeli government still retained control of Gaza's airspace, territorial water, and borders, legally making it still under Israeli control. They also say that mainly thanks to these restrictions, the Palestinian quality of life in the Gaza Strip has not improved since the Israeli withdrawal.


The Palestinian Authority is considered corrupt by a wide variety of sources, including some Palestinians. Some Israelis argue that it provides tacit support for militants via its relationship with Hamas and other Islamic militant movements, and that therefore it is unsuitable for governing any putative Palestinian state or (especially according to the right wing of Israeli politics), even negotiating about the character of such a state. Because of that, a number of organizations, including the previously ruling Likud party, declared they would not accept a Palestinian state based on the current PA.

Societal attitudes

Societal attitudes in both Israel and Palestine are a source of concern to those promoting dispute resolution.

According to a May 2011 poll carried out by the Palestinian Centre For Public Opinion that asked Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank including East Jerusalem, "which of the following means is the best to end the occupation and lead to the establishing of an independent Palestinian state", 5.0% supported "military operations", 25.0% supported non-violent popular resistance, 32.1% favored negotiations until an agreement could be reached, 23.1% preferred holding an international conference that would impose a solution on all parties, 12.4% supported seeking a solution through the United Nations, and 2.4% otherwise. Approximately three quarters of Palestinians surveyed believed that a military escalation in the Gaza Strip would be in Israel’s interest and 18.9% said it would be in Hamas’s interest. Regarding the resumption of launching Al-Qassam missiles from Gaza into Israel, 42.5% said "strongly oppose", 27.1% "somewhat oppose", 16.0% "somewhat support", 13.8% "strongly support", and 0.2% expressed no opinion.

The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed concerns that Hamas promote incitement against and overall non-acceptance of Israel, including promotion of violence against Israel.

Gaza blockade

The Israeli government states it is justified under international law to impose a blockade on an enemy for security reasons. The power to impose a naval blockade is established under customary international law and Laws of armed conflict, and a United Nations commission has ruled that Israel's security blockade is "both legal and appropriate." The Military Advocate General of Israel has provided numerous reasonings for the policy:

"The State of Israel has been engaged in an ongoing armed conflict with terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza strip. This armed conflict has intensified after Hamas violently took over Gaza, in June 2007, and turned the territory under its de-facto control into a launching pad of mortar and rocket attacks against Israeli towns and villages in southern Israel."

According to Oxfam, because of an import-export ban imposed on Gaza in 2007, 95% of Gaza’s industrial operations were suspended. Out of 35,000 people employed by 3,900 factories in June 2005, only 1,750 people remained employed by 195 factories in June 2007. By 2010, Gaza's unemployment rate had risen to 40% with 80% of the population living on less than 2 dollars a day. The Israeli Government's continued land, sea and air blockage is tantamount to collective punishment of the population, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

In January 2008, the Israeli government calculated how many calories per person were needed to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza strip, and then subtracted eight percent to adjust for the "culture and experience" of the Gazans. Details of the calculations were released following Israeli human rights organization Gisha's application to the high court. Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, who drafted the plan, stated that the scheme was never formally adopted, this was not accepted by Gisha.

Starting 7 February 2008, the Israeli Government reduced the electricity it sells directly to Gaza. This follows the ruling of Israel’s High Court of Justice’s decision, which held, with respect to the amount of industrial fuel supplied to Gaza, that, “The clarification that we made indicates that the supply of industrial diesel fuel to the Gaza Strip in the winter months of last year was comparable to the amount that the Respondents now undertake to allow into the Gaza Strip. This fact also indicates that the amount is reasonable and sufficient to meet the vital humanitarian needs in the Gaza Strip.” Palestinian militants killed two Israelis in the process of delivering fuel to the Nahal Oz fuel depot.

With regard to Israel’s plan, the Court stated that, “calls for a reduction of five percent of the power supply in three of the ten power lines that supply electricity from Israel to the Gaza Strip, to a level of 13.5 megawatts in two of the lines and 12.5 megawatts in the third line, we [the Court] were convinced that this reduction does not breach the humanitarian obligations imposed on the State of Israel in the framework of the armed conflict being waged between it and the Hamas organization that controls the Gaza Strip. Our conclusion is based, in part, on the affidavit of the Respondents indicating that the relevant Palestinian officials stated that they can reduce the load in the event limitations are placed on the power lines, and that they had used this capability in the past."

On 20 June 2010, Israel's Security Cabinet approved a new system governing the blockade that would allow practically all non-military or dual-use items to enter the Gaza strip. According to a cabinet statement, Israel would "expand the transfer of construction materials designated for projects that have been approved by the Palestinian Authority, including schools, health institutions, water, sanitation and more – as well as (projects) that are under international supervision." Despite the easing of the land blockade, Israel will continue to inspect all goods bound for Gaza by sea at the port of Ashdod.

