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.
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.
In West Bank, Israeli army responded to multiple Palestinian attacks on Israeli settlers and army with mass raids and arrests; three Israelis and five Palestinians killed. In West Bank, Palestinian drive-by shooting near Israeli settlement of Ofra 9 Dec wounded seven including pregnant woman whose unborn baby later died; Israeli army 12 Dec shot dead suspected attacker and same day killed Palestinian suspected of attack in Oct. Israeli police 13 Dec killed Palestinian allegedly attempting to stab two Israeli policemen in East Jerusalem; Palestinians same day shot dead two Israeli soldiers outside Givat Asaf outpost; and Israeli army hours later killed Palestinian allegedly attempting to run over soldiers outside Bireh. Israel accused Hamas of masterminding attacks. In response, Israel closed entrances to city of Ramallah and carried out raids 14 Dec, arresting some 40 Palestinians and killing one. Throughout West Bank and Gaza Strip Palestinians protested against raids; Palestinian Authority (PA) heavily suppressed protests as it claimed Hamas had organised them. In Gaza, UN and Egyptian-mediated talks on ceasefire with Israel and reconciliation with PA continued. In accordance with ceasefire agreement, Qatar’s second tranche of $15mn distributed in Gaza 4 Dec for civil servants and poor families. Hamas claimed to have caught thirteen Palestinians alleged to have facilitated Israeli undercover operation that went awry in Nov; military tribunal 3 Dec sentenced six to death and seven to life imprisonment. Israeli govt 24 Dec dissolved ruling coalition and announced general elections to be held 9 April. UN General Assembly 6 Dec rejected U.S.-sponsored resolution seeking to condemn Hamas including “for inciting violence”. Israeli military 4 Dec began operations to find and destroy Hizbollah tunnels dug in Lebanon, some of which crossed into Israeli territory. Australia 15 Dec recognised West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but said it would not relocate embassy until peace deal is achieved.
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.
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.
Israël a l’impression que le Hezbollah ne prend plus au sérieux ses menaces (...) Agir maintenant est un avertissement, bien au-delà de la question des tunnels.
Even if Israel and Hamas manage to avoid war and continue based on the understandings they have reached, these will be rickety and subject to collapse.
By punishing the Palestinians, the [Trump] administration unwittingly is liberating them from former restraints under which they had operated since Oslo in order to placate the U.S. and Israel.
What is the reason [President] Netanyahu views a Palestinian state as a security risk? He thinks Palestinians will continue to teach their children that Zionism is unjust and that the state next door should not exist as a state for the Jewish people.
Israel wants the Palestinian Authority to control Gaza, but it is wary of the elections the authority would have because Hamas could win a place in a Palestinian government.
Israeli public opinion is demanding that something be done about the incendiary kites. It has been proposed that if Hamas stops the kites, the situation can go back to what it was half a year ago. The problem is that Hamas doesn’t want to go back to where it was half a year ago, or a year ago or two years ago.
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
Israeli-Palestinian tensions are mounting, not just in Gaza and over the U.S. embassy’s move to Jerusalem, but also over Jerusalem’s Holy Esplanade, known to Jews as Temple Mount and Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. Israeli and Palestinian leaders could take simple administrative steps to reduce the risks of violence at the holy sites.
Protests in Gaza on Friday 30 March, at which Israeli forces killed more than a dozen Palestinians, were the largest of their kind in several years and are likely to grow over the coming weeks. In this Q&A, Nathan Thrall, Director of Crisis Group’s Arab-Israeli Project, says the series of planned marches reflect the Palestinians’ determination to take matters into their own hands after losing faith in outside mediation.
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