Do Israelis and Palestinians really want peace?

Of course they do is the reflexive response, but when you look at the events of the past two weeks, does that answer hold true? Do we see real evidence that either side really wants peace?

Look at today: Israel announced that it was reducing its operations in the Gaza Strip, which is good news for peace, but yesterday it approved a plan for more building in the West Bank.

Last week’s military operations were a response by Israel to repeated rocket attacks from Gaza.

Now, you can argue the justification for the Palestinians firing rockets, and for the Israeli response (although we’re not discussing that here), but can you say, hand on heart, that the actions (not the words) of each side shows that they want peace?

Clearly to bring any long-term conflict to an end either one side needs to win or an agreement needs to be reached. President Bush says he’s confident that there is a desire for peace on both sides – and an agreement will come by year-end. Is he right to have faith in Israelis’ and Palestinians’ commitment to peace?

26 Responses to “Do Israelis and Palestinians really want peace?”

  1. 1 Justin from Iowa
    March 10, 2008 at 13:51

    Everyone wants peace… the peace of victory. The Israeli and Palestinian leaders are playing to win. After so many years of peace failures and an inability to control their own more radical members, both sides only pay lip service to “peace” And its the normal people who find themselves the powerless victims in this travesty.

  2. 2 steve
    March 10, 2008 at 14:14

    Israel has given up huge quantities of land for peace in the past. Israel doesn’t preach hatred for arabs over the airwaves. Though I’m sure Israel wants to keep portions of the West Bank, I think they are more interested in peace than the Palestinians are. Israel elected a government that supports a peace process, while the Palestinians elected a government that wants to destroy Israel.

  3. 3 Brett
    March 10, 2008 at 14:15

    Some people want peace, some people don’t. It seems each side wants to justify their actions and wants to get the last word (or in this case bombing) in, then jump right to “WE WANT PEACE!” once they feel they are even.
    At some point, one side needs to suck it up, and realize that retaliation will do nothing but perpetuate the violence.

    On a side note, it will be interesting to see how the ‘devoted’ George Dub-ya continues his peace processes or talks or actions once he is no longer president.
    I can see him dropping all of this like a hot potato.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  4. March 10, 2008 at 14:33

    I am originally from Palestine, the West Bank, and I want peace with Israel! The radical people on both sides are the ones hampering the efforts to peace. I hope someday we will live together in peace (Israelis and Palestinians).

  5. 5 Mohammed Ali
    March 10, 2008 at 14:47

    I said this before and I’m going to say it again. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians are not lovers of peace. Let the entire world isolate the two group of peoples and allow them to fight until the strongest survive.

  6. 6 John in Germany
    March 10, 2008 at 15:46

    Hello Mohamed Ali.
    I am very glad we do not have to use your theory to regulate all of the conflicts in this world. You see there are more than just Jews and Palistenians not agreeing as at today. If we put them all together and let them get on with it, we will be in the muck to put it cleanly. Some of them out there that don’t like each other have nuclear weapons, and as you know they have no borders, and tend to spread there death in the wind, which ever way its a blowin!.

    So come on man, get your act together, i have a deep respect for every one’s opinion, but there has to be a cut of some where.

    Of course they want peace, but under there own terms, and as you know when both sides think they are in the right, then it ll take a hell of a time, Hamas is the thorn in the wound my friend, and until they stop throwing those rockets at the Israeli’s there will be NO PEACE.

    Power and money are the root of all evil, have you ever heard of a politician that was not power hungry. I’ve not. We have had some good shepherds in the life of our world, and some bad ones. it appears the bad ones are in the majority at the moment

    I’m now going to see if the chickens are working hard at laying Easter eggs, funnily enough the old Cockerel is in charge, and the only thing they fight about is who’s next. The younger one has tried to displace him, no go!! he is supreme in his tactics, and there’ s not a bit of nastiness in him at all.

