It is often asked by someone not familiar with details of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “Why all the war and suffering? Israel can’t expel millions of people. For the sake of peace, why doesn’t Israel just allow its Arabs to have a state of their own?”
On the face of it, these are innocent questions, but they are very problematic. To focus on one facet, Israel (or just the Jews before 1948) has made numerous attempts to allow Arabs in the region to have their own state.
For more than a century, however, the Arab world has rejected every attempt towards peace or coexistence with the Jews living at the eastern end of the Mediterranean. Whether they were comprehensive peace proposals or humanitarian gestures, every action or statement has been rejected by the Arabs, and by the Palestinian-Arabs among them who would have benefitted the most.
Why the rejection? Because of a refusal to acknowledge the right of Jews to any land or recognize the existence of an Israeli state.
Changes to this stance have been slow. The only exceptions have been Egypt’s peace accord with Israel in 1979, Jordan’s peace accord with Israel in 1994, and the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco normalization agreements with Israel in 2020.
Michael Davison, a retired engineer living in Israel, has compiled a list of overtures for peace which the Arabs rejected. (Quora, April 05, 2019)
1919: Arabs of British Mandate Palestine (BMP) refused to nominate representatives to the Paris Peace Conference.
1920: San Remo conference decision, rejected by the Arabs of BMP.
1922: League of Nations decision on the Palestinian Mandate, rejected by the Arabs of BMP.
1937: Peel Commission partition proposal, rejected by the Arabs of BMP.
1938: Woodhead partition proposal, rejected by the Arabs of BMP.
1946: Anglo-American Commission proposal, rejected by the Arabs of BMP.
1947: UN General Assembly partition proposal (Resolution 181), rejected by the Arab League and the Arab Higher Committee (representing the Palestinian parties).
1949: Israel’s outstretched hand for peace (UN General Assembly Resolution 194), rejected by the Arab League and the Arab Higher Committee.
1967: Israel’s outstretched hand for peace (UN Security Council Resolution 242), rejected by the Arab League and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
1978: Begin/Sadat peace proposal, rejected (except for Egypt) by the rest of the Arab world, including the PLO.
1994: Rabin/Hussein peace agreement, rejected by the rest of the Arab League (except for Egypt and Jordan).
1995: Rabin’s contour-for-peace plan, rejected by the Palestinian Authority (PA).
2000: Barak/Clinton peace offer, rejected by Yasser Arafat, who then initiated the pre-planned Second Intifada.
2001: Barak’s offer at Taba (Egypt), rejected by the PA.
2005: Sharon’s peace gesture (withdrawal from Gaza), rejected by the Hamas takeover in 2007.
2008: Olmert/Bush peace offer, rejected by the PA.
2009 to present: Netanyahu’s repeated invitations to peace talks, rejected by the PA.
2014: Kerry’s contour-for-peace plan, rejected by the PA.
2018: Trump’s Deal of the Century, rejected in advance by the PA.