Even before Israel’s founding in 1948, the Jewish community in then-British Mandatory Palestine sought peace with its Arab neighbors. Since then, Israel has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to make serious concessions for peace, such as withdrawing from land and forcibly removing citizens, in order to resolve the conflict.
In July 2013, the Palestinians finally returned to the negotiating table for talks aimed at achieving a comprehensive peace deal. However, the talks broke down after Palestinian Authority (PA) formed a unity government with terrorist organization Hamas in 2014. The only viable path to enduring peace is direct, bilateral negotiations between both parties.
Pursuit of Peace
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- 1918-1919: Early Zionists Reach Out to Arabs
Chaim Weizmann, who was to become the first president of Israel, leads a mission to Cairo in 1918 to express the Jewish people's desire to live in harmony with the Arabs.
- 1937: Jews Accept Peel Commission Report
Israel's future prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, accepts the recommendations of the official British Peel Commission report, which allocated a very small percentage of Palestine to a Jewish state. The Arab governments reject the plan.
- 1947: Jews Accept U.N. Partition Plan
The Jewish community of Palestine, and Zionists worldwide, accept the partition plan approved by the United Nations that would create a Jewish state alongside an Arab state. The Arab states reject the U.N. resolution and prepare for war.
- 1948: A State is Born
Declaring independence, Ben-Gurion says Israel will “extend the hand of peace to all its neighbors” as well as grant “full and equal citizenship and due representation” for the non-Jewish population. In response, the armies of five Arab states invade.
- 1967: Israel's Offer to Withdraw is Rejected
Days after successfully defending itself in the Six-Day War, Israel offers to return captured territories in return for peace treaties. The Arab states reject the offer.
- 1978: Israel Signs Camp David Accords with Egypt
Israel agrees to return the entire Sinai Peninsula, an area almost three times the size of Israel, to Egypt. In 1979, Egypt and Israel sign a peace treaty—the first between Israel and an Arab country.
- 1993: Israel Inks Oslo Agreement
Israel grants the Palestinians unprecedented authority over Gaza and parts of the West Bank and starts talks aimed at ending the conflict with the Palestinians.
- 1994: Israel Establishes Peace with Jordan
Jordan's King Hussein and Israel's Yitzhak Rabin sign a peace treaty, making Jordan the second Arab state to recognize Israel.
- 2000: Israel Unilaterally Withdraws from Lebanon
With backing from the United States, Israel unilaterally withdraws from southern Lebanon after 18 years of maintaining a security zone to prevent attacks on its northern communities. Israel's step is met with a massive military buildup by Hezbollah.
- 2000: Israel Makes Historic Offer for Peace
Israel agrees to President Clinton's proposals for peace between Israel and the Palestinians: Israel would cede all of Gaza, 96 percent of the West Bank and additional territory from within pre-1967 Israel, recognize an independent Palestinian state and cede parts of eastern Jerusalem to serve as the Palestinian capital. Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat rejects the offer and launches the worst wave of terrorism in Israel's history.
- 2005: Israel Removes All Soldiers, Citizens from Gaza
With U.S. support, Israel takes a historic step and unilaterally withdraws from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, providing the Palestinians with an unprecedented chance to prove their intention to fight terrorism and govern effectively.
- 2007: Israel Extends Hand in Peace at Annapolis Conference
At the U.S.-sponsored Annapolis conference, Israel reiterates its commitment to peaceful negotiations with the Palestinians and Arab states.
- 2008: Israel Continues to Seek Peace Despite Daily Attacks
Despite daily Hamas rocket fire and other terrorist attacks against its civilians during the year, Israel holds intensive negotiations with the Palestinians to reach an agreement covering all remaining issues. The talks collapse when the Palestinians once again reject a far-reaching Israeli offer.
- 2009-2010: Israel Endorses Demilitarized Palestinian State; Implements Settlement Moratorium
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally endorses the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state and implements a 10-month moratorium on the construction of new homes in the West Bank. Palestinians refuse to hold serious talks despite these gestures.
- 2011-2013: Talks Resume after Years of Delay
After years of spurning talks with Israel and demanding unrealistic preconditions for their resumption, the Palestinians in July 2013 finally agree to return to the negotiating table for talks intended to achieve a comprehensive peace deal.
- 2014-2016: Peace Talks Collapse
Peace talks collapsed after the PA and Hamas formed a unity government in 2014. That July, terrorists in Gaza fired more than 4,500 rockets at Israel spurring 50 days of fighting in the Gaza Strip.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas continues to pursue a series of controversial moves to bypass direct negotiations and impose a one-sided resolution on Israel. Toward the end of 2014, Abbas proposed a resolution to the U.N. Security Council that predetermined an outcome to the conflict while ignoring key Israeli concerns. Since the resolution failed to garner enough votes in the U.N., Abbas turned his attention to the International Criminal Court (ICC). On April 1, 2015, the PA officially joined the ICC and has threatened to bring charges against Israel for war crimes.
Since Oct. 1, 2015, there has been a wave of Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israel that have left at least 30 dead and over 300 wounded. Read a timeline of major attacks on the AIPAC News Hub.