1: In the summer of 2000,
Israel offered the Palestinian Arabs 97 percent of the land they claim
to be fighting for, making Israel the first and only country ever to
offer the Palestinian Arabs a homeland. This offer was rejected with
no counter-offer from the Palestinians.
At the urging of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, U.S. President
Clinton announced on July 5, 2000, his invitation to Prime Minister
Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to come
to Camp David to continue their negotiations on the Middle East peace
On July 11, the Camp David 2000 Summit convened.
Barak's offer to the Palestinians was the most substantial and far-reaching
that had ever been made. In Israel, people were stunned by the extent
of the concessions that he was prepared to make. It is unclear whether
the Israeli public were prepared to support Barak's deal. However they
were never given the opportunity to endorse the proposals, as Arafat
rejected them out of hand. According to media reports, Barak's offer
- Israeli withdrawal from 95 percent of the West Bank (Judea and
Samaria) and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip
- The creation of a Palestinian state in those areas
- The removal of isolated settlements that would be transferred
to Palestinian control
- Slices of Israeli land to be included in the Palestinian state
to compensate for the percentage of the West Bank to become Israeli
- Palestinian control over parts of Jerusalem including most of
the Old City
- “Religious Sovereignty” over the Temple Mount (rather
than Israeli sovereignty, which had been in effect since 1967)
President Clinton, and others who participated, put the blame for
the failure of the talks squarely on Arafat and the Palestinian negotiators
for declining and not making any counteroffers or continuing the negotiation.
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2: Like the United States,
Israel is a democracy. Israel's Parliament includes men, women, Jews
Israel is a parliamentary democracy with legislative, executive and
judicial branches. The head of the state is the president, whose duties
are mostly ceremonial and formal; the office symbolizes the unity and
sovereignty of the state. The Knesset, Israel's legislative authority,
is a 120-member unicameral parliament which operates in plenary session
and through 14 standing committees. Its members are elected every four
years in universal nationwide elections. The Knesset has 10 Arab members.
The government (cabinet of ministers) is charged with administering
internal and foreign affairs. It is headed by a prime minister and is
collectively responsible to the Knesset.
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3: Israel ensures complete
equality of all individuals irrespective of religion, race or sex. These
civil rights are granted in Israel's Declaration of Independence and
Declaration of Establishment.
The Declaration of Independence (May 1948) states that the State
of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by
the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and
political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race
or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language,
education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions;
and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United
All citizens of Israel, no matter what religion are free to practice
the religion of their choice.
The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel (1948)
guarantees freedom of religion for all. Each religious community is
free, by law and in practice, to exercise its faith, to observe its
holidays and weekly day of rest and to administer its internal affairs.
Each has its own religious council and courts, recognized by law and
with jurisdiction over all religious affairs and matters of personal
status such as marriage and divorce. Each has its own unique places
of worship, with traditional rituals and special architectural features
developed over the centuries.
There are roughly 6 million people living in Israel. Jews make up
77.2 percent of Israel's population, Muslims 15.4 percent, Christians
2.1 percent, Druze 1.6 percent and unaffiliated citizens 3.5 percent.
The percentage of Israeli residents who are Arab is 19 percent, about
the same as it when the country was established in 1948. (palestinefacts.org)
All citizens, regardless of their religion, may participate in the
The 120-member Knesset is Israel's legislature. Members of Knesset
(MKs) are elected every four years within the framework of parties that
compete for the electorate's votes. Each party chooses its own Knesset
candidates as it sees fit. The major function of the Knesset is to legislate
laws and revise them as necessary. Additional duties include establishing
a government, taking policy decisions, reviewing government activities,
and electing the President of the State and the State Comptroller. Some
Arab parties: National Arab Party, United Arab List, Hadash.
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4: The West Bank and Gaza
Strip are disputed territories, claimed by Israel and the Palestinian
Arabs. (UN Resolution 242)
After the Six Day War in 1967, the
Arab States had no interest in peace, despite overtures from Israel.