    Peace to you all

    John in Germany

  7. 7 John in Salem
    March 10, 2008 at 16:12

    A minority on each side seems to want a real peace but not enough to make it happen. Religion and hatred are the common bonds that hold each society together and I don’t believe this “Holy Land” will know any peace until it becomes a sheet of radioactive glass.

  8. 8 viola anderson
    March 10, 2008 at 16:25

    When ALL the players in the Middle East want peace there will be peace. As long as Palestine is used as a pawn for the achievement of other nations’ and cultures’ purposes there will be no peace. And, in case my meaning is unclear, I mean specifically the Islamic nations that are unwilling to accept anything other than Islamic nations in the Middle East. There would have been peace long ago if not for them. It’s like saying you can only build one kind of house in the Middle East and that is one like ours.

  9. 9 Count Iblis
    March 10, 2008 at 16:26

    It is wrong to point to the violence in Israel/Palestine and the extremists on both sides to argue that there is no comitement to having peace there.

    There are, unfortunately, good reasons why both sides want to fight. Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian territories and despite what Steve wrote above, offering to give part of it back is not a consession to the Palestinians at all. And the Israelis suffer from terror attacks by the Palestinians.

    The Palestinians and the Israelis, when they engage in violence, are not behaving in any worse way than we would behave if we were finding ourselves in similar situations. It doesn’t make sense to extremists and say: “Look the extremists are behind the violence”, because a small percentage of the population in any country are extremists and they are always the first to take up arms and fight when provoked.

    So, the fundamental reason why the conflict hasn’t been resolved yet has nothing to do wih the violence. It is caused by the fact that two parties do not talk to each other to resolve the conflict.

    It seems to be politicaly very difficult for both sides to talk to each other to resove the issues, even though the main issues are not changing over time. I.e. if a solution can be reached ten years from now, the same solution could also have been reached ten years ago.

    To get both sides talking, both sides could elect a group of people who will negotiate a peace plan wit each other. You can imagine that the Palestinians and Israelis would vote for people they respect, e.g. intellectuals like writers, academics et. who can sit down and negotiate with each other and not be affected by the daily events/politics.

  10. 10 steve
    March 10, 2008 at 16:56

    Count Iblis:

    “To get both sides talking, both sides could elect a group of people who will negotiate a peace plan wit each other. You can imagine that the Palestinians and Israelis would vote for people they respect, e.g. intellectuals like writers, academics et. who can sit down and negotiate with each other and not be affected by the daily events/politics”


    Was that a good start? Boycotting a literature event becuase Israelis were involved?

    Let’s not forget that after the 1967 war, which the arabs started and lost, in an attempt to destroy Israel, Israel immediately offered to return the territories (which Egypt and Gaza won in 1948, and didn’t grant independence to palestinians from 1948-1967), but the Arabs had the Khartoum conference where they said NO negotiations with Israel, NO recognition of Israel, and NO peace with Israel. Israel then decided to hang on to the territories given the arabs refused to make peace. Why reward them? It sucks for the Palestinians, but their arab brothers in Egypt and Jordan obviously didn’t care for them either or they would have given them independence.

  11. 11 shirley
    March 10, 2008 at 17:16

    The talk of giving up land for peace is void and meaningless. The land that is being “given” to Palestine belongs roperly to Palestine. It was taken by Israel in an act of war, which is a clear violation of international law. The United Nations Security Council has stated that there is no land acquisition by war. The West Bank and Gaza Strip belong to Palestine. Any part of it that is returned to Palestine is only Israel finally giving in to the global legal consensus.

    If Israel really wants peace, it needs to start showing more respect for international law and the value of human life.

