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Home   »  Resources  »  Miscellaneous Resources  »  Understanding the Conflict: A ...  »  PART ONE: The Crisis

What does Israel want?


Most Jewish Israelis want security to live their lives very much as they have been doing for the last decade or so, with an end to the attacks on civilians that has brought such fear to ordinary Israelis. Until its recent economic downturn, Israel had been the 17th wealthiest country in the world, with a high standard of living and close ties to Europe and the U.S.

There has been an active peace movement in Israel for many years. In 1982, after the Sabra-Shatila massacre in Lebanon, the largest protest demonstration in the world was held in Israel, when 400,000 Israelis, almost 10% of the population of the country, rallied against the invasion. Peace Now, one of the oldest and largest of Israel's Jewish peace organizations, plays a key role in monitoring settlement activity. Other groups, including Women in Black, Gush Shalom, Rabbis for Human Rights and many others, carry out a wide range of anti-occupation activities, including demonstrations inside Israel, support for Palestinian mobilizations in the occupied territories, education work, direct civil disobedience challenging occupation soldiers and settlers, organizing boycotts of settler-produced goods, and many more.

Only a minority of Israelis, according to the polls, are committed to holding on to the occupied territories, but the majority, willing to return the territories to the Palestinians and end the occupation, has not been able to influence Israel's successive governments to do just that. Since the intifada began in September 2000, many Israelis, including many once supportive of the peace camp, have taken up the view that Palestinian violence can somehow be quashed by ever-increasing use of force, while leaving the occupation intact. Despite its failure so far, a majority still seem to accept or support that position.

For most Israelis, an end to Palestinian violence would be sufficient, even if the occupation remained intact.


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