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 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.
Originally published in Middle East Eye
As COVID-19 began to take hold in Israel, West Bank and Gaza, violence between Palestinians and Israeli forces continued at low ebb in West Bank and third set of elections in Israel failed to produce clear winner. In West Bank, Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli forces 11 March near Beita following rumours that Israel intended to create new settlements; Israeli forces shot and killed Palestinian teenager. Palestinian Authority (PA) early March protested Israeli Defence Minister Bennett’s approval of “sovereignty road” between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim settlement that enables Jewish settlement in E1 area. PA 6 March declared state of emergency following first reports of COVID-19 in West Bank. After Israel 13 March closed crossings into Palestinian territories, PA 18 March restricted movement across borders with Jordan and Egypt, as well as through checkpoints into Israel. U.S. 11 March changed description of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem to “Arab residents” or “non-Israeli citizens” in human rights report. In Gaza, accidental explosion in Nuseirat refugee camp 5 March killed ten. Authorities in Gaza 22 March reported first COVID-19 cases. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh 2 March met Russian FM Lavrov in Moscow, and Islamic Jihad’s leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah led delegation to Moscow following week. In Israel’s 2 March elections, PM Netanyahu fell short of securing majority in parliament. President Rivlin 16 March tasked Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz with forming new govt. Gantz split Blue and White party, leading half of it into negotiating national emergency govt, in which for eighteen months premiership would rotate between Netanyahu, who would go first, and Gantz. Govt 15 March postponed Netanyahu’s trial to 24 May citing COVID-19.
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 and Hamas stand on the brink of another full-scale confrontation in Gaza. The only viable exit from the ongoing cycle of escalation is for international actors to use carrots and sticks to bring about intra-Palestinian reconciliation, thereby allowing the Palestinian Authority (PA) to govern the Gaza Strip.
Facts on the ground in Syria are defining the contours of the country’s political future and also the geography of a looming clash between Israel, Hizbollah and other Iran-allied militias. Russia should broker understandings to prevent a new front from opening.
Even Netanyahu’s critics are appreciative of his risk averseness [toward Coronavirus], and the clear majority of Israelis thinks he performs well.
There needs to be a serious exploration — not another empty threat from the president’s office — of what dismantling the [Palestinian Authority] looks like.
[Trump's peace plan's] message to the Palestinians, boiled down to its essence, is: You’ve lost, get over it.
Netanyahu fears this incident lacks a broader U.S. strategy and would either merely escalate dynamics without restraining Iran’s nuclear program and regional activities.
There are no signs (Hamas) will accept Israel as a permanent fact but indications they have come to accept it in the medium term and seek arrangements with it.
The Trump administration is trying to unravel international consensus on this issue of the illegality of settlements.
The plan could pave the way for an Israeli takeover of the holy site in Jerusalem.
Originally published in Al Jazeera
The Israel-Lebanon border has been relatively quiet for the past 13 years. The latest tit-for-tat threatens the balance.
Originally published in The American Prospect
Fighting in Gaza killed 25 Palestinians and four Israelis on 3-6 May. In this Q&A, our Israel/Palestine Analyst Tareq Baconi links the violence to a continuing failure to ease restrictions on Gaza as agreed in a November ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, Gaza’s dominant Palestinian group.