A brief history of previous Palestine peace deals – and their failure

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
5 min read

The Trump administration is announcing parts of its much-anticipated Middle East peace plan at 17:00 GMT (21:00 Dubai time) today.

US President Donald Trump has dubbed the plan “deal of the century” and aims to solve one of the modern world’s longest-running conflicts.

But considering the Palestinian leadership has already rejected the deal before its published, others are skeptical. While there have been several high-profile attempts to create a lasting peace before, none of them have succeeded.

Here is a brief outline of the history of the conflict and the unsuccessful attempts to solve it.

The so-called peace plan is the latest attempt at resolving the conflict in historical Palestine, one that has had a wide-ranging impact on the Middle East and beyond.

Conflict over historic Palestine dates back to the 19th century. Since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, known as the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” by Palestinians, Israel has been in conflict with the Palestinian people who say they have been denied their right to a state on their ancestral homeland.

In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Israel extended its control over the entire territory of historic Palestine and seized the Golan Heights from Syria as well as the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. After the 1973 war, Egypt regained the Sinai in a peace deal with Israel, but the rest of historic Palestine remained under Israeli control.

Since then, Palestinians have risen up against Israel several times, including in the First Intifada (1987-1993) and Second Intifada (2000-2005).

Israel has also fought several wars with the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza strip, resulting in thousands of Palestinian deaths.

While the Palestinian Authority has limited self-rule over some of the West Bank, and Hamas rules the Gaza strip, Palestinians lack a state. Millions of Palestinians are refugees in neighboring countries, including Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

Meanwhile, Israel lacks diplomatic relations with its neighbors.

The chances of lasting peace have decreased as Israel continues to pursue its policy of settling the West Bank, undermining the opportunity for a Palestinian state. Nearly 130 government-approved settlements and 100 unofficial settlements are home to around 400,000 Israelis in the West Bank, which an estimated 2.6 million Palestinians call home.

Other key unresolved issues include Palestinian refugees who claim the right to return to their historic home, the disputed status of Jerusalem, which both sides claim as their capital, and the rule of Hamas, which Israel considers a terrorist organization, in Gaza.

The initial UN plan for two states in historic Palestine has never reached fruition.

Israel first reached a peace treaty with its neighbor, Egypt, after the Camp David Accords in 1978. However, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and other Palestinian groups continued to fight against Israel, and many others refused to recognize the state.

The First Intifada, a largely peaceful popular uprising against Israeli rule, ended with the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1993, following the Madrid Conference in 1991.

The Oslo Accords established the Palestinian Authority and gave it limited self-governance over Gaza and the West Bank, but fell short of creating a Palestinian state.

Initial optimism about Oslo quickly receded. While many Palestinians had hoped that the deal would pave the way for a gradual withdrawal of Israeli forces and the establishment of a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank, it instead failed to resolve the key issues.

Israeli settlement activity increased from 110,000 from 1993 to 185,000 in 2000, undermining rather than facilitating the creation of a Palestinian state. Meanwhile, the Palestinian demand for the “right of return” for refugees remained ignored or rejected by Israel.

The 2000 Camp David Summit between Israel’s Ehud Barak and Palestine’s Yasser Arafat, hosted in the United States, failed to solve these tensions. Palestinians again rose up in the Second Intifada (2000-2005), which was more violent than its precursor.

Since then, there have been few breakthroughs. US President Barack Obama attempted to pressure Israel to row back its settlement policy, but largely failed.

In 2019, the Trump Administration reversed US policy on Israeli settlements and said they did not violate international law, a move widely interpreted as encouraging the death of the two-state solution.

Top Content Trending