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.
Little has changed in the calculations of the main actors in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, despite the dramatic upsurge in violence almost a year ago. To prevent a reprise, outside powers should push for interim steps as they revisit the core assumptions of their diplomacy.
Originally published in DAWN, Democracy in Exile section.
Israeli security forces continued lethal raids across West Bank, while Israel’s governing coalition collapsed, paving way for fifth election in less than four years. Following tensions around Jerusalem’s Holy Esplanade in May, situation in area was calmer during month; however, risk remains of escalation around religious Eid al-Adha festivities 9-13 July. In West Bank, as of 15 June, Israeli forces conducted over 220 incursions into West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, with some turning violent, and arrested 57 Palestinians. Notably, Israeli soldiers 1 June shot dead Palestinian woman at entrance of al-Aroub refugee camp in Hebron city, prompting Palestinian protests. Israeli forces 2 June killed five Palestinians, including child, during incursions in Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah cities. Israeli forces 9 June detained 24 Palestinians in 37 raids in multiple locales, marking most arrests in 24-hour period this year. Clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces 10 June wounded seven Palestinians, including four children, in Qalqilya city. Israeli forces’ pre-dawn raid in Jenin refugee camp 17 June killed three Palestinians. Palestinian Ministry of Health 17 June reported over 70 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since start of 2022. Clashes 29-30 June erupted in Nablus city where Israeli forces claimed Palestinian gunmen fired on Jewish worshippers, leaving three Israelis and dozens of Palestinians injured. EU 15 June agreed to release funding to Palestinian territories for 2021 that it had withheld over concerns of content inside Palestinian school textbooks. Regional parliament of Catalonia 16 June became first parliament inside EU to pass resolution declaring Israel is committing crime of apartheid. Meanwhile, PM Naftali Bennett and FM Yair Lapid 20 June agreed to hold vote on dissolving Knesset, collapsing eight party coalition govt and making Lapid caretaker PM, after acknowledging that there was no chance to pass emergency regulations that extend Israeli civil law to settlers in West Bank; Knesset dissolved 30 June, awaiting fifth election since April 2019 to be held 1 Nov. Egypt, Israel and EU 15 June signed deal to increase liquefied natural gas sales to EU countries to help reduce dependence on Russian supplies. Shadow hostilities with Iran became more visible (see Iran).
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.
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.
Israel recycles the same heavy-handed response to what it sees as Palestinian provocation.
There is total despair and lack of any political horizon on the Palestinian front. Israelis have become accustomed to continuing the status quo with no price to pay.
We’ve seen significant tension in Jerusalem, which hasn’t died down since the last line of conflict. It only makes sense for Jordan to try and intervene in some way to quell tensions.
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.
Crisis Group’s Watch List identifies ten countries or regions at risk of deadly conflict or escalation thereof in 2022. In these places, early action, driven or supported by the EU and its member states, could enhance prospects for peace and stability.
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
A new Israeli government is set to replace long-serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As Crisis Group expert Mairav Zonszein explains, however, not much but antipathy for the ex-premier holds the prospective cabinet together. It may well struggle to survive.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood talks to Crisis Group expert Tareq Baconi about Hamas – the Palestinian militant movement governing Gaza – what it wants, how Palestinians view it and prospects for an end to violence while it rules Gaza.