Events that led to the 1991 Madrid Middle East Peace Conference (MMEPC) provide core context for Israeli and Palestinian approaches toward resolving their conflict. Policies of the respective parties and their regional and international supporters evolve over time, including the very commitment to end the conflict between them. That public commitment did not take place until 1993. By then the Palestinian community had splintered into one side that wanted to test the negotiating process with Israel, and another, Hamas, that rejected then, as it does in 2021, any recognition of Israel, Zionism or a Jewish state.

The MMEPC was a U.S. success because it brought Arab states, Israel and a Palestinian delegation together to a public conference. Out of the MMEPC, additional Palestinian and Israeli understandings were achieved, but none reached a stage of ending the conflict.

It took more than four decades from Israel’s establishment and the emergence of the Palestinian refugee issue in 1948 for the sides to consider speaking in public. In that time, Israel solidified itself as a viable state while the Palestinians debated whether negotiations with Israel were a legitimate undertaking.