In March 2002, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah generated renewed interest in the peace process by outlining a possible compromise settlement. Under the plan, Israel would retreat to pre-1967 borders and allow the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. In return, Arab governments would "normalize" relations with Israel. An Arab League summit in Beirut endorsed the plan, though the details of Palestinian right-of-return and "normalization" of relations remained purposefully vague.
When Israel was created in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were evicted from the new state. Many wound up in refugee camps in neighboring Arab states. They passed down to new generations their dreams of returning, and in some cases even the actual deeds to property. Palestinian leaders have insisted that the "dispossessed" have a right to return to their former homes, while Israel has steadfastly refused to consider the issue. Such an influx of Palestinians would dilute the Jewish population within Israel, and challenge its identity as a Jewish state. One suggested compromise: allowing a token number to return and compensating the rest.
In the 1967 war, Israel defeated a second Arab invasion and retained control of the Palestinian territories remaining after the 1948 war. Israel encouraged Jewish settlers to build on this newly occupied land. Many of the settlers were immigrants pouring in from the former Soviet Union after its collapse. Settlements became an expedient way of integrating the poor arrivals into the Israeli economy. However, the Palestinians have never accepted the post-1967 borders, and see the 400,000 settlers as encroaching on their land. The settlements have become extremely disruptive to the peace process, not only as frequent scenes of violence, but as sticking points in any potential border negotiations.
Literary meaning "uprising," intefadah is the name given to two widespread Palestinian resistance movements. The first intefadah started in 1987, and mostly involved Palestinian youth throwing rocks at Israeli troops, who sometimes shot back with deadly force. Badly outgunned, many more Palestinians were killed than Israelis. The second intefadah began in 2000 as a hopeful phase in the peace process began to lose momentum and Israeli politician Ariel Sharon made a provocative visit to the Al Aqsa Mosque. This time, suicide bombers are the weapon of choice, resulting in a much bloodier conflict for the Israelis.
The Oslo Accords created a limited Palestinian self-government with Yasser Arafat at its head. The PA has jurisdiction in much of the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. While the PA is not an internationally recognized sovereign state able to conduct foreign policy, it does have substantial domestic powers including its own armed police force. The PA headquarters are in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
In 1993, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat arrived at a landmark agreement. Known as "land for peace," Israel agreed to withdraw troops from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, where Palestinians would be given self-rule. In exchange, the Palestinian Liberation Organization agreed to recognize Israel and renounce terrorism. The accords left the Jewish settlements and all highways in Israeli control, and did not resolve the issue of Jerusalem. However, they became the foundation for the peace process.
Source: Christian Science Monitor

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