  12. 12 steve
    March 10, 2008 at 18:21

    Shirley: This is what UN 242 says:

    1. Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

    (i) Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

    (ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

    2. Affirms further the necessity:

    (a) For guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area;

    (b) For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;

    (c) For guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area, through measures including the establishment of demilitarized zones;


    First, does it require Israel to withdraw from all territories? Israel has withdrawn from the vast, vast majority of territories they captured in 1967. Also, it’s to be be done with a cessation of hostilities and a respect for a nation’s existence, and borders. Hamas wants Israel gone. How could UN 242 be fufilled? Egypt and Israel made peace when Egypt decided to recognize and make peace with israel in exchange for the Sinai.

    Also, if you want to get technical, Israel won the WB from Jordan, and Gaza from Egypt. Those two nations never granted the Palestinians independence.

    So it’s land for peace. They don’t get land and then decide whether they want to make peace, which is not what Hamas will ever do. To get an Islamist group like Hamas to recognize and make peace with Israel is as likely to happen as pork becoming Kosher. It’s simply NOT going to happen. There will be no peace with Islamists in power.

  13. 13 carlos King
    March 10, 2008 at 19:55

    Hi All,

    I am absolutely sure that ordinary God fearing Israelis and Palestinians want peace but these moderate voices are being drown out by all the empty barrel radicals/extremist because empty barrels make the most noise.

    The radical Israelis and Palestinians fed on a steady diet of mutual hate cannot win lasting peace. Any peace they pick-up along the way is like butter/mist in the boiling sun. It will evaporate rapidly.

    The only solution for lasting peace is FORGIVENESS. This initiative will have to come from the oppressed Palestinians because the power drunk radicals Israelis are oblivious to the suffering they’re inflicting on the Palestinians. They’re in a pathetic state of unconsciousness.

    Palestinians many of whom are christians should encourage their fellowmen to stop this madness of suicide bombing, this is a depraved and weak and pathetic act. This reveals their powerless state. Instead they should adopt the non- violent principles of Martine Luther King. He was able to gain freedom for enslaved blacks in the South by embarrassing the white southerns.

    The source of lasting peace in Palestine is for Palestinians to adopt a non-violent resistance. Let the world see the radical Israelis suppress your non-violent resistance struggles and the world will rush to your assistance with implements of war if necessary. Please take my “foolish” advice or one year from now Ros will be posting the same question.

    Carlos, Kingston-Jamaica.

  14. March 10, 2008 at 20:27

    They are not ready for peace. There is no indication that there would be peace any time soon! As long as the militant group HAMAS attack Isreal there would always be a form of retaliation from Tel Aviv. Let HAMAS stop these spate of attacks on Isreal and sit down for real negotiation. Violence begets violence! the middle East and indeed the whole world need peace. Hamas give peace a chance

  15. March 10, 2008 at 22:02

    Count Iblis says a settlement agreed now could have been agreed 10 years ago, because the main issues haven’t changed. But the point is that they couldn’t make peace 10 years ago because they didn’t want it enough. If a politician tries, it invariably costs him his job, or even his life.
    Carlos says the moderate voices are drowned out, but since Israel is a functioning democracy we have to assume that the consensus there has been that peace is not worth the price demanded by the Palestinians as none of the governments that have been elected over the years have been prepared to meet Palestinians demands.
    Which isn’t to say they should have met them – it takes two to tango and Fatah failed to meet the Israelis’ demands as well. And the election of Hamas by the Palestinians suggests that there are more important things than peace on their side too (not that Fatah’s record suggests the Palestinians rejected a peacenik party when turning to Hamas).
    And Steve quibbles over the meaning of this and that while declaring the Israelis are more interested in peace than the Palestinians. A bit of interest is hardly the commitment required to make peace in the region.
    To butcher JFK’s quote, ask not what peace can do for you, ask what you can do for peace.

  16. 17 steve
    March 11, 2008 at 01:53

    How about this one? I seem to remember SO many people saying Ahadmenijad was misquoting saying for israel to be wiped off the map, yet these pictures, from Reuters itself seem to say otherwise. Remmeber, these people want all Israelis dead. This is what Israel has to deal with in its neighborhood. Don’t forget that.