Prior to a Gaza visit, scheduled for April 2013, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan explained to Turkish newspaper Hürriyet that the fulfilment of three conditions by Israel was necessary for friendly relations to resume between Turkey and Israel: an apology for the May 2010 Gaza flotilla raid (Prime Minister Netanyahu had delivered an apology to Erdogan by telephone on March 22, 2013), the awarding of compensation to the families affected by the raid, and the lifting of the Gaza blockade by Israel. The Turkish prime minister also explained in the Hürriyet interview, in relation to the April 2013 Gaza visit, "We will monitor the situation to see if the promises are kept or not." At the same time, Netanyahu affirmed that Israel would only consider exploring the removal of the Gaza blockade if peace ("quiet") is achieved in the area.

Palestinian army

The Israeli Cabinet issued a statement expressing that it does not wish the Palestinians to build up an army capable of offensive operations, considering that the only party against which such an army could be turned in the near future is Israel itself. However, Israel has already allowed for the creation of a Palestinian police that can conduct police operations and also carry out limited-scale warfare. Palestinians have argued that the Israel Defense Forces, a large and modern armed force, poses a direct and pressing threat to the sovereignty of any future Palestinian state, making a defensive force for a Palestinian state a matter of necessity. To this, Israelis claim that signing a treaty while building an army is a show of bad intentions.

Since 2006, the United States has been training, equipping, and funding the Palestinian Authority's security forces, which have been cooperating with Israel at unprecedented levels in the West Bank to quell supporters of Hamas, the main Palestinian Islamist group that opposes direct negotiations with Israel. The United States government has spent over 500 million building and training the Palestinian National Security Forces and Presidential Guard. The IDF believes the US-trained forces will soon be capable of "overrunning small IDF outposts and isolated Israeli communities" in the event of a conflict.

Fatalities 1948–2011

A variety of studies provide differing casualty data for the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 13,000 Israelis and Palestinians were killed in conflict with each other between 1948 and 1997. Other estimations give 14,500 killed between 1948–2009. Palestinian fatalities during the 1982 Lebanon War were 2,000 PLO combatants killed in armed conflict with Israel.

Civilian casualty figures for the Israeli–Palestinian conflict from B'tselem and Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs between 1987 and 2010
(numbers in parentheses represent casualties under age 18)
Year Deaths
Palestinians Israelis
2011 118 (13) 11 (5)
2010 81 (9) 8 (0)
2009 1034 (314) 9 (1)
2008 887 (128) 35 (4)
2007 385 (52) 13 (0)
2006 665 (140) 23 (1)
2005 190 (49) 51 (6)
2004 832 (181) 108 (8)
2003 588 (119) 185 (21)
2002 1032 (160) 419 (47)
2001 469 (80) 192 (36)
2000 282 (86) 41 (0)
1999 9 (0) 4 (0)
1998 28 (3) 12 (0)
1997 21 (5) 29 (3)
1996 74 (11) 75 (8)
1995 45 (5) 46 (0)
1994 152 (24) 74 (2)
1993 180 (41) 61 (0)
1992 138 (23) 34 (1)
1991 104 (27) 19 (0)
1990 145 (25) 22 (0)
1989 305 (83) 31 (1)
1988 310 (50) 12 (3)
1987 22 (5) 0 (0)
Total 7978 (1620) 1503 (142)

Note: Figures includes 1,593 Palestinian fatalities attributed to intra-Palestinian violence. Figures do not include the 600 Palestinians killed by other Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since 2006.

Demographic percentages for the Israeli–Palestinian conflict according to Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs from September 2000 until the end of July 2007.
Belligerent Combatant Civilian Male Female Children Children Male Children Female
Palestinian 41% 59% 94% 6% 20% 87% 13%
Israeli 31% 69% 69% 31% 12% Not available Not available
Partial casualty figures for the Israeli–Palestinian conflict from the OCHAoPt
(numbers in parentheses represent casualties under age 18)
Year Deaths Injuries
Palestinians Israelis Palestinians Israelis
2008–26.12.08 464 (87) 31 (4)
2007 396 (43) 13 (0) 1843 (265) 322 (3)
2006 678 (127) 25 (2) 3194 (470) 377 (7)
2005 216 (52) 48 (6) 1260 (129) 484 (4)
Total 1754 (309) 117 (12) 6297 (864) 1183 (14)

All numbers refer to casualties of direct conflict between Israelis and Palestinians including in IDF military operations, artillery shelling, search and arrest campaigns, Barrier demonstrations, targeted killings, settler violence etc. The figures do not include events indirectly related to the conflict such as casualties from unexploded ordnance, etc., or events when the circumstances remain unclear or are in dispute. The figures include all reported casualties of all ages and both genders.

Figures include both Israeli civilians and security forces casualties in West Bank, Gaza and Israel.

Criticism of casualty statistics

As reported by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, since 29 September 2000 a total of 7,454 Palestinian and Israeli individuals were killed due to the conflict. According to the report, 1,317 of the 6,371 Palestinians were minors, and at least 2,996 did not participate in fighting at time of death. Palestinians killed 1,083 Israelis, including 741 civilians. 124 of those killed were minors.

The International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism criticized the methodology of Palestinian-based rights groups, including B'tselem, and questioned their accuracy in classifying civilian/combatant ratios.

