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.
Whatever the outcome of Israel’s post-election government negotiations, there is a historic surprise in the way most of Israel’s Arab-Palestinian majority parties, united under the Joint List, backed Blue and White’s Benny Gantz. Crisis Group Senior Analyst Ofer Zalzberg discusses the repercussions for Israel’s political landscape.
Originally published in Middle East Eye
U.S.’s release of its Middle East peace plan provoked Palestinian anger further dimming prospects for peace; meanwhile violence along Gaza-Israel fence continued at low intensity and Israeli security forces clashed with Muslim worshippers at Jerusalem’s Holy Esplanade. U.S. 28 Jan published plan that proposes “Palestinian state” with capital on outskirts of Jerusalem and recognition of Israeli sovereignty over West Bank settlements. Palestinian President Abbas rejected plan as “conspiracy”. In Gaza, Palestinian militants 15 Jan fired four rockets into Israel prompting Israel to retaliate against Hamas sites in Gaza. Militants mid-Jan began again to launch incendiary balloons toward Israel, prompting Israel to strike Hamas targets in Gaza several times mid- to late Jan. Israeli security forces 21 Jan killed three Palestinians who crossed into Israel. Militants late Jan launched at least ten rockets at Israel, which again retaliated against Hamas in Gaza. Qatar 26 Jan disbursed $7mn to Palestinians in Gaza. In Jerusalem, Israeli security forces 7 Jan reportedly attacked and arrested a dozen Muslim worshippers at Holy Esplanade. Several hundred Muslim worshippers 17 Jan protested at Holy Esplanade prompting security forces to disperse crowds. Security forces clashed again with Palestinians at Holy Esplanade 24 and 31 Jan. In days following release of U.S. peace plan 28 Jan Palestinian protests continued across West Bank. Israel 5-6 Jan approved construction of 1,936 homes for Israelis in Area C in West Bank; 12 Jan approved plans to create seven new Israeli nature reserves and expand twelve existing ones in West Bank. In Israel, PM Netanyahu 21 Jan said that, if re-elected in March polls, he would annex Jordan Valley and Israeli settlements in West Bank; soon afterward Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz said that if his party won, he would annex Jordan Valley but only as part of international agreement. In Syria, suspected Israeli airstrikes against Iranian targets 9-14 Jan killed at least eleven.
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.
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.
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.
There are no signs (Hamas) will accept Israel as a permanent fact but indications they have come to accept it in the medium term and seek arrangements with it.
The Trump administration is trying to unravel international consensus on this issue of the illegality of settlements.
La division au sein de la droite [israelienne] ne suffit pas à hisser Gantz à la tête d’un gouvernement, c’est juste assez pour empêcher Netanyahou de rester Premier ministre.
The Israel-Lebanon border has been relatively quiet for the past 13 years. The latest tit-for-tat threatens the balance.
Originally published in The American Prospect
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.
A tense standoff in Jerusalem and simmering tensions between Israel and Hamas in Gaza have heightened the risk of violence and unrest. In this excerpt from the first update of our Watch List 2019 for European policymakers, Crisis Group outlines steps for the EU to help alleviate Gaza’s economic crisis and support the status quo in Jerusalem.
Watch List Updates complement International Crisis Group’s annual Watch List, most recently published in January 2019. These early-warning publications identify major conflict situations in which prompt action, driven or supported by the European Union and its member states, would generate stronger prospects for peace. The Watch List Updates include situations identified in the annual Watch List and/or a new focus of concern.