Israel’s Long Pursuit of Peace

December 11, 2011  

A real, lasting peace has escaped Israel for the past six decades. But with the support of its ally the United States, the Jewish state remains determined and hopeful to reach an agreement with all its neighbors. Twice in the past four decades, the United States has helped broker a peace accord between Israel and an Arab partner through direct, bilateral negotiations.

Direct talks lead to an historic agreement between Israel and Egypt. The Jewish state agrees to return the entire Sinai Peninsula, an area three times the size of Israel, to Egypt.

Israel signs the Oslo Accords, which gives the Palestinians control of over 1,000 square miles of territory in Gaza and the West Bank in exchange for commitments to combat terrorism and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

On the White House lawn, Israel’s Yitzhak Rabin and Jordan’s King Hussein sign a peace treaty, in which
Israel cedes territory in the Negev desert to the Hashemite Kingdom. President Bill Clinton helped broker the direct talks that led to the peace agreement.

Palestinians reject a historic peace offer to establish a Palestinian state, which includes 96% of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip.

President Obama called a summit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other Arab leaders. Netanyahu tells Abbas, “Together we can lead our people to a historic future that can put an end to claims and to conflict.” The Palestinian leader pulled out of the newly launched direct talks three weeks later.

Despite repeated overtures by President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to discuss peace with Israel directly. Instead he is rejecting American calls to meet for direct talks and seeking to achieve a unilateral declaration of statehood at the United Nations.

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