A withdrawal to the 1967 border would not satisfy the radical Islamists. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have made clear that they will not end their terrorist campaign against Israel even if it withdraws to the pre-war frontier. These and other Muslim extremists have said they will not accept the existence of a Jewish state in the Islamic world.
When Egypt’s Anwar Sadat declared he was prepared to make peace, and matched his words with deeds, Israel withdrew completely from the Sinai, dismantled Jewish settlements, and gave up its oil fields. When King Hussein agreed to make peace, Israel agreed to return the small swath of Jordanian territory it held.
Israel remains committed to trading land for peace, and never annexed the West Bank or Gaza Strip because it expected to return part of these territories in negotiations. When the Palestinians finally declared that they would recognize Israel and renounce terrorism, Israel agreed to begin to withdraw. Plans to withdraw from additional territory were scuttled by Palestinian terrorism and their violation of the Oslo agreements.
For peace, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to withdraw from 100% of the Gaza Strip and 95-97% of the West Bank, that is, to the 1967 border with minor modifications. He also agreed to dismantle settlements, and allow the Palestinians to establish a state with east Jerusalem as its capital if they would end the conflict.Arafat rejected the offer and did not even offer a counterproposal.
Israel offered to negotiate a return of the Golan Heights to Syria, and a succession of Prime Ministers declared a readiness to concede this strategic high ground in exchange for peace. Neither Syrian President Hafez Assad nor his son, who succeeded him, have been prepared to follow Sadat and Hussein’s example and offer peace in return.
In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip. The disengagement plan also involved the dismantling of four settlements in northen Samaria.
In 2006, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proposed a plan in which Israel would evacuate most of the settlements in the West Bank, while holding onto five large settlement blocs. This plan, known as “Realignment” would be executed unilaterally if Israel cannot negotiate an agreement with the Palestinians. The plan sought to permanently define Israel’s borders with a future Palestinian state, and ensure that Israel will maintain its Jewish majority. The breakout of the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006 and the EU’s opposition to an Israeli unilateral withdrawal led to the plan’s demise.
In 2011, President Barak Obama called on Israel to use the 1967 lines as a basis for peace negotiations and assured that Israel’s strategic depth would be maintained through “mutually agreed land swaps.” “Israeli and Palestinians,” Obama pledged, “will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4th, 1967.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made clear that he is ready and willing to negotiate the border as President Obama said, and he maintains that Israel cannot be expected to move back to the 1967 lines. “I am willing to make painful compromises to achieve peace,” Netanyahu said before a joint session of Congress on May 24, 2011. “I recognize that in a genuine peace, [Israel] will be required to give up parts of the Jewish homeland.”