Sticking Points In Finding Resolution

  • Independent Palestinian State
    Arafat had pledged to declare an independent Palestinian state with a capital in Jerusalem if no bilateral agreement was reached by September 13. Palestinian officials, however, extended the deadline following international pressure to continue peace talks. Palestinians contend that the U.N.'s 1947 plan to partition Palestine legitimizes the establishment of an Arab state comprised of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israelis have refused to relinquish those areas without providing for Jewish settlers. Israel has also refused to divide Jerusalem.

Map Of Gaza Strip, West Bank Regions
  • Jerusalem


    Jerusalem is a holy city for Jews, Muslims and Christians. Israelis have declared Jerusalem the "eternal capital" of Israel, but most nations, including the U.S., have placed their embassies in Tel Aviv. Palestinians also seek Jerusalem as the capital of their independent state.

East Jerusalem, which has been Israeli-occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War, is largely populated by Arabs. The Palestinians seek that area of the city as the capital of the state they hope to declare. Israel wants to keep East Jerusalem under its sovereignty; Barak was elected upon the promise of keeping Jerusalem united under Israeli control.

Israel has proposed granting the Palestinians municipal powers in East Jerusalem. It also suggested turning over some of the neighborhoods around Jerusalem to Palestinian control. Palestinians insist on control over all of East Jerusalem but say they would allow Jews access to religious sites.

  • Settlements

    Jewish Settlement
    in West Bank (AP)

    The West Bank came under Israeli control after the Six-Day War in 1967. Some 170,000 Jews live in approximately 145 settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, which is home to three million Palestinians.

Israel has said that it wants to create and control three big blocs of settlements on occupied West Bank land. Palestinians say Jewish settlers are an obstacle to peace and want them out of what they consider to be their lands. They do not object to some Israelis living under independent Palestinian sovereignty but reject having a settler community in Palestinian areas.

  • Water

    Palestinian woman
    waters garden in
    West Bank town.

    Access to scarce water resources in the Middle East region is a source of debate for of all its inhabitants.
  • The 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement called for increased Palestinian access to water in Israeli-occupied lands through the construction of aquifers by Israeli, Palestinian and international teams. Palestinians maintain that Israel has not provided them with adequate water for agriculture or survival. Israel contends that it meets all of its obligations according to the international treaty signed by Israel, Palestinians and the U.S.

Although Israel currently maintains sovereignty over the water sources in the occupied lands of the West Bank and Gaza, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state would necessitate joint Palestinian and Israeli access to these essential resources.

The U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 242 in 1967, calling for Israel to withdraw from lands it occupied earlier that year. Palestinians want Israel to implement Resolution 242. Israel has rejected a return to the 1967 borders and wants to annex parts of the West Bank and Gaza.
  • Refugees 

    Palestinian man
    shows ID, passing
    into Gaza region.

    • At multilateral Arab-Israeli talks in 1995, refugees were defined as "Palestinians who were registered citizens in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem on the evening of the June war (June 4, 1967) and lost their residency…."

    Palestinians claim that Israel has hindered the return of Palestinian refugees with bureaucratic restrictions and has increased the number of refugees by promoting an environment hostile to Arabs.

    Palestinians say that refugees have the "right of return" in accordance with U.N. Resolution 194 (III). According to the resolution, refugees should be allowed to return peacefully to their homes in areas now part of Israel, and those who do not wish to return should be compensated. Israel says it would take part in a fund that would compensate Palestinian refugees.

Previous articles in this series:

Part 1: Holy Land: Territory At Stake
Part 2: Seeking Peace: International Diplomacy

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Source: Ryan Gillis, Mike Barnes and Kytja Weir