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 Política Exterior
Unprecedented jailbreak from Israeli maximum-security prison prompted Palestinian solidarity protests across Israel, West Bank and Gaza. Six Palestinian prisoners 6 Sept broke out of Israel’s maximum-security Gilboa prison, northern Israel; Israeli security forces immediately launched largest nationwide manhunt in decades, arresting dozens of Palestinians, including minors and families of fugitives. Jailbreak sparked prison riots; notably, Palestinian prisoners belonging to Islamic Jihad 8 Sept set fire to cells in Rimon and Ketziot prisons in southern Israel, and Palestinian prisoners across Israeli jails 17 Sept began hunger strike. In solidarity, around 500 Palestinians 8-9 Sept protested in Jerusalem and across West Bank, including in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and Nablus cities. Palestinians 10 Sept announced “day of rage” in West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Israeli forces same day raided Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque compound to disperse sit-in protest; Israeli fire severely wounded Palestinian man (who later died) at gates of compound in stabbing attack. Palestinians in West Bank’s Jenin city 19 Sept threw rocks and explosives at Israeli troops. Israeli authorities 10-19 Sept announced rearrest of all six fugitives. Separately, over 500 Israeli settlers and security officers 22 Sept stormed al-Aqsa compound during Jewish holiday Sukkot. In West Bank, Palestinian military court in Ramallah town 27 Sept held first hearing into case of 14 members of security forces charged with June killing of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat; Israeli forces 26 Sept killed four Hamas and one Islamic Jihad member in gun battles in Biddu town; dozens of Israeli settlers 28 Sept assaulted Palestinians in al-Mufkara village in South Hebron Hills, injuring four-year-old. Israeli forces 30 Sept killed Palestinian gunman near Jenin. In Gaza, Israeli troops 2 Sept shot dead one Palestinian as over 1,000 gathered along border in nightly protests against block-ade. Gaza factions 12-13 Sept fired rockets into Israel, prompting Israeli airstrike 13 Sept. Palestinian President Abbas gave Israel one year to withdraw from occupied territory to 1967 borders or Palestine would withdraw recognition of Israel. Israel 3 Sept carried out airstrikes near Damascus (see Syria). Israeli PM Bennett 13 Sept met President al-Sisi in first official Israeli visit to Egypt in over decade.
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.
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 Palestine,] the option is either to engage with Hamas or an incredibly unrepresentative and defunct governing — somewhat of a governing — authority that holds absolutely no legitimacy.
Originally published in The New York Times
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
The confrontations across Israel-Palestine are well on the way to becoming one of the worst spasms of violence there in recent memory. In this Q&A, Crisis Group experts explain what is behind the explosive events and where they might lead.
As Israeli strikes on Iran-linked targets in Syria continue, there is always a risk that occasional spikes of violence could escalate into a broader confrontation.
Originally published in Middle East Eye