  17. March 11, 2008 at 11:34

    Peace is built on accommodation and compromises. Since neither Palestine nor Israel is prepared to accommodate each other and make some sacifices or compromises towards peace, It will be difficult to dream peace. They should learn from the old adage that two wrongs never make one right. Egypt is now at peace with Israel. Why can’t Palestine? Because they are insisting on their pound of Flesh?

    Ben Assopiah
    Tarkwa, Ghana

  18. 19 Ros Atkins
    March 11, 2008 at 14:54

    Do Israelis and Palestinians want peace? No. Scott in the States

  19. 20 Alec Paterson
    March 11, 2008 at 21:06

    A number of people on this HYS mention the word “occupied”. The territories are not occupied but disputed. Occupied territory refers to land that was originally under the control of a sovereign government. In the case of the West Bank it was illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967. The Palestinians never requested an end to Jordanian occupation. Only The UK and Pakistan recognised the Jordanian occupation. ( the UK because they set up the nation of Trans Jordan, which was part of Mandated Palestine territory). Jordan attacked Israel in 1967, and lost, therefore territory was lost and gained, as happens in war. Currently about 98% of Palestinians in the West Bank are under the civil control of the P.A . Israel is forced to maintain a military presence because of Palestinian unwillingness to end the terror. The posting by Steve of UN Resolution 242 says it all.

  20. 21 Xie_Ming
    March 11, 2008 at 22:35

    Talk of “racism” here may really be of “tribalism” or of “vengeance”. The alleged hate of Africans for whites may be the desire of the humiliated victim for revenge. It would be good to hear from black Africans on this specific point.

    In the Mid-East, there can be no “racism” between Palestinians, Israelis and Syrians, for they have a distinct and common genetic make-up. However, many Israelis have an intense religious and culturally-based tribalism which sets the “other” as animals. Palestinians certainly have the resentment of the oppressed victim. As one Israeli leader put it: “We must sear into their consciousness that they are a conquered people”.

    In general, people like the familiar and thus tribalism is natural. Problems arise when this family feeling becomes transposed to projection and hate of the “other”. Priests and politicians are ever ready to manipulate such feelings to their own ends.

  21. March 12, 2008 at 11:05

    This question should be asked from the western countries in general and America in particular.If not for America’s support to Israil peace will be automatic.
    I will not be suprised if a similar question could be raised with the passage of time With regard to the war in Iraque.
    Is America is keen to rebuild Iraque,after causing so much of damage and destruction,they should vacate Iraque and finance Irague from outside to rebuild.

  22. 23 Abi
    March 13, 2008 at 03:28


    I can not agree more with Justin from Iowa. I believe that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians want peace. Sadly the uncompromising position taken by the Moslem fundamentalists and the Orthodox Jews make it hard for the ordinary people of both nations to achieve it.

  23. 24 Xie_Ming
    March 14, 2008 at 14:11

    Some may read about the Sicarii Zelots of two thosand years ago in the same area. We observe a continuing sociopathic tendency of tribalism in today’s Sicarii, backed by Orthodox teaching.

    Since Israel has all the military force, fully backed by the USA, only the “moralizing” of civillized nations restrains the sociopaths, for the moment.

    The territories are indeed “Occupied”. Even the Israeli government uses this term, as does the UN. There are some freedom fighters attempting to resist the Occupation.

    Of course the majority in both populations wishes peace. Only if the moderates assert control of the Israeli government can there be any hope of peace.

    This process could be greatly facilitated if the United States were to withdraw its underwriting of loans to Israel and stop the billions of direct support.

  24. 25 zeid
    March 30, 2008 at 06:43


  25. 26 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 9, 2008 at 01:40

    i think they want peace but they don’t have
    the ability to make a peace deal……

    with the help of the international society
    they can get it.

    dennis~madrid, united states of america

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