Israel advocated direct negotiations between the parties, without prior
conditions, aimed at the conclusion of binding peace agreements. Until
peace was made, the Israel Defense Forces were deployed on the new cease-fire
lines, and the areas occupied in the Six Day War came to be administered
by an Israeli Military Government. Jerusalem was reunified at the end
of June 1967, and the whole city was thus brought under Israeli law.
- UN Security Council Resolution 242 calls on all parties to the
conflict to negotiate a solution
- It anticipates that Israel will withdraw to secure borders (not
specified in the resolution) in exchange for peace guarantees from
the Arab parties
Resolution 242 was adopted by the United Nation Security Council
on November 22, 1967. While the Israeli side accepted the resolution,
the Palestine Liberation Organization rejected the deal entirely because,
among other reasons, it recognized Israel's existence. The resolution
called for the “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories
occupied in the recent conflict... termination of all claims or states
of belligerency...” and the recognition that “every State
in the area... [has the] right to live in peace within secure and recognized
boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”
While the Palestinian Arabs did not recognize Resolution 242 for
years, today the Arabs interpret the resolution as calling for a full
withdrawal of Israeli forces from the captured territories. Yet the
British and Americans who authored the resolution had worded it in such
a way as to allow Israel to retain some of the territory acquired. Arthur
Goldberg, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations put it best when
he explained: “The notable omissions -- which were not accidental
-- in regard to withdrawal are the words 'the' or 'all' and 'the June
5, 1967 lines'.... The resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied
territories without defining the extent of withdrawal.”
The British Ambassador who drafted the resolution, Lord Caradon,
stated, “It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return
to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable
The territory of the West Bank (i.e., Judea and Samaria) and Gaza
Strip were captured by Israel in a defensive war. The Jordanian occupation
of the West Bank from 1947 to 1967, or the Egyptian occupation of the
Gaza Strip, by contrast, had been the result of an offensive war in
5: Israel gained control
of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza (sometimes referred to
as the “disputed territories”) in 1967 after defeating Egypt,
Syria and Jordan in a pre-emptive strike after those countries surrounded
Israel with troops, launched repeated terrorist attacks, and threatened
to “put an end to Israel.”
These days, some people reflexively refer to the “occupied
territories” without ever asking the question how they fell into
Israel's hands in 1967. Once again, there are those in the Arab world
who seek to rewrite history and impute expansionist motives to Israel,
but the facts are clear. Here's a quick summary of some of the major
events leading up to the Six Day War:
- On May 16, 1967, Cairo Radio announced: “The existence
of Israel has continued too long. The battle has come in which we
shall destroy Israel.” On the very same day, Egypt demanded
the withdrawal of UN forces which had been stationed in Gaza and
Sharm el-Sheikh since 1957. Three days later, the UN announced it
would comply with the Egyptian request.
- On May 19, Cairo Radio said: “This is our chance, Arabs,
to deal Israel a mortal blow of annihilation...”
- On May 23, Egyptian President Nasser declared his intention
to block the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, thus effectively
severing Israel's vital trade (supply) links with East Africa and
Asia. Israel replied that under international law this was a casus
belli, an act of war.
- On May 27, Nasser said that “our basic objective will
be the destruction of Israel.”
- On May 30, Jordanian King Hussein placed Jordanian forces under
Egyptian control. Egyptian, Iraqi, and Saudi troops were sent to
- On June 1, Iraq's leader added his thoughts: “We are resolved,
determined, and united to achieve our clear aim of wiping Israel
off the map.”
- On June 3, Radio Cairo hailed the impending Muslim holy war.
- On June 5, Israel, surrounded by Arab forces likely (poised)
to attack at any moment, launched a preemptive strike. Within six
days, Israel had defeated its adversaries and, in the process, captured
land on the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian fronts. Israel had made
strenuous efforts, via UN channels, to persuade King Hussein to
stay out of the war. Unlike the unremitting hostility of Egypt and
Syria toward Israel, Jordan and Israel had quietly cooperated, to
some degree, and shared concerns about the Palestinians' aggressive
designs. Years later, King Hussein publicly acknowledged that his
decision to enter the 1967 war, in which he lost control of the
West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, was one of the biggest mistakes
he ever made.
