The Road to Peace

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The Road to Peace

Speeches to the Knesset ...85
Comminiqué No. 1 of the Intifada ...97
The Oslo Accords ...104
Israel's Revised Disengagement Plan ...115

Ever since Israel declared its independence from Palestine in 1948, and furthered by its capture of large amounts of land once ruled by Arab states in the Six-Day War of 1967, peace has been difficult to achieve in the Middle East. Israel has insisted on its right to pursue the Zionist mission of creating a national homeland for Jews in Palestine. Arab states such as Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria have all denied the right of Israel to exist and engaged in armed conflict against Israel. Palestinians—Arabs who claim ties to the former territory of Palestine—have consistently claimed that they were wrongfully evicted from their land and have tried to reclaim their territory. With this history of conflict and disagreement, learning to live in peace with each other has been difficult for Israelis and Arabs.

The larger disagreements between Israelis and Arabs, and the more particular disputes between Israel and individual Arab countries or peoples, are complicated and often hard to resolve. They involve control of disputed territory, the rights of people driven from their land by armed conflict, and complex matters of religion and ethnicity. In the documents contained in this section, a variety of resolutions are presented by Middle Eastern leaders and activist groups in the hopes of creating permanent peace. One example is Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's (1918–1981) historic address to the Israeli Knesset, or legislature, as well as the response given by Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin (1913–1992). Also examined is a communiqué, or bulletin, issued by Palestinians rising up against Israeli occupation, as well as the historic Israeli-PLO Declaration of Principles, in which Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization recognize each other and open negotiations. Finally, excerpts from the Disengagement Plan offered by Israel in 2004 to kick-start a peace process that had once again been delayed will be presented.

This selection of documents is a tiny sampling of the various steps toward peace in the Middle East. Each document selected for inclusion in this chapter offers insight into the complexities of negotiating a lasting peace in the Middle East. Peace has not yet been achieved; however, both Israelis and Arabic people continue to work toward and remain committed to pursuing a solution that works.