An Israeli-Palestinian peace deal in the foreseeable future is unachievable, as is a credible process for reaching one. Since 2002, Crisis Group has been working to advance a new, inclusive peacemaking model for Israelis and Palestinians and to reduce the likelihood of deadly conflict among Palestinians and between Israel and its neighbours.
The latest escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict brought important shifts in the status quo, underscoring the necessity of a political settlement. A peace based on equal respect for both peoples’ rights will take time, however. Steps to lower the temperature are urgent in the interim.
Originally published in DAWN, Democracy in Exile section.
Violence and unrest ran high in East Jerusalem and West Bank as Palestinian attacks killed two Israelis and Israeli forces killed seven Palestinians. In occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinian 4 Dec stabbed to death Israeli near Damascus Gate; border police subsequently shot dead assailant in what UN human rights office called “apparent extrajudicial execution”. Palestinian girl 8 Dec stabbed Israeli woman in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. Meanwhile, following U.S. pressure, state planning committee 6 Dec delayed approval of settlement project in Atarot, East Jerusalem. In West Bank, Israeli forces 6 Dec shot dead 16-year-old Palestinian who allegedly drove car into Jbara military checkpoint, injuring Israeli soldier. Israeli forces 10 Dec shot dead Palestinian during protest against illegal settlements in Beita village; 12 Dec killed Palestinian in Nablus city during clashes following arrest raid. Palestinian gunmen 16 Dec opened fire on Israeli settlers’ car leaving illegal outpost Homesh, killing one Israeli. In response, Israeli settlers launched reprisal attacks throughout West Bank; notably, 25 settlers 17 Dec attacked couple in Qaryut village. Israeli forces 21 Dec shot dead Palestinian allegedly attempting to drive into military checkpoint near Mevo Dotan settlement; next day, killed Palestinian near al-Amari refugee camp in Ramallah who military claimed opened fire on them from passing car. Israeli troops 31 Dec shot dead Palestinian near Ariel settlement. Palestinians 11 Dec held first phase of municipal elections in West Bank; Hamas boycotted vote. UN data 27 Dec revealed 450 settler attacks resulting in Palestinian casualties or property damage in 2021, compared to 358 attacks in 2020. In rare visit to Israel, Palestinian Authority President Abbas 28 Dec met Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz and announced “confidence-building measures”; Hamas condemned talks. Meanwhile, Israel 7 Dec completed construction of ‘iron wall’, including fence, underground wall and radar system surrounding Gaza Strip. Internationally, Israeli FM Lapid 9 Dec visited Egypt for talks with Egyptian President Sisi and FM Sameh Shoukry on consolidating ceasefire with Hamas; PM Bennett 12 Dec began first official visit by Israeli leader to United Arab Emirates. Syrian state media 7, 15, 28 Dec reported Israeli airstrikes on Latakia port (see Syria).
A cluster of coronavirus cases indicates that community transmission is occurring in the Gaza Strip. Israel should relax its blockade to permit entry of medical equipment and exit of seriously ill patients. Donors should respond quickly to requests for aid.
The coronavirus is now present in Gaza, the populous Palestinian enclave blockaded by air, land and sea since 2007. An epidemic would be calamitous. Hamas should tighten public health measures; Israel should loosen restrictions so that medical supplies can enter and afflicted Palestinians can leave.
Israel is pursuing new ways of cementing its grip on occupied East Jerusalem, further enmeshing the city’s Palestinians while maintaining a Jewish majority within the municipal boundaries. These schemes could spark conflict. The new Israeli government elected in September should set them aside.
A standoff looms between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli police over a shuttered building at Jerusalem’s Holy Esplanade. Israel and Muslim religious authorities should reopen the building to lessen tensions at the sacred site, where small incidents have blown up into prolonged violence before.
A ceasefire agreement has brought Israel and Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas back from the cusp of yet another calamitous war. However fragile, it offers a rare opportunity for all parties to finally break the cycle of recurring hostilities that has killed thousands since 2007.
Israel's alliance with Morocco could mean that in the long-term Rabat becomes militarily superior to Algiers and dominant in the region.
Conceptually, Hamas put the Palestinians back on the radar and Jerusalem at the center of their issues. The [Israeli] government has realized that Palestinians are uniting; that the fragmentation isn’t as effective as they would like it to be; that they empathize with each other’s struggles, regardless of whether they are in the West Bank, Jerusalem or Gaza
Dispossession is central to the Palestinian struggle, and Jerusalem is a microcosm of that.
Any pursuit toward the [Israel-Palestine] peace process will not be accepted by the majority of Palestinians if it’s being done on behalf of a small cluster of people that they do not see as being representative.
Netanyahu was very eloquent. He didn’t actively seek war, he was cautious. As for Bennett, we don’t yet know. Could he drag Israel into new wars?
For those who care about the Palestinian side, they see every Israeli government as similar, they feel like the occupation is going to continue regardless and it doesn’t matter who is the face of it.
In 30 November remarks to the UN Security Council, Crisis Group's Interim Vice President Comfort Ero laid out arguments for rethinking the framework of peacemaking in Israel-Palestine as well as steps various parties can take to improve the situation on the ground in the meantime.
Originally published in The New York Times
Originally published in Política Exterior
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood talks to Crisis Group experts Azmi Keshawi, Tahani Mustafa and Mairav Zonszein about what the war looks like in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel and what its longer-term implications are for Israelis and Palestinians.
The Israeli leadership calls what it is doing in Gaza now 'mowing the grass,' knowing it will grow back before long
Originally published in The Telegraph