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Israeli–Palestinian conflict

                   
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
Belligerents
 Israel  Palestine
Casualties and losses
14,500 casualties (1948-2009).
Peace Process
Primary Negotiation Concerns

The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing struggle between Israelis and Palestinians that began in the early 20th century.[1] 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,[2] Palestinian freedom of movement[3] 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). As recently as 2007, a majority of both Israelis and Palestinians, according to a number of polls, prefer the two-state solution over any other solution as a means of resolving the conflict.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6][unreliable source?] 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.[7]

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.[8] Direct negotiations between the Israeli government and Palestinian leadership began in September 2010 aimed at reaching an official final status settlement.

Contents

History

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".[9] Consequently, there are different accounts of the proposals considered.[10][11][12]

  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,[13] as well as a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem,[14] and that 69 Jewish settlements (which comprise 85% of the West Bank's Jewish settlers) would be ceded to Israel. [15] 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[13][16][17][18][19][20] 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[21]. 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."[22]

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.[21]

Clinton's plan, eventually presented on the 23 of 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[23][24][21] and it became the basis for the negotiations at the Taba Peace summit the following January.[21]

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.[21]

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.[citation needed]

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.[25]

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.[26] However, the Arab League continues to raise it as a possible solution, and meetings between the Arab League and Israel have been held.[27]

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.

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.[28][29] 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".[30][31][32] 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".[33]

Israeli incitement

In May 2012, The Palestinian Authority launched a report highlighting statements made by Israelis that purportedly promote hatred of Palestinians. An accompanying email claimed that the report "is the first of a regular series that will highlight Israeli incitement, giving examples of statements or actions that encourage hatred, support violence or increase tensions, undermining the Palestinian right to a state,”.

The 11-page report lists about a dozen statements by Israeli leaders and schoolbook passages that allegedly prove that Israel is not interested in a peaceful solution with the Palestinians.[34] In May 2012 the 27 foreign ministers of the European Union issued a statement which condemned continued Israeli settler violence and incitement.[35] 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."[36] 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".[37]

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.[38][39] This occured shortly after the official Palestinian Authority Mufti in Jerusalem publicly read out an Islamic hadith that says killing Jews will speed up the redemption[40] which was criticised by the UK's Minister for the Middle East and North Africa as potentially stirring up "hatred and prejudice".[41][42]

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."[43]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.[44] 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."[45]The head of the National Security Studies Center, Dan Shiftan, said that this showed a "deep message of the total rejection of Israel, legitimization of terror, and deep-seated victimization."[46]

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.[47][48]

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[49][50] though it was criticised by some countries, as it avoided bilateral negotiation.[51][52] Netanyahu criticized the Palestinians for bypassing direct talks,[53] while Abbas argued that the continued construction of Jewish settlements was "undermining the realistic potential" for the two-state solution.[54]

Public support

Polling data has produced mixed results regarding the level of support among Palestinians for the two-state solution. The most recent 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.[55]

A poll commissioned by The Israel Project conducted in July 2011 by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and fielded by the Palestinian Center 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.[56] 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 favor 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. [57]

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 the current peace process 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.[58]

Jerusalem

  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.[59] 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).[60]

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."[61]

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.[62]

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.[62] 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.[63] There are unauthorized Palestinian excavations for construction on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which could threaten the stability of the Western Wall.[citation needed] Israel, on the other hand, has seldom blocked access to holy places sacred to other religions.[64] Israeli security agencies routinely monitor and arrest Jewish extremists that plan attacks, resulting in almost no serious incidents for the last 20 years.[65][not in citation given] Moreover, Israel has given almost complete autonomy to the Muslim trust (Waqf) over the Temple Mount.[62]

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 Center 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.[66]

Palestinians have voiced concerns regarding the welfare of Christian and Muslim holy places under Israeli control.[67]

Some Palestinian advocates have made statements alleging that the Western Wall tunnel was re-opened with the intent of causing the mosque's collapse.[68] Israel considers these statements to be totally baseless and unfounded, and to be deliberately intended to incite aggression and public disorder,[69] and stated this in a 1996 speech at the UN.[70] The Israeli government insists it treats the Muslim and Christian holy sites with utmost respect. According to a 2010 study published by Freedom House, freedom of religion is respected.[citation needed]

Palestinian refugees of the 1948 war

Palestinian refugees are people who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.[71] The number of Palestinians who fled or were expelled from Israel following its creation was estimated at 711,000 in 1949.[72] 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.[73] 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.[71]

Most of these people were born outside of Israel, but are descendants of original Palestinian refugees.[71] Palestinian negotiators, most notably Yasser Arafat,[74] have so far 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, although they have privately 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 accepts that it is "illogical to ask Israel to take 5 million, or indeed 1 million. That would mean the end of Israel." [75]

The Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 declared that it proposed the compromise of a "just resolution" of the refugee problem.[76]

Palestinian and international authors have justified the right of return of the Palestinian refugees on several grounds:[77][78][79]

  • 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.[80] Prominent historians such as Professor Avi Shlaim have argued otherwise. Shlaim (2000) has given documented accounts of how the Palestinians lost their homes and land. He argues 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 traditional Israeli point of view arguing that Arab leaders encouraged Palestinian Arabs to flee has also been disputed by the New Historians, who instead have shown evidence indicating Arab leaders' desire for the Palestinian Arab population to stay put.[81]
  • 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.[82][83][84]
  Home in Balata refugee camp demolished during the second Intifada, 2002
  • According to the UN Resolution 194[dead link], 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[dead link] "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.[85]

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.[86]
  • 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.[86] 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.[citation needed] 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.[87][88][89]
  • 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.[90][91]

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,[92] along with the United States[93] 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.[94] The most prominent Islamist groups, such as Hamas, view the Israeli–Palestinian conflict as a religious jihad.[95]

Suicide bombing is used as a tactic among Palestinian organizations like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and is supported by as much as 68% of the Palestinian people.[96] In Israel, Palestinian suicide bombers have targeted civilian buses, restaurants, shopping malls, hotels and marketplaces.[97] From 1993–2003, 303 Palestinian suicide bombers attacked Israel.[98]

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%.[99]

Since 2001, the threat of Qassam rockets fired from the Palestinian Territories into Israel is also of great concern for Israeli defense officials.[100] 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.[92] As of January 2009, over 8,600 rockets had been launched,[101][102] causing widespread psychological trauma and disruption of daily life.[103] Over 500 rockets and mortars hit Israel between January–September 2010.

  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.[104]

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.[6][unreliable source?]

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.[105]

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[106] and Europeans,[107] 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.[108][unreliable source?]

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.[109][110] 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.[111]

Palestinian violence against 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.[citation needed] 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.[112][113]

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.[114]

The policies towards suspected collaborators contravene agreements signed by the Palestinian leadership. Article XVI(2) of the Oslo II Agreement states:[115]

"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.[116]

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.[117] By 2007, more than 600 Palestinian people had died during the struggle between Hamas and Fatah.[118]

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[citation needed] to occupation this plan is in abeyance.

Water resources

In the Middle East, water resources are of great political concern. Since Israel receives much of its water from two large underground aquifers which continue under the Green Line, the use of this water has been contentious in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Critics of this argument say that even though Israel withdraws most water from these areas, it also supplies the West Bank with approximately 40 million cubic metres annually, contributing to 77% of Palestinians' water supply in the West Bank, which is to be shared for a population of about 2.3 million.[119]

While Israel's consumption of this water has decreased since it began its occupation of the West Bank, it still consumes the majority of it: in the 1950s, Israel consumed 95% of the water output of the Western Aquifer, and 82% of that produced by the Northeastern Aquifer. Although this water was drawn entirely on Israel's own side of the pre-1967 border, the sources of the water are nevertheless from the shared groundwater basins located under both West Bank and Israel.[120]

In the Oslo II Accord treaty, both sides agreed to maintain "existing quantities of utilization from the resources." In so doing, the Palestinian Authority established the legality of Israeli water production in the West Bank. Moreover, Israel obligated itself in this agreement to provide water to supplement Palestinian production, and further agreed to allow additional Palestinian drilling in the Eastern Aquifer. Many Palestinians counter that the Oslo II agreement was intended to be a temporary resolution and that it was not intended to remain in effect more than a decade later. Indeed its name is "The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement."[121]

This agreement also established the right of the Palestinian Authority to explore and drill for natural gas, fuel and petroleum within its territory and territorial waters. It also delineated the major terms of conduct regarding regulations on the parties' facilities.[121]

In 1999, Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it continued to honor its obligations under the Interim Agreement.[122] The water that Israel receives comes mainly from the Jordan River system, the Sea of Galilee and two underground sources. According to a 2003 BBC article the Palestinians lack access to the Jordan River system.[123]

Future and financing

Numerous foreign nations and international organizations have established bilateral agreements with the Palestinian and Israeli water authorities. It is estimated that a future investment of about US$1.1bn for the West Bank and $0.8bn[clarification needed] is needed for the planning period from 2003 to 2015.[124]

In order to support and improve the water sector in the Palestinian territories, a number of bilateral and multilateral agencies have been supporting many different water and sanitation programs.

