The Peace Process in Focus: Making Painful Compromises for Peace: A Comparison
PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION
- Officially recognized Israel's "right to exist" twice, in 1988 and 1993.
- Effectively renounced claim to 78% of British Mandate Palestine, from which some 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed during Israel's creation in 1948. This was a major historic compromise, which has never been fully acknowledged by Israel. (See here for map.)
- Agreed to a demilitarized state with only limited defensive capabilities.
- Repeatedly signaled a willingness to compromise on the internationally recognized right of return for Palestinian refugees expelled from their homes during Israel's creation and subsequently, despite the fact that the right of return is an individual right enshrined in international law and cannot be legally bargained away by politicians.
- Signaled a willingness to accept Israel's retention of several so-called settlement "blocs," even though all Israeli construction in the occupied territories contravenes international law and official US policy, in exchange for "land swaps." Settlement “blocs” include much more land than the currently existing buildings within them cover and were located in strategic spots to sever occupied East Jerusalem from the occupied West Bank and to prevent West Bank territorial contiguity.
- Engaged in "security" cooperation with the Israeli army for the benefit of Israeli settlers while they continue to steal Palestinian land and natural resources with aggressive support from successive Israeli governments, and continue to carry out frequent violent attacks against Palestinians and their property, including repeated desecrations of Muslim and Christian holy sites.
- The government of Yitzhak Rabin recognized the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in 1993. However, no Israeli government - including Rabin's - has formally accepted the creation of a Palestinian state in the occupied territories. In June 2009, following US and international pressure, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech in which he declared for the first time support for a Palestinian “state,” however he attached so many caveats as to render his statement meaningless. Moreover, the majority of legislators in his own Likud party and his governing coalition are categorically opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state in the occupied territories.
- Since peace talks began under US auspices in 1993 as part of the Oslo process, the Israeli military has killed approximately 7000 Palestinians, most of them civilians.
- Since 1993, Israel has more than doubled the number of Jewish settlers living illegally on stolen Palestinian land in the occupied territories, from approximately 250,000 to well over half a million today. Today, settlements and related infrastructure, including Israeli-only roads and military bases, cover more than 42% of the occupied West Bank.
- In 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon withdrew approximately 8000 settlers from Gaza in a move that is frequently heralded by his supporters as a courageous gesture towards peace and a sign that Sharon had accepted the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the occupied territories. However, as acknowledged by Sharon himself and a senior aide at the time, the so-called “disengagement” plan was actually designed to kill the peace process and prevent the creation of a Palestinian state. In the words of top Sharon advisor Dov Weisglass:
"The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process… And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress.
"The disengagement is actually formaldehyde... It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians."
- Since 1993, Israel has increasingly closed Gaza off from the outside world with the complicity of Egypt, imposing a draconian and illegal siege and naval blockade following the victory of Hamas in democratic elections in 2006. Israel has also cut Gaza off from the West Bank, which under the terms of the Oslo Accords are supposed to be considered a single territorial unit. (According to international law, Gaza remains under Israeli military occupation regardless of the 2005 “disengagement,” as Israel continues to exercise “effective control” over it.)
- Since 1993, Israel has imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank as well. At any given time, there are approximately 500 Israeli barriers to Palestinian movement within the West Bank, an area smaller than Delaware. Additionally, Israel has built a wall, deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice, on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, effectively annexing approximately 10% of its area.
- Since 1993, Israel has prevented most Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza from accessing occupied East Jerusalem, traditionally the center of economic, religious, and cultural life for many Palestinians.
- Since 1993, Israel has destroyed approximately 15,000 Palestinian homes and other structures in the occupied territories, including agricultural buildings and water systems. Israel normally destroys Palestinian structures on the pretext that they were built without approval from Israeli occupation authorities, however such permission is almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain. According to the 2013 US State Department Human Rights Report, released last month: “In both the West Bank and Jerusalem, Israeli authorities placed often insurmountable obstacles in the way of Palestinian applicants for construction permits.”
- Since 1993, successive Israeli governments have done little or nothing to stem violent settler attacks against Palestinians and their property, which have increased dramatically in recent years, prompting many observers to conclude that the Israeli government is complicit in settler violence. In March 2012, the Guardian newspaper reported that senior European Union officials had drafted a confidential report concluding, "settler violence enjoys the tacit support of the state of Israel.” Echoing those sentiments, in June 2012 former chief of staff of the Israeli army Dan Halutz said that the Netanyahu government wasn’t interested in stopping settler violence against Palestinians and their property, stating: “If we wanted, we could catch them [the perpetrators] and when we want to, we will.”
- Israel has continued to exert control over Palestinian water resources in the West Bank, directing 80% for the use of Israelis while leaving more than a hundred thousand Palestinians without any access to water pipes or infrastructure and millions more without the minimum amount of water necessary for daily use according to the World Health Organization.
- Since 1993, Israeli negotiators have increased their demands of the Palestinians, including that they recognize Israel a "Jewish state" or homeland in addition to simply accepting Israel’s “right to exist,” insisting that more settlement “blocs” remain under permanent Israeli control, and requiring a permanent or long-term Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley, which contains the only border crossing the West Bank has that doesn’t run through Israel.
20 Facts: 20 Years Since the Oslo Accords
Talking Peace While Making War: Benjamin Netanyahu & The Peace Process
Facts on the Ground Peace Index Volume I, Volume II, Volume III, Volume IV, Volume V, and Volume VI