In a study published by Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Elihu D. Richter and Dr. Yael Stein examined B'tselem methods in calculating casualties during Operation Cast Lead. They argue that B'tselem's report contains "errors of omission, commission and classification bias which result in overestimates of the ratio of non-combatants to combatants." Stein and Richter claim the high male/female ratios among Palestinians, including those in their mid-to-late teens, "suggests that the IDF classifications are combatant and non-combatant status are probably far more accurate than those of B’Tselem."

In a study on behalf of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, Don Radlauer suggested that "almost all Palestinians killed in this conflict have been male – and absent any other reasonable explanation for such a non-random pattern of fatalities – this suggests that large numbers of Palestinian men and teenaged boys made a choice to confront Israeli forces, even after many of their compatriots had been killed in such confrontations." The International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism is based in Israel; its website is -

Land mine and explosive remnants of war casualties

A comprehensive collection mechanism to gather land mine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) casualty data does not exist for the Palestinian territories. In 2009, the United Nations Mine Action Centre reported that more than 2,500 mine and explosive remnants of war casualties occurred between 1967 and 1998, at least 794 casualties (127 killed, 654 injured and 13 unknown) occurred between 1999 to 2008 and that 12 people have been killed and 27 injured since the Gaza War. The UN Mine Action Centre identified the main risks as coming from "ERW left behind by Israeli aerial and artillery weapon systems, or from militant caches targeted by the Israeli forces." There are at least 15 confirmed minefields in the West Bank on the border with Jordan. The Palestinian National Security Forces do not have maps or records of the minefields.

Attacks on diplomatic missions and Israelis abroad

Numerous embassies and Israeli travelers have been attacked by Palestinian militant groups during the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

  • 26 December 1968: Two Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine militants attacked an El Al plane about to depart, killing one Israeli and injuring two others.
  • 18 February 1969: Three Israeli El Al Boeing 707 crew members, including the pilot, were killed by PFLP attack in Zurich.
  • 10 February 1970: 12 Israeli El Al passengers were killed and wounded by Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine attack at a Munich airport.
  • 4 May 1970: An employee at the Israeli consulate in Paraguay was killed by two armed Palestinians.
  • 8 May 1972: Four Black September members hijacked a Belgian airliner at Lod Airport. During the rescue operation, five Israeli soldiers and one passenger were killed.
  • 17 May 1972: Three members of the Turkish Liberation Army, a militant organization linked to the PLO, kidnapped and executed Israeli consul-general Efraim Elrom in Istanbul.
  • 30 May 1972: The Japanese Red Army killed eight Israelis and 17 United States citizen and injured 80 others at Lod airport on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
  • 10 September 1972: An Israeli official at the Israeli Embassy in Brussels was wounded by Fatah militants.
  • 19 September 1972: Ami Shachori, an agriculture counselor at the Israeli embassy in England, was assassinated by Black September militants.
  • 1 July 1973: Yosef Alon, air force attaché in the Israeli Embassy in Washington, was shot to death outside his home by Black September.
  • 17 December 1973: Five Palestinian terrorists shot at passengers waiting in an El Al Israel Airlines lounge at a Rome airport, killing two civilians. Then they hurled incendiary grenades at a Pan-Am Boeing 707 waiting to take off, killing 29 passengers.
  • 8 September 1974: TWA jet with 88 passengers traveling from Tel Aviv to Athens crashed into the Ionian Sea after a PFLP detonated bomb hidden in the baggage compartment, killing all on board. The dead included 17 Americans and two Israelis.
  • 13 November 1979: Israeli Ambassador to Portugal Ephraim Eldar was wounded by Palestinian militants. A security guard was killed and an embassy chauffeur and local policeman were injured.
  • 10 August 1981: Palestinians threw two bombs at an Israeli embassy in Vienna, wounding a 75-year old woman.
  • 29 August 1981: Palestinians killed two people and wounded 30 attending a Bar Mitzvah in Vienna.
  • 4 June 1982: Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom Shlomo Argov was wounded in an assassination attempt by Palestinian militants, setting off the 1982 Lebanon War. Argov later died of his injuries in 2003.
  • 23 September 1982: Israeli Chargé d'Affaires in Malta Esther Milo was wounded in an attempted kidnapping by Palestinian militants.
  • 23 December 1982: Palestinian militants detonated a bomb at the Israeli Consulate in Sydney, wounding two Israelis officials.
  • 27 December 1985: Fatah militants attacked El Al counters at Rome and Vienna airports, killing 19 people.
  • 2 April 1986: Palestinian militants detonated a bomb on an Trans World Airlines 727, killing four Americans including a nine-month old infant.
  • 6 September 1986: 22 Turkish Jews were killed by Palestinian terrorists belonging to the Abu Nidal Organization while attending service at the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul.
  • 26 July 1994: A vehicle packed with 30 pounds of explosives at the Israeli Embassy in London exploded, wounding 20.
  • 28 November 2002: Suicide bombers attacked the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Kenya. 13 civilians, including 3 Israelis, were killed in the attack. At the same time, two surface-to-air missiles were fired at a civilian Boeing 757 airliner owned by Israel-based Arkia Airlines as it took off from Moi International Airport.
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