Why have the Arabs and Palestinians rejected peace for so long?

The Arabs and Palestinians rejected peace on Israeli terms for many years after 1948 because they saw the partition of Palestine as unjust.  They continued to hold out hope for a democratic state and the return of the refugees.  Aside from occasional “infiltrations” and attacks by a small minority of Palestinian militants after 1948, mostly originating from refugee camps in the surrounding countries, most Palestinians tried to carry on with their lives peacefully, making do with the situation.  Egypt and Israel made peace in 1979, the PLO headed by Yasser Arafat recognized Israel and accepted the idea of a two state solution in 1988, and Arafat formally signed the Oslo Agreement in 1993.  So, while the Arab countries and the Palestinians did reject Israeli demands for a few decades, by the end of the 1980s, they had accepted to make peace with Israel if it withdrew to the pre-1967 borders, leaving the Palestinians only 22% of the original Palestine for their state. 

In recent years, especially after the end of the violence of the Second Intifada and the dramatic decreases in Palestinian acts of violence and terror, it has been Israeli policies, especially continued land expropriation and settlement building in the West Bank that has been the biggest obstacle to peace.  Most Palestinians want peace, but they are not willing to accept less than 22% of Palestine; they also want to have part of East Jerusalem for their capital, and they want a just resolution to the Palestinian refugee problem that gives recognition to and compensation for Israel’s role in the refugees’ plight.  Until now, Israel has not been willing to meet these minimum demands.

  1. For more information from a Palestinian perspective:

  2. http://www.palestineremembered.com/Acre/Palestine-Remembered/Story416.html