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.
Violence continued in Gaza-Israel border area. Israeli forces 1 June shot and killed Gazan paramedic. Gazan militants early June launched incendiary kites and balloons over border causing fires in Israel. In response, Israeli military 17 June bombed nine Hamas targets in Gaza. Next day, Gazan militants launched three rockets toward Israel. Israeli air force 20 June bombed Hamas targets in Gaza, provoking more rocket attacks on Israel, to which Israel responded with further bombing of Hamas targets. In total, 45 rockets were fired from Gaza and Israeli forces bombed over twenty Hamas targets. Israel 26 June bombed numerous Hamas targets in Gaza, including observation posts and vehicles allegedly belonging to launchers of incendiary kites; in response, over a dozen projectiles were fired from Gaza toward Israel. Israeli forces 29 June shot and killed two Palestinians during protests at Gaza border. UN General Assembly 13 June passed resolution condemning Israel for “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate” use of force to suppress Gaza protests that began end March. In West Bank, Palestinians 10 June marched in Ramallah protesting against Palestinian Authority (PA) sanctions on Gaza. PA 12 June banned all protests until end of Eid 15 June. PA security forces 13 June suppressed further protests, arresting over 50. Hamas security forces in Gaza 18 June quashed protests against continued rift between two main Palestinian parties, Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s largest faction, Fatah. Protesters 20 June gathered in Bethlehem and at PA offices in Amman and Beirut. To prepare ground for new peace plan, U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt and President Trump’s adviser Jared Kushner met Israelis, Egyptians and Jordanians, but not Palestinians, in regional tour 20-23 June. PLO continued to insist it would not engage with any plan unless U.S. changed its position on status of Jerusalem. Kushner 24 June criticised PA President Abbas for prioritising his political survival over needs of Palestinians and said U.S. would release peace plan soon. U.S. 19 June withdrew from UN Human Rights Council citing alleged anti-Israeli bias. Israel continued to confront Iran militarily in Syria: Israeli forces reportedly bombed area near al-Bukamal in eastern Syria near Iraqi border 17 June, killing or injuring dozens of reported Syrian and Iraqi forces allied to Iran. Israel 18 June indicted former Minister Gonen Segev, arrested in May, for spying for Iran.
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.
What's different today is that there is no expectation on the part of Hamas that if there were a big war today that it would result in Gaza or Hamas being in a better position in terms of the blockade.
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.
US mediation will have to help the sides identify a middle path toward resolving a tension potentially inherent in this approach between purely professional interests and each stakeholder’s agenda.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post
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