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.
Israelis go to the polls – yet again – on 23 March. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Mairav Zonszein lays out the stakes for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the direction of Israel’s domestic politics and foreign policy.
Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians in West Bank, Palestinian factions pledged support for electoral process, and Israel’s fourth election in two years resulted in deadlock. In West Bank, Israeli settlers 10 March attacked Palestinian Saeed Alyan Awad and his family near Mitzpe Yair settlement, south of Hebron, leaving him with cracked skull and broken jaw. Israeli soldiers same day detained five Palestinian children aged eight-13 in South Hebron Hills after settlers accused them of trespassing. Israeli settlers 12 March threw stones in Palestinian neighbourhood in northern West Bank, damaging two cars. Israeli human rights group B’tselem mid-month reported 94 violent attacks by Israelis against Palestinian civilians between 21 Dec 2020 and 13 March 2021. Israel 12 March issued banning order prohibiting Palestinian Authority (PA) Governor of Jerusalem Adnan Ghaith from communicating with President Abbas and other officials. Israel’s Jerusalem municipality 17 March asked courts to reactivate demolition orders for dozens of buildings housing 1,500 Palestinians in East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan. In sign of internal party rifts ahead of Palestinian summer elections, President Abbas 11 March xpelled Yasser Arafat’s nephew Nasser al-Kidwa from Fatah over his attempt to field separate list of candidates for legislative poll in May. As concern rose over uncertain outcome of legislative election, Abbas 16 March rejected request from Israel and U.S. to postpone vote. PA, Central Elections Commission and 15 Palestinian factions 16-17 March convened in Egyptian capital Cairo for second round of national dialogue; parties agreed mechanism to form new Palestinian National Council while factions affirmed support for electoral process. In Gaza, Hamas 14 March announced that Yahya Sinwar was re-elected as head of movement’s political bureau in Gaza. Israel 24 March carried out night-time airstrikes on Hamas positions in response to rocket fire. Over 10,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel 5, 12, 19 March demonstrated against police brutality and criminal gangs. Israel’s 23 March election produced no clear winner; PM Netanyahu’s bloc won 52 seats, nine short of threshold to form govt, setting stage for arduous coalition negotiations and possible fifth election. Israel 12 March conducted airstrikes in Syria (see Syria).
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.
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.
Cairo’s public condemnation of Israeli unilateralism in Ramallah is a blow to (Benjamin) Netanyahu’s narrative that Israel's Arab partners are indifferent toward annexation if not desirous of it.
This is the first time [Palestinian Prime Minister] Shtayyeh has acquired significant support among Palestinian people as a potential long-term successor to [Palestinian President] Abbas.
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.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Rob Malley and guest host Richard Atwood talk with Dahlia Scheindlin and Crisis Group’s North Africa Project Director Riccardo Fabiani about the normalisation of relations between Israel and Morocco and the accompanying U.S. recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.
In this podcast series, Crisis Group President Rob Malley and Board Member Naz Modirzadeh, a Harvard professor of international law and armed conflict, dive deep into the conflicts that rage around the globe, along with Crisis Group field analysts and special guests. This week, they discuss U.S. support for the Yemen war and the absence of the Palestinian issue from the normalisation agreement among Israel, the UAE and Bahrain. Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for Ethiopia, Will Davison, also joins them to discuss the challenges facing Ethiopia.
In this podcast series, Crisis Group President Rob Malley and Board Member Naz Modirzadeh, a Harvard professor of international law and armed conflict, dive deep into the conflicts that rage around the globe, along with Crisis Group field analysts and special guests. In this first episode, Naz and Rob talk about the role foreign policy played, or didn’t, at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, and explain why the U.S. attempt to snap back UN sanctions on Iran was met with a collective shrug internationally.
Originally published in Jadaliyya