Shortly after the Six Day War, Israel indicated its desire to negotiate
peace with its Arab neighbors. While Israel was unprepared to relinquish
the eastern half of Jerusalem -- which contained Judaism's holiest sites
and which, despite the terms of the Israeli-Jordanian armistice agreement,
had been entirely off limits to Israel for nearly 19 years (while Jordan
desecrated dozens of synagogues in the Old City) -- it was willing to
exchange the seized territories for a comprehensive settlement. But
Israel's overtures were rebuffed. An unmistakable response came from
Khartoum, Sudan's capital, where Arab leaders issued a resolution on
September 1 announcing the three “no's”: “no peace,
no recognition, and no negotiation.”
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6: Three major attempts to
destroy Israel have been carried out by the Arab world: in 1947, 1967
and 1973. Although many neighboring Arab countries today still wish
to destroy Israel, Israel still seeks peace. Israel has forged peace
agreements with Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994), and have lived in peace
with these countries ever since.
1947-1949 -- War of Independence
Early in the war, from November 29, 1947 until April 1, 1948, the
Palestinian Arabs took the offensive, with help from volunteers from
neighboring countries. The Jews suffered severe casualties and passage
along most of their major roadways was disrupted. Starting in April
1948, the Haganah took the initiative, and in six weeks was able to
turn the tables by capturing the Arab sections of Tiberias, Haifa and
later also Tzfat and Acco.
From mid-May to mid-July, the critical
phase of the war, came the simultaneous, coordinated assault on the
new State of Israel by five regular Arab armies from neighboring countries
(Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq), with an overwhelming
superiority of heavy equipment -- armor, artillery and air force. From
then through the negotiated agreements that ended the war in 1949, Israel
not only ejected the invading Arab forces, it also captured and held
some 5,000 sq. km. over and above the areas allocated to it by the United
1967 -- The Six Day War
Armed forces in the Arab countries were mobilized. Israel was confronted
by an Arab force of some 465,000 troops, over 2,880 tanks and 810 aircraft.
The armies of Kuwait, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq were contributing
troops and arms to the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian fronts.
Faced with few choices, on June 4, 1967 the Cabinet authorized the
Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense to decide on appropriate
steps to defend the State of Israel. On June 5, Israel launched a pre-emptive
strike against Egypt and captured the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip.
Despite an Israeli appeal to Jordan to stay out of the conflict, Jordan
attacked Israel and thereby lost control of the West Bank and the eastern
sector of Jerusalem. Israel went on to capture the Golan Heights from
Syria by the time the war ended on June 10.
1973 Yom Kippur War
The Yom Kippur War began with the unprovoked assault on Israel by
Egyptian and Syrian military forces. They acted simultaneously against
Israeli forces on the Suez Canal in the south and the Golan Heights
in the north. The attack took place on October 6, 1973 -- Yom Kippur
-- the holiest day of the religious year in Israel, a time obviously
calculated to catch the Israelis off-guard.
While the bulk of the combat was between Isreal and the forces of
Egypt and Syria, at least ten other Arab states (Iraq, Saudi Arabia,
Kuwait, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, Morocco, Lebanon and Jordan)
actively aided the Egyptian-Syrian war effort with personnel, military
equipment, or financial support. Palestinian Arabs shelled Israeli civilian
towns from Lebanon and also fought with the attacking armies.
Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty
Egypt Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in 1979, marking the
end of 30 years of relentless hostility and five costly wars. The treaty
was preceded by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's visit to Jerusalem
(1977), at the invitation of Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin,
as well as the signing of the Camp David Accords (1978) which constituted
a basis for peace between Egypt and Israel and between Israel and its
Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty
The peace treaty between Jordan and Israel, signed at the Aqaba-Eilat
border crossing (October 1994), was preceded by a meeting of King Hussein
and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Washington three months earlier
when the two leaders proclaimed an end to the state of war between their
countries. Although de facto at war with each other for 46 years, Israel
and Jordan had maintained secret contacts and concluded mutually beneficial
agreements throughout that entire period.
