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.
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.
Low-level violence continued between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza, new Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) cabinet took office and Israeli PM Netanyahu, after resounding win in legislative polls, began negotiations to form right-wing coalition. In Gaza, after Israel and Hamas recommitted to ceasefire and previous agreements late March, Israeli army forcibly suppressed Palestinian protests at Gaza-Israel fence area 12 April killing one protester, and in response to Palestinian shots 20 April struck Hamas target in Gaza, no casualties reported. In West Bank, Palestinian Authority (PA) PM Shtayyeh’s new cabinet – composed predominantly of members of President Abbas’s Fatah – took office 13 April. During cabinet’s first session, Abbas 15 April announced new Fatah delegation for reconciliation talks with Hamas in Cairo; FM Malki same day declared PA’s readiness to engage in peace talks with Israel if under Russian and international auspices, rather than that of U.S. Israeli settlers 3 April killed Palestinian man, after attempted stabbing; Israeli security forces 16 April arrested five men for “hostile activities”; 24 April destroyed home of teenager suspected to have carried out deadly attack against Israeli soldier in March. Palestinian prisoners 8 April launched hunger strike over disruptive technology Israel installed to prevent prisoner usage of smuggled mobile phones in prison; Israeli authorities conceded usage of public phones 15 April on condition that they supervise calls. Following 9 April Israeli legislative election, PM Netanyahu’s Likud party increased parliamentary seats from 30 to 35, strengthening Netanyahu as he prepared to begin negotiations to form right-wing coalition. U.S. Senior Advisor to President Trump Jared Kushner 17 April announced U.S. would not release Israeli-Palestinian peace plan before end of Ramadan 5 June.
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.
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.
Hamas agreed to restrain the protests in return for concessions. Those haven’t materialized.
Given that the PA’s main source of legitimacy is its capacity to employ a considerable proportion of the Palestinian workforce, internal discontent could challenge its ability to govern effectively.
Netanyahu prefers to deal with Hamas because clear dynamics have been established and Hamas will not seek a final resolution [of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] from Israel.
If Israel annexed Gush Etzion, would Trump let it lie? He could decide that the Golan was desirable, but the West Bank is not. He did not commit to recognizing all Israeli annexation. Trump never said he was going to be consistent.
Live thread: Escalation on Haram al Sharif / Temple Mount - Molotov bottle thrown at police station on upper plateau. Israel Police cleared the site, closed all gates.
Since February 2018, the Israeli-Iranian conflict visibly is no longer ‘cold'.
As in 2014, Hamas and Israel appear close to a conflagration that neither party desires – though now a shaky ceasefire seems to have taken hold. Crisis Group’s Israel/Palestine analyst Tareq Baconi explains how the parties got to the brink and how they can step back.
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