There are three large seawater desalination plants in Israel and two more scheduled to open before 2014. When the fourth plant becomes operational, 65% of Israel's water will come from desalination plants, according to Minister of Finance Dr. Yuval Steinitz.[125]

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,[126] and the Gaza Strip—territories which were captured by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, having formerly been controlled by Egypt and Jordan.[127] 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.[128][129] 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.[130] 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 neighborhood 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.[131][132][133][134][unreliable source?][135]

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.[74] 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".[95]

Israeli settlements in the West Bank

  A neighbourhood in Ariel, home to the Ariel University Center 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."[136] These settlements are, as of 2009, home to about 301,000 people.[137] 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."[136] The issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and, until 2005, the Gaza Strip, have been described by the UK[138] and the WEU[139] as an obstacle to the peace process. The United Nations and the European Union have also called the settlements "illegal under international law."[140][141]

However, Israel disputes this;[142] several scholars and commentators disagree with the assessment that settlements are illegal, citing in 2005 recent historical trends to back up their argument.[143][144][145] 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.[146] 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.[147]

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.[148][149]

Israel's position that it needs to retain some West Bank land and settlements as a buffer in case of future aggression,[150] 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.[128][129]

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."[151] 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.[148] 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,"[152] 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.”[153] 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.[154]

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.[155]

PA-Israel efforts in the West Bank have "significantly increased investor confidence", and the Palestinian economy grew 6.8% in 2009.[156][157][158][159][160]

  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."[161]

Mutual recognition

The Oslo peace process was based upon Israel ceding authority to the Palestinians to run their own political and economic affairs. 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.[162][163][unreliable source?] 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.[164][165] 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.[164][165][166] 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,[167] 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.[168] 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.[163][169] 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".[170][171][172][unreliable source?]

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.

Government

The Palestinian Authority is considered corrupt by a wide variety of sources, including some Palestinians.[173][174][175] 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.[74] 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 Center 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.[176]

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.[164][165]

Gaza blockade

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.[177] By 2010, Gaza's unemployment rate had risen to 40% with 80% of the population living on less than 2 dollars a day.[178] The Israeli Government's cut in the flow of fuel and electricity to the Gaza Strip has also been called collective punishment. Jeremy Hobbs, director of Oxfam International, called on Israel “immediately [to] lift its inhumane and illegal siege.”[179]

The Israeli governments argues 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.[180] 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."[181]

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.[182]

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."[183] Despite the easing of the land blockade, Israel will continue to inspect all goods bound for Gaza by sea at the port of Ashdod.[184]

Palestinian army

The Israeli Cabinet issued a statement[185] 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[vague] 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.[105] The United States government has spent over 500 million building and training the Palestinian National Security Forces and Presidential Guard.[105] 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.[186]

Fatalities 1948–present

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.[187] Other estimations give 14,500 killed between 1948–2009.[187][188] Palestinian fatalities during the 1982 Lebanon War were 2,000 PLO combatants killed in armed conflict with Israel.[189]

Civilian casualty figures for the Israeli–Palestinian conflict from B'tselem and Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs between 1987 and 2010[190][191][192][193]
(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.[118]

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.[194]
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

Note: It is considerably more difficult to distinguish precisely who amongst those Palestinians killed were civilians. Numerous pro-Israel organizations as well as the Israeli army claim the majority of Palestinians killed in armed conflict were combat-age males.[195][unreliable source?]

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for the occupied Palestinian territory (OCHAoPt) "was established in late 2000" by the United Nations.[196] The office monitors the conflict and presents figures relating to both internal-violence and direct conflict clashes.

Partial casualty figures for the Israeli–Palestinian conflict from the OCHAoPt[197]
(numbers in parentheses represent casualties under age 18)
Year Deaths Injuries
Palestinians Israelis Palestinians Israelis
2008–26.12.08[198] 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.[197]

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

Criticism of casualty statistics in the Second Intifada

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.[199]

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.[200][201][202]

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."[203]

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."[203]

Casualty figures for the Israeli–Palestinian conflict in the 1936–1939 Great Arab Revolt
Source Cited by Deaths
Palestinian Arabs Palestinian Jews
Arnon-Ohana, 1982, 140 Morris, Righteous Victims p 159. 4,500
Various Morris, Righteous Victims p 159. 3,000 to 6,000 several hundred

These figures represent deaths caused by the Palestinian uprising against the British mandatory government in Palestine, and include those killed by the British.