7: The West Bank (Judea and
Samaria) and Gaza were never controlled by any Palestinian government
or organization until 1993, when Israel agreed to give the Palestinian
Authority certain controls under the Oslo Peace accords.
Jews have lived in the West Bank and Gaza Strip throughout recorded
history, until the 1948 War of Independence, when they were forced to
flee the invading Arab armies. Indeed, some of the current Jewish settlement
communities existed prior to 1948, when they where overrun by invading
Arab armies and destroyed. Kfar Etzion and other villages in the Jerusalem-Bethlehem
corridor fell to Arab forces in May 1948 and those captured were massacred.
Sons and daughters of Jews who lived there until 1948 were the first
to return after the 1967 war.
Israel's administration of the territory in 1967 replaced Jordan's
control of the West Bank and Egypt's of the Gaza Strip. Egypt and Jordan
gained control of these areas during the 1948 War with the newly established
Israel, which according to the 1947 UN Partition Plan, were to be part
of the independent Arab state to be established alongside an independent
Jewish state. Neither Jordan nor Egypt had legal sovereignty over these
areas. Israel maintains that these areas can thus not be considered “occupied
territories” under international law, since Israel did not “occupy”
them from another sovereign nation, but are “disputed territories”
over which there are competing claims, and whose future must be determined
through negotiations. Since 1967, Israeli governments have maintained
a willingness to withdraw from areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip
as a component of a comprehensive peace agreement with the Arabs, but
it has proved impossible to negotiate such an agreement despite many
With the negotiating deadlock, Israel found itself with a million
Palestinian Arabs under its control and began administering the territories
in what has become wrongfully known as the Israeli “occupation”
of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel hoped that its authority over
the Palestinians in these areas would be short-lived. Since Israel did
not annex or incorporate the West Bank and Gaza into Israel proper,
it could not apply the civil, democratic laws that govern Israeli civilian
life to the residents of the territories and those territories continue
under military administration.
The Oslo Accords (or “Declaration of Principles on Interim
Self-Government Arrangements”) were signed on September 13, 1993
by representatives of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation
Organization (PLO). The Washington ceremony was hosted by US President
Bill Clinton who smiled as Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin ended decades as sworn enemies with an
The Oslo Accords committed both parties to a range of obligations.
Since then, claims of “Oslo violations” have come thick
and fast. The interim agreements were intended to build trust between
the parties as preparation for negotiations on a final settlement. As
is now clear, however, Israel found little reason to regard the PLO
as a trustworthy partner, and little hope of future peaceful coexistence
with a Palestinian state on its border.
The main points of the Oslo Accords (or Declaration of Principles
- Transfer of Powers to the Palestinians (West Bank and Gaza)
- The DOP does not prejudge the Permanent Status on issues certain
issues such as Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements
- Security remains an Israeli responsibility.
With 20-20 hindsight it is now clear that the Oslo process, “land
for peace,” has only encouraged Israel's enemies. The terrorist
violence has risen and fallen since 1993, but the trend line is always
up, more violence and terror directed against Israel and Jewish people
in the territories. There is always an excuse -- the settlements, the
refugees, the checkpoints, etc. etc. -- but even as Israel has partially
withdrawn, has given the Palestinian Authority control of 95 percent
of the Palestinian population, has offered more and more concessions
and has agreed to peace plan after peace plan, all that comes back from
the Palestinians is terror and more demands.
8: Israeli Settlements in
the West Bank and Gaza are not illegal under any international law.
In 1948, when the British government partitioned Israel, they offered
the Jews certain land, and the Arabs certain land. The Arabs never agreed,
and instead attacked Israel. Therefore, Israel is not violating any
The last binding international legal instrument in the West Bank
and Gaza was the League of Nations Mandate, which explicitly recognized
the right of Jewish settlement in all territory allocated to the Jewish
national home in the context of the British Mandate.
