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.
Israeli troops on 14 May killed more than 60 Palestinian protesters demanding a return to their old homes in Israel and an end to the siege of Gaza. In this Q&A, our Israel/Palestine Project Director Nathan Thrall outlines the risks of escalation.
Israeli troops forcibly suppressed weekly Palestinian protests at Gaza-Israel border killing at least thirteen Palestinians, raising total since protests began 30 March to at least 42, and injuring over 5,500; violence could rise as largest protests expected 15 May when Palestinians commemorate expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from Israel in 1948 war and U.S. 14 May plans to open embassy in Jerusalem. During protests at Gaza-Israel border 6 and 13 April, Israeli forces reportedly shot and killed Palestinian journalists. Separately Israeli forces killed several more Palestinians in Gaza. In West Bank, Israeli citizens killed two Palestinians accused of trying to attack Israelis: checkpoint security guards 2 April shot Palestinian near Tulkarem who later died; armed civilian killed another Palestinian in Mishor Adumim settlement 9 April. Also in West Bank, hate crimes against Palestinians increased mid-April, including burning of mosque and destruction of vehicles and property. Palestinian National Council, legislative body of Palestine Liberation Organization, met 30 April. Israel reportedly attacked air base in central Syria 9 April killing seven Iranians; Iran promised retaliation. Strikes on three bases in northern Syria 29-30 April, described by Syrian opposition as Israeli and by pro-Syrian govt website as Western, reportedly killed 38 Syrian soldiers in Hama and eighteen Iranian fighters. At Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia 15 April, Saudi King Salman announced contributions of $150mn to Islamic Waqf in Jerusalem, which administers holy sites, $50mn to UN agency for Palestinian refugees and increase in budgetary aid to Palestinian Authority from $7mn to $21mn per month.
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.
The collapse of U.S.-led Israeli-Palestinian talks in 2014 led to political instability, rising violence and settlement expansion. To improve his successors’ peace-making chances, President Obama should push for a new UN Security Council resolution setting out the basic parameters of a deal.
A deceptive calm on Jerusalem’s Holy Esplanade is unlikely to hold under pressure from the ongoing “third intifada”, widespread dissatisfaction among Palestinian youth and growing Jewish Temple activism. Bolstering the 1967 Status Quo arrangement remains crucial, but immediate attention must be on maintaining more recent understandings on access to the Esplanade as the religious holiday season begins.
Both Israel and Hamas recognise that another war is only a matter of time if Gaza’s fundamental problems are not addressed: the economy is a shambles; the acting government lacks the ability to collect or otherwise obtain the revenue necessary to pay salaries and provide services; and most residents cannot access the outside world.
Jerusalem’s Holy Esplanade remains at the epicentre of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With the holy month of Ramadan underway and the Jewish high holidays soon to follow, tensions are likely to increase. Calming the conflict’s symbolic core requires more support for the site’s status quo, including Palestinian participation and encouraging religious dialogue.
To achieve a durable ceasefire, not only must Israel significantly change its policy toward Gaza, but, no less importantly, Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organisation must take further steps to implement their reconciliation agreement in order to enable reconstruction and stabilise daily life in the Strip.
Overall Hamas is in the same corner it was a month or two ago. It simply doesn’t have an answer about how to get out of this predicament or even how to capitalize on these protests.
[The Israelis] are using administrative measures to restrict Islamic figures who are opposed to US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and who are vocal in their defense of Muslim interests at Al-Aqsa
[Russia is] not trying to solve the roots of the conflict between Israel and Iran, but is more about delimiting it. Russia is in the best position to mitigate conflict.
Les Russes sont surtout en train de redéfinir les règles du face-à-face entre Israéliens et Iraniens en Syrie.
La Russie exprime de plus en plus son insatisfaction au sujet du conflit entre l’Iran et Israël en Syrie. Les Russes suggèrent à l’Iran, s’ils veulent agir contre Israël, de le faire ailleurs qu’en Syrie.
Moscow decided to be judge and jury [following Monday's airstrike on Iranian assets in Syria] — to side with Assad and Hezbollah, which were saying it was an Israeli attack, rather than siding with Israel.
Joost Hiltermann, Crisis Group's Program Director for the Middle East and North Africa talks about a new phase in Syria’s war that augurs escalation with Israel.
But following the hostilities over the weekend, does Putin want to?
Originally published in The Atlantic
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post
Trump may have earned himself goodwill in Israel, but at the cost of inflating annexationist sentiment and stirring trouble at Jerusalem’s Holy Esplanade.
Originally published in Carnegie Endowment for International Peace