Israel | Netanyahu Maintains Tough Stance against Iran and Peace Talks Resume with Palestine
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- State of Israel Gives Jews a Homeland
- Israel Expands Its Territory Through War
- Peace Treaty with Egypt Brings Temporary Calm to Mideast
- Jewish Settlements Increase Tension Between Israelis and Palestinians
- Netanyahu Steps Back from Oslo Accord
- Progress Toward Peace Inconsistent
- Violence Between Israelis and Palestinians Reaches New Heights
- Israel Withdraws Settlers from Gaza
- Sharon Forms New Party
- Hamas Dominates Parliamentary Elections
- Israel Criticised for Attacks on Lebanon
- New Hope for Peace as Leaders Return to Bargaining Table
- Violence Flares in Gaza
- Netanyahu Returns to Power; Peace Talks Fall Apart
- Attack on Aid Flotilla Causes International Uproar
- Peace Talks Resume—Briefly
- Unaffordable Housing Costs Cause Mass Protests
- Terrorist Attacks Threaten Peace with Egypt
- The Palestinians Request Membership to UN, Give up on Talks with Israel
- Gilad Shalit Released After More Than Five Years
- Exploratory Talks with Palestine Stall while Tension with Iran Increases
- Report Confirms Suspicions over Iran's Nuclear Program
- Violence Erupts with Hamas in November 2012
- 2013 Election Shows a Slight Move to the Center for Israel
- Netanyahu Maintains Tough Stance against Iran and Peace Talks Resume with Palestine
- 2014 Brings New Military Legislation, Presidential Election, and More Conflict with Palestine
- Netanyahu Makes Controversial Speech to U.S. Congress, Wins 2015 Election, Faces Worst Violence in Years
Netanyahu Maintains Tough Stance against Iran and Peace Talks Resume with Palestine
In early May 2013, Israel ordered two airstrikes on Damascus. The first happened on May 3, and the second two days later. Israeli officials maintained that the airstrikes were not meant as a way for Israel to become involved in Syria's ongoing civil war. Instead, the strikes focused on military warehouses in an effort to prevent Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite militia group with strong ties to Iran, from getting more weapons.
On Aug. 14, 2013, Israelis and Palestinians began peace talks in Jerusalem. Expectations were low going into the talks, the third attempt to negotiate since 2000, and nearly five years since the last attempt. The talks began just hours after Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners. The prisoner release was an attempt on Israel's part to bring Palestine back to the negotiating table. Israel said the prisoner release would be the first of four. Palestinian officials expressed concern about Israel's ongoing settlement building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, land that would be part of an official Palestinian state.
In Oct. 2013, Netanyahu gave his annual speech at the United Nations. During the speech, he referred to Iranian President Rowhani as a "wolf in sheep's clothing" and warned the international community not to be fooled by Rowhani's recent overtures to the West. "I want there to be no confusion on this point. Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone," Netanyahu said.
That same month Israel freed another 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of the current U.S.-brokered peace talks. However, soon after the prisoners were released, the Israeli government reported it planned to build 1,500 new homes in east Jerusalem, an area claimed by the Palestinians. The settlement announcement was seen as a concession to the right after the prisoner release. By Nov. 2013, peace talks appeared to be on the verge of collapse when a Palestinian negotiator said no deal would be better than one that allowed Israel to keep building settlements.
When Israel failed to release the promised last batch of prisoners in late March 2014, U.S. Secretary John Kerry headed there in an attempt to rescue the peace talks. Israel had promised to release Palestinian prisoners in four groups and released the first three groups. But Israel's failure to release the last group of 26 prisoners as well as their continued settlement expansion in the West Bank threatened to derail a peace agreement that was supposed to be reached by the end of April 2014. Palestine said that the peace talks would end on April 29 if Israel did not release the 26 prisoners.
In April 2014, the troubled peace talks hit another snag when Palestinian leadership and Hamas forged a new reconciliation agreement. The new unity deal angered the Israeli government. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted by saying that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was choosing "Hamas, not peace." The U.S. government warned that the new accord could prevent any progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Since 1997, Hamas has been a designated foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. On April 24, 2014, the day after the Palestinian leadership announced its new unity deal with Hamas, Israel responded by halting the peace talks. The deadline for this latest round of peace talks passed without an agreement a week later.