This paper investigates why Israel has been willing to withdraw from some disputed territories and not others over the course of the Israeli-Arab peace process. In particular, it focuses on how competing narratives of security and national defense versus homeland and national identity shape contemporary Israeli attitudes toward territorial compromise. Utilizing controlled individual-level experiments administered to diverse populations across Israel, it is found that publics are less susceptible to elite rhetorical manipulation than commonly assumed by nationalism and ethnic conflict scholars. Rather than being “agenda setters,” political elites’ rhetorical scope for popular mobilization, particularly on issues of national identity and homeland, is strongly constrained by pre-existing public knowledge. Although politicians frequently seek to stir domestic nationalism over international territorial disputes, the claim that such lands are integral to national defense or the historic national homeland have only gained traction where this is already believed to be the case. Only by understanding these sources of public opposition to territorial compromise, it is argued, will long-term conflict resolution be possible.