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.[204] 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.[204] 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."[204] 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.[204]

Attacks on diplomatic missions and Israelis abroad

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

  • 18 February 1969: Three Israeli El Al Boeing 707 crew members, including the pilot, were killed by PFLP attack in Zurich.[206]
  • 4 May 1970: An employee at the Israeli consulate in Paraguay was killed by two armed Palestinians.[207]
  • 8 May 1972: Four Black September members hijacked a Belgian airliner at Lod Airport.[206] 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.[206]
  • 10 September 1972: An Israeli official at the Israeli Embassy in Brussels was wounded by Fatah militants.[209]
  • 1 July 1973: Yosef Alon, air force attaché in the Israeli Embassy in Washington, was shot to death outside his home by Black September.[205][206]
  • 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.[212]
  • 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.[213]
  • 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.[209]
  • 10 August 1981: Palestinians threw two bombs at an Israeli embassy in Vienna, wounding a 75-year old woman.[209]
  • 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.[209]
  • 23 September 1982: Israeli Chargé d'Affaires in Malta Esther Milo was wounded in an attempted kidnapping by Palestinian militants.[209]
  • 23 December 1982: Palestinian militants detonated a bomb at the Israeli Consulate in Sydney, wounding two Israelis officials.[209]
  • 27 December 1985: Fatah militants attacked El Al counters at Rome and Vienna airports, killing 19 people.[206]

See also

Diplomacy and treaties
Elements of the conflict
Ideology and ideas
Peace organizations in the region
Documentaries

References

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    "The proposals included the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state on some 92 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip, with some territorial compensation for the Palestinians from pre-1967 Israeli territory; the dismantling of most of the settlements and the concentration of the bulk of the settlers inside the 8 percent of the West Bank to be annexed by Israel; the establishment of the Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, in which some Arab neighborhoods would become sovereign Palestinian territory and others would enjoy 'functional autonomy'; Palestinian sovereignty over half the Old City of Jerusalem (the Muslim and Christian quarters) and 'custodianship,' though not sovereignty, over the Temple Mount; a return of refugees to the prospective Palestinian state though with no 'right of return' to Israel proper; and the organization by the international community of a massive aid program to facilitate the refugees’ rehabilitation."

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  196. ^ "OCHA oPt. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs." United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 18 October 2010.
  197. ^ a b "The Humanitarian Monitor." United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. December 2007. PDF. Tables on pages 5 and 7, all numbers refer to casualties of the direct conflict as defined therein (page 23).
  198. ^ Data tabulated from "B'Tselem – Statistics – Fatalities." B'Tselem. Note that the data may change due to ongoing research, which produces new information about the events.
  199. ^ "B'Tselem: Since 2000, 7,454 Israelis, Palestinians killed." Jerusalem Post. 27 September 2010.
  200. ^ Mor, Avi, et al. "Casualties in Operation Cast Lead: A closer look." Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. 2009. PDF.
  201. ^ "Targeted Killings: Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Counterterrorism Poicy" (PDF). January 2005. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/Nixon/TargetedKillings.pdf. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  202. ^ "B'Tselem: 773 of Palestinians killed in Cast Lead were civilians." Ynetnews. 9 September 2009.
  203. ^ a b Richter, Elihu D. and Yael Stein. [http://spme.net/cgi-bin/articles.cgi?ID=5980 "Comments on B'Tselem's Civilian Casualty Estimates in Operation Cast Lead." Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. 13 September 2009.
  204. ^ a b c d "Country Overviews – Occupied Palestinian Territory". United Nations Mine Action Service. 2009. http://www.mineaction.org/country.asp?c=138. Retrieved 2 February 2010. 
  205. ^ a b c Chronologies of modern terrorism. Barry Rubin, Barry M. Rubin, Judith Colp Rubin. pg 185
  206. ^ a b c d e "Major Terror Attacks (1952–2003)." Jewish Virtual Library.
  207. ^ Lazaroff, Tovah. "Foreign Ministry honors staffers killed in terrorist attacks." Jerusalem Post. 19 April 2010.
  208. ^ Chronologies of modern terrorism. pg 188
  209. ^ a b c d e f g "Major Terror Attacks Against Israeli Embassies and Representatives Abroad." Jewish Virtual Library. February 1999.
  210. ^ Chronologies of modern terrorism. pg 185.
  211. ^ Assassination in Khartoum. David A. Korn. pg 49
  212. ^ Chronologies of modern terrorism. pg 189
  213. ^ Chronologies of modern terrorism pg 190
  214. ^ "Around the World – Palestinians Get Life In Austrian Slayings." New York Times. 22 January 1982.
  215. ^ Arsu, Sebnem; Filkins, Dexter (16 November 2003). "20 in Istanbul Die in Bombings At Synagogues". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/16/world/20-in-istanbul-die-in-bombings-at-synagogues.html. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  216. ^ The Lebanese-based Army of Palestine movement claimed responsibility for the attack.Kenyan hotel staff unpaid. BBC News. 5 December 2002.

Further reading

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