Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 217, 21 January 2021

Israel: Benny Gantz approves a new settlement in West Bank
Lakshmi V Menon

In the news
On 17 January 2021, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz approved the construction of approximately 800 new settlement housing units in the West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had previously promised the same. To offset a potential blowback, Gantz also approved some preliminary steps for Palestinian construction projects. Settler leaders, such as Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, hailed the move as a "historic achievement" and called for the recognition of homes in the illegal outposts. 

On the same day, the Palestinian Authority called the move "a pre-emptive attempt" to undermine the Biden administration's efforts to "relaunch the stalled peace process". Meanwhile, Israeli anti-settlement campaign/monitoring group Peace Now, Jordan, Egypt and UK condemned the hurried move. European Union hinted it may jeopardize the 'Abraham Accords'.

Issues at large
First, Netanyahu's expansionist policies. On 28 May 2020, Netanyahu publicized his commitment to annex the occupied West Bank. On 14 October, Israel approved 2,166 new settler homes across West Bank. It signals Israel's dismissal of Palestinian statehood. Settlements are considered illegal under international law and are considered a hurdle for a two-state solution. Palestinians identify the swelling settler population (over 500,000 people) as an obstacle for achieving independence. 

Second, the last-minute push. The Israel-friendly Trump administration will be leaving the office on 20 January. With a Congress that has been deeply divided between Democrats and Republicans, Biden is expected to restore the US stance against settlement construction. The recent approvals seem to be Netanyahu's way of utilizing the pro-settlement Trump administration's final days.

Third, the normalizations. After decades of conflict, Arab states such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Morocco normalized relations with Israel by concluding the US-sponsored Abraham accords in the latter end of 2020. Sudan also signed an agreement with Israel. The settlement approval makes it difficult for the Arab signatories to justify their normalization decisions. 

In perspective
First, annexation policies, of which settlement construction is a part of, will redraw the eastern frontiers of Israel and push the asymmetric conflict into novel territory. As per reports, the earmarked areas would encompass 30 per cent of the West Bank. Although over 4.5 per cent of Palestinians living in West Bank, would come under the annexed territory, Israeli sovereignty will not apply to Palestinians. The latter would only be subject to Palestinian laws and Israeli military orders. 

Second, for decades, US administrations and the global community opposed settlement construction. But the Trump administration derailed. Instead of criticizing Israeli settlement announcements, Washington in 2018 announced that it no longer recognized the illegality of Israeli settlements under international law. Thus, during Trump's tenure, Israel approved over 27,000 settler homes' construction. Besides, on 14 January, the Palestinian Authority's head Mahmoud Abbas announced Palestine's first national vote since 2006. If Biden restores Washington's traditional stand, the elections may worsen the impending friction between Biden and Netanyahu.

Third, the settlement construction may make normalizing ties with Israel harder for other interested Arab states. Particularly in the absence of the Trump administration that on 16 January termed UAE and Bahrain as "major security partners"; an incentive for Israeli normalization. However, as Palestinian statehood has lost its charm in the Arab world, the new approvals may prove inconsequential for further Arab-Israeli normalizations.

July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 411
Wildfires: Siberia to the US
July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 409
Bosnia: 26 years after the Srebrenica Massacre
July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 405
Colombia: Two months of protests
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 399
Myanmar: New UNGA resolution
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 397
Myanmar: The Aung San Suu Kyi trial begins
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 390
Burkina Faso: Another massacre in Africa
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 386
Nigeria: Another mass abduction grips Niger state
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 385
Colombia: The protests continue
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 382
Israel-Hamas ceasefire: The long road to peace
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 380
Colombia: Three weeks of protests

May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 378
Israel-Palestine: Who wants what?
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 374
Yemen: The Battle for Marib rages on
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 371
Pakistan: Meetings with Afghan leaders
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 369
Israel-Syria: Continuing Missile Strikes
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 362
Iran: Another act of
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 358
India: Another Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 356
Global Gender Gap Report 2021: Main Takeaways

March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 353
Niger: 137 massacred in the latest attack by gunmen

March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 351
Yemen: Saudi Arabia announces ceasefire
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 347
Australia: Women fight against sexual violence 
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 345
The US: The George Floyd trial begins

March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 340
Syria: UN report calls for a complete ceasefire
February 2021 | Conflict Alert # 333
South Korea: The 'Comfort Women' issue returns to haunt

January 2021 | Conflict Alert # 222
Russia: Pro-Navalny protests turn anti-government 
January 2021 | Conflict Alert # 220
COVID-19: The Vaccine Wars
December 2020 | Conflict Alert # 200
India: Farmers' protests intensify as deadlock persists

November 2020 | Conflict Alert # 191
Pakistan: Anti-French protests called off
October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 174
Bangladesh: Protests intensify against sexual violence
October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 167
India crosses 6 million-mark in COVID-19 cases
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 166
Pakistan: The persisting polio problem
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 156
Pakistan: Targeted Violence continues in Waziristan

September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 154
The anti-Racist Protests in the US: Between
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 148
Israel and UAE normalize relations

August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 146
Bolivia: Protests against the Election postponement
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 138
In Iraq, the protestors return to the streets 
July 2020 | Conflict Alert # 118
J&K: Geelani's Exit and Continuing Violence
June 2020 | Conflict Alert # 105
Black Lives Matter brings the US to its knees
May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 86
Libya: Khalifa Haftar announces ceasefire 
May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 81
India: The surge in violence in J&K
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 71
Afghanistan: 300 Taliban prisoners released

April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 67
Syria: New UN Report on Idlib

April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 64
A lethal impact on the Refugee/Migrant Camps 
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 63
Indigenous Communities battle a complete wipeout 

March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 51
Coronavirus & China: Fall in numbers 

March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 47
Coronavirus & Nepal: In the second stage, cancels

March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 44
Two Presidents in Afghanistan
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 42
'Aurat March': A New beginning across Pakistan 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 38
Sri Lanka withdraws from 30/1 Geneva Resolution
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 35
A ceasefire between Israel, Islamic Jihad in Gaza

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 34
Libya: rivals withdraw from Geneva peace talks
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 33
India: Violence in Delhi
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 32
Afghanistan: Seven Days of Peace
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 31
Climate Change Fallouts: Impacts the Bird population

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 28
Pakistan: Court convicts LeT founder Hafiz Saeed
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 27
Pakistan: Suicide terrorism returns to haunt Quetta

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 26
Afghanistan: The US-Taliban Seven Day Deal
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 24
Israel: Violence in post  Trump-deal
January 2020 | Conflict Alert # 20
Kenya: Al Shabab and a week of killings
December 2019 | Conflict Alert # 19
Citizenship Amendment Bill:2019

November 2019 | Conflict Alert # 18
Lebanon: PM Hariri quits, but protests continue 
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 16
Bolivian unrest
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 15
Hundreds protest in Haiti

October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 14
Protests rock Chile
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 13
Hong Kong Violence: A divide within
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 12
Spain: The trouble in Catalonia
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 11
Turkey's Offensive in Syria

August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 9
Africa to be Polio Free
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 7
Myanmar: Teenage girls traded as brides to China

August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 6
Moscow Protests: Thousands rally in Moscow
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 3
Jordan Restores diplomatic ties with Qatar