Historical Background: Nationhood and Jerusalem
Israel became a nation in 1312 B.C.E., two thousand years before the rise of Islam. Arab refugees in Israel began identifying themselves as part of a Palestinian people in 1967, two decades after the establishment of the modern State of Israel.
Founded by King David, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital for over 3,300 years. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even when the Jordanians occupied Jerusalem, they never sought to make it their capital and Arab leaders did not come to visit. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in the Tanach, the Jewish Holy Scriptures. Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran. Jews pray facing Jerusalem. Muslims pray facing Mecca, with their backs toward Jerusalem.
“The premise of the peace process is that disputes should be resolved through negotiations. This is exactly the path Israel has pursued. Prime Minister Benjamin Neyanyahu has repeatedly called for direct talks with the Palestinians, he has frozen settlement construction and he has taken a number of confidence building steps including removing checkpoints.”
Source: Jewish Virtual Library, a division of the American-Israel Coopertive Enterprise Fact Sheet # 10 – What Israel Has Done for Peace (September 2, 2002)
“Peace can be achieved in the Middle East. Every time an Arab leader has reached out his hand and offered peace, Israel has willingly shook it. When Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and Jordan’s King Hussein recognized Israel’s right to exist, they were met by equally courageous Israeli leaders who agreed to peace treaties that benefitted the peoples of Egypt, Jordan, and Israel “
Despite the series of signed peace agreements and confidence building steps taken by the Israeli government, the indicators are that rather than a Palestinian state beside Israel, the Arab world remains committed to a Palestinian state replacing Israel.
1979 Egyptian President Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Begin sign peace treaty in Washington and Israel withdraws from all of Sinai.
1993 Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yaser Arafat sign Oslo Accords. Israel recognizes right of Palestinians to create a state.
1994 The peace treaty is signed between Israel and Jordan, culminating one year of negotiations.
2000 PM Ehud Barak orders unilateral withdrawal of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) from Southern Lebanon. At Camp David, Israel offers to create a Palestinian State on the West Bank and Gaza. PLO Chairman Arafat rejects the offer
Repercussions: 3 Israeli soldiers kidnapped into Lebanon and murdered, their bodies returned 3 years later. Hizbullah continues to build an army and rocket arsenal, has tens of thousands more rockets today than in 2000 and now has rockets that can hit Tel Aviv.
Iran, Syria, Hizbulah and Hamas have increased production and procurement of long range missiles. If war breaks out, all assessment are that Israel would come under an unprecedented rain of missiles, mostly aimed at Tel Aviv.
2005 Peaceful withdrawal of more than 9,000 Jewish residents from Gaza, leaving behind their homes, synagogues and livelihoods. Israeli cemetery had to be dug up, the dead moved to Israel and their families subjected to a new period of mourning. Israel removes all of its troops from the Gaza Strip, giving the Palestinians complete control. Greenhouses built by Israeli farmers are purchased by Americans and left behind in the hope that they would be used to build the Palestinian economy.
Israel was prepared to allow the free movement of goods and offered to provide assistance in building desalination facilities, sewage systems, hospitals and a power station. Israel also agreed to allow guarded convoys to travel between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and proposed building a railway linking the two.
Repercussions: Palestinian terrorists built up their arsenal by smuggling weapons into Gaza from Egypt and continued to fire rockets and missiles from Gaza into Israel. Terrorists attempted to slip into Israel through the security fence. For more than two and a half years after the disengagement, the Palestinians made no progress toward building a state and had done nothing to stop the violence emanating from Gaza. No apartments built for refugees; many Palestinian officials took land for themselves. Greenhouses were vandalized and others converted to terrorist training camps.
2007 Israel attempts to forge peace through the U.S.-sponsored peace talks in Annapolis, MD.
Repercussions: Hamas has shot more than 3.000 rockets and mortars into southern Israel since 2007.
2009 In an effort to advance peace talks, Israel voluntarily enacts a 10-month freeze on all settlement building in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).
2011 Israeli Prime Minister Netanyhu remains committed to negotiating a peace agreement and has repeatedly called for direct talks with the Palestinians.