Conflict Alerts # 24, 12 February 2020
In the news
As per Palestinian health ministry, on 5 February, Israeli forces killed a 17-year-old Palestinian during clashes in Hebron. On 6 February, two Palestinian lives were taken when Israeli forces opened fire on a demonstration against demolition of a Palestinian house in Jenin; 14 Israelis soldiers in Jerusalem were injured as a car rammed into them; thousands of Palestinians prayed in Al-Aqsa Mosque (Temple Mount for Jews); and a Palestinian citizen of Israel, accused of firing at Israeli forces near the mosque, was shot dead. On 7 February, Israeli forces sent back scores of Palestinians en route to the mosque and additional forces were deployed by Israel in Jerusalem and occupied West Bank. On 8 February a Palestinian teen was shot dead by Israeli forces in Tulkarem, West Bank.
Issues at large
Israeli-Palestinian violence spiked post US President’s announcement of the contentious Trump-Jared Mideast peace plan on 28 January 2020. While Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed it as “the opportunity of a century”, contrastingly, President of Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas scorned it as “the slap of the century”. Palestinians denounced the plan as one that heavily favoured Israel by paving way for future annexation and called for “the day of rage”.
Reportedly, the plan offers a feasible path to Palestinian statehood, a two-state solution with mutual recognition of “nation-states”; recognizes undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (while upholding that the future Palestinian state’s capital would lie in East Jerusalem); recognizes large majority of Israeli settlements, Golan Heights, Jordan valley as under Israeli sovereignty; recommends a demilitarized Palestine; suggests long term measures to reduce Israel’s security footprint; grants the choice to return, integrate or resettle to Palestinian refugees; and secures a four-year “land freeze” agreement from Israel.
Scores have died since the onset of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The first intifada (1987-1993), second intifada (2000-2005) and third intifada (June, July 2014) spiked the death toll. However, in 2019, Palestinian resistance factions and Israel secured an informal truce leading to easing of crippling Israeli sanctions on Palestinian goods and people. But in November 2019, when Israel killed Islamic Jihad armed group’s leader, tensions re-escalated; killing 36 Palestinians.
Palestinians are being criticized as “nay-sayers” for rejecting Trump’s plan. The plan that proposes a demilitarized Palestine and grants greater security and surveillance authority to Israel will unnerve the Palestinians’ collective memory of trauma. Without addressing Palestinian grievances and concerns, any lasting peace plan is impossible.
The ununiform responses from the international community and the muted Arab response (despite Arab league rejecting the plan) will also raise threat perceptions and sense of hopelessness amid Palestinians, leading to further clashes at regional, national, political, societal and grass-roots levels. In any violent scenario, Israel will naturally further their surveillance requirements and deepen its security clutches.
The endurance and spiking of violence do not signal any positive outcome or prolonged peace. Crafting structural violence into a peace plan will not succeed. However, the unprecedented shrinking of protestor turnout for the “day of rage” is noteworthy. It signals to a growing mentality amongst the Palestinians to move on from the historical issue and indicates a yearning for normalcy.
Simply put, the current spiking of violence is a direct result of intra-Palestinian issues, intra-Israeli matters, Israeli and Palestinian statecraft, respective psychologies, Israel-Arab rapprochement in the absence of a Palestinian state, and US advocacy for Israel.