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.
Come January 2021, the Biden administration will face the responsibility of mitigating harm caused by President Trump’s destructive policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its challenge will be to undo Trump’s legacy without merely rewinding the tape to the situation that existed prior to his presidency.
Israel normalised relations with Morocco and proceeded with de facto annexation of West Bank, while collapse of its unity govt triggered new elections. In fourth deal of its kind, U.S. President Trump 10 Dec announced normalisation of relations between Israel and Morocco. Amid growing speculation over potential normalisation deal with Saudi Arabia, senior Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal 6 Dec condemned normalisation agreements, while Saudi cabinet 8 Dec reiterated commitment to 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. Palestinian Authority (PA), Jordan and Egypt 2 Dec agreed to form joint committee to set up international peace conference aimed at resolving Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In Qatari capital Doha, PA President Abbas 14 Dec met with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani who confirmed Qatar’s support for Palestinian cause. In West Bank, following PA’s decision to resume security cooperation with Israel last month, Israel 2 Dec released more than $1bn of withheld tax revenue to PA in first transfer since June. Israeli forces 4 Dec killed Palestinian teenager during protest against Israeli settlements; 21 Dec killed Palestinian man who allegedly fired toward Israeli officers in Jerusalem’s Old City. Israeli home demolitions continued in West Bank, including in Jericho, Ramallah and Hebron cities; notices for evictions of Palestinians from East Jerusalem expanded, notably in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighbourhoods. Knesset 17 Dec legalised 65 Israeli outposts in West Bank that were previously deemed illegal by domestic Israeli laws. In Gaza, unidentified group 25 Dec reportedly fired rocket into Israel; retaliatory Israeli airstrikes next day wounded at least two Palestinians. EU Heads of Mission 8 Dec visited Gaza to assess impact of COVID-19 outbreak and Israel’s blockade. Armed groups in Gaza, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, 29 Dec conducted first joint military exercise. Following longstanding tensions within Israeli coalition govt between Blue and White and Likud parties, Knesset 22 Dec failed to meet deadline to pass budget, triggering fourth round of elections in less than two years; new elections scheduled for March 2021. Following postponement of maritime border talks with Lebanon scheduled for early Dec, U.S. Sec State Pompeo 22 Dec said Israel and Lebanon remained “far apart”.
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.
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
The quarter-century mark of the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty has passed with little fanfare, as key constituencies in both countries question its core premises. The Trump administration’s policies and peace plan sharpen doubts. Reviving the 1994 deal’s spirit is important for Israel, Jordan and the region.
The plan could pave the way for an Israeli takeover of the holy site in Jerusalem.
Originally published in Al Jazeera