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.
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.
Originally published in Middle East Eye
Israeli govt tensions with both Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas persisted amid COVID-19 outbreak, while PM Netanyahu and opposition leader forged power-sharing deal as step toward breaking political deadlock. In West Bank, Israeli authorities early April announced temporary suspension of demolition of Palestinian homes in Area C. PA 3 April called on Palestinians working in Israel to return to Palestinian territories following rising COVID-19 cases recorded among workers, and asked Israeli govt to release political prisoners, citing inadequate health care; Israeli forces 14 April shut down testing clinic in Silwan, East Jerusalem, citing clinic’s cooperation with PA. Israeli security forces 22 April killed Palestinian after he stabbed Israeli police officer at checkpoint near Jewish settlement Ma’ale Adumin in West Bank. After cutting funding in 2017, U.S. mid-April pledged $5mn support for East Jerusalem hospitals to help curb COVID-19. In Gaza, after authorities 21 March recorded first two COVID-19 cases, Hamas and PA in April said they hold Israel fully responsible for outbreak in Gaza Strip given its thirteen-year-long blockade; Israel’s Defence Minister Naftali Bennett 3 April said Israel would allow World Health Organization to deliver medical supplies to Gaza Strip if Hamas releases four Israeli prisoners. PM Netanyahu of Likud and Blue and White opposition leader Benny Gantz 20 April signed agreement to form unity govt with rotating 18-month premierships; Israeli non-profits have appealed to Supreme Court against several components in agreement, notably one allowing Netanyahu to act as PM despite outstanding indictments; Likud indicated that if Supreme Court would accept any of the appeals, Israel would hold fourth election. Coalition agreement text also endorses West Bank annexation, providing there is “full U.S. consent”; Arab League 30 April condemned West Bank annexation plans as “new war crime”.
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.
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.
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 plan could pave the way for an Israeli takeover of the holy site in Jerusalem.
Originally published in Al Jazeera
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.