The Madrid Talks was the first major attempt at discussion between Israel and the Arab Nations. It was headed by President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker III. A Palestinian-Jordanian Delegation joined the talks. The importance of this event is that it was the first major event where the Palestinian question was addressed directly, and the first time the “land for peace’ solution was proposed.
This event opened the doors to further peace talks and negotiations.
The Madrid Talks was the first major attempt at discussion between Israel and the Arab Nations. It was headed by President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker III. A Palestinian-Jordanian Delegation joined the talks. The importance of this event is that it was the first major event where the Palestinian question was addressed directly, and the first time the “land for peace’ solution was proposed. This event opened the doors to further peace talks and negotiations.
In 1993, the Oslo Accords were signed. The Oslo Accords are a set of agreements between Israel and the PLO. The accords were signed between PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in Washington DC. Based on the accords, the PLO had to recognize Israel as a State. In Return, Palestine was granted a limited self-government parts of Gaza and the West Bank. Israel also agreed to withdraw partially from Gaza and Jericho. Palestine agreed to call an election for a Palestinian Authority to succeed the PLO. And Israel would withdraw from Civil Administration of the West Bank.
But the agreement failed. Due to violence from both sides, including a massacre by Israelis and suicide bombings by Palestinians, neither side agreed to peace, and the accords did not result in a Palestinian State. Israel continued to expand, taking over various Palestinian territories and building settlements in these lands. In 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir.
A stalemate continued between the two nations. Another negotiation was attempted in 1998, known as the Wye River Memorandum. It was chaired by Yassir Arafat, King Hussain of Jordan, President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But it did not result in any positive change. The two sides remained hostile to each other, and there seemed to be no hope for peace.
Camp David II and more peace talks
In 2000, peace talks were held at Camp David for the second time. This time between PLO leader Yasser Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and US President Bill Clinton. The negotiations took on an all-or-nothing approach and were not successful. They discussed division of territory, especially Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, the case of the refugees, the settlements and security issues. But they were unable to reach an agreement. The talks continued in 2001, at the Taba Summit. Around this time, a second Intifada occurred in Palestine after violence broke out on both sides. The Taba Summit failed, and the situation remained the same.
In 2002, the Quartet on the Middle East proposed a road map for peace. It was first outlined by President George W. Bush. The Quartet on the Middle East is made up of the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia. They drafted a plan for an independent Palestine to exist side by side with Israel in peace.
The plan was made up for three Phases. Phase I included Palestine and Israel mutual recognizing each other, an end to Palestinian violence, and that the Palestinian government reforms Israeli withdrawal to 2000 lines. Phase II, which was supposed to occur between Jun and December 2003, included an International conference for Palestinian economic relief; a process towards an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders; as well as discussion on solving the problems of refugees, arms control, and water issues. Phase II, which was supposed to happen in 2004 and 2005, would include an International Conference for final status issues: these included permanent borders, Jerusalem, refugees, and settlements. However, the process reached a deadlock in phase I and was never finalized.
The Israel-Palestine conflict is ongoing. Over the past decade various events occurred that keep the hatred between the two countries brewing. Some of the highlights from the past twenty years of Palestinian history are as follows:
In November 2004, Yasser Arafat died, and Mahmoud Abbas took over. In August 2002, Prime Minister Sharon ordered a unilateral withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.
In January 2006, HAMAS won the elections in Gaza. Israel and the US sought to isolate and punish Gaza for electing Hamas. So, the territory became subject to sealing of borders, severe restriction of movement and goods entering the area. An embargo was placed on Gaza that remains in place until today.
In April 2006, Sharon was incapacitated by a stroke, he died in 2013. 2006 was also the year in which the Lebanon War took place. Between December 2008 and January 2009, operational Cast Lead took place in which 1400 Palestinians were kills, along with 12 Israelis. In May 2010, a fleet of Turkish ships bringing humanitarian relief to Gaza was stormed by Israeli naval forces; 9 activists were killed by IDF forces.
In November 2012, Operation Pillar of Defense took place, in which Israel attacked Palestine after 2 IDF soldiers were kills. 120 Palestinians were killed in one week.
In summer 2014, Operation Protective Edge occurred, Israeli attacked after Hamas kidnapped 3 young Israelis. As a result, 2300 Palestinians were killed, along with 67 Israeli soldiers.
A common theme in all these attacks is that each incursion into Gaza was claimed to be a reaction and response to Hamas launching rockets into southern Israel. Hamas, on the other hand, claimed that it was reacting and responding to both the humanitarian crisis caused by the Gaza lockdown as well as by provocative military action by Israeli forces.
Today, the war between Israel and Palestine seems to have no end, as this crisis continues to drag on with each passing year.
So, where does this leave us? Palestine and Israel continue to fight over this land, each side supported by various nations and communities, but there seems to be no end in sight for this conflict. Nations have been unable to even agree upon a solution. Should there be a one State or Two State solution? Should Palestine and Israel become one country, or two separate countries?
The Palestinians have grown pessimistic over time about gaining their own independent state. Meanwhile, settlements continue to expand in the West Back as well as around and within East Jerusalem, making it possible by Israel to claim those areas. Over time, Israeli politics have become further to the right, with ultra-Orthodox settlers refusing to consider any negotiation with Palestinians that would involve giving up any land. The Israeli government to a vote from the settlers and gave mixed signals regarding a two-state solution.
In retaliation to Israel’s oppression, Palestinians have established the BDS movement, Boycott, Divestment and Sanction. This is a non-violent movement by Palestinians calling for an international boycott of Israeli products as well as cultural and academic boycott as a way of isolating Israel in the global community, and a way to pressurize Israel into negotiations. IN response, various efforts have tried to discredit and even criminalize BDS, which have proven to be moderately effective.
Palestine faces another new challenge today. US has always been an ally of Israel, but now that alliance may be stronger than ever. In 2016, Donald Trump was elected President of the USA. On December 6th, 2017, President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and announced the relocation of the US Embassy to West Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, breaking a decades long US policy. Other countries have been reluctant to move their embassies to Jerusalem, as it is still recognized under international law and UN resolutions as occupied territory.
Palestinians and their allies protested Trump’s decision and used the incident to affirm their long-held view that the US is not impartial in the peace process and is biased towards Israel.
Recently, President Trump has recognized Israel’s claim over the Golan Heights, an area it has held since the 1967 Six Day War and in violation of international law.
Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has been appointed by President Trump to develop and offer the so-called deal of the century regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While details remain undisclosed, sources familiar with the proposal have commented that any current deal is focused on providing economic assistance to the Palestinians, but no sovereignty or independent state of any kind. Kushner has recently made public comments questioning whether the Palestinians are in fact capable of self-governance, a sentiment held by the British during World War I in their quest for regional dominance and establishment of the British Mandate.
The prospects for either a one or two state solution for the Palestinians remains elusive and there is no indication that the status quo will change any time soon.
There seems to be no end in sight for the problems facing the Palestinian community. Israel continues to grow in strength, supported by the United States of America. Under Donald Trump’s administration, there is a lot of fear that things could get even worse for the citizens of occupied Palestine.
We have reached the end of this series discussing the history of Palestine, a history that is still unfolding in our lifetime. I hope you have found these episodes beneficial and enlightening. Join us next season for even more discussions on recent history on 1400 OMG.
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