None of the signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinians
restrict the building or expansion of settlements. Indeed, the issue
of settlements is specifically noted as an issue that will only be discussed
during final status negotiations, the final stage of the peace process.
The only prohibition in these agreements is that neither side take steps
to change the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, such as unilateral
declarations of statehood or annexation, prior to final status negotiations.
The Israeli government has voluntarily frozen the building of new settlements,
dismantled some (very important) but recognizes the needs of existing
settlements to meet the changing needs of their residents, such as the
expansion of existing homes to accommodate growing families.
The official U.S. position has been over the years that settlements
are legal. The Carter administration for a short time held that settlements
were illegal, a position overturned by the Reagan administration.
The Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply to settlements even though
you will often hear the claim that it does. Israel took over the land
in a defensive war in 1967 from rulers (Jordan, Egypt) who themselves
had recently acquired control of the land by aggressive war. The only
internationally recognized agreements are those of the Oslo process
which do not in any sentence prohibit settlements. At some points in
time Israel has voluntarily agreed to a temporary halt to new settlements
in anticipation of negotiating breakthroughs. But the repeated reversion
to terrorism by the Palestinian Arabs has ended such restraint. The
endlessly repeated refrain about “occupied territories”
is propaganda, since a) the territories never belonged to Palestinian
Arabs, B) the Palestinian Authority was given control of the areas,
and c) the only reason Israel continues to exert control is in reaction
to Palestinian Arab violence.
At Camp David in 2000 and Taba
in 2001 Israeli Prime Minister Barak offered to redeploy and uproot
settlements from up to 95 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of
the Gaza Strip.
9: There have been roughly
as many Jews displaced from Arab Nations as Arabs displaced from Israeli
territory. Israel has absorbed the Jewish refugees, yet the Arab world
refuses to accept the Palestinian Arabs into their countries.
There have been two refugee populations created by the Arab-Israeli
conflict, not one. There were an estimated 754,000 Jews in Arab countries
in 1948, the year of Israel's establishment; today, by contrast, there
are fewer than 8,000, the bulk of whom live in Morocco and Tunisia.
While world attention has been focused on the Palestinian refugees,
the plight of Jews from Arab countries, hundreds of thousands of whom
became refugees as well, has been largely ignored. Indeed, many experts
believe that the size of the two groups was roughly comparable. But
there was one profound difference -- Israel immediately absorbed the
Jewish refugees, while the Palestinian refugees were placed in camps
and deliberately kept there as a matter of calculated Arab policy and
with the complicity of the UN.
There is no comparable situation in the world today where a refugee
population has been cynically exploited in this way. Until now, only
one Arab country -- Jordan -- has offered citizenship to the Palestinian
The other 21 Arab countries, with their vast territory and common
language, religion, and ethnic roots with the Palestinians, have refused
to do so. Sadly, they appear to have little interest in alleviating
the plight of refugees living in often squalid camps for two and three
generations. Rather, they want to breed hatred of Israel and thus use
the refugees as a key weapon in the ongoing struggle against Israel.
Throughout history, refugees have been settled by their allies and
kinfolk in neighboring lands. But for Arab leaders to allow Palestinians
to settle in neighboring countries would be to admit that the wars of
1948 and 1967 really ended as they did. Thus, Arab leaders pushed Palestinians
into squalid, “temporary” camps to provide the world with
a pathetic, swarming testament to -- as they see it -- the barbarity
of “the Zionist entity.” Meanwhile, the number of Palestinian
refugees has ballooned from 800,000 to 3.5 million.
10: The combined land size
of Arab countries is 650 times the size of Israel -- i.e., Israel is
the size of New Jersey, and the Arab countries are the size of the United
States, all of Central America and Mexico combined.
- Arab dictators control 13,486,861 sq. km. in the Middle East,
and Israel controls 20,770. (Palestinefacts.org)
- The Population of Israel is roughly 6 million, compared to 300
million living in the surrounding Arab countries.
- The Arab nations are represented by 21 separate countries. There
is only one Jewish nation with a tiny country, Israel.