Conflict Summary

Camp David, the Oslo Agreement, the 2003 Quartet Road Map and more – no mediated peace plan or negotiation has yet resolved the obdurate territorial dispute between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel was created about six months after the UN voted in late 1947 to partition British-controlled Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. However, more than 60 years later there is no independent Palestinian state, just the separate Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel seized the West Bank and Gaza in the Six-Day War in 1967. There have been two intifadas, or uprisings, against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, in 1987–1993 and from 2000 onwards. The last intifada followed the Oslo Agreement, which created the Palestinian Authority (PA) to govern Palestinian areas. However, Israel maintains a military and settler presence in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Settlements reached unprecedented levels under the leadership of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and acts of violence by Palestinians towards Israelis have also risen considerably, threatening a tenuous calm in the West Bank.

In the Gaza Strip, Israel unilaterally withdrew its forces in 2005. Following a split between rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas in 2006, Hamas took over Gaza and has governed it since. With help from Egypt (and tacitly, the PA), Israel imposed a blockade against the coastal enclave, seeking to weaken Hamas. There have been three controversial wars between Israel and Hamas. Operation Protective Edge in mid-2014 in particular has had dire humanitarian circumstances, leaving Gaza in ruins. The continued inter-Palestinian rivalry has complicated attempts to rebuild Gaza, as well as to resolve the conflict. 

Peace negotiations for a two-state solution based on a formula of land-for-peace have repeatedly collapsed. There is still no agreement on borders and other key issues, such as the fate of Palestinian refugees, the status of Jerusalem and the Israelis who have settled in the West Bank.